Today’s Birthday Party
Blowing out candles at the table today are Sir Francis Bacon (1561) and Lord Byron (1788).
Bacon was a philosopher, a statesman, an essayist, and a champion of modern science. Queen Elizabeth named him Lord Chancellor but he was convicted of accepting bribes in 1621, and banned from political office for the rest of his life.
He spent much of his intellectual life challenging Aristotle’s view that knowledge should begin with universal truths. He said, “If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.” In Novum Organum (1620), Bacon wrote that scholars should build their knowledge of the world from specific, observable details. His theory is now known as the scientific method, and is the basis of all experimental science
British Romantic poet Lord Byron was born George Gordon in London and was an impulsive, compulsive, and given to excesses with lovers of both sexes. He had an incestuous relationship with his half sister, Augusta, and may have been the father of one of her children. He was sexy, charismatic, witty, athletic, and bipolar.
I like the description by one of his lovers, Lady Caroline Lamb, who said he was “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.”
He left England to live abroad, and never returned.
She walks in beauty like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes
As he lay dying, he requested that his body be left undisturbed. Sadly, his wishes were disregarded; doctors cut him open almost upon his last breath, removing parts of his skull and organs for souvenirs. His remains were denied burial in Westminster Abbey for reasons of “questionable morality.” He was buried at the church of St. Mary Magdalene in Nottinghamshire.