The portrait Bowen paints of this controversial man, Francis Bacon (1561-1626), balances the outward life and actions of Bacon with the seemingly contradictory aspects of his refined philosophical reflections. As Lord Chancellor of England, Bacon was impeached by Parliament for taking bribes in office, convicted, and banished from London and the law courts. In a prayer Bacon composed during the interval following his punishment, he reveals that the dichotomy of his existence was no more deeply felt than by himself, and he readily admits that his obligations to society were not as suited to his nature as the study of philosophy, science, and law.
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