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Bacon's prose style with reference to "of Studies"

Bacon generally writes in a terse, epigrammatic style. But that is not Bacon's only style. In the Advancement of Learning, he has a much fuller style, often rhetorical in the best sense, and often with a vein of poetry .But this vein of poetry is also present in the vivid metaphors found in the essays. There is a considerable wealth of ornament, and he can rise to fine passages, noble in expression and in rhythm. Bacon's prose style is fairly uninvolved and short in structure; even when the sentences draw out, they are given force and clearness by the use of balance. No author was ever so concise as Bacon. There is a combination of intellect and imagination, the closest reasoning in the boldest metaphor, the condensed brilliance of an illustration identified with the development of thought.
Bacon's prose style

Bacon's prose style is illustrated in his essay, "Of Studies". This is one of the ten essays, which were contained in the first edition of Bacon's essays published in 1597. It is a characteristic essay of Bacon. The style is terse and epigrammatic.

Bacon's essays are not personal, yet they are dispersed meditations. Thoroughly practical in character, they concem themselves for the most part with the conduct of life in private and public affairs. Uncommon insight and wisdom are the salient features of his essays. They are loaded with the richest wisdom of experience. The wisdom, which they give, is on the whole of a worldly kind. He has the power of packing his profound wisdom in a sentence. His essays are not characterised by incompleteness and freedom and whimsical and humorous presentation, which mark the essays of Lamb, Stevenson and Chesterton. Though Bacon's essays lack the lucidity of expression and urbanity of style and social criticism of Addison and Steele, the charm of his essays lies in their brevity and neatness of  structure. His counsels are written in crisp and epigrammatic sentences, which read like aphorisms.

In his essay. Of Studies, Bacon gives counsels about the manner, nature and functions of studies. The subject is meant for giving instructions to the readers. The treatment is deliberately short and pithy. He begins the essay with deliberate instructions to the readers "study is served for delight, for ornament and for ability". The antithetical style makes his purpose evident: "Reading maketh a full man, conference a heavy man and writing an exact man". The antithetical structure of the sentences drives home the points: "Some books are to be tasted, other to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." His style is a peculiar mixture cf epigram and  antithesis: "They perfect nature and are perfected by experience". 

Bacon uses metaphors quite recurrently and these metaphors bring his ideas home. The metaphors are always very homely and appropriate: "Like as diseases of the body, you may have appropriate physical exercise" Just as appropriate exercises are necessary for toning up the health, so knowledge of different branches is necessary for the development of the mind. The sentences everywhere are polished, neat and statements are made concrete by example. Bacon is a master of producing short sentences with highest effect. His sentences are like condensed aphorisms. The short essay is a marvellous example of the art of condensation. There is no looseness or prolixity anywhere in the essay. The whole essay is composed of sentences, which are like separate and independent units, each of which is capable of being developed into a short independent essay. One can easily write an essay of the length of the original essay of 'Of Studies', just based on the line - "Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man." This very sentence bears testimony to the terseness that Bacon adopted in writing his essays. The whole sentences can easily be elaborated into a new essay. His essay 'Of Studies' is full of such sentences, which abound in meaning and value.

The style of Bacon has several engaging qualities. Each of the sentences is like a finely polished gem. There is an unmistakable stamp of careful artistic finish in them. There is a very remarkable combination of abstract thinking with vivid and concrete images. An illustrated may be found in the statement where Bacon says that - "natural abilities are like natural plants that need pruning by study". The following sentence will supply an apt illustration "Crafty men condemn studies; simple men admire them; and wise men use them." It is the delightful combination of profound and clear thinking with a charming lucidity of concise expression that makes the essay one of the finest specimens of Bacon's style. It is for the style brief, precise and pregnant that Bacon occupies a significant place in literature. It is because of his style that helped Bacon to achieve objectivity in his essays.


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