Sir Francis Bacon is more remembered for his ideas than his life.
Bacon, who worked as a lawyer and politician, eventually lost his fortune and disgraced his reputation. But Bacon’s lifelong passion was empirical science. His dedication to his beliefs ironically led to an experiment that ended his life.
Death by chicken?
In the early part of 1626, Sir Francis Bacon whilst out in his carriage fell into an argument with his companion Dr Winterbourne. The cause of the disagreement was Dr Winterbourne’s scepticism over Bacon’s hypothesis that fresh meat could be preserved if frozen. In order to prove his theory he ordered his coachman to buy a chicken from the nearest source. According to John Aubrey in his book “Brief Lives”~ “They alighted out of the coach, and went into a poor woman’s house at the bottom of Highgate Hill, and bought a hen, and made the woman gut it, and then stuffed the body with snow, and my lord did help to do it himself.
After the chicken had been partially plucked, Bacon placed the chicken in a bag, packed some more snow around it and buried the carcass. Unfortunately according to Aubrey, Bacon caught a severe chill and was so ill he was unable make the distance to his own lodgings and instead was taken “to the Earl of Arundel’s house at Highgate, where they put him into a good bed warmed with a pan, but it was a damp bed that had not been laid-in about a year before, which gave him such a cold that in two or three days, as I remember Mr Hobbes told me, he died of suffocation.”
Bacon’s life and career were rather unremarkable. His personal character “was by no means admirable,” according to Frederic R. White. (extravagant and in debt, convicted of corruption, married to a fourteen-year-old when he was forty-five ~ #notcool). He made no significant scientific discoveries, never uncovered any scientific laws.
But his ideas were profound, reflective of deep thought and genius. Like this one ~
Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand – and melting like a snowflake.
Soon corks will pop.
Avowals will be made.
Resolve to notice sparkling.