Of Great Place by Francis Bacon
In Of Great Place by Francis Bacon we have the theme of social status, freedom, power, respect, identity and self-sacrifice. Taken from his Essays, Civil and Moral collection the reader realises from the beginning of the essay that Bacon may be exploring the theme of social status. Bacon considers those who strive for a higher social status are thrice servants. Servants of the sovereign or state, servants of fame and servants of business. If anything Bacon could be suggesting that a man who strives to improve his social status in fact loses his freedom. Though he himself may not be aware of this. By seeking power man loses his liberty or when he seeks power over others he loses himself. It may also be possible that Bacon is exploring the theme of identity. When a man seeks an opinion of himself. He does not rely on his own judgement but rather uses the judgement of others to define himself. In reality men of great place are strangers to themselves and do not really know their own identity.
With social status Bacon argues that there is the ability to do good and evil and that a man of great place should always do well for the simple reason that it is morally the right thing to do. To help those who are less fortunate than themselves. If anything a man of great place by doing well towards others is doing God’s work. A man can also learn a lot from the other men who have not helped others. The valuable lesson being learning not what to do. Another valuable lesson that a man can learn is that he should not expect accolades or praise for his good deeds. He should carry on doing well without having to be praised. At no stage should a man let his ego take over and he should continue to respect those who might be of a lower place than himself.
Bacon also considers that those of great place should accept the input of others. Believing in four vices when it comes to authority, delays, corruption, roughness and facility. When it comes to delays a man must remember to keep times appointed, go through what is in hand and interlace not business but of necessity. On the subject of corruption Bacon argues that man should bind his hands, the hands of his servants’ from taking and to also ensure to bind the hands of suitors who offer. For integrity a man should use just the one. For integrity professed and with manifest detestation or bribery is the other. When it comes to roughness Bacon believes that roughness breeds hate. On the matter of facility Bacon suggests that a man can be seen by his place to be good or bad or efficient or inefficient. Not everybody who has a great place is deserving of it. However a man who accepts someone’s amends is worthy and generous of spirit.
When a man is rising Bacon believes it is good to side with him and to balance him when he is well placed. If a man has colleagues; before they come to the man, let the man go to the colleagues. It is a sure sign of self-sacrifice. Putting somebody else before yourself. At all times a man must think of others while watching out for the vices of authority. Never closing his eyes on what is deemed to be inappropriate. Again a man should show others respect regardless of their social status. It is important to be kind to others who may not be as fortunate. A man should also be aware of the pitfalls of finding a great place in society. He may only end up alienating himself from others as he attempts to progress up the ladder. He also may become over reliant on other people’s opinions in order to define himself. When the reality is self-definition can only come from within and from one’s actions towards others. Another person’s opinion of self, though favourable, may be skewed and dishonest because of an individual’s motives. On the matter of accepting someone’s apologies it is better to forgive as by doing so one does not carry any further grudge and may in fact discover happiness. It is also pointless to have good thoughts if they are not put into action. A man of great place who finds himself in the position to be able to help, must help. If he is to be again content or happy.