Of Truth by Francis Bacon Summary


Francis Bacon was a prose writer of renaissance age, a great philosopher and pioneer of scientific thoughts. He had set some goals in his life. One is to serve his country, second is to serve the church and the other is to learn the truth.

His interest in his science and reasoning lead him to write critically about the aspects of life. He wrote many essays which till today receives appreciation and is up to date. Being an essayist his aim was to share the wisdom of his life.

Style of Writing

Bacon’s style is most remarkable for his preciseness. He has a great command of condensation of the sentences. Each sentence of his essay contains multiple meanings and references. He combines wisdom with brevity and his short, pithy sayings become famous as mottoes and useful expressions.

His writing style is aphoristic which means a compact, condensed and epigrammatic style of writing. He was expert in expressing truth in a few possible words with beauty. His essays are an example of this aphoristic style. His essay “Of Truth” has many examples of the aphoristic style.


Humans and Truth & Lie

Of truth is Bacon’s great work of prose which shows his keen observation of human beings with their attributes of truth and lie. In the beginning, he states that people generally do not care for the truth.

He gives the example of Pilate, the governor of the Roman Empire while conducting the session with Jesus Christ, does not pay attention to the truth and said: “what is the truth? Said Jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer.”

Reason Why People Hate Truth

Moving on he describes the reasons why people do not like the truth. First, the truth is difficult to acquire without hard work and man is ever reluctant to work hard. Moreover, truth makes people bound to a certain fact. It diminishes freedom.

According to Bacon truth is like a bright day which shows the real self. Truth is like a pearl that shows what is visible to the naked eye. It cannot show anything by adding unrealistic elements. Falsehood can show something apparent in dark.

Lies and Pleasure

People lie because it covers their real personality. Bacon rightly says that “A mixture of a lie doth ever add pleasure.” The mixture of truth and lie makes things interesting and pleases everyone.

He states if everything is presented as its real colour with no additional praise, flattering comments, and illusions the society will become indolent.

Same is the case with poets. They add false praises in their poetry to reach a higher level of accomplishments. Truth is utmost important in every aspect of life civil or business.

A bit of lie added to truth is like making an alloy of copper and gold. It becomes easier to work with these metals but at the same times, it makes it impure.

Lie is Like Snake

Bacon compares lie with a snake crawling on its belly instead of walking on its feet. The false person has to let his head down because he feels guilty all the time due to his habit of speaking falsehood all the time to earn benefits in business. There is no shameful act than to be a liar.

Bacon quotes Montaigne who said that “a liar is a man who is brave towards God but is coward towards men.” He emphasizes on the wickedness of the falsehood by saying that these are the negative qualities of men which will call upon the judgment of God upon mankind.


Therefore Bacon concludes his essay with didacticism by giving a tinge of Christian morality. The essay is rich in manner and matter. This is a council, civil and moral and should be read slowly to understand the lucid and condensed prose style of Bacon.

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