Email: email@example.com ‘Of Discourse’ is one of the celebrated essays of Francis Bacon. Of discourse means of conversation. The precepts that Bacon convincingly writes about are brief and precise. Conversation is an art. Some people show off their ingenuity on many subjects in order show their power of judgement. Some others constantly repeat their pet themes and arguments and become tedious. But, the best method, as Bacon says, is to lead, as in a dance. A conversation becomes interesting with the intermingling of “the present occasion with arguments, tales with reason”, questions and answers as well as serious and laughable. But care should be taken not to laugh at “religion, matters of state, great persons” and any case that deserves pity. Bacon asks the conversationalists to avoid wounding the sensibilities of others. He avers that a person who questions learns much. It is also true that listening to a knowledgeable person gives knowledge as well as delight. If a person speaks well of what he knows, he gets credit for knowing even what he actually does not know. When one speaks in praise of another man’s virtue, common to the praise and the praised, he gets an indirect commendation.
In conversation, “Discretion of speech” is more important than eloquence. One must always use agreeable, sweet and pleasant words. It is definitely better than “to speak in good words or in good order.” In a conversation, always engage other people. Otherwise, the conversation slows down and betrays weakness. Bacon concludes the essay saying that one should not dwell too long on details as it makes the conversation wearisome. Likewise, concentrating only on the subject of the talk makes the discourse blunt and unpleasant.
‘Of Ambition’ is an essay in which Bacon displays his deep knowledge of statecraft. In the very first sentence, he...