Born in Ilchester, in the county of Somerset, in the year 1214. Later surnamed Doctor Mirabilis, after a little alchemy and demonology. He studied for some time at the University of Oxford, focusing on theology and science, and afterwards schooled at the University of Paris where he received his degree, doctor of divinity. By this point he could already write and write Latin, Greek and Hebrew. Returning to Paris in 1240, he became a Franciscan monk under the Fratis Petrus Peregrinus de Maricourt, and gained the reputation of being one of the most learned men of his age, to the point where 'his acquirements were so much above the comprehension of his contemporaries that they could only account for them by supposing that he was indebted for them to the Devil.
    Voltaire said of him, 'De l'or encrouté de toutes les ordures de so siècle,' and Bacon alone at that time in Europe understood the powers of the concave and convex lens. He also invented the magic lantern, through pursuit of knowledge in both physics and optics, as well being credited with introduction of the telescope and gunpowder (nitre) to Europe (the Muslims had already developed the spyglass, and the Chinese fireworks, long before this point). Bacon's Admirable Power of Art and Nature in the Production of the Philosopher's Stone was translated into French by Girard de Tormes of Lyons in 1557. Bacon's Mirror of Alchymy was also published in the French that same year, and a special edition appeared in 1612 with additions from the magician Raymond Lulli. He died at Oxford 11 June, 1294, after completing his master work, Opus Majus.
    The most important of all his writings are the "Opus Majus", the "Opus Minus", and the "Tertium". The "Opus Majus" deals in seven parts :
  1. the obstacles to real wisdom and truth, viz. errors and their sources;
  2. the relation between theology and philosophy, taken in its widest sense as comprising all sciences not strictly philosophical: here he proves that all sciences are founded on the sacred sciences, especially on Holy Scripture;
  3. the necessity of studying zealously the Biblical languages, as without them it is impossible to bring out the treasure hidden in Holy Writ;
  4. mathematics and their relation and application to the sacred sciences, particularly Holy Scripture; here he seizes an
  5. opportunity to speak of Biblical geography and of astronomy (if these parts really belong to the "Opus Majus");
  6. optics or perspective;
  7. the experimental sciences;
  8. moral philosophy or ethics.
    Bacon felt eloquence ought to be accompanied by science, and science by eloquence; for "science without eloquence is like a sharp sword in the hands of a paralytic, whilst eloquence without science is a sharp sword in the hands of a furious man" ("Sapientia sine eloquentia est quasi gladius acutus in manu paralytici, sicut eloquentia expers sapientiæ est quasi gladius acutus in manu furiosi"; Opus Tertium, I, Brewer, 4). All seekers of knowledge must avoid the four errors which hinder the learned from attaining the summit of wisdom:
  1. the example of weak and unreliable authority,
  2. blind continuance of custom,
  3. regard for the opinion of the unlearned, and,
  4. concealing one's own ignorance, together with the exhibition of apparent wisdom
    Sound f-ing advice.
Sources :
  • "The Alchymists", from Mackay's Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (London : 1852), p93-221.
  • Bacon, Roger, 1214?-1294. Opus majus. (Oxford : s.n., 1897)
  • Bacon, Roger. The mirror of alchemy / composed by the thrice-famous and learned Frier; with the Smaragdine table of Hermes, trismegistus of alchemy. (Los Angeles : Printed at the Press of the Pegacycle Lady for the Globe Book Store, 1975)