Maggie, a friend of mine and one of my QQ group members, sent me her final paper for this semester and asked for my comments. She writes about what she thinks about Francis Bacon’s essay ” Of Parents”. While sharing her understanding on parental affection, she also includes some touching stories about her father and grandfather. I am pleased to see the lucky girl has always been embraced by affectionate paternal love, and can feel her sorrow when she lost her grandfather last year. However, I do wish the girl joy and happiness all the time. There is time we have to say goodbye to our beloved ones…It is doomed to be so because we are not immortals. We will die someday, so do our beloved ones….But the love will last….perpetually.
By the way, the girl lives in Zhuhai and still a college student, crazily busy with her final exams now…Let’s enjoy her wonderful writing here…And I really owe much gratitude to her permission to put it here.
Thoughts on Sir Francis Bacon and His Essay “Of Parent”
For the course of European Culture
As a philosopher and statesman, Francis Bacon had a checkered and unpredictable life. He was at one time member of the House of Commons but at another time on the verge of having been thrown to prison. His treatment to a former friend and benefactor made him seem like something of a snob: not being able to provide Bacon with a suitable office post, the Earl of Essex offered him a property at Twickenham as a consolation. However,when Essex lost the favor of the Queen and was put on trial, Bacon, as one of the investigators of the case, showed an ungrateful and undecent eagerness in pressing the case against his former friend. Ironically, after the accession of James VI, Bacon wrote to defend himself against the proceedings of Essex who supported the succession of James. It is insensible to label whether this is an indication of snobbery or an excellent command of the golden rules, for it is sometimes difficult to draw a distinct line between the two. But morality aside, at least one thing survives over the passage of time: his inductive philosophy which revolutionized the future thoughts of the human race, best embodied in his exquisite collection of The Essays. I may only have a shallow understanding of this man and his huge philosophy empire, but the profound and searching points of view expressed in his essays really seize my heart and keep me nodding in awe.
In this collection, Francis Bacon wrote many essays ranging from the issues of life and death, revenge and adversity, nature and custom to those of love and marriage, parents and children,ect. While reading his essays, I am marveled at his concise and penetrating language and, mostly, the underlying philosophy that seems universally and eternally applied.
I think one of the reasons that helps Bacon’s philosophy achieve its time-testing and worldwide fame lies in its originality and uniqueness which usually send me on a proof-searching tour and, once his assertions have been confirmed by my own experiences, leave me with an approving smile. In this way, the inner communications between the reader and Bacon have been made , though, incredibly, over a time span of nearly half a century. Because of my young age and inexperience, I find many of his essays obscure except for “Of Parents”, where I can find the most sympathy with the writer.
In it, Bacon wrote “The joys of parents are secret; and so are their griefs and fears. They cannot utter the one; nor they will not utter the other.” Generally, parents want to remain authoritative over their children so that it would be easier for them to keep discipline. One such stereotype is my father. When I was younger, there were fewer communications between us, but somehow I was able to read his mind and knew that he concerned most about me. One example is shown during the College Entrance Examinations in 2005 when I, under great pressure, developed severe period pain just before the English exam. Calmly, my dad drove me to the school and, because parents were not allowed into the campus on that day, asked a female teacher to take care of me. I was immediately rushed to the school clinic. Fortunately, my period symptoms were greatly relieved after the doctor prescribed a pill of painkiller to me along with some massage. All the rest went on smoothly. But it was probably a most anxious afternoon for my dad without knowing how I was getting along. Finally, when he saw me walking out of the campus, safe and sound, he gave out a big relieved sigh and uttered for many times “Thank God…”. He could no longer hide his feelings at that moment. He knew it too well that if I had done poorly in the English exam, I would probably have had to go through another year of extreme pressure. It was such a sweet and natural display of love from my favorite and the dearest person in the world.That’s perhaps what parental love is, it wraps itself well but can also bring you to tears once it begins to reveal itself.
He also wrote “Children sweeten labors; but they make misfortunes more bitter. They increase the cares of life; but they mitigate the remembrance of death.” That’s exactly the truth. I once read in a magzine that when some parents keep complaining how hard is it to raise a child, they often forget about how rewarding the business they have been engaged in, with all the fun and joy being only part of it.
As the youngest child in the family, I have never felt the grief and sorrow of losing a beloved family member for the past 18 years until last June, when my grandfather passed away. Never has death been closer to me than that. But the fact is, I did not feel overly depressed, even at the funeral, because I had expected to see all the mourning and whining, and all the wreaths and white flowers. What I did not prepare to see, however, and it shocked me to some degree, was how quickly the whole family recovered from the whole affairs. I kept wondering why at first but soon found the answer. It was the children of the family that diverted the attention. They not only “mitigate the remembrance of death”, but are embraced as the continuance of the family line that makes the business survive and thrive.
Bacon also noted in this essay that the difference in the affection to children is sometimes unworthy to mothers, and he quoted a saying by Solomon– “A wise son rejoiceth the father, but an ungracious son shames the mother.” It seems unfair since mothers are never related to the success of their sons, only to the failures of them. Still, I believe there is some truth in it because, in my case, my dad is better at discipline than my mum and, in my childhood memories, my dad seems to have been more involved in my upbringing. But, as a woman and a would-be mother some time in the future, I should believe that women are as good at childcare as they are at the mental and physical development of the children. Solomon’s claim finds its root in the old-time housewife stereotype which has already been rendered obsolete by today’s standard and will be further shattered to pieces with the advance of time.