The Essays by Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) were the first published work of the English statesman and thinker, appearing in 1597, with revised and expanded editions in 1612 and 1625. In introducing the essay format by pioneered by Montaigne to English, Bacon gave the genre a pointed, business-like concision, perhaps more reminiscent of Machiavelli. In this he was aided by a talent for the telling aphorism that has left a permanent mark on the language.
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Free online texts
Bartleby: Essays, Civil and Moral. Harvard Classics edition. HTML format.
Francis Bacon Online: The Essays. HTML format.
Internet Archive: The Essays, or Counsels Civil and Moral, edited by A.S. Gaye (1911). Multiple formats.
Internet Archive: Bacon's Essays, edited by Sydney Humphries (1912). Multiple formats.
Internet Archive: Essays, Civil and Moral and The New Atlantis, by Francis Bacon; Areopagitica and Tractate on Education by John Milton; Religio Medici, by Sir Thomas Brown, edited by Charles W. Eliot (1912). Harvard Classics edition. Multiple formats.
Internet Archive: The Essays, Colours Of Good And Evil, Advancement Of Learning, edited by A.W. Pollard (1920). Multiple formats.
University of Adelaide (Internet Archive): The Essays, Multiple formats.
Wikisource: The Essays of Francis Bacon, edited by Mary Augusta Scott (1908). HTML and other formats.