Mar 7: Bacon's Op-Ed

One of my little ploys, I've noticed, is to translate the readings into pop culture terms. I suppose I do it to make it relevant -- even to myself. But not "relevant" in the "cool" sense -- if I say Shakespeare play is like a summer blockbuster (to make up an analogy; I don't have any idea if that's a supportable idea), I don't mean that people should like it as much as they do summer blockbusters, it's just that it let me think about Shakespeare in a way that makes him seem less foreign, so I can have a more honest response. The past is another country, after all. ( And a lot of times it's from another country too, which makes it doubly hard.)

So when I point out that Francis Bacon's essay Of Judicature strikes me as basically an Op-Ed from a guy who knows a lot of Latin, I'm not trying to talk it up. I'm saying it's obvious:

Judges ought to be more learned than witty, more reverend than plausible, and more advised than confident. Above all things, integrity is their portion and proper virtue.
And I argue the opposite! Integrity is the worst quality a judge could have! The whole thing, which is short, is like that -- judges shouldn't talk too much! Courthouses shouldn't have corrupt dealings in them! Etc.

There are two things to say in its favor: 1. Of course, the Op-Ed hadn't been invented yet, so there was much less of a history of pieces where judges are urged not to be corrupt. At least pieces written in English, anyway. Op-Ed writers of today have less of an excuse. And 2., the piece is wicked organized. Bacon gives four areas of concern for the office of judge. Each gets a paragraph. One paragraph (the administration of the courts), has four sub-areas. Each area gets a sentence.

I think they tried to teach this to me in high school, but as you see it didn't take. It couldn't be less like Montaigne. Whom I prefer -- but then I am not a practical person.

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