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Bacon's Death

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58642.  Fri Mar 10, 2006 7:51 am Reply with quote

Garrick posted the amusing death of Francis Bacon a few moons ago. Did we use it in the C-series?

His passion for scientific discovery lasted. One cold day in early April 1626, Bacon was travelling through Highgate when he was seized by a sudden scientific impulse. In order to discover whether meat could be preserved in a cold environment, he bought a chicken and stuffed it with snow. What happened remains unclear: he was suddenly taken ill and was taken to Lord Arundel's house nearby, where he died a few days later.

58644.  Fri Mar 10, 2006 7:58 am Reply with quote

We haven't ever used this, though we have talked about it. Most of the sources state that he got pneumonia because he stuffed the chicken with snow, but this seems not to make sense in any way - you can't give yourself pneumonia by getting your hands cold, and the amount of snow you'd need to stuff a chicken is trivial in any case. So we didn't really know what story we were trying to tell. Plus we wondered whether we might just prompt the reaction "who the **** is Francis Bacon?"

1318132.  Sun Mar 31, 2019 3:38 am Reply with quote

In March, 1626, while riding from London to Highgate, and turning over in his mind the question of how far flesh might be preserved from putrefaction by being covered with snow, he resolved to put the matter to a test at once. Stopping off at a cottage, he bought a fowl, killed it, and stuffed it with snow. While he was doing this he was seized with chills and weakness; and finding himself too ill to ride back to town, he gave directions that he should be taken to the nearby home of Lord Arundel, where he took to bed. He did not yet resign life; he wrote cheerfully that “the experiment … succeeded excellently well.” But it was his last. The fitful fever of his varied life had quite consumed him; he was all burnt out now, too weak to fight the disease that crept up slowly to his heart. He died on the ninth of April, 1626, at the age of sixty-five.
—Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Chapter 3.

There is something Quite Interesting we can learn from this story. It snowed in Highgate some time in March 1626 – something that historical meteorologists interested in past weather patterns can take note of.

1318135.  Sun Mar 31, 2019 3:47 am Reply with quote

Perhaps it was a fast-acting salmonella strain which has since mutated-out?



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