Bacon is certainly a moralist and he appears in this role in his essays. His essays abound in moral precepts. He lays down valuable guidelines for human conducts. He urges human beings to follow the right way in every field of life. His morals are of this world. His 'essays' constitute the bible of the new worldly wisdom. Hugh Walker calls Bacon as an opportunist. He is of the view that "The Essays" seem to be the work of an opportunist. Nevertheless, some critics are not conforming to this idea.
Spedding has made all attempts to show that Bacon was really a moralist. He was not only a moralist but also a philosopher, scientist, essayist, politician and jurist.
Most of Bacon's critics are not prepared to accept the view that he was a moralist of high degree. They agree that his morals are low and he wanted to preach the ways of Satan to humanity. Hudson says that Bacon
"Sacrificed much for the sake of wealth and power and the satisfaction of his inordinate ambitions; which his morals reaching too often resolves itself into the narrowest expediency and utilitarian."
Bacon's moral philosophy is not based on Christianity but on Machiavellian philosophy. Machiavelli is one of the few writers whose works have been studied by the philosophers and politicians alike.
Bacon's moral point of view is a strong mixture of worldliness. He does not preach things of the spirit or soul. The word "moral" here is not used in its high ethical sense. So his "Essays" is mostly related to the conduct of life in private and public affairs.
His essays 'come home to men's business and bosom'. In the problems that men face in the conduct of life, he shows extraordinary insight and wisdom. The morals in his essays are very different from the morals which we find in Shakespearean plays. For example, speaking of love, he says that it is something that is good for the stage and not for the life of men.
The dawn of the Renaissance was responsible for affecting into people a new interest in this world. Quite often Bacon appears to be crafty and clever man preaching the things, which belong to this world. For example,
"Men ought to know that in the theatre of human life it is only for gods
and angels to be spectators"
Bacon being a crafty and clever man preached the things, which belong to the kingdom of Satan. Material success and service to humanity were his objects in life. In his essay, "Of Great Place", he says:
"Through indignities men come to dignities"
Though he seems very often a selfish and self-centered person, yet he admired truth, morality and intellectuality. In his essays, he says:
"Clear and round dealings is the honour of man's nature."
But at the same time, he says:
"Mixture of falsehood is like alloy in coin of gold and silver which may make the metal work better...."
In his opinion, wife and children are: "Hostages to fortune"
Bacon is certainly a moralist but it has to be pointed out that Bacon is not a moral idealist. He does preach morality but not ideal morality. The kind of morality he preaches is tinged with worldliness. We might even say that his guiding principle is expediency while morality is a secondary consideration.
Bacon's morals are the morals of his age. The essays were affected by the events of his time and reflected the features of life in which they were written. Matheson points out:
"His reflections on public policy take the colour of his life."
Bacon puts forward prudential aspects along with moral precepts in some essays. He holds the prudential concept about religion that is good and useful for society but when practiced and preached in ideal form it becomes stale and useless. According to William Blake:
"Bacon's essays are good advice for Satan's kingdom"
Sometimes, he lays down valuable guidelines for human conduct. In his essay "Of Truth", he says that a man's mind should turn upon the poles of truth. "Of Great Place" many moral principles are presented to guide men to high position.
To conclude, we can say that no man of the age had greater foresight than he had. He wanted to see people leading successful life in this world and taught them to win the way by using power and force. Therefore, due to this fact we can say that his moral philosophy is not based
on Christianity but on Machiavellian philosophy which leads to successful life by hook or by crook.