Bacon, Robert

, an eminent English divine of the thirteenth century, was born, according to the most probable conjectures, about 1168, but where is not known. He studied, however, at Oxford, where he distinguished himself by the quickness of his parts and his assiduous application. Thence according to the custom of that age, | tie removed to Paris, and acquired such learning as the age afforded. After his return, of which we have no date, he settled at Oxford, and read divinity lectures. His colleague in this office was Dr. Edmund Rich, in our histories commonly styled Edmund Abingdon a man famous for literature, and yet, in the opinion of Leland, inferior to our Bacon. This Dr. Rich had been chosen by the canons of Salisbury, treasurer of their church, and in 1233, becoming archbishop of Canterbury, his friend Robert Bacon succeeded him as treasurer of the cathedral church of Salisbury. The same year he gained great reputation by a sermon preached before his royal master, king Henry III. at Oxford, whither his majesty came, in order to hold a general council of his lords. In this discourse, Bacon plainly told the king the mischiefs to which himself and his subjects were exposed, by his reposing too great a confidence in Peter de Rupibus, bishop of Winchester, and other foreigners and this honest sermon had a great effect on the mind of his master, and inclined him to give satisfaction to his nobility, who were then, generally speaking, disaffected. This seasonable service rendered to the nation, did more to secure his memory from oblivion, than his many years laborious reading, or even his learned writings.

After the promotion of Dr. Rich to the see of Canterbury, the famous Richard Fishakel, whom Lelaitd calls Fizacrius, read, in conjunction with our Bacon, in St. Edward’s schools, for many years together, to their own great honour, and to the benefit of all their hearers, nor were they less assiduous in preaching. In 1240, Bacon lost his great patron and intimate friend, Edmund, archbishop of Canterbury, and perhaps this accident, joined to his fervent piety and love of retirement, might induce Bacon, though he was very old, to enter into the order of friars preachers, of which order also was his associate Fishakel. In gratitude to the memory of the archbishop, Bacon wrote his life, which was highly esteemed. He wrote also many pieces, which were esteemed in his day to be learned and useful. These were a book of “Glosses on the Holy Scriptures,” another <f On the Psalter,“and two collections of” Discourses“and” Lectures." At length worn Out with so long a course of studious application, he died in 1248, and is supposed to have been interred in the Dofninican convent at Oxford, Pitts, Leland, Hearne, Cave, | and other authors, have confounded this Robert Bacon with Roger, the subject of the following article, as has been properly explained in the Biographia Britannica, from which this article is taken. Wood, in his history and antiquities of Oxford, has in general avoided this mistake.

Dr. Pegge, whose excellent life of bishop Grosseteste we have seen since the above article was written, thinks that Robert Bacon was either elder brother, or more probably, as Leland imagines, uncle of Roger Bacon. Robert was the person who initiated Edmund archbishop of Canterbury in the study of divinity, but Bulaeus, in his history of the university of Paris, says he was himself the scholar of that saint, which Dr. Pegge doubts. However, he wrote “Edmund’s life,” and is noticed by Leland, as the particular acquaintance and intimate of bishop Grosseteste. Matthew of Westminster gives him and Fishakel the character of being two such as were not exceeded by any in Christendom, or even equalled, especially as preachers. Dr. Pegge observes, that this character is the more extraordinary as coming from a monk, and that from the latter part of it, as well as from the list of Robert’s productions, it appears that his excellence lay in theology, a particular which constitutes an essential difference in the character of him and Roger Bacon, who was eminently skilled in the mathematics and philosophy, as well as divinity, and perhaps more so. 1


Biog. Brit. Tanner’sBibL Pegge’s Life of Grosseteste, p. 251, 233. Fuller’s Worthies. -Wood’s Hist, and Antiquities of Oxford, Gutch’s edition. —Leland, Bale, Pitts.