Francis Bacon（1561－1626） was the founder of English materialist philosophy（唯物主义哲学）。 He was born into the family of Sir Nicholas Bacon， keeper of the Privy Seal（御玺） to Queen Elizabeth. The boy early won the favor of the Queen. He went to Cambridge at twelve and after graduating at sixteen， took up law. He soon became one of the most successful lawyers of the time. At twenty-three he became a member of the House of Commons（下议院） and his judgment and eloquence（口才） made him famous. When James I came to England， Bacon obtained one important office after another until he became lord Chancellor（大法官） and was made a peer （nobleman） in 1618. He was an admirable judge， but in the course of rising he had made enemies who charged him with bribery （受贿）。 He was convicted （判罪） deprived （免去） of his office， fined and banished （流放） from London in 1621. Five years later， he died in disgrace （耻辱）。
Francis Bacon， lawyer， statesman， philosopher and master of English tongue， is famous not only for his philosophical works， but also for his essays.In 1597 he published a collection of ten essays， which were afterwards increased to fifty-eight， including the well-known one “On Reading”， whose title is actually “Of Studies”。 These essays cover a wide variety of subjects， such as love， truth， friendship， parents and children， beauty， studies， youth and age and many others. They have won popularity for his clearness， brevity （简短） and force of expression. Many of his sentences have become wise old sayings—“Men fear death as children fear to go in the dark，” “Reading makes a full man； conference a ready（敏捷的） man， and writing an exact man”。
“Some books are to be tasted， others to be swallowed， and some few to be chewed and digested.” This is a very famous saying from “Of Studies”。 No advice is better than this. It tells us how to read different kinds of books.