Bacon and the Chicken
April 9, 1626 - Today was the day the ultimate Renaissance man died. Sir Francis Bacon was a philosopher, scientist, statesman, lawyer and writer. His pioneering theories into a disciplined scientific method are still practiced today.
It's ironic that his quest for scientific knowledge is what eventually killed him. The story goes that Sir Francis Bacon was traveling through a blizzard in a carriage when he was suddenly struck with the idea of preserving meat with snow. He dashed out of the carriage and bought a chicken from a woman who lived along the road. The bird was slaughtered, cleaned and stuffed with snow, but in the process Sir Francis Bacon was overcome with a terrible chill. His traveling companion pushed him back into the carriage and they sought shelter in the nearest estate down the road. Unfortunately the mansion they found was virtually empty and its freezing rooms were little comfort to Sir Bacon as he spiraled into pneumonia.
He held on for a few days, and before he died he dictated a final letter to the estate's owner:
My very good Lord, I was likely to have had the fortune of Caius Plinius the elder, who lost his life by trying an experiment about the burning of Mount Vesuvius; for I was also desirous to try an experiment or two touching the conservation and induration of bodies. As for the experiment itself, it succeeded excellently well; but in the journey between London and Highgate, I was taken with such a fit of casting as I know not whether it were the Stone, or some surfeit or cold, or indeed a touch of them all three. But when I came to your Lordship's House, I was not able to go back, and therefore was forced to take up my lodging here, where your housekeeper is very careful and diligent about me, which I assure myself your Lordship will not only pardon towards him, but think the better of him for it. For indeed your Lordship's House was happy to me, and I kiss your noble hands for the welcome which I am sure you give me to it. I know how unfit it is for me to write with any other hand than mine own, but by my troth my fingers are so disjointed with sickness that I cannot steadily hold a pen.
Sir Francis Bacon was buried in St. Michael's Church in St. Albans. His funeral was a well attended affair where he received over thirty eulogies from some of the greatest thinkers of the time.