29 JUNE 1912, Page 19

On Thursday Mr. Balfour, in unveiling the statue of Bacon

at Gray's Inn, made a speech which can only be described as one of the most felicitous he has ever made. With a nice sense of proportion Mr. Balfour refused to regard Bacon's life as a great tragedy. Bacon, he declared, was, broadly speaking, an extremely successful man. Here, indeed, Mr. Balfour followed Ben Jenson, who, it may be remembered, wrote of Bacon, though we admit before his trial :—

" Whose even thread the Fates spun round and full Out of their softest and their whitest wool."

It would be a great mistake, declared Mr. Balfour, to describe Bacon as a system maker. Instead he was "a prophet and a seer." That is true, but he was also an incomparable

artisan in the realm of letters. No man ever used language with greater insight and skill. In the Essays not only is

every word the right word in the right place, but every word seems in itself a centre of emotional force. Take one example, the passage in which he speaks of "the desperate saying" of

Como de Medici. No epithet in the context could be better calculated to prepare the reader with a thrill of emotion for the ironic story and its application.