Surveying the state of historical knowledge in his day, Francis Bacon noted with concern that, in contrast to ecclesiastical history and political history, both of which were already “extant,” the history of learning and the arts was “wanting.” Without it, he said, the history of the world is like the statue of Polyphemus without the eye: “that feature being left out which most marks the spirit and life of the person.” Whereupon he proceeded to give the history of learning and the arts a place of its own in the scheme of historical knowledge, and for the first time in English writing. All of which is surely well known; but its significance in relation both to the historical thought of the later Renaissance and to that of Bacon himself has not received quite the attention it deserves. This is not, of course, surprising. Serious as he believed the lack of such a history to be, Bacon himself continued to follow the common Renaissance prejudice in favor of political history — his “Civil History, properly so-called, whereof the dignity and authority are preeminent among human writings.” And in his own relatively brief forays into the formal writing of history he reverted to a more or less sophisticated brand of “politic” history. What has tended to be overlooked is the close relationship his theory of a history of learning and the arts bears to his entire project for the reorientation of learning and, in particular, to the historical critique he in fact made of traditional scholarship. His theoretical category remained, it is true, just a bit too narrow to accommodate the breadth of his own historical reflection. History, to him, still meant a formal literary genre. Taken together, however, his theory and practice should reveal something of importance about his historical perspective, to say nothing of that of his age.