The quote “Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper” from Francis Bacon is a nuanced observation about the role of hope in human life, particularly concerning its timing and appropriateness in different circumstances. In essence, Bacon suggests that hope is excellent as a motivator when you start your endeavors—it serves as ‘breakfast,’ fueling you for the challenges ahead. Hope, in this context, energizes you, makes you optimistic, and enables you to tackle obstacles with a positive mindset. It sets the tone for action and involvement, pushing you to strive and accomplish your goals.
However, Bacon warns against relying solely on hope when it comes to concluding or evaluating your efforts, which is what ‘supper’ typically represents. In other words, by the end of the day, or at the end of an endeavor, hope alone is not sufficient; there needs to be tangible results or progress. To sit at ‘supper’ and have nothing but hope means you are left unfulfilled, as hope doesn’t satisfy hunger for results or accomplishments. If one has only hope and no concrete results to show for their efforts, it can lead to a sense of disillusionment, futility, or even despair.
Bacon’s metaphorical use of ‘breakfast’ and ‘supper’ to symbolize the start and end of any undertaking is a compelling way to underline that while hope is essential to kickstart action and foster initial enthusiasm, it should be balanced with pragmatism and actionable steps that lead to real outcomes. In summary, for Bacon, hope is not an end but a means to an end, and its virtue lies in its ability to instigate rather than conclude.