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tion with pathos perhaps in as high a degree as any thing that was ever written:
Most gracious Lord God, my merciful Father, from my youth up, my Creator, my Redeemer, my Comforter. Thou, O Lord, soundest and searchest the depths and secrets of all hearts: thou acknowledgest the upright of heart: thou judgest the hypocrite: thou ponderest men's thoughts and doings as in a balance thou measurest their intentions as with a line: vanity and crooked ways cannot be hid from thee.
Remember, O Lord, how thy servant hath walked before thee remember what I have first sought, and what hath been principal in my intentions. I have loved thy assemblies: I have mourned for the divisions of thy Church: I have delighted in the brightness of thy sanctuary. This vine which thy right hand hath planted in this nation, I have ever prayed unto thee, that it might have the first and the latter rain; and that it might stretch her branches to the seas and to the floods. The state and bread of the poor and oppressed have been precious in mine eyes I have hated all cruelty and hardness of heart: I have, though in a despised weed, procured the good of all men. If any have been my enemies, I thought not of them; neither hath the sun almost set upon my displeasure; but I have been as a dove, free from superfluity of maliciousness. Thy creatures have been my books, but thy Scriptures much more. I have sought thee in courts,* fields, and gardens; but I have found thee in thy temples.
Thousands have been my sins, and ten thousands my transgressions: but my sanctifications have remained with me, and my heart, through thy grace, hath been an unquenched coal upon thine altar. O Lord, my strength, I have since my youth met with thee in all my ways; by thy fatherly compassions, by thy comfortable chastisements, and by thy most visible providence. As thy favours have increased upon me, so have thy corrections; so as thou hast been always near me, O Lord; and ever as my worldly blessings were exalted, so secret darts from thee have pierced me; and when I have ascended before men, I have descended in humiliation before thee. And now, when I thought most of peace and honour, thy hand is heavy upon me, and hath humbled me according to thy former loving
The common copies, and also the MS., have "the courts ;" which, however, is evidently inadmissible.
kindness; keeping me still in thy fatherly school, not as a bastard, but as a child. Just are thy judgments upon me for my sins, which are more in number than the sands of the sea, but have no proportion to thy mercies. For what are the sands of the sea to the sea, earth, heavens? And all these are nothing to thy mercies.* Besides my innumerable sins, I confess before thee, that I am debtor to thee for the gracious talent of thy gifts and graces, which I have neither put into a napkin, nor put it, as I ought, to exchangers, where it might have made best profit, but misspent it in things for which I was least fit: so I may truly say, my soul hath been a stranger in the course of my pilgrimage. Be merciful unto me, O Lord, for my Saviour's sake, and receive me into thy bosom, or guide me in thy ways.
Two other short Prayers were first printed in the Ba coniana (1679). One is there stated to have been called by Bacon himself "The Student's Prayer;" it is a translation from one of the paragraphs of the Preface published with the Novum Organum in 1620:–
To God the Father, God the Word, God the Spirit, we pour forth most humble and hearty supplications; that he remembering the calamities of mankind, and the pilgrimage of this our life, in which we wear out days few and evil, would please to open to us new refreshments out of the fountains of his goodness, for alleviating of our miseries. This also we humbly and earnestly beg, that human things may not prejudice such as are divine; neither that from the unlocking of the gates of sense, and the kindling of a greater natural light, anything of incredulity, or intellectual night, may arise in our minds towards divine mysteries. But rather, that by our mind thoroughly cleansed and purged from fancy and vanities, and yet subject and per
* In Mr. Montagu's and all the common editions the reading is "For what are the sands of the sea, earth, heavens, and all these are nothing to thy mercies." For this nonsense the copy in the Tatler substitutes "for what are the sands of the sea? Earth, heavens, and all these are nothing to thy mercies." The MS. in the Museum has been injured, and is partially obliterated; but the reading given in the text (we believe for the first time), though some of the writing has become very faint, may still be detected.
fectly given up to the divine oracles, there may be given unto faith the things that are faith's. Amen.
The other is stated to have been entitled by Bacon "The Writer's Prayer:" it is translated from the concluding paragraph of the exposition of the entire plan of the Instauratio Magna (Distributio Operis) which was also prefixed to the Novum Organum on its first publication :
Thou, O Father, who gavest the visible light as the firstborn of thy creatures, and didst pour into man the intellectual light as the top and consummation of thy workmanship, be pleased to protect and govern this work, which coming from thy goodness, returneth to thy glory. Thou, after thou hadst reviewed the works which thy hands had made, beheldest that every thing was very good, and thou didst rest with complacency in them. But man, reflecting on the works which he had made, saw that all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and could by no means acquiesce in them. Wherefore, if we labour in thy works with the sweat of our brows, thou wilt make us partakers of thy vision and thy sabbath. We humbly beg that this mind may be stedfastly in us; and that thou, by our hands, and also by the hands of others, on whom thou shalt bestow the same spirit, wilt please to convey a largess of new alms to thy family of mankind. These things we commend to thy everlasting love, by our Jesus, thy Christ, God with us.
Lastly, there is "The Translation of Certain Psalms into English Verse," first published by Bacon himself in a 4to. pamphlet, in 1628, and reprinted in the Second Part of the Resuscitatio (1661). In a Dedication to his "Very good friend, Mr. George Herbert (the wellknown sacred poet)," Bacon describes these performances as the poor exercise of his sickness, meaning, according to Tenison, a sickness which he had had in this year 1625. The Psalms which he versifies are the First, the Twelfth, the Ninetieth, the Hundred and Fourth, the Hundred and Twenty-sixth, the Hundred and Thirty-seventh, and the Hundred and Forty-ninth. The translation, or paraphrase, which he produces of the First, will be a sufficient specimen :—
The attempt, it will be perceived, is not very successful; but it is one in which Milton has failed, as well as Bacon; and it may therefore be concluded that there is something in this old Hebrew poetry not very pliable to the trammels of English metre, at least of the more formal or artificial kind. Perhaps what the genius of Milton chiefly wanted for such a task was more of natural impulsiveness and spontaneous fervour; and there Bacon was also deficient. But the latter, with all his wonderful abundance and promptitude of fancy, and also his lofti
ness and grandeur of conception, was essentially a rhetorician, not a poet. He wanted sensibility in all its forms. If he was a deep thinker, of depth of feeling he certainly had no capacity. There is no passion in anything he has written, any more than there was ever anything highspirited in his conduct. His verses might have had the coloured light of poetry, but they would have had none of its fire. And, perhaps, in other respects also his nature, both moral and intellectual, wanted the unity and completeness, the harmonious combination of opposite endowments, necessary for "the vision and the faculty divine" which makes a great poet.