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mediately ordered to be hung upon a peg over Mr. Bickerstaffe's tribunal, and the paper to be laid upon the table for the use of his clerk. He then ordered the criminals to button up their bosoms, and, if they pleased, proceed to their duel. Upon which they both went very quietly out of the court, and retired to their respective lodgings.
The court then adjourned till after the holidays.
[Sir Richard Steele assisted in this paper.1 T.]
No. 267. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 23, 1710.
Qui genus humanum ingenio superavit, et omnes
From my own Apartment, December 22.
I HAVE heard, that it is a rule among the conventuals of several orders in the Romish Church, to shut themselves up at a certain time of the year, not only from the world in general, but from the members of their own fraternity, and to pass away several days by themselves in settling accounts between their Maker and their own souls, in cancelling unrepented crimes, and renewing their contracts of obedience for the future. Such stated times for particular acts of devotion, or the exercise of certain religious duties, have been enjoined in all civil governments, whatever deity they worshipped, or whatever religion they professed. That which may be done at all times is often totally neglected and forgotten, unless fixed and determined to some time more than another; and therefore, though several duties may be suitable to every day of our lives, they are most likely to be performed, if some days are more particularly set apart for the practice of them. Our Church has accordingly instituted several seasons of devotion, when time, custom, prescription,
1 When Mr. Addison (whose invention, in matters of humour, was inexhaustible) had started a good hint, his facetious coadjutor was never satisfied till he had run it down. For the general character of the Tatlers, on the Court of Honour, see the note on No. 256. Yet, on the whole, it must be said, that, if Sir Richard had any considerable hand in these papers, he has acquitted himself in them better than usual.
and (if I may so say) the fashion itself, call upon a man to be serious and attentive to the great end of his being.
I have hinted in some former papers, that the greatest and wisest of men in all ages and countries, particularly in Rome and Greece, were renowned for their piety and virtue. It is now my intention to show how those in our own nation, that have been unquestionably the most eminent for learning and knowledge, were likewise the most eminent for their adherence to the religion of their country.
I might produce very shining examples from among the clergy; but because priestcraft is the common cry of every cavilling empty scribbler, I shall show, that all the laymen who have exerted a more than ordinary genius in their writings, and were the glory of their times, were men whose hopes were filled with immortality, and the prospect of future rewards, and men who lived in a dutiful submission to all the doctrines of revealed religion.
I shall in this paper only instance Sir Francis Bacon, a man, who, for the greatness of genius and compass of knowledge, did honour to his age and country; Î could almost say, to human nature itself. He possessed at once all those extraordinary talents which were divided amongst the greatest authors of antiquity. He had the sound, distinct, comprehensive knowledge of Aristotle, with all the beautiful lights, graces, and embellishments of Cicero. One does not know which to admire most in his writings, the strength of reason, force of style, or brightness of imagination.
This author has remarked, in several parts of his works, that a thorough insight into philosophy makes a good believer, and that a smattering in it naturally produces such a race of despicable infidels as the little profligate writers of the present age, whom (I must confess) I have always accused to myself, not so much for their want of faith as their want of learning.
I was infinitely pleased to find, among the works of this extraordinary man, a prayer of his own composing, which, for the elevation of thought and greatness of expression, seems rather the devotion of an angel than of a man. His principal fault seems to have been the excess of that virtue which covers a multitude of faults. This betrayed him to so great an indulgence towards his servants, who made a
corrupt use of it, that it stripped him of all those riches and honours which a long series of merits had heaped upon him. But in this prayer, at the same time that we find him prostrating himself before the great mercy-seat, and humbled under afflictions which at that time lay heavy upon him; we see him supported by the sense of his integrity, his zeal, his devotion, and his love to mankind, which give him a much higher figure in the minds of thinking men, than that greatness had done from which he was fallen. I shall beg leave to write down the prayer itself, with the title to it, as it was found among his Lordship's papers, written in his own hand; not being able to furnish my reader with an entertainment more suitable to this solemn time.
A PRAYER OR PSALM MADE BY MY LORD BACON, CHANCELLOR OF ENGLAND.
"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 the courts, fields, and gardens, but I have found thee in thy temples.
"Thousands have been my sins, and ten thousands my transgressions, but thy 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-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? 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 mis-spent 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 unto thy bosom, or guide me in thy ways."
No. 1. THURSDAY, MARCH 1, 1710-11
Non fumum ex fulgore, sed ex fumo dare lucem
I HAVE observed, that a reader seldom peruses a book with pleasure, till he knows whether the writer of it be a black or a fair man, of a mild or choleric disposition, married or a bachelor, with other particulars of the like nature, that conduce very much to the right understanding of an author. To gratify this curiosity, which is so natural to a reader, I design this paper and my next as prefatory discourses to my
1 Of the three periodical papers, in which Mr. Addison was happily induced to bear a part, the only one which was planned by himself * was the Spectator. And how infinitely superior is the contrivance of it to that of the other two!
The notion of a club, on which it is formed, not only gave a dramatic air to the Spectator, but a sort of unity to the conduct of it; as it tied together the several papers into what may be called one work, by the reference they all have to the same common design.
This design, too, was so well digested from the first, that nothing occurs afterwards (when the characters come out and show themselves at full length, in the course of the work) for which we are not prepared, by the general outline of them, as presented to us in the introductory papers; so that, if we did not know the contrary, we might suspect that these papers, like the preface to a book, had been written after the whole was printed off, and not before a syllable of it was composed. Such was the effect of the original plan, and the care of its author,
"Primo ne medium, medio ne discrepet imum!"
As for his coadjutor, Sir Richard Steele, he knew the world, or rather what is called the town, well, and had a considerable fund of wit and humour; but his wit was often forced, and his humour ungraceful; not but his style would give this appearance to each, being at once incorrect and heavy. His graver papers are universally hard, and laboured, though, at the same time, superficial. Some better writers contributed, occasionally, to carry on this work; but its success was, properly, owing to the matchless pen of Mr. Addison.
Mr. Tickell says, it was projected in concert with Sir Richard Steele, which comes to the same thing.