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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; I 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 Tather; 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 bath 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
Cogitat, ut speciosa dehinc miracula promat. Hor. 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 * 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.
following writings, and shall give some account in them of the several persons that are engaged in this work. As the chief trouble of compiling, digesting, and correcting will fall to my share, I must do myself the justice to open the work with my own history.
I was born to a small hereditary estate, which, according to the tradition of the village where it lies, was bounded by the same hedges and ditches in William the Conqueror's time that it is at present, and has been delivered down from father to son whole and entire, without the loss or acquisition of a single field or meadow, during the space of six hundred years. There runs a story in the family, that when my mother was gone with child of me about three months she dreamt that she was brought to bed of a judge: whether this might proceed from a law-suit which was then depending in the family, or my father's being a justice of the peace, I cannot determine; for I am not so vain as to think it presaged any dignity that I should arrive at in my future life, though that was the interpretation which the neighbourhood put upon it. The gravity of my behaviour at my very
in the world, and all the time that I sucked, seemed to favour my mother's dream : for, as she has often told me, I threw away my rattle before I was two months old, and would not make use of my coral till they had taken away the bells from it.
As for the rest of my infancy, there being nothing in it remarkable, I shall
pass it over in silence. I find, that during my non-age, I had the reputation of a very sullen youth, but was always a favourite of my school-master, who used to say, that my parts were solid, and would wear well. I had not been long at the university, before I distinguished myself by a most profound silence; for during the space of eight years, excepting in the public exercises of the college, I scarce uttered the quantity of an hundred words; and indeed do not remember that I ever spoke three sentences together in my whole life. Whilst I was in this learned body, I applied myself with so much diligence to my studies, that there are very few celebrated books, either in the learned or modern tongues, which I am not acquainted with.
Upon the death of my father, I was resolved to travel into foreign countries, and therefore left the university with the character of an odd, unaccountable fellow, that had a great