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mentary; and, though far from representing the effect of the original in itself, holds up a light to read it by. For myself at least I may say that, deeply pathetic as the opening of the 137th psalm always seemed to me, I have found it much more affecting since I read Bacon's paraphrase of it.


By the waters of Babylon we sat down, and wept when we remembered Sion. As for our harps, we hanged them up upon the trees that are therein. For they that led us away captive required of us then a song, and melody in our heaviness," &c.

When as we sate, all sad and desolate,

By Babylon upon the river's side,

Eased from the tasks which in our captive state

We were enforced daily to abide,

Our harps we had brought with us to the field,
Some solace to our heavy souls to yield.

But soon we found we fail'd of our account:
For when our minds some freedom did obtain,
Straightways the memory of Sion Mount

Did cause afresh our wounds to bleed again;
So that with present griefs and future fears
Our eyes burst forth into a stream of tears.

As for our harps, since sorrow struck them dumb,

We hang'd them on the willow trees were near, &c.

To those who heard the psalm sung, a word was enough to bring the whole scene with all its pathetic circumstances to the mind; the short respite from servile toil, the recurrence of the thoughts to Sion, and the overpowering recollections awakened by the melody. But to us they are not obvious enough to make description superfluous; and I doubt whether there are many readers who fully realise the situation. All poetry, but more especially lyrical poetry, requires many things to be translated besides the words, before it can

bear flower and fruit in another language and another age. And it is possible that if an attempt were made to translate the Psalms of David on this principle, it might not end (as almost all attempts have ended hitherto) in the degradation of them out of very rich prose into very poor verse.

Of these verses of Bacon's it has been usual to speak not only as a failure, but as a ridiculous failure: a censure in which I cannot concur. An unpractised versifier, who will not take time and trouble about the work, must of course leave many bad verses: for poetic feeling and imagination, though they will dislike a wrong word, will not of themselves suggest a right one that will suit metre and rhyme: and it would be easy to quote from the few pages that follow, not only many bad lines, but many poor stanzas. But in a work that is executed carelessly or hastily, we must look at the best parts, and not at the worst, for signs of what a man can do. And taking this test, I should myself infer from this sample that Bacon had all the natural faculties which a poet wants: a fine ear for metre, a fine feeling for imaginative effect in words, and a vein of poetic passion.

Thou carriest man away as with a tide;

Then down swim all his thoughts that mounted high;
Much like a mocking dream, that will not bide,
But flies before the sight of waking eye;

Or as the grass, that cannot term obtain

To see the Summer come about again.

The thought in the second line could not well be fitted with imagery words and rhythm more apt and imaginative; and there is a tenderness of expression in the concluding couplet which comes manifestly out

of a heart in sensitive sympathy with nature, and fully capable of the poet's faith

that every flower

Enjoys the air it breathes.

Take again, as a sample of versification, the opening of the hundred and fourth psalm:

Father and King of Powers, both high and low,
Whose sounding fame all creatures serve to blow;
My voice shall with the rest strike up thy praise
And carol of thy works and wondrous ways.
But who can blaze thy beauties, Lord, aright?
They turn the brittle beams of mortal sight.
Upon thy head thou wear'st a glorious crown,
All set with virtues, polish'd with renown;
Thence round about a silver veil doth fall
Of crystal light, mother of colours all; &c.

The heroic couplet could hardly do its work better in the hands of Dryden.

The truth is that Bacon was not without the "fine phrensy" of the poet; but the world into which it transported him was one which, while it promised visions more glorious than any poet could imagine, promised them upon the express condition that fiction should be utterly prohibited and excluded. Had it taken the ordinary direction, I have little doubt that it would have carried him to a place among the great poets; but it was the study of his life to refrain his imagination and keep it within the modesty of truth; aspiring no higher than to be a faithful interpreter of nature, waiting for the day when the "Kingdom of Man" should


Besides these translations, Bacon once wrote a son

1 Indicia vera de Interpretatione Naturæ, sive de Regno Hominis. Title of the Novum Organum.

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net: but we know no more about it than that it was meant in some way or other to assist in sweetening the Queen's temper towards the Earl of Essex and it has either not been preserved at all, or not so as to be identified. There are also two other poems which have been ascribed to him, whether upon the authority of any one who had means of knowing, I cannot say ; but certainly upon external evidence which, in the absence of internal evidence to the contrary, entitles them to a place somewhere in this edition: and there can be no place fitter than this.

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The first is to be found in a volume of manuscript collections now in the British Museum (Bibl. Regia, 17. B. L.); but the hand is that of a copyist, and tells us only that somebody had said or thought that the verses were by Bacon: a fact however which is worth rather more in this case than in many others; inasmuch as (verses being out of Bacon's line) a man merely guessing at the author is not likely to have thought of him. The internal evidence tells for little either way. They are such lines as might very well have been written by Bacon, or by a hundred other people.


The man of life upright, whose guiltless heart is free
From all dishonest deeds and thoughts of vanity:
The man whose silent days in harmless joys are spent,
Whom hopes cannot delude, nor fortune discontent;
That man needs neither towers nor armour for defence,
Nor secret vaults to fly from thunder's violence:
He only can behold with unaffrighted eyes

The horrors of the deep and terrors of the skies;

Thus scorning all the care that Fate or Fortune brings, He makes the Heaven his book, his wisdom heavenly


Good thoughts his only friends, his life a well-spent


The earth his sober inn, - a quiet pilgrimage.

The other is a more remarkable performance; and is ascribed to Bacon on the authority of Thomas Farnaby, a contemporary and a scholar. It is a paraphrase of a Greek epigram, attributed by some to Poseidippus, by others to Plato the Comic poet, and by others to Crates the Cynic. In 1629, only three years after Bacon's death, Farnaby published a collection of Greek Epigrams under the title Ἢ τῆς ἀνθολογίας Ανθολογία: Florile gium Epigrammatum Græcorum, eorumque Latino versu a variis redditorum. After giving the epigram in question, with its Latin translation on the opposite page, he adds - Huc elegantem V. C. L. Domini Verulamii naрudíav adjicere adlubuit; and then prints the English lines below (the only English in the book); with a translation of his own opposite, in rhyming Greek. A copy of the English lines was also found among Sir Henry Wotton's papers, with the name Francis Lord Bacon at the bottom;1-a fact which would be of weight, if one could infer from it that Wotton believed them to be genuine; for he was a man likely enough to know. This, however, would be too much to infer from the mere circumstance that the paper had been in Wotton's possession, for it may have been sent to him by a correspondent, he knowing nothing about it: and as the case stands, he is not sufficiently connected with 1 See Reliquiæ Wottonianæ, p. 513.

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