Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1607–1764
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. I–II: Colonial Literature, 1607–1764
 
Bacon’s Death, Eulogy, and Execration
Anonymous
 
[From “Bacons Proseedings,” in the “Burwell Papers.” Published by the Mass. Hist. Soc. 1814.]

        BACON having for some time been besieged by sickness, and now not able to hold out any longer, all his strength and provisions being spent, surrendered up that fort he was no longer able to keep, into the hands of that grim and all-conquering captain, Death, after that he had implored the assistance of the above-mentioned minister for the well making his articles of rendition. The only religious duty (as they say) he was observed to perform during these intrigues of affairs, in which he was so considerable an actor, and so much concerned, that rather than he would decline the cause, he became so deeply engaged in the first rise thereof, though much urged by arguments of dehortations by his nearest relations and best friends, that he subjected himself to all those inconveniences that, singly, might bring a man of a more robust frame to his last home. After he was dead he was bemoaned in these following lines (drawn by the man that waited upon his person, as it is said), and who attended his corpse to their burial place, but where deposited till the general day, not known, only to those who are resolutely silent in that particular. There was many copies of verses made after his departure, calculated to the latitude of their affections who composed them; as a relish taken from both appetites I have here sent you a couple:

Bacon’s Epitaph, Made by His Man

DEATH, why so cruel? What! no other way
To manifest thy spleen, but thus to slay
Our hopes of safety, liberty, our all,
Which, through thy tyranny, with him must fall
To its late chaos? Had thy rigid force        5
Been dealt by retail, and not thus in gross,
Grief had been silent. Now we must complain,
Since thou, in him, hast more than thousand slain,
Whose lives and safeties did so much depend
On him their life, with him their lives must end.        10
  If ’t be a sin to think Death brib’d can be
We must be guilty; say ’t was bribery
Guided the fatal shaft. Virginia’s foes,
To whom for secret crimes just vengeance owes
Deserved plagues, dreading their just desert,        15
Corrupted Death by Paracelsian art
Him to destroy; whose well tried courage such,
Their heartless hearts, nor arms, nor strength could touch.
  Who now must heal those wounds, or stop that blood
The Heathen made, and drew into a flood?        20
Who is ’t must plead our cause? nor trump nor drum
Nor Deputations; these, alas! are dumb
And cannot speak. Our Arms (though ne’er so strong)
Will want the aid of his commanding tongue,
Which conquer’d more than Cæsar. He o’erthrew        25
Only the outward frame: this could subdue
The rugged works of nature. Souls replete
With dull chill cold, he ’d animate with heat
Drawn forth of reason’s limbec. In a word,
Mars and Minerva both in him concurred        30
For arts, for arms, whose pen and sword alike
As Cato’s did, may admiration strike
Into his foes; while they confess withal
It was their guilt styl’d him a criminal.
Only this difference does from truth proceed:        35
They in the guilt, he in the name must bleed.
While none shall dare his obsequies to sing
In deserv’d measures; until time shall bring
Truth crown’d with freedom, and from danger free
To sound his praises to posterity.        40
  Here let him rest; while we this truth report
He ’s gone from hence unto a higher Court
To plead his cause, where he by this doth know
Whether to Cæsar he was friend, or foe.
 
Upon the Death of G. B.

WHETHER to Cæsar he was friend or foe?
        45
Pox take such ignorance, do you not know?
Can he be friend to Cæsar, that shall bring
The arms of Hell to fight against the King?
(Treason, rebellion) then what reason have
We for to wait upon him to his grave,        50
There to express our passions? Will ’t not be
Worse than his crimes, to sing his elegy
In well tun’d numbers; where each Ella bears
(To his flagitious name) a flood of tears?
A name that hath more souls with sorrow fed,        55
Than reached Niobe, single tears ere shed;
A name that fill’d all hearts, all ears, with pain,
Until blest fate proclaimed, Death had him slain.
Then how can it be counted for a sin
Though Death (nay, though myself) had bribed been,        60
To guide the fatal shaft? We honor all
That lends a hand unto a traitor’s fall.
What though the well paid Rochit soundly ply
And box the pulpit into flattery;
Urging his rhetoric and strained eloquence,        65
T’ adorn encoffin’d filth and excrements;
Though the defunct (like ours) ne’er tried
A well intended deed until he died?
’T will be nor sin, nor shame, for us to say
A twofold passion checker-works this day        70
Of joy and sorrow; yet the last doth move
On feet impotent, wanting strength to prove
(Nor can the art of logic yield relief)
How joy should be surmounted by our grief.
Yet that we grieve it cannot be denied,        75
But ’t is because he was, not ’cause he died.
So wept the poor distressed Ilium dames
Hearing those named their city put in flames,
And country ruin’d. If we thus lament,
It is against our present joys’ consent.        80
For if the rule in Physic true doth prove,
Remove the cause, th’ effects will after move,
We have outliv’d our sorrows; since we see
The causes shifting of our misery.
  Nor is ’t a single cause that ’s slipped away,        85
That made us warble out a well-a-day.
The brains to plot, the hands to execute
Projected ills, Death jointly did nonsuit
At his black Bar. And what no bail could save
He hath committed prisoner to the grave;        90
From whence there ’s no reprieve. Death keep him close;
We have too many Devils still go loose.
 
 
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