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made for us ; but, lest any such vain imagination should now enter into our thoughts, Providence (besides more important reasons) seems on purpose to have left them under that negligence or disorder, wbich they appear unto us."
So much for the past: the remaining part of the book, which was a posterior publication, is occupied with anticipations of the future, the conflagration, and the millennium. In bringing these great events about, the theorist deals less in natural causes, and more frequently introduces the immediate agency of the Deity, and relies chiefly for his proofs upon prophecy and revelation, without attempting much confirmation from the world itself. The whole of this part of the work is composed with sublime views, and in a strain of delightful hope and confidence, which no one can join in without feeling himself a purer and a happier being, and more worthy of appearing on that great day, when the Lord shall come with fire, and with his chariots, like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. As the beauty of this book rather arises from the propriety and aptness of its appeals to Scripture, and from the spirit of the whole, it affords fewer passages for quotation. Some there are of great magnificence. We have as yet quoted none which can be compared with the grandeur of the following, which Addison calls a funeral sermon over the world.
“ But 'tis not possible, from any station, to have a full prospect of this last scene of the earth; for 'tis a mixture of fire and darkness. This new temple is filled with smoke, while it is consecrating, and none can enter into it. But I am apt to think, if we could look down upon this burning world from above the clouds, and have a full view of it, in all its parts, we should think it a lively representation of hell itself. For fire and darkness are the two chief things by which that state, or that place, uses to be described; and they are both here mingled together,' with all other ingredients that make that tophet that is prepared of old, (Isa. xxx.) Here are lakes of fire and brimstone ; rivers of melted glowing matter; ten thousand volcanos vomiting flames all at once; thick darkness, and pillars of smoke twisted about with wreaths of flame, like fiery snakes ; mountains of earth thrown up into the air, and the heavens dropping down in lumps of fire. These things will all be literally true concerning that day, and that state of the earth. And if we suppose Beelzebub, and his apostate crew, in the midst of this fiery furnace, (and I know not where they can be else,) it will be hard to find any part of the universe, or any state of things, that answers to so many of the properties and characters of hell, as this which is now before us.
“ But if we suppose the storm over, and that the fire bath got an entire victory over all other bodies, and subdued every thing to itself; the conflagration will end in a deluge of fire, or in a sea of fire, covering the whole globe of the earth: For, when the exterior region of the earth is melted into a fluor, like molten glass or running metal, it will, according to the nature of other fluids, fill all vacuities and depressions, and fall into a regular surface, at an equal distance every where from its centre. This sea of fire, like the first abyss, will cover the face of the whole earth, make a kind of second chaos, and leave a capacity for another world to rise from it. But that is not our present business. Let us only, if you please, to take leave of this subject, reflect, upon this occasion, on the vanity and transient glory of all this habitable world; how, by the force of one element breaking loose upon the rest, all the varieties of nature, all the works of art, all the labours of men, are reduced to nothing; all that we admired and adored before, as great and magnificent, is obliterated or vanished; and another form and face of things, plain, simple, and every where the same, overspreads the whole earth.
Where are now the great empires of the world, and their great imperial cities? Their pillars, trophies, and monuments of glory? Shew me where they stood, read the inscription, tell me the victor's name. What remains, what impressions, what difference or distinction do you see in this mass of fire ? Rome itself, eternal Rome, the great city, the empress of the world, whose domination and superstition, ancient and modern, make a great part of the history of this earth, what is become of her now? She laid her foundations deep, and her palaces were strong and sumptuous: she glorified herself, and lived deliciously, and said in her heart, I sit a queen, and shall see no sorrow. But her hour is come, she is wiped away from the face of the earth, and buried in perpetual oblivion. But it is not cities only, and works of men's hands, but the everlasting hills, the mountains and rocks of the earth, are melted as wax before the sun, and their place is no where found. Here stood the Alps, a prodigious range of stone, the load of the earth, that covered many countries, and reached their arms from the ocean to the Black Sea ; this huge mass of stone is softened and dissolved, as a tender cloud into rain. Here stood the African mountains, and Atlas with his top above the clouds. There was frozen Caucasus, and Taurus, and Imaus, and the mountains of Asia. And yonder, towards the north, stood the Riphæan hills, clothed in ice and snow. All these are vanished, dropped away as the snow upon
their heads, and swallowed up in a red sea of fire. (Rev. xv. 3.) Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of Saints. Hallelujah."
If it be true, and we cannot doubt it, that the composition of this work filled the author with thoughts like the following, we hope it will be considered an additional reason for the perusal of it, and some recommendation and excuse for the length of this article.
“ We dote upon this present world and the enjoyments of it: and it is not without pain, and fear, and reluctancy, that we are torn
from them, as if our hopes lay all within the compass of this life. Yet, I know not by what good fate my thoughts have been always fixed upon things to come, more than upon things present. These, i know, by certain experience, to be but trifles; and if there be nothing more considerable to come, the whole being of man is no better than a trifle. But there is room enough before us in that we call eternity, for great and noble scenes ; and the mind of man feels itself lessened and straitened in this low and narrow state; wishes and waits to see something greater. And if it could discern another world a coming, on this side eternal life; a beginning glory, the best that earth can bear, it would be a kind of immortality to enjoy that prospect beforehand; to see, when this theatre is dissolved, where we shall act next, and what parts. What saints and heroes, if I may so say, will appear upon that stage; and with what lustre and excellency. How easy would it be, under a view of these futurities, to despise the little pomps and honours, and the momentary pleasures of a mortal life ?"
What a glorious old age must that have been, which spent itself in the contemplation of the scenes which are set forth in this volume! What a preparation for leaving this world and entering on another, were these speculations upon all that has passed, and all that is to come, upon all that is stupendous in the Omnipotence of the Creator, and beautiful in his works! With what a placid composure would that man meet his end, whose last years had admitted him a spectator of the world in its birth, and whose last thoughts shot far into the depths of futurity, and beheld the time with rapture when God shull dwell with his people, and shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.
Art. IX.-Letters of Sir Francis Bacon, Baron of Verulam,
Viscount St. Alban, and Lord High Chancellor of England. 4to. 1702. folio 1740. 8vo. 1819.
There is a considerable difference between books which are accessible to the hand, and those which are accessible to the mind. The mere body, that is, the print and paper of a book
may be cheap and common as the air, while its contents, i. e. the soul, is very scarce, and only to be procured by great labour and research. We wish our readers to bear this distinction in mind, and not run away with a very idle error; that because a book happens to be in most libraries, in most bookshops, and is to be acquired by no great expenditure of the purse, that it is unfit for our purposes. This is so far from being true, that we maintain, that in many instances the commonest books are the least known, and we could point out numerous instances of works, which, though in every body's hands, are in the minds of very few. The Letters of Lord Bacon nearly fill two bulky octavo volumes : they chiefly relate to matters of business, suits at law, cases of treason, the king's revenue, private advice to him and his favourite Buckingham, with numerous applications for advancement and consideration, both in his rise, during his elevation as chancellor, and after his fall; and are written in the style of the age, full, formal, and ponderous, but dignified, stately, and pregnant with images and allusions. Being, however, on the whole, little more amusing than statepapers, and rather adapted to the purposes of the historian than the general reader, we propose sifting out of them the fragments of gold which they contain, and thus, as usual, save the labour and time of those who wish for a royal road to knowledge. We have, moreover, a farther end in view. These letters are the most authentic materials for ascertaining the real character of this mighty man, concerning which, so many various opinions have been held, and which, to say the truth, presents so many various and contradictory views to the observer. To the discussion of the moral as well as intellectual character of this illustrious ornament of our country, we intend to devote some pages in a future number, and we consider that the body of extracts which we shall select in the present article, will form an excellent ground-work, and furnish apt materials for constructing a fair and equitable judgement of his virtues, his weakness, and his strength. The articles which we have as yet introduced on the Works of Bacon, were intended as an analysis of some of his greatest efforts, rather than a philosophical appreciation of his merits ; rather as a stepping-stone to the student, than a broad and expansive view of all he did, all he caused to be done--the darkness in which he rose, the light which he beamed forth—the streams which flowed from his source—the extent of his capacity, the fertility of his genius, the elevation or the depression of his sentiments, the height, depth, and magnitude, of his invention. This must be the theme of a future paper. We turn at present to the compilation of the scattered passages which we find in his letters, and only premise that we shall bind ourselves by no arrangement, chronological or systematical, but introduce them as we happen to think of them, or turn to them. To some of our readers, we hope to furnish an agreeable table-talk; to others, to supply food for reflection, and the materials of wisdom.
In the course of these letters, the scene changes more than
When Bacon was young, and was just making his voice heard in parliament, we have groupes with Elizabeth, Burleigh, and Essex, in the fore-ground, and young Cecil, Lord Keeper Puckering, and Fulke Grevil, in the back. The scene soon changes to King James, and Somerset and Coke, and Northumberland, and Southampton. King James remains to the end a principal personage, and is meanwhile surrounded by Villiers, who rapidly becomes Viscount, then Earl, then Duke of Buckingham, and Salisbury, and Egerton; and their friend Bacon, now grown great in power. The scene again changes, and we have Bacon, old, poor, fallen and deserted, with the prince, afterwards Charles I., introduced upon the old king, and Buckingham still firm in favour with both father and son, nicely balancing between the “sol orient and occident.” The curtain drops, and the cessation of the letters distinctly informs us what has taken place behind it.
But to begin with the beginning. We observe in the earlier letters a growing connexion between Bacon and Essex, which became
intimate and close, and ended with Essex's arraignment, and Bacon managing the trial against him as the queen's advocate.
“ My Lord, “ I did almost conjecture by your silence and countenance a distaste in the course I imparted to your lordship touching mine own fortune; the care whereof in your lordship, as it is no news to me, so nevertheless the main effects and demonstrations past, are far from dulling in me the sense of any new, as contrariwise every new refresheth the memory of many past. And for the free and loving advice your lordship hath given me, I cannot correspond to the same with greater duty, than by assuring your lordship, that I will not dispose of myself without your allowance, not only because it is the best wisdom in any man in his own matters, to rest in the wisdom of a friend (for who can by often looking in the glass discern and judge so well of his own favour as another with whom he converseth ?) but also because my affection to your lordship hath made mine own contentment inseparable from your satisfaction."
In Bacon's youth, his tone is firmer and more independent than in the sycophantic times of James; and in his earliest essays in parliament, he spoke with a freedom which offended Elizabeth. The manliness of the following letter forms a lamentable contrast to those of an after date.
“ To Sir John Puckering, Lord-Keeper of the Great Seal.
“My Lord, “ It is a great grief unto me, joined with marvel, that her majesty should retain an hard conceit of my speeches in parliament. It might please her sacred majesty to think what my end should be in those speeches, if it were not duty, and duty alone. I am not so simple, but I know the common beaten way to please. And whereas