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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 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 amongst his Lordship’s papers, written in his own hand; not being able to furnish
my readers 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 hare 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.
* The approach of Christmas.
• 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 mispent 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 268. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 26, 1710.
O te, Bolane, cerebri
HOR. 1 Sat. ix. 11.
From my own Apartment, December 25. At my coming home last night, I found upon my table the following petition or project, sent me from Lloyd's coffee-house in the city, with a present of Port-wine, which had been bought at a late auction held in that place. "To Isaac BICKERSTAFF, Esquire, Censor of
· Lloyd's Coffee-house, Lombard-street, Dec. 23. We, the customers of this coffee-house, observ
ing that you have taken into your consideration the great mischiefs daily done in this city by coffee-house orators, do humbly beg leave to represent to you, that this coffee-house being provided with a pulpit for the benefit of such'auctions that are frequently made in this place, it is our custom, upon the first coming in of the news, to order a youth, who officiates as the Kidney of the coffee-house, to get into the pulpit, and read every paper with a loud and distinct voice, while the whole audience are sipping their respective liquors. We do therefore, Sir, humbly propose, that there be a pulpit erected within every coffee-house of this city and the adjacent parts; that one of the waiters of the coffee-house be nominated as reader to the said pulpit: that after the news of the day has been published by the said lecturer, some politician of good note do ascend into the said pulpit; and after having chosen for his text any article of the said news, that he do establish the authority of such article, clear the doubts that may arise thereupon, compare it with parallel texts in other papers, advance upon it wholesome points of doctrine, and draw from it salutary conclusions for the benefit and edification of all that hear him. We do likewise humbly propose, that, upon any such politician's quitting the pulpit, he shall be succeeded by any other orator that finds himself moved by the same public spirit, who shall be at full liberty either to enforce or overthrow what the other has said before him, and may, in the same manner, be succeeded by any other politician, who shall, with the same liberty, confirm or impugn his reasons, strengthen or invalidate his conjectures, enlarge upon his schemes, or erect new cnes of his own. We do likewise farther propose, that if any person, of what age or rank soever, do presume to cavil at any Paper that has been read, or to hold forth upon it longer than the space of one minute, that he be immediately ordered up into the pulpit, there to make good any thing that he has suggested upon the floor. We do likewise farther
propose, that if any one plays the orator in the ordinary coffee-house conversation, whether it be upon peace or war, on plays or sermons, business or poetry, that he be forthwith desired to take his place in the pulpit. This, Sir, we humbly presume, may in a great measure put a stop to those superficial statesmen, who would not dare to stand up in this manner before a whole congregation of politicians, notwithstanding the long and tedious harangues and dissertations which they daily utter in private circles, to the breaking of many honest tradesmen, the seducing of several eminent citizens, the making of numberless malcontents, and to the great detriment and disquiet of her majesty's subjects.
I do heartily concur with my ingenious friends of the above-mentioned coffee-house in these their
proposals; and because I apprehend there may be reasons to put an immediate stop to the grievance complained of, it is my intention, that, until such time as the aforesaid pulpits can be erected, every orator do place himself within the bar, and from thence dictate whatsoever he shall think necessary for the public good.
And farther, because I am very desirous that proper ways and means should be found out for the suppressing of story-tellers and fine talkers in all ordinary conversations whatsoever, I do insist, that in every private club, company, or meeting over a bottle, there be always an elbow-chair placed at the table; and that as soon as any one begins a long story, or extends his discourse beyond the space
of one minute, he be forthwith thrust into the said elbow-chair, un
upon any of the company's calling out, - To the chair,' he breaks off abruptly, and holds his tongue,