Bacon's Epitaph and Upon the Death of G. B.
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
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.
If 't be a sin to think Death bribed 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,
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?
Who is 't must plead our cause? nor trump, nor drum
Nor Deputation; these, alas! are dumb
And cannot speak. Our Arms (though ne'er so strong)
Will want the aid of his commanding tongue,
Which conquered more than Cæsar. He o'erthrew
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
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 styled him a criminal.
Only this difference does from truth proceed:
They in the guilt, he in the name must bleed.
While none shall dare his obsequies to sing
In deserved measures, until time shall bring
Truth crowned with freedom, and from danger free
To sound his praises to posterity.
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?
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,
There to express our passions? Will 't not be
Worse than his crimes, to sing his elegy
In well tuned numbers; where each Ella bears
(To his flagitious name) a flood of tears?
A name that hath more souls with sorrow fed,
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
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,
T' adorn encoffined filth and excrements;
Though the defunct (like ours) ne'er tried
A well intended deed until he died?
'Twill be nor sin, nor shame, for us to say
A twofold passion checkerworks this day
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,
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 ruined. If we thus lament,
It is against our present joys' consent.
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,
That made us warble out a welladay.
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;
From whence there's no reprieve. Death keep him close;
We have too many Devils still go loose.
“Bacon’s Epitaph” and “Upon the Death of G.B.”
Read by Thomas Colechin
Audio engineer Jared Bell
Directed by Walter Evans
Copyright Georgia Regents University
2012 All Rights Reserved