Bacon's Epitaph and Upon the Death of G. B.

Written Text

“Bacon’s Epitaph”

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