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TRANSLATION OF CERTAIN PSALMS
INTO ENGLISH VERSE.
RIGHT HONOURABLE FRANCIS, LORD VERULAM, VISCOUNT ST. ALBAN.
PRINTED AT LONDON, 1625, IN QUARTO.
TO HIS VERY GOOD FRIEND, MR. GEORGE HERBERT.
The pains that it pleased you to take about some of my writings, I cannot forget; which did put me in mind to dedicate to you this poor exercise of my sickness. Besides, it being my manner for dedications, to choose those that I hold most fit for the argument, I thought, that in respect of divinity and poesy met, whereof the one is the matter, the other the style of this little writing, I could not make better choice: so, with signification of my love and acknowledgment, I ever rest Your affectionate friend,
Now, for the bitter sighing of the poor,
And set at large the men restrain'd in fear.
And now thou wilt not first thy word forsake, Nor yet the righteous man that leans thereto; But wilt his safe protection undertake,
In spite of all their force and wiles can do. And time it is, O Lord, thou didst draw nigh; The wicked daily do enlarge their bands; And that which makes them follow ill a vie, Rule is betaken to unworthy hands.
The life of man is threescore years and ten,
To spin in length this feeble line of life?
But who considers duly of thine ire?
Or doth the thoughts thereof wisely embrace? For thou, O God, art a consuming fire: Frail man, how can he stand before thy face? If thy displeasure thou dost not refrain, A moment brings all back to dust again.
Teach us, O Lord, to number well our days,
This bubble light, this vapour of our breath,
THE TRANSLATION OF THE XCth PSALM. Return unto us, Lord, and balance now,
O LORD, thou art our home, to whom we fly,
Or that the frame was up of earthly stage,
Both death and life obey thy holy lore,
And visit in their turns, as they are sent; A thousand years with thee they are no more Than yesterday, which, ere it is, is spent:
Or as a watch by night, that course doth keep, And goes, and comes, unwares to them that sleep.
Thou carryest man away as with a tide :
With days of joy, our days of misery; Help us right soon; our knees to thee we bow, Depending wholly on thy clemency;
Then shall thy servants, both with heart and
All the days of their life in thee rejoice.
Begin thy work, O Lord, in this our age,
Show it unto thy servants that now live; But to our children raise it many a stage, That all the world to thee may glory give. Our handy work likewise, as fruitful tree Let it, O Lord, blessed, not blasted be.
Then down swim all his thoughts that mounted THE TRANSLATION OF THE CIVth PSALM.
Much like a mocking dream, that will not bide,
But flies before the sight of waking eye; Or as the grass, that cannot term obtain, To see the summer come about again.
At morning, fair it musters on the ground;
Thou buryest not within oblivion's tomb
Our trespasses, but enterest them aright;
As a tale told, which sometime men attend,
FATHER and King of powers, both high and low,
All set with spangs of glittering stars untold,
His angels spirits are, that wait his will;
And then the hills began to show their head;
And that the earth no more might drowned be,
But when the day appears, they back do fly,
O Lord, thy providence sufficeth all;
But seas and streams likewise do spread the
The rolling seas unto the lot doth fall
Of beasts innumerable, great and small;
And though his waves resound, and beat the shore, The greater navies look like walking woods; Yet it is bridled by his holy lore.
Then did the rivers seek their proper places,
And found their heads, their issues, and their
The springs do feed the rivers all the way,
The asses wild, that hide in wilderness,
The higher grounds, where waters cannot rise,
That ask their meat of God, their strength restoring;
The fishes there far voyages do make,
Shut thou thy hand, and then they troubled are.
As long as life doth last I hymns will sing,
But as for sinners, they shall be destroy'd
THE TRANSLATION OF THE CXXVIth PSALM.
WHEN God return'd us graciously
Unto our native land,
We seem'd as in a dream to be,
ADVERTISEMENT TOUCHING A HOLY WAR.
WRITTEN IN THE YEAR MDCXXII.
BY THE RIGHT REVEREND FATHER IN GOD,
LORD BISHOP OF WINCHESTER, AND COUNSELLOR OF ESTATE TO HIS MAJESTY.
Amongst consolations, it is not the least to represent to a man's self like examples of calamity in others. For examples give a quicker impression than arguments; and, besides, they certify us, that which the Scripture also tendereth for satisfaction; "that no new thing is happened unto us.' This they do the better, by how much the examples are liker in circumstances to our own case; and more especially if they fall upon persons that are greater and worthier than ourselves. For as it savoureth of vanity, to match ourselves highly in our own conceit; so, on the other side, it is a good sound conclusion, that if our betters have sustained the like events, we have the less cause to be grieved.
In this kind of consolation I have not been wanting to myself, though, as a Christian, I have tasted, through God's great goodness, of higher remedies. Having, therefore, through the variety of my reading, set before me many examples, both of ancient and later times, my thoughts, I confess, have chiefly stayed upon three particulars, as the most eminent and the most resembling. All three persons that had held chief place of authority in their countries; all three ruined, not by war, or by any other disaster, but by justice and sentence, as delinquents and criminals; all three famous writers, insomuch as the remembrance of their calamity is now as to posterity but as a little picture of night-work, remaining amongst the fair and excellent tables of their acts and works: and all three, if that were any thing to the matter, fit examples to quench any man's ambition of rising again; for that they were every one of them restored with great glory, but to their farther ruin and destruction, ending in a violent death. The men were, Demosthenes, Cicero, and Seneca; persons that I durst not claim affinity with, except the similitude of our fortunes had contracted it. When I had cast mine eyes upon these examples, I was carried on farther to observe, how they did bear their fortunes, and principally, how they did employ their times, being banished, and disabled for public business: to the end that I might learn by them; and that they might be as well my counsellors as my comforters. Whereupon I happened to note, how diversely their fortunes wrought upon them; especially in that point at which I did most aim, which was the employing of their times and pens. In Cicero, I saw that during his banishment, which was almost two years, he was so softened and dejected, as he wrote nothing but a few womanish epistles. And yet, in mine opinion, he had least reason of the three to be discouraged: for that although it was judged, and judged by the highest kind of judgment, in form of a statute or law, that he should be banished, and his whole estate confiscated and seized, and his houses pulled down, and that it should be highly penal for any man to propound a repeal; yet his case even then had no great blot of ignominy; for it was thought but a tempest of popularity which overthrew him. Demosthenes, contrariwise, though his case was foul, being condemned for bribery, and not simple bribery, but bribery in the nature of treason and disloyalty, yet, nevertheless, took so little knowledge of his fortune, as during his banishment he did much busy himself, and intermeddle with matters of state; and took upon him to counsel the state, as if he had been still at the helm, by letters; as appears by some epistles of his which are extant. Seneca indeed, who was condemned for many corruptions and crimes, and banished into a solitary island, kept a mean; and though his pen did not freeze, yet he abstained from intruding into matters of business; but spent his time in writing books of excellent argument and use for all ages; though he might have made better choice, sometimes, of his dedications.