David Francis Bacon.

Memoirs of eminently pious women of Britain and America online

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of the city for it.

At home her servants were all urged to accompany her to the
Sacrament; and they who were prevailed with, gave up their names
to her two or three days before, and from thence she applied herself
to the instructing of them ; and she knew well how to administer to
every one their particular portion ; and several exhortations she had
for several persons whom she had power over.

Yet she trusted not in her own instructions of them, but desired
the chaplain's help also to examine them, and to instruct them far-
ther ; and her care was so to order her domestic affairs, that all
those servants, who were to receive the Sacrament, should have the
day before it free from their ordinary work, that they might have
better leisure for that spiritual work of preparing themselves for that


And after the holy Sacrament, she called them together again,
and gave them such exhortations as were proper for them.

And this very care and piety in family duties was so highly es-
teemed in Abraham, that God made him one of his privy coun-
cil, (as I may so say,) for that alone, Gen. xviii. 17. And might
not the singular wisdom and deep knowledge of divine counsels, and
heavenly mysteries, which this daughter of Abraham had, be a re-
ward of that care to instruct her children and household in the ways
of God?

Yet while she is thus religiously and piously employed in this good
proficiency, and far progress, going on from grace to grace, from vir-
tue to virtue ; God hath a further design upon her, another affliction
to quicken her yet more.

Her young and most dear son, Lorenzo, whom God had endowed
with the choicest of natural abilities, and to whom her affections were,
most tender, by reason of those fair blossoms of piety she perceived
in him, God takes away from her.

This added to her former troubles of the loss of her husband, of
her crosses in the world, and of her spiritual affliction, which came
often upon her, makes the burthen most heavy; she was bruised
with afflictions before, but now she fears being ground to powder.

Now she weeps and mourns all the day long, and at night also
waters her couch with tears ; and weeping, saith, " Ah ! this im-
moderate sorrow must be repented of, these tears wept over again:"
and this quick sense of displeasing God, by this deep grief, soon al-
layed the vehemence of it. And now she retires herself to listen
what the Lord God said unto her, in this louder call of affliction ;
and she seems to think that she was not yet weaned enough from
the things of this world, and that it is expedient for her, that some
of those worldly comforts she most delighted in, should be taken
away from her, that her conversation may be yet more spiritual and
heavenly, and therefore this affliction seemed to call her to a greater
disregard of the world, and to a nearer conformity to Christ her Lord.

Yet still her sorrow for her son is somewhat excessive, she fears,
and therefore she goes to her chaplain again, and acquaints him with
the violence of those fits of sorrow which of late had seized upon
her, for the death of her son ; and he with his healing counsel and
direction, by God's help, cured this her distemper; and antidotes he
prescribed too, to prevent a relapse into this malady of excessive

Now she confesses that this very affliction was most fit for her,
and that it would prove most beneficial to her, and therefore she la-
bors to put on joy instead of sorrow, and comfort instead of mourn-
ing, and returning home with perfect cheerfulness, every one there
observed a most notable though sudden change in her ; sad Han-
nah's countenance and conversation not more visibly changed upon
the good words of Eli the prophet to her, concerning the Samuel
she should obtain, than hers now is, after the loss of one.


Thus God made the medicine most sovereign to her, and the anti-
dote too ; for I verily believe she never after felt any fit of that her
disease ; and though she wept often for her tears so profusely spent
formerly upon her son's hearse, yet after this, not a tear more was
shed over it.

And with this extraordinary cheerfulness she takes up a most firm
resolution of a further progress in holiness and piety, and addresses
herself to run these latter stages of her Christian race with greater
speed than she had shewed in any of the former : and thereupon
she begins with a most diligent endeavor to conform her life exactly
and universally to the most holy will of God.

But the devil, who before envied her beginning, and her proficien-
cy much more, is now most violent to hinder her perfection ; and
therefore upon this her renewed purpose of more exact obedience,
presently assaults her with fierceness and rage, strongly tempting her
to think that she had deceived herself all this while, and that she had
mocked God with a counterfeit repentance, which was no way ac-
ceptable to him.

And an argument was brought to this purpose, which was so fully
suitable to the tenderness of her own spirit, that it is hard to say
whence it proceeded.

And this it was; "my grief for my sins hath not been so vehe-
ment, as that, the other day, for the death of my son, I wept not so
bitterly for them, as I did for that ; and therefore, that my repent-
ance is not acceptable."

And in this anguish of spirit she hastens to her learned friend again,
and begs counsel and direction from him, and after devout prayers
and holy conferences, received full comfort and thorough satisfaction,
and returns home now as visibly lifted up from the deep pit of an-
guish, and disquiet of spirit, as she was the other day, from the val-
ley of sorrow : and with tranquillity of mind, and joy of heart,
shews to her friends, both how she sunk, and how she was raised

And now having, by the help of her God, leapt over this wall,
and overcome this difficulty, with much cheerfulness of spirit she en-
ters upon the practice of what she had last resolved on. This oppo-
sition, though it staid her a while, yet set an edge upon her resolu-
tion, and she soon recovered that vigor and keenness. And she be-
gins, by a most sharp mortification, to obey the call of her last af-

The vanity of apparel and dress she had cut off long before; and
after her husband's death, the richness of them too. These (and
her looking-glasses with the women in the law, Exod. xxxviii. 8,)
she had laid by, for the service of the tabernacle ; what she spared
in these, she bestowed upon the poor members of Christ, and now
she begins to cut off all worldly pomp also.


In her house, in her retinue, and at her table, and otherwise, she
denies herself that state which her quality might have excused, that
with Dorcas the widow she might be full of good works ; and more
delight she takes to see her revenues now spent among a crowd of
alms-men and women at her door, than by a throng of servants in
her house : it was a greater joy to her that she could maintain poor
children at their books and their work, than to have pages and gen-
tlewomen for her attendants : these expenses she knew w T ould be
better allowed, in her bill of accounts at the general audit, than those
other ; it was her pomp and joy to avoid all useless pomp of state,
and all delight in courtly vanities.

And now her anger too, which was crushed before, must be whol-
ly subdued; and to that purpose she solicitously avoids all inquiries;
and all discourse which she feared w T ould provoke her to immoderate
anger; and when she feels it struggling to arise in her, then present-
ly, either by silence or by diverting to another matter, she labors to
stifle it.

And while she is suppressing the sinfulness of this passion, she
undertakes also that most difficult task of taming the tongue : and as
it is necessary with unruly beasts, she begins roughly with it, ties it
up with a most strong resolution, and scarce suffers it to speak, lest
she should offend with her tongue : thus for some while it was strait-
ened, and then she loosed it a little with these two cautions.

First, that it should never speak evil of any man, though truly,
but only upon a design of charity, to reclaim him from that evil : and
because it is not ordinary to reclaim any vicious person in his ab-
sence, therefore her charge is peremptory to her tongue, that it never
should speak evil of any man, were he most notoriously vicious, if he
were absent, and not like to be amended by it: a strict rule this; yet
verily I persuade myself, that for a long time before her death she
most punctually observed it ; she accounted it a crime to speak evil
falsely of any man ; and it went for a slander with her, as well it
might, to speak evil truly of any one, unless it were in love.

The second caution her tongue had, was, that, as much as was
possible, it should keep in every idle word, and speak out only that
which was to edification.

The Thessalonians were famous for speaking to the edification one
of another, (1 Thess. v. 11,) and this Thessalonian language our good
ladv studied with as much diligence and earnestness, as we ordinarily
study a deep science, or a gainful mystery : and now she is very slow
to speak, as the apostle exhorts ; and, where she cannot rule the dis-
course to edification, she sits silent, and refrains even from good
words, though it be pain and grief to her.

And of late she distinguished between civil and spiritual edifica-
tion and scarcely allowed herself discourses for civil edification of
her friends or neighbors in worldly matters : spiritual edification in
heavenly things was all her aim.


And her care was the same in writing as in speaking ; not a vain,
not an idle word must slip from her pen ; she thought not her soul
clean, if there were such a blot in her paper. In her letters, no sa-
vor of compliment at all ; and she judged herself guilty of a trespass
if she subscribed herself, Your servant, to whom she was not real-
ly so.

And for that other temperance in diet, as well as in speech, she
was very eminent. A small quantity of meat or drink, and of sleep
and ease, sufficed her.

She was most respectful to her superiors; and most courteous and
affable towards inferiors ; and very cautious lest she should give of-
fense to one or other, either in word or gesture; and as cautious too,
lest any of them should take offense at any speech, or look of hers,
towards them; "for either way," said she, "in offenses given or
taken, God is offended."

More than once or twice of late she brought her gift to the altar,
was in her closet upon her knees towards prayer, and there she re-
membered that her brother might possibly have somewhat against
her, for such a word, or such a look, or a neglective silence a little
before ; and she left her gift at the altar, and went, and was recon-
ciled ; asked pardon, and then came and offered : so that her chief
care was still to lift up in prayer pure hands, without wrath ; if there
were any wrath in her against others, or any in others against her,
she would have it allayed before she offered her gift of prayer.

And though all these graces and virtues, by God's help, did thus
increase in her, yet a true poverty of spirit increased also in her.
The more holy, the more pious she was, the more humbly she walk-
ed with God : in her greatest abundance she complained most of
spiritual wants. Sure the bright lustre of her virtue gave her an ad-
vantage to espy many corruptions in herself which she could not be-
fore ; and these she lamented more sadly now than heretofore.

And now in the very last stage of her Christian race, she grows
so exact, that all times seems tedious to her, which tends not to heav-
en ; and thereupon she now resolves to get loose from the multitude
of her worldly employments ; and provides to remove from her state-
ly mansion, to a little house near adjoining; and in that house and
garden, with a book, and a wheel, and a maid or two, to retire her-
self from worldly business, and unnecessary visits, and so spend her
whole time : and she took as great delight in projecting this humilia-
tion and privacy, as others do, in being advanced to public honors
and state employments.

Now toward the end of her race, all her strength seems weakness,
and her quickest speed seems slothfulness ; therefore at Christmas
last she prepared to be at the holy communion with the first ; and
after that, her soul still wanting the strength and vigor it aimed at,
she thinks of coming with the last too, the next Lord's-day : but that
very morning she had a very sore conflict, and great anguish in spir-


it : one time her imworthiness, another time her dulness, and dry-
ness, deterred her from approaching to the holy Sacrament ; and then
the singularity and unaccustomedness of receiving so often, dissuad-
ed her ; after an hour or two, some reason she found to presume this
might be from the devil, her grand enemy, who was unwilling that
the castle which he now besieged should be double-walled against
him, and thereupon she continues. her resolution, and came to the
blessed Sacrament that second day also, and received with it much
comfort and peace. And not many days after, the devil brought his
strongest batteries and labored to take this castle by storm ; tempta-
tions again she had, and those vehement and fierce, to suspect her
whole course of life, as so full of weakness at best, and oftentimes so
full of gross corruptions ; her faith so weak, her repentance so faint,
that God would not accept of her : but her shield of faith in Christ's
merits soon repelled these darts, and her wonted sanctuary of prayer
secured her presently from this storm of temptation.

And in peace and tranquillity of mind, her piety, and zeal of jus-
tice, hurry her to London, in the bitterest season of this winter, to
take order for the discharge of some engagements : this she knew
was her duty, and that she herself should take that journey, was con-
ceived the necessary means to perform that duty, and therefore she
ventures upon it and leaves the success to God.

At London she strengthens herself yet more, for the final period
of her race, by receiving the holy Sacrament again ; but alas ! mad-
am, though her inward strength increases, her outward strength de-
cays, and her weak consumptive body, by a cold there taken, grows
weaker : yet thence she came homeward ; and at Oxford her cough
and cold very much increasing, she with most earnest prayers, and
holy meditations, which a pious and learned divine suggested to her,
prepares herself for death.

After a while, they who were about her fearing the pangs of death
to be upon her, began to weep and lament ; the whole company grew
sad and heavy ; she only continued in her former condition, not at
all sorrowful, nor affrighted by these messengers of death : then the
physician coming, and, upon consideration, saying, "Here is no
sign of death, nor of much danger ; by God's help she may recover
again." The whole company was very much comforted, and cheer-
ed ; she only in her former indifferency ; no alteration at all could
be perceived in her, as if she had been the only party in the cham-
ber unconcerned in it ; neither fear of death could grieve nor trouble
her, nor hopes of life and health rejoice her : " I have wholly resign-
ed up myself to God," said she, " and not mine, but his will be done,
whether in life or death." She was not afraid to live, and still en-
dure the miseries of this life, and ever and anon encounter with Sa-
tan too, because she had a powerful God able to uphold her ; nor yet
afraid to die, and appear at God's judgment-seat, because she had a
merciful Redeemer, willing to save her.


They who write of perfection, account it an high degree to have
" Vitam in patientid et mortem in voto, To be content to live, but
desirous to die :" yet surely, this, " In cequilibrio ad vitam, et ad
mortem, To be wholly indifferent, and to be most equally inclined to
either," to desire nothing, to fear nothing, but wholly to resign our-
selves to God, accounting that to be the best, whatsoever it is, which
he pleases to send. This, this is to be a strong man in Christ ; and
this in our most pious lady was a very near approach unto perfection.

It was related for a very great virtue in St. Cyprian, that, "Maluit
obsequi praceptis Christi, qndm vel sic coronari, He had rather live
and obey God, than die and reign in glory :" But this, to have no
propensity at all more to one than to the other, to be wholly indiffer-
ent, to work on still in God's vineyard, or to be called up to heaven,
to receive pay, this may be a greater virtue : and this perfect indif-
ference to do, or suffer God's will, in life, or death, appearing in this
servant of God, was such an act of self-denial, which they who ob-
served it in her, could not but set a special character upon, most wor-
thy to be commended to your ladyship.

Thus she was brought from Oxford home; and now being far spent
and near her end, she could speak little, yet expressed a great deal
of thankfulness to God, who had brought her safe to die in her own
house, among her dearest friends.

And there she shewed those friends a rare pattern of patience in
the extremity of her sickness.

But the tranquillity of mind, which she had in these her last days,
was most observable ; that the devil, who hod so often perplexed her
with violent temptations, should now leave her to rest and ease : she
was wont to fear his most violent assaults on her death-bed, as his
practice commonly is ; but now God, it seems, had chained him up,
and enabled her by his grace to tread Satan under her feet, not a
word of complaint, nor the least disturbance, or disquiet, to be per-
ceived by her, which is a sufficient argument to us, who knew how
open a breast she had to reveal any thing in that kind, especially to
divines, whereof she had now store about her, of her exceeding great
quietness and peace : and this tranquillity of mind more clearly now
appearing at her death, than ordinarily in the time of her health, is a
great evidence to me, of God's most tender mercy and love towards
her, and of some good assurance in her, of her salvation.

This quiet gave her leave, though now very faint and weak, to be
most vigorous, and most instant at prayers : she calls for other help
very faintly ; but for prayers, most heartily and often, in those few-
hours she lived at home ; and after the office of the morning was
performed, she gave strict charge, that everyone of her family, who
could be spared from her, should go to church and pray for her; and
then in a word of exhortation to them who stayed by her, saying,
" Fear God, fear God," she most sweetly spent her breath ; and so
most comfortably yielded up her spirit to him who made it ; and was,



we doubt not, admitted into heaven, into the number of saints of God,
there to reign in the glory of God for evermore.

Your servant in Christ Jesus,

1. D.

April 15, 1847.

Note. вАФ The above beautiful Memoir, supposed to have been writ-
ten by Lady Falkland's chaplain, gives no account of her family or
husband, which of course were well known to those for whom it was
first intended. To supply this desideratum, the following sketch of
her husband is here subjoined from Lord Clarendon's History.

"In the unhappy battle of Newbury was slain the lord viscount
Falkland ; a person of such prodigious parts of learning and knowl-
edge, of that inimitable sweetness and delight in conversation, of so
flowing and obliging a humanity and goodness to mankind, and of
that primitive simplicity and integrity of life, that if there were no
other brand upon this odious and accursed civil war, than that single
loss, it must be most infamous and execrable to all posterity.

"Before he came to twenty years of age, he was master of a no-
ble fortune, which descended to him by the gift of a grandfather,
without passing through his father or mother, who were then both
alive, and not well enough contented to find themselves passed by
in the descent. His education for some years had been in Ireland,
where his father was lord deputy; so that, when he returned into
England, to the possession of his fortune, he was unentangled with
any acquaintance or friends, which usually grow up by the custom
of conversation ; and therefore was to make a pure election of his
company ; which he chose by other rules than were prescribed to
the young nobility of that time. And it cannot be denied, though
he admitted some few to his friendship for the agreeableness of their
natures, and their undoubted affection to him, that his familiarity and
friendship, for the most part, was with men of the most eminent and
sublime parts, and of untouched reputation in point of integrity; and
such men had a title to his bosom.

"He was a great cherisher of wit, and fancy, and good parts in
any man ; and, if he found them clouded with poverty or want, a
most liberal and bountiful patron towards them, even above his for-
tune ; of which, in those administrations, he was such a dispenser,
as, if he had been trusted with it to such uses, and if there had been
the least of vice in his expense, he might have been thought too
prodigal. He was constant and pertinacious in whatsoever he re-
solved to do, and not to be wearied by any pains that were necessa-
ry to that end. And therefore having once resolved not to see Lon-
don, which he loved above all places, till he had perfectly learned
the Greek tongue, he went to his own house in the country, and
pursued it with that indefatigable industry, that it will not be believed
in how short a time he was master of it, and accurately read all the
Greek historians.


"In this time, his house being within ten miles of Oxford, lie con-
tracted familiarity and friendship with the most polite and accurate
men of that university; who found such an immenseness of wit, and
such a solidity of judgment in him, so infinite a fancy, bound in by
a most logical ratiocination, such a vast knowledge, that he was not
ignorant in any thing, yet such an excessive humility, as if he had
known nothing, that they frequently resorted, and dwelt with him, as
in a college situated in a purer air ; so that his house was a university
in a less volume; whither they came not so much for repose as study ;
and to examine and refine those grosser propositions, which laziness
and consent made current in vulgar conversation.

" Many attempts were made upon him by the instigation of his
mother, (who was a lady of another persuasion in religion, and of a
most masculine understanding, allayed with the passions and infirmi-
ties of her own sex,) to pervert him in his piety to the church of
England, and to reconcile him to that of Rome ; which they prose-
cuted with the more confidence, because he declined no opportunity
or occasion of conference with those of that religion, whether priests
or laics; having diligently studied the controversies, and exactly read
all, or the choicest of the Greek and Latin fathers, and having a
memory so stupendous, that he remembered, on all occasions, what-
soever he read. And he was so great an enemy to that passion and
uncharitableness, which he saw produced, by difference of opinion,
in matters of religion, that in ail those disputations with priests, and
others of the Roman church, he affected to manifest all possible ci-
vility to their persons, and estimation of their parts; which made
them retain still some hope of his reduction, even when they had
given over offering further reasons to him to that purpose. But this
charity towards them was much lessened, and any correspondence
with them quite declined, when, by sinister arts, they had corrupted
his two younger brothers, being both children, and stolen them from
his house, and transported them beyond seas, and perverted his sis-
ters : upon which occasion he wrote two large discourses against the
principal positions of that religion, with that sharpness of style, and
full weight of reason, that the church is deprived of great jewels
in the concealment of them, and that they are not published to the

" He had a courage of the most clear and keen temper, and so
far from fear, that he was not without appetite of danger ; and there-
fore, upon any occasion of action, he always engaged his person in
those troops, which he thought, by the forwardness of the command-
ers, to be most like to be furthest engaged ; and in all such encount-

Online LibraryDavid Francis BaconMemoirs of eminently pious women of Britain and America → online text (page 11 of 71)