M E R C V R Y,

OR THE

S E C R E T and S W I F T

Messenger:

Shewing,

How a Man may with Privacy

and Speed communicate his Thoughts

to a Friend at any distance.


LONDON,

Printed by I. Norton, for Iohn Maynard,

and Timothy Wilkins, and are to be sold

at the George in Fleetstreet, neere

Saint Dunstans Church,

1 6 4 1.


by Iohn Wilkins


To the unknown Author.

OF old who to the common good applyde,
Or mind, or means, for it were Deifyde:
But chiefly such, who new Inventions found;
Bacchus for Wine, Ceres that tild the ground.
I know no reason time should breed such ods,
(W'have warrant for't) men now may be styl'd Gods.
By hiding who thou art, seek not to miss,
The glory due to such a Work as this;
But set thy name, that thou mayst have the praise,
Left to the unknown God we Alters raise.

Anthony Aucher, Esquire.


This dedication appears in the 1641 version of Secret and Swift Messenger written by John Wilkins. Obviously Wilkins is not the "unknown Author", but there are strong clues to identify Francis Bacon as the "unknown Author":

First clue:

OF old who to the common good applyde,
Or mind, or means, for it were Deifyde:

 

A quote from "History of Life and Death" by Francis Bacon:

"For it is my hope and desire that it will contribute to the common good; that through it the higher physicians will somewhat raise their thoughts, and not devote all their time to common cures, nor be honoured for necessity only; but that they will become the instruments and dispensers of God's power and mercy in prolonging and renewing the life of man, the rather because it is effected by safe, convenient, and civil, though hitherto unattempted methods."


Second clue:

But chiefly such, who new Inventions found;

 

Look to Sonnet 76, lines 1-8:

1  Why is my verse so barren of new pride?
2  So far from variation or quick change?
3  Why with the time do I not glance aside,
4  To new found methods and to compounds strange?
5  Why write I still alone, ever the same
6  And keep invention in a noted weed,
7  That every word doth almost fell my name
8  Shewing their birth and where they did proceed?

Then compare with this quote from Francis Bacon's prayer:

"I have (though in a despised weed) procured the good of all men."


Third clue:

Bacchus for Wine, Ceres that tild the ground.

The following quote is from Peter Dawkins' article about the title page engraving to the first continental edition of Francis Bacon's De Dignitate & Augmentis Scientiarum.

"By contrast Bacon's left arm and hand is 'in the shadow', and is supporting and pushing the figure of a wildly dressed man up a rocky hill, on top of which is a temple, also in shadow. The figure is clothed in a tunic of fawn or goat skin and has an outsized face with an unusual nose that looks like a mask, all of which identifies him as a bacchant, a performer of the rites of Bacchus (i.e. Dionysus), the god of Drama."


Fourth clue:

I know no reason time should breed such ods,
(W'have warrant for't) men now may be styl'd Gods.
By hiding who thou art, seek not to miss,
The glory due to such a Work as this;

Compare with Bacon's words from "THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING (1605)."

"Nay, the same Salomon the King, although he excelled in the glory of treasure and magnificent buildings, of shipping and navigation, of service and attendance, of fame and renown, and the like, yet he maketh no claim to any of those glories, but only to the glory of inquisition of truth; for so he saith expressly, THE GLORY OF GOD IS TO CONCEAL A THING, BUT THE GLORY OF THE KING IS TO FIND IT OUT; as if, according to the innocent play of children, the Divine Majesty took delight to hide His works, to the end to have them found out; and as if kings could not obtain a greater honour than to be God's playfellows in that game; considering the great commandment of wits and means, whereby nothing needeth to be hidden from them."


Fifth clue:

But set thy name, that thou mayst have the praise,
Left to the unknown God we Alters raise.

Now a quote from Bacon's Last Will ( December 19th, 1625) signed as "Fr. St. Alban":

"For my name and memory, I leave it to men's charitable speeches, and to foreign nations, and the next ages."


Sir Francis Bacon

 

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