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John Bartlett (1820–1905). Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. 1919.

Page 873

Miscellaneous. (continued)
    Young Timothy
Learnt sin to fly.
    Xerxes did die,
And so must I.
    Zaccheus he
Did climb the tree
Our Lord to see.
    Our days begin with trouble here,
  Our life is but a span,
And cruel death is always near,
  So frail a thing is man.
    Now I lay me down to take my sleep, 1
I pray the Lord my soul to keep;
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
    His wife, with nine small children and one at the breast, following him to the stake.
          Martyrdom of John Rogers. Burned at Smithfield, Feb. 14, 1554. 2
    And shall Trelawny die?
Here ’s twenty thousand Cornish men
Will know the reason why. 3
Note 1.
It is said that in the earliest edition of the New England Primer this prayer is given as above, which is copied from the reprint of 1777. In the edition of 1784 it is altered to “Now I lay me down to sleep.” In the edition of 1814 the second line of the prayer reads, “I pray thee, Lord, my soul to keep.” [back]
Note 2.
The true date of his death is Feb. 4, 1555. [back]
Note 3.
Robert Stephen Hawker incorporated these lines into “The Song of the Western Men,” written by him in 1825. It was praised by Sir Walter Scott and Macaulay under the impression that it was the ancient song. It has been a popular proverb throughout Cornwall ever since the imprisonment by James II. of the seven bishops,—one of them Sir Jonathan Trelawny. [back]