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In 1612, Sir Robert Drury was sent ambassador to the court of France, and thither Donne accompanied him as his secretary. Meantime, many of the nobility were urgent with the king to confer some secular employment upon him worthy of his singular merits; but James who was familiar with his talents and attainments, desired him to enter the church, and would hear of no other arrangement. About this important step Donne for some time hesitated; but at length he consented to comply with the king's request, and was, accordingly, ordained by Doctor King, bishop of London, and soon after appointed by his royal patron, dean of St. Paul's with the degree of doctor of divinity conferred upon him, at the king's request, by the university of Cambridge. In this position Donne passed the remainder of his life, honored and respected even by nobility itself, until his death, which occurred on the thirty-first of March, 1631. He was buried in the cathedral church of St. Paul's, where a suitable monument was soon after erected to his memory.

The poetical works of Donne consist of satires, elegies, religious poems, complimentary verses, and epigrams. His reputation as a poet, was, in his own day, very great; and though during the latter part of the seventeenth and the whole of the eighteenth century it was comparatively low, it has lately revived again. It is now generally acknowledged that amid much rubbish, there is much real poetry, and that of a high order, in his writings. He is usually considered as the first of a series of poets of the seventeenth century, who, under the name of Metaphysical Poets, fill a conspicuous place in English literary history. The directness of thought, the naturalness of description, the rich abundance of genuine poetical feeling and imagery, which distinguished the poets of Elizabeth's reign, now began to give way to cold and forced conceits, mere vain workings of the intellect, a kind of poetry as unlike the former as punning is unlike genuine wit. This quality, it should be remarked, however, did not characterize the whole of the poetry of Donne and his followers. These writers are often direct, natural, and truly poetical. Donne is usually considered the first writer of that kind of satire which Pope afterward carried to perfection. From this poet's various poems we select the following curious specimen :


Before I sigh my last gasp, let me breathe,
Great Love, some legacies: I here bequeath

Mine eyes to Argus, if mine eyes can see;
If they be blind, then, Love, I give them thee;
My tongue to Fame; to ambassadors mine ears;
To women, or the sea, my tears;

Thou, Love, hast taught me here to fall,

By making me serve her who had twenty more,

That I should give to none but such as had too much before.

My constancy I to the planets give;

My truth to them who at the court do live;

Mine ingenuity and openness

To Jesuits; to buffoons my pensiveness;
My silence to any who abroad have been;
My money to a Capuchin.

Thou, Love, taught'st me, by appointing me
To love there, where no love received can be,
Only to give to such as have no good capacity.

My faith I give to Roman Catholics;

All my good works unto the schismatics

Of Amsterdam; my best civility

And courtship to an university;

My modesty I give to soldiers bare;
My patience let gamesters share;

Thou, Love, taught'st me, by making me
Love her that holds my love disparity,

Only to give to those that count my gifts indignity.

I give my reputation to those

Which were my friends; mine industry to foes;

To schoolmen I bequeath my doubtfulness;

My sickness to physicians, or excess;

To Nature all that I in rhyme have writ!
And to my company, my wit:

Thou, Love, by making me adore

He who begot this love in me before,

Taught'st me to make as though I gave, when I do but restore.

To him for whom the passing bell next tolls

I give my physic books; my written rolls

Of moral counsels I to Bedlam give;

My brazen medals, unto them which live

In want of bread; to them which pass among
All foreigners, my English tongue :

Thou, Love, by making me love one

Who thinks her friendship a fit portion

For younger lovers, dost my gifts thus disproportion.

Therefore I'll give no more, but I'll undo

The world by dying, because love dies too.

Then all your beauties will be no more worth

Than gold in mines, where none doth draw it forth,

And all your graces no more use shall have

Than a sun-dial in a grave.

Thou Love, taught'st me, by making me

Love her who doth neglect both me and thee,

To invent and practice this one way to annihilate all three.

Doctor DONNE's poems, it must be remembered, were written chiefly in early life. After he took orders he indulged very little in the poetic vein, though his fancy, as will appear from the following extract from his sermons, was still very fruitful :


It is true, God may be devoutly worshiped anywhere; in all places of his dominion, my soul shall praise the Lord, says David. It is not only a concurring of men,

a meeting of so many bodies that makes a church; if thy soul and body be met together, an humble preparation of the mind, and a reverent disposition of the body; if thy knees be bent to the earth, thy hands and eyes lifted up to heaven; if thy tongue pray and praise, and thine ears hearken to his answer; if all thy senses, and powers, and faculties, with one unanime purpose to worship thy God, thou art, to this intendment, a church, thou art a congregation; here are two or three met together in his name, and he is in the midst of them though thou be alone in thy chamber. The church of God should be built upon a rock, and yet Job had his church upon a dunghill; the church is to be placed upon the top of a hill, and yet the prophet Jeremy had his church in a miry dungeon; constancy and settledness belong to the church, and yet Jonah had his church in the whale's belly; the lion that roars and seeks whom he may devour, is an enemy to this church, and yet Daniel had his church in the lion's den; the waters of rest in the Psalms were a figure of the church, and yet the three children had their church in the fiery furnace; liberty and life appertain to the church, and yet Peter and Paul had their church in prison, and the thief had his church upon the cross. Every particular man is himself a temple of the Holy Ghost; yea, destroy his body by death and corruption in the grave, and yet here shall be a renewing, a re-edifying of all those temples, in the general resurrection; when we shall rise again, not only as so many Christians, but as so many Christian churches, to glorify the apostle and high-priest of our profession, Christ Jesus, in that eternal Sabbath. Every person, every place is fit to glorify God in.

We shall close our present remarks with a brief notice of the poet Corbet, Bishop of Oxford, and afterward of Norwich.

RICHARD CORBET was the son of a gardener, and was born at Ervill in Surrey, in 1582. He pursued his early studies at Westminster school, and thence passed, in 1598, to Christ-church College, Oxford, where he remained till he obtained his master's degree, immediately after which he took orders. and soon became an eminent preacher. His wit and eloquence recommended him to the favor of James the First, by whom he was appointed one of his chaplains in ordinary, and in 1628, made dean of Christ-church. In 1629, Charles the First raised him to the see of Oxford, and in 1632, transferred him to that of Norwich. Corbet died on the twenty-eighth of July, 1638, and was buried in the Cathedral church at Norwich, where a freestone monument was erected to his memory.

Bishop Corbet's poems are comparatively few in number, and those best known are a Journey into France, the Farewell to the Fairies, and Lines to his son Vincent Corbet; the second and third of which follow:


Farewell rewards and fairies,

Good housewives now may say,

For now foul sluts in dairies

Do fare as well as they.

And, though they sweep their hearth no less

Than maids were wont to do,

Yet who of late, for cleanliness,

Finds sixpence in her shoe?

Lament, lament old Abbeys,

The fairies' lost command;

They did but change priests' babies,
But some have changed your land;
And all your children spring from thence
Are now grown Puritans;

Who live as changelings ever since,

For love of your domains.

At morning and at evening both,
You merry were and glad,
So little care of sleep or sloth

These pretty ladies had;

When Tom came home from labour,

Or Cis to milking rose,

Then merrily went their labour,
And nimbly went their toes.

Witness those rings and roundelays
Of theirs which yet remain,
Were footed in queen Mary's days
On many a grassy plain;
But since of late Elizabeth,
And later, James came in,
They never danc'd on any heath
As when the time hath been.

By which we note the fairies
Were of the old profession,
Their songs were Ave-Maries,
Their dances were procession
But now, alas! they are all dead,
Or gone beyond the seas;
Or farther for religion fled,
Or else they take their ease.

A tell-tale in their company
They never could endure,
And whoso kept not secretly

Their mirth, was punish'd sure:
It was a just and Christian deed,
To pinch such black and blue:
O how the commonwealth doth need
Such justices as you!


What I shall leave thee none can tell,

But all shall say I wish thee well;

I wish thee, Vin, before all wealth,

Both bodily and ghostly health;

Nor too much wealth, nor wit come to thee,
So much of either may undo thee.
I wish thee learning not for show,
Enough for to instruct and know;
Not such as gentlemen require
To prate at table or at fire.

I wish thee all thy mother's graces,
Thy father's fortunes and his places.

I wish thee friends, and one at court
Not to build on, but to support;
To keep thee not in doing many
Oppressions, but from suffering any.
I wish thee peace in all thy ways,
Nor lazy nor contentious days;
And when thy soul and body part,
As innocent as now thou art.


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