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A Collection of Letters




Letter I.
To my good Friend G. H*.


The little business which you left in my hands is now dispatched; if it have hung longer than you thought, it might serve for just excuse, that these small things make as many steps to their end, and need as many motions for the warrant, as much writing of the clerks, as long expectation of a seal, as greater. It comes now to you sealed, and with it as strong and assured seals of my service and love to you, if it be good enough for you. I owe you a continual tribute of letters. But, sir, even in princes and parents, and all states that have in them a natural sovereignty, there is a sort of reciprocation, and a descent to do some offices due to them that serve them: which makes me look for letters from you, because I have another as valuable a pawn therefor, as your friendship, which is your promise; lest by the gaoler's fault this letter stick long, I must tell you, that I wrote and sent it 12th December, 1600.

Your friend and servant and lover, 12th December, 1600. J. Donne.

Letter II.
To the Honourable Knight, Sir H. Gooderef.


Though you escape my lifting up of my latch by removing, you cannot my letters; yet of this letter I do not much ac

• George Herbert: written during his imprisonment after his marriage.—Ed. T Probably from Mich am; this son may have been George, who was baptized at Camberwell, Hay 9, 1605.—Ed.

cuse myself, for I serve your commandment in it, for it is only to convey to you this paper opposed to those, with which you trusted me. It is, I cannot say the weightiest, but truly the saddest lucubration and night's passage that ever I had. For it exercised those hours, which, with extreme danger of her, whom I should hardly have abstained from recompensing for her company in this world, with accompanying her out of it, increased my poor family with a son. Though her anguish, and my fears, and hopes, seem divers and wild distractions from this small business of your papers, yet because they all narrowed themselves, and met in via regia, which is the consideration of ourselves, and God, I thought it time not unfit for this dispatch. Thus much more than needed I have told you, whilst my fire was lighting at Tricombs, 10 o'clock. Yours ever entirely,

J. Donne.

Letter III.
To Sir Henry Goodyere*.


Though my friendship be good for nothing else, it may give you the profit of a tentation, or of an affliction: it may excuse your patience; and though it cannot allure, it shall importune you. Though I know you have many worthy friends of all ranks, yet I add something, since I which am of none, would fain be your friend too. There is some of the honour and some of the degrees of a creation, to make a friendship of nothing. Yet, not to annihilate myself utterly (for though it seem humbleness, yet it is a work of as much almightiness, to bring a thing to nothing, as from nothing), though I be not of the best stuff for friendship, which men of warm and durable fortunes only are, I cannot say, that I am not of the best fashion, if truth and honesty be that; which I must ever exercise, towards you, because I learned it of you: for the conversation with worthy men, and of good example, though it sow not virtue in us, yet produceth and ripeneth it. Your miins haste, and mine to Micham, cuts off this letter here, yet, as in little patterns torn from a whole piece, this may tell

• Of Polesworth, Gentleman of his Majesty's Privy Chamber.—Ed.

you what all I am. Though by taking me before my day (which I accounted Tuesday) I make short payment of this duty of letters, yet I have a little comfort in this, that you see me hereby, willing to pay those debts which I can, before my time.

Your affectionate friend,

First Saturday in March, 1607. J. Donne.

You forgot to send me the apology; and many times, I think it an injury to remember one of a promise, lest it confess a distrust. But of the book, by occasion of reading the Dean's answer to it, I have sometimes some want.

Letter IV.
To Sir Henry Goodyere.


It should be no interruption to your pleasures, to hear me often say that I love you, and that you are as much my meditations as myself. I often compare not you and me, but the sphere in which your resolutions are, and my wheel; both I hope concentric to God: for methinks the new astronomy is thus appliable well, that we which are a little earth, should rather move towards God, than that he which is fulfilness and can come no whither, should move towards us. To your life full of variety, nothing is old, nor new to mine; and as to that life, all stickings and hesitations seem stupid and stony, so to this, all fluid slipperinesses, and transitory migrations seem giddy and feathery. In that life one is ever in the porch or postern, going in or out, never within his house himself: it is a garment made of remnants, a life ravelled out into ends, a line discontinued, and a number of small wretched points, useless, because they concur not: a life built of past and future, not proposing any constant present; they have more pleasures than we, but not more pleasure; they joy oftener, we longer; and no man but of so much understanding as may deliver him from being a fool, would change with a madman, which had a better proportion of wit in his often lucidis. You know, they which dwell farthest from the sun, if in any convenient distance, have longer days, better appetites, better digestion, better growth, and longer life; and all these advantages have their minds who are well removed from the scorchings, and dazzlings, and exhalings of the world's glory: but neither of our lives are in such extremes; for you living at court without ambition, which would burn you, or envy, which would devest others, live in the sun, not in the fire: and I which live in the country without stupifying, am not in darkness, but in shadow, which is not no light, but a pallid, waterish, and diluted one. As all shadows are of one colour, if you respect the body from which they are cast, (for our shadows upon clay will be dirty, and in a garden green and flowery) so all retirings into a shadowy life are alike from all causes, and alike subject to the barbarousness and insipid dullness of the country: only the employments, and that upon which you cast and bestow your pleasure, business, or books, give it the tincture, and beauty. But truly wheresoever we are, if we can but tell ourselves truly what and where we would be, we may make any state and place such; for we are so composed, that if abundance, or glory scorch and melt us, we have an earthly cave, our bodies, to go into by consideration, and cool ourselves: and if we be frozen, and contracted with lower and dark fortunes, we have within us a torch, a soul, lighter and warmer than any without: we are therefore our own umbrellas and our own suns. These, sir, are the sallads and onions of Micham, sent to you with as wholesome affection as your other friends send melons arid quelque-choses from court and London. If I present you not as good diet as they, I would yet say grace to theirs, and bid much good do it you. I send you, with this, a letter which I sent to the countess. It is not my use nor duty to do so, but for your having of it, there were but two consents, and I am sure you have mine, and you are sure you have hers. I also wrote to her ladyship for the verses she showed in the garden, which I did not only to extort them, nor only to keep my promise of writing, for that I had done in the other letter, and perchance she hath forgotten the promise; nor only because I think my letters just good enough for a progress, but because I would write apace to her, whilst it is possible to express that which I yet know of her, for by this growth I see how soon she will be ineffable.

Letter V.
To the Countess of Bedford.
Happiest and worthiest Lady,

I do not remember that ever I have seen a petition in verse; I would not therefore be singular, nor add these to your other papers. I have yet adventured so near as to make a petition for verse, it is for those your ladyship did me the honour to see in Twickenham garden, except you repent your making, and having mended your judgment by thinking worse, that is, better, because juster, of their subject. They must needs be an excellent exercise of your wit, which speak so well of so ill: I humbly beg them of your ladyship, with two such promises, as to any other of your compositions were threatenings: that I will not show them, and that I will not believe them; and nothing shall be so used that comes from your brain or breast. If I should confess a fault in the boldness of asking them, or make a fault by doing it in a longer letter, your ladyship might use your style and old fashion of the court towards me, and pay me with a pardon. Here therefore I humbly kiss your ladyship's fair learned hands, and wish you good wishes and speedy grants.

Your ladyship's servant,

J. Donne.

Letter VI.
To Sir H. Goodyere*.


It is in our state ever held for a good sign to change prison, and nella signoria de mi, I will think it so, that my sickness hath given me leave to come to my London prison. I made do doubt but my entrance-pain (for it was so rather than a sickness, but that my sadness putrefied and corrupted it to that name) affected you also; for nearer contracts than general Christianity, had made us so much towards one, that one part cannot escape the distemper of the other. I was, therefore, very careful, as well to slack any sorrow which my danger might occasion in you; as to

• About 1607.—Ed.

give you the comfort of having been heard in your prayers for me, to tell you as soon as my pain remitted what steps I made towards health, which I did last week. This Tuesday morning your man brought me a letter, which (if he had not found me at London) I see he had a hasty commandment to have brought to Micham. Sir, though my fortune hath made me such as I am, rather a sickness and disease of the world than any part of it, yet I esteemed myself so far from being so to you, as I esteemed you to be far from being so of the world, as to measure men by fortune or events. I am now gone so far towards health, as there is not infirmity enough left in me for an assurance of so much nobleness and truth, as your last letter is to work upon, that might cure a greater indisposition than I am now in: and though if I had died, I had not gone without testimonies of such a disposition in you towards the reparation of my fortune, or preservation of my poor reputation; yet I would live, and be some such thing as you might not be ashamed to love. Your man must send away this hour in which he visits me; and I have not yet (for I came last night) offered to visit my Lady Bedford, and therefore have nothing to say which should make me grudge this straitness of time. He tells me he sends again upon Thursday, and therefore I will make an end of this letter, and perfect it then. I doubt my letters have not come duly to your hand, and that writing in my dungeon of Micham without dating, have made the chronology and sequence of my letters perplexed to you; howsoever you shall not be rid of this ague of my letters, though perchance the fit change days. I have received in a narrow compass three of yours, one with the catalogue of your books, another I found here left last Saturday by your man, and this which he brought me this morning. Sir, I dare sit no longer in my waistcoat, nor have anything worth the danger of a relapse to write. I owe you so much of my health, as I would not mingle you in any occasion of impairing it, and therefore here ask leave to kiss your hands, and bid you good morrow and farewell.

Your very true friend and servant,

J. Donne.


Letter VII.
To the best Knight, Sir H. Wootton.


When I saw your good countess last, she let me think that her message by her footman would hasten you up. And it furthered that opinion in me, when I knew how near Mr. Mathew's day of departing this kingdom was. To counterpoise both these, I ,have a little letter from you brought to me to Micham yesterday, but left at my lodging two days sooner: and because that speaks nothing of your return, I am content to be perplexed in it; and as in all other, so in this perplexity to do that which is safest. To me it is safest to write, because it performs a duty, and leaves my conscience well: and though it seem not safest for the letter, which may perish, yet I remember, that in the crociate for the wars in the Holy Land, and so in all pilgrimages enterprised in devotion, he which dies in the way, enjoys all the benefit and indulgences which the end did afford. Howsoever, all that can increase the'danger of your letter, increases my merit; for, as where they immolate men, it is a scanter devotion to sacrifice one of many slaves or of many children, or an only child, than to beget and bring up one purposely to sacrifice it, so if I ordain this letter purposely for destruction, it is the largest expressing of that kind of piety, and I am easy to believe (because I wish it) your haste hither: not that I can fear any slackness in that business which drew you down, because your fortune and honour are a pair of good spurs to it; but here also you have both true business and many quasi negotia, which go two and two to a business; which are visitations, and such, as though they be not full businesses, yet are so near them that they serve as for excuses, in omissions of the other. As when abjurations were in use in this land, the state and law were satisfied if the abjuror came to the sea-side, and waded into the sea, when winds and tides resisted, so we think ourselves justly excusable to our friends and ourselves, if when we should do business, we come to the place of business, as courts and the houses of great princes and officers. I do not so much intimate your infirmity

VOL. VI. x

in this, as frankly confess mine own. The master of Latin language says, Oculi et aures aliorum te speculantur et cuetodiunt, So those two words are synonymous, and only the observation of others upon me, is my preservation from extreme idleness, else I profess, that I hate business so much, as I am sometimes glad to remember, that the Roman church reads that verse A negotio perambulante in tenebris, which we read, From the pestilence walking by night, so equal to me do the plague and business deserve avoiding, but you will neither believe that I abhor business, if I enlarge this letter, nor that I would afford you that ease which I affect; therefore return to your pleasures.

Your unprofitablest friend, March 14, 1607. Jo. Donne.

Letter VIII.

To the Honourable Knight, Sir II. Goodyere, one of the Gentlemen of his Majesty's Privy Chamber.


You may remember that long since you delivered Mr. Fowler possession of me, but the wide distance in which I have lived from court, makes me reasonably fear, that now he knows not his right and power in me, though he must of necessity have all, to whom you and I join in a gift of me, as we did to him, so that perchance he hath a servant of me, which might be passed in a book of concealment. If your leisure suffer it, I pray find whether I be in him still, and conserve me in his love; and so perfect your own work, or do it over again, and restore me to the place, which by your favour I had in him. For Mr. Powell, who serves her majesty as clerk of her council, hath told me that Mr. Fowler hath some purpose to retire himself; and therefore I would fain for all my love, have so much of his, as to find him willing, when I shall seek him at court, to let me understand hia pupose therein; for if my means may make me acceptable to the queen and him, I should be very sorry, he should make so far steps therein with any other, that I should fail in it, only for not having spoken to him soon enough. It were an injury to the forwardness of your love to add more; here therefore I kiss your hands, and commend to you the truth of my love.

Your very affectionate servant and lover,

Jo. Donnb.

From my lodging in the Strand, whither I shall return on Monday, 13th June, 1607.

Letter IX.
To Yourself*.


I send you here a translation; but it is not only to believe me, it is a great invention to have understood any piece of this book, whether the gravity of the matter, or the poetical form, give it his inclination, and principium motus; you are his centre, or his sphere, and to you as to his proper place he addresses himself. Besides that all my things, not only by obligation, but by custom, know that that is the way they should go. I spake of this to my Lady of Bedford, thinking then I had had a copy which I made long since, at sea, but because I find it not, I have done that again; when you find it not unseasonable, let her see it; and if you can think it fit, that a thing that hath either wearied, or distasted you, should receive so much favour, put it amongst her papers: when you have a new stomach to it, I will provide you quickly a new copy.

Your very true friend and servant and lover,

J. Donne.

At my Mitcham hospital, Aug. 10.

Letter X.
To Sir Henry Goody ere.


In the history or style of friendship, which is best written both in deeds and words, a letter which is of a mixed nature, and hath something of both, is a mixed parenthesis: it may be left

* Probably Sir Henry Goodyere.—Ed.

Out, yet it contributes, though not to the being, yet to the verdure, and freshness thereof. Letters have truly the same office, as oaths. As these amongst light and empty men, are but fillings, and pauses, and interjections; but with weightier, they are sad attestations; so are letters to some, compliment, and obligation to others. For mine, as I never authorised my servant to lie in my behalf, (for if it were officious in him, it might be worse in me) so I allow my letters much less that civil dishonesty, both because they go. from me more considerately, and because they are permanent; for in them I may speak to you in your chamber a year hence, before I know not whom, and not hear myself. They shall therefore ever keep the sincerity and intemerateness of the fountain, whence they are derived. And as wheresoever these leaves fall, the root is in my heart, so shall they, as that sucks good affections towards you there, have ever true impressions thereof. Thus much information is in very leaves, that they can tell what the tree is, and these can tell you I am a friend, and an honest man. Of what general use, the fruit should speak, and I have none: and of what particular profit to you, your application and experimenting should tell you, and you can make none of such a nothing; yet even of barren sycamores, such as I, there were use, if either any light flashings, or scorching vehemencies, or sudden showers made you need so shadowy an example or remembrancer. But (sir) your fortune and mind do you this happy injury, that they make all kind of fruits useless unto you; therefore I have placed my love wisely where I need communicate nothing. All this, though perchance you read it not till Michaelmas, was told you at Micham, 15th August, 1607.

Letter XI.
To the Gallant Knight, Sir Thomas Lucy.


Because in your last letter, I have an invitation to come to you, though I never thought myself so fallen from my interest, which, by your favour, I prescribe in, in you, and therefore when in the spring I hoped to have strength enough, to come into those parts, upon another occasion, I always resolved to put myself into your presence too, yet now I ask you more particularly how you dispose of yourself; for though I have heard, that you purpose a journey to the Bath, and from thence hither, yet I can hope, that my service at Lincoln's Inn being ended for next term, I may have intermission enough to wait upon you at Polesworth, before the season call you to Bath. I was no easy apprehender of the fear of your departing from us; neither am I easy in the hope of seeing you entirely over suddenly. God loves your soul, if he be loth to let it go inchmeal, and not by swallowings; and he loves it too, if he build it up again stone after stone; his will is not done except his way and his leisure be observed. In my particular, I am sorry, if my ingenuity and candour in delivering myself in those points, of which you spake to me, have defaced those impressions which were in you before: if my freedom have occasioned your captivity, I am miserably sorry. I went unproStably and improvidently, to the utmost end of truth, because I would go as far as I could to meet peace; if my going so far in declaring myself, brought you where you could not stop. But I was as confident in your strength, as in mine own, so am I still, in him who strengthens all our infirmities, and will, I doubt not, bring you and me together, in all those particulars, so as we shall not part in this world, nor the next. Sir, your own soul cannot be more zealous of your peace, than I am: and God, who loves that zeal in me, will not suffer you to suspect it. I am surprised with a necessity of writing now, in a minute; for I sent to Beford-house to inform myself of means to write, and your daughter sent me word, of a present messenger, and therefore the rest of this, I shall make up in my prayers to our blessed Saviour, for all happinesses to you.

Your poor servant in Christ Jesus, Drury-house, the 22d of J. Donne.

December, 1607.

Letter XII.
To Sir Thomas Roe.


I have bespoke you a new-year's-gift, that is, a good new year, for I have offered your name with my soul heartily to God in my morning's best sacrifice: if for custom you will do a particular office in recompense, deliver this letter to your lady, now, or when the rage of the mask is past. If you make any haste into the country, I pray let me know it. I would kiss your hands before you go, which I do now, and continue

Your affectionate servant and lover, Mitcham, the last of 1607, as I remember. J. Donne.

Letter XIII*.
To Sir I. H.


I would not omit this, not commodity, but advantage of writing to you. This emptiness in London, dignifies any letter from hence, as in the seasons, earliness and lateness, make the sourness, and after, the sweetness of fruits, acceptable and gracious. We often excuse and advance mean authors, by the age in which they lived, so will your love do this letter; and you will tell yourself, that if he which writ it knew wherein he might express his affection, or anything which might have made his letter welcomer, he would have done it. As it is, you may accept it so, as we do many china manufactures, of which when we know no use, yet we satisfy our curiosity in considering them, because we know not how, nor of what matter they were made. Near great woods and quarries it is no wonder to see fair houses, but in Holland which wants both, it is. So were it for me who am as far removed from court, and knowledge of foreign passages, as this city is now from the face and furniture of a city, to build up a long letter and to write of myself, were but to inclose a poor handful of straw for a token in a letter: yet I will tell you, that I am at London only to provide for Monday, when I shall uso that favour which my Lady Bedford hath afforded me, of giving her

* Probably Sir James Harrington.—Ed.

name to my daughter; which T mention to you, as well to show that I covet any occasion of a greatful speaking of her favours, as that, because I have thought the day is likely to bring you to London, I might tell you, that my poor house is in your way and you shall there find such company, as (I think) you will not be loth to accompany to London. Your very true friend,

August 6, 1608. J. Donne.

Letter XIV.
To Sir Henry Goodyere.


This letter hath more merit, than one of more diligence, for I wrote it in my bed, and with much pain. I have occasion to sit late some nights in my study (which your books make a pretty library), and now I find that that room hath a wholesome emblematic use: for having under it a vault, I make that promise me, that I shall die reading, since my book and a grave are so near. But it hath another as unwholesome, that by raw vapours rising from thence (for I can impute it to nothing else), I have contracted a sickness which I cannot name nor describe. For it hath so much of a continual cramp, that wrests the sinews, so much of a tetane, that it withdraws and pulls the mouth, and so much of the gout (which they whose counsel I use, say it is), that it is not like to be cured, though I am too hasty in three days to pronounce it. If it be the gout, I am miserable; for that affects dangerous parts, as my neck and breast, and (I think fearfully) my stomach, but it will not kill me yet; I shall be in this world, like a porter in a great house, ever nearest the door, but seldomest abroad: I shall have many things to make me weary, and yet not get leave to be gone. If I go, I will provide by my best means that you suffer not for me, in your bonds. The estate which I should leave behind me of any estimation, is my poor fame, in the memory of my friends, and therefore I' would be curious of it, and provide that they repent not to have loved me. Since my imprisonment in my bed, I have made a meditation in

verse, which I call a Litany*; the word you know imports no other than supplication, but all churches have one form of supplication, by that name. Amongst ancient annals, I mean some eight hundred years, I have met two Litanies in Latin verse, which gave me not the reason of my meditations, for in good faith I thought not upon them then, but they give me a defence, if any man, to a layman, and a private, impute it as a fault, to take such divine and public names, to his own little thoughts. The first of these was made by Ratpetus, a monk of Suevia; and the other by St. Notker, of whom I will give you this note by the way, that he is a private saint, for a few parishes; they were both but monks, and the Litanies poor and barbarous enough; yet Pope Nicholas V. valued their devotion so much, that he canonized both their poems, and commanded them for public service in their churches: mine is for lesser chapels, which are my friends, and though a copy of it were due to you, now, yet I am so unable to serve myself with writing it for you at this time (being some thirty staves of nine lines), that I must entreat you to take a promise that you shall have the first, for a testimony of that duty which I owe to your love, and to myself, who am bound to cherish it by my best offices. That by which it will deserve best acceptation, is, that neither the Roman church need call it defective, because it abhors not the particular mention of the blessed triumphers in heaven; nor the Reformed can discreetly accuse it, of attributing more than a rectified devotion ought to do. The day before I lay down, I was at London, where I delivered your letter for Sir Edward Conway, and received another for you, with the copy of my book, of which it is impossible for me to give you a copy so soon, for it is not of much less than three hundred pages. If I die, it shall come to you in that fashion that your letter desires it. If I warm again (as I have often seen such beggars as my indisposition is, end themselves soon, and the patient as soon), you and I shall speak together of that, before it be too late to serve you in that commandment. At this time I only assure you, that I have not appointed it upon any person, nor ever purposed to print it: which latter perchance you thought, and grounded your request

'- - * See Poems.

thereupon. A gentleman that visited me yesterday, told me that our church hath lost Mr. Hugh Broughton, who is gone to the Roman side. I have known before, that Serarius the Jesuit, was an instrument from Cardinal Baronius to draw him to Rome, to accept a stipend, only to serve the Christian churches in controversies with the Jews, without endangering himself to change of his persuasion in particular deductions between these Christian churches, or being inquired of, or tempted thereunto. And I hope he is no otherwise departed from us. If he be, we shall not escape scandal in it; because, though he be a man of many distempers, yet when he shall come to eat assured bread, and to be removed from partialities, to which want drove him, to make himself a reputation, and raise up favourers; you shall see in that course of opposing the Jews, he will produce worthy things: and our church will perchance blush to have lost a soldier fit for that great battle; and to cherish only those single duellisms, between Rome and England, or that more single, and almost self-homicide, between the unconformed ministers, and bishops. I wrote to you last week that the plague increased; by which

you may see that my letters * .

opinion of the song, not that I make such trifles for praise; but because as long as you speak comparatively of it with mine own, and not absolutely, so long I am of your opinion even at this time; when I humbly thank God, I ask and have, his comfort of sadder meditations, I do not condemn in myself, that I have given my wit such evaporations, as those, if they be free from profaneness, or obscene provocations. Sir, you would pity me if you saw me write, and therefore will pardon me if I write no more: my pain hath drawn my head so much awry, and holds it so, that mine eye cannot follow mine hand: I receive you therefore into my prayers, with mine own weary soul, and commend myself to yours. I doubt not but next week I shall be good news to you, for I have mending or dying on my side, which is two to one. If I continue thus, I shall have comfort in this, that my blessed Saviour exercising his justice upon my two worldly parts, my fortune, and body, reserves all his mercy for that which bes

* It is thus in the old edition.—Ed.

tasts it, and most needs it, my soul. I profess to you truly, that my lothness to give over now, seems to myself an ill sign, kthat I shall write no more*.

Your poor friend, and God's poor patient,

J. Donne.

Letter XV.

To my worthy and honoured Friend, Mr. George Garet.


I am sory, if your care of me have made you importune to anybody else; yet I cannot be very sorry because it gives new testimonies of your favour to me, of which I shall ever be very glad, and (that which is my only virtue) thankful: so desperate fortunes as mine, may well make friends loth to do courtesies, because an inability in deserving or requiting, takes from them the honour of having done a courtesy, and leaves it but the poor name of an alms; and alms may be given in easier proportions, and more meritoriously. But, sir, by what name or weight soever you esteem this kindness which you have done me, I value it so, as might alone persuade me of your care of me; in recompense of which, you must bo pleased to accept new assurances that I am Your very affectionate servant,

J. Donne.

I pray let my service be presented by you to Mr. Roope.

Letter XVI.
To the Honourable Knight, Sir Robert Karre.\


I was loth to be the only man who should have no part in this great festival; I thought therefore to celebrate that well, by spending some part of it in your company. This made me seek you again this afternoon, though I were guilty to myself

• No date; but probably written from Mitcham, about 1008 or 1609. Tho same appears to be the case with the following letter.—Ed.

t Written probably before 1610. This Sir Robert Carre, was a favourite of King James, whose history Hume relates, chap. Xlvu.Ed.

of having done so every day since your coming. I confess such an importunity is worthy to be punished with such a missing; yet, because it is the likeliest reparation of my fortunes to hope upon reversions, I would be glad of that title in you: that, after solemnities, and businesses, and pleasures be passed over, my time may come, and you may afford some of your last leisures to

Your affectionate and humble servant,

Nov. 4. John Donne.

Letter XVII.
To my honoured Friend, Sir T. Lucy.


I make account that this writing of letters, when it is with any seriousness, is a kind of ecstacy, and a departure and secession and suspension of the soul, which doth then communicate itself to two bodies: and as I would every day provide for my soul's last convoy, though I know not when I shall die, and perchance I 'shall never die; so for these ecstacies in letters, I oftentimes deliver myself over in writing when I know not when those letters shall be sent to you, and many times they never are, for I have a little satisfaction in seeing a letter written to you upon my table, though I meet no opportunity of sending it. Especially this summer, when either by my early retiring home, or your irresolutions of your own purposes, or some other possessions of yours you did less reveal to me your progresses, and stations, and where I might cross you by letters, than heretofore; I make shift to lay little fault upon you, because my pardon might be easier, if I transgress into a longer and busier letter than your country sports admit; but you may read it in winter: and by that time I may more clearly express myself for those things which have entered into me, concerning your soul: for as the greatest advantage which man's soul is thought to have beyond others, is that which they call actum reflexum, and iteratum, (for beasts do the same things as we do, but they do not consider nor remember the circumstances and inducements; and by what power, and faculty, it is that they do them) so of those which they call actum reflexum the noblest is that which reflects upon

the soul itself, and considers and meditates it. Into which consideration when I walk after my slow and imperfect pace, I begin to think that as litigious men, tired with suits, admit any arbitrament; and as princes, travailed with long and wasteful war, descend to such conditions of peace, as they are soon after ashamed to have embraced: so philosophers, and so all sects of Christians, after long disputations and controversies, have allowed many things for positive and dogmatical truths which are not worthy of that dignity; and so many doctrines have grown to be the ordinary diet and food of our spirits, and have place in the pap of catechisms, which were admitted but as physic in that present distemper, or accepted in a lazy weariness, when men, so they might have something to rely upon, and to excuse themselves from more painful inquisition, never examined what that was. To which indisposition of ours the casuists are so indulgent, as that they allow a conscience to adhere to any probable opinion against a more probable, and do never bind him to seek out which is the more probable, but give him leave to dissemble it and to depart from it, if by mischance he come to know it. This, as it appears in all sciences, so most manifestly in physic, which for a long time considering nothing but plain curing, and that but by example and precedent, the world at last longed for some certain canons and rules, how these cures might be accomplished; and when men are inflamed with this desire, and that such a fire breaks out that rages and consumes infinitely by heat of argument, except some of authority interpose. This produced Hippocrates's Aphorisms; and the world slumbered or took breath in his resolution divers hundreds of years. And then, in Galen's time, which was not satisfied with the effect of curing, nor with the knowledge how to cure, broke out another desire of finding out the causes why those simples wrought those effects. Then Galen, rather to stay their stomachs than that he gave them enough, taught them the qualities of the four elements, and arrested them upon this, that all differences of qualities proceeded from them. And after (not much before our time) men perceiving that all effects in physic could not be derived from these beggarly and impotent properties of the elements, and that therefore they were driven often to that miserable refuge of specific form, and of anti

pathy and sympathy, we see the world hath turned upon new principles which are attributed to Paracelsus, but indeed too much to his honour. Certainly it is also so in the physic of our sours divinity, for in the primitive church, when amongst the fathers there were so divers opinions of the state of the soul, presently after this life, they easily inclined to be content to do as much for them dead as when they were alive, and so concurred in a charitable disposition to pray for them; which manner of prayer then in use, no Christian church at this day, having received better light, will allow of. So also when in the beginning of St. Augustine's time, grace had been so much advanced, that mans nature was scarce admitted to be so much as any means or instrument (not only no kind of cause) of his own good works. And soon after, in St. Augustine's time also, man's free will (by fierce opposition and arguing against the former error) was too much overvalued, and admitted into too near degrees of fellowship with grace. Those times admitted a doctrine and form of reconciliation which, though for reverence to the time, both the Dominicans and Jesuits at this day, in their great quarrel about grace and free-will, would yet seem to maintain; yet indifferent and dispassioned men of that church see there is no possibility in it, and therefore accuse it of absurdity and almost of heresy. I think it falls out thus also in the matter of the soul: for Christian religion presuming a soul, and intending principally her happiness in the life to come, hath been content to accept any way which hath been obtruded, how this soul is begun in us. Hence it is that whole Christian churches arrest themselves upon propagation from parents; and other whole Christian churches allow only infusion from God. In both which opinions there appear such infirmities, as it is time to look for a better: for whosoever will adhere to the way of propagation, can never evict necessarily and certainly a natural immortality in the soul, if the soul result out of matter; nor shall he ever prove that all mankind hath any more than one soul: as certainly of all beasts, if they receive such souls as they have from their parents, every species can have but one soul. And they which follow the opinion of infusion from God, and of a new creation (which is now the more common opinion), as they can very hardly defend the doctrine of original sin (the soul is forced to take this infection, and comes not into the body of her own disposition), so shall they never be able to prove that all those whom we see in the shape of men, have an immortal and reasonable soul, because our parents are as able as any other species is to give us a soul of growth and of sense, and to perform all vital and animal functions. And so without infusion of such a soul may produce a creature as wise, and well disposed as any horse or elephant, of which degree many whom we see come far short; nor hath God bound or declared himself that he will always create a soul for every embryon, there is yet therefore no opinion in philosophy, nor divinity, so well established as constrains us to believe, both that the soul is immortal, and that every particular man hath such a soul: which since out of the great mercy of our God we do constantly believe, I am ashamed that we do not also know it by searching farther. But as sometimes we had rather believe a travellers lie than go to disprove him; so men rather cleave to these ways than seek new. Yet because I have meditated therein, I will shortly acquaint you with what I think; for I would not be in danger of that law of Moses, that if a man dig a pit, and cover it not, he must recompense those which are damnified by it: which is often interpreted of such as shake old opinions, and do not establish new as certain, but leave consciences in a worse danger than they found them in. I believe that law of Moses hath in it some mystery and appliableness; for by that law men arc only then bound to that indemnity and compensation, if an ox or an ass (that is, such as are of a strong constitution and accustomed to labour) fall therein; but it is not said so, if a sheep or a goat fall: no more are we, if men in a silliness or wantonness will stumble or take a scandal, bound to rectify them at all times. And therefore because I justly presume you strong aud watchful enough, I make account that I am not obnoxious to that law, since my meditations are neither too wide nor too deep for you, except only that my way of expressing them may be extended beyond your patience and pardon, which I will therefore tempt no longer at this time.

Your very affectionate friend and servant and lover, From Mitcham, my close prison ever John Donne.

since I saw you.—Oct. 9.

Letter XVIII.
To the Honourable Knight, Sir Henri/ Goodyere.


As you are a great part of my business, when I come to London, so are you when I send. More than the office of a visitation brings this letter to you now; for I remember that about this time you purposed a journey to fetch, or meet the lad, Huntington. If you justly doubt any long absence, I pray send to my lodging my written books: and if you may stay very long, I pray send that letter in which I sent you certain heads which I purposed to enlarge, for I have them not in any other paper: and I may find time in your absence to do it, because I know no stronger argument to move you to love me, but because you have done so, do so still, to make my reason better, and I shall at last prescribe in you, Yours,

Mitcham, Wednesday. J. Donne.

Letter XIX.
To the Honourable Knight, Sir Robert Karre *.


Lest you should think yourself too much beholden to your fortune, and so rely too much upon her hereafter, I am bold to tell you, that it is not only your good fortune that hath preserved you from the importunity of my visits all this time. For my ill fortune, which is stronger than any man's good fortune, hath concurred in the plot to keep us asunder, by infecting one in my house with the measles. But all that is so safely overworn, that I dare, not only desire to put myself into your presence, but by your mediation, a little farther. For, esteeming myself, by so good a title, as my lord's own words, to be under his providence, and care of my fortune, I make it the best part of my studies how I might ease his lordship by finding out something for myself. Which, because I think I have done, as though I had done him a service therein, I adventure to desire to speak with him, which I beseech you to advance, in addition to your many favours

* Probably from Mitcham before 1009.—ed.

and benefits to me. And if you have occasion to send any of your servants to this town, to give me notice, what times aro fittest for me to wait, to enjoy your favour herein. My business is of that nature, that loss of time may make it much more difficult, and may give courage to the ill fortune of

Your humble servant,
J. Donne.

Letter XX.
To Sir H. Goodyere.


Every Tuesday I make account that I turn a great hourglass, and consider that a week's life is run out since I writ. But if I ask myself what I have done in the last watch, or would do in the next, I can say nothing; if I say that I have passed it without hurting any, so may the spider in my window. The primitive monks were excusable in their retirings and enclosures of themselves: for even of them every one cultivated his own garden and orchard, that is, his soul and body, by meditation, and manufactures; and they sought the world no more since they consumed none of her sweetness, nor begot others to burden her. But for me, if I were able to husband all my time so thriftily, as not only not to wound my soul in a minute by actual sin, but not to rob and cozen her by giving any part to pleasure or business, but bestow it all upon her in meditation, yet even in that I should wound her more, and contract another guiltiness: as the eagle were very unnatural if because she is able to do it, she should perch a whole day upon a tree, staring in contemplation of the majesty and glory of the sun, and let her young eaglets starve in the nest. Two of the most precious things which God hath afforded us here, for the agony and exercise of our sense and spirit, which are a thirst and inhiation after the next life, and a frequency of prayer and meditation in this, are often envenomed, and putrefied, and stray into a corrupt disease: for as God doth thus occasion, and positively concur to evil, that when a man is purposed to do a great sin, God infuses some good thoughts which make him chose a less sin, or leave out some circumstance which aggravated that; so the devil doth not only suffer but

provoke us to some things naturally good, upon condition that we shall omit some other more necessary and more obligatory. And this is his greatest subtlety; because herein we have the deceitful comfort of having done well, and can very hardly spy our error because it is but an insensible omission, and no accusing act. With the first of these I have often suspected myself to be overtaken, which is, with a desire of the next life: which though I know it is not merely out of a weariness of this, because I had the same desires when I went with the tide, and enjoyed fairer hopes than now: yet I doubt worldly encumbrances have increased it. I would not that death should take me asleep. I would not have him merely seize me, and only declare me to be dead, but win me, and overcome me. When I must shipwreck, I would do it in a sea, where mine impotency might have some excuse; not in a sullen weedy lake, where I could not have so much as exercise for my swimming. Therefore I would fain do something; but that I cannot tell what, is no wonder. For to choose, is to do: but to be no part of anybody, is to be nothing. At most, the greatest persons, are but great wens, and excrescences; men of wit and delightful conversation, but as moles for ornament, except they be so incorporated into the body of the world, that they contribute something to the sustentation of the whole. This I made account that I begun early, when I understood the study of our laws; but was diverted by the worst voluptuousness, which is an hydroptic immoderate desire of human learning and languages: beautiful ornaments to great fortunes; but mine needed an occupation, and a course which I thought I entered well into, when I submitted myself to such a service, as I thought might have employed those poor advantages, which I had. And there I stumbled too, yet I would try again: for to this hour I am nothing, or so little, that I am scarce subject and argument good enough for one of mine own letters: yet I fear, that doth not ever proceed from a good root, that I am so well content to be less, that is dead. You, sir, are far enough from these descents, your virtue keeps you secure, and your natural disposition to mirth will preserve you; but lose none of these holds, a slip is often as dangerous as a bruise, and though you cannot fall to my lowness, yet in a much less disVol. vi. v

traction you may meet my sadness; for he is no safer which falls from an high tower into the leads, than he which falls from thence to the ground: make therefore to yourself some mark, and go towards it allegrement. Though I be in such a planetary and erratic fortune, that I can do nothing constantly, yet you may find some constancy in my constant advising you to it.

Your hearty true friend,

J. Donne.

I came this evening from Mr. Jones's house in Essex, where Mr. Martin hath been, and left a relation of Captain Whitcock's death, perchance it is no news to you, but it was to me; without doubt want broke him; for when Mr. Holland's company by reason of the plague broke, the captain sought to be at Mrs. Jones's house,'.who in her husband's absence declining it, he went in the night, his boy carrying his cloak-bag, on foot to the lord of Sussex, who going next day to hunt, the captain not then sick, told him he would see him no more. A chaplain came up to him, to whom he delivered an account of his understanding, and I hope, of his belief, and soon after died; and my lord hath buried him with his own ancestors. Perchance his life needed a longer sickness, but a man may go faster and safer, when he enjoys that daylight of a clear and soynd understanding, than in the night or twilight of an ague or other disease. And the grace of Almighty God doth everything suddenly and hastily, but depart from us: it enlightens us, warms us, heats us, ravishes us, at once. Such a medicine, I fear, his inconsideration needed; and I hope as confidently that he had it. As our soul is infused when it is created, and created when it is infused, so at her going out, God's mercy is had by asking, and that is asked by having. Lest your Polesworth carrier should cozen me, I send my man with this letter early to London, whither this Tuesday all the court come to a christening at Arundel-house, and stay in town; so that I will sup with the good lady, and write again tomorrow to you, if anything be occasioned there, which concerns you, and I will tell her so; next day they are to return to Hampton, and upon Friday the king to Royston *.

* No date; but probably from Mitcham during his distress and want of occupation in 1604—1609.—Ed.

Letter XXI.
To my honourable Friend, Sir Henry Goodyere*.


To you that are not easily scandalized, and in whom, I hope, neither my religion nor morality can suffer, I dare write my opinion of that book in whose bowels you left me. It hath refreshed, and given new justice to my ordinary complaint, that the divines of these times, are become mere advocates, as though religion were a temporal inheritance; they plead for it with all sophistications, and illusions, and forgeries: and herein are they likest advocates, that though they be fed by the way, with dignities, and other recompenses, yet that for which they plead is none of theirs. They write for religion, without it. In the main point in question, I think truly there is a perplexity (as far as I see yet) and both sides may be in justice, and innocence; and the wounds which they inflict upon the adverse part, are all se defendendo: for, clearly, our state cannot be safe without the oath; since they profess, that clergymen, though traitors, are no subjects, and that all the rest may be none to-morrow. And, as clearly, the supremacy which the Roman church pretend, were diminished, if it were limited; and will as ill abide that, or disputation, as the prerogative of temporal kings, who being the only judges of their prerogative, why may not Roman bishops, (so enlightened as they are presumed by them) be good witnesses of their own supremacy, which is now so much impugned? But for this particular author, I looked for more prudence, and human wisdom in him, in avoiding all miscitings, or misinterpretings, because at this time, the watch is set, and everybody's hammer is upon that anvil; and to dare offend in that kind now, is, for a thief to leave the covert, and meet a strong hue and cry in the teeth: and yet truly this man is extremely obnoxious in that kind; for, though he have answered many things fully, (as no book ever gave more advantage than that which he undertook) and abound in delicate applications, and ornaments, from the divine and profane authors, yet being chiefly conversant about

• Before 1609.—Ed.

two points, he prevaricates in both. For, for the matter, which is the first, he refers it entirely, and namely, to that which Dr. Morton hath said therein before, and so leaves it roundly: and for the person (which is the second) upon whom he amasses as many opprobries, as any other could deserve, he pronounceth, that he will account any answer from his adversary, slander, except he do (as he hath done) draw whatsoever he saith of him, from authors of the same religion, and in print: and so, he having made use of all the quodlibetaries, imputations against the other, cannot be obnoxious himself in that kind, and so hath provided safely. It were no service to you, to send you my notes upon the book, because they are sandy, and incoherent rags, for my memory, not for your judgment; and to extend them to au easiness, and perspicuity, would make them a pamphlet, not a letter. I will therefore defer them till I see you; and in the meantime, I will adventure to say to you, without inserting one unnecessary word, that the book is full of falsifications in words, and in sense, and of falsehoods in matter of fact, and of inconsequent and unscholarlike arguings, and of relinquishing the king, in many points of defence, and of contradiction of himself, and of dangerous and suspected doctrine in divinity, and of silly ridiculous triflings, and of extreme flatteries, and of neglecting better and more obvious answers, and of letting slip some enormous advantages which the other gave, and he spies not. I know (as I begun) I speak to you who cannot be scandalized, and that neither measure religion (as it is now called) by unity, nor suspect unity, for these interruptions. Sir, not only a mathematic point, which is the most indivisible and unique thing which art can present, flows into every line which is derived from the centre, but our soul which is but one, hath swallowed up a negative, and feeling soul; which was in the body before it came, and exercises those faculties yet; and God himself, who only is one, seems to have been eternally delighted, with a disunion of persons. They whose active function it is, must endeavour this unity in religion: and we at our lay altars (which are our tables, or bedside, or stools, wheresoever we dare prostrate ourselves to God in prayer) must beg it of him: but we must take heed of making misconclusions upon the want of it: for, whether the mayor and aldermen fall out, (as with us and the puritans; bishops against priests) or the commoners' voices differ who is mayor, and who aldermen, or what their jurisdiction, (as with the bishop of Rome, or whosoever) yet it is still one corporation.

Your very affectionate servant and lover,

Mitcham, Thursday, late. J. Donne.

Never leave the remembrance of my poor service unmentioned when you see the good lady.

Letter XXII.
To Sir Henry Goodyere*.


I receive this 14th, your letter of the 10th, yet I am not come to an understanding how these carriers keep days: for I would fain think that the letters which I sent upon Thursday last might bave given you such an account of the state of my family, that you needed not have asked by this. But sir, it hath pleased God to add thus much to my affliction, that my wife hath now confessed herself to be extremely sick; she hath held out thus long to assist me, but is now overturned, and here we bo in two beds, or graves; so that God hath marked out a great many of us, but taken none yet. I have passed ten days without taking anything; so that I think no man can live more thriftily. I have purged and vexed my body much since I writ to you, and this day I have missed my fit: and this is the first time, that I could discern any intermission. This is enough, the rest I will spend upon the parts of your letter: your letter at Paul's is delivered. In the history of that remove, this only perchance may be news to you, that Mr. Alabaster hath got of the king the dean's best living worth above three hundred pounds, which the dean had good hope to have held awhile. Of that which you writ concerning a book of the Nullity, I have heard no syllable any other way. If you have received it by good hands, I believe it with you: otherwise the report is naturally very incredible.

* Before 1«09.—Ed.

Though the answering of it be a work for some, both of better abilities really, and in common reputation also, yet I was like enough to have had some knowledge thereof. You mention again something which it seems you are not willing I should understand of my Lady Huntington: some of your former letters, have spoken of some other former letters, (which I never saw) which speak of the matter as of a history and thing done; and these latter letters speak of it prophetically, as of a future contingent. I am glad the often remembrance of it, gives me often occasion of thankfulness to her, for retaining me in her memory, and of professing myself in my end, and ways, her most humble servant. For your parliament business, I should be very sorry if you came not up, because I presume you had supposed many businesses to have been done at that time; but in the ways, wherein you have gone, I protest I am diffident. For first, for that lord whom you solicited by letters through me, I tell you with the whispering of a secret, but the confidence of a friend, that you will be deceived whensoever you think that he should take any delight in doing you a courtesy. And I am afraid, the true heartiness of the other noble gentleman Mr. Howard, will be of small use in this particular, if he have but solicited my lord hia father to reserve a blank for his friend, for my lord hath suffered more denials, even in places where he sent names, than could have been feared. Besides Mr. Howard hath not written to his father therein, but to Mr. Woodward, who perceiving those letters to be written, before his purpose of being knight for the shire, thinks these letters extinguished. You made me offer so long since of a place (it was when you writ into the west) yet I could think it no merit to have offered you one since, otherwise it hath been since in my power, for since the Master of the Rolls provided me one, Sir Ed. Herbert, who makes haste away, made me a present of his; and I have had a third offer. The business of your last week's letter concerning the widow, is not a subject for a feverous man's consideration. Therefore I only send you back those letters which you sent; and ask you leave to make this which I am fain to call my good day, so much truly good, as to spend the rest of it with Dr. Layfield, who is, upon my summons, at this hour como to me. My physicians have made me afraid, that this disease will work into my head, and so put me into lightnesses, therefore I am desirous that I be understood before any such danger overtake me.

Your true poor servant, 14th March. J. Donne.

Letter XXIII.
To the Honourable Knight, Sir H. Goodyere*.


Because things be conserved by the same means, which established them, I nurse that friendship by letters, which you begot so: though you have since strengthened it by more solid aliment and real offices. In these letters from the country there is this merit, that I do otherwise unwillingly turn mine eye or thoughts from my books, companions in whom there is no falsehood nor frowardness: which words, I am glad to observe that the holy authors often join as expressers and relatives to one another, because else out of a natural descent to that unworthy fault of frowardness, furthered with that incommodity of a little thin house; I should have mistaken it to be a small thing, which now I see equalled with the worst. If you have laid my papers and books by, I pray let this messenger have them, I have determined upon them. If you have not, be content to do it, in the next three or four days. So, sir, I kiss your hands; and deliver to you an entire and clear heart; which shall ever when I am with you bo in my face and tongue, and when I am from you, in my letters, for I will never draw curtain between you and it.

Yours very affectionately, From your house at Mitcham, J. Donne.

Friday morning. When you are sometimes at Mr. Sackville's-f, I pray ask if ho have this book, Baldvinu s de Officio Pii Hominis in Controversiis; it was written at the conference at Poissy, where Beza was, and he answered it; I long for it.

» Probably about 1608.—Ed.

t Edward Backville, afterwards earl of Dorset. The conference at Foissy

was held in August, 1561, in hope of effecting a reconciliation between the Catholic and.Protestant churches in France.—Ed.

Letter XXIV.
To my most worthy Friend, Sir Henry Goodyere.


Because evenness conduces as much to strength and firmness as greatness doth, I would not discontinue my course of writing. It is a sacrifice, which though friends need not, friendship doth; which hath in it so much divinity, that as we must be ever equally disposed inwardly so to do or suffer for it, so we must suppose some certain times for the outward service thereof, though it be but formal and testimonial: that time to me towards you is Tuesday, and my temple, the Rose in Smithfield. If I were by your appointment your referendary for news, I should write but short letters, because the times are barren. The low countries, which used to be the mart of news for this season, suffering also, or rather enjoying a vacation. Since therefore I am but mine own secretary (and what is that?) I were excusable if I writ nothing, since I am so: besides that, your much knowledge brings you this disadvantage, that as stomachs accustomed to delicacies, find nothing new or pleasing to them when they are sick; so you can hear nothing from me (though the country perchance make you hungry) which you know not. Therefore instead of a letter to you, I send you one to another, to the best lady, who did me the honour to acknowledge the receipt of one of mine, by one of hers; and who only hath power to cast the fetters of verse upon my free meditations: it should give you some delight, and some comfort, because you are the first which see it, and it is the last which you shall see of this kind from me.

Your very affectionate lover and servant, Mitcham the 14th August. J. Donne.

Letter XXV.
To the Countess of Bedford.


Amongst many other dignities which this letter hath by being received and seen by you, it is not the least, that it was prophesied of before it was born: for your brother told you in his letter, that I had written: he did me much honour both in advancing my truth so far as to call a promise an act already done; and to provide me a means of doing a service in this act, which is but doing right to myself: for by this performance of mine own word, I have also justified that part of his letter which concerned me; and it had been a double guiltiness in me, to have made him guilty towards you. It makes no difference that this came not the same day, nor bears the same date as his; for though in inheritances and worldly possessions we consider the dates of evidences, yet in letters, by which we deliver over our affections, and assurances of friendship, and the best faculties of our souls, times and days cannot have interest, nor be considerable, because that which passes by them, is eternal, and out of the measure of time. Because therefore it is the office of this letter, to convey my best wishes, and all the effects of a noble love unto you, (which are the best fruits that so poor a soil, as my poor soul is, can produce) you may be pleased to allow the letter thus much of the soul's privilege, as to exempt it from straitness of hours, or any measure of times, and so believe it came then. And for my part, I shall make it so like my soul, that as that affection, of which it. is the messenger, began in me without my knowing when, any more than I know when my soul began; so it shall continue as long as that.

Your most affectionate friend and servant,

J. D.

Letter XXVI.
To my good Friend, Sir Henry Goodyere*.


The messenger who brought me your letter presented me a just excuse, for I received them so late upon Thursday night, that I should have dispatched before I could begin; yet I have obeyed you drowsily, and coldly, as the night and my indisposition commanded: yet perchance those hindrances have done good, for so your letters are the less curious, in which, men of much leasure may soon exceed, when they write of business, they

* Before 1009.—Ed.

having but a little. You mention two more letters than I send. The time was not too short for me to have written them, (for I had a whole night) but it was too short to work a belief in me, that you could think it fit to go two so divers ways to one end. I see not, (for I see not the reason) how those letters could well have concurred with these, nor how those would well have been drawn from them, in a business wholly relating to this house. I was not lazy in disobeying you, but (I thought) only thrifty, and your request of those wsis not absolute, but conditioned, if I had leisure. So though that condition hinder them not, sinco another doth (and you forethought, that one might) I am not stubborn. The good countess spoke somewhat of your desire of letters; but I am afraid, she is not a proper mediatrix to those persons, but I counsel in the dark. And therefore return to that, of which I have clear light, that I am always glad, when I have any way to express my love; for in these commandments you feed my desires, and you give me means to pay some of my debts to you: the interest of which I pay in all my prayers for you, which, if it please not God to show here, I hope we shall find again together in heaven, whither they were sent. I came this morning to say thus much, and because the porter which came to Mitcham summoned me for this hour to London: from whence I am this minute returning to end a little course of physic.

Yours very truly, Friday, eight in the morning. J. Donne.

Letter XXVII.
To Sir Henry Goody ere*.


I hope you are now welcome to London, and well, and well comforted in your father's health and love, and well contented that we ask you how you do, and tell you how we are, which yet I cannot of myself; if I knew that I wero ill, I were well; for we consist of threo parts, a soul, and body, and mind: which I call those thoughts and affections and passions, which

• No date; but probably from Mitcham about 1608.—Ed.

neither soul nor body hath alone, but have been begotten by their communication, as music results out of our breath and a cornet. And of all these the diseases are cures, if they be known. Of our soul's sicknesses, which are sins, the knowledge is, to acknowledge, and that is her physic, in which we are not dieted by drachms and scruples, for we cannot take too much. Of our body's infirmities, though our knowledge be partly ab extrinseco, from the opinion of the physician, and that the subject and matter be flexible, and various; yet their rules are certain, and if the matter be rightly applied to the rule, our knowledge thereof is also certain. But of the diseases of the mind, there is no criterium, no canon, no rule; for our own taste and apprehension and interpretation should be the judge, and that is the disease itself. Therefore sometimes when I find myself transported with jollity, and love of company, I hang leads at my heels; and reduco to my thoughts my fortunes, my years, the duties of a man, of a friend, of a husband, of a father, and all the incumbencies of a family: when sadness dejects me, either I countermine it with another sadness, or I kindle squibs about me again, and fly into sportfulness and company: and I find ever after all, that I am like an exorcist, which had long laboured about one, which at last appears to have the* mother, that I still mistake my disease. And I still vex myself with this, because if I know it not, nobody can know it. And I comfort myself, because I see dispassioned men are subject to the like ignorances. For divers minds out of the same thing often draw contrary conclusions, as Augustine thought devout Anthony to be therefore full of the Holy Ghost, because not being able to read, he could say the whole Bible, and interpret it; and Thyreus the Jesuit for the same reason doth think all the Anabaptists to be possessed. And as often out of contrary things men draw one conclusion. As to the Roman church, magnificence and splendour hath ever been an argument of God's favour, and poverty and affliction, to the Greek. Out of this variety of minds it proceeds, that though our

• Mother: hysterical passion, so named as being imagined peculiar to women.—Dr. Johnson.

"Oh how this mother swells up toward my heart."—Lear. It is also written moother.Todd.

souls would go to one end, heaven, and all our bodies must go to one end, the earth: yet our third part the mind, which is our natural guide here, chooses to every man a several way: scarce any man likes what another doth, nor advisedly, that which himself. But, sir, I am beyond my purpose; I meant to write a letter, and I am fallen into a discourse, and I do not only take you from some business, but I make you a new business by drawing you into these meditations. In which let my openness be an argument of such love as I would fain express in some worthier fashion.

Letter XXVIII.
A.- V. Merced*.


I write not to you out of my poor library, where to cast mine eye upon good authors kindles or refreshes sometimes meditations not unfit to communicate to near friends; nor from the high way, where I am contracted, and inverted into myself; which are my two ordinary forges of letters to you. But I write from the fire-side of my parlour, and in the noise of three gamesome children; and by the side of her, whom because I have transplanted into a wretched fortune, I must labour to disguise that from her by all such honest devices, as giving her my company and discourse, therefore I steal from her, all the time which I give this letter, and it is therefore that I take so short a list, and gallop so fast over it. I have not been out of my house since I received your packet. As I have much quenched my senses, and disused my body from pleasure, and so tried how I can endure to be mine own grave, so I try now how I can suffer a prison. And since it is but to build one wall more about our soul, she is still in her own centre, how many circumferences soever fortune or our own perverseness cast about her. I would I could as well entreat her to go out, as she knows whither to go. But if I melt into a melancholy whilst I write, I shall be taken in the manner: and I sit by one too tender towards these irapres

A vuestra merced, a Spanish compliment signifying, to your worship, or your grace. Written from Mitcham before 1609.—Ed.

sions, and it is so much our duty, to avoid all occasions of giving them sad apprehensions, as St. Hierome accuses Adam of no other fault in eating the apple, but that he did it Ne contristaretur delicias suas. I am not careful what I write, because the enclosed letters may dignify this ill-favoured bark, and they need not grudge so coarse a countenance, because they are now to accompany themselves, my man fetched them, and therefore I can say no more of them than themselves say, Mrs. Meauly entreated me by her letter to hasten hers; as I think, for by my troth I cannot read it. My lady was dispatching in so much haste for Twickenham, as she gave no word to a letter which I sent with yours; of Sir Thomas Bartlet, I can say nothing, nor of the plague, though your letter bid me: but that he diminishes, the other increases, but in what proportion I am not clear. To them at Hammersmith, and Mrs. Herbert I will do your command. If I have been good in hope, or can promise any little offices in the future, probably it is comfortable, for I am the worst present man in the world; yet the instant, though it be nothing, joins times together, and therefore this unprofitableness, since I have been, and will still endeavour to be so, shall not interrupt me now from being Your servant and lover,

J. Donne.

Letter XXIX.
To Sir G. F*.


I writ to you once this week before; yet I write again, both because it seems a kind of resisting of grace, to omit any commodity of sending into England, and because any packet from me into England should go, not only without just freight, but without ballast, if it had not a letter to you. In letters that I received from Sir H. Wootton yesterday from Amyens, I had one of the 8th of March from you, and with it one from Mrs. Danterey, of the 28th of January: which is a strange dispropor

• Written from Paris, about 1609, when Donne was there with Sir Robert Drury and Lord Hay, on the embassy to Henry IV. The vision related in Walton must have taken place soon after this letter was written.—Ed.

tion. But, sir, if our letters come not in due order, and so make not a certain and concurrent chain, yet if they come as atoms, and so meet at last, by any crooked, and casual application, they make up, and they nourish bodies of friendship; and in that fashion, I mean one way or other, first or last. I hope all the letters which have been addressed to us by one another, are safely arrived, except perchance that packet by the cook be not, of which before this time you are clear; for I received (as I told you) a letter by Mr. Nat. Rich, and if you sent none by him, then it was that letter, which the cook tells you he delivered to Mr. Rich; which, with all my criticisms, I cannot reconcile; because in your last letter, I find mention of things formerly written, which I have not found. However, I am yet in the same perplexity, which I mentioned before; which is, that I have received no syllable, neither from herself, nor by any other, how my wife hath passed her danger, nor do I know whether I be increased by a child, or diminished by the loss of a wife. I hear from England of many censures of my book, of Mrs. Drury*; if any of those censures do but pardon me my descent in printing anything in verse, (which if they do, they are more charitable than myself; for I do not pardon myself, but confess that I did it against my conscience, that is, against my own opinion, that I should not have done so) I doubt not but they will soon give over that other part of that indictment, which is that I have said so much; for nobody can imagine, that I who never saw her, could have any other purpose in that, than that when I had received so very good testimony of her worthiness, and was gone down to print verses, it became me to say, not what I was sure was just truth, but the best that I cauld conceive: for that had been a new weakness in me, to have praised anybody in printed verses, that had not been capable of the best praise that I could give. Presently after Easter we shall (I think) go to Frankfort to be there at the election, where we shall meet Sir H. Wootton and Sir R. Rich, and after that we are determined to pass somo time in the Palatinate. I go thither with a great deal of devotion; for methinks it is a new kind of piety, that as pilgrims went heretofore to places which had been holy and happy, so I go to a place

* See Poems.

now, which shall be so, and more, by the presence of the worthiest princess of the world, if that marriage proceed *.' I have no greater errand to the place than that at my return into England, I may be the fitter to stand in her presence, and that after I have seen a rich and abundant country, in his best seasons, I may see that sun which shall always keep it in that height. Howsoever we stray, if you have leisure to write at any time, adventure by no other way, than Mr. Bruer, at the Queen's Arms, a mercer, in Cheapside. I shall omit no opportunity, of which I doubt not to find more than one before we go from Paris. Therefore give mo leave to end this, in which if you did not find the remembrance of my humblest services to my Lady Bedford, your love and faith ought to try all the experiments of powders, and dryings, and waterings to discover some lines which appeared not; because it is impossible that a letter should come from me, with such an ungrateful silence.

Your very true poor friend and servant and lover,

J. Donne.

This day begins a history, of which I doubt not but I shall write more to you before I leave this town. Monsier de Rohan, a person for birth, next heir to the kingdom of Navar, after the king's children, (if the king of Spain were weary of it) and for alliance, son-in-law to Dr. Sally, and for breeding in the wars and estate, the most remarkable man of the religion, being governor of St. Jean d'Angeli, one of the most important towns which they of the religion hold for their security, finding that some distastes between the lieutenant and the mayor of the town and him, were dangerously fomented by great persons, stole from court, rode post to the town and removed these two persons. He sent his secretary, and another dependant of his to give the queen satisfaction, who is so far from receiving it, that his messengers are committed to the Bastile, likely to be presently tortured; all his friends here commanded to their houses, and the queen's companies of light horse sent already thitherward, and foot companies preparing with troops being sent against a place, so much

I • The marriage of the Prince Palatine with the Princess Elizabeth, which took place in 1613.—Ed.

concerning those of the religion to keep, and where they abound in number and strength, cannot choose but produce effects worthy your hearing in the next letter.

Letter XXX.
To Sir B. H.

If a whole year be but Annus ab annulo, because it returns into itself, what annulus shall be diminutive enough, to express our weekly revolutions? In chains the least links have most curiosity, but that can be no emblem of us: but they have also the most strength, and that may. The first sphere only which is resisted by nothing, absolves his course every day; and so doth true friendship well placed, often iterate an act or purpose, the same offices. But as the lower spheres, subject to the violence of that, and yet naturally encouraged to a reluctation against it, have therefore many distractions, and eccentricities, and some trepidations, and so return but lamely, and lately to the same place, and office: so that friendship which is not moved primarily by the proper intelligence, discretion, and about the natural centre, virtue, doth perchance sometimes, some things, somewhat like true friendship; but hath many deviations, which are strayings into new loves, (not of other men; for that is proper to true wise friendship, which is not a marring; but of other things) and hath such trepidations as keep it from showing itself, where great persons do not love; and it returns to the true first station and place of friendship planetarily, which is uncertainly and seldom. I have ever seen in London and our court, as some colours, and habits, and continuances, and motions, and phrases, and accents, and songs, so friends in fashion and in season; and I have seen them as suddenly abandoned altogether, though I see no change in them, nor know moro why they were left, than why they were chosen. To do things by example, and upon confidence of another's judgment may be some kind of a second wisdom; but it is but writing by a copy: or indeed it is the hardest of all, and the issue of the first wisdom, for I cannot know that this example should be followed, except I knew that it is good, and so I judge my Judge. Our assent therefore, and

arrest, must be upon things, not persons. And when we are sure we are in the right way, for great persons, we may be glad of their company, if they go our way; we may for them change our place, but not our end, nor our way, if there be but one, us in religion. In persevering in it, it concerns as much what our companions be, but very much what our friends. In which I know I speak not dangerously nor misappliably to you, as though I averted you from any of those friends, who are of other impressions than you or I in some great circumstances of religion. You know I never fettered nor imprisoned the word religion; not straightening it friarly, Ad religiones factitias, (as the Romans call well their orders of religion) not immuring it in a Rome, or a Wittemberg, or a Geneva; they are all virtual beams of one sun, and wheresoever they find clay hearts, they harden them, and moulder them into dust; and they entender and mollify waxen. They are not so contrary as the north and south poles; and that they are connatural pieces of one circle. Religion is Christianity, which being too spiritual to be seen by us, doth therefore take an apparent body of good life and works, so salvation requires an honest Christian. These are the two elements, and ho which is elemented from these hath the complexion of a good man, and a fit friend. The diseases are, too much intention into indiscreet zeal, and too much remissness and negligence by giving scandal: for our condition and state in this, is as infirm as in our bodies; where physicians consider only two degrees; sickness, and neutrality; for there is no health in us. This, sir, I use to say to you, rather to have so good a witness and corrector of my meditations, than to advise; and yet to do that too, since it is pardonable in a friend: not to slack you towards those friends which are religious in other clothes than we; (for amic i vitia si feras facis tua, is true of such faults) but to keep you awake against such as the place where you must live will often obtrude, which are not only naked, without any fashion of such garments, but have neither the body of religion, which is moral honesty, and sociable faithfulness, nor the soul, Christianity. I know not how this paper escaped last week which I send now; I was so sure that I enwrapped it then, that I should be so still, but that I had but VOL. vi. z

one copy; forgive it as you use to do. From Mitcham in as much haste, and with as ill pen and ink, as the letter can accuse me of; but with the last and the next week's heart and affection.

Yours very truly and affectionately,

J. Donne.

Letter XXXI.
To Sir Thomas Roe *.


Tt is an ease to your friends abroad, that you are more a man of business than heretofore; for now it were an injury to trouble you with a busy letter. But by the same reason I were excusable if I should not write at all, since the less, the more acceptable; therefore, sir, though I have no more to say, but to renew the obligations I have towards you, and to continue my place in your love, I would not forbear to tell you so. If I shall also tell you, that when this place affords anything worth your hearing, I will be your relator, I think I take so long a day, as you would forget the debt, it appears yet to be so barren. Howsoever with every commodity, I shall say something, though it be but a descant upon this plain song, that I am

Your affectionate servant,

J. Donne.

Letter XXXII.


It is one ill affection of a desperate debtor, that he dares not come to an account, nor take knowledge how much he owes; this makes me that I dare not tell you how many letters I have received from you since I came to this town; I had three, the first by the cook, who brought none but yours, nor ever came to me, to let me know what became of the rest: the two others of the seventh and eighth of March, came in a letter which Sir H.Wootton writ to me from Amiens; there is not a size of paper in the

* Probably written in 1009 or 1610.—Ed.

t Probably to Sir H. Goodyere, and written about 1609.—Ed.

palace, largo enough to tell you how much I esteem myself honoured in your remembrances; nor strong enough to wrap up a heart so full of good affections towards you, as mine is. When anything passes between Sir Thomas Roe and you, tell him I am not the less his servant, for not saying so by often letters: for by my troth, I am that so much as he could desire I should be, when he began to love me. Sir Thomas Lucy's business, and perchance sadness forbid me writing now. I have written to him (whilst 1 lived in darkness, whether my letters came to you or no) by another way; and if my poor letters were any degree of service, I should do it often, and rather be mine own post, than leave anything undone, to which he would give such an interpretation, as that it were an argument of my devotion to him. For my purposo of proceeding in the profession of the law, so far as to a title, you may be pleased to correct that imagination where you find it. I over thought the study of it my best entertainment and pastime, but I have no ambition, nor design upon the style. Of my anniversaries the fault which I acknowledge in myself, is to have descended to print anything in verse, which though it have excuse, even in our times, by example of men, which one would think should as little have done it, as I; yet I confess I wonder how I declined to it, and do not pardon myself. But for the other part of the imputation, of having said so much, my defence is, that my purpose was to siiy as well as I could: for since I never saw the gentlewoman, I cannot be understood to have bound myself to have spoken just truth: but I would not be thought to have gone about to praise any body in rhyme, except I took such a person, as might be capable of all that I could say. If any of those ladies think that Mrs. Drury was not so, let that lady make herself fit for all those praises in the book, and it shall be hers. Nothing is further from colour or ground of truth, than that which you write of Sir Robert Dairy's going to mass. No man of our nation hath been more forward to apply himself to the church of the religion where he hath come, nor to relieve their wants, where that demonstration hath been needful. I know not yet whether Sir John Brooke's purpose of being very shortly here, be not a just reason to make mo forbear writing to him. I am sure that I would fainest do, that in writing or abstaining which should be most acceptable to him. It were in vain to put into this letter any relation of the magnificence which has been here at publication of these marriages; for at this time there come into England so many Frenchmen, as I am sure you shall hear all at least. If they speak not of above eight hundred horse well caparisoned, you may believe it: and you may believe, that no court in Christendom had been able to have appeared so brave in that kind. But if they tell you of any other stuff than copper, or any other exercise of arms than running at the quintain, and the ring, you may be bold to say Pardone moy. Sir, this messenger makes so much haste that I cry your mercy for spending any time of this letter, in other employment, than thanking you for yours, and promising you more before my removal from hence. I pray venture no letter to me by any other way than Mr. John Bruer at the Queen's Arms a mercer in Cheapside, who is always like to know where we are; and make me by loving me still, worthy to be your friend and servant,

J. Donne.

Letter XXXIII.
To my honoured Friend, Mr. George Garrat*.


I would I were so good an alchemist to persuade you that all the virtue of the best affections, that one could express in a sheet, were in this rag of paper. It becomes my fortune to deal thus in single money; and I may hit better with this hailshot of httle letters (because they may come thick) than with great bullets; and trouble my friends less. I confess it were not long enough if it came to present my thanks for all the favours you have done me; but since it comes to beg more, perchance it may be long enough, because I know not how short you will be with an absent friend. If you will but write that you give me leave to keep that name still, it shall be the gold of your letter: and for allay, put in as much news as you will. We are in a place where scarce any money appears, but base: as, I confess, all

* From Amiens, 1609.—Ed.

matters of letters is in respect of the testimonies of friendship; but obey the corruption of this place, and fill your letters with worse stuff than your own. Present my service to all those gentlemen whom I had the honour to serve at our lodging. I cannot fly an higher pitch, than to say, that I am so much their servant as you can say I am. At the Queen's Arms in Cheapside, which is a mercer's, you may hear of one Mr. John Brewer, who will convey any letter directed to me at Sir Rob. Drury's at Amiens, though he know not me: and I should be glad to hear that this first that I sent into England had the fortune to find you. Yours,

J. Donne.

Letter XXXIV.
To Sir Henry Goodyere*.


Because I am in a place and season where I see everything bud forth, I must do so too, and vent some of my meditations to you; the rather because all other buds being yet without taste or virtue, my letters may be like them. The pleasantness of tho season displeases me. Everything refreshes, and I wither, and I grow older and not better, my strength diminishes, and my load grows, and being to pass more and more storms, I find that I have not only cast out all my ballast which naturo and time gives, reason and discretion, and so am as empty and light as vanity can make me; but I have over-fraught myself with vice, and so am riddingly subject to two contrary wrecks, sinking and oversetting, and under the iniquity of such a disease as enforces the patient when he is almost starved, not only to fast, but to purge. For I have much to take in, and much to cast out; sometimes I think it easier to discharge myself of vice than of vanity, as one may sooner carry the fire out of a room than the smoke: and then I see it was a new vanity to think so. And when I think sometimes that vanity, because it is thin and airy, may be expelled with virtue or business, or substantial vice; I find that I give entrance thereby to new vices. Certainly as the

• Probably from abroad, in 1609.—Ed.

earth and water, one sad, the other fluid, make but one body: Bo to air and vanity, there is but one centrum morbi. And that which later physicians say of our bodies, is fitter for our minds: for that which they call destruction, which is a corruption and want of those fundamental parts whereof we consist, is vice: and that collectio stercorum, which is but the excrement of that corruption, is our vanity and indiscretion: both these have but one root in me, and must be pulled out at once, or never. But I am so far from digging to it, that I know not where it is, for it is not in mine eyes only, but in every sense, nor in my concupiscence only, but in every power and affection. Sir, I was willing to let you see how impotent a man you love, not to dishearten you from doing so still (for my vices are not infectious, nor wandering, they came not yesterday, nor mean to go away to-day: they inn not, but dwell in me, and see themselves so welcome, and find in me so good bad company of one another, that they will not change, especially to one not apprehensive, nor easily accessible) but I do it, that your counsel might cure me, and if you deny that, your example shall, for I will as much strive to be like you as I will wish you to continue good.

Letter XXXV.
To my Lord G. H*


I am near the execution of that purpose for France; though I may have other ends, yet if it do but keep mo awake, it recompenses me well. I am now in the afternoon of my life, and then it is unwholesome to sleep. It is ill to look back, or give over in a course; but worse never to set out. I speak to you at this time of departing, as I should do at my last upon my deathbed; and I desire to deliver into your hands a heart and affections, as innocent towards you, as I shall to deliver my soul into God's hands then. I say not this out of diffidence, as though you doubted it, or that this should look like an excuse, as implied an

• This superscription seems to ha an error, for To Sir IT. G. i. e. Sir Henry Goodycre, as it was through him that Donne's letters to Lady Bedford were sent; written 1C09.—Ed.

Recusation; but because my fortune hath burdened you so, as I could not rectify it before my going, my conscience and interpretation (severer I hope than yours towards myself) calls that a kind of demerit; but God who hath not only afforded us a way to be delivered from our great many debts, contracted by our executorship to Adam, but also another for our particular debts after, hath not left poor men unprovided, for discharge of moral and civil debts; in which, acknowledgement, and thankfulness is tho same, as repentance and contrition is in spiritual debts: and though the value and dignity of all these be not perchance in the things, but in the acceptation, yet I cannot doubt of it, either in God, or you. But sir, because there is some degree of thankfulness in asking more (for that confesses all former obligations, and a desire to be still in the same dependency) I must entreat you to continue that wherein you have most expressed your love to me, which is, to maintain me in the same room in my Lady Bedford's opinion, in the which you placed me. I profess to you that I am too much bound to her, for expressing every way her care of my fortune, that I am weary before she is; and out of a lothness, that so good works should be bestowed upon so ill stuff, or that so much ill fortune should be mingled with hers, as that she should miss anything that she desired, though it were but for me; I am willing to depart from further exercising her endeavours in that kind. I shall be bold to deliver my poor letters to her ladyship's hands, through yours, whilst I am abroad, though I shall ever account myself at home, whilst I am in your memory. Your affectionate servant and lover,

J. Donne.

Letter XXXVI.
To Sir Henry Goody ere*.


This 14th of November last I received yours of the 9th, as I was in the street going to sup with my Lady Bedford, I found all that company forepossessed with a wonder why you came not

* Before 1610.—Ed.

last Saturday. I perceive, that as your intermitting your letters to me, gave me reason to hope for you, so some more direct address or conscience of your business here, had imprinted in them an assurance of your coming, this letter shall but talk, no* discourse; it shall but gossip, not consider, nor consult, so it is made half with a prejudice of being lost by the way. The king is gone this day for Royston: and hath left with the queen a commandment to meditate upon a mask for Christmas, so that they grow serious about that already; that will hasten my Lady Bedford's journey, who goes within ten days from hence to her lord, but by reason of this, can make no long stay there. Justinian the Venetian is gone hence, and one Carraw come in hisplace: that state hath taken a fresh offence at a friar, who refused to absolve a gentleman, because he would not express in confession what books of Father Paul, and such, he knew to be in the hands of. any others; the state commanded him out of that territory in three hours' warning, and he hath now submitted himself, and is returned as prisoner for Mantua, and so remains as yet. Sir H. Wootton who writ hither, adds also that upon his knowledge there are fourteen thousand as good Protestants as he in that state. The Duke Joyeuse is dead, in Primont, returning from Rome, where Mr. Mole who went with the Lord Ross, is taken into the inquisition, and I see small hope of his recovery; for he had in some translations of Plessis' books talked of Babylon and Antichrist. Except it fall out that one Strange, a Jesuit in the tower, may be accepted for him. To come a little nearer myself, Sir Geffery Fenton one of his majesty's secretaries in Ireland is dead; and I have made some offer for the place, in preservation whereof, as I have had occasion to employ all my friends, so I have not found in them all (except Bedford) more haste and words (for when those two are together, there is much comfort even in the least) than in the Lord Hay. In good faith he promised so roundly, so abundantly, so profusely as I suspected him, but performed whatever he undertook, (and my requests were the measures of his undertakings) so readily and truly, that his compliments became obligations, and having spoke like a courtier, did like a friend. This I tell you, because being far under any ability of expressing my thankfulness to him by any proportional service, I do, as much as I can, thank him by thanking of you, who begot, or nursed these good impressions of me in him. Sir, as my discretion would do, my fortune doth bring all my debts into one hand, for I owe you whatever court friends do for me, yea, whatsoever I do for myself, because you almost importune me, to awake and stare the court in the face. I know not yet what conjecture to make of the event. But I am content to go forward a little more in the madness of missing rather than not pretend; and rather wear out, than rust. It is extreme late; and as this letter is nothing, so if ever it come to you, you will know it without a name, and therefore I may end it here.

Letter XXXVII.
To all my Friends: Sir Henry Goody ere*.


I am not weary of writing; it is the coarse but durable garment of my love; but I am weary of wanting you. I have a mind like those bodies, which have hot livers, and cold stomachs; or such a distemper as travailed me at Paris; a fever, and dysentery: in which, that which is physic to one infirmity, nourishes the other. So I abhor nothing more than sadness, except the ordinary remedy, change of company. I can allow myself to be animal sociale, appliable to my company, but not gregale, to herd myself in every troop. It is not perfectly true which a very subtle, yet very deep wit Averroes says, that all mankind hath but one soul, which informs and rules us all, as one Intelligence doth the firmament and all the stars in it; as though a particular body were too little an organ for a soul to play upon. And it is as imperfect which is taught by that religion which is most accommodate to sense (I dare not say to reason, though it have appearance of that too, because none may doubt but that that religion is certainly best, which is reasonablest) that all mankind hath one protecting angel; all Christians one other, all English one other, all of one corporation and every civil coagulation or society one other; and every man one other. Though both these opinions express

* Probably written about 1610.—Ed.

a truth; which is, that mankind hath very strong bounds to cohabit and concur in, other than mountains and hills, during his life. First, common, and mutual necessity of one another; and therefore naturally in our defence, and subventions we first fly to ourselves; next, to that which is likest, other men. Then, natural and inborn charity, beginning at home, which persuades us to give that we may receive: and legal charity, which makes us also forgive. Then" an ingrafting in one another, and growing together by a custom of society: and last of all, strict friendship, in which band men were so presumed to be coupled, that our confessor king had a law, that if a man be killed, the murderer shall pay a sum felago stto, which the interpreters call, fide ligato, et comite vitw. All these bands I willingly receive, for no man is less of himself than I: nor any man enough of himself. To bo so, is all ono with Omnipotence. And it is well marked, that in the holy book, wheresoever they have rendered Almighty, the word is self-sufficient. I think sometimes that the having a family should remove mo far from the curse of Vcv soli. But in so strict obligation of parent, or husband, or master, (and perchance it is so in the last degree of friendship) where all arc made one, I am not the less alone, for being in the midst of than. Therefore tlii.s oleum latitiw, this balm of our lives, this alacrity which dignifies even our service to God, this gallant enemy of dejection and sadness, (for which and wickedness tho Italian allows but one word, triste: and in full condemnation whereof it was prophesied of our blessed Saviour, Non erit tristis, in his conversation) must be sought and preserved diligently. And since it grows without us, we must be sure to gather it from the right tree. They which placo this alacrity only in a good conscience, deal somewhat too roundly with us, for when we ask the way, they show us the town afar off. Will a physician consulted for health aud strength, bid you have good sinews and equal temper? It is true that this conscience is the resistance of all other particular actions; it is our triumph and banquet in the haven; but I would come towards that also, (as mariners say) with a merry wind. Our nature is meteoric, we respect (because we partake so) both earth and heaven; for as our bodies glorified shall be capable of spiritual joy, so our souls demerged

into those bodies, are allowed to partake earthly pleasure. Our soul is not sent hither, only to go back again: we have sorao errand to do here: nor is it sent into prison, because it comes innocent: and he which sent it, is just. As we may not kill ourselves, so we may not bury ourselves: which is done or endangered in a dull monastic sadness, which is so much worse than

jollity, for upon that word I durst* .

And certainly despair is infinitely worse, than presumption: both because this is an excess of love, that of fear; and because this is up, that down the hill; easier, and more stumbling. Heaven is expressed by singing, hell by weeping. And though our blessed Saviour be never noted to have laughed, yet his countenance is said ever to be smiling. And that even moderate mirth of heart, and face, and all I wish to myself, and persuade you to keep. This alacrity is not had by a general charity and equanimity to all mankind, for that is to seek fruit in a wilderness: nor from a singular friend, for that is to fetch it out of your own pocket: but the various and abundant grace of it, is good company. In which no rank, no number, no quality, but ill, and such a degree of that as may corrupt and poison the good, is exempt. For in nearer than them, your friend, and somewhat nearer than he, in yourself you must allow some inordinatcness of affections and passions. For it is not true that they are not natural, but storms and tempests of our blood and humours: for they are natural, but sickly. And as the Indian priests expressed an excellent charity, by building hospitals and providing chirurgery for birds and boasts lamed by mischance, or age, or labour: so must we, not cut off, but cure these affections, which are the bestial part.


To Sir Henry Goodyere\.


If this which I send you enclosed give me right intelligence, I present you a way by which you may redeem all your

* It is thus in the old edition.—Ed.
t Probably written about IC10.—Ed.

former wastes, and recompense your ill fortunes, in having sometimes apprehended unsuccessful suits, and (that which I presume you affect most) ease yourself from all future inquisition of widows, or such businesses as ask so over industrious a pursuit, as divest a man from his best happiness of enjoying himself. I give you (I think) the first knowledge, of two millions confiscated to the crown of England: of which I dare assure myself the coffers have yet touched none, nor have the commissioners for suits anything to oppose against a suit founded upon this confiscation, though they hold never so strictly to their instructions. After you have served yourself with a proportion, I pray make a petition in my name for as much as you think may be given me for my book* out of this; for, but out of this, I have no imagination. And for a token of my desire to serve him, present Mr. Fowler with 3 or 4000//. of this, since he was so resolved never to leave his place, without a suit of that value. I wish your cousin in the town, better provided; but if he be not, here is enough for him. And since I am ever an affectionate servant to that journey, acquaint Mr. Martin from me, how easy it will be to get a good part of this for Virginia. Upon the least petition that Mr. Brook can present he may make himself whole again, of all which the king's servants Mr. Lepton and Master Waterhouse, have endammaged him. Give him leave to offer to Mr. Hakevill enough to please himself, for his Aurum Reginw. And if Mr. Gherard have no present hopeful design upon a worthy widow, let him have so much of this as will provide him that house and coach which he promised to lend me at my return. If Mr. Inigo Jones be not satisfied for his last mask (because I hear say it cannot come to much) here is enough to be had: this is but a copy, but if Sir Robert Cotton have the original he will not deny it you; if he hath it not, nobody else hath it, nor can prevent you; husband it well, which you may easily do, because I assure myself none of the children nor friends of the party condemned will cross you or importune the king for any part. If I get no more by it, yet it hath made me a letter. And sir (to depart from this mine) in what part of my letters soever you find the remembrance of my humble service to my Lord of Bedford,

* Probably Pseudo-martyr.—Ed.

I beseech you ever think them intended for the first, and in that rank present them. I have yet received but one letter from you which was of the 10th of December by Mr. Pory, but you see that as long as there is one egg left in the nest, I never leave laying, nor should although you had sent none since; all at last will not amount to so good a testimony as I would fain give how much I am Your affectionate servant and lover,

J. Donne.

Sir, I write this letter in no very great degree of a convalescence from such storms of a stomach cholic as kept me in a continual vomiting, so that I know not what I should have been able to do to despatch this wind, but that an honest fever came and was my physic: I tell you of it only lest some report should make it worse, for methinks that they who love to add to news should think it a masterpiece to be able to say no worse of any ill fortune of mine than it deserves, since commonly it deserves worse than they can say, but they did not, and I am reprieved. I find dying to be like those facts which denying makes felony: when a sickness examines us, and we confess that we are willing

to die, we cannot, but those who are * incur the penalty : and

I may die yet, if talking idly be an ill sign. God be with you.

Letter XXXIX.
To the Honourable Sir Robert Drury\.


I gave no answer to the letter I received from you upon Tuesday, both because I had it in no other commandment by it but to deliver your letter therein, which I did, and because that letter found me under very much sadness, which (according to the proportion of ills that fall upon me) is since also increased, so that I had not written now, if I had been sure to have been better able to write next week, which I have not much appearance of: yet there was committed to my disposition (that is, left

* It is thus in the old edition; perhaps " not" is the only word wanting.—Ed. f Probably from Mitchara, between 1C04 and 1610.—Ed.

at my house in my absence) a letter from Sir W. Lover, but it was some hours after all possibility of sending it by the carrier, so that Mr. W. Stanhope giving me the honour of a visit at that time, and being instantly to depart, for your parts, did me the favour to undertake the delivery of it to you. With me, sir, it is thus, there is not one person (besides myself) in my house well. I have already lost half a child, and with that mischance of hers, my wife fallen into an indisposition, which would afflict her much, but that the sickness of her children stupifies her: of one of which, in good faith, I have not much hope. This meets a fortune so ill provided for physic and such relief, that if God should ease us with burials, I know not well how to perform even that. I flatter myself in this, that I am dying too: nor can I truly die faster, by any waste, than by loss of children. But sir, I will mingle no more of my sadness to you, but will a little recompense it, by telling you that my Lord Harrington, of whom a few days since they were doubtful, is so well recovered that now they know all his disease to be the pox, and measles mingled. This I heard yesterday: for I have not been there yet. I came as near importunity as I could, for an answer from Essex-house, but this was all, that he should see you shortly himself.

Your servant,

J. Donne.

I cannot tell you so much, as you tell me, of anything from my Lord of Somerset, since the epithalamium, for I heard nothing.

Letter XL.
To the Honourable Knight, Sir H. Goodyere.


I have but one excuse for not sending you the sermon that you do me the honour to command, and I foresee, that before I take my hand from this paper, I shall lose the benefit of that excuse; it is, that for more than twenty days, I have been travailed with a pain, in my right wrist, so like the gout, as makes me unable to write. The writing of this letter will implore a commentary for that, that I cannot legibly; for that I cannot write much, this letter will testify against me. Sir, I beseech you, at first, tell your company, that I decline not the service out of sullenness nor laziness, nor that any fortune damps me so much, as that I am not sensible of the honour of their commanding it, but a mere inexperience whether I be able to write eight hours or no; but I will try next week, and either do it, for their service, or sink in their service. This is Thursday: and upon Tuesday my Lady Bedford came to this town; this afternoon I presented my service to her, by Mrs. Withrington: and so asked leave to have waited upon them at supper: but my messenger found them ready to go into their coach: so that a third letter which I received from Mrs. Dadley, referring me to Mrs. Withringtons relation of all that state, I lose it till their return to this town. To clear you in that wherein I see by your letter that I had not well expressed myself in mine, Sir Edward Herbert wrote to Sir Edward Sackville, not to press the king to fix any certain time of sending him, till he was come over, and had spoken with the king: Sir Edward Sackville collects upon that, that Sir Edward Herbert means to go again; I think it is only, that he would have his honour so saved, as not to seem to be recalled, by having a successor, before he had emptied the place. We hear nothing from my Lord of Doncaster: nor have we any way to send him. I have not seen my Lady Doncaster, for she crossed to Penshurst, and from thence to Petworth, my Lady Isabella came to this town; where, before her coming, a letter attended her from my Lady of Tichfield: and thither she went, with their servants, who staid her coming. Hither came lately letters with good speed from Vienna, in which there is no mention of any such defeat, as in rumour Count Mansfeld hath been said to have given to the Duke of Bavyer: but their forces were then within such distance, as may have procured something before this time. Those which watched advantages in the court of the emperor, have made that use of Couut Mansfield's proceedings, as that my Lord Digby complains, that thereby, the forwardness in which his negotiation was, is somewhat retarded. He proceeds from thence into Spain. The Duke of Bavyer hath presented the emperor an account of 1,200,000/. sterling in that war, to be reimbursed: and finding the palatinate to be in treaty, hath required a great part of Austria for his security, and they say, it is so transacted: which is a good sign of a possibility in the restitution of the palatinate. For anything I discern, their fears are much greater from Hungary, than from Bohemia; and the loss of cannon, in a great proportion, and other things, at the death of Bucquoy, was much greater, than they suffered to be published. We hear Spinola is passed over at Rhenebery; if it be so, they are no longer distracted, whether he would bend upon Juliers, or the palatinate. I know not what you hear from your noble son-in-law, who sees those things clearly in himself, and in a near distance; but I hear here, that the king hath much lost the affection of the English in those parts. Whether it proceed from any sourness in him, or that they be otherwise taken off, from applying themselves to him, I know not. My Lord of St. Alban's hath found so much favour as that a pension of 2000/. will be given him; he desires that he might have it for years, that so he might transfer it upon his creditors; or that in place of it he might have 8000/. for he hath found a disposition in his creditors (to whom I hear he hath paid 3000/. since, by retiring) to accept 8000/. for all his debts, which are three times as much. I have been sometimes with my Lord of Canterbury since by accident, to give you his own words. I see him retain his former cheerfulness here and at Croydon, but I do not hear from court, that he hath any ground for such a confidence, but that his case may need favour, and not have it. That place, and Bedington, and Chelsea, and Highgate, where that very good man my Lord Hobard is, and Hackney, with the Master of the Rolls, and my familiar Peckham, are my circumference. No place so eccentric to me, as that I lie just at London; and with those fragmentary recreations I must make shift to recompense the missing of that contentment which your favour opens to me, and my desire provokes me to, the kissing of your hands at Polesworth. My daughter Constance is at this time with me; for the emptiness of the town, hath made me, who otherwise live upon the alms of others, a housekeeper, for a month; and so she is my servant below stairs, and my companion above; she was at the table with me, when your letter was brought, and I pay her a piece of her petition in doing her this office, to present her service to my Lady Nethersoles, and her very good sister. But that she

is gone to bed two hours before I wrote this, she would have signed, with such a hand as your daughter Mary did to me, that which I testify for her, that she is as affectionate a servant to them all, as their goodness hath created anywhere. Sir, I shall recompense my tediousness, in closing mine eyes with a prayer for yours, as for mine own happiness, for I am almost in bed; if it were my last bed, and I upon my last business there, I should not omit to join you with

Your very humble and very thankful servant in Christ Jesus, August 30,1611. J. Do.mne.

Letter XLI.
To my honoured Friend, George Gerrard, Esq.


Neither your letters nor silence needs excuse; your friendship is to me an abundant possession, though you remember me but twice in a year. He that could have two harvests in that time, might justly value his land at a high rate; but, sir, as we do not only then thank our land, when we gather the fruit, but acknowledge that all the year she doth many motherly offices in preparing it: so is not friendship then only to be esteemed, when she is delivered of a letter, or any other real office, but in her continual propenseness and inclination to do it. This hath made me easy in pardoning my long silences, and in promising myself your forgiveness for not answering your letter sooner. For my purpose of proceeding in the profession of the law, so far as to a title, you may be pleased to correct that imagination, wheresoever you find it. I ever thought the study of it my best entertainment and pastime, but I have no ambition nor design upon the style. Of my anniversaries, the fault that I acknowledge in myself, is to have descended to print anything in verse, which, though it have excuse in our times, by men who profess and practise much gravity; yet I confess I wonder how I declined to it, and do not pardon myself. But for the other part of the imputation, of having said too much, my defence is, that my purpose was to say as well as I could; for, since I never saw the gentleVol. vi. 2 A

woman, I cannot be understood to have bound myself to bave spoken just truths; but I would not be thought to have gone about to praise her or any other in rhyme, except I took such a person as might bo capable of all that I could say. If any of those ladies think that Mistress Drewry was not so, let that lady make herself fit for all those praises in the book, and they shall be hers. Sir, this messenger makes so much haste that I cry you mercy for spending any time of this letter in other employment than thanking you for yours. I hope before Christmas to see England and kiss your hand, which shall ever (if it disdain not that office) hold all the keys of the liberty and affection, and all the faculties of

Your most affectionate servant,

J. D.

Paris, the 14th of April, here, 1612.

Letter XLII.
To the Lady G*.


I am not come out of England, if I remain in the noblest part of it, your mind; yet I confess it is too much diminution to call your mind any part of England, or of this world, since every part even of your body deserves titles of higher dignity. No princo would be loth to die, that were assured of so fair a tomb to preserve his memory: but I have a greater vantage than so; for since there is a religion in friendship, and a death in absence, to make up an entire frame there must be a heaven too: and there can be no heaven so proportional to that religion, and that death, as your favour. And I am gladder that it is a heaven, than that it were a court, or any other high place of this world; because I am likelier to have a room there than here, and better, cheap. Madam, my best treasure is time, and my best employment of that, is to study good wishes to you: in which I am by continual meditation so learned, that your own good angel, when it would do you most good, might be content to come and take instructions from

Your humble and affectionate servant,

J. Donne.

• Probably to Lady Goodyere j written while Donne was abroad in 1612.—Ed.

Letter XLIII.
To Yourself*.


If this letter find you in a progress, or at Bath, or at any place of equal leasure to our Spa, you will perchance descend to read so low meditations as these. Nothing in my Lord of Salisbury's death exercised my poor considerations so much, as the multitude of libels. It was easily discerned, some years before his death, that he was at a defensive war, both for his honour and health, and (as we then thought) for his estate: and I thought that had removed much of the envy. Besides, I have just reasons to think, that in tho chiefest businesses between the nations, he was a very good patriot. But I meant to speak of nothing but the libels, of which, all which are brought into these parts are so tasteless and flat, that I protest to you, I think they were made by his friends. It is not the first timo that our age hath seen that art practised: that, when there are witty and sharp libels made, which, not only for the liberty of speaking, but for the elegance and composition, would take deep root, and make durable impressions in the memory,—no other way hath been thought so fit to suppress them, as to divulge some course, and railing one: for when the noise is risen, that libels are abroad, men's curiosity must be served with something: and it is better for the honour of the person traduced, that some blunt downright railings be vented, of which everybody is soon weary, than other' pieces, which entertain us long with a delight and love to the things themselves. I doubt not but he smothered some libels against him in his lifetime. But I would all these (or better) had been made then, for they might then have wrought upon him; and they might have testified that the authors had meant to mend hiih: but now they can have no honest pretence. I dare say to you, where I am not easily misinterpreted, that there may be cases, where one may do his country good service, by libelling against a live man. For, where a man is either too great, or his vices too general, to be brought under a judiciary accusation,

* Probably Sir H. Goodyere; written when Donne was in Germany.—Ed.

there is no way, but this extraordinary accusing, which we call libelling. And I have heard that nothing hath suppled and allayed the Duke of Lerma in his violent greatness, so much as the often libels made upon him. But after death it is, in all cases, inexcusable. I know that Lucifer, and one or two more of the fathers who writ libellous books against the emperors of their times, are excused by our writers, because they writ not in the lives of those emperors. I am glad for them that they writ not in their lives, for that must have occasioned tumult and contempt against so high and sovereign persons. But that doth not enough excuse them to me, for writing so after their death; for that was ignoble and useless, though they did a little escape the nature of libels, by being subscribed and avowed: which excuse would not have served in the star-chamber, where sealed letters have been judged libels. But these of which we speak at this present, are capable of no excuse, no amolishment; and therefore I cry you mercy, and myself too, for disliking them with so much diligence, for they deserve not that. But, sir, you see by this, and by my letter of last week from hence, the peremptory barrenness of this place: from whence we can write nothing into England, but of that which comes from thence. Till the Lady Worcester came hither, I had never heard anything to make me imagine that Sir Robert Rich was in England; the first hour that I had knowledge of it, I kiss his hands by this letter. I make account to be in London, transitorily, about the end of August. You shall do me much favour, if I may find a letter from you (if you shall not then be there) at the Lady Bartlet's. I shall come home in much ignorance, nor would I discern home by a better light, or any other, than you. I can glory of nothing in this voyage, but that I have afflicted my Lady Bedford with few letters. I protest earnestly to you, it troubles me much more to dispatch a packet into England, without a letter to her, than it would to put in three. But I have been heretofore too immodest towards her, and I suffer this purgatory for it. We make account to leave this place within eight or ten days, and hence to make our best haste to the Count Maurice, where we think to find again the young Palatine. All this I tell you, only because when you know that we shall run too fast to write any more letters, you may easily pardon the importunities and impertinences of this, and cast into no lower place of your love,

Your very true friend and servant,

Spa, 26th July, here, 1612. J. Donne.

Letter XLV.
To Yourself*.


All your other letters, which came to me by more hazardous ways, had therefore much merit in them; but for your letter by Mr. Pory, it was but a little degree of favour, because the messenger was so obvious, and so certain, that you could not choose but write by him. But since he brought me as much . letter as all the rest, I must accept that, as well as the rest. By this time, Mr. Garret, when you know in your conscience that you have sent no letter, you begin to look upon the superscription, and doubt that you have broken up some other body's letter: but whose soever it were it must speak the same language, for I have heard from nobody. Sir, if there be a proclamation in England against writing to me, yet since it is thereby become a matter of state, you might have told Mr. Pory so. And you might have told him, what became of Sir Thomas Lucy's letter, in my first packet, (for any letter to him makes any paper a packet, and any piece of single money a medal) and what became of my Lady Kingsmel's in my second, and of hers in my third, whom I will not name to you in hope that it is perished, and you lost the honour of giving it. Sir, mine own desire of being your servant, hath sealed me a patent of that place during my life, and therefore it shall not be in the power of your forbidden, . (to which your stiff silence amounts) to make me leave being Your very affectionate servant,

J. Donne.

• Mr. George Garret: from abroad, about 1612.—Ed.

Letter XLVI.
To your fair Sister*.


The dignity, and the good fortune due to your letter, hath preserved a packet so well, that through France and Germany it is at last come to me at Spa. This good experience makes me in despite of contrary appearances, hope that I shall find some messenger for this, before I remove, though it be but two days. For, even miracles are but little and slight things, when anything which either concerns your worthiness is in consideration or my valuation of it. If I fail in this hope of a messenger, I shall not grudge to do myself this service of bringing it into England, that you may hear me say there, that I have thus much profited by the honour of your conversation, and contemplation, that I am, as your virtues arc, everywhere equal; and that, that which I shall say then at London, I thought and subscribed at Spa, which is, that I will never be anything else, than

Your very humble and affectionate servant,

J. Donne.

Letter XLVII.
To Sir H. Woottonf.


That which is at first but a visitation, and a civil office, comes quickly to be a haunting, and an uncivil importunity: my often writing might be subject to such a misinterpretation, if it were not to you, who as you know that the affection which suggests and dictates them, is ever one, and continual, and uninterrupted; may be pleased to think my letters so too, and that all the pieces make but one long letter, and so I know you would not grudge to read any entire book of mine, at that pace, as you do my letters, which is a leaf a-week: especially such letters as mine, which (perchance out of the dullness of the place) are so

• Mrs. Martha Garret; about 1612.—Ed.

+ Probably written in 1612, during the regency of Mary de Medicis, from Paris.—Ed.

empty of any relations, as that they oppress not your moditations, nor discourse, nor memory. You know that for air we are sure we apprehend and enjoy it, but when this air is rarified into fire, we begin to dispute whether it be an element, or no: so when letters have a convenient handsome body of news, they are letters; but when they are spun out of nothing, they are nothing, or but apparitions, and ghosts, with such hollow sounds, as he that hears them, knows not what they said. You (I think) and I am much of one sect in the philosophy of love; which though it be directed upon the mind, doth inhere in the body, and find piety entertainment there: so have letters for their principal office, to be seals and testimonies of mutual affection, but the materials and fuel of them should be a confident and mutual communicating of those things which we know. How shall I then who know nothing write letters? Sir, 1 learn knowledge enough out of yours to me. I learn that there is truth and firmness and an earnestness of doing good alive in the world; and therefore, since there is so good company in it, I have not so much desire to go out of it, as I had, if my fortune would afford me any room in it. You know I have been no coward, nor unindustrious in attempting that; nor will I give it over yet. If at last, I must confess, that I died ten years ago, yet as the primitive church admitted some of the Jewish ceremonies, not for perpetual use, but because they would bury the synagogue honourably, though I died at a blow then when my courses were diverted, yet it will please me a little to have had a long funeral, and to have kept myself so long above ground without putrefaction. But this is melancholy discourse; to change thereforo this metaphorical death to the true, and that with a little more relish of mirth, let me tell you the good nature of the executioner of Paris: who when Vatan was beheaded, (who dying in the profession of the religion, had made his peace with God in the prison, and so said nothing at the place of execution) swore he had rather execute forty Huguenots, than one Catholic, because the Huguenot used so few words, and troubled him so little, in respect of the dilatory ceremonies of the others, in dying. Cotton the great court Jesuit hath so importuned the queen to give some modifications to the late interlocutory arrest against the Jesuits, that in his presence, the Cardinal Soissons, who had been present in the court at the time of the arrest, and serving the king's advocate, who urged it, and the premier president, were sent for: they came so well provided with their books, out of which they assigned to the queen so many, so evident places of seditious doctrine, that the queen was well satisfied, that it was fit by all means to provide against the teaching of the like doctrine in. France. The duke of Espernon * is come to Paris, with (they say) six hundred horse in his train; all which company, came with him into the court: which is an insolence remarkable here. They say that scarce any of the princes appear in the streets, but with very great trains. No one enemy could waste the treasures of France so much, as so many friends do: for the queen dares scarce deny any, that so she may have the better leave to make haste to advance her marquis of Ancre -f, of whose greatness, for matter of command, or danger, they have no great fear, he being no very capable nor stirring man: and then for his drawing of great benefits from the queen they make that use of it, that their suits pass with less opposition. I believe the treasure is scattered, because I see the future receipt charged with so very many and great pensions. The queen hath adventured a little to stop this rage of the princes' importunity, by denying a late suit of Soisson's: which though the other princes grudge not that Soisson should fail, for he hath drawn infinite sums already, yet they resent it somewhat tenderly, that any of them should be denied, when the marquis obtains. That which was much observed in the king's more childish age, when I was last here, by those whom his father appointed to judge, by an assiduous observation, his natural inclination, is more and more confirmed, that his inclinations are cruel, and tyrannous, and when he is any way affected, his stammering is so extreme, as he can utter nothing. They cannot draw him to look upon a son of the marquis, whom they have put into his service. And he was so extremely affectionate towards the younger son of Beaufort, that they have

* Suspected of being accessary to the murder of Henry IV.—Ed.

t Concini mare'chal D'Ancre, tke favourite of Mary during her regency. He was shot in 1617, his influence having been long burdensome to the young king.—Ed.

removed him to a charge which he hath, as he is made prieur of Malta; but yet there pass such letters between them, by stealth and practice, as (though it be between children) it is become a matter of state, and much diligence used to prevent the letters. For the young marquis of Vernueil*, the king speaks often of transplanting him into the church, and once this Christmas delighted himself to see his younger brother in a cardinal's habit. Sir, it is time to take up, for I know, that anything, from this place, as soon as it is certain, is stale. I have been a great while more mannerly towards my Lady Bedford, than to trouble her with any of mine own verses, but having found these French verses accompanied with a great deal of reputation here, I could not forbear to ask her leave to send them. I write to you by Mr. Pory the 17th of January here, and he carried that letter to Paris, to gather news, like a snowball. He told me that Pindar is gone to Constantinople with commission to remove and succeed Glover: I am afraid you have neglected that business. Continue me in Mr. Martin's good opinion: I know I shall never fall from it, by any demerit of mine, and I know I need not fear it, out of any slackness or slipperiness in him, but much business may strangle me in him. When it shall not trouble you to write to me, I pray do me the favour to tell me, how many you have received from me, for I have now much just reason to imagine, that some of my packets have had more honour then I wished them: which is to be delivered into the hands of greater personages, then I addressed them unto. Hold me still in your own love, and proceed in that noble testimony of it, of which your letter by Mr. Pory spoke, (which is the only letter that I have received, since I came away) and believe me that I shall ever with much affection, and much devotion join both your fortune and your last best happiness, with the desire of mine own in all my civil, and divine wishes, as the only retribution in the power of your affectionate servant,

J. Donne.

* The marchioness of Vernueil was one of Henry IV.'s mistresses, also suspected of being accessary to his murder.

Letter XLVIII.
To the Honourable Knight, Sir H. Goodyere.


If I would go out of my way for excuses, or if I did not go out of my way from them; I might avoid writing now because I cannot choose but know, that you have in this town abler servants, and better understanding the persons and passages of this court. But my hope is not in the application of other men's merits, to me however abundant. Besides, this town hath sinco our coming hither, afforded enough for all to say. That which was done here the 25th of March, and which was so long called a publication of the marriages, was no otherwise public than that the Spanish Ambassador, having that day an audience delivered to the queen that his master was well pleased with all those particulars which had been formerly treated. And the French Ambassador in Spain is said to have had instruction to do the same office in that court, the same day. Since that, that is to say, these four last days, it hath been solemnized with more outward bravery than this court is remembered to have appeared in. The main bravery was the number of horses which were above eight hundred caparisoned. Before the days, the town was full of the five challengers' cartels, full of rhodomontades: but in the execution, there were no personal rencontres, nor other trials of any ability, than running at the quintain, and the ring. Other particulars of this, you cannot choose but hear too much, since at this time there come to you so many Frenchmen. But lest you should believe too much, I present you these two precautions, that for their gendarmerie, there was no other trial than I told you; and for their bravery, no true stuff. You must of necessity have heard often of a book written against the pope's jurisdiction, about three months since, by one Richer, a doctor and syndic of the Sorbonists, which book hath now been censured by an assembly of the clergy of this archbishopric, promoved with so much diligence by the Cardinal Peroun, that for this business he hath intermitted his reply to the king's answer, which now he retires to intend seriously: I have not yet had the honour to kiss his grace's hand, though I have received some half-invitations to do it. Richer was first accused to the parliament, but when it was there required of his delators to insist upon some propositions in his book, which were either against Scripture, or the Gallican church, they desisted in that pursuit. But in the censure which the clergy hath made, though it be full of modifications and reservations of the rights of the king, and the Gallican churches, there is this iniquity, that being to be published by commandment of the assembly, in all the churches of Paris, which is within that diocese, and almost all tho curates of the parishes of Paris being Sorbonists, thero is by this means a strong party of the Sorbonists themselves raised against Richer; yet against this censure, and against three or four which have opposed Richer in print, he meditates an answer. Before it should come forth I desired to speak with him, for I had said to some of the Sorbonists of his party, that there was no proposition in his book, which I could not show in catholic authors of three hundred years: I had from him an assignation to meet, and at the hour he sent me his excuse, which was, that he had been traduced to have had conference with the ambassadors of England, and the States, and with the Duke of Bouillon, and that he had accepted a pension of the King of England; and with all, that it had been very well testified to him that day, that the Jesuits had offered to corrupt men with rewards to kill him. Which I doubt not but he apprehended for true, because a messenger whom I sent to fix another time of meeting with him, found him in an extreme trembling, and irresolution: so that I had no more, but an entreaty to forbear coming to his house, or drawing him out of it, till it might be without danger or observation. They of the religion hold a synod at this time in this town, in which the principal business is to rectify, or at least to mature, against their provincial synod, which shall be held in May, certain opinions of Tilenus a divine of Sedan, with which the churches of France are scandalized. The chief point is, whether our salvation be to be attributed to the passive merit of Christ, which is his death, or to his active also, which is his fulfilling of the law. But I doubt not but that will be well composed, if Tilenus who is here in person with two other assistants, bring any disposition to submit himself to the synod, and not only to dispute. I do (I thank God) naturally and heartily abhor all schism in religion so much, as I protest, I am sorry to find this appearance of schism amongst our adversaries the Sorbonists; for I had rather they had held together, to have made a head against the usurpations of the Roman church, than that their disuniting should so enfeeble them, as that the parliament should be left alone to stand against those tyrannies. Sir, you will pardon my extravagances in these relations. I look upon nothing so intentively as these things, nor falls there anything within my knowledge, which I would conceal from you, though it concern not you to know it. Yet methinks it concerns me to tell it. That Cook of which you wrote to me, is come hither, and hath brought me other letters, but not those of which you wrote to me, which packet, he says, you received again of him; whether by his falsehood, or by your diligence in seeking a worthier messenger, I know not; but I am sure I never lost anything with more sorrow, "because I am thereby left still in uncertainties, and irresolutions, of that which I desire much to know in women's businesses. If you write this way any more, choose no other means, than by Mr. Bruer at the Queen's Arms a mercer in Cheapside: he shall always know where we are, and we are yet in a purpose to go from hence within a fortnight, and dispose ourselves to be at Frankfort the 25th of May, when the election of the emperor shall be there. Though I be merely passive in all this pilgrimage, yet I shall be willing to advance that design; because upon my promise that I would do so, Sir Robert Rich gave me his, that he would divert from his way to Italy so much, as to be there then. When I came to this town I found Mr. Matthew, diligent to find a means to write to you; so that at this time, when there go so many, I cannot doubt but he provides himself, therefore I did not ask his commandment, nor offer him the service of this packet. Sir, you are not evener to yourself, in your most general wishes of your own good, than I am in my particular, of which none rises in me, that is not bent upon your enjoying of peace and reposedness in your fortunes, in your affections, and in your conscience; more than which I know not how to wish to

Your very affectionate servant and lover, Paris, the 9th April, 1612, here. J. Donne.

Letter XLIX.
To the Honourable Knight, H. G.


Your son left here a letter for me, from you. But I neither discern by it that you have received any of mine lately; which have been many, and large, and too confident to be lost, especially since (as I remember), they always conveyed others to that good lady; neither do I know where to find, by any diligence, your son's lodging. But I hope he will apprehend that impossibility in me, and find me here, where he shall also find as much readiness to serve him, as at Polesworth. This letter of yours makes me perceive, that that lady hath expressed her purpose to you in particular, for the next term. Accordingly, I make my promises: for since one that meant but to flatter, told an emperor, that his benefits were to bo reckoned from the day of the promise, because he never failed, it were an injury from me to the constancy of that noble lady, if I should not, as soon as she promises, do some act of assurance of the performance; which I have done, as I say, in fixing times to my creditors; for by the end of next term, I will make an end with the world, by God's grace. I lack you here, for my Lord of Dorset, he might make a cheap bargain with me now, and disengage his honour, which in good faith, is a little bound, because he admitted so many witnesses of his large disposition towards me. They are preparing for a mask of gentlemen: in which Mr. Villers is*, and Mr. Karre, whom I told you before my Lord Chamberlain had brought into the bedchamber. I pray, if you make not so thick goings as you used, send this letter to that good woman, for it is not only mine. If I could stay this letter an hour, I should send you something of Savoy, for Sir Robert Rich, who is now come from court, hath laid a commandment upon me by message to wait upon him; and I know his business, because he

• This fixes the date of this letter to 1614. Hume mentions (chap. XLvii.) that Villers was purposely placed in a conspicuous situation at a comedy, to attract the king's notice; and succeeded so well, that James appointed him his cup-bearer. The two next letters prove this mask to have been that occasion.—Ed.

never sought me, but in one kind. But the importunity of the hour excuses me, and delivers you from further trouble from Your very true friend and servant, December 13. J. Donne.

Letter L.

To the Honourable Knight, Sir Henry Goodyere.


Since I received a letter by your son, whom I have not yet had the honour to see, I had a later packet from you by Mr. Roe: to the former, I wrote before: in this I have no other commandment from you, but to tell you, whether Mr. Villere have received from the king any additions of honour, or profit. Without doubt he hath yet none. He is here, practising for the mask; of which, if I misremember not, I wrote as much as you desire to know, in a letter which seems not to have been come to you, when you wrote. In the Savoy business, the king hath declared himself by an engagement, to assist him with 100,000/. a-year, if the war continue. But I believe, he must farm out your Warwickshire benevolence for the payment thereof. Upon the strength of this engagement, Sir Robert Rich becomes confident in his hopes. If you stood in an equal disposition for the west, and only forbore, by reason of Mr. Martin's silence, I wonder; for I think I told you, that he was gone; and I saw in Sir Thomas Lucy's hand a letter from him to you, which was likely to tell you as much. Since I came from court, I have stirred very little: now that the court comes again to us, I may have something which you may be content to receive from Your very affectionate servant, December 18. J. Donne.

Letter LI.
To Sir Henry Goodyere.


I wrote to you yesterday taking the boldness to put a letter into the good lady's packet for you. This morning I had this new occasion of writing, that Sir Thomas Roe, who brought this enclosed letter to me, and left it unsealed, entreated me to take the first opportunity of sending it. Besides that, which is in that letter (for he read it to me) I came to the knowledge in York-house that my Lord Chancellor hath been moved and incensed against you; and asking Sir Thomas Roe, if he were directly or occasionally, any cause of that, he tells me thus much, that Sir W. Lover and Sir H. Carey, have obtained of my lord to have a pursuivant, and consequently a serjeant sent into the country for you. My lord grounds this earnestness against you upon some refusing to appear upon process which hath been taken out against you, and I perceive Sir Ed. Eston, and both the others, admit consultations, of ways by petition to the king, or council, or lord chamberlain, or any other. The great danger, obliquely likely to fall, is that when it comes to light, how you stand towards Mr. Mathew, you may lose the ease which you have by colour of that extent, and he may lose the benefit, of having had so much of his estate concealed. You will therefore at least pardon my advising you, to place those sums, which by your retiring I presume you do employ upon payment of debts, in such places as that these particular friends be not forced to leave being so. I confess, the going about to pay debts, hastens importunity. I find in myself, that where I was not asked money before, yet when I offered to pay next term, they seem loth to afford me that time, which might justly have been desperate before: but that which you told me out of the country, with the assistance which I hope to find here (especially if your endeavour may advance it at Dorset-house), 1 hope will enable me to escape clamour, and an ill conscience, in that behalf. One thing more I must tell you; but so softly, that I am loth to hear myself: and so softly, that if that good lady were in the room, with you and this letter, she might not hear. It is, that I am brought to a necessity of printing my poems, and addressing them to my Lord Chamberlain. This I mean to do forthwith; not for much public view, but at mine own cost, a few copies. I apprehend some incongruities in the resolution; and I know what I shall suffer from many interpretations; but I am at an end, of much considering that; and, if I were as startling in that kind, as ever I was, yet in this particular, I am under an unescapable necessity, as I shall let you perceive, when I see you. By this occasion I am made a rhapsoder of mine own rags, and that cost me more diligence, to seek them, than it did to make them. This made me ask to borrow that old book of you, which it will be too late to see, for that use, when 1 see you: for I must do this, as a valediction to the world, before I take orders. But this is it, I am to ask you: whether you ever made any such use of the letter in verse, a nostre comtesse chez vous, as that I may not put it in, amongst the rest to persons of that rank; for I desire very much, that somethiug should bear her name in the book, and I would be just to my written words to my Lord Harrington, to write nothing after that. I pray tell me as soon as you can, if I be at liberty to insert that: for if you have by any occasion applied any pieces of it, I see not, that it will be discerned, when it appears in the whole piece. Though this be a little matter, I would be sorry not to have an account of it, within as little after New-year's-tide, as you could. I have something else to say of Mr. Villers, but because I hope to see you here shortly, and because new additions to the truths or rumours, which concern him, are likely to be made by occasion of this mask, I forbear to send you the edition of this mart, since I know it will be augmented by the next: of which, if you prevent it not by coming, you shall have, by letter, an account from Your very affectionate friend and servant, Vigilia St. Thomas, 1614. J. Donne.

Letter LI I.

To the Honourable Knight, Sir Robert Karre, Gentleman of his Highness s Bedchamber*.


I have always your leave to use my liberty, but now I must use my bondage. Which is my necessity of obeying a precontract laid upon me. I go to-morrow to Camberwell a mile beyond Southwark. But from this town goes with me my brother Sir Thomas Grimes and his lady, and I with them. There we dine well enough I warrant you, with his father-in-law, Sir

• Probably about 1614.—Ed.

Thomas Hunt. If I keep my whole promise, I shall preach both forenoon and afternoon. But I will obey your commandments for my return. If you cannot be there by ten, do not put yourself upon the way: for, sir, you have done me more honour, than I can be worthy of, in missing me so diligently. I can hope to hear Mr. Moulin again: or ruminate what I have heretofore heard. The only miss that I shall have is of the honour of waiting upon you; which is somewhat recompensed, if thereby you take occasion of not putting yourself to that pain, to be more assured of the inabilities of

Your unworthy servant,

J. Donne.

Letter LIII.

To the Honourable Knight, Sir Robert Karre, Gentleman of his Highness" Bedchamber*.


I have often sinned towards you, with a presumption of being pardoned, but now I do it, without hope, and without daring to entreat you to pardon the fault. In which there are thus many degrees of importunity. That I must beg of you to christen a child, which is but a daughter, and in which you must be content to be associated with ladies of our own alliance, but good women, and all this upon Thursday next in the afternoon. Sir, I have so many and so indellible impressions of your favour to me, as they might serve to spread over all my poor race. But since I see that I stand like a tree, which once a-year bears, though no fruit, yet this mast of children, and so am sure, that one year or other I should afflict you with this request, I had rather be presently under the obligations and the thankfulness towards you, than meditate such a trouble to you against another year. I was desirous this paper might kiss your hands as soon as you came, that if any other diversions made this inconvenient to you, I might have another exercise of your favour, by knowing so much from you, who in every act of yours make me more and more Your humble and thankful servant,

17th April. J. Donne.

* Before 1617, when his wife died.—Ed.

Vol. vi. 2 B Letter LIV.

To the Right Honourable the Countess of Montgomery. Madam,

Of my ability to do jour ladyship service, anything may be an emblem good enough; for as a word vanisheth, so doth any power in me to serve you; things that are written are fitter testimonies, because they remain and are permanent: in writing this sermon * which your ladyship was pleased to hear before, I confess I satisfy an ambition of mine own, but it is the ambition of obeying your commandment, not only an ambition of leaving my name in the memory, or in the cabinet: and yet, since I am going out of the kingdom, and perchance out of the world, (when God shall have given my soul a place in heaven) it shall the less diminish your ladyship, if my poor name be found about you. I know what dead carcases things written are, in respect of things spoken. But in things of this kind, that soul that inanimates them, receives debts from them: the Spirit of God that dictates them in the speaker or writer, and is present in his tongue or hand, meets himself again (as we meet ourselves in a glass) in the eyes and hearts of the hearers and readers: and that Spirit, which is ever the same to an equal devotion, makes a writing and a speaking equal means to edification. In one circumstance, my preaching and my writing this sermon is too equal: that that your ladyship heard in a hoarse voice then, you read in a coarse hand now: but in thankfulness I shall lift up my hands as clean as my infirmities can keep them, and a voice as clear as his Spirit shall be pleased to tune in my prayers in all places of the world, which shall either sustain or bury

Your ladyship's humble servant in Christ Jesus,

) J. Donne.

• The sermon most probably of Valediction, at his going into Germany in 1610 : the 148th of the present edition.—Ed.

Letter LV.
To Yourelf*.


Age becomes nothing better than friendship; thereforo your letters, which are ever good effects of friendship, delight to be old before I receive them: for it is but a fortnight since those letters which you sent by Captain Peter found me at Spa; presently upon the receipt, I adventured by your leave to bestow the first minutes upon this letter to your fair noble sister; and because I found no voice at Spa of any messenger, I respited my writing to you, till I came thus much nearer. Upon the way hither, another letter from you overtook me, which by my Lord Chandos' love to me for your sake, was sent after me to Mastricht: he came to Spa within two hours after I went away; which I tell you to let you see, that my fortune hath still that spiteful constancy, to bring me near my desires, and intercept me. If I should write to you any news from this place, I should forestall mine own market, by telling you beforehand that which must make me acceptable to you at my coming. I shall sneak into London, about the end of August. In my remotest distances I did not more need your letters than I shall then. Therefore if you shall not be then in London, I beseech you to think mo at Constantinople, and write one large letter to be left at my Lady Bartlefs my lodging; for I shall come in extreme darkness and ignorance except you give me light. If Sir John Brooke bo within your reach, present my humble service and thankfulness to him; if he be not, I am glad, that to my conscience, which is a thousand witnesses, I have added you for one more, that I came as near as I could to do it. I shall run so fast from this place, through Antwerp, and some parts of Holland, that all that love which you could perchance be content to express by letters if I lay still, may bo more thriftily bestowed upon that one letter, which is by your favour, to meet me, and to welcome to London Your unworthy, but very true friend,

J. Donne.

* Probably Mr. Garet; written during his absence in Germany, 1619.

Letter LVI.

To the Noblest Knight, Sir Edward Herbert, Lord of Cherbury; sent to him with his book Biathanatos*.


I make account that this book hath enough performed that which it undertook, both by argument and example. It shall therefore the less need to be itself another example of the doctrine. It shall not therefore kill itself; that is, not bury itself; for if it should do so, those reasons, by which that act should be defended or excused, were also lost with it. Since it is content to live, it cannot choose a wholesomer air than your library, where authors of all complexions are presented. If any of them grudge this book a room, and suspect it of new or dangerous doctrine, you who know us all, can best moderate. To those reasons which I know your love to me will make in my favour and discharge, you may add this, that though this doctrine hath not been taught nor defended by writers, yet they, most of any sort of men in the world, have practised it.

Your very true and earnest friend and servant and lover,

J. Donne.

* Biathanatos was a treatise showing that self-homicide is not so necessarily sin that it never may be otherwise; the following letter to this, explains Donne's views respecting the book. It is to be lamented, considering the wish which he there expresses, that his son should have seen fit to publish the work. He alleges as his reason, that he feared, in the search to which his study was subjected by the committee, that the MS. might either be destroyed, or fathered by some of the wild atheists of the day; and that he could find no way to defend it from these risks, but that of publishing it. An amusing notice of this work is contained in the " Noveau Dictionnaire Historique," Caen, 1783.

"Donne, docteur Anglois et scavant Theologien de sa siecle, est connu par un livre en sa langue, imprime a Londres, sous ce titre: Biaddvaros. C'est une espece d'apologie du suicide. II cite, pour appuyer ses dangereuses ide'es, l'example d'un grand nombre de hcros paiens, ensuite celui de quelques saints dc l'Ancient Testament, d'une foule de martyrs, de confesseurs, de penitens, &c Jesus Christ meme est amene en preuve de son systeme. Une livre aussi extraordinaire n'empeche pas l'auteur de devenir Doyen de St. Paul, parce qu'il sut regard^ comme une sorte de consolation qu'il vouloit donner a ses compatriots, que la melancolie jette souvent dans cette fureur."

It is satisfactory to the English reader to remember that the book was not published till fourteen years after Donne's death. The copy of" Biathanatos," with this autograph letter, is preserved in the Bodleian library, to which it was presented by Lord Herbert of Cherbury, in the year 1042.—Ed.

Letter LVII.

To Sir Robert Karre, now Earl of Ankerum, with my book Biathanatos, at my going into Germany*.


I had need do somewhat towards you above my promises. How weak are my performances, when even my promises aro defective? I cannot promise, no not in mine own hopes, equally to your merit towards me. But besides the poems, of which you took a promise, I send you another book to which there belongs this history. It was written by me many years since; and because it is upon a misinterpretable subject, I have always gone so near suppressing it, as that it is only not burnt: no hand hath passed upon it to copy it, nor many eyes to read it: only to some particular friends in both universities, then when I writ it, I did communicate it: and I remember, I had this answer, that certainly, there was a false thread in it, but not easily found: keep it, I pray, with the same jealousy; let any that your discretion admits to the sight of it, know the date of it; and that it is a book written by Jack Donne, and not by Dr. Donne: reserve it for me, if I live, and if I die, I only forbid it the press, and the fire: publish it not, but yet burn it not; and between these, do what you will with it. Love me still, thus far, for your own sake, that when you withdraw your love from me, you will find so many uuworthinesses in me, as you grow ashamed of having had so long, and so much, such a thing as

Your poor servant in Christ Jesus,

J. Donne.

Letter LVIII.
To Sir H. Goody ere, at Polesworth}.


It is true that Mr. Gherard told you, I had that commandment from the king signified to me by my lord and am still under it, and we are within fourteen days of our time for going. I leave a [scattered flock of wretched children, and I carry an

* In 1619.—Ed.

+ "Written just before Donne's going to Germany in 1610.—Ed,

infirm and valetudinary body, and I go into the mouth of such adversaries, as I cannot blame for hating, the Jesuits, and yet I go. Though this be no service to my lord: yet I shall never come nearer doing him a service, nor do anything liker a service than this. Yesterday we had news by Sir Nowell Carou, from Paris, that the Duke of Savoy was elected King of Bohemia; which would cut off a greater part of the occasion of our going: but it is not much credible in itself, nor at all believed here, because it is not signified from Savoy, nor Heidelberg. Since Mr. Gherard continues your gazetteer, I need tell you nothing of the Queen of Franco's estate. For your commandment in memory of Mr. Martin, I should not have sate so many processes, if I could incline my thoughts that way. It is not laziness, it is not gravity, nor coldness towards his memory, or your service; for I have thought of it oftencr, and longer, than I was wont to do in such things, and nothing is done. Your last packet, in which your daughter and I were joint-commissioners, was brought to me, because she was at Hampton, with the queen's body: but I sent her part to her, and my Lady Uvedall's to her, who presents her service to you by me now, and says she will write next week and so will I too, by God's grace. You forget me absolutely and entirely, whensoever you forget me to that noble countess. God bless you in all. Amen.

Your true servant in Jesus Christ, 9th March. J. Donne.

Letter LIX.
To Sir Thomas Lucy.


This first of April I received yours of the twenty-first of March, which being two days after the ordinary Smithfield day, I could do no more, but seal this letter to be sent to you next Tuesday, because I foresee that I shall not then be in town. Whatsoever I should write now, of any passages of these days, would lose the verdure before the letter came to you, only give me leave to tell you that I need none of those excuses, which you have made to yourself in my behalf, for my not writing. For your son-in-law came to me, so near the time of his going away, as it had been impossible to have recovered him with a letter at so far a distance, as he was lodged. And my Lady Hunt's messenger received that answer, which, I hope, before this time, you know to be true, that I had sent the day before, by the infallible carrier' of Smithfield. The emperor's death may somewhat shorten our way; for I discern now no reason of going to Vienna; but I believe it will extend our business; so that I promise myself no speedier return by that. If I write no letters into England out of these parts, I cannot be without your pardon, if I write not to you, but if I write to any and leave you out, lay all the faults which you have ever pardoned in me, to my chargo again. I foresee some reasons, which may make me forbear; but no slackness of mine own, shall. Sir, if I have no more the commodity of writing to you here in England, (as we may be gone before next Tuesday,) I tell you, in this departing from you, with the same truth and earnestness as I would be believed to speak in my last departing, and transmigration from the whole world, that I leave not behind me a heart, better affected to you, nor more devoted to your service, than I carry with me. Almighty God bless you, with such a reparation in your health, such an establishment in your estate, such a comfort in your children, such a peace in your conscience, and such a true cheerfulness in your heart, as may be strong seals to you, of his eternal gracious purpose upon you. This morning I spend in surveying and emptying my cabinet of letters; and at the top of all I light upon this letter lately received, which I was loth to bury. I chose to send it you, to mino own condemnation; because a man so busy as he is, descending to this expressing of himself in verse, I am inexcusable towards you, for disobeying a commandment of yours, of that kind; but I rely upon the general, that I am sure you are sure, that I never refuse anything, for laziness, nor morosity, and therefore mako some other excuse for me. You have been so long used to my hand that I stand not to excuse the hasty raggedness of this letter. The very illness of the writing, is a good argument that I forced a time, in the fulness of business, to kiss your hand, and to present my thanks as for all your favours, and benefits, so principally for keeping me alive in the memory of the noblest countess, whose commandment, if it had been her ladyship's pleasure to have anything said or done in her service, at Heidelberg, I should have been glad to have received. Sir, God bless you, et spiritu principali confirmet te; and

Your very true and affectionate servant in Christ Jesus, April 4, 1619. J. Donne.

Letter LX.
To Sir Henry Goodyere, at Polesicorth*.


This twenty-fifth I have your letter of twenty-first, which I tell you so punctually, because by it, nor by any other, I do not discern that you received my packet of books: nor that I looked for so quick a return of the sermon, nor of my cases of conscience, but that I forget so absolutely what I write, and am so sure that I write confidently to you, that it is some pain to remain in any jealousy that any letter is miscarried. That which I writ to you of my Lord Treasurer's disposition to you, I had from Mr. Har; and I understood it to be his desire to convey it through me. The last account which we have of my Lord Doncaster is, by letters of the second of this; by which also we saw, that the first letters of his convalescence, were but prophetical; for he has let blood a second time, [and is not strong enough yet to receive audience. Though I be not Dean of Paul's yet, my Lord of Warwick hath gone so low, as [to command of me the office of being master of my game, in our wood about him in Essex. I pray be you content to be my officer too, the steward of my services to all to whom you know them to be due in your walk, and continue your own assurance that I am Your affectionate servant in Christ Jesus,

J. Donne.

Letter LXI.
To Sir Henry Goodi/ere*.


You husband my time thriftily, when you command me to write by such a messenger, as can tell you more than I can write, for so he doth not only carry the letter, but is the letter. But that the naming of some things may give you occasion to ask him farther, and him to open himself unto you, give me leave to tell you, that the now Spanish Embassador proceeds in the old pace, the King hath departed from his ordinary way so far, as to appoint nine of the council to treat with him; but when they came to any approaches, he answered, that he brought only commission to propose certain things, which he was ready to do, but he had no instructions to treat, but expected them, upon another return, from his master. So that there is no treaty for the marriage begun jetf: for I know you have heard 01ivarez,s free acknowledgment, that till the Prince came, there was no thought of it. The King, in his jests of this progress, hath determined it, not as heretofore, at Windsor, but at Farnham during pleasure: so he is within a journey of Southampton; and even that circumstance adds to some other reasons that ho expects the Prince this summer, and that Sir W. Crofts, in his last dispatches, enlarged the Prince in his liberty from his father to come away if he would. Amongst all the iregularities of this age, to me this is as strange as any,—that this year there is no peace, and yet no sword drawn in the world; and it is a lost conjecture to think which way any of the armies will bend. Here it is imagined that Yukendorfe and GaborJ (for, for any concurrence of love, it is but a dream) may so far distress Bohemia, as that Tilly must be recalled thither; and that if he be, Brunswick's way is open into Bavaria, where he may

• Written about 1620.

f The proposed marriage between Prince Charles and the Infanta of Spain, by means of which James hoped to regain the palatinate, which had been lost by his son-in-law, the Prince Palatine.—Ed.

J Bethlehem Gabor, Prince of Transylvania, supported the Prince Palatine. Tilly was Ferdinand's general. "His Excellency" is Prince Maurice, who was at variance with Spinola, the Spanish general.—Ed.

recompense great losses, whilst Mansfeld and Gonzales, and his Excellency and Spinola, keep the balance even in their parts, by looking upon one another. This noble friend of yours is in his last minute, in this town; and I am going into the coach with my lord to Hanworth. If I might have forborne the sealing the rest till my return from thence, you might have heard something more from

Your very true poor friend, and humble

servant in Christ Jesus,

J. Donne.

No straitness makes me forget my service to your daughters: if my bell were tolling, I should pray for them, and though my letter bo sealing, I leavo not out my wishes that their fortunes may second their goodness. Amen.

Letter LXII.


This evening, which is 5th October, I find your letter of Michaelmas day; and though I see by it that it is a return of a letter, not of the last week's, and thereupon make account that my last week's letter hath satisfied you in some things which this letter commands, concerning Paul's; yet for other things I would give you a drowsy relation, for it is that time of night, though I called it evening. At the King's going from hence on Monday last, we made account to have seen Sir John Sutclin, Secretary, and Sir Robert Weston, Chancellor of the Exchequer; but they are not done, but both are fixed. My Lord Cranfield received his staff, with these two suits obtained from the King, that all assignations might be transferred into the exchequer, and so no payments charged upon the customs, nor receivers, nor the court of wards, &c. And that for a time there might be a damp cast upon pensions, till they might be considered. In the low countries the armies stir not. In the palatinate

Sir H. Vere, attempting the regaining of Stcnie castle, was surprised by tbo enemy in so much strength, that they write it over for a master-piece that he was able to make a retreat to Manheme: so that now the enemy is got on that side the river which Heidelberg is on, and I know nothing that can stand in his way. My Lord Digby comes from Vienna, before he goes into Spain, by Count Mansfeld, by the palatinate, by Paris; and therefore upon his coming, I shall be able to say something to you. In Sir John Sutclin I presume you see an end of Sir Robert Naunton, and we see an end of Mr. Thomas Murray too; I believe he comc3 no more to the Prince. For the trial of my Lord of Canterbury's irregularity*, there is a commission to six bishops, London, Winchester, Rochester, and three only elect, Lincoln, St. David's, and Exeter: two judges, Lords Hobard and Dodridgo; two civilians, Sir H. Martin and D. Steward. The consecration of these elect bishops, and consequently my being dean, must attend the issue of this commission. Sir Thomas Roe is gone. The proclamations of putting off the parliament till February are like to outrun this letter. It is very late; and it is one act to say grace after supper, and to commend myself into the hands of my blessed Saviour, in my bed, and so close this letter and mine eyes with the same blessing upon all your family. Amen.

Your poor servant in Christ Jesus,


Letter LXIII.
To the best Knight, Sir H. G.


At your convenience, I pray send my Lady Bedford this enclosed, but be pleased to put yourself to some inconvenience (if it be so) to kiss my Lady Ruthin's hands in my name, and to

• In the year 1621 (as appears from Letter lxiv.), Abbot, archbishop of Canterbury, hunting in Lord Zouch's park, in Leicestershire, by accident killed an assistant keeper with a cross-bow bolt. His enemies, Laud and his party, asserted that this homicide incapacitated him for his office, and .prevailed to have this commission appointed. The result of it was, that Abbot was ordered to obtain the King's pardon, and a dispensation.—Ed.

present my very humble service to her, and tell her that no ill conscience of having deserved her, but only an obedience to her commandments, keeps me from saying to herself thus much; that this day I received a letter from my Lord of Kent, written yesterday at Wrest: in that his lordship sends me word, that that favour which he hath formerly done me, in giving me Blouham, is now likely to fall upon me, because the incumbent is dangerously ill; and because this is the season in which he removes from Wrest thither, he desires (for I give you his own word) that he may be accommodated there (if it fall now), as heretofore. Out of my absolute and entire readiness to serve that family, I sent back his messenger with this answer: That I esteemed it a great part of my good fortune that I should become worthy to be commanded by him. If my lady will be pleased to direct me in what particular manner I may best serve her purposes, I shall gladly wait upon her at any time, to receive her command with as much devotion and thankfulness as I received the benefit. I beseech you, make her believe it, as in any place you believe

Your poor servant in Christ Jesus,

Feb. 26,1621. J.donne.

Letter XLIV.
To the worthy Knight, Sir Thomas Lucy.


Your letter comes to me at grace after supper; it is part of the prayer of that grace, that God will bless you and all yours with his best blessings of both kind. I would write you news, but your love to me. may make you apt to over-believe news for my sake. And truly, all things that are upon the stage of tho world now, are full of such uncertainties, as may justly make any man loth to pass a conjecture upon them; not only because it is hard to see how they will end, but because it is misinterpretable, and dangerous to conjecture otherwise than some men would have the event to be. That which is especially in my contemplation, which is the issue of my Lord of Canterbury's business (for thereupon depends the consecration of my predecessor, upon which the

deanery devolves to the King), is no farther proceeded in yet, than that some of the ten commissioners have met once; and upon Saturday next there will be a fuller meeting, and an entrance into the business, upon which much, very much, in consequence, depends. Of my Lord of Doncaster we are only assured that he is in a good way of convalescence; but of any audience, nothing yet. Slacken not your hold of my Lord Treasurer, for I have been told that you are in his care. I send you a copy of that sermon, but it is not my copy, which I thought my Lord of Southampton would have sent me back. This you must be pleased to let me have again, for I borrowed it: for the other, I will pretermit no time to write it, though in good faith, I have half forgot it. If in any letter I leave out the name of the Lady Hunt or Lady Burdell, or your daughters, tell them that I named them. I take the falsehood upon me; for I intend it, very really and very humbly, where I am good for anything, in any of their services. Our blessed Saviour continue and enlarge his blessings to you all. Amen.

Your humble servant in Christ Jesus, 11th Oct., 1621. J. Donne.

Letter LXV.
To Sir Henry Goody ere*.


This Tuesday morning, which hath brought me to London, presents me with all your letters. Methought it was a rent day, I mean such as yours, and not as mine; and yet such too, when I considered how much I owe you for them, how good a mother, how fertile and abundant the understanding is, if she have a good father; and how well friendship performs that office. For that which is denied in other generations is done in this of yours: for here is superfetation, child upon child, and that which is more strange, twins at a latter conception. If in my second religion, friendship, I had a conscience, either errantem to mistake good and bad and indifferent, or opinantem to bo

Probably after 1620.—Ed.

ravished by others' opinions or examples, or dubiam to adhere to neither part, or scrupulosam to incline to one, but upon reasons light in themselves, or undiscussed in me, (which are almost all the diseases of conscience) I might mistake your often, long, and busy letters, and fear you did but entreat me to have mercy upon you and spare you; for you know our court took the resolution, that it was the best way to dispatch the French prince back again quickly, to receive him solemnly, ceremoniously, and expensively, when he hoped a domestic and durable entertainment. I never meant to excel you in weight nor price, but in number and bulk I thought I might, because he may cast up a greater sum who hath but forty small monies, than he with twenty Portugueses. The memory of friends, (I mean only for letters) neither enters ordinarily into busied men, because they are never employed within, nor into men of pleasure, because they are never at home. For these wishes therefore which you won out of your pleasure and recreation, you were as excusable to me if you writ seldom, as Sir H. Wootton is, under the oppression of business, or the necessity of seeming so; or more than he, because I hopo you have both pleasure and business: only to me who have neither, this omission were sin; for though writing be not of the precepts of friendship, but of the councils, yet, as in some cases to some men councils become precepts, and though not immediately from God, yet very roundly and quickly from his church, (as selling and dividing goods in the first time, continence in the Roman church, and order and decency in ours) so to me who can do nothing else, it seems to bind my conscience to write; and it is sin to do against the conscience, though that err. Yet no man's letters might be better wanted than mine, since my whole letter is nothing else but a confession that I should and would write. I owed you a letter in verse before by mine own promise, and now that you think that you have hedged in that debt by a greater by your letter in verse, I think it now most seasonable and fashionable for me to break. At least, to write presently, were to accuse myself of not having read yours so often as such a letter deserves from you to me. To make my debt greater (for such is the desire of all, who cannot or mean not to pay) I pray read these two problems: for such light flashes as these have

been my hawkings in my sorry journeys. I accompany them with another rag of verses, worthy of that name for the smallness and age, for it hath long lay among my other papers, and laughs at them that have adventured to you: for I think till now you saw it not, and neither you, nor I should repent it. Sir, if I were anything, my love to you might multiply it, and dignify it: but infinite nothings are but one such; yet since even chimeras have some names and titles. I am also


Letter LXVI.
To the Honourable Knight, Sir Robert Karre*.


If I would calumniate, I could say no ill of that gentleman: I know not whether my lord or myself took the first apprehension of it; but I remember that veiy soon we concurred in a good opinion of him; thereupon for justifying our own forwardness, we observed him more thoroughly, and found all the way good reason to ratify our first estimation of him. This gave my lord occasion to send him abroad in his service after: how he satisfied him in that employment, indeed I know not. But, that I disguise nothing, I remember my lord told me sometimes in his absence, that he had not account from him of some things, which he had deposed in him. And at his entering into his coach, at his last going, I asked my lord, Goes not the gentleman with you? and he told me with some coldness, No. So that if you be not pressed to a resolution, you may be pleased to forboar a few days, till I may occasionally discern, whether he have demerited or sunk in my lord's opinion: and then you shall have another character of him from

Your very humble and thankful servant 25th July. J. Donne.

Letter LXVII.
To the Honourable Knight, Sir Robert Karre.


This is but a postscript to the last letter, and it is only to tell you, that it was an impertinent jealousy that I conceived of that gentleman's absence from my lord, for he gives that full testimony of him, that he never discerned any kind of unfitness in him for any employment, except too much goodness and conscientiousness may sometimes make him somewhat less fit for some kinds of business, than a man of a looser rein. And this is all, that I conceive to have been in the commandment wherewith you honoured Your very humble and thankful

servant in Christ Jesus, 2d August, 1622. J. Donne.

Letter LXVIII.
To my much honoured Friend, Sir T. Lucy.


I have scarce had at any time anything so like news to write to you, as that I am at this town; wo came from Spa with so much resolution of passing by Holland. But at Mastricht we found that the lowness, and slackness of the river, would incommodate us so much, as we charged our whole gests, and came hither by land. In the way at Lovaine we met the Earl of Arundel, to recompense the loss wo had of missing my Lord Chands and his company, who came to Spa within a few hours after we came away. Sir Edward Conaway, by occasion of his body's indisposition, was gone home before: he told me he had some hope of you about Bartholomew-tide: but because T half understood by a letter from you, that you were determined upon the country till Michaelmas, I am not so earnest in endeavouring to prolong our stay in these parts, as otherwise I should. If I could join with him in that hope of seeing you on this side the water; and if you should hold that purpose of coming at that time, I should repent extremely my laying of our journeys; for (if we should by miracle hold any resolution) we should be in

England about that time, so that I might miss you both here, and there. Sir, our greatest business is more in our power than the least, and we may be surer to meet in heaven than in any place upon earth; and whilst we are distant here, we may meet as often as we list in God's presence, by soliciting in our prayers for one another. I received four letters from you at Spa by long circuits. In the last, one from my Lord Dorset: I, who had a conscience of mine own unworthincss of any favour from him, could not choose but present my thanks for the least. I do not therefore repent my forwardness in that office; and I beseech you not to repent your part therein. Since we came to this town, tlicre arrived an extraordinary from Spain, with a reconfirmation of the Duke d'Aumal's pension, which is thereby 2100/. a-year, and he brings the title of count, to Rodrigo de Calderon, who, from a very low place, having grown to be secretary to Lerma, is now ambassador here, and in great opinion of wisdom: they say yet he goes to Prague with the Marquis Spinola, and the General Buquoy, to congratulate the emperor: but we all conclude here, that persons of such quality, being great in matter of war, are not sent for so small an employment: we believe certainly, that they deliberate a war, and that the reduction of Aix being not worthy this diligence, their intentions must bo upon Cleve, for the new town which the two princes make by Collen, despites them much. The Elector of Mentz hath lately been here, upon pretence of coming in devotion to Sichem, and shortly the electors of Colein and Saxony are to be hero severally: all concurs to a disposition of such a war, and the Landgrave of Hesse (who is as yet in the union) is much solicited and caressed by this party, and I doubt, will prove a frail and corruptible man. I durst think confidently, that they will at least proceed so far towards a war, as to try how France will dispose itself in the business: for it is conceived that the Duke of Bouillon brought to our king good assurances from tho queen regent, that she would pursue all her husband's purposes in advancing the designs of those princes who are in possession of Cleve, and in the union. If she declare herself to do so, when they stir, they are like to divert their purposes; but if she stand but neutral (as it is likely, considering how Spanish the court is at this time) I Vol. vi. 3 c

sec not that the princes of the union are much likely to retard thnii. Sir, you sec what unconcerning things I am fain to write of, lest I should write of myself, who am so little a history or tale, that I should not hold out to make a letter long enough to send over a sea to you; for I should despatch myself in this one word, that I am

Your affectionate servant and lover, August 16th, here*, 1622. J. Donne.

Letter LXIX.
To Sir H. Wootton.

Oct. 4th. 1622, almost at midnight.


All our moralities are but our outworks, our Christianity is our citadel; a man who considers duty but the dignity of his being a man, is not easily beat from his outworks, but from his Christianity never; and therefore I dare trust you, who contemplate them both. Every distemper of the body now, is complicated with the spleen, and when we were young men we scarce ever heard of the spleen. In our declinations now, every accident is accompanied with heavy clouds of melancholy; and in our youth we never admitted any. It is the spleen of the mind, and we are affected with vapours from thence; yet truly, even this sadness that overtakes us, and this yielding to the sadness, is not so vehement a poison (though it be no physic neither) as those false ways, in which we sought our comforts in our looser days. You are able to make rules to yourself, and our blessed Saviour continue to you an ability to keep within those rules. And this particular occasion of your present sadness must be helped by the rule, for, for examples you will scarce find any, scarce any that is not encumbered and distressed in his fortunes. I had locked myself, sealed and secured myself against all possibilities of falling into new debts, and in good faith, this year hath thrown me 400/. lower than when I entered this house. I am a father as well as you, and of children (I humbly thank God) of

, • Most probably Frankfort.—Ed,

as good dispositions; and in saying so, I make account that I have taken my comparison as high as I could go; for in good faith I believe yours to be so: but as those my daughters (who are capable of such considerations) cannot but see my desire to accommodate them in this world, so I think they will not murmur if heaven must be their nunnery, and they associated to the blessed virgins there: I know they would be content to pass their lives in a prison, rather than I should macerate myself for them, much more to suffer the mediocrity of my house, and my means, though that cannot prefer them: yours are such too, and it need not that patience, for your fortune doth not so far exercise their patience. But to leave all in God's hands, from whose hands nothing can be wrung by whining but by praying, nor by praying without the fiat voluntas tua. Sir, you are used to my hand, and, I think have leisure to spend some time in picking out sense, in rags; else I had written less, and in longer time. Here is room for an amen; the prayer — so I am going to my bedside to make for all you and all yours, with

Your true friend and servant in Christ Jesus,

J. Donne.

Letter LXX.

To the Honourable Knight, Sir G. P.


I would have intermitted this week without writing, if I had not found the name of my Lady Huntington in your letter. The devotion which T owe, and (in good faith) pay in my best prayers for her good, in all kind awakens me to present my humble thanks for this, that her ladyship retains my name in her memory: she never laid obligations upon any man, readier to express his acknowledgment of them, to any servant of her servants; I am bound to say much of this, for your indemnity; because though I had a little preparation to her knowledge in the house where I served at first, yet, I think, she took her characters of me, from you: and at what time soever she thought best of me in her life, I am better than that, for my goodness is my thankfulness, and I am every day fuller of that than before, to her ladyship. I say nothing to you of foreign names in this letter, because your son Sir Francis is here. For that which you write concerning your son, I only gave my man Martin in charge, to use his interest in the keeper, that your son should fall under no wants there, which it seems your son discharged, for I hear not of them. For other trifles, I bade my man let him have whatsoever he asked, so, as it might seem to come from him, and not me; and laying that look upon it, it came to almost nothing. Tell both your daughters a piece of a story of my Constance, which may accustom them to endure disappointments in this world: an honourable person (whose name I give you in a schedule to burn, lest this letter should be mislaid) had an intention to give her one of his sons, and had told it me, and would have been content to accept what I, by my friends, could have begged for her; but he intended that son to my profession, and had provided him already 300/. a-year, of his own gift in church livings, and hath estated 300/. more of inheritance for their children: and now the youth, (who yet knows nothing of his father's intention nor mine) flies from his resolutions for that calling, and importunes his father to let him travel. The girl knows not her loss, for I never told her of it: but truly, it is a great disappointment to me. More than these, Sir, we must all suffer, in our way to heaven, where, I hopo you and all yours shall meet

Your poor friend, and affectionate servant, 18th October, 1622. J. Donne.

Letter LXXI.
To Sir Henri/ Goodyere*.


This is a second letter: the enclosed was written before. Now we are sure that Heidelberg is taken, and entered with extreme cruelties. Almost all the defenders forsook their stations; only Sir George Herbert maintained his nobly, to the repulsing of the enemy three times, but having ease in the other parts, eight hundred new fresh men were put upon his quarter, and after he had broke four pikes, and done very well, he was shot

• Probably 1623.—Ed.

dead in the place. Manhcim was soon after besieged, and is still. Heydelth was lost the sixth of this month. The king upon news of this, sent to the Spanish ambassador, that the people were like to resent it, and therefore, if he doubted aught, he should have a guard: but I do not see, that he seems to need it, in his own opinion, neither, in truth does he; the people are flat: or trust in God, and the king's ways. Sir Horace Vero hath written to his wife, (as I am told) a letter in the nature of a will, for the disposing of his estate and children, as though ho did not account to see her any more, but yet Manheim cannot be lost, but by storming. Your man stays, and our bell rings mo into the church; there, sir, I shall recommend you to God's goodness, with Your friend,

24th Sept. J. Donne.

Letter LXXII.

To Sir Henry Goodyere*.


I have the honour of your letter, which I am almost sorry to have received: some few days before the receipt thereof Dr. Turner, who accompanied my Lord Carow to Sion to dinner, showed me a letter from you, from which I conceived good hopes that your businesses being devolved into the hands of the treasurer, had been in much more forwardness, than by your letter to me they appear to be. I beseech God establish them, and hasten them, and with them, or without them, as he sees most conducible to his purpose upon you, continue in you a relying upon him, and a satisfaction in his ways. I know not whether any letter from your son, or any other report, may have given you any mention of me; he writ to mo from the Compter, that he was under a trifling arrest, and that three pounds and some little more would discharge him. I sent my man with that money, but bid him see it employed for his discharge: he found more actions, and returned. Next day he writ to me that eight pounds would discharge him, and that Mr. Sclden would lay down half. But Mr. Selden and I speaking together, thought it the fittest way to

* Probably 1623.— Ed.

respito all, till, in a few days, by his writing to you, wo might be directed therein; and in the meantime, took order with the keeper to accommodate him, and I bado my man Martin, as from himself, to serve his present want with some things. Since we told him, that we would attend a return of his letter to you, I heard no more of him, but I hear he is out. Whosoever serves you with relations from this town, I am sure prevents mo of all I can say. Tho Palatinate is absolutely lost; for before this letter come to you, we make account that Heidelberg and Frankindalo is lost, and Manheim distressed. Mansfeld came to Breda, and Gonzales, to Brussels, with great losses on both sides, but equal. The Prince of Orange is but now come to Breda, and with him, all that he is able to make, even out of the garrisons of their towns. The ways of victual to Spinous army, are almost all precluded by him, and he likely to put upon tho raising of Spinola, between whom and the town, there are hotter disputes, than ever our times saw. The secretary of the States here showed mo a letter yesterday-night, that the town spends six thousand pounds of powder a-day, and hath spent since the siege two hundred and fifty thousand pounds. Argit's regiment and my Lord Vaux, are so diminished by comings away, as that both (I think) make not now in muster above six hundred. Mr. Gage is returning to Rome, but of his negotiation I dare say nothing by a letter of adventure. The direction which his majesty gave for preachers, had scandalized many; therefore he descended to pursue them with certain reasons of his proceedings therein; and I had commandment to publish them in a sermon at the Cross, to as great a congregation as ever I saw together, where they received comfortable assurance of his majesty's constancy in religion, and of his desire that all men should be bred in the knowledge of such things, as might preserve them from the superstition of Romo. I presume it is but a little while before we shall see you here, but that little time is likely to produce many things greatly considerable. Present, I pray, my thankful services to your good daughters. I can give them no better a room in my prayers, and wishes, than my poor Constance hath, and they have that; so have you sir, with

Your very true friend and servant in Christ Jesus,

J. Donne.

Letter LXXIII.

To the Right Honourable Sir Robert Karre*.


A few hours after I had the honour of your letter, I had another from my Lord of Bath and Wells, commanding from the king a copy of my sermon-f-. I am in preparations of that, with diligence, yet this morning I waited upon his lordship, and laid up in him this truth, that of the Bishop of Canterbury's sermon, to this hour, I never heard a syllable, nor what way, nor upon what points he went: and for mine, it was put into that very order, in which I delivered it, more than two months since. Freely to you I say, I would I were a little more guilty: only mine innocency makes me afraid. I hoped for the king's approbation heretofore in many of my sermons; and I have had it. But yesterday I camo very near looking for thanks; for, in my life, I was never in any one piece, so studious of his service. Therefore, exceptions being taken, and displeasure kindlod at this, I am afraid, it was rather brought thither, than met there. If you know any more, fit for me (because I hold that unfit for me, to appear in my master's sight, as long as this cloud hangs, and therefore, this day forbear my ordinary waitings) I beseech you to intimate it to

Your very humble and very thankful servant,

J. Donne.

Letteb LXXIV.

To the Right Honourable Sir Robert Karre, at Court\.


I humbly thank you, for this continuing me in your memory, and enlarging me so far, as to the memory of my sovereign, and (I hope) my master. My tenets are always, for the preservation of the religion I was born in, and tho peace of the

• About 1624.—En.

.f The sermon to which Walton alludes, as having been the only cause of displeasure on^the king's part towards Donne.—Ed,

* About 1624.—Ed.

state, and the rectifying of the conscience; in these I shall walk, and as I have from you a new seal thereof, in this letter, so I had ever evidence in mine own observation, that these ways were truly, as they are justly, acceptable in his majesty's ear. Our blessed Saviour multiply unto him all blessings. Amen.

Your very true and entire servant in Christ Jesus,

J. Donne.

Letter LXXV.
To the Bight Honourable Sir Robtrt Karre, at Court*.


I was this morning at your door, somewhat early; and I am put into such a distaste of my last sermon, as that I dare not practise any part of it, and therefore though I said then, that we are bound to speak aloud, though we awaken men, and make them froward, yet after two or three modest knocks at the door, I went away. Yet I understood after, the king was gone abroad, and thought you might be gone with him. I came to give you an account of that, which this does as well. I have now put into my Lord of Bath and Well's hands the sermon faithfully exscribed. I beseech you be pleased to hearken farther after it; I am still upon my jealousy, that the king brought thither some disaffection towards me, grounded upon some other demerit of mine, and took it not from the sermon. For, as Cardinal Cusanus writ a book Cribratio Alcorani, I have cribrated, and recreated, and post-cribated the sermon, and must necessarily say, the king who hath let fall his eye upon some of my poems, never saw, of mine, a hand, or an eye, or an affection, set down with so much study, and diligence, and labour of syllables, as in this sermon I expressed those two points, which I take so much to conduce to his service, the imprinting of persuasibility and obedience in the subject, and the breaking of the bed of whisperers, by casting in a bone, of making them suspect and distrust one another. I remember I heard the old king say of a good sermon, that he thought the preacher never had thought of his sermon, till he spoke it; it seemed to him negligently and oxtemporally

♦About 1624,—Ed.

spoken. And I knew that he had weighed every syllable, for half a year before, which made me conclude, that the king had before some prejudice upon him. So, the best of my hope is, that some over bold allusions, or expressions in the way, might divert his majesty, from vouchsafing to observe the frame, and purpose of the sermon. When he sees the general scope, I hope his goodness will pardon collateral escapes. I entreated tho bishop to ask his majesty, whether his displeasure extended so far, as that I should forbear waiting, and appearing in his presence; and I had a return, that I might come. Till I had that, I would not offer to put myself under your roof. To-day I come for that purpose, to say prayers. And if, in any degree, my health suffer it, I shall do so, to-morrow. If anything fall into your observation before that, (because the bishop is likely to speak to the king of it, perchance, this night) if it amount to such an increase of displeasure, as that it might bo unfit for me to appear, I beseech you afford me the knowledge. Otherwise, I am likely to inquire of you personally, to-morrow before nine in the morning, and to put into your presence then

Your very humble, and very true, and very honest

servant to God and the king and you,

J. Donne.

I writ yesterday to my Lord Duke, by my Lord Carlisle, who assured me of a gracious acceptation of my putting myself in his protection.

Letter LXXVI.

To the Honourable Lady, the Lady Kingsmel, upon the Death of her Husband.


Those things which God dissolves at once, as he shall do the sun, and moon, and those bodies at the last conflagration, he never intends to reunite again, but in those things, which he takes in pieces, as he doth man, and wife, in these divorces, by death, and in single persons, by the divorce of body and soul, God hath another purpose to make them up again. That piece which he takes to himself, is presently cast in a mould, and in an instant made fit for his use; for heaven is not a place of a proficiency, but of present perfection. That piece which he leaves behind in this world, by the death of a part thereof, grows fitter and fitter for him, by the good use of his corrections, and the entire conformity to his will. Nothing disproportions us, nor makes us so incapable of being reunited to those whom we loved here, as murmuring, or not advancing the goodness of him, who hath removed them from hence. We would wonder, to see a man, who in a wood were left to his liberty, to fell what trees he would, take only the crooked, and leave the straightest trees; but that man hath perchance a ship to build, and not a house, and so hath use of that kind of timber: let not us, who know that in God's houso there are many mansions, but yet have no model, no design of the form of that building, wonder at his taking in of his materials, why he takes the young, and leaves the old, or why the sickly overlive those, that had better healtb. We are not bound to think that souls departed, have divested all affections towards them, whom they left here; but wo are bound to think, that for all their loves they would not be here again; then is the will of God done in earth, as it is in heaven, when we neither pretermit his actions, nor resist them; neither pass them over in an inconsideration, as though God had no hand in them, nor go about to take them out of his hands, as though we could direct him to do them better. As God's scriptures are his will, so his actions are his will; both are testaments, because they testify his mind to us. It is not lawful to add a schedule to either of his wills: as they do ill, who add to his written will, the Scriptures, a schedule of apocryphal books: so do they also, who to his other will, his manifested actions, add apocryphal conditions, and a schedule of such limitations as these, if God would have stayed thus long, or, if God would have proceeded in this or this manner, I could have borne it. To say that our afflictions are greater than we can bear, is so near to despairing, as that the same words express both; for when we consider Cain's words in that original tongue in which God Rpake, we cannot tell whether the words be, My punishment is greater than can be borne; or, My sin is greater than can be forgiven. But madam, you who willingly sacrificed yourself to God, in your obedience to him, in your own sickness, cannot be doubted to dispute with him, about any part of you, which he shall be pleased to require at your hands. The difference is great in the loss, of an arm, or a head; of a child, or a husband: but to them, who are incorporated into Christ, their head, there can be no beheading; upon you, who are a member of the spouse of Christ the church, there can fall no widowhead, nor orphanage upon those children to whom God is father. I have not another office by your husband's death; for I was your chaplain before, in my daily prayers; but I shall enlarge that office with other collects, than before, that God will continue to you, that peace which you have ever had in him, and send you quiet, and peaceable dispositions in all them with whom you shall have anything to do, in your temporal estate and matters of this world. Amen.

Your ladyship's very humble and thankful servant in Christ Jesus, At my poor house, at St. Paul's, J. Donne.

26th October, 1624.

Letter LXXVII.
To the Honourable Knight, Sir Robert Karre, at Court.


I have obeyed the forms of our church of Paul's so much, as to have been a solemn Christmas man, and tried conclusions upon myself, how I could sit out the siege of new faces, every dinner. So that I have not seen the bishop in some weeks. And I know not whether he be in case, to afford that privacy, which you justly desire. This day, I am in my bondage of entertaining. Suppers I presume, are inconvenient to you. But this evening I will spy upon the bishop, and give you an account to-morrow morning of his disposition; when, if he cannot be entire to you, since you are gone so far downwards in your favours to me, be pleased to pursue you humiliation so far as to choose your day, and either to suffer the solitude of this place, or to change it, by such company, as shall wait upon you, and come as a visitor and overseer of this hospital of mine, and dine or sup at this miserable chezmey.

Your humblest and thankfullest servant, 4th Jan., 1626. J. Donne.

To the Honourable Knight, Sir Robert Karre.


Though I have left my bed, I have not left my bedside; I sit there still, and as a prisoner discharged, sits at the prison door, to beg fees, so sit I here, to gather crumbs. I have used this leisure, to put the meditations had in my sickness *, into some such order, as may minister some holy delight. They arise to so many sheets (perchance twenty,) as that without staying for that furniture of an epistle, that my friends importuned me to print them, I importune my friends to receive them printed. That, being in hand, through this long trunk, that reaches from St. Paul's, to St. James's, I whisper into your ear this question, whether there be any uncomeliness, or unseasonableness, in presenting matter of devotion, or mortification, to that prince, whom I pray God nothing may ever mortify, but holiness. If you allow my purposes in general, I pray cast your eye upon the title and the epistle, and rectify me in them: I submit substance, and circumstance to you, and the poor Author of both,

Your very humble and very thankful servant in Christ Jesus,

J. Donne.

Letter LXXIX.

To my very much honoured Friend, George Gerrard,Esq., at Sionf. Sir,

I know not which of us won it by the hand, in the last charge of letters. If you won, you won nothing, because I am nothing, or whatsoever I am, you won nothing, because I was all

• His devotions; this fixes the date of this letter to 1627.—Ed.
t Probably written in 1029.—Ed.

yours before. I doubt not but I were better delivered of dangers of relapses, if I were at London; but the very going would endanger me. Upon which true debility, I was forced to excuse myself to my Lord Chamberlain, from whom I had a letter of command to have preached the 5th of November sermon to the king. A service which I would not havo declined, if I could have conceived any hope of standing it. I beseech you entreat my Lord Percy in my behalf, that he will be pleased to name George to my Lord Carlisle, and to wonder, if not to inquire, where he is. The world is disposed to charge my lord's honour, and to charge my natural affection with neglecting him, and God knows, I know not which way to turn towards him; nor upon any message of mine, when I send to kiss my lord's hands, doth my lord make any kind of mention of him. For the diamond lady, when time serves, I pray look to it; for I would fain be discharged of it. And for the rest, let them be but remembered how long it hath been in my hands, and then leave it to their discretion. If they incline to anything, I should choose shirt Holland, rather under than above four shillings. Our blessed Saviour multiply his blessings upon that noble family where you are, and yourself, and your son; as upon all them that are derived from, Your poor friend and servant,

J. Donne.

Letter LXXX.
To the worthiest Knight, Sir Henry Goody ere *.


Our blessed Saviour, who abounds in power and goodness towards us all, bless you, and your family, with blessings proportioned to his ends in you all, and bless you with the testimony of a rectified conscience, of having discharged all the offices of a father, towards your discreet and worthy daughters, and bless them with a satisfaction, and quiescence, and more, with a complacency and a joy, in good ends, and ways towards them, Amen. Your man brought me your letter of the 8th of December this 21st of the same, to Chelsey, and gives me the largeness, till

* Probably in January, 1630.—Ed.

Friday to send a letter to Paul's-house. There can scarce be any piece of that, or of those things whereof you require light from me, that is not come to your knowledge, by some clearer way, between the time of your letter, and this. Besides, the report of my death, hath thus much of truth in it, that though I be not dead, yet I am buried within a few weeks after I immured myself in this house, the infection struck into the town, into so many houses, as that it became ill-manners, to make any visits. Therefore I never went to Knoll, nor Hanworth, nor Kenton, nor to the court, since the court came into these quarters, nor am yet come to London; therefore I am little able to give you account of high stages. Perchance you look not so low, as our ordinary Gazette, and that tells us, (with a second assurance) that the Duke of Brunswick, Christian, is dead of an ague. My Lord of Dorset even upon the day, when he should have been installed with his six fellows, fell sick at London; and at court (which does not exalt all men) his fever was exalted to the plague; but ho is in good convalescence. Of the navy I hear of no great limb come back yet, but my Lord of Essex; something of the disappointing of the design they had, is imputed to some difference, in point of command, between him and the Master of the Ordnance, my Lord of Valencia, but as yet there is little manifested. Already is issued a proclamation, that there be no disbanding of the soldiers, upon thejr landing, in what part soever, and that his majesty hath present employment for them. What the main business at Hague hath been, I know nothing; but I hear that their offer of pawning of jewels to a very very great value, to the States or private men, hath found no acceptance, at least found no money. Occasionally I heard from the Hague, that the queen having taken into her care, the promoving and advancing of some particular men's businesses, by way of recommendations to the duke, expressed herself very royally, in your behalf. This I tell you not, as though you knew it not, but because I had the fortune to see it in a letter of the simple gentlewoman, from thence; by which name if you know her not, I have omitted heretofore to tell you a good tale. They continue at court, in the resolution of the queen pastoral; when Queen Anne loved gambols, you loved the court; perchance you

may doubt whether you be a thorough courtier, if you come not up to see this, the queen a shepherdess: but I speak not this by way of counsel, to draw you up, it is not only non Dominue, sed ego, but nec Deus nec ego, to call you hither, but upon fair appearances of useful comings. Mr. George Herbert is here at the receipt of your letter, and with his servico to you, tells you that all of Uvedall-house are well. I reserve not the mention of my Lady Huntington to the end of my letter, as grains to make the gold weight, but as tincture to make the better gold, when you find room to intrude so poor and impertinent a name, as mine is, in her presence. I beseech you lot her ladyship know, that she hath sowed her favours towards me, in such a ground, that if I be grown better (as I hope I am) her favours are grown with me, and though they were great when she conferred them, yet, (if I mend every day) they increase in me every day, and therefore every day multiply my thankfulness towards her ladyship: say what you will (if you like not this expression) that may make her ladyship know, that I shall never let fall the memory, nor the just valuation of her noble favours to me, nor leave them unrequited in my exchequer, which is the blessings of God upon my prayers. If I should write another sheet, I should be able to serve your curiosity no more of dukes nor lords nor courts, and this half line serves to tell you, that I am truly

Your poor friend and humble servant in Christ Jesus,

J. Donne.

Letter LXXXI*.


This advantage you and my other friends have, by my frequent fevers, that I am so much the oftener at the gates of heaven, and this advantage by the solitude and close imprisonment that they reduce me to after, that I am thereby the oftener at my prayers; in which I shall never leave out your happines; and, 1 doubt not, but amongst his many other blessings, God will add to you some one for my prayers. A man would almost be content to die, (if there were no other benefit in death) to hear of so

* No address nor date; Walton quotes this letter, as "to a dear friend;" probably Mr. G. Gerrard. It was written in January, 1G30.—Ed.

much sorrow, and so much good testimony from good men, as I, (God be blessed for it) did upon tho report of my death. Yet, I perceive it went not through all; for, one writ unto me, that some (and he said of my friends) conceived, that I was not so ill, as I pretended, but withdrew myself, to save charges, and to live at ease, discharged of preaching. It is an unfriendly, and God knows, an ill-grounded interpretation: for in these times of necessity, and multitudes of poor, there is no possibility of saving, to him that hath any tenderness in him; and for affecting my ease, I have been always more sorry, when I could not preach, than any could be, that they could not hear me. It hath been my desire, (and God may be pleased to grant it me) that I might die in the pulpit; if not that, yet that I might take my death in the pulpit, that is, die the sooner by occasion of my former labours. I thank you, for keeping our George in your memory; I hope God reserves it for so good a friend as you are, to send me the first good news of him. For the diamond lady, you may safely deliver lioper, whatsoever belongs to me, and he will give you a discharge for tho money. For my Lord Percy, we shall speak of it, when we meet at London; which, as I do not much hope before Christmas, so I do not much fear at beginning of term; for I have entreated one of my fellows to preach to my Lord Mayor, at Paul's upon Christmas-day, and reserved Candlemas-day to myself for that service, about which time also, will fall my Lent sermon, except my Lord Chamberlain believe mo to be dead, and leave me out; for as long as I live, and am not speechless, I would not decline that service. I have better leisure to write, than you to read, yet I will not oppress you with too much letter. God bless you, and your son, as

Your poor friend and humble servant in Christ Jesus,

J. Donne.

Letter LXXXII.

To my noble Friend, Mrs. Cokain, at Ashburne. My noblest Sister,

But that it is sweetened by your command, nothing could trouble me more, than to write of myself. Yet, if I would have it known, I must write it myself; for, I neither tell children, nor servants, my state. I have never good temper nor good pulse, nor good appetite, nor good sleep. Yet, I have so much leisure to recollect myself, as that I can think I have been long thus, or often thus. I am not alive, because I have not had enough upon me to kill me, but because it pleases God to pass me through many infirmities before he take me either by those particular remembrances, to bring me to particular repentances, or by them to give me hope of his particular mercies in heaven. Therefore have I been more affected with coughs in vehemence, more with deafness, more with toothach, more with the vurbah, than heretofore. All this mellows me for heaven, and so ferments me in this world, as I shall need no long concoction in the grave, but hasten to the resurrection. Not only to be nearer that grave, but to be nearer to the service of the church, as long as I shall be able to do any, I purpose, God willing, to be at London, within a fortnight after your receipt of this, as well because I am under the obligation of preaching at Paul's upon Candlemas-day, as because I know nothing to the contrary, but that I may be called to court, for Lent service; and my witness is in heaven, that I never left out St. Dunstan's, when I was able to do them that service; nor will now; though they that know the state of that church well, know that I am not so bound, as the world thinks, to preach there; for I make not a shilling profit of St. Duustan's as a churchman, but as my Lord of Dorset gave me the lease of the impropriation, for a certain rent, and a higher rent, than my predecessor had it at. This I am fain to say often, because they that know it not, have defamed me, of a defectiveness towards that church; and even that mistaking of theirs I ever have, and ever shall endeavour to rectify, by as often preaching there, as my condition of body will admit. All our company here is well, but not at home now, when I write; for, lest I should not have another return to London, before the day of your carrier, I write this, and rest,

Your very affectionate "servant, and friend, and brother,

J. Donne.

15th January, 1630, Abrey-hatch.



To the worthiest Lady, Mrs. Bridget White.


I could make some guess whether souls that go to heaven, retain any memory of us that stay behind, if I knew whether you ever thought of us, since you enjoyed your heaven, which is yourself, at home. Your going away hath made London a dead carcase. A term, and a court, do a little spico and embalm it, and keep it from putrefaction, but the soul went away in you: and I think the only reason why the plague is somewhat slackened, is, because the place is dead already, and nobody left worth the killing. Wheresoever you are, there is London enough: and it is a diminishing of you to say so, since you are more than the rest of the world. When you have a desire to work a miracle, you will return hither, and raise the place from the dead, and the dead that are in it; of which I am one, but that a hope that I have a room in your favour keeps me alive; which you shall abundantly confirm to me, if by one letter you tell me, that you have received my six; for now my letters arc grown to that bulk, that I may divide them like Amadis the GauFs book, and tell you, that this is the first letter of the second part of the first book.

Your humblest, and affectionate servant, Strand, St. PeterVday, at nine. J. Donne.

Letter LXXXIV.
To the worthiest Lady, Mrs. Bridget White.


I think the letters which I send to you single lose themselves by the way for want of a guide, or faint for want of company. Now, that on your part there be no excuse, after three Bingle letters, I send three together, that every one of them may have two witnesses of their delivery. They come also to wait upon another letter from Sir E. Herbert, of whose recovery from a fever, you may apprehend a perfecter contentment than we, because you had none of the former sorrow. I am an heretic if it be sound doctrine, that pleasure tastes best after sorrow. For my part, I can love health well enough, though I be never sick; and I never needed my mistress's frowns and disfavours, to make her favours acceptable to me. In states, it is a weakness to stand upon a defensive war, and safer not to be invaded, than to have overcome: so in our soul's health, an innocence is better than the heartiest repentance. And in the pleasures of this life, it is better that the variety of the pleasures give us the taste and appetite to it, than a sour and sad interruption quicken our stomach; for then we live by physic. I wish therefore all your happinesses such as this entire, and without flaw, or spot of discontentment; and such is the love and service of

Your humblest and affectionate servant, Strand, St. Peter's-day, at four. J. Donne.

Letter LXXXV.
To the Same.


This letter which I send enclosed hath been yours many months, and hath languished upon my table for a passage so long, that as others send news in their letters, I send an antiquity in mine. I durst not tear it, after it was yours: there is some sacrilege in defacing anything consecrated to you, and some impiety to despair that anything devoted to you should not be reserved to a good issue. I remember I should have sent it by a servant, of whose diligence I see I was too confident. I know not what it says: but I dare make this letter no longer, because being very sure that I always think the same thoughts of you, I am afraid I should fall upon the same words, and so send one letter twice together. Your very affectionate servant,

November 8. J. Donne.

Letter LXXXVI.
To the Honourable Lady, Mrs. Bridget White.


I have but small comfort in this letter; the messenger comes too easily to me, and I am too sure that the letter shall be delivered. All adventures towards you should be of more difficulty and hazard. But perchance I need not lament this; it may be so many of my letters are lost already that it is time that one should come, like Job's servant, to bring word, that the rest were lost. If you have had more before, this comes to ask how they were received; and if you have had none, it comes to try how they should have been received. It comes to you like a bashful servant, who though he have an extreme desire to put himself in your presence, yet hath not much to say when he is come: yet hath it as much to say as you can think; because what degrees soever of honour, respect, and devotion, you can imagine or believe to be in any, this letter tells you, that all those are in me towards you. So that for this letter you are my secretary; for your worthiness, and your opinion that I have a just estimation of them, write it: so that it is as long, and as good, as you think it; and nothing is left to me, but as a witness, to subscribe the name of Your most humble servant,

J. Donne.

Though this letter be yours, it will not misbecome or disproportion it that I mention your noble brother, who is gone to Cleave, not to return till towards Christmas, except the business deserve him not so long.

To Mr. George Garret.


I have not received that letter, which by this, I perceive you sent to London; if there were anything in that, by which I might have taken occasion to have done you service before this time, I have a double reason of grief for the want of it. I came from thence upon Thursday, where I left Sir Thomas Roe so indulgent to his sorrow, as it had been an injury to have interrupted it with my unuseful company. I'have done nothing of that kind as your letter intimates, in the memory of that good gentlewoman; if I had, I should not find any better use of it, than to put it into your hands. You teach me what I owe her memory; and if I pay that debt so, you have a part and interest in it, by doing me the honour of remembering it: and therefore it must come quickly to you. 1 hope not for your return from court, till I come thither; which if I can be master of myself, or servant to myself, which I think is all one, I hope to do some ten days hence, making it my way to the Bath. If you find any there that have not forgot my name, continue me in their favour, and hold in yourself a firm assurance that I am

Your affectionate servant,

J. Donne.

To Mrs. Martha Garret.


Though there be much merit, in the favour your brother hath done me in a visit, yet that which doth enrich and perfect it, is that he brought you with him; which he doth, as well by letting me see how you do, as by giving me occasions, and leave to talk with you by this letter: if you have any servant, which wishes you better than I, it must be because he is able to put his wishes into a better frame, and express thein better, and understand proportion, and greatness better than I. I am willing to confess my impotency, which is, that I know no wish good enough for you; if any do, my advantage is, that I can exceed his, by adding mine to it. You must not think that I begin to think thus, when you begin to hear it, by a letter; as sometimes by the changing of the wind, you begin to hear a trumpet, which sounded long before you heard it; so are theso thoughts of you familiar and ordinary in me, though they have seldom the help of this conveyance to your knowledge: I am loth to leave; for as long as in any fashion, I can have your brother and you here, your make my house a kind of Dorvey *; but since I cannot stay you here, I will come thither to you, which I do, by wrapping up in this paper, the heart of

Your most affectionate servant,

J. Donne.

Letter LXXXIX.
To Sir Henry Goodyere.


Nature hath mado all bodies alike, by mingling and kneading up tho same elements in every one. And amongst men, the other nature, custom hath made every mind like some other; we arc patterns, or copies, we inform, or imitate. But as he hath not presently attained to write a good hand, which hath equalled one excellent master in his A, another in his B, much less he which hath sought all the excellent masters, and employed all his time to exceed in one letter, because not so much an excellency of any, nor every one, as an evenness and proportion, and respect to one another gives the perfection: so is no man virtuous by particular example. Not he that doth all actions to the pattern of the most valiant, or liberal, which histories afford: nor he which chooses from every one their best actions, and thereupon doth something like those. Perchance such may be in via perficiendorum, which divines allow to monastical life, but not perfectorum, which by them is only due to prelacy. For virtue is even, and continual, and the same, and can therefore break nowhere, nor admit ends, nor beginnings: it is not only not broken, but not tied together. He is not virtuous, out of whose actions you can pick an excellent one. Vice and her fruits may be seen, because they are thick bodies, but not virtue, which is all light; and vices have swellings and fits, and noise, because being extremes, they dwell far asunder, and they maintain both a foreign war against virtue, and a civil against one another, and effect sovereignty, as virtue doth society. The later physicians say, that when our natural inborn preservative is corrupted or wasted,

* Probably the name of the residence of Mrs. Garret.—Ed.

and must be restored by a like extracted from otber bodies; the chief care is that the mummy have in it no excelling quality, but an equally digested temper: and such is true virtue. But men who have preferred money before all, think they deal honourably with virtue, if they compare her with money: and think that as money is not called base, till the alloy exceed the pure; so they are virtuous enough, if they have enough to make their actions current, which is, if either they get praise, or (in a lower abasing) if they incur not infamy or penalty. But you know who said, Angusta innocentia est ad legem bonum esse: which rule being given for positive laws, severe mistakers apply even to God's law, and (perchance against his commandment) bind themselves to his counsels, beyond his laws. But they are worse, that think that because some men formerly wasteful, live better with half their rents than they did with all, being now advantaged with discretion and experience, therefore our times need less moral virtue than the first, because wc have Christianity, which is the use and application of all virtue: as though our religion were but an art of thrift, to make a little virtue go far. For as plentiful springs are fittest, and best become large aquaducts, so doth much virtue such a steward and officer as a Christian. But I must not give you a homily for a letter. I said a great while since, that custom made men like; we who have been accustomed to one another are like in this, that we love not business: this therefore shall not be to you nor me a busy letter. I end with a problem, whose errand is, to ask for his fellows. I pray before you engulf yourself in the progress, leave them for me, and such other of my papers as you will lend me till you return. And besides this allegorical lending, lend me truly your counsels, and love God and me, whilst I love him and you.

Letter XC.

To my very true and very good Friend, Sir Henry Goodyere. Sir,

At some later reading, I was more affected with that part of your letter, which is of the book, and the nameless letters, than at first. I am not sorry, for that affection were for a jealousy or suspicion of a flexibility in you. But I am angry, that any should think, you had in your religion peccant humours, defective, or abundant, or that such a book, (if I mistake it not,) should be able to work upon you; my comfort is, that their judgment is too weak to endanger you, since by this it confesses, that it mistakes you, in thinking you irresolved or various: yet let me be bold to fear, that that sound true opinion, that in all Christian professions there is way to salvation (which I think you think) may have been so incommodiously or intompestively sometimes uttered by you; or else your having friends equally near you of all the impressions of religion, may have testified such an indifference, as hath occasioned some to further such inclinations, as they have mistaken to be in you. This I have feared, because heretofore the inobedient puritans, and now the over-obedient papists, attempt you. It hath hurt very many, not in their conscience, nor ends, but in their reputation, and ways, that others have thought them fit to be wrought upon. As some bodies are as wholesomely nourished as ours, with acorns, and endure nakedness, both which would be dangerous to us, if we for them should leave our former habits, though theirs were the primitive diet and custom; so are many souls well fed with such forms, and dressings of religion, as would distemper and misbecome us, and make us corrupt towards God, if any human circumstance moved it, and in the opinion of men, though none. You shall seldom see a coin, upon which the stamp were removed, though to imprint it better, but it looks awry and squint. And so, for the most part, do minds which have received divers impressions. I will not, nor need to you, compare the religions. The channels of God's mercies run through both fields; and they are sister teats of his graces, yet both diseased and infected, but not both alike. And I think, that as Copernicism in the mathematics hath carried earth farther up, from the stupid centre; and yet not honoured it, nor advantaged it, because for the necessity of appearances, it hath carried heaven so much higher from it: so the Roman profession seems to exhale, and refine our wills from earthly drugs, and lees, more than the reformed, and so seems to bring us nearer heaven; but then that carries heaven farther from us, by making us pass so many courts, and offices of saints in this life, in all our petitions, and lying in a painful prison in the next, during the pleasure, not of him to whom we go, and who must be our judge, but of them from whom we come, who know not our case.

Sir, as I said last time, labour to keep your alacrity and dignity, in an even temper: for in a dark sadness, indifferent things seem abominable, or necessary, being neither; as trees, and sheep, to melancholy night-walkers, have improper shapes. And when you descend to satisfy all men in your own religion, or to excuse others to all; you prostitute yourself and your understanding, though not a prey, yet a mark, and a hope, and a subject, for every sophister in religion to work on. For the other part of your letter, spent in the praise of the countess, I am always very apt to believe it of her, and can never believe it so well, and so reasonably, as now, when it is averred by you; but for the expressing it to her, in that sort as you seem to counsel, I have these two reasons to decline it. That that knowledge which she hath of me, was in the beginning of a graver course, than of a poet, into which (that I may also keep my dignity) I would not seem to relapse. The Spanish proverb informs me, that he is a fool which cannot make one sonnet, and he is mad which makes two. The other stronger reason, is my integrity to the other countess, of whose worthiness though I swallowed your opinion at first upon your words, yet I have had since an explicit faith, and now a knowledge: and for her delight (since she descends to them) I had reserved not only all the verses, which I should make, but all the thoughts of women's worthiness. But because I hope she will not disdain, that I should write well of her picture, I have obeyed you thus far, as to write: but entreat you by your friendship, that by this occasion of versifying, I be not traduced, nor esteemed light in that tribe, and that house where I have lived. If those reasons which moved you to bid me write be not constant in you still, or if you meant not that I should write verses: or if these verses be too bad, or too good, over or under her understanding, and not fit; I pray receive them, as a companion and supplement of this letter to you; and as such a token as I use to send, which use, because I wish rather they should serve (except you wish otherwise) I send no other: but after I have told you, that here at a christening at Peckham, you are remembered by divers of ours, and I commanded to tell you so, I kiss your hands, and so seal to you my pure love, which I would not refuse to do by any labour or danger.

Your very true friend and servant,

J. Donne.

Letter XCI.

To the Honourable Knight, Sir Robert Karre.


I had rather like the first best; not only because it is cleanlier, but because it reflects least upon the other party, which, in all jest and earnest, in this affair, I wish avoided. If my muse were only out of fashion, and but wounded and maimed like freewill in the Roman church, I should adventure to put her to an epithalamium. But since she is dead, like free-will in our church, I have not so much muse left as to lament her loss. Perchance this business may produce occasions, wherein I may express my opinion of it, in a more serious manner. Which I speak neither upon any apparent conjecture, nor upon any overvaluing of my abilities, but out of a general readiness and alacrity to be serviceable and grateful in any kind. In both which poor virtues of mine, none can pretend a more primary interest, than you may, in Your humble and affectionate servant,

J. Donne.

Letter XCII.
To the Honourable Knight, Sir Robert Karre.


Perchance others may have told you, that I am relapsed into my fever; but that which I must entreat you to condole with me, is, that I am relapsed into good degrees of health; your cause of sorrow for that, is, that you are likely to be the more troubled with such an impertinence, as I am; and mine is, that I am fallen from fair hopes, of ending all; yet I have escaped no better, cheap, than that I have paid death one of my children for my ransom. Because I loved it well, I make account that I dignify the memory of it, by mentioning of it to you, else I should not be so homely. Impute this brevity of writing to you upon no subject, to my sickness, in which men use to talk idly: but my profession of desiring to be retained in your memory, impute to your own virtues, which have wrought so much upon

Your humble servant,

J. Donne.

Letter XCIII.
To the Honourable Knight, Sir Henry Goodyere.


Because to remain in this sort guilty in your lordship's opinion doth not only defeat all my future endeavours, but lay a heavier burden upon me, of which I am more sensible, which is ingratitude towards your lordship, by whose favours I have been formerly so much bound; I hope your lordship will pardon me this care and diligence which I use to rectify myself towards you. To which purpose I humbly beseech your lordship, to admit thus much into your consideration, that I neither hunted after this business at first, but apprehended it as it was presented to me, and might perchance have fallen into worse hands, nor proceeded otherwise therein, than to my poor discretion at that time seemed lawful and requisite and necessary for my reputation, who held myself bound to be able to give satisfaction to any who should doubt of the case. Of all which, if your lordship were returned to your former favourable opinions of me, you might be pleased to make this some argument, that after his majesty had showed his inclination to the first motion made in my behalf, I was not earnest to urge and solicit that advantage of priority, but as became me, contented myself to join with him who had made a later petition therein: and as soon as I understood how it was opposed or distasted, I threw it down at your lordship's feet, and abandoned it to your pleasure. Which it is necessary for me to say at this time, lest, if he who was interested with me in that business shall have proceeded any farther therein since that time, your lordship might conceive new suspicions of me. That your lordship's name was at all used therein, or that any words of mine occasioned such an error in my servant, I am so sorry as nothing but a conscience of a true guiltiness of having performed an injury to your lordship (which can never fall upon me) could affect me more. But I, who to the measure of my comprehension, have ever understood your lordship's nobility and evenness, cannot fear that your lordship will punish an oversight, like a crime: which should be effected upon me, if your lordship should continue your disfavour towards me, since no penalty could come so burdenous to my mind and to my fortune as that. And since the repose of both consists in your lordship's favour, I humbly entreat to be restored to your favour, giving your lordship my faith in pawn that I will be as wary of forfeiting it by any second occasion, as I am 6orry for this. Yours,

J. D.

Letter XCIV.
To my honoured Friend, Mr. George Gerrard.


I cannot choose but make it a presage that I shall have no good fortune in England, that I missed the honour of enjoying that company, which you brought to town. But I beseech you let my ill luck determine in that ominousuess: for if my not coming should be by her or you interpreted for a negligence or coldness in me, I were already in actual and present affliction. For that ecclesiastical lady of whom you write, since I presume it is a work of darkness that you go about, we will defer it for winter. Perchance the cold weather, may be as good physic to you, as she, for quenching you. I have changed my purpose of going to Windsor, and will go directly into the Wight: which I tell you not as a concerning thing, but in obedience to your commandment, as one poor testimony that I am

Your affectionate servant,

J. Donne.

Letter XCV.
To my very worthy Friend, Mr. George Gerrard.


This is the fourth of this month, and I received your packet so late, that I have scarce waking time enough to tell you so, or to write anything but dreams. I have both your letters, mother and daughter, and am gladder of them, than if I had the mother and daughter here in our neighbourhood; you know I mean Sir H. Goodyere's parties. Sir, you do me double honour when my name passes through you to that noble lady in whose presence you are. It is a better end and a better way to that than I am worth. I can give you nothing in recompense of that favour, but good counsel; which is to speak sparingly of any ability in me, lest you endanger your own reputation, by overvaluing me. If I shall at any time take courage by your letter, to express my meditations of that lady in writing, I shall scarce think less time to be due to that employment, than to be all my life in making those verses, and so take them with me and sing them amongst her fellowangels in heaven. I should be loth that in anything of mine, composed of her, she should not appear much better than some of those of whom I have written. And yet I cannot hope for better expressings than I have given of them. So you see how much I should wrong her, by making her but equal to others. I would I could be believed, when I say that all that is written of them, is but prophecy of her. I must use your favour in getting her pardon, for having brought her into so narrow, and low-roofed a room as my consideration, or for adventuring to give any estimation of her; and when I see how much she can pardon, I shall the better discern how far farther I may dare to offend in that kind. My noble neighbour is well, and makes me the steward of his service to you. Before this letter reaches you, I presume you will be gathering towards these parts, and then all news will meet you so fast, as that out of your abundance you will impart some to

Your affectionate friend to serve you,

J. Donne.

Letter XCVI.
To Sir George Moore.


If you were here, you would not think me importune, if I bid you good-morrow every day; and such a patience will excuse my often letters. No other kind of conveyance is better for knowledge, or love. What treasures of moral knowledge are in Seneca's letters to only one Lucilius? and what of natural in Pliny's? how much of the story of the time is in Cicero's letters? and how all of these times, in the Jesuit's eastern and western epistles; where can we find so perfect a character of Phalaris, as in his own letters, which are almost so many writs of execution? or of Brutus, as in his privy seals for money? The Evangiles and Acts, teach us what to believe, but the Epistles of the Apostles what to do. And those who have endeavoured to dignify Seneca above his worth, have no way fitter, than to imagine letters between him and St. Paul. As they think also that they have expressed an excellent person, in that letter which they obtrude, from our blessed Saviour to King Agbarus. The Italians, which are most discursive, and think the world owes them all wisdom, abound so much in this kind of expressing, that Michel Montaigne says, he hath seen (as I remember) four hundred volumes of Italian letters. But it is the other capacity which must make mine acceptable, that they are also the best conveyers of love. But, though all knowledge be in those authors already, yet, as some poisons, and some medicines, hurt not, nor profit, except the creatures in which they reside, contribute their lively activity, and vigour; so, much of the knowledge buried in books perisheth, and becomes ineffectual, if it be not applied, and refreshed by a companion, or friend. Much of their goodness, hath the same period, which some physicians of Italy have observed to be in the biting of their tarantula, that it affects no longer, than the fly lives. For with how much desire we read the papers of any living now, (especially friends) which we would scarce allow a box in our cabinet, or shelf in our library, if they were dead? And we do justly in it, for the writings and words of men present, we may examine, control, and expostulate, and receive satisfaction from the authors; but the other we must believe, or discredit; they present no mean. Since then at this time, I am upon the stage, you may be content to hear me. And now that perchance I have brought you to it, (as Thomas Badger did the king) now I have nothing to say. And it is well, for the letter is already long enough, else let this problem supply, which was occasioned by you, of women wearing stones; which, it seems, you were afraid women should read, because you avert them at the beginning, with a protestation of cleanliness. Martial found no way fitter to draw the Roman matrons to read one of his books, which he thinks most moral and cleanly, than to counsel them by the first epigram to skip the book, because it was obscene. But either you write not at all for women, or for those of sineerer palates. Though their unworthiness, and your own ease be advocates for me with you, yet I must add my entreaty, that you let go no copy of my problems, till I review them. If it bo too late, at least be able to tell me who hath them.


J. Donne.

Letter XCVII.

To Sir Henry Goodyere.


I send not my letters as tribute, nor interest, not recompense, nor for commerce, nor as testimonials of my love, nor provokers of yours, nor to justify my custom of writing, nor for a vent and utterance of my meditations; for my letters are either above or under all such offices; yet I write very affectionately, and I chide and accuse myself of diminishing that affection which sends them, when I ask myself why: only I am sure that I desire that you might have in your hands letters of mine of all kinds, as conveyances and deliverers of me to you, whether you accept me as a friend, or as a patient, or as a penitent, or as a beadsman, for I decline no jurisdiction, nor refuse any tenure. I would not open any door upon you, but look in when you open it. Angels have not, nor affect not other knowledge of one another, than they list to reveal to one another. It is then in this only, that friends are angels, that they are capable and fit for such revelations when they are offered. If at any time I seem to study you more inquisitively, it is for no other end but to know how to present you to God in my prayers, and what to ask of him for you; for even that holy exercise may not be done inopportunely, no nor importunely. I find little error in that Grecian's counsel, who says, If thou ask anything of God, offer no sacrifice, nor ask elegantly, nor vehemently, but remember that thou wouldest not give to such an asker. Nor in his other countryman, who affirms sacrifice of blood to be so unproportionable to God, that perfumes, though much more spiritual, are too gross. Yea words which are our subtilest and delicatest outward creatures, being composed of thoughts and breath, are so muddy, so thick, that our thoughts themselves are so, because (except at the first rising) they are ever leavened with passions and affections: and that advantage of nearer familiarity with God, which the act of incarnation gave us, is grounded upon God's assuming us, not our going to him. And, our accesses to his presence are but his descents into us; and when we get anything by prayer, he gave us beforehand the thing and the petition. For I scarce think any ineffectual prayer free from both sin, and the punishment of sin: yet as God supposed a seventh of our time for his exterior worship, and as his Christian church early presented him a type of the whole year in a Lent, and after imposed the obligation of canonic hours, constituting thereby moral Sabbaths every day; I am far from dehorting those fixed devotions: but I had rather it were bestowed upon thanksgiving than petition, upon praise than prayer; not that God is endeared by that, or wearied by this; all is one in the receiver, but not in the sender: and thanks doth both offices; for nothing doth so innocently provoke new graces, as gratitude. I would also rather make short prayers than extend them, though God can neither be surprised, nor besieged: for long prayers have more of the man, as ambition of eloquence, and a complacency in the work, and more of the devil by often distractions: for, after in the beginning we have well entreated God to hearken, we speak no more to him. Even this letter is some example of such infirmity, which being intended for a letter, is extended and strayed into a homily. And whatsoever is not what it was purposed, is worse, therefore it shall at last end like a letter by assuring you I am Yours,

J. Donne.

Letter XCVIII.

To the Honourable Knight, Sir Robert Karre.


The same hour that I received the honour of your commandments, by your letter left at my poor house, I put myself upon the way hither. So that I am here in the habit of a traveller, and (suitable to the rest of my unworthinesses) unfit for great presences. Therefore, I abstain from waiting upon you presently; besides that in this abstinence, (except 1 misinterpret the last words of your letter to my advantage) I obey your directions, in sending before I come to you. Howsoever, sir, I am entirely at your disposing, if you will be pleased to add this favour to the rest, that I may understand, wherein you will use your authority and power, which you have over

Your poor and humble servant,

J. Donnb.

Letter XCIX.
To my Honoured Friend, Master George Gherard.


Your letter was the more welcome to me, because it brought your commandment with it, of sending you perfumes: for it is a service somewhat like a sacrifice. But yet your commandment surprised me, when neither I had enough to send, nor had means to recover more; that lady being out of town which gave them me. But sir, if I had ten millions, I could send you no more than I do; for I send all. If any good occasion present itself to you, to send to my Lord Clifford, spare my name a room, there where you offer him most of your service. I dare contend with you, that you cannot exceed me, in desiring to serve him. It is a better office from me to you, that I goto bed,

VOL. VI. 2 E

than that I write a longer letter. For if I do mine eyes a little more injury, I shall lose the honour of seeing you at Michaelmas; for by my truth I am almost blind: you may be content, to believe that I am always disposed to your service, without exception of any time, since now just at midnight, when it is both day and night, and neither, I tell you that I am

Your affectionate friend and servant,

J. Donne.

Letter C.

To my very much respected-friend, Mr. George Gherard.


I thank you for expressing your love to me, by this diligence, I know you can distinguish between the voices of my love, and of my necessity, if anything in my letters sound like an importunity. Besides, I will add thus much out of council to you, that you can do nothing so thriftily as to keep in your purpose the payment of the rest of this year's rent, (though at your conveniency) for Sir E. H—'s curiosity being so served at first, I shall be no farther cause, but that the rest be related, and you in as good possession of his love, and to as good use, as your love deserves of him. You mock us when you ask news from hence. All is created there, or relates thither where you are. For that book which you command me to send, I held it but half an hour: which served me to read those few leaves, which were directed upon some few lines of my book. If you come to town quickly, you may get a fair widow: for Mrs. Brown is fallen to that state by death of her husband. No man desires your coming more, nor shall be readier to serve you, than Your affectionate friend and servant,

J. Donne.

Letter CI.

To my Honoured Friend, Mr. George Gherard, over against Salisbury House.


I do not make account that I am to come to London, when I get within the wall: that which makes it London is the meeting of friends. I cannot therefore otherwise bid myself welcome to London, than by seeking of you, which both Sir H. Goodyere and I do, with so much diligence, as that this messenger comes two days before to entreat you from us both, to reserve yourself upon Saturday: so that I may, at our coming to London that night, understand at my house where 1 may send you word of our supping-place that night, and have the honour of your company. So you lay more obligations upon

Your poor unprofitable servant,

J. Donne.

Letter CI I.

To the Honourable Knight, Sir Bobert Karre, Gentleman of his Highness"s Bedchamber*.


I am come to that tenderness of conscience, that I need a pardon for meaning to come to Newmarket in this weather. If I had come, I must have asked you many real pardons, for the many importunities that I should have used towards you. But since I have divers errands thither, (except I belie myself in that phrase, since it is all one errand to promove mine own business, and to receive your commands) I shall give you but a short respite, since I shall follow this paper within two days. And (that I accuse myself, no farther than I am guilty) the principal reason of my breaking the appointment of waiting upon Mr. Rawlins, was, that I understood the king was from Newmarket; and for coming thither in the king's absence, I never heard of excuse; except when Butler sends a desperate

* Probably written in 1(514, the year of Donne's receiving D.D. at Cambridge.—Ed.

patient in a consumption thither for good air, which is an ill errand now. Besides that I could not well come till now, (for there are very few days past, since I took orders) there can be no loss in my absence except when I come, my Lord should have ^hereby the less latitude, to procure the king's letters to Cambridge. I beseech you therefore, take some occasion to refresh that business to his Lordship, by presenting my name, and purpose of coming very shortly: and be content to receive me, who have been ever your servant, to the addition of

Your poor chaplain, 27th January. J. Donne.

Letter CIII.

To my very much Honoured Friend, George Garret, Esq.*.


When we think of a friend, we do not count that a lost thought, though that friend never knew of it. If we write to a friend, we must not call it a lost letter, though it never find him to whom it was addressed: for wo owe ourselves that office, to be mindful of our friends. In payment of that debt, I send out this letter, as a sentinel perdue; if it find you, it comes to tell you, that 1 was possessed with a fever, so late in the year, that I am afraid I shall not recover confidence to come to London till the spring be a little advanced. Because you did our poor family the favour, to mention our George in your letters to Spain, with some earnestness, I should wonder if you never had anything from thence concerning him; he having been now, divers months, in Spain. If you be in London and the lady of the jewel there too, at your conveniency inform me, what is looked for at my hands, in that business; for, I would be loth to leave anything in my house, when I die, that were not absolutely mine own. I have a servant, Roper, at Paul's house, who will receive your commandments, at all times. God bless you and your son, with the same blessings which I beg for the children, and for the person of

Your poor friend and humble servant in Christ Jesus,

J. Donne.

• Written probably in the winter of 1629.—Ed.

Letter CIV.

To the Right Honourable the Lord Viscount of Rochester,

My most Honourable good Lord,

After I was grown to be your Lordship's, by all the titles that I could think upon, it hath pleased your Lordship to make another title to me, by buying me. You may have many better bargains in your purchases, but never a better title than to me, nor anything which you may call yours more absolutely and entirely. If therefore I appear before your Lordship sometimes in these letters of thankfulness, it may be an excusable boldness, because they are part of your evidences by which you hold meI know there may be degrees of importunity even in thankfulness: but your Lordship is got above the danger of suffering that from me, or my letters, both because my thankfulness cannot reach to the benefits already received, and because the favour of receiving my letters is a new benefit. And since good divines have made this argument against deniers of the resurrection, that it is easier for God to recollect the principles, and elements of our bodies, howsoever they be scattered, than it was at first to create them of nothing, I cannot doubt, but that any distractions or diversions in the ways of my hopes, will be easier to your Lordship to reunite, than it was to create them. Especially since you are already so near perfecting them, that if it agreed with your Lordship's purposes, I should never wish other station, than such as might make me still, and only

Your Lordship's most humble and devoted servant,

J. Donne.

Letter CV.

To Yourself*.


I make shift to think that I promised you this book of French Satires. If I did not, yet it may have the grace of acceptation, both as it is a very forward and early fruit, since it comes

* Uncertain.—Ed.

before it was looked for, and as it comes from a good root, which is an importune desire to serve you. Which since I saw from the beginning, that I should never do in any great thing, it is time to begin to try now, whether by often doing little services, I can come towards any equivalence. For, except I can make a rule of natural phylosophy, serve also in moral offices, that as the strongest bodies are made of the smallest particles, so the strongest friendships may be made of often iterating small officiousnesses, I see I can be good for nothing. Except you know reason to the contrary, I pray deliver this letter according to the address. It hath no business, nor importunity; but as by our law, a man may be felo de se, if he kill himself, so I think a man may be/ur de se, if he steal himself out of the memory of them which are content to harbour him. And now I begin to be loth to be lost, since I have afforded myself some valuation and price, ever since I received the stamp and impression of being

Your very humble and affectionate servant,

J. Donne.

Letter CVI.
To the Honourable Knight, Sir Robert Karre*.


I sought you yesterday with a purpose of accomplishing my health, by the honour of kissing your hands. But I find by my going abroad, that as the first Christians were forced to admit some Jewish ceremonies, only to bury the synagogue with honour, so my fever will have so much reverence and respect, as that I must keep sometimes at home. I must therefore be bold to put you to the pain of considering me. If therefore my Lord upon your delivery of my last letter, said nothing to you of the purpose thereof; let me tell you now, that it was, that in obedience of his commandment, to acquaint him with anything which might advantage me, I was bold to present that which I heard, which was that Sir D. Carlton was likely to be removed from Venice to the States; of which if my Lord said nothing to you, I beseech you add thus much to your many other favours,

* Before 1610 Ed.

to entreat my Lord at his best commodity, to afford me the favour of speaking with him. But if he have already opened himself so far to you, as that you may take knowledge thereof to him, then you may ease him of that trouble of giving me an audience, by troubling yourself thus much more, as to tell him in my behalf, and from me, that though Sir D. Carlton be not removed, yet that place with the States lying open, there is a fair field of exercising his favour towards me, and of constituting a fortune to me, and (that which is more) of a means for me to do him particular services. And sir, as I do thoroughly submit the end and effect of all projects to his Lordship's will, so do I this begin ning thereof, to your advice and counsel, if you think me capable of it: as, for your own sake, I beseech you to do, since you have admitted me for Your humble servant,

J. Donne.

Letter CVII.
To the Honoured Knight, Sir Robert Karre.


I amend to no purpose, nor have any use of this inchoation of health, which I find, except I preserve my room, and station in you. I begin to be past hope of dying: and I feel that a little rag of Monte Magor, which I read last time I was in your chamber, hath wrought prophetically upon me, which is, that death came so fast towards me, that the overjoy of that recovered me. Sir, I measure not my health by my appetite, but only by my ability to come to kiss your hands: which since I cannot hope in the compass of a few days, I beseech you pardon me both these intrusions of this letter, and of that within it. And though schoolmen dispute, whether a married man dying, and being by miracle raised again, must be re-married; yet let your friendship, (which is a nobler learning) be content to admit me, after this resurrection, to be still that which I was before, and shall ever continue,

Your most humble and thankful servant, 10th March. J. Donne, Letter CVIII.

To the Honourable Knight, Sir Robert Karre.


When I was almost at court, I met the prince's coach: I think I obeyed your purposes best therefore, in coming hither. I am sure I provided best for myself thereby; since my best degree of understanding is to be governed by you. I beseech you give me an assignation where I may wait upon you at your commodity this evening. Till the performance of which commandment from you, I rest here in the Red Lion.

Your very thankful and affectionate servant,

J. Donne.

Letter CIX.
To the Honourable Knight, Sir Robert Karre.


Your man's haste gives me the advantage, that I am excusable in a short letter, else I should not pardon it to myself. I shall obey your commandment of coming so near you upon Michaelmas day, as by a message to ask you whether that or the next morning be the fittest to solicit your further favour. You understand all virtue so well, as you may bo pleased to call to mind what thankfullness and services are due to you from me; and believe them all to be expressed in this rag of paper, which gives you new assurance, that I am ever

Your most humble servant,

J. Donne.

Letter CX.
To Yourself.


If I shall never be able to do you any real service, yet you may make this profit of me, that you be hereafter more cautious in receiving into your knowledge persons so useless and importune. But before you come to so perfect a knowledge of me, as to abandon me, go forward in your favours to me so far, as to deliver this letter according to the address. I think I should not come nearer his presence than by a letter; and I am sure I would come no other way, but by you. Be you therefore pleased, by these noble favours to me, to continue in me the comfort which I have in being

Your very humble and thankful servant,

Drury-house, Sept. 23. J. Donne.

Letter CXI.
To the Right Honourable Sir Robert Karre, at Court.


If I should refuse the liberty which you enlarge to me, of eating in your chamber, you might suspect that I reserved it for greater boldnesses, and would not spend it in this. But, in good faith, I do not eat before, nor can after, till I have been at home; so much hath my this year's debility disabled me, even for receiving favours. After the sermon, I will steal into my coach home, and pray that my good purpose may be well accepted, and my defects graciously pardoned. Amen.

Yours entirely,

J. Donne.

I will be at your chamber at one, afternoon.

Letter CXII. ;. .

To the Right Honourable Sir Robert Karre, at Court.


I pursued my ambition of having the honour to kiss your hands somewhere, so far, as to inform myself occasionally of my great neighbour; and I perceive he is under an inundation of uncertain comers, which he cannot devest, except I had your leave to speak plain to him. A second inconvenience is, that he is so deaf, that we must speak to the whole house, if we will speak to him. And a third is, that I am in a riddling, rather juggling indisposition, fast and loose, and therefore dare not stir far. Yetj sirf I am not thereby unfit to receive the honour of seeing you here, if greater business have not overcome or worn out your former inclinableness to come into these quarters. If you shall be pleased to say to my man that you will make, as though you dined with me to-day, and come, if your business require your going to his lordship, you may dine with him, after you have fasted with me. To-day, or any day which may be more yours, I ask it of you with all earnestness, on this side importunity, which is the detestation of

Your humblest and thankfullest servant,

J. Donne.

Letter CXIII.
To the Right Honourable Sir Robert JCarre, at Court.


This morning I have received a signification from my Lord Chamberlain, that his Majesty hath commanded to-morrow's sermon at St. James's, and that it is in the afternoon (for into my mouth there must not enter the words after dinner, because that day there enters no dinner into my mouth). Towards the time of the service, I ask your leave that I may hide myself in your out-chamber; or, if business, or privateness, or company make that inconvenient, that you will be pleased to assign some servant of yours to show me the closet when I come to your chamber. I have no other way there but you; which I say, not as though I had not assurance enough therein, but because you have too much trouble thereby; nor I have no other end there, than the pulpit. You are my station, and that my exaltation; and in both I shall ever endeavour to keep you from being sorry for having thought well of, or being ashamed of having testified well for,

Your poor and very true servant in Christ Jesus,

J. Donne.

Letter CXIV.
To Yourself*.


Sir Germander Pool, your noble friend and fellow in arms, hath been at this house. I find, by their diligent inquiring from

* Uncertain.—Ed. - . .

me, that he hath assured them that he hath much advanced your proceeding, by his resignation; but cooled them again with this, that the Lord Spencer pretends in his room. I never feared his, nor any man's diligence in that; I feared only your remissness, because you have a fortune that can endure, and a nature that can almost be content to miss. But I had rather you exercised your philosophy and evenness in some things else. He doth not nothing which falls cleanly and harmlessly; but he wrestles better which stands. I know you can easily forgive yourself any negligences and slacknesses, but I am glad that you are engaged to so many friends, who either by yourself or fame have knowledge of it. In all the rest of them there is a worthiness, and in me a love, which deserves to be satisfied. In this, therefore, as you are forward in all things else, be content to do more for your friends than you would for yourself; endeavour it, that is, effect it.

Your very true friend and lover, Tuesday. J. Donne.

Letter CXV.
To the Honourable Knight, Sir H. G.


After 1 have told you that the Lady Hay died last Tuesday, and that to her end she was anguished with the memory of the execution of that fellow which attempted her in the coach, I have told you all that hath fallen out here: except, between you and me, that may be worth the telling, that my Lord Chancellor gave me so noble and so ready a dispatch, accompanied with so fatherly advice, and remorse for my fortunes, that I am now, like an alchymist, delighted with discoveries by the way, though I attain not mine end. It spent me so little time after your going that, although you speak in your letter of good dispatch in your going, yet I might have overtaken you. And though perchance if I had gone, it might have been inconvenient for mo to have put myself into my Lord Chamberlain's presence, if that sickness be earnest at Ashby, and so I should nothing have advanced my business; yet I should have come to that noble lady with better confidence and more assurance of a pardon, when I had brought a conscience that I came despoiled of all other respects, only to kiss her hands, in whose protection I am, since I have, nor desire other station, than a place in her good opinion. I took so good contentment in the fashion which my Lord Chancellor used towards me, that out of a voluptuous lothness to let that taste go out of my mouth, I forbear to make any further trial in that business, till the King come into these quarters. So that, sir, I am here in place to serve you, if either I be capable of your commandments, or this town give anything worth the writing. As often as you see your noble friend and her good sister, allow my name a room in your discourse: it is a short one, and you will soon have done. But tell them not my desire to do them service, for then you engage yourself in a longer discourse than I am worthy. Only in pursuit of your commandment, I sent the packet to the post; for, in mine own understanding, there should appear small hope of arriving by that way, except you know otherwise that the lords mean to make some stay in their return, in those parts: but the letter is brought back again, for the post went away yesterday, and they knew of no occasion of sending till next week. Therefore except I can inform myself of some good means, I will retain it till I have a fresh commandment from you. I see Mr. Taverner is still in this town; the Lady Carey went from hence but yesterday. I am in some perplexity what to do with this packet, till some good fortune or your letters clear me.

Your humble servant, Aug. 19. J. Donnk.

Letter CXVI.
To my best of friends, Sir Henry Goodyere.


I heard not from you this week; therefore I write more willingly, because it hath in it so much more merit. And I might do it very cheaply, since to convey to you this letter, which mine hath the honour to bring, any little letter would serve, and be acceptable for that. Because it came not last week, I went now to solicit it, and she sent it me next day with some thanks, and some excuse that she knew not me, when I

was with her. You know, I do not easily put myself into those hazards, nor do much brag of my valor now, otherwise than I purposed it for a service to you. The newest thing that I know in the world, is my new son: whose mother's being well takes off from me any new weight upon my fortune. I hear in Newgate, that Mr. Mathew is dead. The Catholics believe it there: perchance out of a custom of credulity. But the report, is close prisoner; for I never met it abroad. This is my third letter, all which I sent by Spelty whom my boy found at Abington-house. I have now two of the best happinesses which could befall me, upon me; which are, to be a widower and my wife alive, which may make you know, that it is but for your ease, that this letter is no longer, in this leisure in which (having nothing else to write) I might vary a thousand ways that I am

Your very affectionate servant, Monday, at night. J. Donne.

Letter CXVII.

To Sir Henry Goodyere.


I love to give you advantages upon me, therefore I put myself iu need of another pardon from you, by not coming to you; yet I am scarce guilty enough to spend much of your virtue from you, because I knew not of your being come till this your letter told me so, in the midst of dinner at Peckham, this Monday. Sir, I am very truly yours; if you have overvalued me in any capacity, I will do what I can to overtake your hopes of me. I wish myself whatsoever you wish me; and so I do, whatever you wish yourself. I am prisoner and close; else I had not needed this pardon, for I long much, and much more by occasion of your letter, to see you: when you find that good lady emptiest of business and pleasure, present my humble thanks; you can do me no favour, which I need not, nor any, which I cannot have some hope to deserve, but this; for I have made her opinion of me, the ballance by which I weigh myself. I will come soon enough to deliver my thanks to Sir J. Harrington for your ease, whom I know I have pained with an ill-favoured letter, but my heart hath one style, and character; and is yours in wishing, and in thankfulness.

Peckham, Monday afternoon. J. Donne.

Letter CXVIII.

To my worthy friend G. K.


I receive this here that I begin this return, your letter by a servant of Sir G. Gresely, by whom also I hasten this dispatch. This needs no enlargement since it hath the honour to convey one from M. Gherard. But though by telling me, it was a bold letter, I had leave to open it, and that I have a little itch to make some animadversions and criticisms upon it (as that there is a cipher too much in the' sum of the king's debts, and such like) yet since my eyes do easily fall back to their distemper, and that I am this night to sup at Sir A. Ingram's, I had rather forfeit their little strength at his supper, then with writing such impertinences: the best spending them, is upon the rest of your letter, to which, sir, I can only say in general, that some appearances have been here, of some treaty's concerning this nullity, which are said to proceed from Geneva, but are believed to have been done within doors, by encouragements of some whose names I will not commit to this letter. My poor study having lain that way, it may prove possible, that my weak assistance may be of use in this matter, in a more serious fashion, than an epithalamion. This made me therefore abstinent in that kind; yet by my troth, I think I shall not escape. I deprehend in myself more than an alacrity, a vehemency to do service to that company; and so, I may find reason to make rhyme. If it be done, I see not how I can admit that circuit of sending them to you, to be sent hither; that seems a kind of praying to saints, to whom God must tell first, that such a man prays to them to pray to him. So that I shall lose the honour of that conveyance; but, for recompense, you shall escape the danger of approving it. My next letter say more of this. This shall end with delivering you the remembrance of my Lady Bartlet, who is present at the sealing hereof.

Your very true and affectionate servant, January 19. J. Donne.

Which name when there is any empty corner in your discourse with that noble lady at Ashby, I humbly beseech you to present to her as one more devoted to her service than perchance you will say.

Letter CXIX.
To Sir G. B*.


Between the time of making up my other letters, and the hour that your man limited me to call for them, came to my house another packet directed to him: for by this time, the carries is as wise, as his horse, to go to the house that he hath used to go. I found liberty in the superscription to open, and so I did; but for that part which concerns him, I must attend his coming hither, for I know not where to seek him; and besides, I have enough to say for that part which concerns myself. Sir, even in the letter itself to me, I deprehend much inclination, to chide me: and it is but out of your habit of good language that you spare me. So little occasion as that postcript of mine, could not briug you so near to it, if nothing else were mistaken, which (so God help me) was so little, that I remember not what it was, and I would no more hear again what I write in an officious letter, than what I said at a drunken supper. I had no purpose to exercise your diligence in presenting my name to that lady, but either I did, or should have said, that I write only to fill up any empty comer in your discourse. So, sir, the reading of the letter, was a kind of travel to me, but when I came to the paper inclosed, I was brought to bed of a monster. To express myself vehemently quickly, I must say, that I can scarce think, that you have read M. Gherard's letter rightly, therefore I send you back your own again. I will not protest against my being such a

* This should seem to be to Sir H. Goodyere; as he refers in it to the postscript in the last letter.—Ed.

knave, for no man shall have that from me, if he expect it: hut I will protest against my being such a fool, as to depose anything in him with hope of locking it up, and against that lowness, of seeking reputation by so poor a way. I am not so sorry, that I am a narrow man, as that for all the narrowness, you have not seen through me yet, nor known me perfectly; for I might think by this (if I had not other testimony) that I have been little in your contemplation. Sixteen letters from M. Gherard, could not (I think) persuade a Middlesex jury of so much dishonesty in,

Your true servant,

J. Donne.

Letter CXX.
To Sir G. B.


It is one of my blind meditations to think what a miserable defeat it would be to all these preparations of bravery, if my infirmity should overtake others; for, I am at least half blind, my windows are all as full of glasses of waters, as any mountebank's stall. This messenger makes haste, I thank him for it; therefore I only send you this letter, which was sent to me about three days past, and my promise to distribute your other letters, according to your addresses, as fast as my monsieur can do it; for, for any personal service, you must be content, at this time, to pardon, Your affectionate servant,

December 23. J. Donne.


Letter CXXI.

To Sir H. Goodyere.


Agreeably to my fortune, and thoughts, I was crawled this back way from Keyston; through my broken casement at Bedford, I saw, for my best dish at dinner, your coach: I studied your guests, but when I knew where you were, I went out of this town, in a doubt whether I should turn in to Wrest; and you know the wisdom of the parliament is, to resolve ever in the negative: therefore it is likeliest I shall not come in there; yet, let me give you in passing, thus much account of myself: I thought to kiss my Lord Spencer's hands, at one house, and have passed three. If you know nothing to the contrary, risen since I came from London, I am likely to have a room in my lord of Dover's train, into the country; if I have, I do not ask, but use the leave of waiting upon you at home: there and ever elsewhere, our Blessed Saviour bless you, and all yours, in which number, I pray, account ever

Your very thankful servant in Christ Jesus,

J. Donne.

Letter CXXII.
To Sir Henry Goodyere.


I cannot obey you, if you go to-morrow to Parsons-green, your company, that place, and my promise are strong inducements, but an ague flouts them all, of which I have had two such threatenings, that I provide against it by a little physic. This is one fetter; but I have a pair: for I attend Sir George More's answer in a little business, of which I can have no account till his return, so I am fastened here, till after Sunday. As you are sure that I love you thoroughly, so think this a good expressing of that, that I promise now, that I will certainly go with you on Monday, in despite of these interruptions, and serve you with my company to the Bath; which journey, it is time to hasten. But I pray think this promise so much worth, that it may deserve your coming this way on Monday, for I make it with that reservation. God send you hawks and fortunes of a high pitch. Your honest affectionate,

J. Donne.

Letter CXXIII.
To Sir H. G.


I live so far removed, that even the ill news of your great loss (which is ever swiftest and loudest) found me not till now, your letter speaks it not plain enough, but I am so accustomed to the worst, that I am sure it is so in this. I am almost glad voir. vi. 2 p

that I knew her so little: for I would have no more additions to sorrow: if I should comfort you, it were an alms acceptable in no other title, than when poor give to poor; for I am more needy of it than you. And I know you well provided of Christian, and learned, and brave defences against all human accidents. I will make by best haste after your messenger: and if myself and the place had not been ill provided of horses, I had been the messenger, for you have taught me by granting more to deny no request. Your honest unprofitable friend,

Pyesford, 3 o'clock, just as yours came. J. Donne.

Letter CXXIV.
To Sir Henry Goodyere*.


I speak to you before God, I am so much affected with yesterdays accident, that I think I prophane it in that name. As men which judgo nativities, consider not single stars, but the aspects, the concurrence and posture of them; so in this, though no particular past arrest me, or divert me, yet all seems remarkable and enormous. God, which hath done this immediately, without so much as a sickness, will also immediately without supplement of friends, infuse his Spirit of comfort, where it is needed and deserved. I write this to you from the Spring Garden, whither I withdrew myself to think of this; and the intenseness of my thinking ends in this, that by my help God's work should be imperfected, if by any means I resisted the amazement. Your very true friend,

J. Donne.

Letter CXXY.
To Sir H. G.


I cannot yet serve you with those books of which your letter spake. In recompense I will tell you a story, which if I had had leisure to have told it you when it was fresh, which was

• This apparently refers to the loss of Lady Goodyere mentioned in the last letter.—Ed.

upon Thursday last, might have had some grace for the rareness, and would have tried your love to me, how far you would adventure to believe an improbable thing for my sake who relates it. That day in the morning, there was some end made, by the earl Salisbury and others, who were arbitrators in some differences between Hertford and Mountegle, Hertford was ill satisfied in it, and declared himself so far as to say, he expected better usage in respect not only of his cause but of his expense and service in his ambassage: to which Salisbury replied, that considered how things stood between his Majesty and Hertford-house at the king's entrance, the king had done him especial favour in that employment of honour and confidence, by declaring in so public and great an act and testimony, that he had no ill affections toward him. Hertford answered, that he was then and ever an honest man to the king: and Salisbury said, he denied not that, but yet solemnly repeated his first words again. So that Hertford seemed not to make answer, but pursuing his own word, said, that whosoever denied him to have been an honest man to the king, lied. Salisbury asked him if he directed that upon him, Hertford said, upon any who denied this. The earnestness of both was such, as Salisbury accepted it to himself, and made protestation before the lords present, that he would do nothing else, till he had honourably put off that lie. Within an hour after, Salisbury sent him a direct challenge, by his servant Mr. Knightley; Hertford required only an hours leisure of consideration (it is said, it was only to inform himself of the especial danger, in dealing so with a counsellor) but he returned his acceptation: and all circumstances were so clearly handled between them, that St. James's was agreed for the place, and they were both come from their several lodgings, and upon the way to have met, when they were interrupted by such as from the king were sent to have care of it. So these two have escaped this great danger; but (by my troth) I fear earnestly that Mrs. flolstrode will not escape that sickness in which she labours at this time. I sent this morning to ask of her passage of this night; and the return is, that she is as I left her yesternight, and then by the strength of her understanding, and voice, (proportionally to her fashion, which was ever remiss) by the evenness and life of her pulse, and by her temper, I could allow her long life, and impute all her sickness to her mind. But the history of her sickness, makes me justly fear, that she will scarce last so long, as that you when you receive this letter, may do her any good office, in praying for her; for she hath not for many days received so much as a preserved barbery, but it returns, and all accompanied with a fever, the mother, and an extreme ill spleen. Whilst I write this Tuesday morning, from Bartlethouse one brings me a packet to your master: he is gone, and that lady and all the company is from town. I thought I might be pardoned, if I thought myself your man for that service to open it, which I did, and for the letters I will deliver them. What else you bid Foster do in his letter, bid him do it there, for (so God help me) I know not what it is. I must end now, else the carrier will be gone. God be with you.

Yours entirely.

You know me without a name, and I know not how this letter goes.

Letter CXXVI.

To Sir Henri/ Goodyere.


I had destined all this Tuesday, for the court, because it is both a sermon-day, and the first day of the kings being here. Before I was to go forth, I had made up this enclosed packet for you, and then came this messenger with your packet, of which if you can remember the number, you cannot expect any account thereof from me, who have not half an hour left me before I go forth, and your messenger speaks of a necessity of returning homeward before my returning home. If upon the delivery of them, or any other occasion, there intervene new subject of writing, I shall relieve myself upon Tuesday, if Tamworth carrier be in town. To the particulars of the letter to myself, I will give this paper, and line. Of my Lady Bedford, I must say so much as must importune you to burn the letter; for I would say nothing of her upon record, that should not testify my thankfulness for all her graces. But upon this motion, which I made to her by letter, and by Sir Thomas Roe's assistance, if any scruple should arise in her, she was somewhat more startling, than I looked for from her: she had more suspicion of my calling, a better memory of my past life, than I had thought her nobility could have admitted: of all which, though I humbly thank God, I can make good use, as one that needs as many remembrances in that kind, as not only friends but enemies can present, yet I am afraid, they proceed in her rather from some ill impression taken from D. Burges, than that they grow in herself. But whosoever be the conduit, the water is the Holy Ghost, and in that acceptation I take it. For her other way of expressing her favour to me, I must say, it is not with that cheerfulness, as heretofore she hath delivered herself towards me. I am almost sorry, that an elegy should have been able to move her to so much compassion heretofore, as to offer to pay my debts; and my greater wants now, and for so good a purpose, as to come disengaged into that profession, being plainly laid open to her, should work no farther but that she sent me SOI. which in good faith she excused with that, which is in both parts true, that her present debts were burdensome, and that I could not doubt of her inclination, upon all future emergent occasions, to assist me. I confess to you, her former fashion towards me, had given a better confidence; and this diminution in her makes me see, that I must use more friends, than I thought I should have needed. I would you could burn this letter, before you read it, at least do when you have read it. For, I am afraid out of a contemplation of mine own unworthiness, and fortune, that the example of this lady, should work upon the lady where you are: for though goodness be originally in her, and she do good, for the deed's sake, yet, perchance, she may think it a little wisdom, to make such measure of me, as they who know no better, do. Of any new treaty of a match with Spain, I hear nothing. The wars in the low countries, to judge by their present state, are very likely to go forward. No word of a parliament, and I myself have heard words of the king, as directly against any such purpose, as any can sound, I never heard word, till in your letter, of any stirs in Scotland, for that of the French king, which you ask, it hath this good ground, that in the assembly there a proposition hath been made, and well entertained, that the king should be declared, to have full jurisdiction in France; and no other person to have any. It hath much the model and frame of our oath of allegiance, but with some modification. It is true, it goes farther, than that state hath drove in any public declarations, but not further than their schools have drove often and constantly: the easiness that it hath found in passing thus far without opposition, puts (perchance unnecessarily) in me a doubt, that they are sure to choke it, at the royal assent, and therefore oppose it not, by the way, to sweeten the conveyance of their purposes. Sir, if I stay longer, I shall lose the text, at court, therefore I kiss your hand, and rest Your very true servant,

J. Donne.

We hear (but without second as yet) that Sir Richard Philip's brother in France, hath taken the habit of a Capuchin.

Letter CXXVII.
To my worthy Friend, F. H.


I can scarce do any more this week than send you word why I wrote not last. I had then seposed a few days for my preparation to the communion of our blessed Saviour's body; and in that solitariness and arraignment of myself, digested some meditations of mine, and apparelled them (as I use) in tho form of a sermon: for since I have not yet utterly delivered myself from this intemperance of scribbling (though I thank God my accesses are less and less vehement) I make account that to spend all my little stock of knowledge upon matter of delight, were the same error, as to spend a fortune upon masks and banquetting houses: I choose rather to build in this poor fashion, some spitals, and hospitals, where the poor and impotent sinner may find some relief, or at least understanding of his infirmity. And if they be too weak to serve posterity, yet for the present by contemplation of them, &c.

To my Honoured Friend, George Gerrard, Esq.


I should not only send you an account by my servant, but bring you an account often myself, (for our letters are ourselves) and in them absent friends meet, how, I do, but that two things make me forbear that writing: first, because it is not for my gravity, to write of feathers, and straws, and in good faith, I am no more, considered in my body, or fortune. And then because whensoever I tell you how I do, by a letter, before that letter comes to you, I shall be otherwise, than when it left me. At this time, I humbly thank God, I am only not worse; for, I should as soon look for roses at this time of the year, as look for increase of strength. And if I be no worse all spring, than now, I am much better, for, I make account that those church services, which I would be very loth to decline, will spend somewhat; and, if I can gather so much as will bear my charges, recover so much strength at London, as I shall spend at London, I shall not be loth to be left in that state wherein I am now, after that is done; but I do but discourse, I do not wish; life, or health, or strength, (I thank God) enter not into my prayers for myself: for others they do; and amongst others, for your sick servant, for such a servant taken so young, and healed so long, is half a child to a master, and so truly I have observed that you have bred him, with the care of a father. Our blessed Saviour look graciously upon him, and glorify himself in him, by his way of restitution to health; and by his way of peace of conscience in

Your very true friend and servant in Christ Jesus,

J. Donne.

Letter CXXIX.

To the Honourable Knight, Sir Robert Karre.


I make account that it is a day of great distribution of honours at court: Iwould not therefore lose my part, and increase therein; since every letter admitted by you from me, is a new stone in my best building, which is, my room in your service: eo much you add to me, every time you give me leave thus to kiss your hands. But, sir, every addition pre-imagines a being, and the time of my being and creation is not yet come: which I am sure you will advance; because else I am no competent subject of your favours, and additions. I know, by your forbearing to tell me so, that my Lord hath had no commodity to move the king, and if this paper speak one word of difference, or impatience in my name, by my troth it lies. Only give it leave to tell you, that that lord whom perchance the king may be pleased to hear in it, is an old and momentary man, and it may be late labouring' for his assistance, next winter. Besides, since it may be possible that the Master of the Rolls may a little resent this suit, thero could be no fitter time, than now, to make him easy, as things stand with him at this time. If you stay in town this night, and no longer, I beseech you afford me a few of your late minutes at your own lodging, where I will wait upon you according to any directions, which by this gentleman or otherwise I shall receive from you. Your humble servant,

J. Donne.

Letter CXXX.

Henrico Goody ere.

Etiamvulgari lingua scriptse testantur literce nosamicorum meminisse, sed aliena, nos de illis meditari. In illis enim affulgent nobis de amicis cogitatiunculae, sed ut matutinre stella? transeunt, et evanescunt: in his autem haeremus, et immoramur, et amicos uti solem ipsum permanentem nobiscum degentemque contemplamur; habes cur Latine. Ipsius etiam scribendi audi rationem. Peto consilium, in quo simul amicitiam profiteor meam, tuamque agnosco: etenim non libenter nosmetipsos exuimus, aut in ingenii prudentiseve dotibus aliorum nos fatemur indigos. Nec certe quicquam quisquam (sit modo ingenuus) ei denegabit a quo consilium petiit. Quod enim divina sapientia extremum charitatis terminum posuerat, animam ponere, idem regularum ecclcsioo tractatores (quod ipsimet canonici crassam sequitatem

vocant) de fama et honore cedendo asserunt et usurpant. Certc, non tam beneficiis obnoxii quam consiliis reddimur. Sed ad rem. Philosophentur otiosiores, aut quibus otia sua negotia appellare lubet: nobis enim nos dudum perspicui sumus et fenestrati. Elucescit mihi nova, nec inopportuna, nec inutilis (paulo quam optaram fortassis magis inhonora) occasio extera visendi regna, liberosque perquam amantissimse conjugis charissima pignora, cseteraque hujus aurre oblectamenta, aliquot ad annos relinquendi. De hoc ut tecum agerem te convenire cupio: quod (etsi nec id recusem) nollem in sedibus Barlotianis. Habeo cur abstineam. Amicitiae enim nec veteris, nec ita strictse munero paulo quam deceat imprudentiori impetu mihi videor ibi peregisse. Prandere si vacat foras, aut casnare, horulamve perdere pomeridianam, aut matutinam liceat mihi illud apud Rabbinum Lincombum jam commoranti per te intelligere, et satis mihi net. Interim seponas oro chartulas meas, quas cum sponsione cita; redhibitionis (ut barbare, sed cum ingeniosissimo Appollinari loquar) accepisti. Inter quas, si epigrammata mea Latina, et catalogus librorum satiricus non sunt, non sunt; extremum judicium, hoc est, manum ultimam jamjam subiturse sunt. Earum nonnullae purgatorium suum passurae, ut correctiores emanent. Alia quorum me inscio in mundum erepserunt; exempla tamen in archetypis igne absumpta fatebuntur se a me ad inferos damnata esse. Reliquae quae aut virgiues sunt (nisi quod a multis contrectatae) aut ita infeliciter steriles, ut ab illis nulla ingenita sunt exemplaria, penitus in annihilationem (quod flagitiosissimis non minatur Deus) corruent et dilabentur. Vale et amore meo fruere quern vetat fortuna sola ne uti possis. Et nisi animo candido ingenuave mea libertate gaudere malis, habo tibi mancipium.

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