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what she could not but consider as surveyed and digested the whole perilous in the protestant innova- body of divinity, controverted tions affected his youthful heart, between ours and the Romish and went far to compensate for the Church.” want of conviction from their argu- Although at this period Queen ments on religious topics. He Elizabeth had refused to assist entered bowever on religious enquiry Henry the Fourth of France, and with a becoming impartiality. And the friends of the reformed cause “ as God's blessed spirit did then in that country, against the insults awaken him to the search, and in of Philip the Second of Spain, and that industry did never forsake the machinations of the Romish him, so he called the same Holy See, yet on receiving good intelliSpirit to witness his protestation; gence that the Spanish monarch that in that disquisition and search, was making preparations for a he proceeded with humility and descent on England or Ireland, she diffidence in himself; and by that resolved to defeat his purpose. To which he took to be the safest way; this end, she equipped a large fleet, namely, frequent prayers, and an which was destined to attack Cadiz, indifferent affection to both par- giving the command to Admiral ties.”* “ I had a larger work Charles Howard, while the forces (says he) to do in this inquiry, than on board were placed under the many other men ; for I was to Earl of Essex. Young Donne blot out certain impressions of the took this opportunity of gratifying Roman religion, and to wrestle his desire of enlarging his knowboth against the examples and ledge by foreign travel, and accomagainst the reasons by which some panied the fleet on its departure hold was taken, and some anticipa- from Plymouth early in June, 1596. tions early laid upon my consci. They encountered an Irish vessel, ence, both by persons who by nature whose master, lately returned from had a power and superiority over that port, informed them that it my will, and others who, by their lay in perfect security, filled with learning and good life, seemed to rich ships laden for the Indies, and me justly to claim an interest for defended by a slight garrison. They the guiding and rectifying of mine prosecuted their voyage with bigh understanding in these matters.” hopes, and arrived there on the He consulted Bellarmine as the twentieth of the month, the Admigreat defender of the popish in ral on the morrow destroying many terest, and was indefatigable in of the Spanish ships, after a sharp the examination of his reasoning. conflict, and the General possessing In proof of his diligence, when himself of the city, where he prohe was about twenty years of age, posed to maintain his position, but he showed the Dean of Gloucester was overruled by his officers, who all the Cardinal's works, marked desired to return hoine with their with many weighty observations booty. On their way back, a north under his own hand, and which wind springing up, Essex would volumes he bequeathed to a parti- have made for the Azores Isles to cular friend. The result of his await the arrival of the homeward inquiry was a thorough conversion bound Spanish feet, but yielding to Protestantism; to which he de- again to the wishes of his comclares, “ I was not transported by panions, they soon reached their any sudden and violent determina- native shore, and were received by tion, till I had, to the measure her Majesty with great marks of of my poor wit and judgment, esteem. The next year the Earl
was again commissioned to act # Preface to Pseudo-Martyr. against Philip, and set sail for the Azores with his former design, but tower. His lordship had two sons meeting with contrary winds, and by a former marriage, but having disagreeing with Raleigh, returned no children by his present lady, had without accomplishing any notable received Miss More into his family enterprize. Mr. Donne attended as an agreeable companion for the him also on this expedition, but Baroness. The attachment was unwilling to return so soon, took mutual, and for some time indulged leave of his Lordship, and went in secret, the parties engaging first to Italy, and next to Spain, themselves to each other. As soon where he studied the language, as discovered, it was discountenancmanners, and government; allusions ed by their friends, but especially to which not unfrequently occur in disapproved by Sir George, who conhis writings. His intention was, sidered such a connexion unsuitable, in the first instance, to have passed and removed his daughter to his from Italy to the Holy Land, and own house. But this measure was visited Jerusalem and our Lord's adopted too late, for young Donne sepulchre ; but whether from dis- had so earnestly pressed his suit, appointment in a suitable compa- that Miss More, who participated nion, want of safe convoy, or his apprehension that some obstacle uncertainty of remittances, or from night arise to their union, had a combination of these causes, he consented to a private marriage in relinquished this design, although the year 1602, which, at that period, with a reluctance to which he often was very uncommon among perused to advert. .
sons in the superior walks of Soon after his return to England, society. This unwelcome' news, he was patronized by Sir Thomas when it could no longer be conEgerton, Lord Ellesmere, keeper cealed, and after the mind of the of the great seal, and afterwards bride's father had been much disChancellor, who noticed his accom- turbed by suspicion, was commuplishments, appearing to the greater nicated to him, at the desire of his advantage from the polish of foreign son-in-law, by Henry, Earl of travel, and appointed him his chief Northumberland, an intimate friend secretary, as an introduction to of Sir George, and well-wisher some more important employment to Mr. Donne. The Knight was in the state, for which he expressed transported with rage and mortifihis sense of his qualifications. This cation, and engaged his sister to discriminating lawyer knew so well join him in requesting that Lord to appreciate the fund of observa Ellesmere would dismiss the young tion, and brilliancy of talent, mark- bridegroom from the place he held ing the discourse of his young in his establishment. The Chanfriend, that he made him an inmate cellor was at first disinclined to in his house, and a constant guest such a rigorous measure, but it was at his table, where he had an oppor- vehemently urged on the part of tunity of mixing with the most the implacable Knight, till he diseminent characters of the age, and charged him, softening however cultivating the society of persons the punishment by a protestation, in influential situations.
that “he parted with a friend, and He continued in this employ- such a secretary as was fitter to ment five years, and conceived an serve a king than a subject.”. afection for a young lady, who lived Immediately after his dismissal, under the same roof, a niece of he wrote a sad letter to his wife, Lady Ellesınere, and daughter of acquainting her with the event, and Sir George More, of Loxly farm subscribing it, after the quaint and m Surry, who was Chancellor of punning conceit of the age, John The garter, and Lieutenant of the Donne-- Anne Donne - Undone,
He soon experienced those fur- shown a levity in poetical composither effects of Sir George's resent. tion, which required severe correcment which he had anticipated; tion. The necessity of making for that gentleman did not rest till some provision for after life became he had caused the imprisonment, evident, as his family rapidly innot only of his son-in-law, but also creased. He applied diligently to of the two Mr. Brooks, who were the study of the civil and canon brothers and particular friends of law, in which he made admirable Donne; the one a clergyman, who proficiency. But his mind at this had performed the marriage cere- season reverted to those religious mony, and the other a lawyer, who principles which it had imbibed, had acted as father to the bride. while he was examining the state
This imprisonment, was not of of the controversy between the long continuance. Mr. Donne was popish and protestant churches. first set at liberty, and then procured The fascinations of the world, and the enlargement of his friends. His an intercourse with foreigners, had submissive behaviour, and the gene- dissipated his serious impressions ; ral testimony borne to his talents but the consequences of his impruand character, joined to the distress dent marriage, and his subsequent of his wife, still detained from him, disappointment, were contributing wrought after a time on Sir George, to the production of a salutary so that he condescended to permit change. * Among the friends who the young couple to live together. at this juncture took an interest in He even solicited the Lord Chancel- his welfare, was Dr. Morton, an lor to restore the ex-secretary to amiable clergyman, who sent to his former situation ; but that bim one day, requesting an hour's nobleman replied with a becoming interview on the morrow. “After dignity, that “though he was un- their meeting, there was not many feignedly sorry for what had been minutes passed before he spake to done, yet it was inconsistent with Mr. Donne to this purpose : “Mr. his place and credit to discharge Donne, the occasion of sending for and readmit servants at the request you is to propose to you what I of passionate petitioners.” Sir bave often resolved in my own George had so much pride, that he thought since I last saw you ; endeavoured to conceal from others wbich nevertheless I will not declare his inteference in behalf of Mr. but upon this condition, tbat you Donne, and so much selfishness, shall not return to me a present that he would not contribute towards answer, but forbear three days, and his maintenance. Mr. D. was in bestow sume part of that time in consequence reduced to great dis- fasting and prayer; and after a tress; having no employment that serious consideration of what I shall could enable him to support a wife, propose, then return to me with who had been delicately educated, your answer. Deny me not, Mr. and unaccustomed to privation. Donne, for it is the effect of a true They were comforted, however, by love, which I would gladly pay as a the seasonable kindness shown debt for yours to me. This request them by Sir Francis Wolley, son to being granted, the doctor expressed Lady Ellesmere by her first hus- himself thus : * Mr. Donne, I know band, of Pirford in Surrey, who received them into his house, and
* It was probably about this time, that entertained them for many years. in allusion to his troubled state of mind,
Providence meanwhile was pre- he drew, or caused to be drawn, his porparing Mr. Donne for future use
trait, enveloped in shade, through which
his features were scarcely discernible, and fulness in his church. He had been
having this inscription, “Lord, enlighten gay and 'extravagant, and had my darkness !"
your education and abilities, I know gratitude ; but that it cannot do ; your expectation of a state employ- and more I cannot return you; and ment, and I know your fitness for I do that with a heart full of humiit; and I know too the many delays lity and thanks, though I may not and contingencies that attend court accept of your offer : but, Sir, my promises; and let me tell you, that refusal is not for that I think mymy love begot by our long friend- self too good for that calling, for ship and your merits, hath prompted which Kings, if they think so, are me to such an inquisition after your not good enough : nor, for that my present temporal estate, as makes education and learning, though not me no stranger to your necessities; eminent, may not, being assisted which I know to be such as your with God's grace and humility, generous spirit could not bear, if it render me in some measure fit for were not supported with a pious it; but I dare make so dear a friend patience. You know I have for as you are my confessor. Some merly persuaded you to wave your irregularities of my life have been court hopes, and enter into holy so visible to some men, that though orders; which I now again persuade I have, I thank God, made my you to embrace, with this reason peace with him by penitential resoadded to my former request: the lutions against them, and by the King hath yesterday made me assistance of his grace banished Dean of Gloucester ; and I am also them my affections; yet this, which possessed of a benefice, the profits God knows to be so, is not so visible of which are equal to those of my to man, as to free me from their deanery: I will think my deanery censures, and it may be, that enough for my maintenance, (who sacred calling from a dishonour. am, and resolve to die, a single And besides, whereas it is determan) and will quit my benefice, mined by the best of casuists, that and estate you in it, (which the God's glory should be the first end, patron is willing I shall do) if God and a maintenance the second moshall incline your heart to embrace tive to embrace that calling; and this motion. Remember, Mr. though each man may propose to Donne, no man's education or parts himself both together, yet the first make him too good for this em- may not be put last without a violaployment, which is to be an ambas- tion of conscience, which He that sador for the God of glory—that searches the heart will judge. And God who by a vile death opened the truly my present condition is such, gates of life to mankind! Make that if I ask my own conscience, me no present answer, but remem- whether it be reconcileable to that ber your promise, and return to me rule, it is at this time so perplexed the third day with your resolution.' about it, that I can neither give
At the hearing of this. Mr. myself nor you an answer. You Donne's faint breath and perplext know, Sir, who says, Happy is that countenance gave a visible testimo- man, whose conscience doth not accuse ny of an iaward conflict; but he him for that thing which he does. performed his promise, and departed To these I might add other reasons without returning an answer to the that dissuade me; but I crave your tard day, and then his answer was favour that I may forbear to express
them, and thankfully decline your 'My most worthy and most offer.' The living, which was thus dear friend, since I saw you I generously offered by his friend, have been faithful to my promise, was a rectory in Yorkshire, of the and have also meditated much of annual value of two hundred pounds. your great kindness, which hath He continued with Sir Francis been such as would exceed even my till the death of that knight, whose
to this effect:
last act of kindness was to effect a and she complied, although with reconciliation between Sir George some reluctance, from a congenial and his son-in-law; the former sense of obligation. But so strong giving the latter a bond to pay him was her affection, that she declared on a day specified eight hundred she would attend him disguised as pounds as a portion with his wife, a page, and was with difficulty dior twenty pounds quarterly for verted from her absurd and romantic their maintenance, till it was paid. purpose. On the third day of Mr. He now took a house at Mitcham Donne's arrival at Paris, he was left in Surrey for his wife and family, alone in a chamber where he had and for himself, having occasion dined with Sir Robert and some to be often in town, he hired other acquaintance; but the Knight lodgings near Whitehall, where he returning after half an hour was enjoyed the society and esteem of surprised to find him in a kind of many persons distinguished for rank extacy, and with strange alteration and talents, who frequently con- of countenance. His friend earsulted him. His friendship was nestly enquired into the cause, to also much cultivated by ambassa- whom he found himself unable to dors and other foreigners, whose reply, but at length he said, “I studies or employments required have seen a dreadful vision since their stay in England.
I saw you: I have seen my dear At the repeated solicitation of his wife pass twice by me through this friends be removed, after two room, with her hair hanging about years, from Mitcham to London, her shoulders, and a dead child in and acceded to the kind proposal her arms. This I have seen since of Sir Robert Drury, that his I saw you." Sir Robert, who was family should occupy apartments doubtless aware that his friend, at in his spacious mansion. Many all times highly imaginative, had persons of distinction were using recently had his thoughts much means to obtain him some pre- occupied on bis sick but absent ferment, and King James, him consort, observed, “ Sure, Sir, self, who used to affect the patron you have slept since I saw you ; age of genius, was known to be and this is the result of some favourably inclined towards him. melancholy dream, which I desire In April 1610, he took the degree you to forget, for you are now of master of arts at Oxford, having awake.” He answered, “I canbeen previously admitted to the not be surer that I now live, than same honour at Cambridge.
that I have not slept since I saw Sir Robert, intending to accom- you; and am as sure that at her pany an embassy to the French second appearing she stopped, court, urged Mr. Donne to join looked me in the face, and vanishthe train, but his wife remonstrated ed.” As he repeated the story with against the measure, as she con- much confidence and anxiety, Sir tinued in an infirm state of health, Robert despatched a messenger to drew near the time of delivery, and Drury house, who brought back was withal so depressed in spirit, intelligence, that he found Mrs. that she declared “her divining Donne very sad and ill in bed, and soul boded some ill in his absence.” that after a long and dangerous He intimated accordingly to his labour, she had been delivered of a friend his resolution to decline the dead child: which event happened journey, but Sir Robert would not on the day and hour that her hushear of a refusal; on which he band had seen the vision. represented to Mrs. Donne that he A fter bis return, he appears to ought not to disoblige a man to have been frequently among those whom he was so much indebted; divines and Jaymen whom the