Imágenes de páginas

henceforth see my face no more;" yet, he believing himself to be in a consumption, questioned, and they feared it; all concluding that his troubled mind, with the help of his unintermitted studies, hastened the decays of his weak body: but God, who is the God of all, wisdom and goodness, turned it to the best; for this employment (to say nothing of the event of it) did not only divert him from those too serious studies and sad thoughts, but seemed to give him a new life, by a true occasion of joy, to be an eye-witness of the health of his most dear and most honoured mistress, the queen of Bohemia, in a foreign nation, and to be witness of that gladness which she expressed to see him; who, having formerly known him a courtier, was much joyed to see him in a canonical habit, and more glad to be an ear-witness of his excellent and powerful preaching. About fourteen months after his departure out of England, he returned to his friends of Lincoln's Inn, with his sorrows moderated and his health improved, and there betook himself to his constant course of preaching.

About a year after his return out of Germany, Dr. Carey was made Bishop of Exeter \, and by his removal the deanery of St. Paul's being vacant, the king sent to Dr. Donne, and appointed him to attend him at dinner the next day. When his majesty was sat down, before he had eat any meat, he said after his pleasant manner, "Dr. Donne, I have invited you to dinner, and though you sit not down with me, yet I will carve to you of a dish that I know you love well; for knowing you love London, I do therefore make you Dean of Paul's; and when I have dined, then do you take your beloved dish home to your study, say grace there to yourself, and much good may it do you."

t He was elected 27 Sept. 1621.

Immediately after he came to his deanery, he employed workmen to repair and beautify the chapel, suffering, as holy David once vowed, "his eyes and temples to take no rest till he had first beautified the house of God."

The next quarter following, when his father-in-law, Sir George More (whom time had made a lover and admirer of him) came to pay him the conditioned sum of twenty pounds, he refused to receive it, and said, as good Jacob did, when he heard his beloved son Joseph was alive, " It is enough; you have been kind to me and mine; I know your present condition is such as not to abound, and I hope mine is or will be such as not to need it; I will therefore receive no more from you upon that contract;" and in testimony of it freely gave him up his bond.

Immediately after his admission into his deanery, the vicarage of St. Dunstan in the West, London, fell to him by the death of Dr. White, the advowson of it having been given to him long before by his honourable friend, Richard Earl of Dorset, then the patron, and confirmed by his brother, the late deceased Edward, both of them men of much honour.

By these, and other ecclesiastical endowments which fell to him about the same time, given to him formerly by the Earl of Kent, he was enabled to become charitable to the poor and kind to his friends, and to make such provision for his children, that they were not left scandalous, as relating to their or his profession and quality.

The next parliament, which was within that present year, he was chosen prolocutor to the convocation, and about that time was appointed by his majesty, his most gracious master, to preach very many occasional sermons, as at St. Paul's Cross and other places; all which employments he performed to the admiration of the representative body of the whole clergy of this nation.

He was once, and but once, clouded with the king's displeasure, and it was about this time; which was occasioned by some malicious whisperer, who told his majesty that Dr. Donne had put on the general humour of the pulpits, and was become busy in insinuating a fear of the king's inclining to popery, and a dislike of his government, and particularly for the king's then turning the evening lectures into catechising, and expounding the prayer of our Lord, and of the belief and commandments. His majesty was the more inclinable to believe this, for that a person of nobility and great note, betwixt whom and Dr. Donne there had been a great friendship, was at this very time discarded the court (I shall forbear his name unless I had a fairer occasion), and justly committed to prison, which begot many rumours in the common people, who in this nation think they are not wise unless they be busy about what they understand not, and especially about religion.

The king received this news with so much discontent and restlessness, that he would not suffer the sun to set and leave him under this doubt, but sent for Dr. Donne, and required his answer to the accusation; which was so clear and satisfactory, that the king said "He was right glad he rested no longer under the suspicion." When the king had said this, Dr. Donne kneeled down and thanked his majesty, and protested his answer was faithful and free from all collusion, and therefore "desired that he might not rise, till, as in like cases he always had from God, so he might have from his majesty some assurance that he stood clear and fair in his opinion." At which the king raised him from his knees with his own hands, and " protested he believed him, and that he knew he was an honest man, and doubted not but that he loved him truly." And having thus dismissed him, he called some lords of his control into his chamber, and said with much earnestness, " My doctor is an honest man; and, my lords, I was never better satisfied with an answer than he hath now made me; and I always rejoice when I think that by my means he became a divine."

He was made dean in the fiftieth year of his age, and in his fifty-fourth year a dangerous sickness seized him, which inclined him to a consumption. But God, as Job thankfully acknowledged, preserved his spirit, and kept his intellectuals as clear and perfect as when that sickness first seized his body; but it continued long and threatened him with death, which he dreaded not.

In this distemper of body, his dear friend, Dr. Henry King (then chief residentiary of that church, and late bishop of Chichester), a man generally known by the clergy of this nation, and as generally noted for his obliging nature, visited him daily, and observing that his sickness rendered his recovery doubtful, he chose a seasonable time to speak to him to this purpose:

"Mr. Dean, I am by your favour no stranger to your temporal estate, and you are no stranger to the offer lately made us, for the renewing a lease of the best prebends corps belonging to our church, and you know it was denied, for that our tenant being very rich, offered to fine at so low a rate as held not proportion with his advantages; but I will either raise him to a higher sum, or procure that the other residentiaries shall join to accept of what was offered: one of these I can and will by your favour do without delay, and without any trouble either to your body or mind. I beseech you to accept of my offer; for I know it will be a considerable addition to your present estate, which I know needs it."

To this, after a short pause, and raising himself upon his bed, he made this reply:

"My most dear friend, I most humbly thank you for your many favours, and this in particular; but in my present condition I shall not accept of your proposal; for doubtless there is such a sin as sacrilege ; if there were not, it could not have a name in scripture: and the primitive clergy were watchful against all appearances of that evil; and indeed then all Christians looked upon it with horror and detestation, judging it to be even an open defiance of the power and providence of Almighty God, and a sad presage of declining religion. But instead of such Christians, who had selected times set apart to fast and pray to God for a pious clergy, which they then did obey,

« AnteriorContinuar »