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vantages 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 and 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.


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,



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,



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


in this, as frankly confess mine own. The master of Latin language says, Oculi et aures aliorum te speculantur et custodiunt, 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.



To the Honourable Knight, Sir H. Goodyere, one of the Gentlemen

of his Majesty's Prioy Chamber. Sir,

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 his 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 paving spoken to him soon enough. It were an injury to the

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