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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 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
* See Poems.
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, that I shall write no more*. Your poor friend, and God's poor patient,
To my worthy and honoured Friend, Mr. George Garet. Sir,
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 be 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.
To the Honourable Knight, Sir Robert Karre.t Sir,
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 1608 or 1609. The same appears to be the case with the following letter.--ED
of Written probably before 1610. This Sir Robert Carre, was a favourite of King James, whose history Hume relates, chap. xlvii.-ED.
of having dono 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.
To my honoured Friend, Sir T. Lucy. Sir,
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 arbitrement; 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