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LIFE OF DR. DONNE. XV
sent condition of this man of so excellent erudition and endowments, whose necessary and daily expences were hardly reconcileable with his uncertain and narrow estate: which I mention, for that at this time there was a most generous offer made him for the moderating of his worldly cares, the declaration of which shall be the next employment of my pen.
God hath been so good to his church as to afford it, in every age, some such men to serve at his altar .as have been piously ambitious of doing good to mankind; a disposition that is so like to God himself, that it owes itself only to him who takes a pleasure to behold it in hiscreatures. These times he did bless with many such,. some of which still live to he patterns of apostolical charity, and of more than human patience. I have said this, because I have occasion to mention one of them in my following discourse, namely, Dr. Morton, the most laborious and learned Bishop of Durham, one that God hath blessed with perfect intellectuals, and a cheerful heart, at the age of ninety.four years, and is yet living; one that, in his days of plenty, had so large a heart as to use his large revenue to the encouragement of learning and virtue, and is now (beit spoken with sorrow) reduced to a narrow estate, which he embraces without repining, and still shews the beauty of his mind by so liberal a hand, as if this were an age in which "to.morrow were to care for itself." I have taken a pleasure in giving the reader a short but true cha. racier of this good man, from whom I received this following relation. He sent to Mr. Donne, and entreated to borrow an hour of his time for a conference the next day. After their meeting there was not many minutes passed before he spoke to Mr. Donne to this purpose: "Mr. Donne, the occasion of "sending for you, is to propose to you what I have "often revolved in my own thought since I last saw "yeu, which, nevertheless, I will not do but upon "this condition, that you shall not return me a pre. "sent answer, but forbear three days, and bestow some "part of that time in fasting and prayer; and after "a serious consideration of what I shall propose, then "return to me with your answer. Deny me not, Mr. "Donne, for it is the eflect of a true love, which I "would gladly pay as a debt due for your's to me." This request being granted, the Doctor expressed himself thus: L —
"Mr. Donne, I know your education and abilities, "I know your expectation of a state.employment, and "I know your fitness for it; and t know, too, the '' many delays and contingencies that attend court ""ptrimises; and let me felt you, my lovebegot byour *' long friendship,' our familiarity, and your merits; "hath prompted me to such an inquisition of your "present temporal estate, as makes me no stranger to "your necessities, which are such as your generoui '* spirit could not be;.r, if it were not supported with a
tltS Of DR. DONSE. Xlii
** pious, patience. Yow know I havg formerly per"suaded you to wave your court hopes, and enter into "hely orders, whieh I now again persuade you to em"brace, with this, reason added to my farmer request; "the King hath yesterday made me Dean of Glouces. "ter, and tarn possessed of a benefice, the profits of "which are equal to those of my deanery; I will think "my deanery enough for my maintenance, (who am "and resolve to die a single man) and will quit mybe. "nefiee,. and estate; you in it, (which the patron is "willing I shall da) if God shall incline your heart "to embrace this motion. Remember, Mr. Donne, "no man's education or parts make him too good for "this employment, which, is to be an ambassador for f the God of glory,, who by a vile death opened the "gates of life to mankind. Make me no present an. "swer, but remember your prymise, andreturn to me "the third day with your resolution."
At the hearing of this, Mr. Donne's faint breath and perplexed countenance gave a visible testimony of an inward conflict; but he performed his promise, and departed without returning an answer till the third day, and then it was to this effect:
"My roost worthy and most dear friend, since I "saw you I have been faithful to my promise, and "have also med.tated much of your great kindness, "which hath been such as would exceed even rnygra"titude, but. that it cannot do, and more r cannot re
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"turn you, and I do that with an heart full of humility
"and thanks, though I may not accept of your offer:
"but, Sir, my refusal is not for that I think myself
*' too good for that calling, for which kings, if they
"think so, are not good enough; nor for that my
"education and learning, though not eminent, may
"not, being assisted with God's grace and humility;
"render me in some measure fit for it; but I dare
"make so dear a friend as you are my confessor. Some
"irregularities of my life have been so visible to some
"men, that though I have, I thank God, made my peace
"with him by penitential resolutions against them;
"and, by the assistance of his grace, banished thenl
"my affections, yet this, which God knows to be so,
"is not so visible to man as to free mefrointheircen.i
"sures, and, it may be, that sacred calling fromadis.
"honour: and, besides, whereas it is determined by
"the best of casuists, that God's glory should be the;
"first end, and a maintenance the second motive, to
*' embrace thatcalling; and though each man may pro*
"pose to himself both together, yet the first may not
"be put last without a violation of conscience, which
"he that searches the heart will judge. And truly
"my present condirion is such, that it I ask my own
"conscience whether it be reccncileable to that rule,
"it is at this time so perplexed about it, that I cart
"neither git e myself nor you an answer. Youknowj
"Sir, who says, "Happy is that man whose ceiii lire or Br. Nonw<. xix
"science doth not accuse him for that thing which he "does." To these I might add other reasons that dis"suade me; but I crave your favour that I may for"bear to express them, and thankfully decline your "offer,". .... •
This was his present resolution: but the heart of man is not in his own keeping, and he was destined to this sacred service by an higher hand, a hand so powerful, as at last forced him to a compliance; of which I shall give the reader an account before I shall give a rest to my pen.
Mr. Donne and his wife continued with Sir Francis Wol!y till his death, a little before which time Sir Francis was so happy as to make a perfect reconciliation betwixt Sir George and his forsaken son and daughter, Sir George conditioning, by bond, to pay to Mr. Donne Sool. at a certain day, as a portion with his wife, or 2cl. quarterly for their maintenance, as the interest of it, till the said portion was paid.
Most of those years that he lived with Sir Francis he studied the Civil and Canon laws, in v. hich he acquired such a perfection as wasjudged to hold proportion with many who had made that study the employment of their whole life.'
Sir Francis being dead, and that happy family dissolved, Mr. Donne took for himself an house in Micham, near to Croydon in Surrey, a place noted for jocd air and choice company: there his wife and chiU