This preface replaces The Printer to the Understanders in the editions of 1650 and 1669. William Craven, created Baron Craven of Hampsted-Marsham in 1627, and Earl Craven in 1664, is best known as a devoted adherent of Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia. He was believed to have been privately married to her. His only connection with literature appears to be in several dedications. On a poem written to him by Donne, or, more likely, by his son, see Appendix C. John Donne, D.C.L., the writer of the preface to the edition of 1650, was a son of the poet. He was born 1604, and died 1662. He cannot, therefore, have had anything to do with the edition of 1669, as Dr. Grosart thinks. He was a freethinker, and a man of loose literary and personal character. After his fathers death he got hold of the papers left to Dr. King, and appeared as the editor of the LXXX Sermons (1640), the Biathanatos (1648), the Essays in Divinity (1651), the Letters to Several Persons of Honour (1651), and other posthumous works. He also edited Sir T. Matthews Collection of Letters (1660), and Pembroke and Ruddiers Poems (1660). His own productions are trifling, and mostly indecent. Most of them exist only in MS.; a few are to be found in a volume called Donnes Satyr (1662). A copy of his Will, printed as a broadsheet, is in the British Museum.
The book alluded to is the Deaths Duel of 1632. It is described on the title-page as Delivered in a sermon at Whitehall before the Kings Majesty in the beginning of Lent, 1630. Being his last sermon, and called by his Majestys household, The Deans own Funeral sermon. It has for frontispiece an engraving by Martin Dr[oeshout], a half-length figure of Donne in a shroud, with the motto Corporis haec animae sit Syndon Syndon Iesu. Two anonymous elegies, beginning respectively To have lived eminent in a degree, and I cannot blame those men, that knew thee well, are appended at the end of the volume. These were reprinted in the 1633 Poems with the signatures H[enry] K[ing] and Edw. Hyde. Walton (1640) gives an account of the preaching of the sermon, and also, in his 1658 edition, describes the painting of the portrait, as follows A monument being resolved upon, Dr. Donne sent for a carver to make for him in wood the figure of an urn, giving him directions for the compass and height of it, and to bring with it a board, of the just height of his body. These being got, then without delay a choice painter was got to be in readiness to draw his picture, which was taken as followeth:Several charcoal fires being first made in his large study, he brought with him into that place his winding-sheet in his hand, and having put off all his clothes, had this sheet put on him, and so tied with knots at his head and feet, and his hands so placed as dead bodies are usually fitted, to be shrouded and put into their coffin or grave. Upon this urn he thus stood, with his eyes shut, and with so much of the sheet turned aside as might show his lean, pale, and death-like face, which was purposely turned towards the East, from whence he expected the second coming of his and our Saviour Jesus. In this posture he was drawn at his just height; and when the picture was fully finished, he caused it to be set by his bedside, where it continued, and became his hourly object till his death, and was then given to his dearest friend and executor Dr. Henry King, then chief residentiary of Pauls, who caused him to be thus carved in one entire piece of white marble, as it now stands in that church. This statue in a sheet of stone is still to be seen in St. Pauls: it was one of the few relics preserved from the Great Fire. A writer in Notes and Queries (1st Series, vi. 393) mentions other examples of emaciated images. They appear to have been a favourite whimsicality of the Middle Ages.
Scattered sermons of Donnes were published in his lifetime. After the date of the 1633 Poems, his son issued three folio collections of them; a first instalment of LXXX Sermons, for which Izaak Walton wrote his Life in 1640; a second of fifty in 1649, and a third of twenty-four (twenty-six nominally, but two were carelessly printed in duplicate) in 1660.
Another poem by Ben Jonson To John Donne is printed in the 1650 edition (p. 387), together with a set of lines To Lucy, Countess of Bedford, with Mr. Donnes Satyres (p. 386). All three poems had previously appeared amongst the Epigrams in the 1616 folio of Jonsons works. Donnes Latin commendatory verses to his friends Volpone will be found in vol. ii. p. 71. There are several allusions to Donne in Jonsons Conversations with Drummond (ed. Laing, for the Shakespeare Society, 1842). Jonson told Drummond that he meant Donne by Criticus in the lost dialogue version of his Art of Poesie (Laing, pp. 6, 29). Mr. Fleay thinks that Donne may also be Ovid in The Poetaster, and Cordatus in Every Man out of his Humour. See his Biographical Chronicle of the English Drama, s.v. Jonson.
The majority of the lyrics included in this section appeared in various parts of the 1633 Poems. In 1635 were added Farewell to Love, A Lecture upon the Shadow, and A Dialogue between Sir Henry Wotton and Mr. Donne; in 1650 The Token, and Self-Love; and in 1669 the first of the two Break of Day poems. A reference to the notes that follow will show that hardly any of the Songs and Sonnets can be definitely dated. The only exceptions are A Valediction forbidding Mourning (p. 51), and the song Sweetest Love, I do not go (p. 16), which were probably written in the autumn of 1611. Several other songs appear to have been written to music, which has not in most cases been identified. All Donnes Love-poems,and the majority of the Songs and Sonnets are concerned with love,seem to me to fall into two divisions. There is one, marked by cynicism, ethical laxity, and a somewhat deliberate profession of inconstancy. This I believe to be his earliest style, and ascribe the poems marked by it to the period before 1596. About that date he became acquainted with Anne More, whom he evidently loved devotedly and sincerely ever after. And therefore from 1596 onwards I place the second division, with its emphasis of the spiritual, and deep insight into the real things of love. About 1615, when he took orders, Donne practically ceased from writing secular poetry altogether. This gives a range for his lyrics of, say twenty-five years, from 1590 to 1615. The earlier portion of this time, up to his marriage in 1601, was, however, probably the most prolific.
The bad taste of the editor or publisher of the 1635 edition must be responsible for the appearance of this poem at the beginning of the volume. In 1633 it occupied a much less conspicuous position. Another similar one has been ascribed to Donne by Sir John Simeon (see Appendix A). Two others may be found in the works of Wm. Drummond of Hawthornden (ed. W. C. Ward, vol. i. p. 173), and a fifth in John Davies of Herefords Scourge of Folly (1611).
l. 4. The Seven Sleepers den. The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, said by Gregory of Tours to have been seven noble Christian youths, who fled to escape martyrdom during the Decian persecution (A.D. 250) to a cave in Mt. Celion, and remained there asleep for 230 years. Other versions of the legend are given in the Koran and elsewhere,
The first two stanzas of this song, with the heading A Raritie, are printed in the 1653 edition of Francis Beaumonts Poems. They are not in the 1640 edition, where, however, may be found another poem of similar character, beginning
Catch me a star thats falling from the sky.
This is also in Mennis and Smiths Wit Restored (1658). The second stanza of Donnes poem was printed in one of the editions of Wits Recreations (cf. the reprint in Musarum Deliciae, 1817). The poem, or part of it, also occurs, set to music by an unknown composer in Eg. MS. 2013, f. 58. Habington has a poem, evidently referring to this of Donnes Against them who lay Unchastity to the Sex of Women. It begins
They meet but with unwholesome springs,
And summers which infectious are;
They hear but when the mermaid sings,
And only see the falling star:
Who ever dare
Affirm no woman chaste and fair.
l. 1. Compare the Epithalamium on Lord Somerset, line 204, and the different use of the same metaphor in these lines from Lord Straffords Meditations (Hannah, Courtly Poets, p. 194).
How each admires
Heavens twinkling fires,
Whilst from their glorious seat
Their influence gives light and heat;
But O how few there are,
Though danger from the act be far,
Will run to catch a falling star!
l. 2. A mandrake root. The mandragora, or mandrake, partly from its name, partly from the shape of its forked root, was looked upon as a link between the animal or human and vegetable worlds. It was supposed to shriek when it was torn up out of the earth.
The heading is not in the 1633 edition. It was added in 1635. l. 2. the Worthies. The Nine Worthies were three Gentiles, Hector, Alexander, Julius Cæsar; three Jews, Joshua, David, Judas Maccabaeus; three Christians, Arthur, Charlemagne, Godfrey of Bouillon. Cf. the pageant of the Nine Worthies in Loves Labours Lost. l. 6. specular stone. This appears to be an allusion to the famous magic mirrors or show-stones of Dr. Dee. Dee was a man of great learning, a mathematician and astrologer, and an original Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. He took to alchemy, and was said to have found the philosophers stone in the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey. In 1581 appeared the first of these mysterious show-stones, which when gazed upon by a properly gifted person, presented apparitions. A second, said by Dee to have been given to him by an angel, was produced in 1582. Both of these are in existence; one, a piece of polished cannel coal, is in the possession of Lord Londesborough; the other, a smoky quartz crystal, is in the British Museum. Dee earned an unenviable reputation for the black art, but he appears to have been in large measure the dupe of others. Many of his writings on occult subjects remain, most of them in MS.
l. 15. quelques choses, kickshaws, dainties, trifles. In a letter to Sir Henry Goodyere, written 16061610 (Alford, vi. 301), Donne says, These, sir, are the salads and onions of Micham, sent to you with as wholesome affection as your other friends send melons and quelque-choses from Court and London.
I have little doubt that this poem, like the Valediction on p. 51, and perhaps Elegy xvii., was written at the time of Donnes departure for France with the Drurys in 1611. The phrase used in the last stanza
Let not thy divining heart
Forethink me any ill
should be compared with what Walton (1670) says of this journey, She professed an unwillingness to allow him any absence from her; saying, Her divining soul boded her some ill in his absence; and therefore desired him not to leave her.
This first appeared in 1669, not as a separate poem, but as a first stanza to the following, which had begun in previous editions with, Tis true, tis day; what though it be. The two are, however, obviously of different metrical structure. In Addl. MS. 25,707, f. 18, the additional stanza has been inserted by a different hand. It occurs also by itself, set to music and with no authors name given, in Orlando Gibbons XVI Madrigals and Mottets (1612). Here it begins, Ah, dear heart, why do you rise? It also occurs in John Dowlands A Pilgrims Solace (1612). Here it begins Sweet, stay awhile, why will you rise, and is followed by a second verse. Probably the initials J. D. led to its being ascribed to Donne. For the sentiment, compare Romeo and Juliet, Act III. Sc. v., the passage in which Gervinus finds the influence of the Aubade or dawn-song.
l. 6. the diamonds of either rock; i.e., from the East or West Indies, Golconda or Brazil. l. 8. through-shine, translucent. l. 21. The fashion of wearing deaths-heads in rings, by way of Memento Mori, is said to have been set by Diana of Poitiers: cf. 2 Hen. IV., II. iv. 254, Peace, good Doll! do not speak like a deaths-head; do not bid me remember mine end; and Beaumont and Fletcher, The Chances, Act I. Sc. v.
As they keep deaths-heads in rings,
To cry memento to me.
l. 33. It is unnecessary to multiply quotations illustrating the belief in the influence of stars upon the character of those born when they are, as astrologers say, in the ascendant: cf. e.g., Beatrices explanation of her mercurial temperament in Much Ado About Nothing, II. i. 346.
Don Pedro. Out of question, you were born in a merry hour.
Beatrice. No, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then there was a star danced, and under that was I born.
This was the residence of the Countess of Bedford. In a prose letter to her (Alford, vi. 303), Donne speaks of some verses your Ladyship did me the honour to see in Twickenham garden. Lysons (Environs of London, iii. 565) states that a reversion of the lease of Twickenham Park, formerly the home of Francis Bacon, came into the hands of Sir Henry Goodyere and Edward Woodward in 1607, and that both the existing lease and the reversion were transferred in 1608 to George, Lord Carew and George Croke in trust for Lady Bedford, who lived there until 1618. Cf. also the Verse Letter to her (ii. 20)
The mine, the magazine, the common-weal,
The story of beauty, in Twickenham is, and you
and the note upon Mrs. Boulstred (vol. ii. p. 89). l. 6. the spider Love. The spider was believed to be full of poison. Cf. Rich. II., III. ii. 14.
I suspect that the title of this poem is a mistake of Donnes editor. It does not appear to have been written as an Envoi; the manuscripts spoken of were not for the press, but only the love-letters which had passed between Donne and his mistress. A similar heading appears, however, in several independent MSS. l. 3. eloign, banish, the French éloigner. l. 6. Sibyls glory. This was the Cumaean Sibyl, who offered King Tarquin successively nine, six and three books of prophecies for the same sum. l. 7. her who from Pindar could allure. Corinna the Theban, Pindars instructress in poetry, and successful rival (Grosart). l. 8. her, through whose help Lucan is not lame. Probably Argentaria Polla, Lucans wife and widow (Grosart).
l. 23. spheres. The modern conception of the solar system was only slowly becoming known in Donnes time. See the letter to Lady Bedford (vol. ii. p. 23)
New philosophy arrests the sun,
And bids the passive earth about it run.
The theory was first suggested by Copernicus in 1543, and afterwards preached by Galileo (16101616). According to the Ptolemaic system which preceded it, the Earth was the centre of ten concentric spheres, or revolving rings of space. Seven of these were the orbits of the Sun, Moon, and the five great planets; an eighth held the Fixed Stars; the ninth was known as the Crystalline sphere, the tenth as the Primum Mobile, Cf. Paradise Lost, iii. 481.
l. 7. th elixir. The goals of the alchemists research were the philosophers stone, and the red tincture or great elixir. Sometimes the first of these was credited with the property of transmuting baser metals to gold, the second with that of renewing life; at other times the two are treated as practically identical.
The heading was added in 1635. A writer under the signature Cpl. in Notes and Queries (4th Series, ii. 614) speaks of a MS. in which this and some other of Donnes lyrics are included as Songs which were made to certain airs which were made before. This same heading occurs in Harl. 4955. The songs included under it are, besides the present one, Sweetest love, I do not go, and Come live with me, and be my love. It is also found in T. C. Dublin MS. G. 2. 21, f. 160.
St. Lucys Day, December the 13th, was, according to the old style of reckoning, the shortest day in the year. l. 21. limbec. This word is a corruption of alembic, a term of Arabian alchemy for the still or vessel in which chemicals were vaporized.
The heading was added in 1635. This poem is one of the several imitations of Marlowes famous Come live with me, and be my love, printed successively in The Passionate Pilgrim (1599). Englands Helicon (1600), and The Compleat Angler (1653). Donnes poem also appears in The Compleat Angler (1653), where it is introduced as follows Viator. Yes, Mister, I will speak you a copy of verses that were made by Dr. Donne, and made to show the world that he could make soft and smooth verses, when he thought them fit and worth his labour; and I love them the better because they allude to rivers, and fish, and fishing. They be these. Another poem was added by Cotton in the second part of the Compleat Angler, called An Invitation to Phillis, and also beginning, Come live with me, and be my love. Other verses on the same theme may be found in Englands Helicon (1600), If all the world and love was young (Ignoto, but ascribed by Walton, who quotes this also in the Compleat Angler, to Sir Walter Raleigh; cf. Hannah, Courtly Poets, p. 11), and Come live with me, and be my dear (Ignoto); in Herricks Hesperides, under the title To Phillis Live, live with me, and thou shalt see; in Pembroke and Rudyards Poems (1660), Dear, leave thy home, and come with me. There are doubtless others. The Bait is ascribed to Sir Henry Wotton in Addl. MS. 19,268, f. 19, but this is a MS. of no great credit.
This poem was printed with several variants in the fourth edition of Waltons Life of Donne (1674). It is not in the 1640, nor the 1658, nor the 1670 edition. Walton states that it was given by Donne to his wife when he left her to go to France and Belgium, with Sir Robert Drury in 1611. He continues, And I beg leave to tell that I have heard some critics, learned both in languages and poetry, say that none of the Greek or Latin poets did ever equal them. It was during this absence that Donne had a sudden vision of his wife at a moment when she was in great danger. See Waltons Life of Donne. A copy of the Valediction, unsigned and with many trifling variants, is to be found in Dr. Grosarts edition of the Farmer-Chetham MS. l. 11. trepidation of the spheres. Cf. Paradise Lost, iii. 483, quoted in the note to page 34. The trepidation was the precession of the equinoxes, supposed, according to the Ptolemaic astronomy, to be caused by the movements of the Ninth or Crystalline Sphere.
In 1633, the heading is simply The Primrose. The rest was added in 1635. Montgomery Castle was the home of Lady Herbert, mother of Lord Herbert of Cherbury and of George Herbert. All three appear to have been among Donnes intimate friends. See pp. 117, 156; vol. ii. pp. 20, 43, with notes. In 1607 Montgomery Castle was taken from its possessors by James I., and transferred to their kinsman Philip, Earl of Pembroke, who was created Earl of Montgomery. It was bought back by Sir Edward Herbert for £500 in 1613. Donne visited him therein that year (cf. note to the Good Friday poem), but probably this poem was written before 1607. l. 12. a six, or four. The normal number of segments in the corolla of a primrose is five; occasionally specimens are found in which it is divided into four or six. The latter variety was held as a symbol of true love. Cf. W. Browne, Britannias Pastorals, bk. ii. song 3
The primrose when with six leaves gotten grace,
Holds as a true-love in their bosoms place.
l. 29. they fall first into five; that is, the first even number, two, added to the first odd number, threeone, the unit, of course not countingmakes five.
l. 10. her thumb. Thumb-rings were a common ornament for well-to-do citizens. Falstaff, in I Hen. IV., II. iv. 364, boasts that he was once so slender that he could have crept into any aldermans thumb-ring. This passage seems to show that they were worn by women also.
This poem occurs in all the editions of Donne except 1633, and I have therefore included it here. I have very little doubt that it is his; the central ideathat the lovers souls are together, though their bodies may be apartis characteristic of him (cf. A Valediction forbidding Mourning). So is the contemptuous
Fools have no means to meet,
But by their feet.
It is however printed, in an inferior version, with the initial P, in the Earl of Pembroke and Sir Benjamin Ruddiers Poems (1660), and it is also ascribed to the Earl of Pembroke in Lansd. MS. 777, a very good authority. The testimony of the Pembroke and Ruddier volume is not of much value. It was edited by the younger Donne, who admits in the preface that some surreptitious verses may have crept in. As a matter of fact it contains poems by Carew, Dyer and others. It must be remembered that the younger Donne was also editor of the 1650 edition of his fathers poems, and allowed Souls Joy to stand there. I have printed in the footnotes the variant readings of Lansd. MS. 777. Wounds for words in line 17 seems to me to improve the sense. In George Herberts The Temple (1633) is included A Parodie, of which the following is the first verse
Souls joy, when thou art gone,
And I alone,
Which cannot be,
Because Thou dost abide with me,
And I depend on Thee;
There is also an apparent reference to Souls Joy in a poem by Sir K. Digby, written probably after the death of Lady Digby in 1633 (see Mr. Brights Roxburghe Club edition of Digbys Poems, page 8). The following are the lines in point
And I see those books are false which teach
That absence works between two souls no breach,
When they with love
To each other move,
And that they (though distant) may meet, kiss and play;
For our body doth so clog our mind,
That here no means of working it can find
On things absent,
Or judging present,
Till the corporal senses first do lead the way.
There is another protest against the theories of presence in absence as expounded by Donne here and in the Valediction forbidding Mourning, to be found in Cartwrights No Platonic Love. It begins
This poem was first printed in the edition of 1635, on p. 195, among the Verse Letters, from which I have transferred it. It is printed, with the initial P, in Pembroke and Ruddiers Poems (1660); but on the small authority of this collection, see note to Souls Joy, p. 75. In Harl. MS. 3910, f. 22, and in Harl. MS. 4064, f. 252, the first three verses are ascribed to the Earl of Pembroke, and the second three to Sir Benjamin Ruddier. In Addl. MS. 23,229, the first three verses are also given to Pembroke, and the second three headed The Answer. In T. C. Dublin MS. G. 2. 21, ff. 424, 426, the first three verses are given to Dr. Corbet, and the second three to Donne and Rudyard jointly. No division of the verses between the two authors is given in any of the editions of Donne. I have attempted to supply one, conjecturally. On Sir Henry Wotton and his friendship with Donne, see the note to vol. ii. p. 7.
The three poems included in this section were all first printed in 1633, and appear, with little textual variation, in the later editions. As to the dates, the Princess Elizabeth was married on Feb. 14, 1613, and the Earl of Somerset on Dec. 26, 1613. The Epithalamion made at Lincolns Inn probably dates from Donnes residence there in 15921596.
In 1669, the heading is An Epitha[la]mion on Frederick Count Palatine of the Rhene, and the Lady Elizabeth, being married on St. Valentines day. Elizabeth, daughter of James I. and Anne of Denmark, was born in 1596, and brought up in ardent Protestant principles by Lord Harrington at Combe Abbey. In 1612 she was betrothed to the Elector Palatine Frederick V. as an incident of the alliance between England and the Protestant Union of Germany. The marriage was delayed by the death of Henry, Prince of Wales, in Nov. 1612, but it took place on the following Feb. 14 with great ceremony. A description of the festivities may be found in Nichols Progresses of James I. After a few years of gaiety Elizabeth fell on troublous days. In 1619 Frederick was chosen King of Bohemia. In the inevitable religious conflict which followed the election of the Emperor Ferdinand, he lost his dominions, and the rest of his life and the queens were spent in unsuccessful efforts to recover them. Frederick died in 1632, and in 1661 Elizabeth moved to England, where she died in the following year. Her beauty, her wit, and her misfortunes earned her the title of the Queen of Hearts, and the generous devotion of the cavaliers and poets of the time. Lord Craven and Sir Henry Wotton were among her special admirers: the former was believed to have been secretly married to her (see note on page xlix); the latter wrote in her honour his best verses, those beginning, Ye meaner beauties of the night. l. 7. On the sparrow cf. The Progress of the Soul, Stanza xx. l. 103. It was a common Elizabethan custom to serenade a bride and bridegroom on the morning after a wedding. Cotgrave states that the song sung on such an occasion was called the Hunts up.
Robert Carr, or Ker, was a Scotchman who came over with James I.; he was knighted in 1607, created Viscount Rochester in 1611, and Earl of Somerset in 1613. He fell in love with the Countess of Essex, who obtained a decree of nullity in order to marry him. This marriage was vehemently opposed by Carrs friend, Sir Thomas Overbury, chiefly on political grounds, since the Countess, by birth Frances Howard, was of the Spanish or pro-Catholic party. In revenge she got Overbury thrown into the Tower, and subsequently had him poisoned, probably with Carrs connivance. The crime remained a secret, and the marriage took place on December 26, 1613. Besides Donnes Epithalamion, Campion celebrated the occasion with a masque, and Jonson with a set of verses. He had already written his masque of Hymenaei for the brides former wedding. Afterwards Carr fell into disfavour with James: the murder was discovered in 1615; the murderers were prosecuted by Bacon, condemned, reprieved, committed to the Tower until 1622, and then allowed to live in retirement. Their career forms the subject of Marstons Insatiate Countess. The following is a postscript to a letter to Sir Robert Drury (Alford, vi. 349): I cannot tell you so much, as you tell me, of anything from my Lord of Somerset, since the Epithalamium, for I heard nothing. There is another Sir Robert Carr, afterwards Earl of Ancrum, who was a friend and frequent correspondent of Donnes, and must not be confused with the Earl of Somerset. l. 87. sued livery. Land held by feudal tenure lapsed to the lord at the death of a tenant, until it was ascertained if the heir was of age; if so he took possession at once, on payment of a years profits, known as primer seisin; if not, the estate remained in the lords hands, as his guardian, until he became so, when he could claim livery, or delivery, of wardship, by suing for a writ of ouster le main and paying half a years profits. l. 161. a cypress, a crape veil. l. 204. Cf. with the opening of this stanza the Song, Go and catch a falling star, on p. 4. l. 215. Cf. Sir T. Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica, iii. 21, Why some lamps included in close bodies have burned many hundred years, as that discovered in the sepulchre of Tullia, the sister of Cicero, and that of Olibius many years after, near Padua? Brownes editor refers to Hutton, Ozanams Philosophical Recreations, vol. i. p. 496.
Donne became a student at Lincolns Inn on May 6, 1592, and the Epithalamion was probably written within the next two or three years. It is less likely that it belongs to the period 16161622, when Dr. Donne was reader to the same learned society.
The Elegies numbered in this edition i. to x. and xv. first appeared in 1633 (cf. Bibliographical Note, p. xxxv); Elegies xi. to xiv. xvi. and xvii. were added in 1635; Elegy xviii. in 1650; Elegies xix. and xx. in 1669. Like the Songs and Sonnets, the Elegies deal mainly with love, and represent Donnes earlier and later attitude of mind on the subject. Most of them are probably earlier than 1600, all earlier than 1614. I have shown reason in the notes that follow for giving approximate dates to Elegy v. (1596?), Elegy ix. (15981600), Elegy xi. (before 1598), Elegy xvi. (16091610), Elegy xvii. (1611). Except where otherwise stated, the headings to the Elegies appear only in 16351654, not in 1633, or 1669.
Apparently written before some voyage; possibly that of 1596 or 1597, but possibly also an unrecorded earlier one. Several portraits of Donne are mentioned in Bromleys Catalogue of Engraved Portraits. The picture of this Elegy may have been the original of one of these, perhaps No. 4. 1. By M. Dro[eshout]; 4to; This is the winding-sheet portrait, prefixed to the Deaths Duel of 1632, and described in the note to page li. 2. By Loggan. 3. By Lombart; 4to. This belongs to the Letters of 1651 and 1654, but is occasionally found inserted in the Poems of 1633. 4. By Marshall; 8vo; dated Oct. 18, 1591. This is found with the 1635 and subsequent editions of the Poems, and some copies, in quarto, appear to have originally belonged to the 1633 edition. 5. By M. Merian, jun., fol. This is part of the title-page to the Sermons of 1640. It is used again, with the date Aet. 42 (i.e., 1615), in the 1658 edition of Waltons Life. In addition to these, Dr. Grosart has engraved, in the large paper copies of his edition, a miniature by Oliver, and an alleged Vandyke.
l. 2. chafed musk cats pores. The civet cat, or Hyena odorifera; cf. Sir Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica, iii. 4. l. 10. Sanserra. Sancerre, near Bourges, a stronghold of the Huguenots, was besieged by the Catholics in 1573. The siege lasted nine months. l. 23. Proserpines white beauty-keeping chest. In the story of Cupid and Psyche told in Apuleius Golden Ass (transl. William Adlington, 1566), Venus sends Psyche on a message to Proserpina, saying. Take this box and go to Hell to Proserpina, and desire her to send me a little of her beauty, as much as will serve me the space of one day. Actually, however, the mystical secret of divine beauty put by Proserpina in the box proves to be an infernal and deadly sleep.
The heading first appeared in 1633. In the Stephens MS. this Elegy is headed, A Paradox of an old Woman. In Lansd. MS. 740, f. 86, the words Widow Herbert are prefixed to it. This is explained by Walton, in his Life of George Herbert (1670), where he speaks of a friendship that grew up between Donne and Lady Herbert, mother of the poet, when she was residing with her eldest son, Edward Herbert, at Oxford, in about 15961600. He adds, It was that John Donne, who was after Dr. Donne, and Dean of St. Pauls, London, and he, at his leaving Oxford, writ and left there, in verse, a character of the beauties of her body and mind. Of the first he says
No Spring nor Summer beauty has such grace
As I have seen in an Autumnal face.
Of the latter he says
In all her words to every hearer fit,
You may at revels or at councils sit.
The rest of her character may be read in his printed poems, in that elegy which bears the name of the Autumnal Beauty. For both he and she were then past the meridian of mans life. There is some confusion in Waltons chronology. It appears from Edward, Lord Herbert of Cherburys Autobiography, that he originally went up to Oxford in 15934. He did not matriculate, however, according to the University Registers, until May 1595, and Wood gives this date for his entry as a gentleman-commoner at University College. Soon after he was recalled home by his fathers death in 1597; he married on Feb. 28, 1598, and then, he says, not long after my marriage I went again to Oxford, together with my wife and mother, who took a house, and lived for some time there. This brings the date of the Elegy to 1598, or two or three years after, and as Donne was born in 1573, and Magdalen Newport in 1568, they were hardly past the meridian of mans life. Walton also states that Donne was near the fourtieth year of his age (which was some years before he entered into sacred orders). This also cannot be correct. Donne was not 40 until 1613. He was ordained in 1615. The poem on The Primrose was written at her castle near Montgomery. l. 29. Xerxes strange Lydian love, the platane tree. Dr. Grosart refers to Pliny, Nat. Hist., xii. 13; xvi. 44. In the 16351669 editions, there comes between the present Elegies x. and xi. the poem Language, thou art too narrow and too weak, which will be now found among the Epicedes and Obsequies.
First printed in 1635, with the heading The Bracelet. The heading in the text appeared in 1650. The following note is taken from Ben Jansons Conversations with William Drummond (ed. D. Laing, Shakespeare Society, 1842) He esteemeth John Done the first poet in the world for some things: his verses of the Lost Chain he hath by heart; and that passage of the Calme, That dust and feathers do not stir, all was so quiet. Affirmeth Done to have written all his best pieces ere he was 25 years old. l. 59. some dread conjurer. The loss of a chain and its recovery by the aid of a conjurer is an incident in The Puritan. l. 77. An allusion to the mediaeval ninefold classification of angels invented by Pseudo-Dionysius, De Coelesti Hierarchia. The three orders are Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones; Dominations, Virtues, Powers; Principalities, Archangels, Angels.
First printed in 1635. ll. 5776. These lines are not found in the printed copies. They were added by Dr. Grosart in his edition from the British Museum MSS. (Addl. 10,309, f. 46, Harl. 3910. f. 18, Harl. 4064, f. 249). Lansd. MS. 740, f. 105, in which the poem also occurs, is without them, but on the whole there appears to be no reason to doubt their authenticity.
This Elegy appeared in an imperfect form in 16351650. Some sixty lines, indicated in the footnotes to this edition, were added in 1669. In T. C. Dublin MS. G. 2. 21, f. 460, this Elegy is ascribed to Sir Francis Wriothesley.
First printed in 1635. l. 13. Mantuan. I suppose the allusion to be to the flammisque armata Chimaera of Virgil, Aeneid, vi. 289, and not to the Carmelite Baptista Spagnoli, the good old Mantuan of Loves Labours Lost, IV. ii. 97. Both poets were born at Mantua. l. 14. Mastix, Scourge: cf. the title of Dekkers play, the Satiromastix, and of Prynnes pamphlet, the Histrionomastix.
First printed in 1635. The date appears, from the allusions in lines 2127, to be about 160910. l. 21. the plaguing bill. The weekly bill of deaths by the plague reached 40, during parts of every year from 1606 to 1610. l. 23. the Virginian plot. Expeditions were sent out to re-colonize Virginia on Jan. 1, 1607, and again in 1609. Ward. This pirate is mentioned in Capt. John Smiths Travels and Observations (1629, ed. Arber, p. 914) as a poor English sailor, who lived like a Bashaw in Barbary, some time after 1603. Daborne has a play, A Christian turned Turk, or the Tragical Lives and Deaths of the two famous Pirates, Ward and Dansiker (1612), which is taken from an account of these two pirates by Andrew Barker (1609). It appears from Barker that Ward was notorious during 16079. His head-quarters were at Tunis. He is alluded to as that ocean terror in Randolphs Epithalamium to Mr. F. H. (Works, ed. Hazlitt, p. 571.) l. 25. the Britain Burse, or the New Exchange, opened as a rival to the Royal Exchange, on April 11, 1609. For some time it had very little success. l. 27. Aldgate. The rebuilding was completed in 1609. Moor-field, fields to the north of the City; laid out in walks in 1606.
This poem was included in the collection of verses called Underwoods, which first appeared in the second folio edition (1641) of Ben Jonsons works. It is No. 58 in Cunninghams edition. I see no reason, however, to take it from Donne. It appeared in two editions, 1633 and 1635, during Jonsons life; the Underwoods is posthumous, and of no great authority; and both style and sentiment are characteristic of Donne. Many points in the Elegy, for instance, may be paralleled from Elegy xi., l. 91, sqq., from Womans Constancy, and from The Curse. It is signed J. D. in William Drummonds Hawthornden MS. 15.
This appeared in 16351669 among the Epicedes and Obsequies. In 1669 it is simply headed Elegy. It belongs more properly to the present section. It may perhaps be referred to 1611, with the lyrical poem to his wife headed, A Valediction forbidding Mourning, and the Song Sweetest Love. See the notes to those poems, and compare the close of the present Elegy with what Walton says about Mrs. Donnes divining soul.
First printed with the heading among Donnes Poems in 1669. But it had previously appeared in Wit and Drollery. By Sir J. M., J. S., Sir W. D., J. D. and the most refined Wits of the Age, 1661. I have only given in the text and foot-notes the more important of the many variant readings of the 1661 version. Mr. W. C. Hazlitt states in his Handbook that pages 9598 of the 1669 Poems, containing Elegy xix., all but the first two lines, and Elegy xx., all but the last ten lines, were suppressed.
The larger number of these poems appeared in 1633. The Holy Sonnets, i., iii., v., and viii., the lines Upon the Translation of the Psalms, the Ode, the lines To Mr. Tilman, and the Hymn to God, my God, were added in 1635; the poems to George Herbert and the translation from Gazaeus in 1650. The Sonnet to Lady Herbert is printed from Waltons Life of George Herbert (1670). This is the latest group of Donnes poems. Some at least of the Sonnets were probably written before 1607, and from them he appears to have occasionally written religious poems up to the last year of his life. It is possible to more or less definitely date a good many of them; viz. the Annunciation and Passion in 1609, the Litany in 1610, the Good Friday in 1613, the translation of the Lamentations in 1617 (?), the Hymn to Christ in 1619, the lines Upon the Translation of the Psalms after 1621, the Hymn to God the Father in 1627, and the Hymn to God, my God in 1631.
This poem is found in all the seventeenth-century editions amongst the Verse Letters, headed To E. of D. The full title is taken from the Stephens MS. I have transferred it to the present section. It evidently refers to the La Corona Sonnets which follow, although only six of them appear to have been finished when it was written. The heading is not quite correct, for there was no Earl of Doncaster. James Hay was a Scotch gentleman who came to England with James, and was high in favour at court. He was knighted, and created successively Lord Hay in the Scotch peerage (1606), Lord Hay of Sawley (1615), Viscount Doncaster (1618), and Earl of Carlisle (1622). He was a courtier, at once shrewd and extravagant, rather than a statesman, but he was employed on several important missions, amongst them one to France in 1616, and another to Germany to support the Elector Palatine in 1619. On the latter of these occasions Donne accompanied him. (See notes to the Hymn to Christ.) Hay married, firstly, Honora, daughter of Lord Denny (1607); secondly, Lucy Percy, Staffords Lady Carlisle (1617). l. 2. Cf. Antony and Cleopatra, II. vii. 29: Your serpent of Egypt is bred now of your mud by the operation of your sun: so is your crocodile.
Lady Herbert was by birth Magdalen Newport, and married Sir Richard Herbert of Montgomery Castle. Her husband died early, in 1597, and she devoted herself to the care of her children, amongst whom Edward Lord Herbert of Cherbury, George Herbert, and Sir Henry Herbert, Master of the Revels, attained distinction. On her friendship with Donne, see note to Elegy ix. A letter of Donnes preserved at Loseley ends as follows, From Sir John Danvers house at Chelsey (of which house and my lord Carlils at Hanworth I make up my Tusculum), 12. Julii. 1625. In 1608 she took, as her second husband, Sir John Danvers. In 1627, Donne preached her funeral sermon, which was afterwards published with some Greek and Latin verses by her son George. This sonnet is not in any of the seventeenth-century editions of Donne, but it is given in Waltons Life of George Herbert (1670), with this accompanying letter:
Your favours to me are every where; I use them, and have them. I enjoy them at London, and leave them there, and yet find them at Mitcham. Such riddles as these become things unexpressible; and such is your goodness. I was almost sorry to find your servant here this day, because I was loth to have any witness of my not coming home last night, and indeed of my coming this morning: but my not coming was excusable, because earnest business detained me, and my coming this day is by the example of your S. Mary Magdalen, who rose early upon Sunday to seek that which she loved most, and so did I. And, from her and myself, I return such thanks as are due to one to whom we owe all the good opinion that they whom we need most have of us. By this messenger, and on this good day, I commit the enclosed holy hymns and sonnets (which for the matter, not the workmanship, have yet escaped the fire) to your judgment, and to your protection too, if you think them worthy of it, and I have appointed this enclosed sonnet to usher them to your happy hand.
Your unworthiest servant, Unless your accepting him Have mended him, JO. DONNE.
Mitcham, July 11, 1607.
Walton adds: These hymns are now lost to us, but doubtless they were such as they two now sing in heaven. This would seem to imply that the Holy Sonnets which follow were not those sent to Lady Herbert, but some later ones. But Walton may be referring to some lost hymns, as distinguished from the sonnets; and in any case, this poem will serve as a preface to the rest of Donnes religious verse. In Harl. 4955, the divine sonnets (Holy Sonnets and La Corona) are said to have been made 20 years since. The MS. includes a poem dated 1629. l. 2. Bethina, Bethany: Magdalo, the castle of Migdol, from which the name Magdalene may have been derived. l. 8. It is not a question whether there was more than one Magdalen, but rather whether Mary Magdalene, out of whom Jesus cast seven devils, is identical with Mary of Bethany, the sinner who anointed his feet and wiped them with the hair of her head in the house of Simon the leper. They are treated as one in Vaughans poem, St. Mary Magdalene.
The Stephens MS. has for title, Upon the Annunciation and Passion falling upon one day 1608. The date of the poem will therefore be March 25, 168/9. Sir John Beaumont has a poem Upon the two great feasts of the Annunciation and Resurrection falling on the same day, March 25, 1627, and George Herbert one in Latin, In Natales et Pascha concurrentes. I observe that Dr. Grosart translates Natales by Annunciation, and Pascha by Passion, and states that Donnes poem and George Herberts probably were both written on the same occasion. See his editions both of Donne and Herbert.
In Addl. MS. 25,707, f. 36, this poem is headedMr. J. Dun, going from Sir H[enry] G[oodyere]: on Good-Friday sent him back this Meditation on the way. In Harl. MS. 4955, f. 110, it is Riding to Sir Edward Herbert in Wales. Sir Henry Goodyeres house was at Polesworth in Warwickshire.
Dr. Grosart tries to make out that this Litany was one of Donnes earliest poems. As a matter of fact its date can be more or less precisely fixed by Donnes correspondence. In a letter to Sir Henry Goodyere (Alford, vi. 311) he speaks of it as follows Since my imprisonment in my bed, I have made a meditation in 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 them was made by Ratpertus, a monk of Suevia; and the other by S. 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 letter can be dated by the mention of a book of his, apparently the Pseudo-Martyr, as still in MS. It was printed in 1610.
First printed in 1635. These Psalms, of which i.xliii. are by Sir Philip Sidney, the rest by Lady Pembroke, remained in MS. until 1823, when they were published from a copy in the autograph of John Davies of Hereford. They are also to be found in Bodl. Rawl. Poet. MS. 25, Brit. Mus., Addl. MSS. 12,047 and 12,048, and a MS. in Trin. Coll. Camb. It appears from l. 53 that Donnes verses were written after Lady Pembrokes death in 1621.
This poem probably dates from the death of Donnes wife in 1617. Walton (1658) speaks of the great grief into which he fell. Thus, as the Israelites sat mourning by the waters of Babylon, when they remembered Sion, so he gave some ease to his oppressed heart by thus venting his sorrows: thus he began the day and ended the night, ended the restless night and began the weary day in lamentations. He adds: His first motion from his house to preach where his beloved wife lay buried, in St. Clements Church, near Temple Bar, London; and his text was a part of the prophet Jeremys Lamentation, Lo, I am the man that have seen affliction.
First printed in 1635. Walton (Life, ed. 1670) states that this hymn was written on Donnes death-bed. He quotes stanzas 1 and 6, and the first two and a half lines of stanza 2, with the date March 23, 1630/1. A copy amongst Sir Julius Cæsars papers (Addl. MS. 34,324, f. 316) is endorsed D. Dun, Dean of Pauls, his verses in his great sickness in December 1623. Tremellius: Emanuel Tremellius (15101580) published a Latin translation of the Bible at Frankfort, in 15751579.
This hymn is quoted by Walton, not in the 1640, but in the 1670 edition of the Life. Walton says: Even on his former sickbed [in 1623] he wrote this heavenly hymn, expressing the great joy that then possessed his soul, in the assurance of Gods favour to him when he composed it. He adds: I have the rather mentioned this hymn, for that he caused it to be set to a most grave and solemn tune, and to be often sung to the organ by the choristers of St. Pauls Church in his own hearing; especially at the evening service, and at his return from his customary devotions in that place did occasionally say to a friend: The words of this hymn have restored to me the same thoughts of joy that possessed my soul in my sickness when I composed it. And, O the power of church music! that harmony added to this hymn has raised the affections of my heart and quickened my graces of zeal and gratitude; and I observe that I always return from paying this public duty of prayer and praise to God, with an unexpressible tranquillity of mind, and a willingness to leave the world. This poem appears in Brit Mus. Eg. MS. 2013, f. 13, set to music by John Hillton, and beginning, Wilt thou forgive the sins where I begun. I do not know whether this was the setting used at St. Pauls. The date of the MS. is probably before 1644. The former sickbed mentioned by Walton is doubtless that of the fifty-fourth year of his age, 1623, upon which he also composed his Book of Devotions.
First printed in 1650. Walton (Life, 1670) has a passage on the friendship between Donne and George Herbert. He says Betwixt this George Herbert and Dr. Donne, there was a long and dear friendship, made up by such a sympathy of inclinations that they coveted and joyed to be in each others company; and this happy friendship was still maintained by many sacred endearments, of which that which followeth may be some testimony. He then goes on to quote the first two and a half lines of Donnes Latin poem, and the whole of the English one; together with portions of answering poems by George Herbert, which are printed in full in the 1650 edition of Donne. I add them here
In Sacrum Anchoram Piscatoris G. Herbert.
QUOD crux nequibat fixa, clavique addita
Tenere Christum scilicet, ne ascenderet
Tuive Christum devocans facundia
Ultra loquendi tempus; addit Anchora:
Nec hoc abunde est tibi, nisi certae anchorae
Addas Sigillum; nempe symbolum suae
Tibi debet unda et terra certitudinis.
Quondam fessus Amor, loquens amato,
Tot et tanta loquens amica, scripsit:
Tandem et fessa manus dedit Sigillum.
Suavis erat, qui scripta, dolens, lacerando recludi,
Sanctius in regno magni credebat Amoris,
In quo fas nihil est rumpi, donare Sigillum!
Munde, fluas fugiasque licet, nos nostraque fixi:
Deridet motus sancta catena tuos.
This is followed by an English version.
Although the Cross could not Christ here detain,
Though naild unto it, but He ascends again,
Nor yet thy eloquence here keep Him still,
But only while thou speakest, this Anchor will.
Nor canst thou be content, unless thou to
This certain Anchor add a Seal; and so
The water and the earth both unto thee
Do owe the symbol of their certainty.
When Love, being weary, made an end
Of kind expressions to his friend,
He writ; when s hand could write no more,
He gave the Seal, and so left oer.
How sweet a friend was he, who, being grieved
His letters were broke rudely up, believed
Twas more secure in great Loves commonweal
Where nothing should be broke, to add a Seal!
Let the world reel, we and all ours stand sure;
This holy cable s of all storms secure.
The following is from Waltons Life of George Herbert (1670)I shall therefore add only one testimony to what is also mentioned in the Life of Dr. Donne, namely, that a little before his death he caused many seals to be made, and in them to be engraven the figure of Christ crucified on an anchorwhich is the emblem of hopeand of which Dr. Donne would often say Crux mihi anchora. These seals he sent to most of those friends on which he put a value; and at Mr. Herberts death these verses were found wrapped up with that seal which was by the Doctor given to him:
When my dear friend could write no more,
He gave this Seal, and so gave oer.
When winds and waves rose highest, I am sure,
This Anchor keeps my faith, that, me secure.
Some of these seals, including that given to Walton himself, have been handed down to our day. See Notes and Queries (2nd Series, viii. 170, 216; 6th Series, x. 426, 473). The Latin version of George Herberts verses is also found with the Jacula Prudentum (1651), a volume consisting mostly of Outlandish Proverbs collected by Herbert, and reprinted from the 1640 edition of Wits Recreations. It is also in Herberts Poems. Doubtless the English version is his also.