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Title: Letters to Severall Persons of Honour
Author: Donne, John, 1572-1631
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Letters to Severall Persons of Honour" ***

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_This edition is limited to six hundred copies_









The Letters to Severall Persons of Honour, _now for the first time
reprinted in their original form, were collected and published by John
Donne, Jr., in 1651, twenty years after the death of the author.
Apparently the sales were not large, for three years later the original
sheets were rebound with a new title page and put on the market as a
second edition. Not many copies of the earlier, and still fewer of the
later date, have come down to us._

_In the present volume changes from and additions to the original text are
indicated by brackets, with a single exception: errors in punctuation have
been corrected without comment when, and only when, they seem seriously to
impair the intelligibility of the text. In the case of a few letters the
reading followed is that of the original manuscripts, for which I am
indebted to the great kindness of Mr. Edmund Gosse._

_Readers of Mr. Gosse's brilliant study_, The Life and Letters of John
Donne _(London: Heinemann, 1899) will not need to be reminded of the
obligations under which he has placed all later students of Donne's life
and work. I have, in addition, to thank him for generous encouragement and
for many helpful suggestions, specific and general._

_C. E. M., Jr._

  _Huntington, Long Island
  October 14, 1910._


[Illustration: JOHN DONNE

_From an engraving by Pierre Lombart, prefixed to the_ POEMS _of 1633,
after a portrait of Donne at the age of forty._]

  (_Facsimile of Title Page of Original Edition._)



  Sometime Deane of
  _S{t} Pauls London_.

  Published by JOHN DONNE D{r}. of
  the Civill Law.

  Printed by _J. Flesher_, for _Richard Marriot_, and are
  to be sold at his shop in S{t} _Dunstans_ Church-yard
  under the Dyall. 1651.

  To the most virtuous
  and excellent Lady, Mris.


_It is an argument of the_ Immortality _of the_ Soul, _that it can
apprehend, and imbrace such a_ Conception; _and it may be some kinde of_
Prophecy _of the continuance and lasting of these_ Letters, _that having
been scattered, more then Sibyls leaves, I cannot say into parts, but
corners of the_ World, _they have recollected and united themselves,
meeting_ at once, _as it were, at the same spring, from whence they
flowed, but by_ Succession.

_But the piety of_ Æneas _to_ Anchises, _with the heat and fervour of his
zeale, had been dazelled and extinguished by the fire of_ Troy, _and his
Father become his Tombe, had not a brighter flame appeared in his_
Protection, _and_ Venus herself _descended with her embraces, to protect
her_ Martiall Champion; _so that there is no safer way to give a
perpetuity to this remnant of the dead Authour, but by dedicating it to
the_ Altar _of_ Beauty _and_ perfection; _and if you, Madam, be but
pleased to shed on it one beame of your_ Grace _and Favour, that very_
Adumbration _will quicken it with a new_ Spirit, _and defend it from all
fire (the fate of most Letters) but the last; which, turning these
into ashes, shall revive the Authour from his Urne, and put him into a
capacity of celebrating you, his_ Guardian Angell, _who has protected that
part of his Soul, that he left behinde him, his_ Fame _and_ Reputation.

_The courtesies that you conferre upon the living may admit of some allay,
by a possibility of a_ Retaliation; _but what you bestow upon the_ Dead
_is a Sacrifice to_ pure Virtue; _an ungifted Deity, 'tis true, without_
Oblation, Altar, _or_ Temple, _if she were not enshrined in your_ noble
brest, _but I must forever become her votary, if it be but for giving me
this_ Inclination, _and_ desire _of being_

  Your most humble servant
  _Jo. Donne_.

A COLLECTION of Letters written to severall Persons of Honour.


_To the worthiest Lady M{rs}_ Bridget White.


I could make some guesse whether souls that go to heaven, retain any
memory of us that stay behinde, if I knew whether you ever thought of us,
since you enjoyed your heaven, which is your self, at home. Your going
away hath made _London_ a dead carkasse. A Tearm and a Court do a little
spice and embalme it, and keep it from putrefaction, but the soul went
away in you: and I think the onely reason why the plague is somewhat
slackned is because the place is dead already, and no body left worth the
killing. Wheresoever you are, there is _London_ enough: and it is a
diminishing of you to say so, since you are more then the rest of the
world. When you have a desire to work a miracle, you will return hither,
and raise the place from the dead, and the dead that are in it; of which I
am one, but that a hope that I have a room in your favour keeps me alive,
which you shall abundantly confirme to me, if by one letter you tell me
that you have received my six; for now my letters are grown to that bulk,
that I may divide them like _Amadis_ the _Gaules_ book, and tell you that
this is the first letter of the second part of the first book.

  _Your humblest, and affectionate
  servant_ J. D.

  _Strand, S._ Peters
  _day at nine_.


_To the worthiest Lady M{rs}_ B. W.


I think the letters which I send to you single lose themselves by the way
for want of a guide, or faint for want of company. Now, that on your part
there be no excuse, after three single letters, I send three together,
that every one of them may have two witnesses of their delivery. They come
also to waite upon another letter from S{r} _E. Herbert_, of whose
recovery from a Fever, you may apprehend a perfecter contentment then we,
because you had none of the former sorrow. I am an Heretique if it be
sound Doctrine, that pleasure tasts best after sorrow. For my part, I can
love health well enough, though I be never sick; and I never needed my
Mistris frowns and disfavours, to make her favours acceptable to me. In
States, it is a weakness to stand upon a defensive war, and safer not to
be invaded, then to have overcome: so in our souls health, an innocence is
better then the heartiest repentance. And in the pleasures of this life,
it is better that the variety of the pleasures give us the taste and
appetite to it, then a sowre and sad interruption quicken our stomack; for
then we live by Physick. I wish therefore all your happinesses such as
this intire, and without flaw, or spot of discontentment; and such is the
love and service of

  _Your humblest and affectionatest
  servant_ J. D.

  _Strand S._ Peters
  _day at 4_.


_To the same._


This letter which I send enclosed hath been yours many moneths, and hath
languished upon my table for a passage so long, that as others send news
in their letters, I send an antiquity in mine. I durst not tear it, after
it was yours: there is some sacriledge in defacing any thing consecrated
to you, and some impiety to despaire that any thing devoted to you should
not be reserved to a good issue. I remember I should have sent it by a
servant, of whose diligence I see I was too confident. I know not what it
says: but I dare make this letter no longer, because being very sure that
I always think the same thoughts of you, I am afraid I should fall upon
the same words, and so send one letter twice together.

  _Your very affectionate
  servant_ J. D.

  _Novemb. 8._


_To the Honourable Lady M{rs}_ B. W.


I have but small comfort in this letter; the messenger comes too easily to
me, and I am too sure that the letter shall be delivered. All adventures
towards you should be of more difficulty and hazard. But perchance I need
not lament this; it may be so many of my letters are lost already that it
is time that one should come, like _Jobs_ servant, to bring word that the
rest were lost. If you have had more before, this comes to aske how they
were received; and if you have had none, it comes to try how they should
have been received. It comes to you like a bashfull servant, who, though
he have an extreme desire to put himself in your presence, yet hath not
much to say when he is come: yet hath it as much to say as you can think;
because what degrees soever of honour, respect, and devotion you can
imagine or beleeve to be in any, this letter tells you that all those are
in me towards you. So that for this letter you are my Secretary; for your
worthiness, and your opinion that I have a just estimation of them [?it],
write it: so that it is as long, and as good, as you think it; and nothing
is left to me, but, as a witness, to subscribe the name of

  _Your most humble servant_
  J. D.

Though this letter be yours, it will not misbecome or disproportion it
that I mention your Noble brother, who is gone to _Cleave_, not to return
till towards Christmas, except the business deserve him not so long.


_To the Honourable L. the Lady_ Kingsmel _upon the death of her Husband_.


Those things which God dissolves at once, as he shall do the Sun, and
Moon, and those bodies at the last conflagration, he never intends to
reunite again; but in those things, which he takes in pieces, as he doth
man, and wife, in these divorces by death, and in single persons, by the
divorce of body and soul, God hath another purpose to make them up again.
That piece which he takes to himself, is presently cast in a mould, and in
an instant made fit for his use; for heaven is not a place of a
proficiency, but of present perfection. That piece which he leaves behinde
in this world, by the death of a part thereof, growes fitter and fitter
for him, by the good use of his corrections, and the intire conformity to
his will. Nothing disproportions us, nor makes us so uncapable of being
reunited to those whom we loved here, as murmuring, or not advancing the
goodness of him, who hath removed them from hence. We would wonder, to see
a man, who in a wood were left to his liberty, to fell what trees he
would, take onely the crooked, and leave the streightest trees; but that
man hath perchance a ship to build, and not a house, and so hath use of
that kinde of timber: let not us, who know that in Gods house there are
many Mansions, but yet have no modell, no designe of the forme of that
building, wonder at his taking in of his materialls, why he takes the
young, and leaves the old, or why the sickly overlive those that had
better health. We are not bound to think that souls departed, have
devested all affections towards them, whom they left here; but we are
bound to think, that for all their loves they would not be here again:
Then is the will of God done in Earth, as it is in Heaven, when we neither
pretermit his actions, nor resist them; neither pass them over in an
inconsideration, as though God had no hand in them, nor go about to take
them out of his hands, as though we could direct him to do them better. As
Gods Scriptures are his will, so his actions are his will; both are
Testaments, because they testifie his minde to us. It is not lawfull to
adde a scedule to either of his wills: as they do ill, who adde to his
written will, the Scriptures, a scedule of Ap[o]cryphall books, so do they
also, who to his other will, his manifested actions, adde Apocryphall
conditions, and a scedule of such limitations as these, If God would have
stayed thus long, or, If God would have proceeded in this or this manner,
I could have born it. To say that our afflictions are greater then we can
bear, is so near to despairing, as that the same words express both; for
when we consider _Caines_ words in that originall tongue in which God
spake, we cannot tell whether the words be, My punishment is greater then
can be born; or, My sin is greater then can be forgiven. But, Madame, you
who willingly sacrificed your self to God, in your obedience to him, in
your own sickness, cannot be doubted to dispute with him about any part of
you which he shall be pleased to require at your hands. The difference is
great in the loss of an arme, or a head; of a child, or a husband: but to
them, who are incorporated into Christ, their head, there can be no
beheading; upon you, who are a member of the spouse of Christ, the Church,
there can fall no widowhead, nor orphanage upon those children to whom God
is father. I have not another office by your husbands death, for I was
your Chaplaine before, in my daily prayers; but I shall inlarge that
office with other Collects then before, that God will continue to you,
that peace which you have ever had in him, and send you quiet, and
peaceable dispositions in all them with whom you shall have any thing to
do in your temporall estate and matters of this world. _Amen._

  _Your Ladiships very humble and
  thankfull servant in Christ
  Jesus_ J. Donne.

  At my poor house at S.
  _Pauls_. _26. Octob. 1624._


_To my honoured friend S{r}_ T. Lucey.


I make account that this writing of letters, when it is with any
seriousness, is a kind of extasie, and a departure and secession and
suspension of the soul, w{ch} doth then cõmunicate itself to two bodies:
And, as I would every day provide for my souls last convoy, though I know
not when I shall die, and perchance I shall never die, so for these
extasies in letters, I oftentimes deliver my self 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 lesse
reveale to me your progresses, and stations, and where I might crosse you
by letters, then 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 then your Countrey sports admit; but you may read it in
winter: And by that time I may more clearly express my self for those
things which have entred into me, concerning your soul: for as the
greatest advantage which mans 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 considerations when I walke after my slow and unperfect pace, I
begin to think that as litigious men tryed with suits admit any
arbitrement; and Princes travailed with long and wastfull 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 dogmaticall
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 Catechismes, which were admitted but as Physick in that
present distemper, or accepted in a lazie weariness, when men, so they
might have something to relie upon, and to excuse themselves from more
painfull 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 binde
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 Physick, 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 it rages
and consumes infinitly by heat of argument, except some of authority
interpose. This produced _Hippocrates_ his Aphorismes; and the world
slumbred or took breath in his resolution divers hundreds of years: And
then in _Galens_ 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 then 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 Physick could not be derived
from these beggerly and impotent properties, of the Elements, and that
therefore they were driven often to that miserable refuge of specifique
form, and of antipathy and sympathy, we see the world hath turned upon new
principles which are attributed to _Paracelsus_, but (indeed) too much to
his honour. Certainly it is also so in the Physick of our soul, Divinity,
for in the Primitive Church when amongst the Fathers there were so divers
opinions of the state of the soul, presently after this life, they easily
inclined to be content to do as much for them dead as when they were
alive, and so concurred in a charitable disposition to pray for them;
which manner of prayer then in use no Christian Church at this day, having
rereived better light, will allow of. So also when in the beginning of S.
_Augustines_ time Grace had been so much advanced that mans Nature was
scarce admitted to be so much as any means or instrument (not onely no
kinde of cause) of his own good works: And soon after in S. _Augustines_
time also mans free will (by fierce opposition and arguing against the
former error) was too much overvalued, and admitted into too near degrees
of fellowship with Grace; those times admitted a doctrine and form of
reconciliation, which though for reverence to the time, both the
Dominicans and Jesuits at this day in their great quarrell about Grace and
Free will would yet seem to maintaine, yet indifferent and dispassioned
men of that Church see there is no possibility in it, and therefore accuse
it of absurdity and almost of heresie. I think it falls out thus also in
the matter of the soul: for Christian Religion presuming a soul, and
intending principally her happiness in the life to come, hath been content
to accept any way which hath been obtruded, how this soul is begun in us.
Hence it is that whole Christian Churches arest themselves upon
propagation from parents; and other whole Christian Churches allow onely
infusion from God. In both which opinions there appear such infirmities
as it is time to look for a better: for whosoever will adhere to the way
of propagation can never evict necessarily and certainly a naturall
immortality in the soul, if the soul result out of matter, nor shall he
ever prove that all mankind hath any more then one soul: as certainly of
all beasts, if they receive such souls as they have from their parents,
every species can have but one soul. And they which follow the opinion of
infusion from God, and of a new creation, (which is now the more common
opinion), as they can very hardly defend the doctrin of original sin (the
soul is forced to take this infection, and comes not into the body of her
own disposition), so shall they never be able to prove that all those whom
we see in the shape of men have an immortall and reasonable soul, because
our parents are as able as any other species is to give us a soul of
growth and of sense, and to perform all vitall and animall functions, and
so without infusion of such a soul may produce a creature as wise and well
disposed as any horse or Elephant, of which degree many whom we see come
far short; nor hath God bound or declared himself that he will always
create a soul for every embryon, there is yet therefore no opinion in
Philisophy, nor Divinity, so well established as constrains us to beleeve,
both that the soul is immortall, and that every particular man hath such a
soul: which since out of the great mercy of our God we do constantly
beleeve, I am ashamed that we do not also know it by searching farther:
But as sometimes we had rather beleeve a Travellers lie then go to
disprove him, so men rather cleave to these ways then seek new: yet
because I have meditated therein, I will shortly acquaint you with what I
think; for I would not be in danger of that law of _Moses_, That if a man
dig a pit, and cover it not, he must recompense those which are damnified
by it: which is often interpreted of such as shake old opinions, and do
not establish new as certain but leave consciences in a worse danger then
they found them in. I beleeve that law of _Moses_ hath in it some mysterie
and appliablenesse; for by that law men are onely then bound to that
indemnity and compensation, if an Oxe or an Asse (that is, such as are of
a strong constitution and accustomed to labour) fall therein; but it is
not said so, if a Sheep or a Goat fall: no more are we, if men in a
sillinesse or wantonnesse will stumble or take a scandall, bound to
rectifie them at all times. And therefore because I justly presume you
strong and watchful enough, I make account that I am not obnoxious to that
law, since my meditations are neither too wide nor too deep for you,
except onely that my way of expressing them may be extended beyond your
patience and pardon, which I will therefore tempt no longer at this time.

  _Your very affectionate friend
  and servant and lover_
  I. Donne.

  From _Micham_, my
  close prison ever
  since I saw you,
  _9 Octob._


_To the Noblest Knight S{r}_ Edward Herbert _L. of_ Cherbury; _sent to him
with his Book_ Biathanatos.


I make accompt that this book hath enough performed that which it
undertook, both by argument and example. It shall therefore the lesse need
to be it self another example of the Doctrine. It shall not therefore kill
it self; that is, not bury it self; for if it should do so, those reasons,
by which that act should be defended or excused were also lost with it.
Since it is content to live, it cannot chuse a wholsomer aire then your
Library, where Authors of all complexions are presented. If any of them
grudge this book a room, and suspect it of new or dangerous doctrine, you
who know us all, can best moderate. To those reasons which I know your
love to me will make in my favour and discharge, you may adde this, that
though this doctrine hath not been taught nor defended by writers, yet
they, most of any sort of men in the world, have practised it.

  _Your very true and earnest freind
  and servant and lover_
  J. Donne.


_To S{r}_ Robert Carre _now Earle of_ Ankerum, _with my Book_ Biathanatos
_at my going into_ Germany.


I had need do somewhat towards you above my promises; How weak are my
performances, when even my promises are defective? I cannot promise, no
not in mine own hopes, equally to your merit towards me. But besides the
Poems, of which you took a promise, I send you another Book to which
there belongs this History. It was written by me many years since; and
because it is upon a misinterpretable subject, I have always gone so near
suppressing it, as that it is onely not burnt: no hand hath passed upon it
to copy it, nor many eyes to read it: onely to some particular friends in
both Universities, then when I writ it, I did communicate it: And I
remember, I had this answer, That certainly, there was a false thread in
it, but not easily found: Keep it, I pray, with the same jealousie; let
any that your discretion admits to the sight of it, know the date of it;
and that it is a Book written by _Jack Donne_, and not by D[r]. _Donne_:
Reserve it for me, if I live, and if I die, I only forbid it the Presse,
and the Fire: publish it not, but yet burn it not; and between those, do
what you will with it. Love me still, thus farre, for your own sake, that
when you withdraw your love from me, you will finde so many unworthinesses
in me, as you grow ashamed of having had so long, and so much, such a
thing as

  _Your poor servant in Chr. Jes._
  J. Donne.


_To the Countesse of_ Bedford.


Amongst many other dignities which this letter hath by being received and
seen by you, it is not the least, that it was prophesied of before it was
born: for your brother told you in his letter, that I had written: he did
me much honour both in advancing my truth so farre as to call a promise an
act already done; and to provide me a means of doing him a service in this
act, which is but doing right to my self: for by this performance of mine
own word, I have also justified that part of his Letter which concerned
me; and it had been a double guiltinesse in me, to have made him guilty
towards you. It makes no difference that this came not the same day, nor
hears the same date as his; for though in inheritances and worldly
possessions we consider the dates of Evidences, yet in Letters, by which
we deliver over our affections, and assurances of friendship, and the best
faculties of our souls, times and daies cannot have interest, nor be
considerable, because that which passes by them, is eternall, and out of
the measure of time. Because therefore it is the office of this Letter, to
convey my best wishes, and all the effects of a noble love unto you,
(which are the best fruits that so poor a soil, as my poor soul is, can
produce) you may be pleased to allow the Letter thus much of the souls
privilege, as to exempt it from straitnesse of hours, or any measure of
times, and so beleeve it came then. And for my part, I shall make it so
like my soul, that as that affection, of which it is the messenger, begun
in me without my knowing when, any more then I know when my soul began; so
it shall continue as long as that.

  _Your most affextionate friend and servant_
  J. D.


_To the right honourable the Countess of_ Montgomery.


Of my ability to doe your Ladiship service, any thing spoken may be an
embleme good enough; for as a word vanisheth, so doth any power in me to
serve you; things that are written are fitter testimonies, because they
remain and are permanent: in writing this Sermon which your Ladiship was
pleased to hear before, I confesse I satisfie an ambition of mine own, but
it is the ambition of obeying your commandment, not onely an ambition of
leaving my name in your memory, or in the your Cabinet: and yet, since I
am going out of the Kingdom, and perchance out of the world, (when God
shall have given my soul a place in heaven) it shall the lesse diminish
your Ladiship, if my poor name be preserved about you. I know what dead
carkasses things written are, in respect of things spoken. But in things
of this kinde, that soul that inanimates them, never departs from them:
The Spirit of God that dictates them in the speaker or writer, and is
present in his tongue or hand meets himself again (as we meet our selves
in a glass) in the eies and ears and hearts of the hearers and readers:
and that Spirit, which is ever the same to an equall devotion, makes a
writing and a speaking equall means to edification. In one circumstance,
my preaching and my writing this Sermon is too equall: that that your
Ladiship heard in a hoarse voyce then, you read in a course hand now: but
in thankfulnesse I shall lift up my hands as clean as my infirmities can
keep them, and a voyce as clear as his spirit shall be pleased to tune in
my prayers for your Ladyship in all places of the world, which shall
either sustain or bury

  _Your Ladiships humble servant
  in Christ Iesus_
  J. D.


_To Sir_ H. R. [_To Sir_ H. G.]

If a whole year be but _Annus ab Annulo_, because it returns into it self,
what _Annululus_ shall be diminutive enough, to express our weekly
revolutions? In chaines the least linkes have most curiosity, but that can
be no emblem of us: but they have also the most strength, and that may.
The first sphere onely which is resisted by nothing, absolves his course
every day; and so doth true friendship well placed, often iterate in act
or purpose, the same offices. But as the lower spheres, subject to the
violence of that, and yet naturally encouraged to a reluctation against
it, have therefore many distractions, and eccentricities, and some
trepidations, and so return but lamely, and lately to the same place, and
office: so that friendship which is not moved primarily by the proper
intelligence, discretion, and about the naturell center, vertue, doth
perchance sometimes, some things, somewhat like true friendship; but hath
many deviations, which are strayings into new loves, (not of other men;
for that is proper to true wise friendship, which is not a marr[y]ing; but
of other things) and hath such trepidations as keep it from shewing it
self, where great persons do not love; and it returns to the true first
station and place of friendship planetarily, which is uncertainly and
seldome. I have ever seen in _London_ and our Court, as some colours, and
habits, and continuances, and motions, and phrases, and accents, and
songs, so friends in fashion and in season: and I have seen them as
sodainly abandoned altogether, though I see no change in them, nor know
more why they were left, then why they were chosen. To do things by
example, and upon confidence of anothers judgment may be some kinde of a
second wisdome; but it is but writing by a copy: or indeed it is the
hardest of all, and the issue of the first wisdome, for I cannot know that
this example should be followed, except I knew that it is good, and so I
judge my Judge. Our assent therefore, and arrest, must be upon things, not
persons. And when we are sure we are in the right way, for great persons,
we may be glad of their company, if they go our way; we may for them
change our place, but not our end, nor our way, if there be but one, us
[as] in Religion. In persevering in it, it concerns as [us] much what our
companions be, but very much what our friends. In which I know I speak not
dangerously nor mis-appliably to you, as though I averted you from any of
those friends, who are of other impressions then you or I in some great
circumstances of Religion. You know I never fettered nor imprisoned the
word Religion; not straightning it Frierly, _ad Religiones factitias_, (as
the _Romans_ call well their orders of Religion) nor immuring it in a
_Rome_, or a _Wittemberg_, or a _Geneva_; they are all virtuall beams of
one Sun, and wheresoever they finde clay hearts, they harden them, and
moulder them into dust; and they entender and mollifie waxen. They are not
so contrary as the North and South Poles; and that [?] they are
connaturall pieces of one circle. Religion is Christianity, which being
too spirituall to be seen by us, doth therefore take an apparent body of
good life and works, so salvation requires an honest Christian. These are
the two Elements, and he which elemented from these, hath the complexion
of a good man, and a fit friend. The diseases are, too much intention into
indiscreet zeal, and too much remisnesse and negligence by giving
scandall: for our condition and state in this, is as infirm as in our
bodies; where physitians consider only two degrees; sicknesse, and
neutrality; for there is no health in us. This, Sir, I use to say to you,
rather to have so good a witnesse and corrector of my meditations, then to
advise; and yet to do that too, since it is pardonable in a friend: Not to
slack you towards those friends which are religious in other clothes then
we; (for _Amici vitia si feras facis tua_, is true of such faults) but to
keep you awake against such as the place where you must live will often
obtrude, which are not onely naked, without any fashion of such garments,
but have neither the body of Religion, which is morall honestly, and
sociable faithfulness, nor the soul, Christianity. I know not how this
paper scaped last week which I send now; I was so sure that I enwrapped it
then, that I should be so still, but that I had but one copy; forgive it
as you use to do. From _Micham_ in as much haste, and with as ill Pen and
Inke, as the letter can accuse me of; but with the last and the next weeks
heart and affection.

  _Yours very truely and affectionately_
  J. Donne.


_To Sir_ H. G.


This letter hath more merit, then one of more diligence, for I wrote it in
my bed, and with much pain. I have occasion to sit late some nights in my
study, (which your books make a prety library) and now I finde that that
room hath a wholesome emblematique use: for having under it a vault, I
make that promise me, that I shall die reading, since my book and a grave
are so near. But it hath another unwholesomenesse, that by raw vapors
rising from thence, (for I can impute it to nothing else) I have
contracted a sicknesse which I cannot name nor describe. For it hath so
much of a continuall Cramp, that it wrests the sinews, so much of a
Tetane, that it withdraws and puls the mouth, and so much of the Gout,
(which they whose counsell I use, say it is) that it is not like to be
cured, though I am too hasty in three days to pronounce it. If it be the
Gout, I am miserable; for that affects dangerous parts, as my neck and
brest, and (I think fearfully) my stomach, but it will not kill me yet; I
shall be in this world, like a porter in a great house, ever nearest the
door, but seldomest abroad: I shall have many things to make me weary, and
yet not get leave to be gone. If I go, I will provide by my best means
that you suffer not for me, in your bonds. The estate which I should leave
behinde me of any estimation, is my poor fame, in the memory of my
friends, and therefore I would be curious of it, and provide that they
repent not to have loved me. 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 then supplication, but all Churches have one forme of supplication,
by that name. Amongst ancient annals (I mean some 800 years) I have met
two Letanies 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 Lay man, and a private, impute it as a
fault, to take such divine and publique names, to his own little thoughts.
The first of these 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 Letanies poor and barbarous enough; yet Pope _Nicolas_ the 5, valued
their devotion so much, that he canonized both their Poems, and commanded
them for publike service in their Churches: mine is for lesser Chappels,
which are my friends, and though a copy of it were due to you, now, yet I
am so unable to serve my self with writing it for you at this time, (being
some 30 staves of 9 lines) that I must intreat 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 my self, 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 then a rectified devotion ought
to doe. The day before I lay down, I was at _London_ where I delivered
your Letter for S{r} _Ed. 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 lesse then 300 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 beggers as my indisposition is, end themselves soon,
and the patient as soon) you and I shal speak together of that, before it
be too late to serve you in that commandment. At this time I onely assure
you, that I have not appointed it upon any person, nor ever purposed to
print it: which later perchance you thought, and grounded your request
thereupon. A Gent. that visited me yesterday told me that our Church hath
lost M{r} _Hugh Broughton_, who is gone to the Roman side. I have known
before, that _Serarius_ the Jesuit was an instrument from Cardinall
_Baronius_ to draw him to _Rome_, to accept a stipend, onely to serve the
Christian Churches in controversies with the Jews, without indangering
himself to change of his perswasion in particular deductions between these
Christian Churches, or being enquired of, or tempted thereunto. And I
hope he is no otherwise departed from us. If he be, we shall not escape
scandall 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
Souldier fit for that great battell; and to cherish onely those single
Duellisms, between _Rome_ and _England_, or that more single, and almost
self-homicide, between the unconformed Ministers, and Bishops. I writ 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 & have, his comfort of sadder meditations;
I doe not condemn in my self, that I have given my wit such evaporations,
as those, if they be free from prophaneness, or obscene provocations.
S{r}, 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 eie cannot follow mine hand: I receive you therefore into my
prayers, with mine own weary soul, and commend my self 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 B. Saviour exercising his Justice upon my two worldly
parts, my fortune, and body, reserves all his mercy for that which best
tasts it, and most needs it, my soul. I professe to you truly, that my
lothnesse to give over now, seems to my self an ill sign, that I shall
write no more.

  _Your poor friend, and Gods poor patient_,
  Jo. Donne.


_To my worthy and honoured friend M{r} George_ Garet.


I am sorry, if your care of me have made you importune to any body 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
onely vertue) thankfull: so desperate fortunes as mine may well make
friends loth to doe curtesies, because an inability in deserving or
requiring takes from them the honour of having done a curtesie, and leaves
it but the poor name of an alms; and alms may be given in easier
proportions, and more meritoriously. But S{r}, by what name or weight
soever you esteem this kindnesse which you have done me, I value it so, as
might alone perswade 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
  M{r}_ Roope.


_To M{r}_ George Garet.


I have not received that Letter, which by this, I perceive you sent to
_London_; if there were anything in that, by which I might have taken
occasion to have done you service before this time, I have a double reason
of grief for the want of it. I came from thence upon _Thursday_, where I
left Sir _Tho. Roe_ so indulgent to his sorrow, as it had been an injury
to have interrupted it with my unusefull company. I have done nothing of
that kinde as your Letter intimates, in the memory of that good
Gentlewoman; if I had, I should not finde any better use of it, then to
put it into your hands. You teach me what I owe her memory; and if I pay
that debt so, you have a part and interest in it, by doing me the honour
of remembring it: and therefore it must come quickly to you. I hope not
for return from Court, till I come thither; which if I can be master of my
self, or servant to my self, which I think is all one, I hope to do some
ten daies hence, making it my way to the _Bathe_. If you find any there
that have not forgot my name, continue me in their favour, and hold in
your self a firm assurance that I am

  _Your affectionate servant_
  J. Donne.


_To M{rs}_ Martha Garet.


Though there be much merit, in the favour your brother hath done me in a
visit, yet that which doth enrich and perfect it, is, that he brought you
with him; which he doth, as well by letting me see how you do, as by
giving me occasions, and leave to talk with you by this Letter: if you
have any servant, which wishes you better then I, it must be because he is
able to put his wishes into a better frame, and expresse them better, and
understand proportion, and greatnesse better then I. I am willing to
confesse my impotencie; which is, that I know no wish good enough for you;
if any doe, my advantage is, that I can exceed his, by adding mine to it.
You must not think that I begin to think thus, when you begin to hear it,
by a Letter; As sometimes by the changing of the winde, you begin to hear
a Trumpet, which sounded long before you heard it; so are these thoughts
of you familiar and ordinary in me, though they have seldome the help of
this conveyance to your knowledge: I am loth to leave; for as long as in
any fashion, I can have your brother and you here, you make my house a
kinde of Dorvey [Dorney]; but since I cannot stay you here, I will come
thither to you; which I do, by wrapping up in this paper, the heart of

  _Your most affectionate servant_
  J. Donne.


_To Sir_ Thomas Roe.


It is an ease to your friends abroad, that you are more a man of businesse
then heretofore; for now it were an injury to trouble you with a busie
Letter. But by the same reason I were inexcusable if I should not write at
all, since the lesse, the more acceptable; therefore, Sir, though I have
no more to say, but to renew the obligations I have towards you, and to
continue my place in your love, I would not forbear to tell you so. If I
shall also tell you, that when this place affords any thing worth your
hearing, I will be your relator, I think I take so long a day, as you
would forget the debt, it appears yet to be so barren. Howsoever with
every commodity, I shall say something, though it be but a descant upon
this plain song, that I am

  _Your affectionate servant_
  J. Donne.


_To all my friends: Sir_ H. Goodere.


I am not weary of writing; it is the course but durable garment of my
love; but I am weary of wanting you. I have a minde like those bodies,
which have hot Livers, and cold stomachs; or such a distemper as travelled
me at _Paris_; a Fever, and dysentery: in which that which is physick to
one infirmity, nourishes the other. So I abhor nothing more then sadnesse,
except the ordinary remedy, change of company. I can allow my self to be
_Animal sociale_, appliable to my company, but not _gregale_, to herd my
self in every troup. It is not perfectly true which a very subtil, yet
very deep wit _Averroes_ says, that all mankinde hath but one soul, which
informes and rules us all, as one Intelligence doth the firmament and all
the Starres in it; as though a particular body were too little an organ
for a soul to play upon. And it is as imperfect which is taught by that
religion w{ch} is most accommodate to sense (I dare not say to reason
(though it have appearance of that too) because none may doubt but that
that religion is certainly best, which is reasonablest) That all mankinde
hath one protecting Angel; all Christians one other, all English one
other, all of one Corporation and every civill coagulation or society one
other; and every man one other. Though both these opinions expresse a
truth; which is, that mankinde hath very stronge bounds to cohabit and
concurre in other then mountains and hills during his life. First, common,
and mutuall necessity of one another; and therefore naturally in our
defence and subventions we first flie to our selves; next, to that which
is likest, other men. Then, naturall and inborn charity, beginning at
home, which perswades us to give, that we may receive: And legall charity,
which makes us also forgive. Then an ingraffing in one another, and
growing together by a custome of society: and last of all, strict
friendship, in which band men were so presumed to be coupled, that our
Confessor King had a law, that if a man be killed, the murderer shall pay
a sum _felago suo_, which the interpreters call, _fide ligato, et comite
vitæ_. All these bands I willingly receive, for no man is lesse of himself
then I: nor any man enough of himself. To be so, is all one with
omnipotence. And it is well marked, that in the holy Book, wheresoever
they have rendered Almighty, the word is Self-sufficient. I think
sometimes that the having a family should remove me farre from the curse
of _Væ soli_. But in so strict obligation of Parent, or Husband, or
Master, (and perchance it is so in the last degree of friendship) where
all are made one, I am not the lesse alone, for being in the midst of
them. Therefore this _oleum lætitiæ_, this balme, of our lives, this
alacrity which dignifies even our service to God, this gallant enemy of
dejection and sadnesse, (for which and wickednesse the Italian allows but
one word, _Triste_: And in full condemnation whereof it was prophesied of
our blessed Saviour, _Non erit tristis_, in his conversation) must be
sought and preserved diligently. And since it grows without us, we must be
sure to gather it from the right tree. They which place this alacrity only
in a good conscience, deal somewhat too roundly with us, for when we aske
the way, they shew us the town afar off: Will a Physitian consulted for
health and strength, bid you have good sinews and equall temper? It is
true, that this conscience is the resultance of all other particular
actions; it is our triumph and banquet in the haven; but I would come
towards that also, (as Mariners say) with a merry winde. Our nature is
Meteorique, we respect (because we partake so) both earth and heaven, for
as our bodies glorified shall be capable of spirituall joy, so our souls
demerged into those bodies, are allowed to partake earthly pleasure. Our
soul is not sent hither, only to go back again: we have some errand to do
here: nor is it sent into prison, because it comes innocent: and he which
sent it, is just. As we may not kill our selves, so we may not bury our
selves: which is done or endangered in a dull Monastique sadnesse, which
is so much worse then jolity (for upon that word I durst--------And
certainly despair is infinitely worse, then presumption: both because this
is an excesse of love, that of fear; and because this is up, that down the
hill; easier, and more stumbling. Heaven is expressed by singing, hell by
weeping. And though our blessed Saviour be never noted to have laughed,
yet his continuance [countenance] is said ever to be smiling. And that
even moderate mirth of heart, and face, and [is] all I wish to my self;
and perswade you to keep. This alacrity is not had by a general charity
and equanimity to all mankinde, for that is to seek fruit in a
wildernesse: nor from a singular friend, for that is to ketch it out of
your own pocket: but the various and abundant grace of it, is good
company. In which no rank, no number, no quality, but ill, and such a
degree of that as may corrupt and poyson the good, is exempt. For in
nearer then them, your friend, and somewhat nearer then he, in your self
you must allow some inordinatenesse of affections and passions. For it is
not true that they are not natural, but stormes and tempests of our bloud
and humours: for they are naturall, but sickly. And as the Indian priests
expressed an excellent charity, by building Hospitalls and providing
chirurgery for birds and beasts lamed by mischance, or age, or labour: so
must we, not cut off, but cure these affections, which are the bestiall


_To Sir_ H. Goodere.


Every tuesday I make account that I turn a great hour-glass, and consider
that a weeks life is run out since I writ. But if I aske my self what I
have done in the last watch, or would do in the next, I can say nothing;
if I say that I have passed it without hurting any, so may the Spider in
my window. The primitive Monkes were excusable in their retirings and
enclosures of themselves: for even of them every one cultivated his own
garden and orchard, that is, his soul and body, by meditation, and
manufactures; and they ought the world no more since they consumed none of
her sweetnesse, nor begot others to burden her. But for me, if I were able
to husband all my time so thriftily, as not onely not to wound my soul in
any minute by actuall sinne, but not to rob and cousen her by giving any
part to pleasure or businesse, but bestow it all upon her in meditation,
yet even in that I should wound her more, and contract another
guiltinesse: As the Eagle were very unnaturall if because she is able to
do it, she should pearch a whole day upon a tree, staring in
contemplation of the majestie and glory of the Sun, and let her young
Eglets starve in the nest. Two of the most precious things which God hath
afforded us here, for the agony and exercise of our sense and spirit,
which are a thirst and inhiation after the next life, and a frequency of
prayer and meditation in this, are often envenomed, and putrefied, and
stray into a corrupt disease: for as God doth thus occasion, and
positively concurre to evill, that when a man is purposed to do a great
sin, God infuses some good thoughts which make him choose a lesse sin, or
leave out some circumstance which aggravated that; so the devill doth not
only suffer but provoke us to some things naturally good, upon condition
that we shall omit some other more necessary and more obligatory. And this
is his greatest subtilty; because herein we have the deceitfull comfort of
having done well, and can very hardly spie our errour because it is but an
insensible omission, and no accusing act. With the first of these I have
often suspected my self to be overtaken; which is, with a desire of the
next life: which though I know it is not merely out of a wearinesse of
this, because I had the same desires when I went with the tyde, and
enjoyed fairer hopes then now: yet I doubt worldly encombrances have
encreased it. I would not that death should take me asleep. I would not
have him meerly seise me, and onely declare me to be dead, but win me, and
overcome me. When I must shipwrack, I would do it in a Sea, where mine
impotencie might have some excuse; not in a sullen weedy lake, where I
could not have so much as exercise for my swimming. Therefore I would fain
do something; but that I cannot tell what, is no wonder. For to chuse, is
to do: but to be no part of any body, is to be nothing. At most, the
greatest persons, are but great wens, and excrescences; men of wit and
delightfull conversation, but as moalls for ornament, except they be so
incorporated into the body of the world, that they contribute something to
the sustentation of the whole. This I made account that I begun early,
when I understood the study of our laws: but was diverted by the worst
voluptuousnes, which is an Hydroptique immoderate desire of humane
learning and languages: beautifull ornaments to great fortunes; but mine
needed an occupation, and a course which I thought I entred well into,
when I submitted my self to such a service, as I thought might imploy[ed]
those poor advantages, which I had. And there I stumbled too, yet I would
try again: for to this hour I am nothing, or so little, that I am scarce
subject and argument good enough for one of mine own letters: yet I fear,
that doth not ever proceed from a good root, that I am so well content to
be lesse, that is dead. You, Sir, are farre enough from these descents,
your vertue keeps you secure, and your naturall disposition to mirth will
preserve you; but lose none of these holds, a slip is often as dangerous
as a bruise, and though you cannot fall to my lownesse, yet in a much
lesse distraction you may meet my sadnesse, for he is no safer which falls
from an high tower into the leads, then he which falls from thence to the
ground: make therefore to your self some mark, and go towards it
alegrement. Though I be in such a planetary and erratique fortune, that I
can do nothing constantly, yet you may finde some constancy in my constant
advising you to it.

  _Your hearty true friend_
  J. Donne.

_I came this evening from M._ Jones _his house in_ Essex, _where M._
Martin _hath been, and left a relation of Captain_ Whitcocks [Whitelock's]
_death, perchance it is no news to you, but it was to me; without doubt
want broke him; for when M._ Hollands _company by reason of the plague
broke, the Captain sought to be at M{ris}_ Jones _house, who on her
husbands absence declining it, he went in the night, his boy carrying his
cloakbag, on foot to the Lord of_ Sussex, _who going next day to hunt, the
Captain not then sick, told him he would see him no more. A Chaplain came
up to him, to whom he delivered an account of his understanding, and I
hope, of his beliefe, and soon after dyed; and my Lord hath buryed him
with his own Ancestors. Perchance his life needed a longer sicknesse, but
a man may go faster and safer, when he enjoys that day light of a clear
and sound understanding, then in the night or twilight of an ague or other
disease. And the grace of Almighty God doth every thing suddenly and
hastily, but depart from us, it enlightens us, warms us, heats us,
ravishes us, at once. Such a medicin, I fear, his inconsideration needed;
and I hope as confidently that he had it. As our soul is infused when it
is created, and created when it is infused, so at her going out Gods
mercy is had by asking, and that is asked by having. Lest your_ Polesworth
_carrier should cousen me, I send my man with this letter early to_
London, _whither this Tuesday all the Court come to a Christening at_
Arondell _house, and stay in town so that I will sup with the good Lady,
and write again to-morrow to you, if any thing be occasioned there, which
concerns you, and I will tell her so; next day they are to return to_
Hampton, _and upon friday the King to_ Royston.


_To Sir_ H. Goodere.


If this which I send you inclosed give me right intelligence, I present
you a way by which you may redeem all your former wastes, and recompense
your ill fortunes, in having sometimes apprehended unsuccessfull suits,
and (that which I presume you affect most) ease your self from all future
inquisition of widowes or such businesses as aske so over industrious a
pursuit, as devest a man from his best happinesse of enjoying himself. I
give you (I think) the first knowledge, of two millions confiscated to the
Crown of England: of which I dare assure myself the coffers have yet
touched none; nor have the Commissioners for suits any thing to oppose
against a suit founded upon this confiscation, though they hold never so
strictly to their instructions. After you have served your self with a
proportion, I pray make a petition in my name for as much as you think may
be given me for my book out of this; for, but out of this, I have no
imagination. And for a token of my desire to serve him, present M.
_Fowler_ with 3 or 4000 _li._ of this since he was so resolved never to
leave his place, without a suit of that value. I wish your cousen in the
town, better provided; but if he be not, here is enough for him. And since
I am ever an affectionate servant to that journey, acquaint M. _Martin_
from me, how easie it will be to get a good part of this for _Virginia_.
Upon the least petition that M. _Brook_ can present he may make himself
whole again, of all which the Kings servants M. _Lepton_ and master
_Waterouse_, have endammaged him. Give him leave to offer to M. _Hakevill_
enough to please himself, for his _Aurum Reginæ_. And if M. _Gherard_ have
no present hopefull designe upon a worthy Widow, let him have so much of
this as will provide him that house and coach which he promised to lend
me at my return. If M. _Inago Jones_ be not satisfied for his last Maske
(because I hear say it cannot come to much) here is enough to be had: This
is but a copy, but if Sir _Ro. Cotton_ have the originall he will not deny
it you; if he hath it not, no body else hath it, nor can prevent you;
husband it well, which you may easily doe, because I assure my self none
of the children nor friends of the party condemned will crosse you or
importune the King for any part. If I get no more by it, yet it hath made
me a Letter. And Sir (to depart from this Mine) in what part of my Letters
soever you find the remembrance of my humble service to my Lord of
_Bedford_, I beseech you ever think them intended for the first, and in
that ranke present them. I have yet received but one Letter from you which
was of the 10 of _December_ by M. _Pory_, but you see that as long as
there is one egge left in the nest, I never leave laying, nor should
although you had sent none since; all at last will not amount to so good a
testimony as I would fain give how much I am

  _Your affectionate servant and lover_,
  J. Donne.

_Sir, I write this Letter in no very great degree of a convalescence from
such storms of a stomach colick as kept me in a continuall vomiting, so
that I know not what I should have been able to doe to dispatch this
winde, but that an honest fever came and was my physick: I tell you of it
onely lest some report should make it worse, for me thinks that they who
love to adde to news should think it a master-piece to be able to say no
worse of any ill fortune of mine then it deserves, since commonly it
deserves worse then they can say, but they did not, and I am reprieved. I
finde dying to be like those facts which denying makes felony: when a
sicknesse examines us, and we confess that we are willing to die, we
cannot, but those who are----incurre the penalty: and I may die yet, if
talking idly be an ill sign. God be with you._


_To the same._


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 sicknesse hath given me leave
to come to my _London_-prison. I made no doubt but my entrance-pain (for
it was so rather then a sicknesse, but that my sadnesse putrefied and
corrupted it to that name) affected you also; for nearer Contracts then
generall Christianity, had made us so much towards one [another], that one
part cannot escape the distemper of the other. I was therefore very
carefull, as well to slack any sorrow which my danger might occasion in
you; as to 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_. S{r}, though my fortune hath made
me such as I am, rather a sicknesse and disease of the world then any part
of it, yet I esteemed my self 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 noblenesse and truth, as
your last Letter is to work upon, that might cure a greater indisposition
then 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 La. _Bedford_, and therefore have nothing to
say which should make me grudge this straitnesse of time. He tels 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 I writing in my dungeon of _Michim_ without dating have
made the Chronologie 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 daies. I have received in a narrow compasse three
of yours, one with the Catalogue of your Books, another I found here left
last _Saterday_ by your man, and this which he brought me this morning.
Sir, I dare sit no longer in my wastcoat, nor have any thing 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 repairing it, and therefore here ask
leave to kisse your hands, and bid you good morrow and farewell.

  _Your very true friend and servant_
  J. Donne.


_To S{r}_ H. G.


It should be no interruption to your pleasures, to hear me often say that
I love you, and that you are as much my meditation as my self: I often
compare not you and me, but the sphear in which your resolutions are, and
my wheel; both I hope concentrique to God: for methinks the new Astronomie
is thus appliable well, that we which are a little earth, should rather
move towards God, then that he which is fulfilling, and can come no
whither, should move towards us. To your life full of variety, nothing is
old, nor new to mine; and as to that life, all stickings and hesitations
seem stupid and stony, so to this, all fluid slipperinesses, and
transitory migrations seem giddie and featherie. In that life one is ever
in the porch or postern, going in or out, never within his house himself:
It is a garment made of remnants, a life raveld out into ends, a line
discontinued, and a number of small wretched points, uselesse, because
they concurre not: A life built of past and future, not proposing any
constant present; they have more pleasures then we, but not more pleasure;
they joy oftner, we longer; and no man but of so much understanding as may
deliver him from being a fool, would change with a mad-man, which had a
better proportion of wit in his often _Lucidis_. You know, they which
dwell farthest from the Sun, if in any convenient distance, have longer
daies, better appetites, better digestion, better growth, and longer life:
And all these advantages have their mindes who are well removed from the
scorchings, and dazlings, and exhalings of the worlds 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
stupefying, am not in darknesse, 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
barbarousnesse and insipid dulnesse of the Country; onely the emploiment,
and that upon which you cast and bestow your pleasure, businesse, or
books, gives it the tincture, and beauty. But truly wheresoever we are, if
we can but tell our selves 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 our selves: and if we be frozen, and contracted
with lower and dark fortunes, we have within us a torch, a soul, lighter
and warmer then any without: we are therefore our own umbrella's, 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 Countesse. It is not my
use nor duty to doe 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 writ to her La{p} for the verses she shewed in the garden, which I
did not onely to extort them, nor onely to keep my promise of writing, for
that I had done in the other Letter, and perchance she hath forgotten the
promise; nor onely because I think my Letters just good enough for a
progresse, but because I would write apace to her, whilest it is possible
to expresse that which I yet know of her, for by this growth I see how
soon she will be ineffable.



Though my friendship be good for nothing else, it may give you the profit
of a tentation, or of an affliction: It may excuse your patience; and
though it cannot allure, it shall importune you. Though I know you have
many worthy friends of all rankes, yet I adde something, since I which am
of none, would fain be your friend too. There is some of the honour and
some of the degrees of a Creation, to make a friendship of nothing. Yet,
not to annihilate my self utterly (for though it seem humblenesse, yet it
is a work of as much almightinesse, to bring a thing to nothing, as from
nothing) though I be not of the best stuffe for friendship, which men of
warm and durable fortunes only are, I cannot say, that I am not of the
best fashion, if truth and honesty be that; which I must ever exercise,
towards you, because I learned it of you: for the conversation with worthy
men, and of good example, though it sow not vertue in us, yet produceth
and ripeneth it. Your mans haste, and mine to _Micham_ cuts off this
Letter here, yet, as in littell paterns torn from a whole piece, this may
tell you what all I am. Though by taking me before my day (which I
accounted Tuesday) I make short payment of this duty of Letters, yet I
have a little comfort in this, that you see me hereby, willing to pay
those debts which I can, before my time.

  _Your affectionate friend_
  J. Donne.

  _First Saturday in_
  March. 1607.

_You forget to send me the Apology; and many times, I think it an injury
to remember one of a promise, lest it confesse a distrust. But of the
book, by occasion of reading the Deans answer to it, I have sometimes some


_To the Countesse 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 adde these to your other papers. I have yet
adventured so near as to make a petition for verse, it is for those your
Ladiship did me the honour to see in _Twicknam_ garden, except you repent
your making; and having mended your judgement by thinking worse, that is,
better, because juster, of their subject. They must needs be an excellent
exercise of your wit, which speaks so well of so ill: I humbly beg them of
your Ladiship, with two such promises, as to any other of your
compositions were threatenings: that I will not shew them, and that I will
not beleeve them; and nothing should be so used that comes from your brain
or heart. If I should confesse a fault in the boldnesse of asking them, or
make a faulte by doing it in a longer Letter, your Ladiship might use
your style and old fashion of the Court towards me, and pay me with a
Pardon. Here therefore I humbly kisse your Ladiships fair learned hands,
and wish you good wishes and speedy grants.

  _Your Ladiships servant_
  J. Donne.


_To the Honourable Knight Sir_ H. Goodere.

Because things be conserved by the same means, which established them, I
nurse that friendship by Letters, which you begot so: though you have
since strengthened it by more solid aliment and real offices. In these
Letters from the Country there is this merit, that I do otherwise
unwillingly turn mine eye or thoughts from my books, companions in whom
there is no falshood nor forwardnesse: which words, I am glad to observe
that the holy Authours often joyne as expressers and relatives to one
another, because else out of a naturall descent to that unworthy fault of
frowardnesse, furthered with that incommodity of a little thinne house; I
should have mistaken it to be a small thing, which now I see equalled
with the worst. If you have laid my papers and books by, I pray let this
messenger have them, I have determined upon them. If you have not, be
content to do it, in the next three or four days. So, Sir, I kisse your
hands; and deliver to you an intire and clear heart; which shall ever when
I am with you be in my face and tongue, and when I am from you, in my
Letters, for I will never draw Curtain between you and it.

  _Yours very affectionately_
  J. Donne.

  _From your house at_
  Micham _friday morning_.

_When you are sometimes at M._ Sackvills, _I pray aske if he have this
book_, Baldvinus de officio pii hominis in controversiis; _it was written
at the conference at_ Poissy, _where_ Beza _was, and he answered it; I
long for it_.


_To Sir_ H. G.


I hope you are now well come to _London_, and well, and well comforted in
your Fathers health and love, and well contented that we ask you how you
doe, and tell you how we are, which yet I cannot of my self; If I knew
that I were ill, I were well; for we consist of three parts, a Soul, and
Body, and Minde: which I call those thoughts and affections and passions,
which neither soul nor body hath alone, but have been begotten by their
communication, as Musique results out of our breath and a Cornet. And of
all these the diseases are cures, if they be known. Of our souls
sicknesses, which are sinnes, the knowledge is, to acknowledge, and that
is her Physique, in which we are not dieted by drams and scruples, for we
cannot take too much. Of our bodies infirmities, though our knowledge be
partly _ab extrinseco_, from the opinion of the Physitian, and that the
subject and matter be flexible, and various; yet their rules are certain,
and if the matter be rightly applyed to the rule, our knowledge thereof is
also certain. But of the diseases of the minde, there is no _Criterium_,
no Canon, no rule; for, our own taste and apprehension and interpretation
should be the Judge, and that is the disease it self. Therefore sometimes
when I finde my self transported with jollity, and love of company, I hang
Leads at my heels; and reduce to my thoughts my fortunes, my years, the
duties of a man, of a friend, of a husband, of a Father, and all the
incumbencies of a family: when sadnesse dejects me, either I countermine
it with another sadnesse, or I kindle squibs about me again, and flie into
sportfulnesse and company: and I finde ever after all, that I am like an
exorcist, which had long laboured about one, which at last appears to have
the Mother, that I still mistake my disease. And I still vex my self with
this, because if I know it not, no body can know it. And I comfort my
self, because I see dispassioned men are subject to the like ignorances.
For divers mindes out of the same thing often draw contrary conclusions,
as _Augustine_ thought devout _Anthony_ to be therefore full of the holy
Ghost, because not being able to read, he could say the whole Bible, and
interpret it; and _Thyreus_ the Jesuit for the same reason doth thinke all
the Anabaptists to be possessed. And as often out of contrary things men
draw one conclusion: as to the _Roman_ Church, magnificence and splendor
hath ever been an argument of Gods favour, and poverty & affliction, to
the _Greek_. Out of this variety of mindes it proceeds, that though all
our souls would goe to one end, Heaven, and all our bodies must go to one
end, the earth: yet our third part the minde, which is our naturall guide
here, chooses to every man a severall way: scarce any man likes what
another doth, nor advisedly, that which himself. But Sir, I am beyond my
purpose; I meant to write a Letter, and I am fallen into a discourse, and
I do not only take you from some businesse, but I make you a new businesse
by drawing you into these meditations. In which yet let my opennesse be an
argument of such love as I would fain expresse in some worthier fashion.


_To Sir_ G. F.


I writ to you once this week before; yet I write again, both because it
seems a kinde of resisting of grace, to omit any commodity of sending into
_England_, and because any Pacquet from me into _England_ should go, not
only without just fraight, but without ballast, if it had not a letter to
you. In Letters that I received from Sir H. _Wotton_ yesterday from
_Amyens_, I had one of the 8 of _March_ from you, and with it one from
M{rs} _Danterey_, of the 28 of _January_: which is a strange
disproportion. But, Sir, if our Letters come not in due order, and so make
not a certain and concurrent chain, yet if they come as Atomes, and so
meet at last, by any crooked, and casuall application, they make up, and
they nourish bodies of friendship; and in that fashion, I mean one way or
other, first or last, I hope all the Letters which have been addressed to
us by one another, are safely arrived, except perchance that pacquet by
the Cook be not, of which before this time you are cleare; for I received
(as I told you) a Letter by M. _Nat. Rich_, and if you sent none by him,
then it was that Letter, which the Cook tells you he delivered to M.
_Rich_; which, with all my criticismes, I cannot reconcile; because in
your last Letter, I find mention of things formerly written, which I have
not found. However, I am yet in the same perplexity, which I mentioned
before; which is, that I have received no syllable, neither from her self,
nor by any other, how my wife hath passed her danger, nor do I know
whether I be increased by a childe, or diminished by the losse of a wife.
I hear from _England_ of many censures of my book, of M{ris} _Drury_; if
any of those censures do but pardon me my descent in Printing any thing in
verse, (which if they do, they are more charitable then my self; for I do
not pardon my self, but confesse that I did it against my conscience, that
is, against my own opinion, that I should not have done so) I doubt not
but they will soon give over that other part of that indictment, which is
that I have said so much; for no body can imagine, that I who never saw
her, could have any other purpose in that, then that when I had received
so very good testimony of her worthinesse, and was gone down to print
verses, it became me to say, not what I was sure was just truth, but the
best that I could conceive; for that had been a new weaknesse in me, to
have praised any body in printed verses, that had not been capable of the
best praise that I could give. Presently after Easter we shall (I think)
go to _Frankford_ to be there at the election, where we shall meet Sir _H.
Wotton_ and Sir _Ro. Rich_, and after that we are determined to passe some
time, in the Palatinate. I go thither with a great deale of devotion for
me thinkes it is a new kinde of piety, that as Pilgrims went heretofore to
places which had been holy and happy, so I go to a place now, which shall
be so, and more, by the presence of the worthiest Princess of the world,
if that marriage proceed. I have no greater errand to the place then that
at my return into _England_, I may be fitter to stand in her presence, and
that after I have seen a rich and abundant Countrey, in his best seasons,
I may see that Sun which shall always keep it in that height. Howsoever we
stray, if you have leasure to write at any time, adventure by no other
way, then M. _Bruer_ [_Brewer_], at the Queens Armes, a Mercer, in
_Cheapside_. I shall omit no opportunity, of which I doubt not to finde
more then one before we go from _Paris_. Therefore give me leave to end
this, in which if you did not finde the remembrance of my humblest
services to my Lady _Bedford_, your love and faith ought to try all the
experiments of pouders, and dryings, and waterings to discover some lines
which appeared not; because it is impossible that a Letter should come
from me, with such an ungrateful silence.

  _Your very true poor friend and
  servant and lover_
  J. Donne.

_This day begins a history, of which I doubt not but I shall write more to
you before I leave this town. Monsieur_ de Rohan, _a person for birth,
next heire to the Kingdome of_ Navar, _after the Kings children, (if the
King of_ Spaine _were weary of it) and for allyance, sonne in law to D._
Sully, _and for breeding in the wars and estate, the most renarkable man
of the Religion, being Governour of S._ Jean d'Angeli, _one of the most
important towns which they of the Religion hold for their security,
finding that some distasts between the Lieutenant and the Maior of the
town, and him, were dangerously fomented by great persons, stole from
Court, rode post to the town and removed these two persons. He sent his
secretary, and another dependent of his to give the Queen satisfaction,
who is so far from receiving it, that his messengers are committed to the_
Bastile _likely to be presently tortured; all his friends here commanded
to their houses, and the Queens companies of light horse sent already
thitherward, and foot companies preparing, which troops being sent against
a place, so much concerning those of the Religion to keep, and where they
abound in number and strength, cannot chuse but produce effects worthy
your hearing in the next Letter._


_To Sir_ H. G.


Because I am in a place and season where I see every thing bud forth, I
must do so too, and vent some of my meditations to you; the rather because
all other buds being yet without taste or virtue, my Letters may be like
them. The pleasantnesse of the season displeases me. Every thing
refreshes, and I wither, and I grow older and not better, my strength
diminishes, and my load growes, and being to passe more and more stormes,
I finde that I have not only cast out all my ballast which nature and time
gives, Reason and discretion, and so am as empty and light as Vanity can
make me; but I have over fraught my self with Vice, and so am riddingly
subject to two contrary wrackes, Sinking and Oversetting, and under the
iniquity of such a disease as inforces the patient when he is almost
starved, not only to fast, but to purge. For I have much to take in, and
much to cast out; sometimes I thinke it easier to discharge my self of
vice then of vanity, as one may sooner carry the fire out of a room then
the smoake: and then I see it was a new vanity to think so. And when I
think sometimes that vanity, because it is thinne and airie, may be
expelled with vertue or businesse, or substantiall vice; I finde that I
give entrance thereby to new vices. Certainly as the earth and water, one
sad, the other fluid, make but one bodie: so to aire and Vanity, there is
but one _Centium morbi_. And that which later Physicians say of our
bodies, is fitter for our mindes: for that which they call Destruction,
which is a corruption and want of those fundamentall parts whereof we
consist, is Vice: and that _Collectio stercorum_, which is but the
excrement of that corruption, is our Vanity and indiscretion: both these
have but one root in me, and must be pulled out at once, or never. But I
am so farre from digging to it, that I know not where it is, for it is not
in mine eyes only, but in every sense, nor in my concupiscence only, but
in every power and affection. Sir, I was willing to let you see how
impotent a man you love, not to dishearten you from doing so still (for my
vices are not infectious nor wandring, they came not yesterday, nor mean
to go away to day: they Inne not, but dwell in me, and see themselves so
welcome, and find in me so good bad company of one another, that they
will not change, especially to one not apprehensive, nor easily
accessible) but I do it, that your counsell might cure me, and if you deny
that, your example shal, for I will as much strive to be like you as I
will wish you to continue good.


_To the Honourable Kt S{r}_ H. Goodere _one of the Gent. of his Majesties
privy Chamber_.


You may remember that long since you delivered M{r} _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 joyn 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 finde
whether I be in him still, and conserve me in his love; and so perfect
your own work, or doe it over again, and restore me to the place, which by
your favour I had in him. For M{r} _Powell_ who serves her Ma{ty} as
Clerk of her counsell, hath told me that M{r} _Fowler_ hath some purpose
to retire himself; and therefore I would fain for all my love, have so
much of his, as to finde him willing when I shall seek him at Court, to
let me understand his purpose therein; for if my means may make me
acceptable to the Queen and him, I should be very sorry he should make so
farre steps therein with any other, that I should fail in it, onely for
not having spoke to him soon enough. It were an injury to the forwardnesse
of your love to adde more; here therefore I kisse your hands, and commend
to you the truth of my love.

  _Your very affectionate
  servant and lover_
  Jo. Donne.

  _From my lodging in the_ Strand,
  _whither I shall return on_ Munday,
  13 June 1607.


_To Sr_ H. G.


You husband my time thriftily, when you command me to write by such a
messenger, as can tell you more then I can write, for so he doth not onely
carry the Letter, but is the Letter. But that the naming of some things,
may give you occasion to ask him farther, and him to open himself unto
you, give me leave to tell you, that the now Spa. Embassadour proceeds in
the old pace, the King hath departed from his ordinary way so farre, as to
appoint 9 of the Councell to treat with him; but when they came to any
approaches, he answered, that he brought onely Commission to propose
certain things, which he was ready to doe, but he had no instructions to
treat, but expected them upon an other return from his Master. So that
there is no treaty for the marriage begun yet: for I know you have heard
_Olivarez_ his free acknowledgement, that til the Prince came, there was
no thoght of it. The King in his gests of this progress, hath determined
it, not as heretofore, at _Windsor_, but at _Farnham_ during pleasure: so
he is within a journey of _Southampton_; and even that circumstance adds
to some other reasons, that he expects the Prince this Summer, and that
Sir _W. Crofts_, in his last dispatches, enlarged the Prince in his
liberty, from his Father, to come away, if he would. Amongst all the
irregularities of this age, to me this is as strange as any, That this
year there is no peace, and yet no sword drawn in the world; & it is a
lost conjecture to think which way any of the Armies will bend. Here it is
imagined, that _Yukendorfe_ and _Gabor_ (for, for any concurrence of love,
it is but a dream) may so farre distresse _Bohemia_, as that _Tilly_ must
be recalled thither; and that if he be, _Brunswikes_ way is open into
_Baviere_, where he may recompense great losses, whilest _Mansfield_ and
_Gonzales_, and his Excellency and _Spinola_, keep the ballance even in
their parts, by looking upon another. This noble friend of yours is in his
last minute, in this Town; and I am going into the Coach with my Lo. to
_Hanworth_. If I might have forborn the sealing the rest till my return
from thence, you might have heard something more from

  _Your very true poor friend and humble
  servant in Chr. Jes._ J. Donne.

_No straitnesse makes me forget my service to your daughters: If my Bell
were tolling, I should pray for them, and though my Letter be sealing, I
leave not out my wishes, that their fortunes may second their goodnesse.


_To Sir_ H. G.


This _Tuesday_ morning, which hath brought me to _London_, presents me
with all your Letters. Me thought it was a rent day, I mean such as yours,
and not as mine; and yet such too, when I considered how much I ought you
for them, how good a mother, how fertill and abundant the understanding
is, if she have a good father; and how well friendship performs that
office. For that which is denied in other generations is done in this of
yours: for here is superfetation, childe upon childe, and that which is
more strange twins at a latter conception. If in my second religion,
friendship, I had a conscience, either _errantem_ to mistake good and bad
and indifferent, or _opinantem_ to be ravished by others opinions or
examples, or _dubiam_ to adhere to neither part, or _scrupulosam_ to
incline to one, but upon reasons light in themselves, or indiscussed in
me, (which are almost all the diseases of conscience) I might mistake your
often, long, and busie Letters, and fear you did but intreat me to have
mercy upon you and spare you; for you know our Court took the resolution,
that it was the best way to dispatch the French Prince back again quickly,
to receive him solemnly, ceremoniously, and expensively, when he hoped a
domestique and durable entertainment. I never meant to excell you in
weight nor price, but in number and bulk I thought I might, because he may
cast up a greater summe who hath but forty small monies, then he with
twenty Portuguesses. The memory of friends, (I mean onely for Letters)
neither enters ordinarily into busied men, because they are never emploied
within, nor into men of pleasure, because they are never at home. For
these wishes therefore which you won out of your pleasure and recreation,
you were as excusable to me if you writ seldome, as Sir _H. Wotton_ is,
under the oppression of businesse, or the necessity of seeming so; or more
then he, because I hope you have both pleasure and businesse: onely to me,
who have neither, this omission were sinne; for though writing be not of
the precepts of friendship, but of the counsels, yet, as in some cases to
some men counsels become precepts, and though not immediately from God,
yet very roundly and quickly from his Church, (as selling and dividing
goods in the first time, continence in the Romane Church, and order and
decencie in ours) so to me who can do nothing else, it seems to binde my
conscience to write; and it is sinne to doe against the conscience, though
that erre. Yet no mans Letters might be better wanted then mine, since my
whole Letter is nothing else but a confession that I should and would
write. I owed you a Letter in verse before by mine own promise, and now
that you think that you have hedged in that debt by a greater by your
Letter in verse, I think it now most seasonable and fashionable for me to
break. At least, to write presently, were to accuse my self of not having
read yours so often as such a Letter deserves from you to me. To make my
debt greater (for such is the desire of all, who cannot or mean not to
pay) I pray read these two problemes: for such light flashes as these have
been my hawkings in my sorry [Surrey?] journies. I accompany them with
another ragge of verses, worthy of that name for the smalnesse, and age,
for it hath long lien among my other papers, and laughs at them that have
adventured to you: for I think till now you saw it not, and neither you,
nor it should repent it. Sir, if I were any thing, my love to you might
multiply it, and dignifie it: But infinite nothings are but one such; yet
since even Chymera's have some name and titles, I am also



_To your selfe._


If this Letter finde you in a progresse, or at _Bath_, or at any place of
equall leasure to our _Spâ_, you will perchance descend to reade so low
meditations as these. Nothing in my L. of _Salisburies_ death exercised my
poor considerations so much, as the multitude of libells. It was easily
discerned, some years before his death, that he was at a defensive war,
both for his honour and health, and (as we then thought) for his estate:
and I thought, that had removed much of the envy. Besides, I have just
reasons to think, that in the chiefest businesses between the Nations, he
was a very good patriot. But I meant to speake of nothing but the libells,
of which, all which are brought into these parts, are so tastelesse and
flat, that I protest to you, I think they were made by his friends. It is
not the first time that our age hath seen that art practised, That when
there are witty and sharp libels made which not onely for the liberty of
speaking, but for the elegancie, and composition, would take deep root,
and make durable impressions in the memory, no other way hath been thought
so fit to suppresse them, as to divulge some course [coarse], and railing
one: for when the noise is risen, that libels are abroad, mens curiositie
must be served with something: and it is better for the honour of the
person traduced, that some blunt downright railings be vented, of which
everybody is soon weary, then other pieces, which entertain us long with a
delight, and love to the things themselves. I doubt not but he smoothered
some libels against him in his life time. But I would all these (or
better) had been made then, for they might have testified that the Authors
had meant to mend him, but now they can have no honest pretence. I dare
say to you, where I am not easily misinterpreted, that there may be cases,
where one may do his Countrey good service, by libelling against a live
man. For, where a man is either too great, or his Vices too generall, to
be brought under a judiciary accusation, there is no way, but this
extraordinary accusing, which we call Libelling. And I have heard that
nothing hath soupled and allayed the D. of _Lerma_ in his violent
greatnesse, so much as the often libels made upon him. But after death, it
is, in all cases, unexcusable. I know that _Lucifer_, and one or two more
of the Fathers who writ libellous books against the Emperours of their
times, are excused by our writers, because they writ not in the lives of
those Emperours. I am glad for them that they writ not in their lives, for
that must have occasioned tumult, and contempt, against so high and
Soveraign persons. But that doth not enough excuse them to me, for writing
so after their death; for that was ignoble, and uselesse, though they did
a little escape the nature of libels, by being subscribed and avowed:
which excuse would not have served in the Star-chamber, where sealed
Letters have been judged Libels; but these of which we speake at this
present, are capable of no excuse, no amolishment, and therefore I cry you
mercy, and my self too, for disliking them, with so much diligence, for
they deserve not that. But Sir, you see by this, and by my Letter of last
week, from hence the peremptory barrennesse of this place, from whence we
can write nothing into _England_, but of that which comes from thence.
Till the Lady _Worster_ came hither, I had never heard any thing to make
me imagine that Sir _Rob. Rich_ was in _England_; the first hour that I
had knowledge of it, I kisse his hands by this Letter. I make account to
be in _London_, transitorily, about the end of _August_. You shall do me
much favour, if I may finde a Letter from you (if you shall not then be
there) at the Lady _Bartlets_: I shall come home in much ignorance, nor
would I discern home by a better light, or any other then you. I can glory
of nothing in this voyage, but that I have afflicted my Lady _Bedford_
with few Letters. I protest earnestly to you, it troubles me much more to
dispatch a pacquet into _England_, without a Letter to her, then it would
to put in three. But I have been heretofore too immodest towards her, and
I suffer this Purgatory for it. We make accounts to leave this place
within 8 or 10 days, and hence to make our best haste to the Count
_Maurice_, where we think to finde again the young Palatine: all this I
tell you only because when you know, that we shall run too fast to write
any more Letters, you may easily pardon the importunities and
impertinencies of this, and cast into no lower place of your love

  _Your very true friend and servant_
  J. Donne.

  Spâ, 26 July _here_


_To my Lord_ G. H.


I am near the execution of that purpose for _France_; though I may have
other ends, yet if it do but keep me awake, it recompenses me well. I am
now in the afternoon of my life, and then it is unwholesome to sleep. It
is ill to look back, or give over in a course; but worse never to set out.
I speake to you at this time of departing, as I should do at my last upon
my death-bed; and I desire to deliver into your hands a heart and
affections, as innocent towards you, as I shall to deliver my soul into
Gods hands then. I say not this out of diffidence, as though you doubted
it, or that this should look like such an excuse, as implyed an
accusation; but because my fortune hath burdened you so, as I could not
rectifie it before my going, my conscience and interpretation (severer I
hope then yours towards my self) calls that a kinde of demerit, but God
who hath not only afforded us a way to be delivered from our great many
debts, contracted by our Executorship to _Adam_, but also another for our
particular debts after, hath not left poor men unprovided, for discharge
of morall and civill debts; in which, acknowledgement, and thankfulnesse
is the same, as repentance and contrition is in spiritual debts: and
though the value and dignity of all these be not perchance in the things,
but in the acceptation, yet I cannot doubt of it, either in God, or you.
But Sir, because there is some degree of thankfulnesse in asking more (for
that confesses all former obligations, and a desire to be still in the
same dependency) I must intreat you to continue that wherein you have most
expressed your love to me, which is, to maintain me in the same room in my
Lady _Bedfords_ opinion, in the which you placed me. I professe to you
that I am too much bound to her, for expressing every way her care of my
fortune, that I am weary before she is; and out of a loathnesse, that so
good works should be bestowed upon so ill stuffe, or that so much ill
fortune should be mingled with hers, as that she should misse any thing
that she desired, though it were but for me. I am willing to depart from
farther exercising her indevours in that kinde. I shall be bold to deliver
my poor Letters to her Ladiships hands, through yours, whilest I am abroad
though I shall ever account my self at home, whilest I am in your memory.

  _Your affectionate servant and lover_
  J. Donne.


_To Sir_ H. G.


Nature hath made all bodies alike, by mingling and kneading up the same
elements in every one. And amongst men, the other nature, Custome, hath
made every minde like some other; we are patterns, or copies, we informe,
or imitate. But as he hath not presently attained to write a good hand,
which hath equalled one excellent Master in his _A_, another in his _B_,
much lesse he which hath sought all the excellent Masters, and imployed
all his time to exceed on one Letter, because not so much an excellency of
any, nor every one, as an evennesse and proportion, and respect to one
another gives the perfection: so is no man vertuous by particular example.
Not he that doth all actions to the pattern of the most valiant, or
liberall, which Histories afford: nor he which chuses from every one their
best actions, and thereupon doth something like those. Perchance such may
be _in via perficiendorum_, which Divines allow to Monasticall life, but
not _perfectorum_, which by them is only due to Prelacy. For vertue is
even, and continuall, and the same, and can therefore break no where, nor
admit ends, nor beginnings: it is not only not broken, but not tyed
together. He is not vertuous, out of whose actions you can pick an
excellent one. Vice and her fruits may be seen, because they are thick
bodies, but not vertue, which is all light, and vices have swellings and
fits, and noise, because being extreams, they dwell far asunder, and they
maintain both a forein war against vertue, and a civill against one
another, and affect Soveraignty, as vertue doth society. The later
Physitians say, that when our naturall inborn preservative is corrupted
or wasted, and must be restored by a like extracted from other bodies; the
chief care is that the Mummy have in it no excelling quality, but an
equally digested temper: And such is true vertue. But men who have
preferred money before all, think they deal honourably with vertue, if
they compare her with money: And think that as money is not called base,
till the allay exceed the pure; so they are vertuous enough, if they have
enough to make their actions currant, which is, if either they get praise,
or (in a lower abasing) if they incurre not infamy or penalty. But you
know who said, _Angusta innocentia est ad legem bonum esse_: which rule
being given for positive Laws, severe mistakers apply even to Gods Law,
and (perchance against his Commandment) binde themselves to his Counsails,
beyond his Laws. But they are worse, that thinke that because some men
formerly wastfull, live better with half their rents then they did with
all, being now advantaged with discretion and experience, therefore our
times need lesse moral vertue then the first, because we have
Christianity, which is the use and application of all vertue: as though
our religion were but an art of thrift, to make a little vertue go far.
For as plentifull springs are fittest, and best become large Aqueducts, so
doth much vertue such a steward and officer as a Christian. But I must not
give you a Homily for a Letter. I said a great while since, that custome
made men like; we who have been accustomed to one another are like in
this, that we love not business: this therefore shall not be to you nor me
a busie Letter. I end with a probleme, whose errand is, to aske for his
fellowes. I pray before you ingulfe your self in the progresse, leave them
for me, and such other of my papers as you will lend me till you return.
And besides this Allegoricall lending, send me truely your counsails, and
love God and me, whilest I love him and you.


_To my very true and very good friend Sir_ Henry Goodere.


At some later reading, I was more affected with that part of your Letter,
which is of the book, and the namelesse Letters, then at first. I am not
sorry, for that affection were for a jealousie or suspicion of a
flexibility in you. But I am angry, that any should think, you had in your
Religion peccant humours, defective, or abundant, or that such a booke,
(if I mistake it not) should be able to work upon you; my comfort is, that
their judgment is too weak to endanger you, since by this it confesses,
that it mistakes you, in thinking you irresolved or various: yet let me be
bold to fear, that that sound true opinion, that in all Christian
professions there is way to salvation (which I think you think) may have
been so incommodiously or intempestively sometimes uttered by you; or else
your having friends equally near you of all the impressions of Religion,
may have testified such an indifferency, as hath occasioned some to
further such inclinations, as they have mistaken to be in you. This I have
feared, because hertofore the inobedient Puritans, and now the over
obedient Papists attempt you. It hath hurt very many, not in their
conscience, nor ends, but in their reputation, and ways, that others have
thought them fit to be wrought upon. As some bodies are as wholesomly
nourished as ours, with Akornes, and endure nakednesse, both which would
be dangerous to us, if we for them should leave our former habits, though
theirs were the Primitive diet and custome: so are many souls well fed
with such formes, and dressings of Religion, as would distemper and
misbecome us, and make us corrupt towards God, if any humane circumstance
moved it, and in the opinion of men, though none. You shall seldome see a
Coyne, upon which the stamp were removed, though to imprint it better, but
it looks awry and squint. And so, for the most part, do mindes which have
received divers impressions. I will not, nor need to you, compare the
Religious. The channels of Gods mercies run through both fields; and they
are sister teats of his graces, yet both diseased and infected, but not
both alike. And I think, that as _Copernicisme_ in the Mathematiques hath
carried earth farther up, from the stupid Center; and yet not honoured it,
nor advantaged it, because for the necessity of appearances, it hath
carried heaven so much higher from it: so the _Roman_ profession seems to
exhale, and refine our wills from earthly Drugs, and Lees, more then the
Reformed, and so seems to bring us nearer heaven; but then that carries
heaven farther from us, by making us pass so many Courts, and Offices of
Saints in this life, in all our petitions, and lying in a painfull prison
in the next, during the pleasure, not of him to whom we go, and who must
be our Judge, but of them from whom we come, who know not our case. Sir,
as I said last time, labour to keep your alacrity and dignity in an even
temper: for in a dark sadnesse, indifferent things seem abominable, or
necessary, being neither; as trees, and sheep to melancholique
night-walkers have unproper shapes. And when you descend to satisfie all
men in your own religion, or to excuse others to al[l], you prostitute
your self and your understanding, though not a prey, yet a mark, and a
hope, and a subject, for every sophister in Religion to work on. For the
other part of your Letter, spent in the praise of the Countesse, I am
always very apt to beleeve it of her, and can never beleeve it so well,
and so reasonably, as now, when it is averred by you; but for the
expressing it to her, in that sort as you seem to counsaile, I have these
two reasons to decline it. That that knowledge which she hath of me, was
in the beginning of a graver course, then of a Poet, into which (that I
may also keep my dignity) I would not seem to relapse. The Spanish
proverb informes me, that he is a fool which cannot make one Sonnet, and
he is mad which makes two. The other stronger reason, is my integrity to
the other Countesse, of whose worthinesse though I swallowed your opinion
at first upon your words, yet I have had since an explicit faith, and now
a knowledge: and for her delight (since she descends to them) I had
reserved not only all the verses, which I should make, but all the
thoughts of womens worthinesse. But because I hope she will not disdain,
that I should write well of her Picture, I have obeyed you thus far, as to
write: but intreat you by your freindship, that by this occasion of
versifying, I be not traduced, nor esteemed light in that Tribe, and that
house where I have lived. If those reasons which moved you to bid me write
be not constant in you still, or if you meant not that I should write
verses; or if these verses be too bad, or too good, over or under her
understanding, and not fit; I pray receive them, as a companion and
supplement of this Letter to you: and as such a token as I use to send,
which use, because I wish rather they should serve (except you wish
otherwise) I send no other; but after I have told you, that here at a
Christning at _Peckam_, you are remembered by divers of ours and I
commanded to tell you so, I kisse your hands, and so seal to you my pure
love, which I would not refuse to do by any labour or danger.

  _Your very true friend and servant_
  J. Donne.


_To S{r}_ G. M.

If you were here, you would not think me importune, if I bid you good
morrow every day; and such a patience will excuse my often Letters. No
other kinde of conveyance is better for knowledge, or love: What treasures
of Morall knowledge are in _Senecaes_ Letters to onely one _Lucilius_? and
what of Naturall in _Plinies_? how much of the storie of the time, is in
_Ciceroes_ Letters? And how all of these times, in the Jesuites Eastern
and Western Epistles? where can we finde so perfect a Character of
_Phalaris_, as in his own Letters, which are almost so many writs of
Execution? Or of _Brutus_, as in his privie seals for monie? The Evangiles
and Acts, teach us what to beleeve, but the Epistles of the Apostles what
to do. And those who have endevoured to dignifie _Seneca_ above his worth,
have no way fitter, then to imagine Letters between him and S. _Paul_. As
they think also that they have expressed an excellent person, in that
Letter which they obtrude, from our B[lessed] Saviour to King _Agabarus_.
The Italians, which are most discursive, and think the world owes them all
wisdome, abound so much in this kinde of expressing, that _Michel
Montaig[n]e_ saies, he hath seen, (as I remember) 400 volumes of
Italian Letters. But it is the other capacity which must make mine
acceptable, that they are also the best conveyers of love. But, though all
knowledge be in those Authors already, yet, as some poisons, and some
medicines, hurt not, nor profit, except the creature in which they reside,
contribute their lively activitie, and vigor; so much of the knowledge
buried in Books perisheth, and becomes ineffectuall, if it be not applied,
and refreshed by a companion, or friend. Much of their goodnesse, hath the
same period, which some Physicians of _Italy_ have observed to be in the
biting of their _Tarentola_, that it affects no longer, then the flie
lives. For with how much desire we read the papers of any living now,
(especially friends) which we would scarce allow a boxe in our cabinet, or
shelf in our Library, if they were dead? And we do justly in it, for the
writings and words of men present, we may examine, controll, and
expostulate, and receive satisfaction from the authors; but the other we
must beleeve, or discredit; they present no mean. Since then at this time,
I am upon the stage, you may be content to hear me. And now that perchance
I have brought you to it, (as _Thom. Badger_ did the King) now I have
nothing to say. And it is well, for the Letter is already long enough,
else let this probleme supply, which was occasioned by you, of women
wearing stones; which, it seems, you were afraid women should read,
because you avert them at the beginning, with a protestation of
cleanlinesse. _Martiall_ found no way fitter to draw the Romane Matrons to
read one of his Books, which he thinks most morall and cleanly, then to
counsell them by the first Epigram to skip the Book, because it was
obscene. But either you write not at all for women, or for those of
sincerer palates. Though their unworthinesse, and your own ease be
advocates for me with you, yet I must adde my entreaty, that you let goe
no copy of my Problems, till I review them. If it be too late, at least be
able to tell me who hath them.

  J. Donne.


_To S{r}_ H. G.

I send not my Letters as tribute, nor interest, not recompense, nor for
commerce, nor as testimonials of my love, nor provokers of yours, nor to
justifie my custome of writing, nor for a vent and utterance of my
meditations; for my Letters are either above or under all such offices;
yet I write very affectionately, and I chide and accuse my self of
diminishing that affection which sends them, when I ask my self why: onely
I am sure that I desire that you might have in your hands Letters of mine
of all kindes, as conveyances and deliverers of me to you, whether you
accept me as a friend, or as a patient, or as a penitent, or as a
beadsman, for I decline no jurisdiction, or refuse any tenure. I would not
open any doore upon you, but look in when you open it. Angels have not,
nor affect not other knowledge of one another, then they list to reveal
to one another. It is then in this onely, that friends are Angels, that
they are capable and fit for such revelations when they are offered. If at
any time I seem to studie you more inquisitively, it is for no other end
but to know how to present you to God in my prayers, and what to ask of
him for you; for even that holy exercise may not be done inopportunely, no
nor importunely. I finde little errour in that Grecians counsell, who
saies, If thou ask any thing of God, offer no sacrifice, nor ask
elegantly, nor vehemently, but remember that thou wouldest not give to
such an asker: Nor in his other Countriman, who affirms sacrifice of blood
to be so unproportionable to God, that perfumes, though much more
spirituall, are too grosse. Yea words which are our subtillest and
delicatest outward creatures, being composed of thoughts and breath, are
so muddie, so thick, that our thoughts themselves are so, because (except
at the first rising) they are ever leavened with passions and affections:
And that advantage of nearer familiarity with God, which the act of
incarnation gave us, is grounded upon Gods assuming us, not our going to
him. And, our accesses to his presence are but his descents into us; and
when we get any thing by prayer, he gave us before hand the thing and the
petition. For, I scarce think any ineffectuall prayer free from both sin,
and the punishment of sin: yet as God seposed a seventh of our time for
his exterior worship, and as his Christian Church early presented him a
type of the whole year in a Lent, and after imposed the obligation of
canonique hours, constituting thereby morall Sabbaths every day; I am
farre from dehorting those fixed devotions: But I had rather it were
bestowed upon thanksgiving then petition, upon praise then prayer; not
that God is indeared by that, or wearied by this; all is one in the
receiver, but not in the sender: and thanks doth both offices; for,
nothing doth so innocently provoke new graces, as gratitude. I would also
rather make short prayers then extend them, though God can neither be
surprised, nor besieged: for, long prayers have more of the man, as
ambition of eloquence, and a complacencie in the work, and more of the
Devil by often distractions: for, after in the beginning we have well
intreated God to hearken, we speak no more to him. Even this Letter is
some example of such infirmitie, which being intended for a Letter, is
extended and strayed into a Homilie. And whatsoever is not what it was
purposed, is worse; therefore it shall at last end like a Letter by
assuring you I am


_To your selfe._


Sir _Germander Pool_, your noble friend and fellow in Armes, hath been at
this house. I finde by their diligent inquiring from me, that he hath
assured them that he hath much advanced your proceeding, by his
resignation; but cooled them again with this, that the L. _Spencer_
pretends in his room. I never feared his, nor any mans diligence in that;
I feared onely your remisnesse, because you have a fortune that can
endure, and a nature that can almost be content to misse. But I had rather
you exercised your Philosophy and evennesse in some things else. He doth
not nothing which falls cleanly and harmelesly; but he wrastles better
which stands. I know you can easily forgive your self any negligences and
slacknesses, but I am glad that you are ingaged to so many friends, who
either by your self, or fame have knowledge of it. In all the rest of them
there is a worthinesse, and in me a love which deserves to be satisfied.
In this therefore, as you are forward in all things else, be content to do
more for your friends then you would for your self; endevour it, that is
effect it.

  _Your very true friend and love_
  J. Donne.



_To Sir_ H. G.


In the History or style of friendship, which is best written both in deeds
and words, a Letter, which is of a mixed nature, and hath something of
both, is a mixed Parenthesis: It may be left out, yet it contributes,
though not to the being, yet to the verdure, and freshnesse thereof.
Letters have truly the same office, as oaths. As these amongst light and
empty men, are but fillings, and pauses, and interjections; but with
weightier, they are sad attestations: So are Letters to some complement,
and obligation to others. For mine, as I never authorized my servant to
lie in my behalfe, (for if it were officious in him, it might be worse in
me) so I allow my Letters much lesse that civill dishonest, both because
they go from me more considerately, and because they are permanent; for in
them I may speak to you in your chamber a year hence before I know not
whom, and not hear my self. They shall therefore ever keep the sincerity
and intemeratenesse of the fountain, whence they are derived. And as
wheresoever these leaves fall, the root is in my heart, so shall they, as
that sucks good affections towards you there, have ever true impressions
thereof. This much information is in very leaves, that they can tell what
the tree is, and these can tell you I am a friend, and an honest man. Of
what generall use, the fruit should speake, and I have none: and of what
particular profit to you, your application and experimenting should tell
you, and you can make none of such a nothing; yet even of barren
Sycamores, such as I, there were use, if either any light flashings, or
scorching vehemencies, or sudden showres made you need so shadowy an
example or remembrancer. But (Sir) your fortune and minde do you this
happy injury, that they make all kinde of fruits uselesse unto you;
Therefore I have placed my love wisely where I need communicate nothing.
All this, though perchance you read it not till Michaelmas, was told you
at _Micham_, _15. August. 1607_.


_To my most worthy friend Sir_ Henry Goodere.


Because evennesse conduces as much to strength and firmnesse as greatnesse
doth, I would not discontinue my course of writing. It is a sacrifice,
which though friends need not, friendship doth; which hath in it so much
divinity, that as we must be ever equally disposed inwardly so to doe or
suffer for it, so we must sepose some certain times for the outward
service thereof, though it be but formall and testimoniall: that time to
me towards you is Tuesday, and my Temple, the Rose in Smith-field. If I
were by your appointment your Referendarie for news, I should write but
short Letters, because the times are barren. The low Countries, which used
to be the Mart of news for this season, suffering also, or rather enjoying
a vacation. Since therefore I am but mine own Secretary (and what's
that?) I were excusable if I writ nothing, since I am so: Besides that,
your much knowledge brings you this disadvantage, that as stomachs
accustomed to delicacies, finde nothing new or pleasing to them when they
are sick; so you can hear nothing from me (though the Countrey perchance
make you hungry) which you know not. Therefore in stead of a Letter to
you, I send you one to another, to the best Lady, who did me the honour to
acknowledge the receit of one of mine, by one of hers; and who only hath
power to cast the fetters of verse upon my free meditations: It should
give you some delight, and some comfort, because you are the first which
see it, and it is the last which you shall see of this kinde from me.

  _Your very affectionate lover and servant_
  J. Donne.

  Micham _the_
  14 August.


_To Sir_ I. H.


I would not omit this, not Commodity, but Advantage of writing to you.
This emptinesse in _London_, dignifies any Letter from hence, as in the
seasons, earlinesse and latenesse, makes the sowrenesse, and after the
sweetnesse of fruits acceptable and gracious. We often excuse and advance
mean Authors, by the age in which they lived, so will your love do this
Letter; and you will tell your self, that if he which writ it knew wherein
he might expresse his affection, or any thing which might have made his
Letter welcommer, he would have done it. As it is, you may accept it so,
as we do many _China_ manufactures, of which when we know no use, yet we
satisfie our curiosity in considering them, because we knew not how, nor
of what matter they were made. Near great woods and quarries it is no
wonder to see faire houses, but in _Holland_ which wants both, it is. So
were it for me who am as farre removed from Court, and knowledge of forein
passages, as this City is now from the face and furniture of a City, to
build up a long Letter, and to write of my self were but to inclose a poor
handfull of straw for a token in a Letter: yet I will tell you, that I am
at _London_ onely to provide for Monday, when I shall use that favour
which my Lady _Bedford_ hath afforded me, of giving her name to my
daughter; which I mention to you, as well to shew that I covet any
occasion of a gratefull speaking of her favours, as that, because I have
thought the day is likely to bring you to _London_, I might tell you, that
my poor house is in your way and you shall there finde such company, as (I
think) you will not be loth to accompany to _London_.

  _Your very true friend_
  J. Donne.

  6 Aug. 1608.


_To Sir_ H. Wootton.


That which is at first but a visitation, and a civill office, comes
quickly to be a haunting, and an uncivill importunity: my often writing
might be subject to such a misinterpretation, if it were not to you, who
as you know that the affection which suggests and dictates them, is ever
one, and continuall, and uninterrupted, may be pleased to think my Letters
so too, and that all the pieces make but one long Letter, and so I know
you would not grudge to read any intire book of mine, at that pace, as you
do my Letters, which is a leafe a week: especially such Letters as mine,
which (perchance out of the dulnesse of the place) are so empty of any
relations, as that they oppresse not your meditations, nor discourse, nor
memory. You know that for aire we are sure we apprehend and enjoy it, but
when this aire is rarified into fire, we begin to dispute whether it be an
element, or no: so when Letters have a convenient handsome body of news,
they are Letters; but when they are spun out of nothing, they are nothing,
or but apparitions, and ghosts, with such hollow sounds, as he that hears
them, knows not what they said. You (I think) and I am much of one sect in
the Philosophy of love; which though it be directed upon the minde, doth
inhere in the body, and find piety entertainment there: so have Letters
for their principall office, to be seals and testimonies of mutuall
affection, but the materialls and fuell of them should be a confident and
mutuall communicating of those things which we know. How shall I then who
know nothing write Letters? Sir, I learn knowledge enough out of yours to
me. I learn that there is truth and firmnesse and an earnestness of doing
good alive in the world; and therefore, since there is so good company in
it, I have not so much desire to go out of it, as I had, if my fortune
would afford me any room in it. You know I have been no coward, nor
unindustrious in attempting that; nor will I give it over yet. If at last,
I must confesse, that I dyed ten years ago, yet as the Primitive Church
admitted some of the _Jews_ Ceremonies not for perpteuall use, but because
they would bury the Synagogue honourably, though I dyed at a blow then
when my courses were diverted, yet it wil please me a little to have had a
long funerall, and to have kept my self so long above ground without
putrefaction. But this is melancholique discourse; To change therefore
from this Metaphoricall death to the true, and that with a little more
relish of mirth, let me tell you the good nature of the executioner of
_Paris_: who when _Vatan_ was beheaded, (who dying in the profession of
the Religion, had made his peace with God in the prison, and so laid
nothing at the place of execution) swore he had rather execute forty
Huguenots, then one Catholique, because the Huguenot used so few words,
and troubled him so little, in respect of the dilatory ceremonies of the
others, in dying. _Cotton_ the great Court Jesuit hath so importuned the
Q[ueen] to give some modifications to the late interlocutory arrest
against the Jesuits, that in his presence, the C[ount] _Soisons_, who had
been present in the Court at the time of the arrest, and _Servin_ the
Kings Advocate, who urged it, and the Premier president, were sent for:
They came so well provided with their books, out of which they assigned to
the Q. so many, so evident places of seditious doctrine, that the Q. was
well satsified, that it was fit by all means to provide against the
teaching of the like doctrine in _France_. The D[uke] of _Espernon_ is
come to _Paris_, with (they say) 600 horse in his train; all which
company, came with him into the Court: which is an insolency remarkable
here. They say that scarce any of the Princes appear in the streets, but
with very great trains. No one enemy could wast the treasures of _France_
so much, as so many friends do: for the Q. dares scarce deny any, that so
she may have the better leave to make haste to advance her Marquis of
_Ancre_, of whose greatnesse, for matter of command, or danger, they have
no great fear, he being no very capable nor stirring man: and then for his
drawing of great benefits from the Q. they make that use of it, that their
suits passe with lesse opposition. I beleeve the treasure is scattered,
because I see the future receipt charged with so very many and great
pensions. The Q. hath adventured a little to stop this rage of the Princes
importunity, by denying a late suit of _Soissons_: which though the other
Princes grudge not that _Soisson_ should faile, for he hath drawn infinite
sums already, yet they resent it somewhat tenderly, that any of them
should be denyed, when the Marquis obtains. That which was much observed
in the Kings more childish age, when I was last here, by those whom his
father appointed to judge, by an assiduous observation, his naturall
inclination, is more and more confirmed, that his inclinations are cruell,
and tyrannous; and when he is any way affected, his stammering is so
extreme, as he can utter nothing. They cannot draw him to look upon a son
of the Marquis, whom they have put into his service. And he was so
extremely affectionate towards the younger son of _Beaufort_, that they
have removed him to a charge which he hath, as he is made Prieur of
_Malta_; but yet there passe such Letters between them, by stealth and
practise, as (though it be between children) it is become a matter of
State, and much diligence used to prevent the Letters. For the young
Marquis of _Vervueil_, the K[ing] speaks often of transplanting him into
the Church, and once this Christmas delighted himself to see his young
brother in a Cardinalls habit. Sir, it is time to take up, for I know,
that any thing, from this place, as soon as it is certain, is stale. I
have been a great while more mannerly towards my Lady _Bedford_, then to
trouble her with any of mine own verses, but having found these French
verses accompanied with a great deal of reputation here, I could not
forbear to aske her leave to send them. I writ to you by M{r} _Pory_ the
17 of _Jan._ here, and he carried that Letter to _Paris_, to gather news,
like a snowball. He told me that _Pindar_ is gone to _Constantinople_ with
Commission to remove and succeed _Glover_: I am afraid you have neglected
that businesse. Continue me in M[r.] _Martins_ good opinion. I know I
shall never fall from it, by any demerit of mine, and I know I need not
fear it, out of any slacknesse or slipperinesse in him, but much businesse
may strangle me in him. When it shall not trouble you to write to me, I
pray do me the favour to tell me, how many you have received from me, for
I have now much just reason to imagine, that some of my Pacquets have had
more honour then I wished them: which is to be delivered into the hands of
greater personages, then I addressed them unto. Hold me still in your own
love, and proceed in that noble testimony of it, of which your Letter by
M. _Pory_ spoke, (which is the only Letter that I have received, since I
came away) and beleeve me that I shall ever with much affection, and much
devotion joine both your fortune and your last best happinesse, with the
desire of mine own in all my civill and divine wishes as the only
retribution in the power of

  _Your affectionate servant_
  J. Donne.


_To the Honorable Knight Sir_ H. Goodere.


If I would go out of my way for excuses, or if I did not go out of my way
from them; I might avoid writing now because I cannot chuse but know, that
you have in this town abler servants, and better understanding the persons
and passages of this Court. But my hope is not in the application of other
mens merits, to me however abundant. Besides, this town hath since our
comming hither, afforded enough for all to say. That which was done here
the 25 of _March_, and which was so long called a publication of the
marriages, was no otherwise publique then that the Spa[nish] Ambassador,
having that day an audience, delivered to the Queen that his Master was
well pleased with all those particulars which had been formerly treated.
And the French Ambassador in _Spain_ is said to have had instruction, to
do the same office in that Court, the same day. Since that, that is to
say, these 4 last days, it hath been solemnized with more outward bravery
then this Court is remembered to have appeared in. The main bravery was
the number of horses which were above 800 Caparazond. Before the daies,
the town was full of the 5 Challengers cartells, full of Rodomontades: but
in the execution, there were noe personall reencounters, nor other triall
of any ability, then running at the Quintain, and the Ring. Other
particulars of this, you cannot chuse but hear too much, since at this
time there come to you so many French men. But lest you should beleeve too
much, I present you these 2 precautions, that for their Gendarmery, there
was no other trial then I told you; & for their bravery, no true stuffe.
You must of necessity have heard often of a Book written against the Popes
jurisdiction, about three moneths since, by one _Richer_, a D{r} and
Syndique of the Sorbonists, which Book hath now been censured by an
assembly of the Clergie of this Archbishoprick, promoved with so much
diligence by the Cardinall _Peroun_ [_du Perron_], that for this businesse
he hath intermitted his replie to the Kings answer, which now he retires
to intend seriously: I have not yet had the honour to kisse his Graces
hand, though I have received some half-invitations to do it. _Richer_ was
first accused to the Parliament, but when it was there required of his
delators to insist upon some propositions in his Book, which were either
against Scripture, or the Gallican Church, they desisted in that pursuit.
But in the censure which the Clergie hath made, though it be full of
modifications and reservations of the rights of the King, and the Gallican
Churches, there is this iniquitie, that being to be published by
commandment of the Assembly, in all the Churches of _Paris_, which is
within that Diocese, and almost all the Curates of the Parishes of _Paris_
being Sorbonists, there is by this means a strong party of the Sorbonists
themselves raised against _Richer_; yet against this censure, and against
three or four which have opposed _Richer_ in print, he meditates an
answer. Before it should come forth I desired to speak with him, for I had
said to some of the Sorbonist of his party, that there was no proposition
in his Book, which I could not shew in Catholique authors of 300 years: I
had from him an assignation to meet, and at the hour he sent me his
excuse, which was, that he had been traduced to have had conference with
the Ambassadors of _England_, and the States, and with the D[uke] of
_Bovillon_, and that he had accepted a pension of the King of _England_;
and withall, that it had been very well testified to him that day, that
the Jesuits had offered to corrupt men with rewards to kill him. Which I
doubt not but he apprehended for true, because a messenger whom I sent to
fixe another time of meeting with him, found him in an extreme trembling,
and irresolutions: so that I had no more, but an intreaty to forbear
comming to his house, or drawing him out of it, till it might be without
danger or observation. They of the Religion held a Synod at this time in
this Town, in which the principall businesse is to rectifie, or at least
to mature, against their Provinciall Synod, which shall be held in _May_,
certain opinions of _Tilenus_ a Divine of _Sedan_, with which the Churches
of _France_ are scandalized. The chief point is, Whether our salvation be
to be attributed to the passive merit of Christ, which is his death, or to
his active also, which is his fulfilling of the Law. But I doubt not but
that will be well composed, if _Tilenus_ who is here in person with two
other assistants, bring any disposition to submit himself to the Synod,
and not onely to dispute. I doe (I thank God) naturally and heartily
abhorre all schism in Religion so much, as, I protest, I am sorry to
finde this appearance of schism amongst our adversaries the Sorbonists;
for I had rather they had held together, to have made a head against the
usurpations of the Ro[man] Church, then that their disuniting should so
enfeeble them, as that the Parliament should be left alone to stand
against those tyrannies. Sir, you will pardon my extravagancies in these
relations. I look upon nothing so intentively as these things, nor fals
there any thing within my knowledge, which I would conceal from you.
Though it concern not you to know it, yet me thinks it concerns me to tell
it. That _Cook_ of which you writ to me, is come hither, and hath brought
me other Letters, but not those of which you writ to me, which pacquet, he
saies, you received again of him; whether by his falshood, or by your
diligence in seeking a worthier messenger, I know not; but I am sure I
never lost any thing with more sorrow, because I am thereby left still in
uncertainties, and irresolutions, of that which I desire much to know in
womens businesses. If you write this way any more, chuse no other means,
then by M{r} _Bruer_ at the Queens Arms, a Mercer in _Cheapside_: he
shall alwaies know where we are, and we are yet in a purpose to go from
hence within a fortnight, and dispose our selves to be at _Frankford_ the
25 of _May_, when the election of the Emperor shall be there. Though I be
meerly passive in all this pilgrimage, yet I shall be willing to advance
that design; because upon my promise that I would doe so, Sir _Rob. Rich_
gave me his, that he would divert from his way to _Italy_ so much, as to
be there then. When I came to this Town I found M{r} _Matthew_, diligent
to finde a means to write to you; so that at this time, when there go so
many, I cannot doubt but he provides himself, therefore I did not ask his
commandement, nor offer him the service of this Pacquet. Sir, you are not
evener to your self, in your most generall wishes of your own good, then I
am in my particular, of which none rises in me, that is not bent upon your
enjoying of peace and reposednesse in your fortunes, in your affections,
and in your conscience; more then which I know not how to wish to

  _Your very affectionate servant and
  J. Donne.

  Paris _the_ 9 Apr.
  1612. _here_.


_To Sir_ H. Wotton.

Octob. _the_ 4th 1622. _almost ad midnight._


All our moralities are but our out-works, our Christianity is our Citadel;
a man who considers duty but the dignity of his being a man, is not easily
beat from his outworks, but from his Christianity never; and therefore I
dare trust you, who contemplates them both. Every distemper of the body
now, is complicated with the spleen, and when we were young men we scarce
ever heard of the spleen. In our declinations now, every accident is
accompanied with heavy clouds of melancholy; and in our youth we never
admitted any. It is the spleen of the minde, and we are affected with
vapors from thence; yet truly, even this sadnesse that overtakes us, and
this yeelding to the sadnesse, is not so vehement a poison (though it be
no Physick neither) as those false waies, in which we sought our comforts
in our looser daies. You are able to make rules to your self, and our
B[lessed] Saviour continue to you an ability to keep within those rules.
And this particular occasion of your present sadnesse must be helped by
the rule, for, for examples you will scarce finde any, scarce any that is
not encombred and distressed in his fortunes. I had locked my self, sealed
and secured my self against all possibilities of falling into new debts,
and in good faith, this year hath thrown me 400{l} lower then when I
entred this house. I am a Father as well as you, and of children (I humbly
thank God) of as good dispositions; and in saying so, I make account that
I have taken my comparison as high as I could goe; for in good faith, I
beleeve yours to be so: but as those my daughters (who are capable of such
considerations) cannot but see my desire to accommodate them in this
world, so I think they will not murmure if heaven must be their Nunnery,
and they associated to the B. virgins there: I know they would be content
to passe their lives in a Prison, rather then I should macerate my self
for them, much more to suffer the mediocrity of my house, and my means,
though that cannot preferre them: yours are such too, and it need not that
patience, for your fortune doth not so farre exercise their patience. But
to leave all in Gods hands, from whose hands nothing can be wrung by
whining but by praying, nor by praying without the _Fiat voluntas tua_.
Sir, you are used to my hand, and, I think have leisure to spend some time
in picking out sense, in ragges; else I had written lesse, and in longer
time. Here is room for an _Amen_; the prayer----so I am going to my
bedside to make for all you and all yours, with

  _Your true friend and servant in Chr. Jesus_
  J. Donne.


A. V. _Merced_.


I write not to you out of my poor Library, where to cast mine eye upon
good Authors kindles or refreshes sometimes meditations not unfit to
communicate to near friends; nor from the high way, where I am contracted,
and inverted into my self; which are my two ordinary forges of Letters to
you. But I write from the fire side in my Parler, and in the noise of
three gamesome children; and by the side of her, whom because I have
transplanted into a wretched fortune, I must labour to disguise that from
her by all such honest devices, as giving her my company, and discourse,
therefore I steal from her, all the time which I give this Letter, and it
is therefore that I take so short a list, and gallop so fast over it. I
have not been out of my house since I received your pacquet. As I have
much quenched my senses, and disused my body from pleasure, and so tried
how I can indure to be mine own grave, so I try now how I can suffer a
prison. And since it is but to build one wall more about our soul, she is
still in her own Center, how many circumferences soever fortune or our own
perversnesse cast about her. I would I could as well intreat her to go
out, as she knows whither to go. But if I melt into a melancholy whilest I
write, I shall be taken in this manner: and I sit by one too tender
towards these impressions, and it is so much our duty, to avoid all
occasions of giving them sad apprehensions, as S. _Hierome_ accuses _Adam_
of no other fault in eating the Apple, but that he did it _Ne
contristaretur delicias suas_. I am not carefull what I write, because the
inclosed Letters may dignifie this ill favoured bark, and they need not
grudge so course a countenance, because they are now to accompany
themselves, my man fetched them, and therefore I can say no more of them
then themselves say. M{ris} _Meauly_ intreated me by her Letter to hasten
hers, as I think, for by my troth I cannot read it. My Lady was
dispatching in so much haste for _Twicknam_, as she gave no word to a
Letter which I sent with yours; of Sir _Tho. Bartlet_, I can say nothing,
nor of the plague, though your Letter bid me: but that he diminishes, the
other increases, but in what proportion I am not clear. To them at
_Hammersmith_, and M{ris} _Herbert_ I will do your command. If I have been
good in hope, or can promise any little offices in the future probably, it
is comfortable, for I am the worst present man in the world; yet the
instant, though it be nothing, joynes times together, and therefore this
unprofitableness, since I have been, and will still indevour to be so,
shall not interrupt me now from being

  _Your servant and lover_
  J. Donne.


_To the best Knight Sir_ H. Wootton.


When I saw your good Countesse last, she let me think that her message by
her foot-man would hasten you up. And it furthered that opinion in me,
when I knew how near M. _Mathews_ day of departing this kingdome was. To
counterpoyse 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 performes 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 [Crusade] for the warres 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 encrease 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 onely child, then 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 kinde of piety, and I am
easie to beleeve (because I wish it) your hast hither: Not that I can fear
any slacknesse in that business which drew you down, because your fortune
and honour are a paire of good spurs to it; but here also you have both
true businesse and many _Quasi negotia_, which go two and two to a
businesse; 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 abjuration was in use in this land, the
State and law was satisfied if the abjuror came to the sea side, and waded
into the sea, when windes and tydes resisted, so we think our selves
justly excusable to our friends and our selves, if when we should do
businesse, we come to the place of businesse, as Courts and the houses of
great Princes and officers. I do not so much intimate your infirmity in
this, as frankly confesse mine own. The master of Latine language says,
_Oculi & aures aliorum te speculantur & custodiunt_. So those two words
are synonimous, & only the observation of others upon me, is my
preservation from extream idlenesse, else I professe, that I hate
businesse so much, as I am sometimes glad to remember that the _Roman
Church_ reads that verse _A negotio perambulante in tenebris_, which we
reade from the pestilence walking by night, so equall to me do the plague
and businesse deserve avoiding, but you will neither beleeve that I abhor
businesse, if I enlarge this Letter, nor that I would afford you that ease
which I affect. Therefore returne to your pleasures.

  _Your unprofitablest friend_
  J. Donne.

  March 14. 1607[8].

_It is my third Letter: which I tell you, because I found not M{r}_
Rogers, _but left the Letter which I sent last, with a stranger at_
Cliffords Inne.


_To Sir_ H. G.


This 14 of _November_ last I received yours of the 9, as I was in the
street going to sup with my Lady _Bedford_; I found all that company
forepossessed with a wonder why you came not last saturday. I perceive,
that as your intermitting your Letters to me, gave me reason to hope for
you, so some more direct addresse or conscience of your businesse here,
had imprinted in them an assurance of your comming. This Letter shall but
talke, not discourse; it shall but gossip, not consider, nor consult, so
it is made halfe with a prejudice of being lost by the way. The King is
gone this day for _Royston_: and hath left with the Queen a commandment to
meditate upon a Masque for Christmas, so that they grow serious about that
already; that will hasten my Lady _Bedfords_ journey, who goes within ten
days from hence to her Lord, but by reason of this, can make no long stay
there. _Justinian_ the _Venetian_ [ambassador] is gone hence, and one
_Carraw_ [_Carow_] come in his place: that State hath taken a fresh
offence at a Friar, who refused to absolve a Gentleman, because he would
not expresse in confession, what books of Father _Paul_, and such, he knew
to be in the hands of any others; the State commanded him out of that
territory in three hours warning, and he hath now submitted himself, and
is returned as prisoner for _Mantua_, and so remains as yet. Sir _H.
Wootton_ who writ hither, addes also that upon his knowledge there are
14000 as good Protestants as he in that State. The Duke _Joyeuse_ is dead,
in _Primont_ [_Peidmont_], returning from _Rome_, where M. _Mole_ [_Molé_]
who went with the L[ord] _Rosse_, is taken into the Inquisition, and I see
small hope of his recovery, for he had in some translations of _Plessis_
books talked of _Babylon_ and Antichrist. Except it fall out that one
_Strange_ a Jesuit in the Tower, may be accepted for him. To come a little
nearer my self, Sir _Geffery Fenton_ one of his Majesties Secretaries in
_Ireland_ is dead; and I have made some offer for the place, in
preservation whereof, as I have had occasion to imploy all my friends, so
I have not found in them all (except _Bedford_) more hast and words (for
when those two are together, there is much comfort even in the least) then
in the L. _Hay_. In good faith he promised so roundly, so abundantly, so
profusely, as I suspected him, but performed what ever he undertook, (and
my requests were the measures of his undertakings) so readily and truly,
that his complements became obligations, and having spoke like a Courtier,
did like a friend. This I tell you, because being farre under any ability
of expressing my thankfulnesse to him by any proportionall service, I do,
as much as I can, thank him by thanking of you, who begot, or nursed these
good impressions of me in him. Sir, as my discretion would do, my fortune
doth bring all my debts into one hand, for I owe you what ever Court
friends do for me, yea, whatsoever I do for myself, because you almost
importune me, to awake and stare the Court in the face. I know not yet
what conjecture to make of the event. But I am content to go forward a
little more in the madnesse of missing rather then not pretend; and rather
wear out, then rust. It is extreme late; and as this Letter is nothing, so
if ever it come to you, you will know it without a name, and therefore I
may end it here.


_To the Honourable Knight Sir_ H. Goodere.


Though you escape my lifting up of your latch by removing, you cannot my
Letters; yet of this Letter I do not much accuse my self, for I serve your
Commandment in it, for it is only to convey to you this paper opposed to
those, with which you trusted me. It is (I cannot say the waightyest, but
truly) the saddest lucubration and nights passage that ever I had. For it
exercised those hours, which, with extreme danger to her, whom I should
hardly have abstained from recompensing for her company in this world,
with accompanying her out of it, encreased my poor family with a son.
Though her anguish, and my fears, and hopes, seem divers and wild
distractions from this small businesse of your papers, yet because they
all narrowed themselves, and met in _Via regia_, which is the
consideration of our selves, and God, I thought it time not unfit for this
despatch. Thus much more then needed I have told you, whilest my fire was
lighting at Tricombs [at] 10 a clock.

  _Yours ever intirely_
  J. Donne.


_To the Honourable Knight_ H. G.


Your Son left here a Letter for me, from you. But I neither discern by it
that you have received any of mine lately; which have been many, and
large, and too confident to be lost, especially since, (as I remember)
they always conveyed others to that good Lady; neither do I know where to
finde, by any diligence, your sons lodging. But I hope he will apprehend
that impossibility in me, and finde me here, where he shall also finde as
much readinesse to serve him, as at _Polesworth_. This Letter of yours
makes me perceive, that that Lady hath expressed her purpose to you in
particular, for the next term. Accordingly, I make my promises: for since
one that meant but to flatter, told an Emperour, that his benefits were to
be reckoned from the day of the promise, because he never failed, it were
an injury from me to the constancy of that noble Lady, if I should not, as
soon as the promises, do some act of assurance of the performance; which I
have done, as I say, in fixing times to my creditors; for by the end of
next terme, I will make an end with the world, by Gods grace. I lack you
here, for my L. of _Dorset_, he might make a cheap bargain with me now,
and disingage his honour, which in good faith, is a little bound, because
he admitted so many witnesses of his large disposition towards me. They
are preparing for a Masque of Gentlemen: in which M. _Villars_ is, and M.
_Karre_, whom I told you before my L. Chamberlain had brought into the
bed-chamber. I pray, if you make not so thick goings as you used, send
this Letter to that good woman, for it is not only mine. If I could stay
this Letter an hour, I should send you something of _Savoy_, for Sir _Rob.
Rich_, who is now come from Court, hath laid a commandment upon me by
message to waite upon him; and I know his busines, because he never sought
me, but in one kinde. But the importunity of the houre excuses me, and
delivers you from further trouble from

  _Your very true friend and servant_
  J. Donne.

  13 Decemb.


_To Sir_ H. G.


I Love to give you advantages upon me, therefore I put my self in need of
another pardon from you, by not comming to you; yet I am scarce guilty
enough to spend much of your vertue from you, because I knew not of your
being come till this your Letter told me so, in the midst of dinner at
_Peckham_, this Monday. Sir, I am very truly yours; if you have overvalued
me in any capacity, I will do what I can to overtake your hopes of me. I
wish my self whatsoever you wish me; and so I do, what ever you wish your
self. I am prisoner and close; else I had not needed this pardon, for I
long much, and much more by occasion of your Letter, to see you: when you
finde that good Lady emptiest of businesse and pleasure, present my humble
thanks; you can do me no favour, which I need not, nor any, which I cannot
have some hope to deserve, but this; for I have made her opinion of me,
the ballance by which I weigh my self. I will come soon enough to deliver
my thanks to Sir _J. Harr[ington]_ for your ease, whom I know I have
pained with an ilfavoured Letter; but my heart hath one style, and
character, and is yours in wishing, and in thankfulnesse.

  J. Donne.

  Peckham _Monday afternoon_.


_To the Honourable Sir_ R. D.


I gave no answer to the Letter I received from you upon Tuesday, both
because I had in it no other commandment by it but to deliver your Letter
therein, which I did, and because that Letter found me under very much
sadnesse, which (according to the proportion of ills that fall upon me) is
since also increased, so that I had not written now, if I had been sure to
have been better able to write next week, which I have not much appearance
of: yet there was committed to my disposition (that is, left at my house
in my absence) a Letter from Sir _W. Lover_, but it was some hours after
all possibility of sending it by the carrier, so that M{r} _W. Stanhope_
giving me the honour of a visite at that time, and being instantly to
depart, for your parts, did me the favour to undertake the delivery of it
to you. With me, Sir, it is thus: there is not one person (besides my
self) in my house well. I have already lost half a child, and with that
mischance of hers, my wife fallen into an indisposition, which would
afflict her much, but that the sicknesse of her children stupefies her:
of one of which, in good faith, I have not much hope. This meets a fortune
so ill provided for physique and such relief, that if God should ease us
with burials, I know not well how to performe even that. I flatter my self
in this, that I am dying too: nor can I truly dye faster, by any waste,
then by losse of children. But Sir, I will mingle no more of my sadness to
you, but wil a little recompense it, by telling you that my L.
_Harrington_, of whom a few days since they were doubtfull, is so well
recovered that now they know all his disease to be the Pox, and Measels
mingled. This I heard yesterday: for I have not been there yet. I came as
near importunity as I could, for an answer from Essex house, but this was
all, that he should see you shortly himselfe.

  _Your servant_
  J. Donne.

_I cannot tell you so much, as you tell me, of any thing from my Lord of_
Som[erset] _since the Epithalamion, for I heard nothing._


_To the Honourable Knight Sir_ H. Goodere.


I have but one excuse for not sending you the Sermon that you do me the
honour to command, and I foresee that before I take my hand from this
paper, I shall lose the benefit of that excuse; it is that for more than
twenty days, I have been travelled [travailed] with a pain, in my right
wrist, so like the Gout, as makes me unable to write. The writing of this
Letter will implore a commentary for that, that I cannot write legibly;
for that I cannot write much, this Letter will testifie against me. Sir, I
beseech you, at first, tell your company, that I decline not the service
out of sullennesse nor lazinesse, nor that any fortune damps me so much,
as that I am not sensible of the honour of their commanding it, but a meer
inexperience whether I be able to write eight hours or no; but I will try
next week, and either do it, for their service, or sink in their service.
This is Thursday: and upon Tuesday my Lady _Bedford_ came to this town:
this afternoon I presented my service to her, by M{ris} _Withrington_:
and so asked leave to have waited upon them at supper: but my messenger
found them ready to go into their Coach: so that a third Letter which I
received from M{ris} _Dudley_, referring me to M{ris} _Withringtons_
relation of all that State, I lose it till their return to this town. To
clear you in that wherein I see by your Letter that I had not well
expressed my self in mine, Sir _Ed. Herbert_ writ to Sir _Ed. Sackvil_,
not to presse the King to fix any certain time of sending him, till he was
come over, and had spoken with the King: Sir _Ed. Sackvil_ collects upon
that, that Sir _Ed. H._ means to go again; I think it is only, that he
would have his honour so saved, as not to seem to be recalled, by having a
successor, before he had emptied the place. We hear nothing from my Lord
of _Doncaster_; nor have we any way to send to him. I have not seen my
Lady _Doncaster_, for she crost to _Penhurst_, and from thence to
_Petworth_; my Lady _Isabella_ came to this Town, where, before her
comming, a Letter attended her from my Lady of _Tichfield_: and thither
she went, with their servants, who staid her comming. Hither came lately
Letters with goodspeed from _Vienna_, in which there is no mention of
any such defeat, as in rumour C[ount] _Mansfeld_ hath been said to have
given to the D[uke] of _Bavyer_ [_Bavaria_] but their forces were then
within such distance, as may have procured something before this time.
Those which watched advantages in the Court of the Emperour, have made
that use of C[ount] _Mansfelds_ proceedings, as that my Lord _Digby_
complains, that thereby the forwardnesse in which his negotiation was, is
somewhat retarded. He proceeds from thence into _Spain_. The D. of
_Bavyer_ hath presented the Emperour an account of 1200{ml} [£1,200,000]
sterling in that warre, to be reimbursed: and finding the Palatinate to be
in treaty, hath required a great part of _Austria_ for his security, and
they say, it is so transacted; which is a good signe of a possibility in
the restitution of the Palatinate. For any thing I discern, their fears
are much greater from _Hungary_, then from _Bohemia_; and the losse of
Canon, in a great proportion, and other things, at the death of _Bucquoy_,
was much greater, then they suffered to be published. We here _Spinola_ is
passed over at _Rhenebery_ [_Rheinsberg_]; if it be so, they are no longer
distracted, whether he would bend upon _Juliers_, or the Palatinate. I
know not what you hear from your noble son in law, who sees those things
clearly in himself, and in the near distance; but I hear here, that the
King hath much lost the affection of the English in those parts. Whether
it proceed from any sowrenesse in him, or that they be otherwise taken
off, from applying themselves to him, I know not. My Lord of S. Albons
[_St. Albans_] hath found so much favour as that a pension of 2000 _l._
will be given him; he desires that he might have it for [----] years, that
so he might transferre it upon his creditors, or that in place of it he
might have 8000 _l._ for he hath found a disposition in his creditors (to
whom I hear he hath paid 3000 _l._ since by retyring) to accept 8000 _l._
for all his debts, which are three times as much. I have been some times
with my L. of _Canterbury_, since by [_sic_] accident, to give you his own
words. I see him retain his former cheerfulnesse here and at _Croydon_,
but I do not hear from Court, that he hath any ground for such a
confidence, but that his case may need favour, and not have it. That
place, and _Bedington_, and _Chelsey_, and Highgate, where that very good
man my Lord _Hobard_ is, and _Hackney_, with the M[aster] of the Rolls,
and my familiar _Peckham_, are my circumferrence. No place so eccentrique
to me, as that I lye just at _London_; and with those fragmentary
recreations I must make shift to recompense the missing of that
contentment which your favour opens to me, and my desire provokes me to,
the kissing of your hands at _Polesworth_. My daughter _Constance_ is at
this time with me, for the emptinesse of the town hath made me, who
otherwise live upon the almes of others, a housekeeper, for a moneth; and
so she is my servant below stairs, and my companion above: she was at the
table with me, when your Letter was brought, and I pay her a piece of her
petition in doing her this office, to present her service to my Lady
_Nethersoles_, and her very good sister. But that she is gone to bed two
hours before I writ this, she should have signed with such a hand as your
daughter _Mary_ did to me, that which I testifie for her, that she is as
affectionate a servant to them all, as their goodnesse hath created any
where. Sir, I shall recompense my tediousnesse, in closing mine eyes with
a prayer for yours, as for mine own happinesse, for I am almost in bed; if
it were my last bed, and I upon my last businesse there, I should not
omit to joyn you with

  _Your very humble and very thankfull
  servant in Christ Jesus_
  J. Donne.

  Aug. 30. 1611.[21]


_To his honourable friend S{r}_ H. G.


To you that are not easily scandalized, and in whom, I hope, neither my
Religion nor Morality can suffer, I dare write my opinion of that Book in
whose bowels you left me. It hath refreshed, and given new justice to my
ordinary complaint, That the Divines of these times, are become meer
Advocates, as though Religion were a temporall inheritance; they plead for
it with all sophistications, and illusions and forgeries: And herein are
they likest Advocates, that though they be feed by the way, with
Dignities, and other recompenses, yet that for which they plead is none of
theirs. They write for Religion, without it. In the main point in
question, I think truly there is a perplexity (as farre as I see yet) and
both sides may be in justice, and innocence; and the wounds which they
inflict upon the adverse part, are all _se defendendo_: for, clearly, our
State cannot be safe without the Oath; since they professe, that
Clergie-men, though Traitors, are no Subjects, and that all the rest may
be none to morrow. And, as clearly, the Supremacy which the Ro[man] Church
pretend, were diminished, if it were limited; and will as ill abide that,
or disputation, as the Prerogative of temporall Kings, who being the onely
judges of their prerogative, why may not Roman Bishops, (so enlightened as
they are presumed by them) be good witnesses of their own supremacie,
which is now so much impugned? But for this particular Author, I looked
for more prudence, and humane wisdome in him, in avoiding all miscitings,
or misinterpretings, because at this time, the watch is set, and every
bodies hammer is upon that anvill; and to dare offend in that kinde now,
is, for a theef to leave the covert, and meet a strong hue and cry in the
teeth: and yet truly this man is extremely obnoxious in that kinde; for,
though he have answered many things fully, (as no book ever gave more
advantage then that which he undertook) and abound in delicate
applications, and ornaments, from the divine and prophane authors, yet
being chiefly conversant about two points, he prevaricates in both. For,
for the matter, which is the first, he referres it intirely, and namely,
to that which D[ean] _Morton_ hath said therein before, and so leaves it
roundly: And for the person (which is the second) upon whom he amasses as
many opprobries, as any other could deserve, he pronounceth, that he will
account any answer from his adversary, slaunder, except he do (as he hath
done) draw whatsoever he saith of him, from Authors of the same Religion,
and in print: And so, he having made use of all the Quodlibetaries,
imputations against the other, cannot be obnoxious himself in that kinde,
and so hath provided safely. It were no service to you, to send you my
notes upon the Book, because they are sandy, and incoherent ragges, for my
memory, not for your judgment; and to extend them to an easinesse, and
perspicuity, would make them a Pamphlet, not a Letter. I will therefore
deferre them till I see you; and in the mean time, I will adventure to say
to you, without inserting one unnecessary word, that the Book is full of
falsifications in words, and in sense, and of falshoods in matter of fact,
and of inconsequent and unscholarlike arguings, and of relinquishing the
King, in many points of defence, and of contradiction of himself, and of
dangerous and suspected Doctrine in Divinitie, and of silly ridiculous
triflings, and of extreme flatteries, and of neglecting better and more
obvious answers, and of letting slip some enormous advantages which the
other gave, and he spies not. I know (as I begun) I speak to you who
cannot be scandalized, and that neither measure Religion (as it is now
called) by Unitie, nor suspect Unity, for these interruptions. Sir, not
onely a Mathematique point, which is the most indivisible and unique thing
which art can present, flowes into every line which is derived from the
Center, but our soul which is but one, hath swallowed up a Negative, and
feeling soul; which was in the body before it came, and exercises those
faculties yet; and God himselfe, who only is one, seems to have been
eternally delighted, with a disunion of persons. They whose active
function it is, must endevour this unity in Religion: and we at our lay
Altars (which are our tables, or bedside, or stools, wheresoever we dare
prostrate our selves to God in prayer) must beg it of him: but we must
take heed of making misconclusions upon the want of it: for, whether the
Maior and Aldermen fall out, (as with us and the Puritans; Bishops against
Priests) or the Commoners voyces differ who is Maior, and who Aldermen, or
what their Jurisdiction, (as with the Bishop of _Rome_, or whosoever) yet
it is still one Corporation.

  _Your very affectionate servant and
  J. Donne.

  Micham, Thursday

_Never leave the remembrance of my poor service unmentioned when you see
the good Lady._


_To S{r}_ T. H.


This evening, which is _5 October_, I finde your Letter of _Michaelmas_
day, and though I see by it, that it is a return of a Letter, not of the
last weeks, and thereupon make account, that my last weeks Letter hath
satisfied you in some things which this Letter commands, concerning
_Pauls_, yet for other things I would give you a drowsie relation, for it
is that time of night, tho[u]gh I called it evening. At the Kings going
from hence, upon _Munday_ last, we made account to have seen Sir _John
Sutclin_ Secretary, and Sir _Rob. Weston_ Chancellor of the Exchequer, but
they are not done, but both are fixed: my L. _Cranfield_ received his
staffe, with these two suits obtained from the King, That all Assignations
might be transferred into the Exchequer, and so no paiments charged upon
the Customes, nor Receivers, nor the Court of Wards, &c. And that for a
time there might be a damp cast upon Pensions, till they might be
considered. In the Low Countries the Armies stirre not. In the Palatinate
Sir _H. Vere_ attempting the regaining of _Stenie_ Castle, was surprised
with the Enemy in so much strength, that they write it over for a
Master-piece, that he was able to make a retreat to _Manheme_
[_Mannheim_]: so that now the Enemy is got on that side the River which
_Heydelberg_ is on, and I know nothing that can stand in his way. My L.
_Digby_ comes from _Vienna_, before he goes into _Spain_, by Count
_Mansfield_, by the Palatinate, by _Paris_; and therefore upon his
comming, I shall be able to say something to you. In Sir _John Sutclin_ I
presume you see an end of Sir _Ro. Naunton_, and we see an end of M{r}
_Tho. Murray_ too; I beleeve he comes no more to the Prince. For the
triall of my L. of _Canterburies_ irregularity, there is a Commission to
sixe Bishops, _London_, _Winchester_, _Rochester_, and three onely elect,
_Lincoln_, _S. Davids_, _and Exeter_: two Judges, L. _Hobard_, and
_Dodridge_; two Civilians, Sir _H. Martin_, and D[r.] _Steward_. The
consecration of these elect Bishops, and consequently, my being Dean, must
attend the issue of this Commission. Sir _Tho. Roe_ is gone. The
Proclamations of putting off the Parliament, till _February_, are like to
outrun this Letter. It is very late; and it is one act, to say Grace after
Supper, and to commend my self into the hands of my blessed Saviour, in my
bed, and so close this Letter, and mine eies, with the same blessing upon
all your family. Amen

  _Your poor servant in Chr. Jes._
  J. Donne.


_To Sir_ H. G.


I receive this 14 your Letter of the 10. yet I am not come to an
understanding how these Carriers keep daies: for I would fain think that
the Letters which I sent upon _Thursday_ last might have given you such an
account of the state of my family, that you needed not have asked by this.
But Sir, it hath pleased God to adde thus much to my affliction, that my
wife hath now confessed her self to be extremely sick; she hath held out
thus long to assist me, but is now overturn'd, & here we be in two beds,
or graves; so that God hath marked out a great many of us, but taken none
yet. I have passed ten daies without taking any thing; so that I think no
man can live more thriftily. I have purged and vexed my body much since I
writ to you, and this day I have missed my fit: and this is the first
time, that I could discern any intermission. This is enough, the rest I
will spend upon the parts of your Letter: Your Letter at _Pauls_ is
delivered. In the History of that remove, this onely perchance may be news
to you, that M{r} _Alabaster_ hath got of the King the Deans best Living
worth above 300{l}, which the Dean had good hope to have held a while. Of
that which you writ concerning a Book of the Nullity, I have heard no
syllable any other way. If you have received it by good hands, I beleeve
it with you: otherwise the report is naturally very incredible. Though the
answering of it be a work for some, both of better abilities really, and
in common reputation also, yet I was like enough to have had some
knowledge thereof. You mention again some thing which it seems you are not
willing I should understand of my Lady _Huntington_: some of your former
Letters, have spoken of some other former Letters, (which I never saw)
which speak of the matter as of a history and thing done; and these later
Letters speak of it Prophetically, as of a future contingent. I am glad
the often remembrance of it, gives me often occasion of thankfulnesse to
her, for retaining me in her memory, and of professing my self in my end,
and ways, her most humble servant. For your Parliament businesse, I should
be very sorry, if you came not up, because I presume you had seposed many
businesses, to have been done at that time; but in the ways wherein you
have gone, I protest I am diffident. For first, for that L[ord] whom you
solicited by Letters through me, I tell you with the whispering of a
secret, but the confidence of a friend, that you will be deceived
whensoever you think that he should take any delight in doing you a
courtesie. And I am afraid, the true heartinesse of the other noble
Gentleman M. _Howard_, will be of small use in this perticular, if he have
but solicited my L. his father to reserve a blanke for his friend, for my
L. hath suffered more denialls, even in places where he sent names, then
could have been feared. Besides M. _How[ard]_ hath not written to his
father therein, but to M. _Woodward_, who perceiving those Letters to be
written, before his purpose of being Knight for the shire, thinkes these
Letters extinguished. You made me offer so long since of a place (it was
when you writ into the west) yet I could think it no merit to have offered
you one since, otherwise it hath been since in my power, for since the
M{r} of the Rolls provided me one, Sir _Ed. Herbert_, who makes haste
away, made me a present of his; and I have had a third offer. The
businesse of your last weeks Letter concerning the widow, is not a
subject for a feverous mans consideration. Therefore I only send you back
those Letters which you sent; and aske you leave to make this which I am
fain to call my good day, so much truly good, as to spend the rest of it
with D[octor] _Layfield_, who is, upon my summons, at this hour come to
me. My Physicians have made me afraid, that this disease will work into my
head, and so put me into lightnesses, therefore I am desirous that I be
understood before any such danger overtake me.

  _Your true poor servant_
  J. Donne.

  14. March.


_To the Honourable Knight Sir_ H. G.


After I have told you, that the Lady _Hay_ dyed last Tuesday, and that to
her end she was anguished with the memory of the execution of that fellow
which attempted her in the coach, I have told you all which hath fallen
out here. Except between you and me that may be worth the telling, that my
L. Chancellor gave me so noble and so ready a dispatch, accompanied with
so fatherly advise, and remorse for my fortunes, that I am now, like an
Alchymist, delighted with discoveries by the way, though I attain not mine
end. It spent me so little time after your going, that, although you speak
in your Letter of good dispatch in your going, yet I might have overtaken
you. And though perchãce if I had gone, it might have been inconvenient
for me, to have put my self into my L. Chamberlains presence, if that
sicknesse be earnest at _Ashby_, and so I should nothing have advanced my
businesse, yet I should have come to that noble Lady with better
confidence, and more assurance of a pardon, when I had brought a
conscience, that I came despoiled of all other respects, only to kisse her
hands, in whose protection I am, since I have nor desire other station,
then a place in her good opinion. I took so good contentment in the
fashion which my L. Chancellor used towards me, that out of a voluptuous
loathnesse to let that taste go out of my mouth, I forbear to make any
further tryall in that businesse till the King come into these quarters.
So that, Sir, I am here in place to serve you, if either I be capable of
your commandments, or this town give any thing worth the writing. As
often as you see your noble friend, and her good sister, allow my name a
room in your discourse; it is a short one, and you will soon have done.
But tell them not my desire to do them service, for then you engage your
self in a longer discourse, then I am worthy. Only in pursuit of your
commandment I sent the Paquet to the Post, for in mine own understanding,
there should appear small hope of arriving by that way, except you know
otherwise that the LL. [Lords] mean to make some stay in their return, in
those parts: but the Letter is brought back again, for the Post went away
yesterday, and they knew of no occasion of sending till next week.
Therefore except I can inform my self of some good means, I will retain
it, till I have a fresh commandment from you. I see M. _Taverner_ still in
this town, the Lady _Carey_ went from hence but yesterday. I am in some
perplexity what to doe with this pacquet, till some good fortune, or your
Letters clear me.

  _Your humble servant_
  J. Donne.

  Aug. 19.


_To Sir_ H. Goodere _at_ Polesworth.


It is true that M. _Gherard_ told you, I had that commandment from the
King signified to me by my L[ord] and am still under it, and we are within
fourteen days of our time for going. I leave a scattered flock of wretched
children, and I carry an infirme and valetudinary body, and I goe into the
mouth of such adversaries, as I cannot blame for hating me, the Jesuits,
and yet I go. Though this be no service to my Lord: yet I shall never come
nearer doing him a service, nor do any thing liker a service then this.
Yesterday we had news by Sir _Nowell Carou_ [_Noel Caron_], from _Paris_,
that the D[uke] of _Savoy_ was elected King of _Bohemia_; which would cut
off a great part of the occasion of our going: but it is not much credible
in it self, nor at all beleeved here, because it is not signified from
_Savoy_, nor _Heidelberg_. Since M. _Gher_ [_Mr. Gerrard_] continues your
Gazittier, I need tell you nothing of the _Q[ueen]_ of _Frances_ estate.
For your commandment in memory of M. _Martin_, I should not have sate so
many processes, if I could incline my thoughts that way. It is not
lazinesse, it is not gravity, nor coldnesse towards his memory, or your
service; for I have thought of it oftener, and longer, then I was wont to
do in such things, and nothing is done. Your last pacquet, in which your
daughter and I were joynt-commissioners, was brought to me, because she
was at _Hampton_, with the Queens body: but I sent her part to her, and my
_La[dy] Uvedalls_ to her, who presents her service to you by me now,
and says she will write next week, and so will I too, by Gods grace. You
forget me absolutely and intirely, whensoever you forget me to that noble
Countesse. God blesse you in all, _Amen_.

  _Your true servant in Jes. Chr._
  J. Donne.

  9 Martii.


_To the best Knight Sir_ H. G.


At your conveniency, I pray send my Lady _Bedford_ this inclosed, but be
pleased to put your self to some inconvenience, (if it be so) to kisse my
Lady _Ruthins_ [_Ruthyn's_] hands in my name, and to present my very
humble service to her, and tell her, that no ill conscience of having
deserved her, but only an obedience to her commandments, keeps me from
saying to her self thus much; that this day I received a letter from my
_L[ord]_ of _Kent_, written yesterday at _Wrest_: in that his
Lordship[s] sends me word, that that favour which he hath formerly done
me, in giving me _Blouham_ [_Blonham_], is now likely to fall upon me,
because the Incumbent is dangerously ill: and because this is the season
in which he removes from _Wrest_ thither, he desires (for I give you his
own word) that he may be accommodate there, (if it fall now) as
heretofore. Out of my absolute and intire readiness to serve that family,
I sent back his messenger with this answer, that I esteemed it a great
part of my good fortune, that I should become worthy to be commanded by
him. If my Lady will be pleased to direct me in what particular manner I
may best serve her purposes, I shall gladly waite upon her at any time, to
receive her command with as much devotion and thankfulnesse as I received
the benefit. I beseech you make her beleeve it, as in any place you

  _Your poor servant in Chr. Jes._
  J. Donne.

  26 Febr. 1621.


_To my best of friends Sir_ H. G.


I heard not from you this week; therefore I write more willingly, because
it hath in it so much more merit. And I might do it very cheaply, since to
convey to you this Letter, which mine hath the honour to bring, any little
Letter would serve, and be acceptable for that. Because it came not last
week, I went now to solicite it, and she sent it me next day with some
thankes, and some excuse that she knew not me, when I was with her. You
know, I do not easily put my self into those hazards, nor do much brag of
my valor now, otherwise then I purposed it for a service to you. The
newest thing that I know in the world, is my new son: whose mothers being
well takes off from me any new waight upon my fortune. I hear in Newgate,
that M. _Mathew_ is dead. The Catholiques beleeve it there: perchance out
of a custome of credulity. But the report is close prisoner; for I never
met it abroad. This is my third letter, all which I sent by _Spelty_ whom
my boy found at _Abington_ house. I have now two of the best happinesses
which could befall me, upon me; which are, to be a widower and my wife
alive, which may make you know, that it is but for your ease, that this
letter is no longer, in this leasure in which (having nothing else to
write) I might vary a thousand ways that I am

  _Your very affectionate servant_
  J. Donne.

  Monday at night.


_To my worthy friend_ G. K.


I receive this heare [hour] that I begin this return, your Letter by a
servant of Sir _G. Greseley_, by whom also I hasten this dispatch. This
needs no enlargement since it hath the honour to convey one from M.
_Gherard_. But though by telling me, it was a bold letter, I had leave to
open it, and that I have a little itch to make some animadversions &
Criticismes upon it (as that there is a ciphar too much in the sum of the
Kings debts, and such like) yet since my eyes do easily fall back to their
distemper, and that I am this night to sup at Sir _Ar. Ingrams_, I had
rather forfeit their little strength at his supper, then with writing
such impertinencies: the best spending them, is upon the rest of your
Letter, to which, Sir, I can only say in generall, that Some appearances
have been here, of some treatise concerning this Nullity, which are said
to proceed from _Geneva_; but are beleeved to have been done within doors,
by encouragements of some whose names I will not commit to this letter. My
poor study having lyen that way, it may prove possible that my weak
assistance may be of use in this matter, in a more serious fashion, then
an Epithalamion. This made me therefore abstinent in that kinde; yet by my
troth, I think I shall not scape. I deprehend in my self more then an
alacrity, a vehemency to do service to that company; and so, I may finde
reason to make rime. If it be done, I see not how I can admit that circuit
of sending them to you, to be sent hither; that seems a kinde of praying
to Saints, to whom God must tell first, that such a man prays to them to
pray to him. So that I shall lose the honour of that conveyance; but, for
recompense, you shall scape the danger of approving it. My next Letter
shall say more of this. This shall end with delivering you the
remembrance of my Lady _Bartlet_, who is present at the sealing hereof.

  _Your very true and affectionate servant_
  J. Donne.

  Jan. 19.

_Which name when there is any empty corner in your discourse with that
noble Lady at_ Ashby, _I humbly beseech you to present to her as one more
devoted to her service then perchance you will say._


_To Sir_ G. B.


Between the time of making up my other Letters, and the hour that your man
limited me to call for them, came to my house an other pacquet directed to
him: for by this time, the carrier is as wise, as his horse, to go to the
house that he hath used to go. I found liberty in the superscription to
open, and so I did; but for that part which concerns him, I must attend
his comming hither, for I know not where to seek him; and besides, I have
enough to say for that part which concerns my self. Sir, even in the
Letter it self to me, I deprehend much inclination, to chide me: and it
is but out of your habit of good language that you spare me. So little
occasion as that postscript of mine, could not bring you so near to it, if
nothing else were mistaken, which (so God help me) was so little, that I
remember not what it was, and I would no more hear again what I write in
an officious Letter, then what I said at a drunken supper. I had no
purpose to exercise your diligence in presenting my name to that Lady, but
either I did, or should have said, that I writ onely to fill up any empty
corner in your discourse. So, Sir, the reading of the Letter, was a kinde
of travell to me, but when I came to the paper inclosed, I was brought to
bed of a monster. To expresse my self vehemently quickly, I must say, that
I can scarce think, that you have read M. _Gherards_ letter rightly,
therefore I send you back your own again. I will not protest against my
being such a knave, for no man shall have that from me, if he expect it:
but I will protest against my being such a fool, as to depose any thing in
him with hope of locking it up, and against that lownesse, of seeking
reputation by so poor a way. I am not so sorry, that I am a narrow man, as
that for all the narrownesse, you have not seen through me yet, nor known
me perfectly; for I might think by this, (if I had not other testimony)
that I have been little in your contemplation. Sixteen letters from M.
_Gherard_, could not (I think) perswade a _Middlesex_ Jury of so much
dishonesty in

  _Your true servant_
  J. Donne.


_To the Honourable Knight Sir_ G. P.


I would have intermitted this week without writing, if I had not found the
name of my Lady _Huntington_ in your Letter. The devotion which I owe, and
(in good faith) pay in my best prayers for her good in all kinde awakens
me to present my humble thanks for this, that her Ladiship retains my name
in her memory: she never laid obligation upon any man, readier to expresse
his acknowledgement of them, to any servant of her servants; I am bound to
say much of this, for your indemnity; because though I had a little
preparation to her knowledge in the house where I served at first, yet I
think, she took her characters of me, from you: And, at what time soever
she thought best of me in her life, I am better than that, for my
goodnesse is my thankfulnesse, and I am every day fuller of that then
before, to her L{ap}. I say nothing to you of forein names in this Letter,
because your son Sir _Francis_ is here. For that which you write
concerning your son, I onely gave my man _Martin_ in charge, to use his
interest in the Keeper, that your son should fall under no wants there,
which it seems your son discharged, for I hear not of them. For other
trifles, I bad my man let him have whatsoever he asked, so, as it might
seem to come from him, and not me; and laying that look upon it, it came
to almost nothing. Tell both your daughters a peece of a storie of my
_Con._ which may accustome them to endure disappointments in this world:
An honourable person (whose name I give you in a schedule to burn, lest
this Letter should be mis-laid) had an intention to give her one of his
sons, and had told it me, and would have been content to accept what I, by
my friends, could have begged for her; but he intended that son to my
Profession, and had provided him already 300{l} a year, of his own gift
in Church livings, and hath estated 300{l} more of inheritance for their
children: and now the youth, (who yet knows nothing of his fathers
intention nor mine) flies from his resolutions for that Calling, and
importunes his Father to let him travell. The girle knows not her losse,
for I never told her of it: but truly, it is a great disappointment to me.
More then these, Sir, we must all suffer, in our ways to heaven, where, I
hope you and all yours shall meet

  _Your poor friend, and affectionate servant_
  J. Donne.

  18 Octob.


_To my much honoured friend S{r}_ T. Lucy.


I Have scarce had at any time any thing so like news to write to you, as
that I am at this Town; we came from _Spâ_ with so much resolution of
passing by _Holland_. But at _Ma[a]stricht_ we found that the
lownesse, and slacknesse of the River, would incommodate us so much, as we
charged [changed] our whole gests, and came hither by Land. In the way at
_Lo[u]vaine_ we met the E[arl] of _Arondel_, to recompense the losse
wee had of missing my L. _Chandis_ [_Chandos_] and his company, who came
to _Spâ_ within a few hours after we came away. Sir _Ed. Conaway_
[_Conway_], by occasion of his bodies indisposition, was gone home before:
he told me he had some hope of you about _Bartholomewtide_: But because I
half understood by a Letter from you, that you were determined upon the
Countrie till _Michaelmas_, I am not so earnest in endevouring to prolong
our stay in these parts, as otherwise I should. If I could joine with him
in that hope of seeing you on this side the water; and if you should hold
that purpose of comming at that time, I should repent extremely my laying
of our journies; for (if we should by miracle hold any resolution) we
should be in _England_ about that time, so that I might misse you both
here, and there. Sir, our greatest businesse is more in our power then the
least, and we may be surer to meet in heaven then in any place upon earth;
and whilst we are distant here, we may meet as often as we list in Gods
presence, by soliciting in our prayers for one another. I received 4
Letters from you at _Spâ_ by long circuits. In the last, one from my
L[ord] _Dorset_: I, who had a conscience of mine own unworthinesse of any
favour from him, could not chuse but present my thanks for the least. I do
not therefore repent my forwardnesse in that office; and I beseech you not
to repent your part therein. Since we came to this Town, there arrived an
Extraordinary from _Spain_, with a reconfirmation of the D[uke] _d'Aumals_
Pension, which is thereby 2400{l} a year, & he brings the title of Count,
to _Rodrigo de Calderon_, who from a very low place, having grown to be
Secretary to _Lerma_, is now Ambassador here, and in great opinion of
wisdome: They say yet he goes to _Prague_ with the Marquis _Spinola_, and
the G[raf] _Buquoy_, to congratulate the Emperour; but we all conclude
here, that persons of such quality, being great in matter of Warre, are
not sent for so small an emploiment: we beleeve certainly, that they
deliberate a Warre, and that the reduction of _Aix_ being not worthy this
diligence, their intentions must be upon _Cleve[s]_, for the new Town
which the two Princes make by _Collen_ [_Cologne_] despites them much. The
Elector of _Ments_ [_Maintz_] hath lately been here, upon pretence of
comming in devotion to _Sichem_, and shortly the Electors of _Colein_
[_Cologne_] and _Saxony_ are to be here severally: all concurs to a
disposition of such a Warre, and the _Landsgrave_ of _Hasse_ [_Hesse_]
(who is as yet in the Union) is much solicited and caressed by this party,
and I doubt, will prove a frail and corruptible man. I durst think
confidently, that they will at least proceed so far towards a Warre, as to
try how _France_ will dispose it self in the businesse: for it is
conceived that the D. of _Bovillon_ [_Bouillon_] brought to our K[ing]
good assurances from the Qu[een] Regent, that she would pursue all her
husbands purposes in advancing the designes of those Princes who are in
possession of _Cleve[s]_, and in the Union. If she declare her self to
do so, when they stirre, they are like to divert their purposes; but if
she stand but neutrall (as it is likely, considering how Spanish the Court
is at this time) I see not that the Princes of the Union are much likely
to retard them. Sir, you see what unconcerning things I am fain to write
of, lest I should write of myself, who am so little a history or tale,
that I should not hold out to make a Letter long enough to send over a Sea
to you; for I should dispatch my self in this one word that I am

  _Your affectionate servant and lover_
  J. Donne.

  Aug. 16. _here._


_To the honourable Knight Sir_ H. G.


Since I received a Letter by your sonne, whom I have not yet had the
honour to see, I had a Letter Pacquet from you by M{r} _Roe_: To the
former, I writ before: In this I have no other commandement from you, but
to tell you, whether M{r} _Vill[i]ers_ have received from the K[ing]
any additions of honour, or profit. Without doubt he hath yet none. He is
here, practising for the Mask; of which, if I mis-remember not, I writ as
much as you desire to know, in a Letter which seems not to have been come
to you, when you writ. In the _Savoy_ business, the King hath declared
himself by an engagement, to assist him with 100000{l} a year, if the
Warre continue. But I beleeve, he must farm out your _Warwickshire_
Benevolence for the paiment thereof. Upon the strength of this engagement,
Sir _Rob. Rich_ becomes confident in his hopes. If you stood in an equall
disposition for the West, and onely forbore, by reason of M{r} _Martins_
silence, I wonder; for I think, I told you, that he was gone; and I saw in
Sir _Tho. Lucies_ hand, a Letter from him to you, which was likely to
tell you as much. Since I came from Court, I have stirred very little: Now
that the Court comes again to us, I may have something which you may be
content to receive from

  _Your very affectionate servant_
  J. Donne.

  18. Decemb.


_To my good friend Sr_ H. G.


The Messenger who brought me your Letter presented me a just excuse, for I
received them so late upon _Thursday_ night, that I should have dispatched
before I could begin; yet I have obeyed you drowsily, and coldly, as the
night and my indisposition commanded: yet perchance those hinderances have
done good, for so your Letters are the lesse curious, in which, men of
much leasure may soon exceed, when they write of businesse, they having
but a little. You mention two more letters then I send. The time was not
too short for me to have written them, (for I had an whole night) but it
was too short to work a beleefe in me, that you could think it fit to go
two so divers ways to one end. I see not, (for I see not the reason) how
those letters could well have concurred with these, nor how those would
well have been drawn from them, in a businesse wholly relating to this
house. I was not lazie in disobeying you, but (I thought) only thrifty,
and your request of those was not absolute, but conditioned, if I had
leasure. So though that condition hinder them not, since another doth (and
you forethought that one might) I am not stubborn. The good Countesse
spake somewhat of your desire of letters; but I am afraid she is not a
proper Mediatrix to those persons, but I counsail in the dark. And
therefore return to that, of which I have clear light, that I am always
glad, when I have any way to expresse my love; for in these commandements
you feed my desires, and you give me means to pay some of my debts to you:
the interest of which I pay in all my prayers for you, which, if it please
not God to shew here, I hope we shall finde again together in heaven,
whither they were sent. I came this morning to say thus much, and because
the Porter which came to _Micham_ summoned me for this hour to _London_:
from whence I am this minute returning to end a little course of Physick.

  _Yours very truly_
  J. Donne.

  Friday 8 in the morning.


_To Sir_ H. G.


I writ to you yesterday taking the boldnesse to put a letter into the good
Ladies pacquet for you. This morning I had this new occasion of writing,
that Sir _Tho. Roe_, who brought this inclosed Letter to me, and left it
unsealed, intreated me to take the first opportunity of sending it.
Besides that which is in that letter (for he read it to me) I came to the
knowledg in _Yorkhouse_ that my L[ord] Chancellor hath been moved, and
incensed against you; and asking Sir _Tho. Roe_, if he were directly or
occasionally any cause of that, he tells me thus much, that Sir _W.
Lover_, and Sir _H. Carey_, have obtained of my L[ord], to have a
Pursevant, and consequently a Sergeant sent into the Countrey for you. My
L. grounds this earnestnesse against you, upon some refusing to appear
upon processe which hath been taken out against you. And I perceive Sir.
_Ed. Eston_, and both the other, admit consultations, of ways by petition
to the King, or Counsail, or L[ord] Chamberlain, or any other. The great
danger, obliquely likely to fall, is that when it comes to light, how you
stand towards M. _Mathew_, you may lose the ease which you have by colour
of that extent, and he may lose the benefit, of having had so much of his
estate concealed. You will therefore at least pardon my advising you, to
place those sums, which by your retiring I presume you do imploy upon
payment of debts, in such places as that these particular friends be not
forced to leave being so. I confesse, the going about to pay debts,
hastens importunity. I finde in my self, that where I was not asked money
before, yet when I offered to pay next Terme, they seem loth to afford me
that time, which might justly have been desperate before: but that which
you told me out of the Countrey, with the assistance which I hope to finde
here, (especially if your indevour may advance it at _Dorset_ house) I
hope will inable me to escape clamor, and an ill conscience, in that
behalf. One thing more I must tell you; but so softly, that I am loath to
hear my self: and so softly, that if that good Lady were in the room, with
you and this Letter, she might not hear. It is, that I am brought to a
necessity of printing my Poems, and addressing them to my L. Chamberlain.
This I mean to do forthwith; not for much publique view, but at mine own
cost, a few Copies. I apprehend some incongruities in the resolution; and
I know what I shall suffer from many interpretations: but I am at an end
of much considering that; and, if I were as startling in that kinde, as
ever I was, yet in this particular, I am under an unescapable necessity,
as I shall let you perceive, when I see you. By this occasion I am made a
Rhapsoder of mine own rags, and that cost me more diligence, to seek them,
then it did to make them. This made me aske to borrow that old book of
you, which it will be too late to see, for that use, when I see you: for I
must do this, as a valediction to the world, before I take Orders. But
this is it, I am to aske you; whether you ever made any such use of the
letter in verse, _A nostre Countesse chez vous_, as that I may not put it
in, amongst the rest to persons of that rank; for I desire very very much,
that something should bear her name in the book, and I would be just to
my written words to my L[ord] _Harrington_, to write nothing after that. I
pray tell me as soon as you can, if I be at liberty to insert that; for if
you have by any occasion applied any pieces of it, I see not, that it will
be discerned, when it appears in the whole piece. Though this be a little
matter, I would be sorry not to have an account of it, within as little
after Newyears tide, as you could. I have something else to say, of M.
_Villars_ [_Villiers_], but because I hope to see you here shortly, and
because new additions, to the truths or rumours, which concern him, are
likely to be made by occasion of this Masque, I forbear to send you the
edition of this Mart, since I know it will be augmented by the next: of
which, if you prevent it not by comming, you shall have by letter an
account from

  _Your very affectionate
  friend and servant_
  J. Donne.

  _Vigilia S{t} Tho._


_To the worthy Knight Sir_ Tho. Lucy.


Your letter comes to me, at Grace after supper; it is part of the prayer
of that Grace, that God will blesse you, and all yours with his best
blessings of both kinds. I would write you news; but your love to me, may
make you apt to over-beleeve news for my sake. And truly all things that
are upon the stage of the world now, are full of such uncertainties, as
may justly make any man loth to passe a conjecture upon them; not only
because it is hard to see how they will end, but because it is
misintertable [_sic_] and dangerous to conjecture otherwise, then some men
would have the event to be. That which is especially in my contemplation,
which is the issue of my L[ord] of _Canterburies_ businesse (for,
thereupon depends the consecration of my predecessor, upon which the
Deanery devolves to the King) is no farther proceeded in yet, then that
some of the 10 Commissioners have met once; and upon Saterday next there
will be a fuller meeting, and an entrance into the businesse, upon which,
much, very much in consequence, depends. Of my L. of _Donc[aster]_ we
are only assured, that he is in a good way of convalescence; but of any
audience nothing yet. Slacken not your hold of my L. Treasurer, for I have
been told that you are in his care. I send you a Copy of that Sermon, but
it is not my copy, which I thought my L. of _South-hampton_ would have
sent me backe. This you must be pleased to let me have again, for I borrow
it: for the other, I will pretermit no time to write it; though in good
faith, I have half forgot it. If in any letter I leave out the name of the
La[dy] _Hunt[ington]_ or La[dy] _Burdell_, or your daughters, tell them,
that I named them. I take the falshood upon me; for I intend it very
readily, and very humbly, where I am good for any thing in any of their
services. Our blessed Saviour continue and enlarge his blessings to you
all, _Amen_.

  _Your humble servant in Chr. Jes._
  J. Donne.

  11 Octob. 1621.

_Why do you say nothing of, my little book of Cases._


_To Sir_ G. B.


It is one of my blinde Meditations to think what a miserable defeat it
would be to all these preparations of braverie, if my infirmity should
overtake others: for, I am at least half blinde, my windows are all as
full of glasses of Waters, as any Mountebanks stall. This messenger makes
haste, I thank him for it; therefore I onely send you this Letter, which
was sent to me about three daies past, and my promise to distribute your
other Letters, according to your addresses, as fast as my Monsieur can doe
it; for, for any personall service, you must be content, at this time, to

  _Your affectionate servant_
  J. Donne.

  Decemb. 23.


_To Sir_ H. Goodere.


Agreeably to my fortune, and thoughts, I was crawld this back way from
_Keyston_; through my broken casement at _Bedford_, I saw, for my best
dish at dinner, your Coach; I studied your gests, but when I knew where
you were, I went out of this Town, in a doubt whether I should turn in to
_Wrest_; and you know the wisdome of the Parliament is, to resolve ever in
the Negative: Therefore it is likeliest I shall not come in there; yet,
let me give you in passing, thus much account of my self: I thought to
kisse my L[ord] _Spencers_ hands, at one house, and have passed three. If
you know nothing to the contrary, risen since I came from _London_, I am
likely to have a room in my L. of Dov. train, into the Countrie; if I
have, I do not ask, but use the leave of waiting upon you at home: There
and ever elswhere, our blessed Saviour blesse you, and all yours in which
number, I pray, account ever

  _Your very thankfull servant in Chr. Jes._
  J. Donne.


_To Sir_ H. G.


I cannot obey you, if you go to morrow to _Parsons-green_; your company,
that place, and my promise are strong inducements, but an Ague flouts them
all, of which I have had two such threatenings, that I provide against it
by a little Physick. This is one fetter; but I have a pair: for I attend
Sir _Geo. Mores_ answer in a little businesse, of which I can have no
account till his return, so I am fastened here, till after _Sunday_. As
you are sure that I love you thorowly, so think this a good expressing of
that, that I promise now, that I will certainly goe with you on _Munday_,
in despite of these interruptions, and serve you with my company to the
_Bathe_; which journie, it is time to hasten. But I pray think this
promise so much worth, that it may deserve your comming this way on
_Munday_, for I make it with that reservation. God send you Hawks and
fortunes of a high pitch.

  _Your honest affectionate_
  J. Donne.


_To Sir_ T. R.


I have bespoke you a New-years-gift, that is, a good New year, for I have
offered your name with my soul heartily to God in my mornings best
Sacrifice: If for custome you will doe a particular office in recompense,
deliver this Letter to your Lady, now, or when the rage of the Mask is
past. If you make any haste into the Country, I pray let me know it. I
would kisse your hands before you goe, which I doe now, and continue

  _Your affectionate servant
  and lover_
  J. Donne.

  Micham, _the last of_ 1607.
  _as I remember_.


_To Sir_ Henry Goodere.


I speak to you before God, I am so much affected with yesterdaies
accident, that I think I prophane it in that name. As men which judge
Nativities, consider not single Starres, but the Aspects, the concurrence
and posture of them; so in this, though no particular past arrest me, or
divert me, yet all seems remarkable and enormous. God, which hath done
this immediately without so much as a sickness, will also immediately
without supplement of friends, infuse his Spirit of comfort, where it is
needed and deserved. I write this to you from the _Spring Garden_, whither
I withdrew my self to think of this; and the intensenesse of my thinking
ends in this, that by my help Gods work should be imperfected, if by any
means I resisted the amasement.

  _Your very true friend_
  J. Donne.


_To my good friend_ G. H.


The little businesse which you left in my hands is now dispatched; if it
have hung longer then you thought, it might serve for just excuse, that
these small things make as many steps to their end, and need as many
motions for the warrant, as much writing of the Clerks, as long
expectation of a Seal, as greater. It comes now to you sealed, and with it
as strong and assured seals of my service and love to you, if it be good
enough for you. I owe you a continuall tribute of Letters. But, Sir, even
in Princes and Parents, and all States that have in them a naturall
Soveraignty, there is a sort of reciprocation, and as [?] descent to doe
some offices due to them that serve them: which makes me look for Letters
from you, because I have another as valuable a pawn therefore, as your
friendship, which is your promise; lest by the Jailors fault this Letter
stick long, I must tell you, that I writ and sent it _12 Decemb. 1600_.

  _Your friend and servant and lover_
  J. Donne.

  12. Decemb. 1600.


_To your self._


I send you here a Translation; but it is not onely to beleeve me, it is a
great invention to have understood any piece of this Book, whether the
gravity of the matter, or the Poeticall form, give it his inclination, and
_principium motus_; you are his center, or his spheare, and to you as to
his proper place he addresses himself. Besides that all my things, not
onely by obligation, but by custome, know that that is the way they should
goe. I spake of this to my L[ady] of _Bedford_, thinking then I had had a
copy which I made long since, at Sea, but because I finde it not, I have
done that again: when you finde it not unseasonable, let her see it; and
if you can think it fit, that a thing that hath either wearied, or
distasted you, should receive so much favour, put it amongst her papers:
when you have a new stomach to it, I will provide you quickly a new Copy.

  _Your very true friend and servant
  and lover_
  J. Donne.

  _At my_ Micham
  _Hospitall_, Aug. 10.


_To the gallant Knight Sir_ Tho. Lucy.


Because in your last Letter, I have an invitation to come to you, though I
never thought my self so fallen from my interest, which, by your favour, I
prescribe in, in you, and therefore when in the spring I hoped to have
strength enough, to come into those parts, upon another occasion, I always
resolved to put my self into your presence too, yet now I aske you more
particularly how you dispose of your self; for though I have heard, that
you purpose a journey to the _Bath_, and from thence hither, yet I can
hope, that my service at _Lincolns Inne_ being ended for next Terme, I may
have intermission enough to waite upon you at _Polesworth_, before the
season call you to _Bath_. I was no easie apprehender of the fear of your
departing from us; neither am I easie in the hope of seeing you intirely
over suddenly. God loves your soul if he be loth to let it go inch-meale,
and not by swallowings; and he loves it too, if he build it up again stone
after stone; his will is not done except his way, and his leasure be
observed. In my particular, I am sorry, if my ingenuity and candor in
delivering myself in those points, of which you speak to me, have defaced
those impressions which were in you before: if my freedome have occasioned
your captivity, I am miserably sorry. I went unprofitably and
improvidently, to the utmost end of Truth, because I would go as farre as
I could to meet Peace; if my going so far in declaring my self, brought
you where you could not stop. But as I was as confident in your strength,
as in mine own, so am I still, in him, who strengthens all our
infirmities and will, I doubt not, bring you and me together, in all those
particulars, so as we shall not part in this world, nor the next. Sir,
your own soul cannot be more zealous of your peace, then I am: and God,
who loves that zeale in me, will not suffer you to suspect it. I am
surprised with a necessity of writing now, in a minute; for I sent to
_Bedford_ house to informe my self of means to write, and your daughter
sent me word, of a present messenger, and therefore the rest of this I
shall make up in my prayers to our blessed Saviour, for all happinesses to

  _Your poor servant in Chr. Jesus_
  J. Donne.

  _Drury house the 22 of
  Decemb. 1607._


_To Sir_ H. G.


This is a second Letter: the enclosed was written before. Now we are sure
that _Heidelberge_ is taken, and entred with extreme cruelties. Almost all
the defendors forsook their stations; only Sir _Ger[ald] Herbert_
maintained his nobly, to the repulsing of the enemy three times, but
having ease in the other parts, 800 new fresh men were put upon his
quarter, and after he had broke 4 Pikes, and done very well, he was shot
dead in the place. _Man[n]heim_ was soon after besieged, and is still.
_Heydelth_ [_Heidelberg_] was lost the 6 of this moneth; the K[ing] upon
news of this, sent to the Spanish Ambassa[d]our, that the people were like
to resent it, and therefore, if he doubted ought, he should have a Guard:
but I do not see, that he seems to need it, in his own opinion neither in
truth does he; the people are flat: or trust in God, and the Kings ways.
Sir _Hor[atio] Vere_ hath written to his wife, (as I am told) a Letter
in the nature of a will, for the disposing of his estate and children, as
though he did not account to see her any more, but yet _Man[n]heim_
cannot be lost, but by storming. Your man stays, and our bell rings me
into the Church; there Sir, I shall recommend you to Gods goodnesse, with

  _Your friend_
  J. Donne.

  24 Septemb.


_To Sir_ H. G.


I live so farre removed, that even the ill news of your great losse (which
is ever swiftest and loudest) found me not till now; your letter speaks it
not plain enough but I am so accustomed to the worst, that I am sure it is
so in this. I am almost glad that I knew her so little: for I would have
no more additions to sorrow; if I should comfort you, it were an almes
acceptable in no other title, then when poor give to poor; for I am more
needy of it then you. And I know you well provided of Christian, and
learned, and brave defences against all humane accidents. I will make my
best haste after your messenger: and if my self and the place had not been
ill provided of horses, I had been the messenger, for you have taught me
by granting more to deny no request.

  _Your honest unprofitable friend_
  J. Donne.

  _Pyesford_ 3 a clock
  just as yours came.


_To Sir_ G. H.


I cannot yet serve you with those books of which your Letter spake. In
recompense I will tell you a story, which if I had had leasure to have
told it you when it was fresh, which was upon Thursday last, might have
had some grace for the rareness, and would have tried your love to me, how
farre you would adventure to beleeve an improbable thing for my sake who
relates it. That day in the morning, there was some end made, by the
E[arl] of _Salisbury_ and others, who were Arbitrators in some differences
between _Her[t]ford_ and _Mounte[a]gle_. _Her[t]ford_ was ill
satisfied in it, and declared himself so farre as to say, he expected
better usage in respect not only of his cause but of his expence and
service in his Ambassage: to which _Salisbury_ replied, that considered
how things stood between his Majesty and _Her[t]ford_ house at the
Kings enterance, the King had done him especiall favour in that employment
of honour and confidence, by declaring in so publique and great an act and
testimony, that he had no ill affections toward him. _Her[t]ford_
answered, that he was then and ever an honest man to the King: and
_Salisbury_ said, he denied not that, but yet solemnly repeated his first
words again. So that _Her[t]ford_ seemed not to make answer, but
pursuing his own word, said, that whosoever denied him to have been an
honest man to the King, lyed. _Salisbury_ asked him if he directed that
upon him, _Her[t]ford_ said, upon any who denied this. The earnestnes
of both was such, as _Salisbury_ accepted it to himself, and made
protestation before the LL. [Lords] present, that he would do nothing
else, till he had honorably put off that lye. Within an hour after,
_Salisbury_ sent him a direct challenge, by his servant M{r} _Knightley_;
_Her[t]ford_ required only an hours leisure of consideration (it is
said, it was onely to inform himself of the especiall danger, in dealing
so with a Counsellor) but he returned his acceptation: And all
circumstances were so clearly handled between them, that St _James_ was
agreed for the place, and they were both come from their severall
lodgings, and upon the way to have met, when they were interrupted by such
as from the King were sent to have care of it. So these two have escaped
this great danger; but (by my troth) I fear earnestly that Mistresse
_Bolstrod_ will not escape that sicknesse in which she labours at this
time. I sent this morning to aske of her passage of this night; and the
return is, that she is as I left her yesternight, and then by the strength
of her understanding, and voyce, (proportionally to her fashion, which was
ever remisse) by the eavennesse and life of her pulse, and by her temper,
I could allow her long life, and impute all her sicknesse to her minde.
But the History of her sicknesse, makes me justly fear, that she will
scarce last so long, as that you when you receive this letter, may do her
any good office, in praying for her; for she hath not for many days
received so much as a preserved Barber[r]y, but it returnes, and all
accompanied with a Fever, the mother, and an extream ill spleen. Whilest I
write this Tuesday morning, from _Bartlet_ house one brings me a pacquet
to your Master: he is gone; and that Lady and all the company is from
town. I thought I might be pardoned, if I thought my self your man for
that service to open it, which I did, and for the Letters I will deliver
them. What else you bid _Foster_ do in his Letter, bid him do it there,
for (so God help me) I know not what it is. I must end now, else the
carrier will be gone. God be with you.

  _Yours intirely._

_You know me without a name, and I know not how this Letter goes._


_To Sir_ H. G.


I had destined all this Tuesday, for the Court, because it is both a
Sermon day, and the first day of the Kings being here. Before I was to go
forth, I had made up this inclosed pacquet for you, and then came this
messenger with your pacquet, of which if you can remember the number, you
cannot expect any account thereof from me, who have not half an hour left
me before I go forth, and your messenger speakes of a necessity of
returning homward before my returning home. If upon the delivery of them,
or any other occasion, there intervene new subject of writing, I shall
relieve my self upon Tuesday, if _Tamworth_ carrier be in town. To the
particulars of the Letter to my self, I will give this paper, and line.
Of my Lady _Badford_, I must say so much as must importune you to burn the
Letter; for I would say nothing of her upon record, that should not
testifie my thankfulnesse for all her graces. But upon this motion which I
made to her by letter, and by S{r} _Tho. Roes_ assistance, if any scruple
should arise in her, she was somewhat more startling, then I looked for
from her: she had more suspicion of my calling, a better memory of my past
life, then I had thought her nobility could have admitted: of all which,
though I humbly thank God, I can make good use, as one that needs as many
remembrances in that kinde, as not only friends but enemies can present,
yet I am afraid, they proceed in her rather from some ill impression taken
from D[octor] _Burges_, then that they grow in her self. But whosoever be
the conduit, the water is the holy Ghosts, and in that acceptation I take
it. For her other way of expressing her favour to me, I must say, it is
not with that cheerfulnesse, as heretofore she hath delivered her self
towards me. I am almost sorry, that an Elegy should have been able to move
her to so much compassion heretofore, as to offer to pay my debts; and my
greater wants now, and for so good a purpose, as to come disengaged into
that profession, being plainly laid open to her, should work no farther
but that she sent me 30_l._ which in good faith she excused with that,
which is in both parts true, that her present debts were burdensome, and
that I could not doubt of her inclination, upon all future emergent
occasions, to assist me. I confesse to you, her former fashion towards me,
had given a better confidence; and this diminution in her makes me see,
that I must use more friends, then I thought I should have needed. I would
you could burn this letter, before you read it, at least do when you have
read it. For, I am afraid out of a Contemplation of mine own
unworthinesse, and fortune, that the example of this Lady, should work
upon the Lady where you are: for though goodnesse be originally in her,
and she do good, for the deeds sake, yet, perchance, she may think it a
little wisdome, to make such measure of me, as they who know no better,
do. Of any new treaty of a match with _Spain_, I hear nothing. The warres
in the _Low countries_, to judge by their present state, are very likely
to go forward. No word of a Parliament, and I my self have heard words of
the K[ing] as directly against any such purpose, as any can sound. I
never heard word, till in your letter, of any stirres in _Scotland_, for
that of the French K. which you aske, it hath this good ground, That in
the Assembly there a proposition hath been made, and well entertained,
that the K[ing] should be declared, to have full Jurisdiction in _France_;
and no other person to have any. It hath much of the modell and frame of
our Oath of Allegeance, but with some modification. It is true, it goes
farther then that State hath drove in any publique declarations, but not
farther than their Schools have drove often and constantly: the easinesse
that it hath found in passing thus farre without opposition, puts
(perchance unnecessarily) in me a doubt, that they are sure to choak it,
at the Royall assent, and therefore oppose it not, by the way, to sweeten
the conveyance of their other purposes. Sir, if I stay longer I shall lose
the Text, at Court, therefore I kisse your hand, and rest

  _Your very true servant_
  J. Donne.

_We hear (but without second as yet) that Sir_ Rich[ard] _Philips
brother in_ France, _hath taken the habit of a Capuchin_.


_To Sir_ Thomas Lucy.


This first of _Aprill_ I received yours of 21 of _Martii_, which being two
days after the ordinary _Smithfield_ day, I could do no more, but seal
this letter to be sent to you next Tuesday, because I foresee that I shall
not then be in town. Whatsoever I should write now, of any passages of
these days, would lose the verdure before the letter came to you, only
give me leave to tell you that I need none of those excuses, which you
have made to your self in my behalfe, for my not writing. For your son in
law came to me, so near the time of his going away, as it had been
impossible to have recovered him with a letter at so farre a distance, as
he was lodged. And my L. _Hunt._ messenger received that answer, which, I
hope, before this time, you know to be true, that I had sent the day
before, by the infallible carrier of _Smithfield_. The Emperours death may
somewhat shorten our way; for I discern now no reason of going to
_Vienna_; but I beleeve it wil extend our busines; so that I promise my
self no speedier return by that. If I write no letters into _England_ out
of these parts, I cannot be without your pardon, if I write not to you,
but if I write to any and leave you out, lay all the faults which you have
ever pardoned in me, to my charge again. I foresee some reasons, which may
make me forbeare; but no slacknesse of mine own, shall. Sir, if I have no
more the commodity of writing to you here in _England_, (as, we may be gon
before next Tuesday) I tell you, in this departing from you, with the same
truth and earnestnesse as I would be beleeved to speake in my last
departing, and transmigration from the whole world, that I leave not
behinde me a heart, better affected to you, nor more devoted to your
service, then I carry with me. Almighty God blesse you, with such a
reparation in your health, such an establishment in your estate, such a
comfort in your children, such a peace in your conscience, and such a true
cheerfulnesse in your heart, as may be strong seales to you, of his
eternall gracious purpose upon you. This morning I spend in surveying and
emptying my Cabinet of Letters; and at the top of all I light upon this
Letter lately received, which I was loth to bury. I chose to send it you,
to mine own condemnation; because a man so busie as he is, descending to
this expressing of himself in verse, I am inexcusable towards you, for
disobeying a commandment of yours, of that kinde; but I relie upon the
generall, that I am sure you are sure, that I never refuse any thing for
lazinesse, nor morosity, and therefore make some other excuse for me. You
have been so long used to my hand that I stand not to excuse the hasty
raggednesse of this Letter. The very ilnesse of the writing, is a good
argument that I forced a time, in the fulnesse of businesse, to kisse your
hand, and to present my thanks as for all your favours, and benefits, so
principally for keeping me alive in the memory of the noblest Countesse,
whose commandement, if it had been her L{aps} pleasure to have any thing
said or done in her service, at _Heydelberg_, I should have been glad to
have received. Sir, God blesse you, _& spiritu principali confirmet te_;

  _Your very true and affectionate servant in Chr. Jes._
  J. Donne.


_To the honourable Knight Sr_ Henry Goodere.


As you are a great part of my businesse, when I come to _London_, so are
you when I send. More then the office of a visitation brings this Letter
to you now; for I remember that about this time you purposed a journey to
fetch, or meet the Lad[y] _Huntington_. If you justly doubt any long
absence, I pray send to my lodging my written Books: and if you may stay
very long, I pray send that Letter in which I sent you certain heads which
I purposed to enlarge, for I have them not in any other paper: and I may
finde time in your absence to do it, because I know no stronger argument
to move you to love me, but because you have done so, doe so still, to
make my reason better, and I shall at last prescribe in you

  J. Donne.

  Micham Wednesday.


_To Sir_ H. G. _at_ Polesworth.


This 25 I have your letter of 21, which I tell you so punctually, because
by it, nor by any other, I doe not discern that you received my pacquet of
Books; not that I looked for so quick a return of the Sermon, nor of my
Cases of conscience, but that I forget so absolutely what I write, and am
so sure that I write confidently to you, that it is some pain to remain in
any jealousie that any Letter is miscarried. That which I writ to you of
my L. Treasur[er's] disposition to you, I had from M{r} _Har[ington]_;
and I understood it to be his desire to convey it through me. The last
account which we have of my L. _Donc[aster]_ is, by Letters of the 2{o}
of this; by which also we saw, that the first Letters of his
convalescence, were but propheticall; for he was let blood a second time,
and is not strong enough yet to receive audience. Though I be not Dean of
_Pauls_ yet, my L[ord] of _Warwick_ hath gone so low, as to command of me
the office of being Master of my game, in our wood about him in _Essex_. I
pray be you content to be my officer too, the Steward of my services to
all to whom you know them to be due in your walk, and continue your own
assurance that I am

  _Your affectionate servant in Chr. Jes._
  J. Donne.


_To my worthy friend_ F. H.


I can scarce doe any more this week then send you word why I writ not
last. I had then seposed a few daies for my preparation to the Communion
of our B[lessed] Saviours body; and in that solitarinesse and arraignment
of my self, digested some meditations of mine, and apparelled them (as I
use) in the form of a Sermon: for since I have not yet utterly delivered
my self from this intemperance of scribling (though I thank God my
accesses are lesse and lesse vehement) I make account that to spend all my
little stock of knowledge upon matter of delight, were the same error, as
to spend a fortune upon Masks and Banqueting houses: I chose rather to
build in this poor fashion, some Spittles, and Hospitals, where the poor
and impotent sinner may finde some relief, or at least understanding of
his infirmity. And if they be too weak to serve posterity, yet for the
present by contemplation of them, &c.


_To Sir_ H. G.


I have the honour of your Letter, which I am almost sorry to have
received: some few daies before the receit thereof D[octor] _Turner_, who
accompanied my L. _Carow_ [_Carey_] to _Sion_ to dinner, shewed me a
Letter from you, from which I conceived good hopes that your businesses,
being devolved into the hands of the Treasurer, had been in much more
forwardnesse, then by your Letter to me they appear to be. I beseech God
establish them, and hasten them, and with them, or without them, as he
sees most conducible to his purpose upon you, continue in you a relying
upon him, and a satisfaction in his waies. I know not whether any Letter
from your son, or any other report, may have given you any mention of me;
he writ to me from the _Compter_, that he was under a trifling arrest, and
that 3{l} and some little more would discharge him. I sent my man with
that money, but bid him see it emploied for his discharge: he found more
actions, and returned. Next day he writ to me that 8{l} would discharge
him, and that M{r} _Selden_ would lay down half. But M{r} _Selden_ and I
speaking together, thought it the fittest way, to respite all, till, in a
few daies, by his writing to you, we might be directed therein; and in the
mean time, took order with the Keeper to accommodate him, and I bade my
man _Martin_, as from himself, to serve his present want with some things.
Since we told him, that we would attend a return of his Letter to you, I
heard no more of him, but I hear he is out. Whosoever serves you with
relations from this Town, I am sure prevents me of all I can say. The
Palatinate is absolutely lost; for before this Letter come to you, we make
account that _Heydelberg_ and _Frankindale_ is lost, and _Manheme_
[_Mannheim_] distressed, _Mansfield_ came to _Breda_, and _Gonzales_ to
_Brussels_, with great losses on both sides, but equall. The P[rince] of
_Orange_ is but now come to _Breda_, and with him, all that he is able to
make, even out of the Garrisons of their Towns. The ways of victuall to
_Spinolaes_ Army, are almost all precluded by him, and he likely to put
upon the raising of _Spinola_, between whom and the Town, there are hotter
disputes, then ever our times saw. The Secretary of the States here shewed
me a Letter yesternight, that the Town spends 6000 pound of powder a day,
and hath spent since the siege 250{m} pounds. _Argits_ Regiment and my L.
_Vaux_, are so diminished by commings away, as that both (I think) make
not now in Muster above 600. M{r} _Gage_ is returning to _Rome_, but of
this Negotiation I dare say nothing by a Letter of adventure. The
direction which his Ma{ty} gave for Preachers, had scandalized many;
therefore he descended to pursue them with certain reasons of his
proceedings therein; and I had commandment to publish them in a Sermon at
the Crosse, to as great a Congregation as ever I saw together, where they
received comfortable assurance of his Ma{ties} constancy in Religion, and
of his desire that all men should be bred in the knowledge of such things,
as might preserve them from the superstition of _Rome_. I presume it is
but a little while before we shall see you here, but that little time is
likely to produce many things greatly considerable. Present, I pray, my
thankfull services to your good daughters. I can give them no better a
room in my prayers, and wishes, then my poore _Constance_ hath, and they
have that; so have you Sir, with

  J. Donne.


_To the worthiest Knight Sir_ Henry Goodere.


Our blessed Saviour, who abounds in power and goodnesse towards us all,
blesse you, and your family, with blessings proportioned to his ends in
you all, and blesse you with the testimony of a rectified conscience, of
having discharged all the offices of a father, towards your discreet and
worthy daughters, and blesse them with a satisfaction, and quiescence, and
more, with a complacency and a joy, in good ends, and ways towards them,
_Amen_. Your man brought me your Letter of the 8 of _December_ this 21 of
the same, to _Chelsey_, and gives me the largenesse till friday to send a
letter to _Pauls_ house. There can scarce be any peece of that, or of
those things whereof you require light from me, that is not come to your
knowledge, by some clearer way, between the time of your Letter, and this.
Besides the report of my death hath thus much of truth in it, that though
I be not dead, yet I am buried. Within a few weeks after I immured my self
in this house, the infection strook into the town, into so many houses, as
that it became ill manners to make any visits. Therefore I never went to
_Knoll_, nor _Hanworth_, nor _Kenton_ [_Keyston_], nor to the Court, since
the Court came into these quarters, nor am yet come to _London_; therefore
I am little able to give you account of high stages. Perchance you look
not so low, as our ordinary Gazetta, and that tells us, (with a second
assurance) that the D[uke] of _Brunswick_, _Christian_, is dead of an
Ague. My L[ord] of _Dorset_ even upon the day, when he should have been
installed with his six fellowes, fell sick at _London_; and at Court
(which does not exalt all men) his Fever was exalted to the plague; but he
is in good convalescence. Of the Navy I hear of no great lim[b] come back
yet, but my L. of _Essex_; something of the disappointing of the designe
they had, is imputed to some difference, in point of command, betweem him
and the M{r} of the Ordinance, my L. of _Valencia_, but as yet there is
little manifested. Already is issued a Proclamation, that there be no
disbanding of the Souldiers, upon their landing, in what part soever, and
that his Majesty hath present imployment for them. What the business at
_Haghe_ [_Hague_] hath been, I know nothing, but I hear, that their offer
of pawning of Jewells to a very very great value, to the States or private
men, hath found no acceptance, at least found no money. Occasionally I
heard from the _Haghe_, that the Queen having taken into her care, the
promoving and advancing of some particular mens businesses, by way of
recommendations to the Duke, expressed her self very royally, in your
behalf. This I tell you not, as though you knew it not, but because I had
the fortune to see it in a Letter of the simple Gentlewoman, from thence;
by which name, if you know her not, I have omitted heretofore to tell you
a good tale. They continue at Court, in the resolution of the Queen
pastorall; when _Q[ueen] Anne_ loved gamboils, you loved the Court;
perchance you may doubt whether you be a thorough Courtier, if you come
not up to see this, The Queen a Shepperdesse; but I speak not this, by
way of counsail, to draw you up, it is not only _Non Dominus, sed ego_,
but _nec Deus nec ego_, to call you hither, but upon fair appearances of
usefull commings. M{r} _George Herbert_ is here at the receipt of your
letter, and with his service to you, tells you that all of _Uvedall_ house
are well. I reserve not the mention of my Lady _Huntington_ to the end of
my Letter, as grains to make the gold weight, but as tincture to make the
better gold, when you finde room to intrude so poor and impertinent a
name, as mine is, in her presence. I beseech you, let her Lad[yship] know,
that she hath sowed her favours towards me, in such a ground, that if I be
grown better (as I hope I am) her favours are grown with me, and though
they were great when she conferred them, yet, (if I mend every day) they
increase in me every day, and therefore every day multiply my
thankfulnesse towards her Ladiship: say what you will (if you like not
this expression) that may make her Ladiship know, that I shall never let
fall the memory, nor the just valuation of her noble favours to me, nor
leave them unrequited in my Exchequer, which is, the blessings of God upon
my prayers. If I should write another sheet, I should be able to serve
your curiosity no more of Dukes nor LL. [Lords] nor Courts, and this half
line serves to tell you, that I am truly

  _Your poor friend and humble servant in Chr. Jes._
  J. Donne.


_To my honoured friend_ G. G. _Esquire_.


Neither your Letters, nor silence, needs excuse; your friendship is to me
an abundant possession, though you remember me but twice in a year: He
that could have two harvests in that time, might justly value his land at
a high rate; but, Sir, as we doe not onely then thank our land, when we
gather the fruit, but acknowledge that all the year she doth many motherly
offices in preparing it: so is not friendship then onely to be esteemed,
when she is delivered of a Letter, or any other reall office, but in her
continuall propensnesse and inclination to do it. This hath made me easie
in pardoning my long silences, and in promising my self your forgivenesse
for not answering your Letter sooner. For my purpose of proceeding in the
profession of the law, so farre as to a title you may be pleased to
correct that imagination, wheresoever you finde it. I ever thought the
study of it my best entertainment, and pastime, but I have no ambition,
nor designe upon the style. Of my Anniversaries, the fault that I
acknowledge in my self, is to have descended to print any thing in verse,
which though it have excuse even in our times, by men who professe, and
practise much gravitie, yet I confesse I wonder how I declined to it, and
do not pardon my self. But for the other part of the imputation of having
said too much, my defence is, that my purpose was to say as well as I
could: for since I never saw the Gentlewoman, I cannot be understood to
have bound my self to have spoken just truths, but I would not be thought
to have gone about to praise her, or any other in rime, except I took such
a person, as might be capable of all that I could say. If any of those
Ladies think that Mistris _Drewry_ was not so, let that Lady make her self
fit for all those praises in the book, and they shall be hers. Sir, this
messenger makes so much haste that I cry you mercy for spending any time
of this letter in other imployment then thanking you for yours. I hope
before _Christmas_ to see _England_, and kisse your hand, which shall
ever, (if it disdain not that office) hold all the keyes of the liberties
and affection, and all the faculties of

  _Your most affectionate servant_,
  J. D.

  _Paris_ the 14 of
  _Aprill_, here, 1612.


_To my honoured friend_ G. G. _Esquire_.


I should not only send you an account by my servant, but bring you an
account often my self, (for our Letters are our selves and in them absent
friends meet) how I do, but that two things make me forbear that writing:
first, because it is not for my gravity, to write of feathers, and
strawes, and in good faith, I am no more, considered in my body, or
fortune. And then because whensoever I tell you how I doe, by a Letter,
before that Letter comes to you, I shall be otherwise, then when it left
me. At this time, I humbly thank God, I am only not worse; for I should as
soon look for Roses at this time of the year, as look for increase of
strength. And if I be no worse all spring, then now, I am much better,
for I make account that those Church services, which I would be very loth
to decline, will spend somewhat; and, if I can gather so much as will bear
my charges, recover so much strength at _London_, as I shall spend at
_London_, I shall not be loth to be left in that state wherein I am now,
after that's done; But I do but discourse, I do not wish; life or health,
or strength, (I thank God) enter not into my prayers for my self; for
others they do; and amongst others, for your sick servant, for such a
servant taken so young, and healed so long, is half a child to a master,
and so truly I have observed that you have bred him with the care of a
father. Our blessed Saviour look graciously upon him, and glorifie himself
in him, by his way of restitution to health; And by his way of peace of
conscience in

  _Your very true friend and servant in Chr. Jes._
  J. Donne.



This advantage you, and my other friends, have by my frequent Fevers, that
I am so much the oftener at the gates of heaven, and this advantage by the
solitude and close imprisonment that they reduce me to after, that I am
thereby the oftener at my prayers; in which, I shall never leave out your
happinesse; and, I doubt not, but amongst his many other blessings, God
will adde to you some one for my prayers. A man would almost be content to
dye, (if there were no other benefit in death) to hear of so much sorrow,
and so much good testimony from good men, as I, (God be blessed for it)
did upon the report of my death. Yet, I perceive it went not through all;
for, one writ unto me, that some (and he said of my friends) conceived,
that I was not so ill, as I pretended, but withdrew my self, to save
charges, and to live at ease, discharged of preaching. It is an
unfriendly, and God knows, an ill grounded interpretation: for in these
times of necessity, and multitudes of poor there is no possibility of
saving to him that hath any tendernesse in him; and for affecting my
ease, I have been always more sorry, when I could not preach, then any
could be, that they could not hear me. It hath been my desire, (and God
may be pleased to grant it me) that I might die in the Pulpit; if not
that, yet that I might take my death in the Pulpit, that is, die the
sooner by occasion of my former labours. I thanke you, for keeping our
_George_ in [in] your memory. I hope God reserves it for so good a friend
as you are, to send me the first good news of him. For the Diamond Lady,
you may safely deliver _Roper_ whatsoever belongs to me, and he will give
you a discharge for the money. For my L[ord] _Percy_, we shall speake of
it, when we meet at _London_; which, as I do not much hope before
Christmas, so I do not much fear at beginning of Tearm; for I have
intreated one of my fellowes to preach to my Lord Maior, at _Pauls_ upon
Christmas day, and reserved Candlemas day to my self for that service,
about which time also will fall my Lent Sermon, except my Lord
Chamberlaine beleeve me to be dead, and leave me out; for as long as I
live, and am not speechlesse, I would not decline that service. I have
better leasure to write, then you to read, yet I will not oppress you
with too much letter. God blesse you, and your sonne, as

  _Your poor friend and humble servant
  in Christ Jesus_
  J. Donne.


_To the Lady_ G.


I Am not come out of _England_, if I remain in the Noblest part of it,
your minde; yet I confesse, it is too much diminution to call your minde
any part of _England_, or of this world, since every part even of your
body deserves titles of higher dignity. No Prince would be loth to die,
that were assured of so faire a tombe to preserve his memory: but I have a
greater vantage then so; for since there is a Religion in friendship, and
a death in absence, to make up an intire frame there must be a heaven too:
and there can be no heaven so proportionall to that Religion, and that
death, as your favour. And I am gladder that it is a heaven, then that it
were a Court, or any other high place of this world, because I am likelier
to have a room there then here; and better cheap. Madam, my best treasure
is time; and my best imployment of that is to study good wishes for you,
in which I am by continuall meditation so learned, that your own good
Angell, when it would do you most good, might be content to come and take
instructions from

  _Your humble and affectionate servant_
  J. Donne.


_To your selfe._


The first of this moneth I received a Letter from you; no Letter comes so
late, but that it brings fresh newes hither. Though I presume M{r} _Pore_
[_Pory_], and since, Sir _Rob. Rich_ came after the writing of that
Letter, yet it was good newes to me, that you thought me worthy of so good
a testimony. And you were subtile in the disguise: for you shut up your
Letter, thus, _Lond._ 22. in our stile, but I am not so good a Cabalist,
as to finde in what moneth it was written. But, Sir, in the offices of so
spirituall a thing as friendship, so momentary a thing as time, must have
no consideration. I keep it therefore to read every day, as newly
written: to which vexation it must be subject, till you relieve it with an
other. If I ought you not a great many thankes for every particular part
of it, I should yet thanke you for the length; and love it, as my
mistresses face, every line and feature, but best all together. All that I
can do towards retribution, is, (as other bankrupts do in prison) to make
means by Commissioners, that a great debt may be accepted by small summes
weekly. And in that proportion I have paid my tribute to you, almost ever
since I came; and shall still do so. You know that they say, those are the
strongest, and the firmest, and most precious things, which are composed
of the most, and smallest parts. I will flatter my self therefore, that
the number of my Letters may at last make a strong argument of my desire
to serve you, but because I remember, out of this Philosophy, that they
should be little, as well as many, lest this Letter should not get into
the building, it shall be no bigger; thus much addition will not much
disfigure it, that it sweare to you that I am

  _Your affectionate servant_
  J. Donne.

_Sir, I cry you mercy for sealing your sisters letter, but I deliver you
up my authority, and I remember you, that you have hers to open it again.
You will the easilier forgive me, that I write no newes, when you observe
by this transgression, that I live in a place which hath quenched in me
even the remembrances of good manners. By naming her, I have made my
postscript the worthyest place of my letter: and therefore I chuse that
place to present my service to all the company at our lodging; in which
house, if I cannot get room for a pallat, at my return, my comfort is,
that I can ever hope to be so near them as the Spittle in the_ Savoy,
_where they receive Travellers._


_To the Honourable Knight, Sir_ ROBERT KARRE.


Though I have left my bed, I have not left my bed-side; I sit there still,
and as a Prisoner discharged sits at the Prison doore, to beg Fees, so sit
I here, to gather crummes. I have used this leisure, to put the
meditations had in my sicknesse, into some such order, as may minister
some holy delight. They arise to so many sheetes (perchance 20.) as that
without saying for that furniture of an Epistle, That my Friends
importun'd me to Print them, I importune my Friends to receive them
Printed. That, being in hand, through this long Trunke, that reaches from
Saint _Pauls_, to Saint _James_, I whisper into your earre this question,
whether there be any uncomlinesse, or unseasonablenesse, in presenting
matter of Devotion, or Mortification, to that Prince, whom I pray God
nothing may ever Mortifie, but Holinesse. If you allow my purposes in
generall, I pray cast your eye upon the Title and the Epistle, and
rectifie me in them: I submit substance, and circumstance to you, and the
poore Author of both,

  _Your very humble and very thankfull
  in Christ Jesus_
  J. Donne.


_To your selfe._


Age becomes nothing better then Friendship; therefore your Letters, which
are ever good effects of friendship, delight to be old before I receive
them: for it is but a fortnight since those Letters which you sent by
Captain _Peter_ found me at _Spâ_; presently upon the receit, I adventured
by your leave to bestow the first minutes upon this Letter to your faire
Noble Sister; And because I found no voice at _Spâ_ of any Messenger, I
respited my Writing to you, till I came thus much nearer. Upon the way
hither, another Letter from you overtooke me, which by my L[ord] _Chandos_
love to me for your sake, was sent after me to _Ma[a]stricht_: He came
to _Spâ_ within two houres after I went away; which I tell you to let you
see, that my Fortune hath still that spitefull constancy, to bring me near
my desires, and intercept me. If I should write to you any newes from this
place, I should forestall mine owne Market, by telling you before hand
that which must make me acceptable to you at my comming. I shall sneake
into _London_, about the end of _August_. In my remotest distances I did
not more need your Letters than I shall then. Therefore if you shall not
be then in _London_, I beseech you to think mee at _Constantinople_, and
write one large Letter to be left at my Ladie _Bartlets_, my lodging; for
I shall come in extreame darknesse and ignorance, except you give me
light. If Sir _John Brooke_ be within your reach, present my humble
service and thankfulnesse to him; if he be not, I am glad, that to my
Conscience, which is a thousand witnesses, I have added you for one more,
that I came as near as I could to doe it. I shall run so fast from this
place, through _Antwerpe_, and some parts of _Holland_, that all that love
which you could perchance be content to expresse by Letters if I lay
still, may be more thriftily bestowed upon that one Letter, which is by
your favour, to meet me, and to welcome to _London_

  _Your unworthy, but very
  true Friend_,
  J. Donne.



It is one ill affection of a desperate debtor, that he dares not come to
an account, nor take knowledge how much he owes; this makes me that I dare
not tell you how manie letters I have received from you since I came to
this Towne; I had three the first by the Cooke, who brought none but
yours, nor ever came to me, to let me know what became of the rest: the
two other of the 7. and 8. of _March_, came in a letter which Sir _H.
Wotton_ writ to me from _Amyens_; there is not a size of paper in the
Palace, large enough to tell you how much I esteeme my selfe honoured in
your remembrances; nor strong enough to wrap up a heart so ful of good
affections towards you, as mine is. When any thing passes between Sir
_Thomas Roe_ and you, tell him I am not the lesse his Servant, for not
saying so by often letters: for by my troth, I am that so much as he could
desire I should be, when he began to love me. Sir _Thomas Lucies_
businesse, and perchance sadnesse forbid me writing now. I have written to
him (whilest I lived in darknesse, whether my Letters came to you or no)
by another way; and if my poore Letters were any degree of service, I
should doe it often, and rather be mine own Post then leave any thing
undone, to which he would give such an interpretation, as that it were an
Argument of my Devotion to him. For my purpose of proceeding in the
profession of the Law, so far as to a Title, you may be pleased to correct
that imagination where you finde it. I ever thought the study of it my
best entertainment and pastime, but I have no ambition, nor design upon
the Stile. Of my Anniversaries the fault which I acknowledge in my selfe
is to have descended to print any thing in Verse, which though it have
excuse, even in our times, by example of men which one would thinke should
as little have done it, as I; yet I confesse I wonder how I declined to
it, and doe not pardon my self. But for the other part of the imputation,
of having said so much, my defence is, that my purpose was to say as well
as I could: for since I never saw the Gentlewoman, I cannot be understood
to have bound my selfe to have spoken just Truth: but I would not be
thought to have gone about to praise any bodie in rime, except I tooke
such a Person, as might be capable of all that I could say. If any of
those Ladies think that Mistris _Drury_ was not so, let that Ladie make
her selfe fit for all those praises in the Booke, and it shall be hers.
Nothing is farther from colour or ground of Truth, then that which you
write of Sir _Robert Druries_ going to Masse. No man of our Nation hath
been more forward to apply himselfe to the Church of the Religion where he
hath come, nor to relieve their wants, where that Demonstration hath beene
needfull. I know not yet whether Sir _John Brookes_ purpose of being very
shortly here, be not a just reason to make me forbear writing to him. I am
sure that I would fainest do that in writing or abstaining which should be
most acceptable to him. It were in vain to put into this letter any
relation of the Magnificence which have been here at publication of these
marriages; for at this time there come into _England_ so many _Frenchmen_,
as I am sure you shall heare all at least. If they speak not of above
eight hundred horse well caparosond, you may believe it: and you may
believe, that no Court in Christendome had beene able to have appeared so
brave in that kinde. But if they tell you of any other stuffe then Copper,
or any other exercise of armes then running at the Quintain, and the
Ring, you may be bold to say _Pardone moy_. Sir, this messenger makes so
much haste that I cry you mercy for spending any time of this Letter, in
other imployment, then thanking you for yours, and promising you more
before my remove from hence. I pray venture no Letter to me by any other
way then M. _John Bruer_ [_Brewer_] at the Queens Armes a Mercer in
_Cheapside_, who is always like to know where we are; And make me by
loving me still, worthy to be

  _Your friend and servant_
  J. Donne.


_To my Honoured friend M{r}_ George Gerrard.


I cannot chuse but make it a presage that I shall have no good fortune in
_England_, that I mist the honour of enjoying that company, which you
brought to town. But I beseech you let my ill luck determine in that
ominousnesse: for if my not comming should be by her or you interpreted
for a negligence or coldnesse in me, I were already in actual and present
affliction. For that Ecclesiasticall Lady of whom you write, since I
presume it is a work of darknesse that you go about, we will deferre it
for winter. Perchance the cold weather, may be as good physique to you, as
she, for quenching you. I have changed my purpose of going to _Windsor_,
and will go directly into the Wight: which I tell you not as a concerning
thing, but in obedience to your commandment, as one poor testimony that I

  _Your affectionate servant_
  J. Donne.


_To my very worthy friend Mr_ George Gerrard.


This is the fourth of this moneth, and I receive your Pacquet so late,
that I have scarce waking time enough to tell you so, or to write any
thing but dreams. I have both your Letters, mother and daughter, and am
gladder of them, then if I had the mother and daughter here in our
neighbourhood; you know I mean Sir _H. Gooderes_ parties. Sir, you do me
double honour when my name passes through you to that Noble Lady in whose
presence you are. It is a better end and a better way to that then I am
worth. I can give you nothing in recompense of that favour, but good
counsell: which is to speake sparingly of any ability in me, lest you
indanger your own reputation, by overvaluing me. If I shall at any time
take courage by your Letter, to expresse my meditations of that Lady in
writing, I shall scarce think lesse time to be due to that employment,
then to be all my life in making those verses, and so take them with me
and sing them amongst her fellow Angels in Heaven. I should be loath that
in any thing of mine, composed of her, she should not appear much better
then some of those of whom I have written. And yet I cannot hope for
better expressings then I have given of them. So you see how much I should
wrong her, by making her but equall to others. I would I could be
beleeved, when I say that all that is written of them, is but prophecy of
her. I must use your favour in getting her pardon, for having brought her
into so narrow, and low-roost a room as my consideration, or for
adventuring to give any estimation of her, and when I see how much she can
pardon, I shall the better discern how far farther I may dare to offend in
that kinde. My noble neighbour is well, and makes me the steward of his
service to you. Before this Letter reaches you, I presume you will bee
gathering towards these parts, and then all newes will meet you so fast,
as that out of your abundance you will impart some to

  _Your affectionate friend to
  serve you_
  J. Donne.


_To your selfe._


All your other Letters, which came to me by more hazardous waies, had
therefore much merit in them; but for your Letter by M. _Pory_, it was but
a little degree of favour, because the messenger was so obvious, and so
certain, that you could not chuse but write by him. But since he brought
me as much Letter as all the rest, I must accept that, as well as the
rest. By this time, M. _Garret_, when you know in your conscience that
you have sent no Letter, you beginne to look upon the superscription, and
doubt that you have broken up some other bodies Letter: but whose so ever
it were it must speak the same language, for I have heard from no body.
Sir, if there be a Proclamation in _England_ against writing to me, yet
since it is thereby become a matter of State, you might have told M.
_Pory_ so. And you might have told him, what became of Sir _Tho. Lucies_
Letter, in my first pacquet, (for any Letter to him makes any paper a
pacquet, and any peece of single money a Medall) and what became of my
Lady _Kingsmels_ in my second, and of hers in my third, whom I will not
name to you in hope that it is perished, and you lost the honour of giving
it. Sir, mine own desire of being your servant, hath sealed me a Patent of
that place during my life, and therefore it shall not be in the power of
your forbidding, (to which your stiffe silence amounts) to make me leave

  _Your very affectionate servant_
  J. Donne.


_To my Honoured friend M._ George Garrat.


I would I were so good an Alchimist to perswade you that all the vertue of
the best affections, that one could expresse in a sheet, were in this
ragge of paper. It becomes my fortune to deale thus in single money; and I
may hit better with this hail-shot of little Letters (because they may
come thick) then with great bullets; and trouble my friends lesse. I
confesse it were not long enough if it came to present my thankes for all
the favours you have done me; but since it comes to begge more, perchance
it may be long enough, because I know not how short you will be with an
absent friend. If you will but write that you give me leave to keep that
name still, it shall be the gold of your Letter: and for allay, put in as
much newes as you will. We are in a place where scarce any money appeares,
but base: as, I confesse, all matters of Letters is in respect of the
testimonies of friendship; but obey the corruption of this place, and fill
your Letters with worse stuffe then your own. Present my service to all
those Gentlemen whom I had the honour to serve at our lodging; I cannot
flie an higher pitch, then to say, that I am so much their servants as you
can say I am. At the Queens armes in _Cheapside_, which is a Mercers, you
may hear of one M. _John Brewer_, who will convey any Letter directed to
me at Sir _Rob. Druries_ at _Amiens_, though he know not me: and I should
be glad to hear that this first that I sent into _England_ had the fortune
to finde you.

  J. Donne.


_To your fair sister._


The dignity, and the good fortune due to your Letter, hath preserved a
pacquet so well, that through _France_ and _Germany_ it is at last come to
me at _Spâ_. This good experience makes me in despite of contrary
appearances, hope that I shall finde some messenger for this before I
remove, though it be but two dayes. For even Miracles are but little and
slight things, when any thing which either concernes your worthinesse is
in consideration or my valuation of it. If I faile in this hope of a
messenger, I shall not grudge to do my self this service of bringing it
into _England_, that you may hear me say there, that I have thus much
profited by the honour of your conversation, and Contemplation, that I am,
as your vertues are, every where equall; and that that which I shall say
then at _London_, I thought and subscribed at _Spâ_, which is, that I will
never be any thing else, then

  _Your very humble and affectionate servant_
  J. Donne.


_To the Honourable Knight Sir_ Henry Goodere.


Because to remain in this sort guilty in your Lordships opinion doth not
onely defeat all my future indevours, but lay a heavyer burden upon me, of
which I am more sensible, which is ingratitude towards your Lordship, by
whose favours I have been formerly so much bound; I hope your Lordship
will pardon me this care and diligence which I use to rectifie my self
towards you. To which purpose I humbly beseech your Lordship, to admit
thus much into your consideration, that I neither hunted after this
businesse at first, but apprehended it as it was presented to me, and
might perchance have fallen into worse hands, nor proceeded otherwise
therein, then to my poor discretion at that time seemed lawfull and
requisite and necessary for my reputation, who held my selfe bound to be
able to give satisfaction to any who should doubt of the case. Of all
which, if your Lordship were returned to your former favourable opinions
of me, you might be pleased to make this some argument, that after his
Majesty had shewed his inclination to the first motion made in my behalf,
I was not earnest to urge and solicit that advantage of priority, but as
became me, contented my self to joyne with him who had made a later
petition therein: and as soon as I understood how it was opposed or
distasted, I threw it down at your Lordships feet, and abandoned it to
your pleasure. Which it is necessary for me to say at this time, lest, if
he who was interessed with me in that businesse shall have proceeded any
farther therein since that time, your Lordship might conceive new
suspicions of me. That your Lordships name was at all used therein, or
that any words of mine occasioned such an errour in my servant, I am so
sorry as nothing but a conscience of a true guiltinesse of having
performed an injury to your Lordship (which can never fall upon me) could
affect me more. But I, who to the measure of my comprehension, have ever
understood your Lordships nobility and evenness, cannot fear that your
Lordship will punish an oversight, like a crime: which should be effected
upon me, if your Lordship should continue your disfavour towards me, since
no penalty could come so burdenous to my minde and to my fortune as that.
And since the repose of both consists in your Lordships favour, I humbly
intreat to be restored to your favour, giving your Lordship my faith in
pawn that I wil be as wary of forfeting it by any second occasion, as I am
sorry for this.

  _Yours_ J. D.


_To the Honourable Knight Sir_ Robert Karre.


I had rather like the first best; not onely because it is cleanlier, but
because it reflects least upon the other party, which, in all jest and
earnest, in this affair, I wish avoided. If my Muse were onely out of
fashion, and but wounded and maimed like Free-will in the _Roman Church_,
I should adventure to put her to an Epithalamion. But since she is dead,
like Free-will in our Church, I have not so much Muse left as to lament
her losse. Perchance this businesse may produce occasions, wherein I may
expresse my opinion of it, in a more serious manner. Which I speake
neither upon any apparent conjecture, nor upon any overvaluing of my
abilities, but out of a generall readinesse and alacrity to be serviceable
and gratefull in any kinde. In both which poor vertues of mine, none can
pretend a more primary interest, then you may, in

  _Your humble and affectionate servant_
  J. Donne.


_To the Honourable Knight Sir_ Robert Karre _Gentleman of his Highnesses


I have often sinned towards you, with a presumption of being pardoned, but
now I do it, without hope, and without daring to intreat you to pardon the
fault. In which there are thus many degrees of importunity. That I must
begge of you to christen a child, which is but a daughter, and in which
you must be content to be associated with Ladies of our own alliance, but
good women, and all this upon Thursday next in the afternoon. Sir, I have
so many and so indeleble impressions of your favour to me, as they might
serve to spread over all my poor race. But since I see that I stand like a
tree, which once a year beares, though no fruit, yet this Mast of
children, and so am sure, that one year or other I should afflict you with
this request, I had rather be presently under the obligations and the
thankfulnesse towards you, then meditate such a trouble to you against
another year. I was desirous this paper might kisse your hands as soon as
you came, that if any other diversions made this inconvenient to you, I
might have an other exercise of your favour, by knowing so much from you,
who in every act of yours make me more and more

  _Your humble and thankfull servant_
  J. Donne.

  17 Aprill.


_To the Honourable Knight, Sir_ ROBERT KARRE.


Perchance others may have told you, that I am relapsed into my Fever; but
that which I must intreat you to condole with me, is, that I am relapsed
into good degrees of health; your cause of sorrow for that, is, that you
are likely to be the more troubled with such an impertinencie, as I am;
and mine is, that I am fallen from fair hopes of ending all; yet I have
scaped no better cheap, then that I have paid death one of my Children for
my Ransome. Because I loved it well, I make account that I dignifie the
memorie of it, by mentioning of it to you, else I should not be so homely.
Impute this brevitie of writing to you upon no Subject to my sicknesse,
in which men use to talke idly: but my profession of desiring to bee
retained in your memorie, impute to your owne Vertues, which have wrought
so much upon

  _Your humble servant_
  John Donne.


_To the Honourable Knight, Sir_ Robert Karre.


I make account that it is a day of great distribution of Honours at Court:
I would not therefore lose my part, and increase therein; since every
Letter admitted by you from me, is a new stone in my best building, which
is, my roome in your service: so much you adde to me, everie time you give
me leave thus to kisse your hands. But, Sir, everie addition preimagins a
beeing, and the time of my beeing and Creation is not yet come: which I am
sure you will advance; because else I am no competent Subject of your
favours, and additions. I know, by your forbearing to tell mee so, that my
L[ord] hath had no commoditie to move the K[ing] and if this Paper speake
one word of difference, or impatience in my name, by my troth it lies.
Onely give it leave to tell you, that that L. whom perchance the K. may
bee pleased to heare in it, is an old and momentanie man, and it may be
late labouring for his assistance, next Winter. Besides, since it may bee
possible that the Master of the Rolles may a little resent this suite,
there could be no fitter time, then now, to make him easie, as things
stand with him at this time. If you stay in Towne this night, and no
longer, I beseech you afford me a few of your late Minutes at your own
lodging, where I will wait upon you according to any directions, which by
this Gent. or otherwise I shall receive from you.

  _Your humble servant_
  John Donne.


_To the Honourable Knight, Sir_ Robert Karre.


If I would calumniate, I could say no ill of that Gentleman: I know not
whether my L[ord] or my selfe tooke the first apprehension of it; but I
remember that very soone wee concurred in a good opinion of him; thereupon
for justifying our owne forwardnesse, wee observed him more th[o]roughly,
and found all the way good reason to ratifie our first estimation of him.
This gave my L. occasion to send him abroade in his Service after: how hee
satisfied him in that imployment, indeed I know not. But, that I disguise
nothing, I remember my L. told mee sometimes in his absence, that hee had
not Account from him of some things, which hee had deposed in him. And at
his entering into his Coach, at his last going, I asked my L. Goes not the
gentleman with you? and hee told mee with some coldnesse no. So that if
you bee not pressed to a Resolution, you may bee pleased to forbeare a few
dayes, till I may occasionally discerne, whether hee have demerited or
sunke in my L. opinion: And then you shall have another Character of him

  _Your very humble and thankfull
  J. Donne.

  25. Julii.


_To the Honourable Knight, Sir_ Robert Karre.


The same houre that I received the honour of your commandments, by your
letter left at my poore house, I put my selfe upon the way hither. So that
I am here in the habite of a Traveller, and (suitable to the rest of my
unworthinesses) unfit for great Presences. Therefore, I abstain from
waiting upon you presently; besides that in this abstinence, (except I
misinterpret the last words of your letter to my advantage) I obey your
directions, in sending before I come to you. Howsoever, Sir, I am intirely
at your disposing, if you will be pleased to adde this favour to the rest,
that I may understand, wherein you will use your Authoritie and Power,
which you have over

  _Your poore and humble servant_
  J. Donne.


_To the Honourable Knight, Sir_ Robert Karre.


This is but a Postscript to the last Letter, and it is onely to tell you,
that it was an impertinent jealousie that I conceived of that Gentlemans
absence from my L[ord] for he gives that full Testimonie of him that he
never discerned any kinde of unfitnesse in him for any imployment, except
too much goodnesse; and Conscientiousnesse may sometimes make him somewhat
lesse fit for some kindes of businesse, then a man of a looser raine. And
this is all, that I conceive to have been in the commandment wherewith you

  _Your very humble and thankfull
  servant in Christ Jesus_
  J. Donne.

  2. Aug. 1622.


_To my Honoured Friend, Master_ George Gherard.


Your Letter was the more welcome to mee, because it brought your
commandment with it, of sending you perfumes: for it is a Service
somewhat like a Sacrifice. But yet your commandment surprised me, when
neither I had enough to send, nor had means to recover more; that Ladie
being out of Towne which gave them me. But Sir, if I had 10000000. I could
send you no more then I doe; for I send all. If any good occasion present
it selfe to you, to send to my L[ord] _Clifford_, spare my name a roome,
there where you offer him most of your Service. I dare contend with you,
that you cannot exceed mee, in desiring to serve him. It is a better
office from me to you, that I goe to bed, then that I write a longer
letter. For if I doe mine eyes a little more injurie, I shall lose the
honour of seeing you at Michaelmas; for by my troth I am almost blinde:
you may be content to beleeve that I am always disposed to your service,
without exception of any time, since just at midnight, when it is both
day, and night, and neither, I tell you that I am

  _Your affectionate friend and servant_
  J. Donne.


_To my very much honoured friend_ George Garrard _Esquire at_ Sion.


I know not which of us wonne it by the hand, in the last charge of
Letters. If you wonne, you wonne nothing, because I am nothing, or
whatsoever I am, you wonne nothing, because I was all yours before. I
doubt not but I were better delivered of dangers of relapses, if I were at
_London_; but the very going would indanger me. Upon which true debility,
I was forced to excuse my selfe to my Lord Chamberlaine, from whom I had a
Letter of command to have Preached the fifth of _November_ Sermon to the
King. A service which I would not have declined, if I could have conceived
any hope of standing it. I beseech you intreat my Lord _Percy_ in my
behalfe, that he will be pleased to name _George_ to my L[ord]
_Carli[s]le_, and to wonder, if not to inquire, where he is. The world
is disposed to charge my Lords honour, and to charge my naturall affection
with neglecting him, and, God knowes, I know not which way to turn towards
him; nor upon any message of mine, when I send to kisse my Lords hands,
doth my Lord make any kinde of mention of him. For the Diamond Lady, when
time serves, I pray look to it; for I would fain be discharged of it. And
for the rest, let them be but remembered how long it hath been in my
hands, and then leave it to their discretion. If they incline to any
thing, I should chuse shirt _Hollond_, rather under then above 4 _s._ Our
blessed Saviour multiply his blessings upon that noble family where you
are, and your self, and your sonne; as upon all them that are derived from

  _Your poor friend and servant_
  J. Donne.


_To my very much respected friend Mr._ George Garrard.


I thank you for expressing your love to me, by this diligence; I know you
can distinguish between the voyces of my love, and of my necessity, if any
thing in my Letters sound like an importunity. Besides, I will adde thus
out of counsell to you, that you can do nothing so thriftily as to keep
in your purpose the payment of the rest of this years rent, (though at
your conveniency) for Sir _E. H['s]_ curiosity being so served at first,
I shall be no farther cause, but that the rest be related, and you in as
good possession of his love, and to as good use, as your love deserves of
him. You mocke us when you aske news from hence. All is created there, or
relates thither where you are. For that book which you command me to send,
I held it but half an hour: which served me to read those few leafes,
which were directed upon some few lines of my book. If you come to town
quickly, you may get a fair widow: for M{ris} _Brown_ is fallen to that
state by death of her husband. No man desires your comming more, nor shall
be readier to serve you, then

  _Your affectionate friend and servant_
  J. Donne.


_To my Honoured friend Mr_ George Gherard, _over against_ Salisbury


I do not make account that I am come to _London_, when I get within the
wall: that which makes it _London_ is the meeting of friends. I cannot
therefore otherwise bid my self welcome to _London_, then by seeking of
you, which both Sir _H. Goodere_ and I do, with so much diligence, as that
this messenger comes two dayes before to intreat you from us both, to
reserve your self upon Saterday: so that I may, at our coming to _London_
that night, understand at my house where I may send you word of our
supping place that night, and have the honour of your company. So you lay
more obligations upon

  _Your poor unprofitable servant_
  J. Donne.


_To the very much Honoured friend_ George Garret _Esquire_.


When we thinke of a friend, we do not count that a lost thought, though
that friend never knew of it. If we write to a friend, we must not call it
a lost Letter, though it never finde him to whom it was addressed: for we
owe our selves that office, to be mindefull of our friends. In payment of
that debt, I send out this Letter, as a Sentinell Perdue; if it finde you,
it comes to tell you, that I was possessed with a Fever, so late in the
year, that I am afraid I shall not recover confidence to come to _London_
till the spring be a little advanced. Because you did our poor family the
favour to mention our _George_ in your Letters to _Spain_, with some
earnestnesse, I should wonder if you never had any thing from thence
concerning him; he having been now, divers moneths, in _Spaine_. If you be
in _London_ and the Lady of the Jewell there too, at your conveniency
informe me what is looked for at my hands, in that businesse; for I would
be loath to leave any thing in my house when I die that were not
absolutely mine own. I have a servant, _Roper_, at _Pauls_ house, who will
receive your commandments, at all times. God blesse you and your sonne,
with the same blessings which I begge for the children, and for the person

  _Your poor friend and humble
  servant in Chr. Jes._
  J. Donne.


_To the Honourable Knight Sir_ Robert Karre, _Gentleman of his Highnesses


I am come to that tendernesse of conscience, that I need a pardon for
meaning to come to _Newmarket_ in this weather. If I had come I must have
asked you many reall pardons, for the many importunities that I should
have used towards you. But since I have divers errands thither, (except I
belie my self in that phrase, since it is all one errand to promove mine
own business, and to receive your commands) I shall give you but a short
respit, since I shall follow this paper within two dayes. And (that I
accuse my self, no farther then I am guilty) the principall reason of my
breaking the appointment of waiting upon M. _Rawlins_, was, that I
understood the King was from _Newmarket_; and for comming thither in the
Kings absence, I never heard of excuse; except when _Butler_ sends a
desperate Patient in a Consumption thither for good aire, which is an ill
errand now. Besides that I could not well come till now, (for there are
very few dayes past, since I took Orders) there can be no losse in my
absence except when I come; my Lord should have thereby the lesse
latitude, to procure the Kings Letters to _Cambridge_. I beseech you
therefore, take some occasion to refresh that businesse to his Lordship,
by presenting my name, and purpose of comming very shortly: and be content
to receive me, who have been ever your servant, to the addition of

  _Your poor Chaplaine_
  J. Donne.

  27 January.


_To the Right Honourable the Lord Viscount of_ Rochester.

_My most Honourable good Lord_,

After I was grown to be your Lordships, by all the titles that I could
thinke upon, it hath pleased your Lordship to make another title to me, by
buying me. You may have many better bargaines in your purchases, but never
a better title then to me, nor any thing which you may call yours more
absolutely and intirely. If therefore I appeare before your Lordship
sometimes in these Letters of thankfulnesse, it may be an excusable
boldnesse, because they are part of your evidences by which you hold me. I
know there may be degrees of importunity even in thankfulnesse: but your
Lordship is got above the danger of suffering that from me, or my Letters,
both because my thankfulnesse cannot reach to the benefits already
received, and because the favour of receiving my Letters is a new benefit.
And since good Divines have made this argument against deniers of the
Resurrection, that it is easier for God to recollect the Principles, and
Elements of our bodies, howsoever they be scattered, then it was at first
to create them of nothing, I cannot doubt, but that any distractions or
diversions in the ways of my hopes, will be easier to your Lordship to
reunite, then it was to create them. Especially since you are already so
near perfecting them, that if it agreed with your Lordships purposes, I
should never wish other station, then such as might make me still, and

  _Your Lordships
  Most humble and devoted servant_
  J. Donne.


_To the Honourable Knight Sir_ Robert Karre.


Lest you should think your selfe too much beholding to your fortune, and
so relie too much upon her hereafter, I am bold to tell you, that it is
not onely your good fortune that hath preserved you from the importunity
of my visits all this time. For my ill fortune, which is stronger then any
mans good fortune hath concurred in the plot to keep us asunder, by
infecting one in my house with the Measels. But all that is so safely
overworne, that I dare, not onely desire to put my selfe into your
presence, but by your mediation, a little farther. For, esteeming my
selfe, by so good a title as my Lords own words, to be under his
providence, and care of my fortune, I make it the best part of my studies
how I might ease his Lordship by finding out something for my selfe.
Which, because I thinke I have done as though I had done him a service
therein, I adventure to desire to speake with him, which I beseech you to
advance, in addition to your many favours and benefits to me. And if you
have occasion to send any of your servants to this town, to give me notice
what times are fittest for me to waite, to injoy your favour herein. My
businesse is of that nature, that losse of time may make it much more
difficult, and may give courage to the ill fortune of

  _Your humble servant_
  J. Donne.


_To your selfe._


I make shift to think that I promised you this book of French _Satyrs_. If
I did not, yet it may have the grace of acceptation, both as it is a very
forward and early fruit, since it comes before it was looked for, and as
it comes from a good root, which is an importune desire to serve you.
Which since I saw from the beginning, that I should never do in any great
thing, it is time to begin to try now, whether by often doing little
services, I can come towards any equivalence. For, except I can make a
rule of naturall philosophy, serve also in morall offices, that as the
strongest bodies are made of the smallest particles, so the strongest
friendships may be made of often iterating small officiousnesses, I feel I
can be good for nothing. Except you know reason to the contrary, I pray
deliver this Letter according to the addresse. It hath no businesse nor
importunity; but as by our Law, a man may be _Felo de se_, if he kill
himself, so I think a man may be _Fur de se_, if he steale himselfe out of
the memory of them, which are content to harbour him. And now I begin to
be loath to be lost, since I have afforded my selfe some valuation and
price, ever since I received the stampe and impression of being

  _Your very humble and affectionate servant_
  J. Donne.


_To the Honourable Knight Sir_ Robert Karre, _Gentleman of his Highnesses
Bed chamber_.


I have always your leave to use my liberty, but now I must use my bondage.
Which is my necessity of obeying a precontract laid upon me. I go to
morrow to _Camberwell_ a mile beyond _Southwark_. But from this town goes
with me my brother Sir _Tho. Grimes_ and his Lady, and I with them. There
we dine well enough I warrant you, with his father-in-law, Sir _Tho.
Hunt_. If I keep my whole promise, I shall Preach both forenoon and
afternoon. But I will obey your commandments for my return. If you cannot
be there by 10, do not put your selfe upon the way: for, Sir, you have
done me more honour, then I can be worthy of, in missing me so diligently.
I can hope to hear M. _Moulin_ again: or ruminate what I have heretofore
heard. The onely misse that I shall have is of the honour of waiting upon
you; which is somewhat recompensed, if thereby you take occasion of not
putting [not] your self to that pain, to be more assured of the
inabilities of

  _Your unworthy servant_
  J. Donne.


_To the Honourable Knight, Sir_ Robert Karre.


I sought you yesterday with a purpose of accomplishing my health, by the
honour of kissing your hands. But I finde by my going abroad, that as the
first Christians were forced to admit some _Jewish_ Ceremonies, onely to
burie the Synagogue with honour, so my Feaver will have so much reverence
and respect, as that I must keep sometimes at home. I must therefore be
bold to put you to the pain of considering me. If therefore my Lord upon
your deliverie of my last Letter, said nothing to you of the purpose
thereof; let me tell you now, that it was, that in obedience of his
commandment to acquaint him with any thing which might advantage me, I was
bold to present that which I heard, which was that Sir _D[udley]
Carl[e]ton_ was likely to bee removed from _Venice_, to the States; of
which if my Lord said nothing to you, I beseech you adde thus much to your
many other Favours, to intreate my Lord at his best commodity, to afford
mee the favour of speaking with him. But if hee have already opened
himselfe so farre to you, as that you may take knowledge thereof to him,
then you may ease him of that trouble of giving mee an Audience, by
troubling your selfe thus much more, as to tell him in my behalfe, and
from mee, that though Sir _D. Carlton_ bee not removed, yet that place
with the States lying open, there is a faire field of exercising his
favour towards mee, and of constituting a Fortune to me, and (that which
is more) of a meanes for mee to doe him particular services. And Sir, as I
doe throughly submit the end and effect of all Projects to his Lordships
will, so doe I this beginning thereof, to your Advice and Counsell, if you
thinke mee capable of it: as, for your owne sake, I beseech you to doe,
since you have admitted mee for

  _Your humble servant_
  J. Donne.


_To the Honoured Knight, Sir_ Robert Karre.


I amend to no purpose, nor have any use of this inchoation of health,
which I finde, except I preserve my roome, and station in you. I beginne
to bee past hope of dying: And I feele that a little ragge of _Monte
Magor_ [_Montemôr_], which I read last time I was in your Chamber, hath
wrought prophetically upon mee, which is, that Death came so fast towards
mee, that the over-joy of that recovered mee. Sir, I measure not my health
by my appetite, but onely by my abilitie to come to kisse your hands:
which since I cannot hope in the compasse of a few dayes, I beseech you
pardon mee both these intrusions of this Letter, and of that within it.
And though Schoole-men dispute, whether a married man dying, and being by
Miracle raised again, must bee remarried; yet let your Friendship, (which
is a Nobler learning) bee content to admit mee, after this Resurrection,
to bee still that which I was before, and shall ever continue,

  _Your most humble and thankfull
  J. Donne.

  20. Mar.


_To the Honourable Knight, Sir_ Robert Karre.


When I was almost at Court, I met the Princes Coach: I thinke I obeyed
your purposes best, therefore, in comming hither. I am sure I provided
best for my selfe thereby; since my best degree of understanding is to bee
governed by you. I beseech you give mee an assignation where I may wait
upon you at your commoditie this Evening. Till the performance of which
commandment from you, I rest here in the red Lion.

  _Your very thankefull and affectionate
  J. Donne.


_To the Honourable Knight, Sir_ Robert Karre.


I was loth to bee the onely man who should have no part in this great
Festivall; I thought therefore to celebrate that well, by spending some
part of it in your company. This made mee seek you againe this afternoone,
though I were guilty to my selfe of having done so every day since your
comming. I confesse 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_
  J. Donne.

  4 Novemb.


_To the Honourable Knight, Sir_ ROBERT KARRE.


Your mans haste gives me the advantage, that I am excusable in a short
Letter, else I should not pardon it to my selfe. I shall obey your
commandment of comming so neare you upon _Michaelmas_ day, as by a Message
to aske you whether that or the next morning bee the fittest to sollicite
your further Favour. You understand all Vertue so well, as you may be
pleased to call to minde what thankefulnesse and services are due to you
from me, and beleeve them all to bee expressed in this ragge of Paper,
which gives you new assurance, that I am ever

  _Your most humble servant_
  J. Donne.


_To your selfe._


If I shall never be able to do you any reall service, yet you may make
this profit of me, that you be hereafter more cautelous in receiving into
your knowledge, persons so uselesse, and importune. But before you come to
so perfect a knowledge of me, as to abandon me, go forward in your favours
to me, so farre, as to deliver this Letter according to the addresse. I
think I should not come nearer his presence then by a Letter: and I am
sure, I would come no other way, but by you. Be you therefore pleased, by
these noble favours to me, to continue in me the comfort which I have in

  _Your very humble and thankfull servant_
  J. Donne.

  Drury house, 23 Sept.


_To the Right Honourable Sir_ Robert Karre.


A few hours after I had the honour of your Letter, I had another from my
Lord of _Bath_ and _Wells_, commanding from the King a Copy of my Sermon.
I am in preparations of that, with diligence, yet this morning I waited
upon his Lordship, and laid up in him this truth, that of the B. of
_Canterburies_ Sermon, to this hour, I never heard syllable, nor what way,
nor upon what points he went: And for mine, it was put into that very
order, in which I delivered it, more then two moneths since. Freely to you
I say, I would I were a little more guilty: Onely mine innocency makes me
afraid. I hoped for the Kings approbation heretofore in many of my
Sermons; and I have had it. But yesterday I came very near looking for
thanks; for, in my life, I was never in any one peece, so studious of his
service. Therefore, exceptions being taken, and displeasure kindled at
this, I am afraid, it was rather brought thither, then met there. If you
know any more, fit for me, (because I hold that unfit for me, to appear
in my Masters sight, as long as this cloud hangs, and therefore, this day
forbear my ordinary waitings) I beseech you to intimate it to

  _Your very humble and very thankfull servant_
  J. Donne.


_To the Right Honourable Sir_ Robert Karre, _at Court_.


I humbly thanke you, for this continuing me in your memory, and enlarging
me so far, as to the memory of my Soveraign, and (I hope) my Master. My
Tenets are always, for the preservation of the Religion I was born in, and
the peace of the State, and the rectifying of the Conscience; in these I
shall walke, and as I have from you a new seal thereof, in this Letter, so
I had ever evidence in mine own observation, that these ways were truly,
as they are justly, acceptable in his Majesties eare. Our blessed Saviour
multiply unto him all blessings; _Amen_.

  _Your very true and intire servant in Chr. Jes._
  J. Donne.


_To the Right Honourable Sir_ Robert Karre, _at Court_.


I was this morning at your door, somewhat early; and I am put into such a
distaste of my last Sermon, as that I dare not practice any part of it,
and therefore though I said then, that we are bound to speake aloud,
though we awaken men, and make them froward, yet after two or three modest
knocks at the door, I went away. Yet I understood after, the King was gone
abroad, and thought you might be gone with him. I came to give you an
account of that, which does as well. I have now put into my Lord of _Bath_
and _Wells_ hands the Sermon faithfully exscr[c]ibed. I beseech you be
pleased to hearken farther after it; I am still upon my jealousie, that
the King brought thither some disaffection towards me, grounded upon some
other demerit of mine, and took it not from the Sermon. For, as Card[inal]
_Cusanus_ writ a Book _Cribratio Alchorani_, I have cribrated, and
recribated, and post-cribated the Sermon, and must necessarily say, the
King who hath let fall his eye upon some of my Poems, never saw, of mine,
a hand, or an eye, or an affection, set down with so much study, and
diligence, labour of syllables, as in this Sermon I expressed those two
points, which I take so much to conduce to his service, the imprinting of
persuasibility and obedience in the subject, And the breaking of the bed
of whisperers, by casting in a bone, of making them suspect and distrust
one another. I remember I heard the old King say of a good Sermon, that he
thought the Preacher never had thought of his Sermon, till he spoke it; it
seemed to him negligently and extemporally spoken. And I knew that he had
weighed every syllable, for halfe a year before, which made me conclude,
that the King had before some prejudice upon him. So, the best of my hope
is, that some over bold allusions, or expressions in the way, might divert
his Majesty, from vouchsafing to observe the frame, and purpose of the
Sermon. When he sees the generall scope, I hope his goodnesse will pardon
collaterall escapes. I intreated the B[ishop] to aske his Majesty, whether
his displeasure extended so farre, as that I should forbear waiting, and
appearing in his presence; and I had a return, that I might come. Till I
had that, I would not offer to put my self under your roof. To day I come,
for that purpose, to say prayers. And if, in any degree, my health suffer
it, I shall do so, to morrow. If any thing fall into your observation
before that, (because the B. is likely to speake to the King of it,
perchance, this night) if it amount to such an increase of displeasure, as
that it might be unfit for me to appear, I beseech you afford me the
knowledge. Otherwise, I am likely to inquire of you personally, to morrow
before nine in the morning, and to put into your presence then

  _Your very humble and very true, and
  very honest servant to God and
  the King and you_
  J. Donne.

_I writ yesterday to my L[ord] Duke, by my L[ord]_ Carlile, _who assured
me of a gracious acceptation of my putting myself in his protection._


_To the Right Honourable Sir_ Robert Karre, _at Court_.


If I should refuse the liberty which you enlarge to me, of eating in your
chamber, you might suspect that I reserved it for greater boldnesses, and
would not spend it in this. But, in good faith, I do not eat before, nor
can after, till I have been at home; so much hath my this years debility
disabled me, even for receiving favours. After the Sermon, I will steal
into my Coach home, and pray that my good purpose may be well accepted,
and my defects graciously pardoned. _Amen._

  _Yours intirely_
  J. Donne.

_I will be at your chamber at one after noon._


_To the Right Honourable Sir_ Robert Karre, _at Court_.


I pursued my ambition of having the honour to kisse your hands some where,
so farre as to inform my selfe occasionally of my great neighbour. And I
perceive he is under an inundation of uncertain commers, which he cannot
devest, except I had your leave to speake plain to him. A second
inconvenience is, that he is so deafe, that we must speak to the whole
house, if we will speake to him. And a third is, that I am in a riddling,
rather a juggling indisposition, fast and loose, and therefore dare not
stirre farre. Yet Sir, I am not thereby unfit to receive the honour of
seeing you here, if greater businesse have not overcome, or worn out, your
former inclinablenesse to come into these quarters. If you shall be
pleased to say to my man, that you will make as though you dined with me
to day, and come, if your businesse require your going to his Lordship,
you may dine with him, after you have fasted with me. Today, or any day,
which may be more yours, I aske it of you with all earnestnesse, on this
side importunity, which is the detestation of

  _Your humblest and thankfullest servant_
  J. Donne.


_To the Right Honourable Sir_ Robert Karre, _at Court_.


This morning I have received a signification from my Lord Chamberlaine,
that his Majesty hath commanded to morrows Sermon at S. _James_; And that
it is the afternoon; (for, into my mouth there must not enter the word,
after-dinner, because that day there enters no dinner into my mouth.)
Towards the time of the service, I aske your leave, that I may hide my
selfe in your outchamber. Or if businesse, or privatenesse, or company
make that inconvenient, that you will be pleased to assigne some servant
of yours to shew me the Closet, when I come to your chamber. I have no
other way there, but you; which I say not, as though I had not assurance
enough therein, but because you have too much trouble thereby; nor I have
no other end there, then the Pulpit: you are my station, and that my
exaltation; And in both, I shall ever endevour to keep you from being
sorry for having thought well of, or being ashamed of having testified
well for

  _Your poor and very true
  servant in Chr. Jrs._
  J. Donne.


_To the Honourable Knight Sir_ Robert Karre, _at Court_.


I have obeyed the formes of our Church of _Pauls_ so much, as to have been
a solemn Christmas man, and tryed conclusions upon my selfe, how I could
sit out the siege of new faces, every dinner. So that I have not seen the
B[ishop] in some weeks. And I know not whether he be in case, to afford
that privacy, which you justly desire. This day, I am in my bondage of
entertaining. Suppers I presume, are inconvenient to you. But this evening
I will spie upon the B. and give you an account to morrow morning of his
disposition; when, if he cannot be intire to you, since you are gone so
farre downwards in your favours to me, be pleased to pursue your
humiliation so farre as to chuse your day, and either to suffer the
solitude of this place, or to change it, by such company, as shall waite
upon you, and come as a visitor and overseer of this Hospitall of mine,
and dine or sup at this miserable chezmey [_chez moi_].

  _Your humblest and thankfullest servant_
  J. Donne.

  4 _Jan._ 1626[7]


_To my Noble friend_ M{ris} Cokain _at_ Ashburne.

_My noblest sister_,

But that it is sweetened by your command, nothing could trouble me more,
then to write of my self. Yet, if I would have it known, I must write it
my self; for, I neither tell children, nor servants, my state. I have
never good temper, nor good pulse, nor good appetite nor good sleep. Yet,
I have so much leasure to recollect my self, as that I can thinke I have
been long thus, or often thus. I am not alive because I have not had
enough upon me to kill me, but because it pleases God to passe me through
many infirmities before he take me either by those particular
remembrances, to bring me to particular repentances, or by them to give me
hope of his particular mercies in heaven. Therefore have I been more
affected with Coughs in vehemence, more with deafenesse, more with
toothach, more with the vurbah, then heretofore. All this mellows me for
heaven, and so ferments me in this world, as I shall need no long
concoction in the grave, but hasten to the resurrection. Not onely to be
nearer that grave, but to be nearer to the service of the Church, as long
as I shall be able to do any, I purpose, God willing, to be at _London_,
within a fortnight after your receit of this, as well because I am under
the obligation of preaching at _Pauls_ upon Candlemas day, as because I
know nothing to the contrary, but that I may be called to Court, for Lent
service; and my witnesse is in heaven, that I never left out S.
_Dunstans_, when I was able to do them that service; nor will now; though
they that know the state of that Church well, know that I am not so bound,
as the world thinks, to preach there; for, I make not a shilling profit of
S. _Dunstans_ as a Church man, but as my L[ord] of _Dorset_ gave me the
lease of the Impropriation, for a certain rent, and a higher rent, then
my predecessor had it at. This I am fain to say often, because they that
know it not, have defamed me, of a defectiveness towards that Church; and
even that mistaking of theirs I ever have, and ever shall endevour to
rectifie, by as often preaching there, as my condition of body will admit.
All our company here is well, but not at home now, when I write; for, lest
I should not have another return to _London_, before the day of your
Carrier, I write this, and rest

  _Your very affectionate servant,
  and friend, and brother_
  J. Donne.

  15 Jan. 1630[1]




"The most virtuous and excellent Lady M{ris} Bridget Dunch," was the wife
of Edmund Dunch of Wittenham, Berkshire, and the daughter of Sir Anthony
Hungerford. Her mother, Elizabeth, was the daughter of Sir Thomas Lucy,
son of the Sir Thomas Lucy of Charlecote whose deer play so large a part
in the biographies of Shakespeare, and father of the Sir Thomas who became
Donne's friend and correspondent. Her distinguished services as
protectress of "that part of [Donne's] Soul, that he left behinde him, his
Fame and Reputation" seem not to be elsewhere recorded.


Mistress Bridget White, to whom the first four letters are addressed, is
not otherwise known. Mr. Edmund Gosse is inclined to identify her with the
Lady Kingsmill of the fifth letter. This lady, the daughter of Thomas
White, Esq., of Southwick, Hants, married Sir Henry Kingsmill in 1612, and
lived until 1672. If Mr. Gosse's conjecture is correct, Mistress White was
in her teens when the first four letters were written, and Donne about
twenty years her senior. He writes from his lodgings in the Strand,
between which and his house at Mitcham, near Croydon, Surrey, he divided
his time from 1605 to 1610.


The allusion to the illness of Sir Edward Herbert, afterward Lord Herbert
of Cherbury, fixes the date of this letter. He sailed from Dieppe for
Dover in February, 1609, and came at once to London. In his
_Autobiography_ (ed. Sidney Lee, 2d edition, London, n. d., p. 60) Herbert

    "I had not been long in London, when a violent burning fever seized
    upon me, which brought me almost to my death, though at last I did by
    slow degrees recover my health."

This and the preceding letter appear to have been written on the same day.


Perhaps Mistress White's brother accompanied Sir Edward Herbert, who
writes (_loc. cit._),

    "The occasion of my going hither was thus: hearing that a war about
    the title of Cleves, Juliers, and some other provinces betwixt the Low
    Countries and Germany, should be made, by the several pretenders to
    it, and that the French king [Henry IV] himself would come with a
    great army into those parts; it was now the year of our Lord 1610,
    when my Lord Chandos and myself resolved to take shipping for the Low
    Countries, and from thence to pass to the city of Juliers, which the
    Prince of Orange resolved to besiege. Making all haste thither we
    found the siege newly begun; the Low Country army assisted by 4000
    English under the command of Sir Edward Cecil."

Juliers surrendered on August 22, 1610.


Sir Henry Kingsmill died October 26th, 1624, the day on which this letter
was written. If the Lady Kingsmel, or Kingsmill, to whom it is addressed,
was the Bridget White of the first four letters, the difference in its
tone is the more interesting. The girl to whom Donne wrote so gaily
fifteen years before, is now a widow, and the poverty-stricken student of
1609 has become the great Dean of Saint Paul's.


To Sir Thomas Lucy, grandson of the Sir Thomas immortalized as _Justice
Shallow_. Lucy was a friend of the Herberts, with whom Donne afterward
became intimate, and a man of no mean intellectual power.

Donne gave up his house in Mitcham, where this letter was written, in 1610
and never returned to it. Lucy went abroad with Sir Edward Herbert in
1608. This letter may belong to the autumn of 1607.


This letter, like the next, was written in 1619, and but a few months
after Donne's appointment as Divinity Reader to the Benchers of Lincoln's

    "About which time," says Walton, "the Emperour of _Germany_ died, and
    the Palsgrave, who had lately married the Lady _Elizabeth_, the King's
    onely daughter, was elected and crowned King of _Bohemia_, the unhappy
    beginning of many miseries in that Nation.

    "King _James_, whose Motto (_Beati Pacifici_) did truly speak the very
    thoughts of his heart, endeavoured first to prevent, and after to
    compose the discords of that discomposed State: and amongst other his
    endeavours did then send the Lord _Hay_ Earl of _Doncaster_ his
    Ambassadour to those unsetled Princes; and by a speciall command from
    his Majesty Dr. _Donne_ was appointed to assist and attend that
    employment to the Princes of the Union: for which the Earl was most
    glad, who had alwayes put a great value on him, and taken a
    complacency in his conversation."

On the eve of his departure Donne placed in the hands of a few friends
manuscript copies of unpublished writings for whose preservation he wished
to provide.

[Greek: BIATHANATOS], _A Declaration of that Paradoxe, or Thesis, that
Selfe-Homicide is not so Naturally Sinne, that it may never be otherwise,
wherein the Nature, and the extent of all these lawes, which seem to be
violated by this Act, are diligently surveyed_, was not published until
1644, thirteen years after Donne's death. The manuscript of the [Greek:
BIATHANATOS] which Donne gave to Sir Edward Herbert is now preserved in
the Bodleian Library, to which Lord Herbert presented it in 1642, with the
letter here printed and with the following inscription:



Sir Robert Ker (or Carr) accompanied King James from Scotland on his
succession to the throne of England, and in 1603 became Groom of the
Bedchamber to Henry, Prince of Wales. For many years he was Donne's
"friend at court." In 1633 was made Earl of Ancrum. On the breaking out of
the civil war he fled to Holland, where he died in 1654.

Donne's poems remained uncollected until after his death. _Poems by J. D.
with Elegies on the Author's Death_ appeared in 1633, and was reissued two
years later.


Lucy, the eldest daughter of the first Lord Harrington of Exton, and the
wife of the third Earl of Bedford, was the faithful friend and generous
patron not only of Donne, but of Jonson, Drayton, Daniel, and many another
man of genius. One of Jonson's Epigrams in her honour is not so well known
as it deserves to be:


  "This morning, timely rapt with holy fire,
    I thought to form unto my jealous Muse,
  What kind of creature I could most desire,
    To honour, serve and love; as poets use.
  I meant to make her fair, and free, and wise,
    Of greatest blood, and yet more good than great;
  I meant the day star should not brighter rise,
    Nor lend like influence from his lucent seat.
  I meant she should be courteous, facile, sweet,
    Hating that solemn vice of greatness, pride;
  I meant each softest virtue there should meet,
    Fit in that softer bosom to reside.
  Only a learned, and a manly soul
    I purposed her; that should, with even powers,
  The rock, the spindle, and the sheers control
    Of Destiny, and spin her own free hours.
  Such when I meant to feign, and wish'd to see,
  My Muse bade, Bedford write, and that was she!"

In spite of Donne's opinion that "in letters, by which we deliver over our
affection, and assurances of friendship ... times and daies cannot have
interest," we may note that this letter must have been written earlier
than February 1614, in which month died Lady Bedford's brother, the second
Lord Harrington, to whom allusion is here made.


Susan, grand-daughter of William, Lord Burleigh, was the first wife of
Philip, Earl of Montgomery. As Donne, on the eve of his German tour,
leaves a copy of his _Biathanatos_ in the safe-keeping of Sir Edward
Herbert, and the manuscript of his poems in the hands of Sir Robert Ker,
so he commits to the appropriate custody of the Countess of Montgomery ("A
new Susannah, equal to that old," Ben Jonson called her) the manuscript of
a sermon, which, when she heard him preach it, she had commended.

The corrections bracketted in the text are from a MS. copy of the
original, printed by Mr. Gosse, and reproduced here by his permission.


To Sir Henry Goodyer, as is sufficiently indicated by the allusion to the
weekly letter which Donne was in the habit of writing to this most
intimate of his friends, and written from Mitcham, therefore not later
than 1610. Sir Henry Goodyer, Gentleman of the Privy Chamber to James I,
was the son of William Goodyer of Monks Kirby. He married his cousin
Frances, daughter of Sir Henry Goodyer the elder, and on his
father-in-law's death in 1595 succeeded to the family estates at
Polesworth. Sir Henry seems to have been an open-minded, open-handed,
easy-going man, with the defects of his qualities. His fortune slipped
through his fingers and he died (1628) in poverty. I have no doubt that it
was to Goodyer that Donne made the present of which Walton writes:

    "He gave an hundred pounds at one time to an old friend, whom he had
    known live plentifully, & by a too liberal heart then decayed in his
    estate: and when the receiving of it was denied by saying, he wanted
    not; for as there be some spirits so generous as to labour to conceal
    and endure a sad poverty, rather than those blushes that attend the
    confession of it, so there be others to whom Nature and Grace have
    afforded such sweet and compassionate souls, as to pity and prevent
    the distresses of mankind; which I have mentioned because of Dr.
    Donne's reply, whose answer was, I know you want not what will sustain
    nature, for a little will do that; but my desire is that you who in
    the dayes of your plenty have cheered the hearts of so many of your
    friends, would receive this from me, and use it as a cordiall for the
    cheering of your own: and so it was received."

Goodyer's epitaph is quoted by Camden in the _Remaines concerning

    "To the honour of Sir Henry Goodyer of Powlesworth, a Knight memorable
    for his vertues, an affectionate Friend of his framed this Tetrastich:

        'An ill year of a Goodyer us bereft,
        Who gone to God, much lack of him here left:
        Full of good gifts, of body and of mind,
        Wise, comely, learned, eloquent and kind.'"


To Sir Henry Goodyer. This letter belongs to 1607 or 1608, and was written
from Mitcham. Sick in mind and in body, poor in purse and in hopes,
Donne's thoughts dwelt on suicide, and the fruit of his meditations was
the book "of not much less than three hundred pages," _Biathanatos_, of
which we have already heard. The "meditation in verse which I call a
litany" is printed in the Poems (ed. Chambers, Vol. II, p. 174).

The report that Broughton had gone over to Rome was without foundation in
fact, though the rumour was of periodical occurrence.


George Garet, or Gerrard, the son of Sir William Gerrard of Dorney, Bucks,
was one of Donne's closest friends, and to him are addressed many of
Donne's more personal letters.

For what importunities in his behalf Donne here makes grateful
acknowledgment we have no means of determining. The letter probably dates
from 1614, when Donne was anxiously seeking profitable employment at


"That good Gentlewoman," Bridget, wife of Sir Anthony Markham, was the
daughter of Lady Bedford's brother, the second Lord Harrington of Exton,
and one of the Ladies of the Bedchamber to Queen Anne. She died at Lady
Bedford's house at Twickenham, May 4th, 1609, about which time this letter
was written. Donne's Elegy is printed in his Poems (ed. Chambers, Vol. II,
p. 86).

Sir Thomas Roe was the grandson of the Lord Mayor of the same name. He was
knighted in 1604 by King James, who, ten years later, appointed him
ambassador to the Great Mogul. He died in 1644. To him is addressed Ben
Jonson's Epigram, XCVIII.


To George Gerrard's sister, and belonging to the same period as XIII.


Probably written from Amiens, to which place Donne accompanied Sir Robert
Drury in 1611, on that journey during which he had the vision described by

"Two days after their arrival there [in Paris], Mr. _Donne_ was left alone
in that room in which Sir _Robert_, and he, and some other friends had
din'd together. To this place Sir _Robert_ return'd within half an hour,
and, as he left, so he found Mr. _Donne_ alone; but in such an Extasie,
and, so alter'd as to his looks, as amaz'd Sir _Robert_ to behold him:
insomuch that he earnestly desired Mr. _Donne_ to declare what had befaln
him in the short time of his absence? to which, Mr. _Donne_ was not able
to make a present answer: but, after a long and perplext pause, did at
last say, _I have seen a dreadful vision since I saw you; I have seen my
dear wife pass twice by me through this room, with her hair hanging about
her shoulders, and a dead child in her arms: This I have seen since I saw
you._ To which Sir _Robert_ reply'd; '_Sure Sir, you have slept since I
saw you; and, this is the result of some melancholy dream, which I desire
you to forget, for, you are now awake._' To which Mr. _Donne's_ reply was,
'_I cannot be surer that I now live, then, that I have not slept since I
saw you: and I am as sure, that at her second appearing, she stopt, and
look'd me in the face, and vanisht._' Rest and sleep, had not alter'd Mr.
_Donne's_ opinion the next day: for he then affirm'd this vision with a
more deliberate, and so confirm'd a confidence, that he inclin'd Sir
_Robert_ to a faint belief that the Vision was true.--It is truly said,
_that desire, and doubt, have no rest_: and it prov'd so with Sir
_Robert_, for he immediately sent a servant to _Drewry_ house, with a
charge to hasten back, and bring him word, whether Mrs. _Donne_ were
alive? and if alive, in what condition she was, as to her health?--The
twelfth day the Messenger returned with this account--That he found and
left Mrs. _Donne_ very sad, and sick in her bed: and, that after a long
and dangerous labour, she had been deliver'd of a dead child. And upon
examination, the abortion prov'd to be the same day, and about the very
hour that Mr. _Donne_ affirm'd he saw her pass by him in his Chamber."


This letter seems to belong to the same period as the last, and to have
been intended by Donne as a sort of circular letter "to all my friends" at


Written in 1608, as the reference to the sudden death of Captain Edmund
Whitelocke indicates. Walton, who quotes a part of this letter, gives the
date as September 7th.

Mr. Jones may have been the friend to whose custody Tobie Matthew was
committed between his sentence of banishment and his departure from
England. (See Note on XLV, below.) Mr. Holland was Henry Holland, the son
of Philemon Holland, the translator of Suetonius and much else. The Lord
of Sussex was Robert Ratcliffe, Earl of Sussex.


The postscript to this letter, written, like that which follows it, from
Mitcham in the closing years of Donne's residence there, is serious
enough, but the letter itself must be understood as extravagant banter,
not without a touch of bitterness. "When sadness dejects me," says Donne
in a letter (XXV) written about this time, "either I countermine it with
another sadnesse, or I kindle squibs about me again, and flie into
sportfulnesse." The present letter is the fruit of such a mood.

The _Aurum Reginae_ is the Queen Consort's share (one-tenth) of all fines
exacted by the King, which under the old law was due to her. Mr. Hakewill
was Queen Anne's Solicitor-General.


To Sir Henry Goodyer, and written after Sir Henry had entered the service
of the Earl of Bedford and before Donne's removal from Mitcham to Drury
House, therefore in 1609 or 1610. The reference to "the new astronomy" is
interesting. In 1609 Keppler announced his discovery of some of the laws
governing planetary motion, although it was not until the following year
that the Copernican System was, by the discoveries of Galileo, firmly
established. Donne's mind seems to have been open to the new knowledge,
when Bacon's was firmly closed against it.


The reference to "my day" for payment of "this duty of letters," enables
us to identify Donne's correspondent as Sir Henry Goodyer, to whom Donne
was in the habit of writing every Tuesday. (Cf. the first sentence of
XVIII.) When the present letter was written Donne was employed in
assisting Thomas Morton, Dean of Gloucester, and the leader of the
Anglican theologians in the all but interminable controversy with the
Jesuits which involved so many of the ablest churchmen of the period. The
"Apology" was probably Robert Parson's "confused and worthless work," the
_Treatise tending towards Mitigation_, in reply to which Sutcliffe
published his _Subversion_ in 1606, and Morton, two years later, his
_Preamble unto an Encounter_, which, happily belying its name, went far
toward closing the debate.


The loss of her ladyship's verses on Donne, which are the subject of this
letter, is the more to be regretted as none of her composition survives,
though verses in her honour are found in the works of Donne, Ben Jonson,
Daniel, Drayton, and other poets. This letter belongs to the same period
as XXI.


The postscript enables us to date the letter near the end of Donne's
residence at Mitcham, when he was engaged in the politico-theological
studies which resulted in the composition of the _Pseudo-Martyr_ in 1609.


Sir Henry Goodyer had lost both father and father-in-law long before his
friend had occasion "to reduce to his thoughts the duties of a husband
and a father, and all the incumbencies of a family." The reference in this
letter to "your father's health and love" therefore seems to preclude the
possibility that it was addressed to Goodyer. The absence of a date makes
conjecture as to the identity of Donne's correspondent the more difficult.
Fortunately the interest of the letter is independent of knowledge of the
correspondent to whom it was addressed, consisting as it does in the light
which it throws on the mental temperament of the writer.


The marriage of the Princess Elizabeth and the Count Palatine took place
in February, 1613. This letter with its anticipations of the great event
may safely be assigned to the journey on which Donne accompanied Sir
Robert Drury in 1611-12. "My book of M{ris} Drury" is Donne's strange poem
in commemoration of the first anniversary of the death in 1610 of Sir
Robert Drury's little daughter Elizabeth. _An Anatomie of the World,
wherein by occasion of the untimely death of Mistress Elizabeth Drury, the
frailty and decay of this whole world is represented_, was published in
1611. The extravagance of the homage here paid to a child whom Donne had
never seen, and on whose father's bounty he and his family were living,
was regarded by some of his friends as savoring rather too patently of

In commemoration of the second anniversary of Elizabeth Drury's death,
Donne published in 1612 a poem _Of the Progresse of the Soule_. _Wherein,
by occasion of the religious death of Mistress Elizabeth Drury, the
incommodities of the soule in this life, and her exaltation in the next,
are contemplated._

In 1618 Ben Jonson told Drummond "that Done's Anniversarie was profane and
full of blasphemies: that he told Mr. Done, if it had been written of the
Virgin Marie, it had been something; to which he answered that he
described the Idea of a Woman, and not as she was." (_Conversations with
Drummond, III._)


To Sir Henry Goodyer. The mention of "place and season" and the references
to suffering of mind, body, and estate, enable us to date this letter from
Mitcham in the spring of 1608, when Donne was in his thirty-fifth year.


William Fowler, to whom we have already had a jesting reference (XIX) was
Secretary to Queen Anne. It is not clear whether the place to which Donne
aspired was the secretaryship, which, as he was informed, Fowler was about
to resign, or some other position in the Secretary's gift which Donne was
anxious to secure before Fowler went out of office. In either case, his
hope was not realized.


To Sir Henry Goodyer, and written in the summer of 1623 when the Prince
and Buckingham were in Spain.

The current news from Bohemia must have been of especial interest to Donne
in the light of his experience as the companion of Viscount Doncaster's
journey to that unhappy country six years before. (See note to VII.)


To Sir Henry Goodyer. If the allusion to the "French Prince" refers to the
visit of the Prince de Joinville who was "despatched back again" in June,
1607, this letter may be assigned to the summer of that year. "These two
problems" are probably part of the _Iuvenilia, or Certaine Paradoxes and
Problems, written by I. Donne_ and published posthumously in 1633. The
"ragge of verses" survives as the "Verse Letter to Sir Henry Goodyer,"
printed in Donne's Poems (ed. Chambers, Vol. II, p. 10). In the _Poems_ of
1633 there is a copy of this letter following a text so much better than
that of the _Letters_ of 1651, that it has seemed worth while to reprint
it in its entirety.

    "SIR,--This Teusday morning, which hath brought me to London, presents
    mee with all your letters. Mee thought it was a rent day, I mean such
    as yours, and not as mine. And yet such too, when I considered how
    much I ought you for them. How good a mother, how fertile and abundant
    the understanding is, if shee have a good father. And how well
    friendship performes that office. For that which is denyed in other
    generations is done in this of yours. For hers is superfaetation,
    child upon child, and, that which is more strange, twinnes at a later
    conception. If in my second religion, friendship, I had a conscience,
    either _Errantem_ to mistake good and bad, and indifferent, or
    _Opinantem_ to be ravished by others opinions or examples, or _Dubiam_
    to adhere to neither part, or _Scrupulosam_ to encline to one, but
    upon reasons light in themselves or indiscussed in mee (which are
    almost all the diseases of conscience) I might mistake your often,
    long, and busie letters, and fear you did but interest me to have
    mercy upon you and spare you. For you know our court tooke the
    resolution, that it was the best way to dispatch the French Prince
    backe againe quickly, to receive him solemnely, ceremoniously; and
    expensively, when he hoped a domestique and durable entertainment. I
    never meant to excell you in waight nor price, but in number and bulke
    I thought I might: Because he may cast up a greater summe who hath but
    forty small moneyes, than hee with twenty Portuguesses. The memory of
    friends (I meane only for letters) neither enters ordinarily into
    busied men, because they are ever employed within, nor into men of
    pleasure, because they are never at home. For these wishes therefore
    which you wonne out of your pleasure and recreation, you were as
    excusable to mee if you writ seldom as Sir H. Wotten [who] is under
    the oppression of businesse or the necessity of seeming so: Or more
    than hee, because I hope you have both pleasure and businesse. Only to
    me, who have neither, this omission were sinne. For though writing be
    not of the precepts of friendship, but of the counsells: yet, as in
    some cases to some men counsells become precepts, though not
    immediately from God, yet very roundly and quickly from this Church,
    (as selling and dividing goods in the first time, continence in the
    Roman Church, and order and decency in ours) so to mee who can doe
    nothing else, it seemes to binde my conscience to write. And it is
    sinne to doe against the conscience, though that erre; Yet no mans
    letters may be better wanted than mine, since my whole letter is
    nothing else but a confession that I should and would write. I ought
    you a letter in verse before by mine owne promise, & now that you
    thinke you have hedged in that debt by a greater by your letter in
    verse I thinke it now most seasonable and fashional for mee to breake.
    At least, to write presently were to accuse my selfe of not having
    read yours so often as such a letter deserves from you to mee. To make
    my debt greater (for such is the desire of all, who cannot or meane
    not to pay) I pray reade these two problems: for such light flashes as
    these have beene my hawkings in my Surry journies. I accompany them
    with another ragge of verses, worthy of that name for the smalnesse,
    and age, for it hath long lyen among my other papers, and laughs at
    them that have adventured to you: for I thinke till now you saw it
    not, and neither you, nor it should repent it. Sir, if I were any
    thing, my love to you might multiply it, and dignifie it: But infinite
    nothings are but one such: Yet since even Chymeraes have some name,
    and titles, I am also,



That many of the letters headed "To Yourself" were addressed to George
Gerrard there is ample evidence; that any of the letters so headed were
addressed to another correspondent there is, so far as I know, no reason
for believing.

Donne writes from Spa, to which place he accompanied Sir Robert and Lady
Drury in May, 1612.

By 1582, the recurring annual error of approximately eleven minutes in the
Julian calendar amounted to ten days. Pope Gregory XIII accordingly
ordained that ten days should be deducted from the year 1582 by reckoning
what according to the old calendar would have been the 5th, as the 15th of
October. Spain, Portugal, and part of Italy carried out the Pope's
instructions exactly; in France the change was deferred until December,
when the 10th was reckoned as the 20th; in the Low Countries the change
was from December 15th to December 25th. England did not adopt the change
until 1752, when the 3d of September, old style, was reckoned as September
14th. "26 July _here_ (i.e., at Spa) 1612" would, therefore, in England be
July 16th, 1612.

Lord Treasurer Salisbury died May 24th, 1612. That contemporary estimate
of his abilities which is, perhaps, most in accord with modern judgments
is that of Francis Bacon:

    "Soon after the death of a great Officer, who was judged no advancer
    of the King's Matters, the King said to his Sollicitor Bacon, who was
    his Kinsman: Now tell me truly, what say you of your Cousin that is
    gone? Mr. Bacon answered, Sir, since your Majesty doth charge me, I'll
    e'ne deal plainly with you, and give you such a character of him, as
    if I were to write his Story. I do think he was no fit Counsellor to
    make your Affairs better; but yet he was fit to have kept them from
    growing worse. The King said, On my So'l, Man, in the first thou
    speakest like a True Man, and in the latter like a Kinsman."
    (_Baconiana_, 1679, p. 55.)


This letter may conceivably have been addressed to George Hastings, Fourth
Earl of Huntingdon. I think, however, that "To my Lord G. H." is the
younger Donne's mistake for "To Sir H. G." The reference to Lady Bedford,
to whose husband's establishment Sir Henry Goodyer was at this time
attached, and the tone of the letter in general seem to me to support this
supposition. As Donne left London with Sir Robert Drury late in November,
1611, this letter may be attributed with some confidence to the latter
part of that year.


To Sir Henry Goodyer. Mr. Gosse places this letter in point of date of
composition between VI (October 9th, 1607) and XLV (March 14th, 1608).
Certainly the three letters have points of resemblance striking enough to
serve as a basis for the inference that they belong to the same period of
Donne's life. I know of no external evidence as to date, however, and the
internal evidence is of the slightest. If, as I venture to infer from some
of the expressions used, the letter was written after Donne had taken
orders, it cannot be of earlier date than 1615.


Written from Peckham, the home of Sir Thomas Grymes, the husband of
Donne's sister Jane. As the time of Donne's ordination (January, 1615)
approached, he applied to several friends, Lady Bedford ("the Countess")
and the Countess of Huntingdon ("the other Countess") among them, to help
him pay his debts before making his "valediction to the world." Lady
Bedford sent him £30; the Countess of Huntingdon responded even more
liberally. Six verse letters to Lady Bedford and two to Lady Huntingdon
are printed in Donne's Poems (ed. Chambers).


Sir George More, Chancellor of the Garter and Lieutenant of the Tower (to
whom the news of his daughter's secret marriage to Donne (1601) was "so
immeasurably unwelcome, and so transported him, that, as though his
passion of anger and inconsideration might exceed theirs of love and
errour," he had procured his son-in law's dismissal from the post of
Secretary to Sir Thomas Egerton), had, by the date of this letter, become
"so far reconciled, as to wish their happinesse, and not to deny them his
paternal blessing," though he still "refused to contribute any means that
might conduce to their livelihood."

The Donnes had accepted the invitation of Mrs. Donne's cousin, Sir Francis
Wooley, to be his guests, on his inheritance in 1602 of the estate of
Pyrford, in Surrey, "where they remained with much freedom to themselves,
and equal comfort to him for many years," says Walton. In reality their
residence at Pyrford extended from some time in 1602 to the winter of
1604-5. To this period the letter belongs. The "entreaty that you let goe
no copy of my Problems" may refer to some unrevised MS. of the
_Iuvenalia_. (See note to XXX.)


To Sir Henry Goodyer. "My custom of writing" is one of the many allusions
to Donne's weekly letter to Goodyer. I find nothing in the present letter
on which to base any very accurate dating.


To George Gerrard. The nearest indication of the date of this letter is
found in the mention of Sir Germander Pool. John Chamberlain in a letter
to Sir Ralph Winwood, dated March 10th, 1612/13 writes:

    "I know not whether I told you in my former, of an odd fray that
    happened much about that time [February 23d, 1612/13] near the Temple,
    'twixt one Hutchison of Grays-Inn, and Sir German Pool; who,
    assaulting the other upon Advantage, and cutting off two of his
    Fingers, besides a Wound or two more before he could draw, the
    Gentleman finding himself disabled to revenge himself by the Sword,
    flew in upon him, and, getting him down, tore away all his Eyebrow
    with his Teeth, and then seizing on his Nose, tore away all of it, and
    carried it away in his Pockett."

Mr. Gosse suggests that it is not unlikely that Sir Germander's singular
disfigurement led to the resignation of which Donne speaks.

With the exception of this letter and the passage just quoted from the
_Winwood Memorials_ I have been unable to find in print any reference to
Sir Germander. Through the unwearying kindness of Mr. Gosse, however, and
the researches of Lord Raglan, undertaken at his instance, I am able to
give some particulars of the history of this unlucky knight. He was
baptized--as German or Germaine (Germander is a corruption)--in 1573. He
fought in Ireland under Montjoy in 1599; he was knighted at Dublin Castle
by the Lord Deputy of Ireland on the 20th of April, 1603; and in 1625 he
had so far triumphed over his misfortunes as to win the hand of Millicent,
daughter of Francis Mundy, Esq., of Markeaton, who bore him a son.


To Sir Henry Goodyer. More than once Donne insists on the sincerity of his
letters. So he writes to Mrs. Herbert:

    "If this sounds like a flattery, believe it not. I am to my letters
    rigid as a Puritan, as Cæsar was to his wife. I can as ill endure a
    suspicion and misinterpretable word as a fault."


The reference to the cessation of hostilities in the Low Countries
following the Truce of Bergen (April 19th, 1609) enables us to complete
the date of this letter. "The best Lady," here as elsewhere, is the
Countess of Bedford. Perhaps the letter to Lady Bedford, enclosed in this
letter, and presumably in verse, was written in acknowledgment of her
verses on Donne, which are the subject of a letter to her already given


To Sir John Harington, now best remembered as the translator of Ariosto,
and one of the brilliant group of poets and wits which met at the Countess
of Bedford's house at Twickenham and which included Ben Jonson, Drayton,
Daniel, Donne, and many lesser lights. Harington died in 1612. Donne's
daughter Lucy was born at Mitcham in 1608 and died nineteen years later at
the Deanery of Saint Paul's.


Sir Henry Wotton was in England when this letter was written early in
1612, and Donne was probably at Amiens, shortly to proceed to Paris with
Sir Robert Drury. The phrase "when I was last here" is the only known
evidence of an earlier visit to France.

In the _Life of Wotton_, Walton writes:

    "I must not omit the mention of a love that was there [at Oxford]
    begun betwixt him and Dr. Donne, sometime Dean of St. Paul's; a man of
    whose abilities I shall forbear to say anything, because he who is of
    this nation, and pretends to learning or ingenuity, and is ignorant of
    Dr. Donne, deserves not to know him. The friendship of these two I
    must not omit to mention, being such a friendship as was generously
    elemented; and as it was begun in their youth, and in an University,
    and there maintained by correspondent inclinations and studies, so it
    lasted till age and death forced a separation."


This letter, to Sir Henry Goodyer, was written but a few weeks later than
the preceding letter to Sir Henry Wotton. Their arrangement in sequence is
one of John Donne, Junior's rare triumphs as an editor of correspondence.
The two letters admirably illustrate the manysidedness of Donne's contact
with the life of his time, social, political, and ecclesiastical. For the
date, see note to XXXI, above.


There is no conclusive evidence, internal or external, as to which of
Donne's correspondents is here addressed; certainly not Sir Henry Wotton,
who was not a father, and who had recently returned from an important
embassy in Germany, and who, a year later, became Provost of Eton College,
to Bacon's great disappointment. The intimate tone of the letter suggests
that it was addressed to Sir Henry Goodyer, who had already begun to be
"encombred and distressed in his fortunes."


_A. V[uestra] Merced_, "to your worship," is the common Spanish form of
address. The allusion to the plague enables us to assign the letter to
1608, and this date in connection with the references to "My Lady"
[Bedford] and to "Twicknam" suggest that Donne's correspondent was Sir
Henry Goodyer, in the service of the Earl of Bedford. "Mistress Herbert"
is Mrs. Magdalen Herbert, the mother of the saintly George Herbert and his
unsaintly brother Edward. Of Mrs. Herbert, after she had become Lady
Danvers, Donne speaks in what is perhaps the best remembered of his poems,
the lines beginning:

  "No spring, nor summer beauty hath such grace
  As I have seen in one autumnal face,"

and the best remembered of his sermons, except _Death's Duel_, is that in
commemoration of her death.

"M{ris} Meauly" according to Dr. Jessopp (quoted by Mr. Gosse) is Mistress
Meautys, one of the members of Lady Bedford's household, and, if so,
possibly a connection of Bacon's faithful follower.


"M. Mathews" is Toby Matthew, the eldest son of Dr. Tobias Matthew,
Archbishop of York. Three years before, while travelling in Italy, he had
become converted to Romanism. On his return to England in the summer of
1607, his case was laid before the King, who suggested that he be required
to take the oath, abjuring allegiance to Rome. This he refused to do, and
was committed to the Fleet prison by Dr. Bancroft, Archbishop of
Canterbury, and there visited by Bishop Andrews, Morton, then Dean of
Gloucester, Sir Henry Goodyer, Donne, and others. In a letter dated 11th
February 1607[8] the voluminous Chamberlain wrote to Carleton:

    "Your friend, Tobie Matthew, was called before the Council-table on
    Sunday in the afternoon, and, after some schooling, the Earl of
    Salisbury told him that he was not privy to his imprisonment, which he
    did in no ways approve, as perceiving that so light a punishment
    would make him rather more proud and perverse. But in conclusion they
    allotted him six weeks' space to set in order and depart the realm."

He left England accordingly, and lived on the Continent until 1623, when
he was forgiven, invited to return, and knighted by the King. Apart from
his extraordinary personality his chief claim on our interest is that he
was the life-long friend and correspondent of Francis Bacon.


To Sir Henry Goodyer. Written between the death of Sir Geoffrey Fenton in
October, 1608, and the performance of Ben Jonson's _Masque of Queens_ on
February 2d, 1609. Donne was not successful in his attempt to secure the
position left vacant by Fenton's death, for all the "haste and words" of
Lord Hay and other friends. James Hay was a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber
in Scotland, and came to England with the King. In 1603 the King appointed
him Gentleman of the Bedchamber, and knighted him. In 1606 he was made
Lord Hay, and afterwards became Viscount Doncaster, and Earl of Carlisle.
Donne accompanied him on his embassy to the Palatinate. (See note on VII,

This letter gives us our earliest mention of a warm friendship that lasted
as long as Donne lived. In his will he bequeathed to Carlisle "the picture
of the Blessed Virgin Mary which hangs in the little dining-chamber."


To Sir Henry Goodyer. I cannot identify the "paper" the composition of
which helped Donne to pass the anxious hours that brought him a son; but
as the letter was written during his residence at Mitcham, where the
Donnes went to live shortly after the birth of their son George, the
birth here recorded must have been that of Francis, Donne's fourth child
and third son, who was baptized at Mitcham January 8th, 1607, and who died
in infancy. John, who survived to be the first editor of these letters,
was now three years old.


To Sir Henry Goodyer, and apparently written during the anxious weeks
between Donne's decision to enter the church and his ordination in
January, 1615. (See note on XXXIV, above.) "That good lady" is, of course,
the Countess of Bedford, "Mr. Villars" is George Villiers, soon to be the
Duke of Buckingham, and "Mr. Karre" is a nephew of Somerset, the present
favourite. The "Masque of Gentlemen" may have been Ben Jonson's _The
Golden Age Restored, in a Masque at Court, 1615, by the Lords and
Gentlemen, the King's Servants_, first printed in the folio of 1616.

Sir Robert Rich, later Earl of Warwick, lived to become Lord High Admiral
for the Parliament, 1643-5, 1648-9. Three years after the date of this
letter we find Donne planning to meet Sir Robert at Frankfort. (XLII.)
Lord Dorset (Richard, third Earl of Dorset) was one of the most generous
of Donne's patrons. To him Donne owed the reversion of St. Dunstan's.


To Sir Henry Goodyer and presumably of later date than the letter to Sir
John Harington (XL) of August 6, 1608, which contains our earliest record
of Donne's acquaintance with "that good lady," the Countess of Bedford,
and to which allusion may be made in the last paragraph of the present
letter. The Lord Harrington here mentioned must be one of the Harringtons
of Exton, probably the second Lord Harrington, who was Lady Bedford's

The home of Donne's brother-in-law, Sir Thomas Gryme, where the Donnes
were frequent guests, was in Peckham.


To Sir Robert Drury, and written at the lowest ebb of Donne's fortunes,
when he was casting about for court preferment of any kind. The marriage
of Somerset and Lady Frances Howard, whose marriage to Essex had at length
been annulled, took place December 26, 1613. One would be glad to forget
that Donne wrote the beautiful epithalamium which connects him with this
unholy union, and so gives the approximate date of this letter.


That this letter was written in the year 1621, and not ten years earlier,
is evident from the references to contemporary events. The contrast
between Donne's circumstances as indicated in the present letter and his
situation at the date of the preceding letter is striking. In less than
three months from August 30th, 1621, he became Dean of Saint Paul's; from
this date until the end his fame both as preacher and as saint, continued
in the ascendent.

Archbishop Abbot's "accident" was his unfortunate killing of a game-keeper
in Lord Zouch's park. No one doubted that the killing was accidental, but
it was questioned whether the homicide, even though involuntary, did not
render him incapable of holding the see of Canterbury. A commission
appointed to inquire into the ecclesiastical status of the Archbishop at
length reported that his title was without flaw. "Lady _Nethersoles_" is
Goodyer's daughter Lucy, the wife of Sir Francis Nethersole.


To Sir Henry Goodyer, and written in 1609. Mr. Gosse thinks the book here
discussed is the Bishop of Lincoln's _Answer to a Catholic Englishman_,
but Donne's criticism is equally applicable to a score of volumes which
appeared in connection with the doctrinal controversy springing from the
vexed questions arising in the King's relations with his Catholic

During this year Donne completed his _Pseudo-Martyr, Wherein out of
certaine Propositions and Gradations, This Conclusion is evicted, That
those which are of the Romane Religion in this Kingdome, may and ought to
take the Oath of Allegeance_.


As to the identity of "Sir T. H." I have no conjecture to offer. Lord
Cranfield "received his staffe" as Lord High Treasurer in September, 1621.
For "my L. of Canterburies irregularity" see note to LI, above.


To Sir Henry Goodyer, and written in 1614 but a few months later than the
letter to Sir Robert Drury already printed. (L.) The "Book of the Nullity"
is apparently either the record of the legal proceedings looking to the
annulment of the marriage of the Earl of Essex and Lady Frances Howard or
a brief, covering the arguments in favour of the nullity, drawn up by
Donne in the hope of reward in the shape of patronage from Somerset.


To Sir Henry Goodyer and written five months later than the preceding
letter. Donne is still seeking court employment. The Lord Chancellor is
Sir Thomas Egerton, Lord Ellesmere, whom Donne had served as Secretary
fifteen years before.


Written in 1619, on the eve of Donne's departure for the Palatinate. (See
VII, note.) "My Lord" is, of course, Lord Hay. "M. Gher" is George
Gerrard. "M. Martin" is presumably Donne's friend, Richard Martin,
mentioned in XIX and XLI. He died a few months before the date of this
letter, and Sir Henry Goodyer has evidently been urging Donne to write a
poem in his memory.

The Queen died on March 2d. "That noble Countess" is Lady Bedford.


To Sir Henry Goodyer, and written three months after Donne became Dean of
St. Paul's. Lady Ruthyn was the sister-in-law of the Earl of Kent, who had
promised to Donne the living of Blunham in Bedfordshire.


To Sir Henry Goodyer. The allusions to the birth of Donne's son Nicholas
(baptized in August, 1613) and to the (erroneous) report of the death of
Tobie Matthew, who was dangerously ill at Rome, give the date of this


As Somerset and Lady Frances Howard were married in December, 1613,
following the declaration of "the nullity" which is here in question, this
letter must be assigned to January of the same year. (See notes to L and
LIV, above.) I am unable to identify _G. K._ Lady Bartlet seems to have
acted as housekeeper for Sir Robert Drury at Drury House, where the Donnes
were living when this letter was written. "That noble lady at Ashworth"
was the third wife of Donne's old friend and employer, Sir Thomas


Of this letter, and of LXVII, apparently sent to the same person, I can
give no satisfactory account. An unpublished letter from Donne to Sir G.
Brydges is said to be in existence, and the present letter may be
addressed to him.


Evidently to Sir Henry Goodyer. "Your son Sir _Francis_" is Sir Francis
Nethersole, who had married Goodyer's daughter Lucy, and who had
apparently been imprisoned for debt.

Poor Constance Donne, a year after "her losse" here described, was married
to Edward Alleyn, the actor-manager and founder of Dulwich College, a man
who was considerably older than her father, and who seems to have made her
thoroughly unhappy.


Evidently misdated for 1612, and written a few weeks after the date of
XXXI. (See note to XVI.)


To Sir Henry Goodyer, and written in 1614, but a few days after XLVIII.


To Sir Henry Goodyer. The references to "the good Countess" of Bedford and
to Mitcham fix the date of this letter as later than August, 1608, and
earlier than the spring of 1610, when Donne moved his family to Drury
House. Sir Henry Goodyer was now in the service of the Earl of Bedford.


To Sir Henry Goodyer, and written two days later than LXIII. Apparently
Tobie Matthew had deposited a part of his fortune in Goodyer's keeping to
avoid the possibility of confiscation. (See note to XLV, above.) By 1614
Sir Henry's affairs were in hopeless confusion. (See note to XI, above.)

No copy of Donne's Poems in an earlier edition than that of 1633 has been
discovered, and it is unlikely that he carried out the intention, here
expressed, of printing them during his lifetime.


For "my L. of Canterburies businesse" see note to LI, above. "My little
book of Cases" is presumably the _Paradoxes and Problems_.


Donne was presented to the living of Keyston, in Huntingdonshire, by the
Benchers of Lincoln's Inn in 1616. Wrest was the home of the Earl of Kent.
(See note to LVII, above.) "My Lady Spencer," the daughter of Sir John
Spencer of Althorpe, and third wife of Sir Thomas Egerton, is "that noble
lady at Ashworth" of LIX.


To Sir Henry Goodyer. This letter appears to belong to the period of Sir
Henry's prosperity, and was written, I think, either from Mitcham, or from
Donne's lodgings in the Strand; in either case, not earlier than 1605 nor
later than 1610. Parson's Green was in the parish of Fulham, Middlesex.
Ben Jonson has an _Epigram_ (_LXXXV_) anent Sir Henry Goodyer's hawks:

  "Goodyere, I'm glad, and grateful to report,
  Myself a witness of thy few days sport;
  Where I both learn'd, why wise men hawking follow,
  And why that bird was sacred to Apollo:
  She doth instruct men by her gallant flight,
  That they to knowledge so should tower upright,
  And never stoop, but to strike ignorance;
  Which if they miss, yet they should re-advance
  To former height, and there in circle tarry,
  Till they be sure to make the fool their quarry.
  Now, in whose pleasures I have this discerned,
  What would his serious actions me have learned?"

And in the verses enclosed in his letter (XXX) to Goodyer, Donne writes:

  "Our soule, whose country is heaven, & God her father,
    Into this world, corruptions sinke, is sent,
  Yet, so much in her travaile she doth gather,
    That she returnes home, wiser than she went;
  It pays you well, if it teach you to spare
    And make you asham'd, to make your hawks praise, yours,
  Which when herselfe she lessens in the aire,
    You then first say, that high enough she toures."


To Sir Thomas Roe. Until 1752, when by Act of Parliament the first day of
January became the first day of the year, the year began on March 25th and
ended on the following March 24th. What to Donne was "the last (day) of
1607" would be to us March 24th, 1608. Since 1752 therefore it has been a
common practice in referring to dates falling between January 1st and
March 24th inclusive of all years previous to the year 1752 to give both
years. So we would give the date of the execution of Charles I as January
30th, 1648/49.

"The Mask" is possibly Ben Jonson's _The Hue and Cry after Cupid_,
"celebrating the happy marriage of John Lord Ramsey, Viscount Hadington,
with the Lady Elizabeth Ratcliffe," of which Rowland White wrote to the
Earl of Shrewsbury, "The great Maske intended for my L. Haddington's
marriage is now the only thing thought upon at Court."


I have not succeeded in finding a clue to the "accident" of which Donne
writes. It would seem that some friend or relation of Sir Henry Goodyer's
had met with sudden, and perhaps violent, death.


In point of date of composition, this is probably the earliest of the
published letters of Donne, who in December, 1600, had been for more than
three years chief secretary to Sir Thomas Egerton, the Lord Keeper, from
whose friendly custody the Earl of Essex was set free in July, 1600.

The identity of "G. H." is unknown and conjecture is needless. Perhaps he
was one of those followers of Essex who had been imprisoned at the time of
the first trial of their unhappy leader, but who had not shared in his

Within the three months following the date of this letter Essex had again
offended, this time beyond the possibility of pardon. He was beheaded on
February 25th, 1601.

In such times, one may suppose that the Lord Keeper's young secretary had
matters in hand more pressing than the payment of that debt of "a
continual tribute of letters" which he acknowledges with a gravity in
which one imagines a touch of irony. Yet Donne could hardly help feeling a
special interest in one whose attachment to Essex had brought him on evil
days. He himself had served under Essex in the Cadiz expedition of 1596
and in the Islands Voyage of 1597, "waiting upon his Lordship," says
Walton, "and being an eye-witnesse of those happy and unhappy
employments," a privilege which in the latter enterprise he shared with
young Thomas Egerton, the Lord Keeper's son.


This, like the other letters addressed "To Yourself" may not improbably be
addressed to George Gerrard, who is known to have been a friendly critic
of Donne's poems. The translation sent with this letter is almost
certainly the lines "Translated out of Gazaeus, 'Vota Amico Facta,' Fol.

  "God grant thee thine owne wish, and grant thee mine,
  Thou who dost, best friend, in best things outshine;
  May thy soule, ever cheerful, ne'er know cares,
  Nor thy life, ever lively, know grey haires,
  Nor thy hand, ever open, know base holds,
  Nor thy purse, ever plump, know pleates, or folds,
  Nor thy tongue, ever true, know a false thing,
  Nor thy word, ever mild, know quarrelling,
  Nor thy works, ever equal, know disguise,
  Nor thy fame, ever pure, know contumelies,
  Nor thy prayers know low objects, still divine;
  God grant thee thine owne wish, and grant thee mine."

An edition of Enée de Gaza's _Theophrastus_ was published at Zurich in


Evidently addressed, not to Sir Thomas Lucy, but to Sir Henry Goodyer as
the allusions to Polesworth, Sir Henry's home, and to Bedford House
sufficiently indicate. The date also must be incorrectly given as Donne's
"service at Lincoln's Inne" did not begin until 1616, by which date,
however, he had ceased to reside at Drury House, from which this letter,
as printed, is dated. One is inclined to concur for the moment in Mr.
Gosse's opinion that the _Letters_ of 1651 is "the worst edited book in
the English language."


To Sir Henry Goodyer, and, as the record of the closing incidents of the
Elector Palatine's long struggle shows, written in 1622.


To Sir Henry Goodyer on the death of his wife in 1604.


To Sir Henry Goodyer. The quarrel between Hertford and Monteagle and the
last illness of Cecil Boulstrod, here recorded, give the date of this
letter as 1609. Cecil Boulstrod was a Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen
Anne. Ben Jonson read to Drummond his "Verses on the Pucelle of the Court,
Mistress Boulstred, whose Epitaph Donne made." They are little to the
credit of either the lady or the poet. Drummond records in his
_Conversations_ that "that piece of the Pucelle of the Court was stolen
out of his (Jonson's) pocket by a gentleman who drank him drousie, and
given Mistress Boulstraid; which brought him great displeasure," as well
it might. Donne wrote two elegies in her honour, one of which, at least,
seems to be inspired by genuine emotion.


To Sir Henry Goodyer and written in 1615. (See note to XXXIV, above.)
"This Lady" is apparently the Countess of Huntingdon, and "the Lady where
you are" the Countess of Bedford.


This letter, written on the eve of the German tour, on which Donne
attended the Earl of Doncaster (See note to VII, above), was, I feel very
sure, addressed, not to Sir Thomas Lucy, but to Sir Henry Goodyer. The
allusions to Tuesday as a day of writing, the reference to "an
establishment in your estate," the acknowledgment of his correspondent's
favours in "keeping me alive in the memory of the noblest Countess" (of
Bedford), all point to Goodyer.


For the date see XXIV, and note.


To Sir Henry Goodyer, and evidently written just prior to Donne's
appointment as Dean of Saint Paul's (November 19th, 1621). "My Cases of
Conscience" is, I suppose, the _Paradoxes and Problems_ to which we have
had frequent allusions.


The identity of Donne's "worthy friend F. H." is unknown to me. The letter
evidently belongs to the closing years of Donne's life. In printing this
letter, Mr. Gosse (_Life and Letters of John Donne, II, 254_) quotes from

    "The latter part of his life may be said to be a continued study; for
    as he usually preached once a week, if not oftener, so after his
    Sermon he never gave his eyes rest till he had chosen out a new Text,
    and that night cast his Sermon into a forme, and his Text into
    divisions; and the next day betook himself to consult the Fathers, and
    so commit his meditations to his memory, which was excellent. But upon
    Saturday he usually gave himself and his mind a rest from the weary
    burthen of his week's meditations, and usually spent that day in
    visitation of friends and other diversions of his thoughts; and would
    say that _he gave both his body and mind that refreshment, that he
    might be enabled to do the work of the day following, not faintly, but
    with courage and cheerfulness_."


To Sir Henry Goodyer, but a few weeks earlier than the date of LXI, and at
about the same time as LXXV. "Mr. Selden" is the great John Selden.


Written from Sir John Danvers' house in Chelsea where Donne had gone to
stay at the height of the plague which raged in London during the summer
of 1625. Lady Danvers was Donne's old friend, Mrs. Magdalen Herbert. (See
note to XLIV, above.) Sir Edward Sackville became Earl of Dorset on the
28th of March, 1624, on the death of his brother, the third Earl. King
James died on the 27th of March, 1625. "The Queen" is Henrietta Maria,
whom Charles married a few weeks after his accession.


To George Gerrard. "The 14th of April, here (i.e., at Paris) 1612" would
in England be April 4th, 1612. For the criticisms of his poems in honour
of Elizabeth Drury to which Donne here makes reply, see note to XXVI


To George Gerrard, and apparently written within a few weeks of the date
of the next letter, addressed to the same friend and dated January 7th
1630[1] in the 1719 edition of Donne's Poems to which it is appended.


To George Gerrard. Walton quotes this letter in full in his _Life of
Donne_, and in spite of their length his comments cannot be omitted here:

    "We left the Author sick in Essex, where he was forced to spend much
    of that winter, by reason of his disability to remove from thence: And
    having never for almost twenty yeares omitted his personall Attendance
    on his Majesty in that moneth in which he was to attend and preach to
    him; nor having ever been left out of the Roll and number of
    Lent-Preachers; and there being then (in January 1630[1]) a report
    brought to London, or raised there, that Dr. Donne was dead: That
    report gave him occasion to write this following letter to a

    "Before that moneth ended, he was designed to preach upon his old
    constant day, the first Friday in Lent; he had notice of it, and had
    in his sicknesse so prepared for that imployment, that as he had long
    thirsted for it, so he resolved his weaknesse should not hinder his
    journey; he came therefore to London, some few dayes before his day
    appointed. At his being there many of his friends (who with sorrow saw
    his sicknesse had left him onely so much flesh as did cover his bones)
    doubted his strength to performe that task; and therefore disswaded
    him from undertaking it, assuring him however, it was like to shorten
    his daies; but he passionately denyed their requests, saying, _he
    would not doubt that God who in many weaknesses had assisted him with
    an unexpected strength, would not now withdraw it in his last
    employment; professing an holy ambition to performe that sacred work_.
    And when to the amazement of some beholders he appeared in the Pulpit,
    many thought he presented himself not to preach mortification by a
    living voice, but mortality by a decayed body and dying face. And
    doubtlesse many did secretly ask that question in _Ezekiel, Do these
    bones live? or can that soul Organize that tongue, to speak so long
    time as the sand in that glasse will move towards its Centre, and
    measure out an hour of this dying mans unspent life?_ Doubtlesse it
    cannot; yet after some faint pauses in his zealous prayer, his strong
    desires enabled his weake body to discharge his memory of his
    preconceived meditations; which were of dying, the Text being, _To God
    the Lord belong the issues from Death_. Many that then saw his teares,
    and heard his hollow voice, professing they thought the Text
    prophetically chosen, and that Dr. Donne _had preach't his own
    funerall sermon_.

"Being full of joy that God had enabled him to performe this desired duty,
he hastened to his house, out of which he never moved, till like St.
_Stephen_, _he was carryed by devout men to his Grave_."


This letter, addressed, I suppose, to Donne's sister Jane, the wife of Sir
Thomas Grymes, is printed in the 1719 edition of the Poems, and is there
dated "Amyens, the 7th of _Febr._ here, 1611," i.e., January 28th, 1612.


To George Gerrard, and written from Paris not long after the date of the
preceding letter.


Written in 1624, during Donne's recovery from a dangerous illness. Here,
as elsewhere, Walton is our best commentator:

    "Within a few dayes his distempers abated; and as his strength
    increased, so did his thankfulnesse to Almighty God, testified in his
    _book of Devotions_, which he published at his recovery. In which the
    reader may see, the most secret thoughts that then possest his soul,
    Paraphrased and made publick; a book that may not unfitly be called a
    Sacred picture of spiritual extasies, occasioned and applyable to the
    emergencies of that sicknesse, which being a composition of
    _Meditations_, _disquisitions_ and _prayers_, he writ on his sick-bed;
    herein imitating the holy Patriarchs, who were wont to build their
    Altars in that place, where they had received their blessings."

Donne's _Devotions upon Emergent Occasions and Several Steps in my
Sickness_ was published in 1624, and dedicated "To the most excellent
prince, Prince Charles."


To George Gerrard, and written from the Low Countries, where Donne was
travelling with Sir Robert Drury in the late summer of 1612.


To George Gerrard, and evidently an amplified version of LXXXV.


Apparently written on Donne's return to London at the beginning of the
winter of 1612-13. I imagine that George Gerrard and his sister had come
up to London to meet Donne, but had, by some mischance, failed to find


Written, I think, early in the summer of 1612, and, if so, from Paris,
whither Donne had gone with his "noble neighbour," Sir Robert Drury. "That
Noble Lady" is presumably the Countess of Bedford.


To George Gerrard, and like the next letter written from Amiens in the
winter of 1611-12.


To George Gerrard's sister, and written from Spa in the summer of 1612.


Certainly not addressed to Sir Henry Goodyer, but probably to Somerset,
during the negotiations of which Walton, though with some inaccuracy,
reports the happy ending:

"His Majesty had promised him a favour, and many persons of worth
mediated with his Majesty for some secular employment for him, to which
his education had apted him, and particularly the Earle of Somerset, when
in his height of favour, being then at _Theobalds_ with the King, where
one of the Clerks of the Council died that night, the Earle having sent
immediately for Mr. _Donne_ to come to him, said, _Mr._ Donne, _To
testifie the reality of my affection, and my purpose to prefer you, stay
in this garden till I go up to the King, and bring you word that you are
Clerk of the Council_. The King gave a positive denial to all requests;
and having a discerning spirit, replied, _I know Mr._ Donne _is a learned
man, has the abilities of a learned Divine, and will prove a powerfull
Preacher, and my desire is to prefer him that way_. After that, as he
professeth, _the King descended almost to a solicitation of him to enter
into sacred Orders_: which, though he then denied not, yet he deferred it
for three years."


Written in 1613. (See note on L, above.)


Donne's fifth daughter, Margaret, was christened April 20th, 1615, three
days after the date of this letter.


Mary, Donne's fourth daughter, died in May, 1614, in her fourth year.


This letter, and CXIII, below, seem to belong to the same period, probably
to the closing years of Donne's residence at Mitcham, when Donne may have
begun to hope that through his acquaintance with the Earl of Bedford (who
is, I think, here intended by "My Lord") he might obtain public employment
of some kind.


This and the two following letters belong to July and August, 1622, and
seem to relate to a single incident. Sir Robert Ker had apparently asked
Donne for his opinion of one of his fellow-travellers in attendance on
Lord Doncaster during the German tour. Donne's evident anxiety to be fair
to both parties results in a somewhat indefinite answer.


Donne's eyes gave him a good deal of trouble in the winter of 1613-14;
this letter, as well as LXVII, above, may belong to this period.


"In August, 1630," says Walton, "being with his eldest daughter, Mrs.
Harvy, at Abury Hatch in Essex, he there fell into a fever, which, with
the help of his constant infirmity (vapours from the spleen,) hastened him
into so visible a consumption, that his beholders might say, as St. Paul
said of himself, 'He dies daily.'" This letter was written from Abury (or
Aldeburgh) Hatch. "Mrs. Harvy" is Donne's daughter Constance, the widow of
Edward Alleyn, and now the wife of Samuel Harvey. Donne's son George, the
soldier, was taking part in the campaign in Spain. Lord Carlisle was the
old friend whom, as Lord Doncaster, Donne had attended in his German
embassy. Lord Percy was Algernon Percy, soon to become fourth Earl of


Written apparently before Donne had entered the church, and probably in
1614, while Donne was still living in Drury House. George Gerrard was at
court. His "hopeful designs upon worthy widows" seem to have been the
cause of much pleasantry. (See XIX.)


There is no certain indication of the date of this letter. Mr. Gosse
assigns it conjecturally to 1622. It seems to me more likely that it
belongs to the period of Donne's residence at Mitcham, and is of 1609, or
earlier date. "My house" would then be Donne's lodgings in the Strand.


Written not long after the date of CVII, above, and presumably from
Aldeburgh Hatch. "The Lady of the Jewel" (obviously "the Diamond Lady" of
CVII) remains a mystery. Apparently she had placed her jewels in Donne's
keeping, thus charging him with a responsibility which he seems to have
found exceedingly irksome.


Donne was ordained in January, 1615, a "very few days" before the date of
this letter.


This letter may safely be assigned to 1613. Rochester was made Earl of
Somerset in December of this year, a few days before his marriage to Lady
Frances Howard. Surely none of the letters to Somerset for which Sir
Francis Bacon has been so severely condemned expresses a more complete
submission than is here offered.


To George Gerrard. Probably written from France, and, if so, presumably to
be assigned to 1612, when Donne was in Paris with Sir Robert Drury. "This
book of French _Satyrs_" Mr. Gosse takes to be the first authoritative
edition of Regnier's _Satyres et autres [oe]uvres folastres_, 1612.


The allusion to Pierre du Moulin, the French theologian, who preached
before the Court in June, 1615, gives the approximate date of this letter.
Sir Thomas Grymes, the husband of Donne's sister Jane, we have already
met. Donne says _father-in-law_ where we should say _step-father_.


Sir Dudley Carleton remained as Ambassador to Venice until 1616, when he
was succeeded by Sir Henry Wotton, but this letter must have been written
before Donne's ordination in January, 1615. "My Lord" is, of course, the
Earl of Somerset.


This, and the next letter, may belong to the same period as the preceding
letter to Sir Robert Ker. "_Monte Magor_" is George de Montemayor, whose
"Shepherdess Felismena," in the Spanish pastoral romance of "Diana," tells
the same story as "The Two Gentlemen of Verona." A translation into
English by Bartholomew Yonge was published in 1598, but Donne may have
read it in the original.


On November 4, 1616, Charles, the Duke of York, was created Prince of


This letter, like CXVI, seems to belong to the period immediately
preceding Donne's entrance into the church, when Sir Robert Ker's advice
as to the best way of retaining Somerset's interest was constantly in


To George Gerrard, and belonging to the winter of 1612-13. Cf. XCI, which
also carried an enclosure. The letter enclosed with the present letter may
have been addressed to Lord Clifford (Cf. CVI) or, more probably, to


This and the next two letters were written in April, 1627, and relate to
the same incident. This letter is the first, and the next the last of the

Dr. Richard Montagu, who had been chaplain to James I, was the highest of
high-churchmen, and a believer in the doctrine of the divine right of
kings in its extreme form. He is said to have looked upon reunion with the
Roman church as quite possible. In the ecclesiastical politics of the time
he was an ardent supporter of Laud, then Bishop of Bath and Wells. In the
early part of 1627 Montagu published his _Apello Cæsarem_, in spite of the
opposition of Archbishop Abbot, who had refused to license it. Abbot
thereupon instigated an attack on Montagu in the House of Commons. Montagu
was committed to the custody of the serjeant-at-arms, and the House
petitioned the King for his punishment. Charles not only refused his
consent, but marked his resentment of the attitude of Archbishop Abbot and
the Commons by making Montagu Bishop of Chichester. Abbot returned to the
charge in a sermon which gave the King great offense. At this juncture
Donne was appointed to preach before the court. Laud was present and seems
to have thought, and to have persuaded the King, that Donne's sermon
indicated sympathy with Abbot, whose break with the King was now open. At
any rate Laud directed Donne to send a copy of his sermon to the King.

The letters tell the rest of the story so far as Donne is concerned.
Abbot, on his refusal to license Dr. Sibthorpe's sermon, _Apostolical
Obedience_, was deprived of his archiepiscopal authority, which was given
to a commission of five bishops.


As Donne was born and bred in the Roman church, this reference to the
religion he was born in, is explicable only if we understand Donne to be
thinking of the Anglican and Roman communions as branches of one Catholic
Church, divided in government, but spiritually one.


There is in the British Museum a copy of Donne's _Poems_, 1633, which
belonged to Charles I, and which contains MS. notes in his hand. "The
Bishop" here is Laud; "My Lord Duke" is Buckingham.


This letter, and CXXVII, below, which should precede it, relate to the
occasion of the delivery of the first of the _Two Sermons Preached before
King Charles, upon the xxvi verse of the first Chapter of Genesis_, which
stand at the head of Donne's published Sermons. James I died on March
27th, 1625. One week later, Donne, at the command of the new King,
preached at the Court. His extreme nervousness and almost painful
diffidence are clearly implied in these two letters to Sir Robert Ker.


I am unable to give any satisfactory account of this letter. The form of
the address indicates that it was written not earlier than 1625 when Ker
became Master of the Privy Purse. "My great neighbour" may possibly be
"the B" of CXXVIII.


"The B" to whom allusion is here made, is George Montaigne, Bishop of
London since 1621, and a prominent member of the party of which Laud, now
Bishop of Bath and Wells, was already the leader. In 1628 Montaigne's
witty suggestion that the King had power to throw "this mountain" into the
see of York was rewarded by his appointment as Archbishop of York, Laud
succeeding him as Bishop of London. Montaigne warmly defended Montagu
against the attacks of Archbishop Abbot. (See note to CXXII, above.)


This letter, written less than two weeks before his death, is addressed to
one of the most intimate of the friends of Donne's later life. Mrs. Thomas
Cokain, or Cokayne, had been abandoned by her husband, who left her with a
houseful of children, at Ashbourne, the Derbyshire estate of the Cokaynes,
and went to London where the rest of his life was spent in the compilation
of an English-Greek lexicon, which was finally published in 1658, twenty
years after his death.

Donne lived long enough to perform the Lenten service of which he writes.
On February 12th, 1631, he preached at Court the last and most famous of
his sermons, _Deaths Duell, or, A Consolation to the Soule, against the
Dying Life, and living Death of the Body, Delivered in a Sermon at
White-Hall, before the KINGS MAIESTIE, in the beginning of Lent, 1630[1],
By that late Learned and Reverend Divine,_ JOHN DONNE, _Dr. in Divinity,
and Deane of S. Pauls, London_.

Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _italics_.

Superscripted characters are indicated by {superscript}.

The original text includes Greek characters. For this text version these
letters have been replaced with transliterations.

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