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SIR, though (I thank God for it) I do hate
That hate towards them, breeds pity towards the reft. Though Poetry, indeed, be such a fin,
As, I think, that brings Dearth and Spaniards in: Though
VER. I. Yes; thank my stars!] Two noblemen of taste and learning, the Duke of Shrewsbury and the Earl of Oxford, defired Pope to melt down and caft anew, the weighty bullion of Dr. Donne's Satires; who had degraded and deformed a vast fund of sterling wit and ftrong fenfe, by the most harsh and uncouth diction. Pope fucceeded in giving harmony to a writer, more rough and rugged than even any of his age, and who profited fottle by the example Spencer had fet, of a moft mufical and mellifluous verfification; far beyond the verfification of Fairfax, who is frequently mentioned as the greatest improver of the harmony of our language The Satires of Hall, written in very fmooth and pleafing numbers, preceded thofe of Donne many years; for his Virgidemiarum were published, in fix books, in the year 1597; in which he calls himself the very first English Satirift. This, however, was not true in fact; for Sir Thomas Wyatt, of Allington Caftle in Kent, the friend and favourite of Henry VIII. and, as was fuggefted, of Ann Boleyn, was our first writer of Satire worth notice. But it was not in his numbers only that Donne was reprehenfible. He abounds in falfe thoughts, in far-fought fentiments, in forced unnatural conceits. the first corrupter of Cowley. Dryden was the first who called him a metaphyfical poet. He had a confiderable fhare of learn. ing, and though he entered late into orders, yet he was escemed a good
my ftars! as early as I knew
This Town, I had the sense to hate it too: Yet here, as ev'n in Hell, there must be still One Giant-Vice, fo excellently ill,
That all befide, one pities, not abhors;
As who knows Sappho, fmiles at other whores.
a good divine. James I. was fo earneft to prefer him in the church, that he even refufed the Earl of Somerset, his favourite, the request he earnestly made, of giving Donne an office in the council. In the entertaining account of that conversation, which Ben Jonfon is faid to have held with Mr. Drummond, of Hauthornden in Scotland, in the year 1619, containing his judgments of the English Poets, he speaks thus of Donne, (who was his intimate friend, and had frequently addreffed him in various poems :) "Donne was originally a poet; his grand-father, on the mother's fide, was Heywood the epigrammatit; but for not being undertood, he would perifh. He efteemed him the first poet in the world for fome things; his Verfes of the Loft Ochadine, he had by heart; and that paffage of the Calm, that duft and feather, did not flir, all was fo quiet." He affirmed, that Donne wrote all his best pieces before he was twenty-five years of age.
Donne was one of our Poets who wrote elegantly in Latin; as did Ben Jonfon, Cowley, Milton, Addifon, and Gray. The private character of Donne, the inconvenience he underwent on account of his early marriage, and his remarkable fenfibility of temper, render him very amiable. WARTON.
Though like the peftilence, and old-fashion❜d love,
One (like a wretch, which at barre judg'd as dead,
Yet prompts him which stands next, and cannot read,
And faves his life) gives Idiot Actors means, (Starving himself,) to live by's labour'd fcenes. As in fome Organs, Puppits dance above, And bellows pant below, which them do move. One would move love by rhymes; but witchcraft's charms
Bring not now their old fears, nor their old harms: Rams and flings now are filly battery,
Pistolets are the best artillery.
And they who write to Lords, rewards to get,
But he is worst, who beggarly doth chaw
Catch'd like the Plague, or Love, the Lord knows how,
One fings the Fair; but fongs no longer move;
Thefe write to Lords, fome mean reward to get, As needy beggars fing at doors for meat. 26 Those write because all write, and so have still Excufe for writing, and for writing ill.
Wretched indeed! but far more wretched yet
'Tis chang'd, no doubt, from what it was before,
I pafs o'er all those Confeffors and Martyrs
T'out-drink the fea, t' out-fwear the Letanie,
And wooes in language of the Pleas and Bench.**
The tender labyrinth of a Maid's foft ear:
VER. 38. Irishmen out-frear ;] The Original fays, "out-fwear the Letanie,"
improved by the Imitator into a juft ftroke of Satire. Dr. Donne's is a low allufion to a licentious quibble used at that time by the enemies of the English Liturgy: who, difliking the frequent invocations in the Letanie, called them the taking God's Name in vain, which is the Scripture periphrafis for fwearing.
VER. 43. Of whofe frange crimes] Such as Sanchez de Matrimonio has minutely enumerated and described. Such Canonifts deferved this animadverfion. In Pafcal's fine Provincial Letters are also some strange and ftriking examples.