« 上一頁繼續 »
an higher hand; a hand so powerful, as at last forced him to a compliance: of which I shall give the reader an account, before I shall give a rest to my pen.*
Mr. Donne and his wife continued with Sir Francis Wolly till his death: a little before which time, Sir Francis was so happy as to make a perfect reconciliation betwixt Sir George, and his forsaken son and daughter; Sir George conditioning by bond, to pay to Mr. Donne 8001. at a certain day, as a portion with his wife, or 201. quarterly for their maintenance, as the interest for it, till the said portion was paid.
Most of those years that he lived with Sir Francis, he studied the Civil and Canon Laws; in which he acquired such a perfection, as was judged to hold proportion with many, who had made that study the employment of their whole life.
Sir Francis being dead, and that happy family dissolved, Mr. Donne took for himself a house in Mitcham,—near to Croydon in Surrey-a place noted for good air and choice company: there his wife and children remained ; and for himself he took lodgings in London, near to White-hall, whither his friends and occasions drew him very often, and where he was as often visited, by many of the Nobility and others of this nation, who used him in their councils of greatest consideration, and with some rewards for his better subsistence.
Nor did our own Nobility only value and favour him, but his acquaintance and friendship was sought for by most Ambassadors of foreign nations, and by many other strangers, whose learning or business occasioned their stay in this nation.
He was much importuned by many friends to make his constant residence in London ; but he still denied it, having settled his dear wife and children at Mitcham, and near some friends that were bountiful to them and him; for they, God knows, need. ed it: and that you may the better now judge of the then present condition of his mind and fortune, I shall present you with an extractt collected out of some few of his many
* The proposal of Dr. Morton to Mr. Donne, beginning at the words “ It hath been,” down to “a rest to my pen," was not in the first edition.
† As these epistles are not to be found entire in the printed collection of his correspondence, published by Dr. Donne, Junior, under the title of “ Letters to
“ And the reason why I did not send an answer to your last week's letter, was, because it then found me under too great a sadness; and at present 'tis thus with me: There is not one person, but myself, well of my family : I have already lost half a child, and, with that mischance of hers, my wife is fallen into such a discomposure, as would afflict her too extremely, but that the sickness of all her other children stupifies her: of one of which, in good faith, I have not much hope: and these meet with a for. tune so ill-provided for physic, and such relief, that if God should ease us with burials, I know not how to perform even that: but I flatter myself with this hope, that I am dying too; for I cannot waste faster than by such griefs. As for,
From my Hospital at Mitcham. Aug. 10.
Thus he did bemoan himself: and thus in other letters.
For, we hardly discover a sin, when it is but an omission of some good, and no accusing act: with this or the former, I have often suspected myself to be overtaken ; which is, with an over-earnest desire of the next life : and, though I know it is not merely a weariness of this, because I had the same desire when I went with the tide, and enjoyed fairer hopes than I now do; yet I doubt worldly troubles have increased it: 'tis now Spring, and all the pleasures of it displease me; every other tree blossoms, and I wither : I grow older, and not better; my strength diminisheth, and my load grows heavier; and yet, I would fain be or do something ; but that I cannot tell what, is no wonder in this time of my sadness; for to choose is to do; but to be no part of any body, is as to be nothing: and so I am, and shall so judge myself, unless I could be so incorporated into a part of the world,
severall Persons of Honour,” 1651, 1654, they were therefore most probably copied from the originals. Dr. Zouch quotes a passage from another of Dr. Donne's letters, wherein he says, “ I write from the fireside in my parlour, and in the noise of three gamesome children, and by the side of her, whom because I have transplanted into such a wretched fortune, I must labour to disguise that from her by all such honest devices, as giving her my company and discourse."
as by business to contribute some sustentation to the whole. This I made account; I began early, when I understood the study of our Laws; but was diverted by leaving that, and embracing the worst voluptuousness, an hydroptic immoderate desire of human learning and languages: beautiful ornaments indeed to men of great fortunes, but mine was grown so low as to need an occupation; which I thought I entered well into, when I subjected myself to such a service as I thought might exercise my poor abilities: and there I stumbled, and fell too; and now I am become so little, or such a nothing, that I am not a subject good enough for one of my own letters.—Sir, I fear my present discontent, does not proceed from a good root, that I am so well content to be nothing, that is, dead. But, Sir, though my fortune hath made me such, as that I am rather a sickness or a disease of the world, than any part of it, and therefore neither love it nor life; yet I would gladly live to become some such thing as you should not repent loving me: Sir, your own soul cannot be more zealous for your good, than I am; and God, who loves that zeal in me, will not suffer you to doubt it: You would pity me now, if you saw me write, for my pain hath drawn my head so much awry, and holds it so, that my eye cannot follow my pen.
I therefore receive
you into my prayers with mine own weary soul, and commend myself to yours. I doubt not but next week will bring you good news, for I have either mending or dying on my side: but, if I do continue longer thus, I shall have comfort in this, that my blessed Saviour in exercising his justice upon my two worldly parts, my fortune and my body, reserves all his mercy for that which most needs it, my soul ! which is, I doubt, too like a porter, that is very often near the gate, and yet goes not out. Sir, I profess to you truly, that my loathness to give over writing now, seems to myself a sign that I shall write no more.
Your poor friend, and
God's poor patient, Sept. 7.
By this you have seen a part of the picture of his narrow for. tune, and the perplexities of his generous mind; and thus it continued with him for about two years, all which time his family
remained constantly at Mitcham; and to which place he often retired himself, and destined some days to a constant study of some points of controversy betwixt the English and Roman Church, and especially those of Supremacy and Allegiance: and to that place and such studies, he could willingly have wedded himself during his life :* but the earnest persuasion of friends became at last to be so powerful, as to cause the removal of himself and fami. ly to London, where Sir Robert Drewry, t a gentleman of a very noble estate, and a more liberal mind, assigned him and his wife an useful apartment in his own large house in Drury Lane, and not only rent free, but was also a cherisher of his studies, and such a friend as sympathized with him and his, in all their joy and sorrows.
At this time of Mr. Donne's and his wife's living in Sir Robert's house, the Lord Hay, was, by King James, sent upon a glorious embassy to the then French King, Henry the Fourth; and Sir Robert put on a sudden resolution to accompany him to the French Court, and to be present at his audience there. And Sir Robert put on a sudden resolution, to solicit Mr. Donne to be his com
* The passage containing these letters “having settled his dear wife,” to “ the earnest persuasion of friends,” is not in either of the first two editions of this life
+ He was a celebrated member of the Family of Drury, of Hawsted, in Suffolk, eldest son of Sir William Drury, who was killed in a duel in France in 1589. In 1591, Sir Robert attended the Earl of Essex to the unsuccessful siege of Rouen, where he was knighted, when he could not have exceeded the age of 14. He married when he came of age, Anne daughter of Sir Nicholas Bacon of Redgrave, in Sutfolk ; by whom he had a daughter Dorothy, who died in 1610, and to whose memory Dr. Donne composed two poems, Anatomie of the World,” and “ The progresse of the Soule.” In March 1610, he built, and liberally endowed an Alms-house for Widows at Hawsted, and in 1612, he went to Paris, when Dr. Donne, as it is shewn by his letters, accompanied him. There seems to be some error concerning the time when Walton states that Dr. Donne went into France, since the Lord Hay was not sent Ambassador there till July 1616, and beside the dates of Donne's letters, Sir Robert Drury died April 2nd, 1615. His Latin Epitaph from Hawsted Church is given by Sir John Cullum in his History of Hawsted, and he supposes it might have been composed by Dr. Donne. Drury-House, supposed to have been erected by the father of this Sir Robert, stood at the lower end of Drury Lane, and upper end of Wych Street. It was afterwards the seat of William Earl of Craven. The remains of Craven House were taken down in 1809, and the Olympic Theatre erected on a part of its site.
panion in that journey. And this desire was suddenly made known to his wife, who was then with child, and otherwise under so dangerous a habit of body, as to her health, that she professed an unwillingness to allow him any absence from her; saying, “Her divining soul boded her some ill in his absence ;” and therefore desired him not to leave her. This made Mr. Donne lay aside all thoughts of the journey, and really to resolve against it. But Sir Robert became restless in his persuasions for it, and Mr. Donne was so generous as to think he had sold his liberty, when he received so many charitable kindnesses from him; and told his wife so ; who did therefore, with an unwillingness, give a faint consent to the journey, which was proposed to be but for two months; for about that time they determined their return. Within a few days after this resolve, the Ambassador, Sir Robert, and Mr. Donne, left London ; and were the twelfth day got all safe to Paris. T'wo days after their arrival there, Mr. Donne was left alone in that room, in which Sir Robert, and he, and some other friends, had dined together. To this place Sir Robert returned within half an hour; and as he left, so he found, Mr. Donne alone ; but in such an ecstacy, and so altered as to his looks, as amazed Sir Robert to behold him; insomuch that he earnestly desired Mr. Donne to declare what had befallen 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 perplexed pause, did at last
“ 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 replied, “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
“I cannot be surer that I now live, than that I have not
since I saw you: and am as sure, that at her second appear. ing, she stopped, and looked me in the face, and vanished.' Rest and sleep had not altered Mr. Donne's opinion the next day: for he then affirmed this vision with a more deliberate, and so confirmed a confidence, that he inclined Sir Robert to a faint belief that the vision was true. It is truly said, that desire and