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THE

SATIRES

OF

DR. JOHN DONNE,

DEAN OF ST. PAUL'S,

VERSIFIED.

Quid vetat et nosmet Lucilî scripta legentes
Quærere, num illius, num rerum dura negârit.
Versiculos natura magis factos, et euntes
Mollius ?

Hor.

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The wit, the vigour, and the honesty of Mr. Pope's satiric writings had raised a great clamour against him, as if the Supplement, as he calls it, to the Public Laws, was a violation of morality and society. In answer to this charge he had it in his purpose to shew, that two of the most respectable characters in the modest and virtuous age of Elizabeth, Dr. Donne and Bishop Hall, had arraigned vice publicly, and shewn it in stronger colours, than he had done, whether they found it

“On the pillory, or near the throne.” In pursuance of this purpose, our Poet hath admirably dersified, as he expresses it, two or three Satires of Dr. Donne. He intended to have given two or three of Bishop Hall's likewise, whose force and classical elegance he much admired; but as Hall was a better versifier, and, as a mere academic, had not his vein vitiated like Donne's, by the fantastic language of Courts, Mr. Pope's purpose was only to correct a little, and smooth the versification. In the first edition of Hall's Satires, which was in Mr. Pope's library, we find that long Satire, called the First of the Sixth Book, corrected throughout, and the versification mended for his use. He entitles it, in the beginning of his corrections, by the name of Sut. Opt. This writer, Hall, fell under a severe examiner of his wit and reasoning, in the famous Milton. For Hall, a little before the unhappy breach between Charles I. and the long Parliament, having written in defence of Episcopacy, Milton, who first. set out an advocate for Presbytery, thought fit to take Hall's defence to task. And as he rarely gave quarter to his adversaries, from the Bishop's theologic writings, he fell upon his poetry. But a stronger proof of the excellency of these Satires can hardly be given, than that all he could find to cavil at, was the title to the three first Books, which Hall, ridiculously enough, calls ToothLESS SATIRE: on this, for want of better hold, Milton fastens, and sufficiently mumbles

Warburton,

SATIRE II.

Sır, though (I thank God for it) I do hate
Perfectly all this town; yet there's one state
In all ill things, so excellently best,
That hate towards them, breeds pity towards the

rest. Though poetry, indeed, be such a sin, As, I think, that brings dearth and Spaniards in :

NOTES.

Ver. 1. Yes; thank my stars!] Two noblemen of taste and learning, the Duke of Shrewsbury and the Earl of Oxford, desired Pope to melt down and cast anew, the weighty bullion of Dr. Donne's Satires; who had degraded and deformed a vast fund of sterling wit and strong sense, by the most harsh and uncouth diction. Pope succeeded in giving harmony to a writer, more rough and rugged than

age, and who profited so little by the example Spenser had set, of a most musical and mellifluous versification ; far beyond the versification of Fairfax, who is frequently mentioned as the greatest improver of the harmony of our language. The Satires of Hall, written in very smooth and pleasing numbers, preceded those of Donne many years; for his Virgidemiarum were published, in six books, in the year 1597; in which he calls himself the very first English satirist. This, however, was not true in fact; for Sir Thomas Wyatt, of Allington Castle, in Kent, the friend and favourite of Henry VIII., and, as was suggested, of Ann Boleyn, was our first writer of satire worth notice. But it was not in his numbers only that Donne was reprehensible. He abounds in false thoughts, in far-sought sentiments, in forced unnatural conceits. He was the first corrupter of Cowley. Dryden was the first who called him a metaphysical poet. He had a considerable share of learning, and though he entered late into

even any

of his

orders,

SATIRE II.

Yes; thank my stars! as early as I knew
This town, I had the sense to hate it too :
Yet here, as even in Hell, there must be still
One giant-vice, so excellently ill,
That all beside, one pities, not abhors ;
As who knows Sappho, smiles at other whores.

I grant that poetry's a crying sin;
It brought (no doubt) th' excise and army in:

5

NOTES.

orders, yet he was esteemed a good divine. James I. was so earnest to prefer him in the church, that he even refused 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 Jonson is said to have held with Mr. Drummond, of Hawthornden, 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 addressed him in various poems : “Donne was originally a poet; his grandfather, on the mother's side, was Heywood the epigrammatist; but for not being understood, he would perish. He esteemed him the first poet in the world for some things; his Verses of the Lost Ochadine, he had by heart; and that passage of the Calm, " that dust and feather did not stir, all was so 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 Jonson, Cowley, Milton, Addison, and Gray. The private character of Donne, the inconvenience he underwent on account of his early marriage, and his remarkable sensibility of temper, render him very amiable.

Warton.

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