1690 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Donne

Anthony Wood, Athenae Oxonienses (1690-91; 1721) 1:554-56.



JOHN DONNE, a Person sometimes noted for his Divinity, knowledge in several Languages and other Learning, was born of good and virtuous Parents in London, became a Commoner of Hart Hall, with his younger brother Henry, in the beginning of Michaelmass Term, an. 1584, being then but eleven Years of Age; where continuing about three Years (in which time Sir Hen. Wotton had a Chamber there) he went to Cambridge, and spending three more there, was transplanted to Lincoln's-Inn to obtain Knowledge in the Municipal Laws, where he had for his Chamber Fellow, for some time, Mr. Christoph. Brook, an eminent Poet of his time. After he had continued there two Years in exercizing his poetical fancy, he began to survey the Body of Divinity, wherein he made very good Notes and Observations. Afterwards he travelled beyond the Seas, advanced himself much in the knowledge of Countries, Men, Manners, and Languages, and was at his return made by Egerton L. Chanc. of England his chief Secretary, and soon after was admitted M. of A. of this University, as I shall tell you elsewhere. But continuing not long in that beneficial imployment, he did, upon the solicitations of some of his Friends, (especially upon the motion of K. James I.) enter into the Sacred Function, and not long after was made one of the King's Chaplains, Doctor of Div. of Cambridge, and at length in 1621 Dean of the Cath. Ch. of S. Paul. in London, upon the Promotion of Dr. Val. Carey to the See of Exeter. He was a Person of great Wit, Virtue, and Abilities, learned in several Faculties, and religious and exemplary in his Life and Conversation. In all which being eminent, he was therefore celebrated, and his Memory had in great Veneration by the Wits and Virtuosi of his time, among whom were Ben. Johnson, Sir Lucius Carey, afterwards L. Faulkland, Sydney Godolphin, Jasp. Mayne, Edward Hyde afterwards L. Chancellor, Endymion Porter, Arthur Wilson, &c. As for those things by him written (few of which were published in his time) they are these [list omitted].

He paid his last Debt to Nature on the last Day of March, in sixteen hundred thirty and one, and was buried in the South Isle behind the Choir of the Cath. Ch. of S. Paul, near to the Monument of Dr. Jo. Colet. Both whose Epitaphs, with the Pictures of their respective Monuments, you may see in the History of that Cathedral, written by Sir Will. Dugdale, lately Garter K. of Arms. Our Author Dr. Jo. Donne left behind him a Son of both his Names, but of none of his Virtues, Manners, or generous Qualities, and therefore by many his Memory is condemn'd to utter Oblivion, while that of his Father flourisheth in the History of his Life, written by Izaac Walton; the first Edition of which (printed 1653) coming into the Hands of the best Critic of the last Age, I mean Jo. Hales of Eaton, he affirmed to his Friends, that "he had not seen a Life written with more Advantage to the Subject, or more Reputation to the Writer, than it."