1769 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Donne

James Granger, in Biographical History of England (1769; 1824) 2:60.



John Donne entered into holy orders by the persuasion of James I. who often expressed great satisfaction in his having been the means of introducing so worthy a person into the church. We hear much of him as a poet, but very little as a divine, though in the latter character he had great merit. His Pseudo-martyr, in which he has effectually confuted the doctrine of the papal supremacy, is the most valuable of his prose writings. His sermons abound too much with the pedantry of the time in which they were written, to be at all esteemed in the present age. Some time before his death, when he was emaciated with study, and sickness, he caused himself to be wrapped up in a sheet, which was gathered over his head, in the manner of a shroud; and having closed his eyes, he had his portrait taken; which was kept by his bed-side as long as he lived, to remind him of mortality. The effigy on his monument, in St. Paul's church, was done after this portrait. See Dugdale's History of that Cathedral, p. 62. Bo. 31 March, 1631.