1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Donne

Peter L. Courtier, in Lyre of Love (1806) 1:19.



John Donne, a doctor in divinity, but remembered more as a poet than a preacher, was horn at London in 1573. After participating in all the dissipation of youth, caressed by the witty and the gay, his father having bequeathed him the sum of 3,000 he entered into the church; an office to which he aspired in early life, but which the prejudices of his parent, who was of the Roman catholic persuasion, had prevented his assuming. Ardent in whatever he undertook, he became as eminent for his piety, as before he had been fashionable for his levity; and was deservedly esteemed for the eloquence of his pulpit discourses. He was also respected in the state, whose concerns he was frequently employed to negotiate.

Shortly after entering into holy orders, he married Anne, daughter of Sir Thomas Moore, Lieutenant of the Tower, by which proceeding he became involved in many difficulties; as the union had been contracted in opposition to the wishes of his father-in-law, who for a long time appeared inexorably offended with both parties. Dr. Donne died on March 31, 1631; having survived his lady, whom he tenderly loved nearly fourteen years. He was buried in the cathedral of St. Paul, of which he had been Dean, and where his abilities had been often successfully exerted. His amatory compositions, though unquestionably the effusions of feeling, and once high in general estimation, are too much allayed by the pedantry of the times in which he flourished, to entitle them to a copious selection.