1808 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Donne

Anonymous, "Dr. Donne" Monthly Anthology [Boston] 5 (April 1808) 208-09.



Of Dr. Donne whose satires are full of wit, and breathe in a rough, though manly and forcible language, the high and indignant spirit of Juvenal, most scholars are miserably ignorant, and though some of his satires were polished and modulated by Pope, to an almost unrivalled degree of elegance and harmony; there are, I fear, few who can boast (and such knowledge is, indeed, no small matter of pride) that they have read all the satires of Dr. Donne. Such, however, though his works now lie neglected or forgotten, was once the celebrity of Donne, that Ben Jonson addressed and dedicated to him the following epigram, which as a specimen of encomiastick verses has perhaps never been excelled.

Donne, the delight of Phoebus, and each muse,
Who, to thy one, all other brains refuse,
Whose every work of thy most early wit,
Came forth example and remain so yet;
Longer a knowing, than most wits do live;
And which no affection, praise eno' can give!
To it thy language, letters, arts, best life,
Which might with half mankind maintain a strife;
All which I mean to praise, and, yet, I would
But leave, because I cannot as I should.