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Like a wedge in a block, wring to the barre,
Ver. 105. So Luther, &c.] Our Poet, by judiciously transposing this fine similitude, has given new lustre to bis author's thought.' The Lawyer (says Dr. Donne) enlarges his legal instruments to the bigness of gloss’d civil laws, when it is to convey property to himself, and to secure his own ill-got wealth. But let the same lawyer convey property to you, and he then omits even the necessary words; and becomes as concise and loose as the hasty postils of a modern divine. So Luther, while a monk, and by his institution obliged to say Mass, and pray in person for others, thought even his Pater-noster too long. But when he set up for a governor in the church, and his business was to direct others how to pray for the success of his new model ; he then lengthened the Pater-noster by a new clause. This representation of the first part of his conduct was to ridicule his want of devotion ; as the other, where he tells us, that the addition was the power and glory clause, was to satirize his ambition ; and both together, to insinuate, that from a monk, he was become totally secularized. About this time of his life Dr. Donne had a strong propensity to the Roman Catholic religion, which appears from several strokes in these Satires.
These are the talents that adorn them all,
85 From Scots to Wight, from Mount to Dover strand : And when rank widows purchase luscious nights, Or when a Duke to Jansen punts at White's, Or city-heir in mortgage melts away; Satan himself feels far less joy than they.
90 Piecemeal they win this acre first, then that, Glean on, and gather up the whole estate. Then strongly fencing ill-got wealth by law, Indenture, covenants, articles, they draw, Large as the fields themselves, and larger far 95 Than civil codes, with all their glosses, are; So vast, our new Divines, we must confess, Are Fathers of the Church for writing less. But let them write for you, each rogue impairs The deeds, and dextrously omits, ses heires : 100 No commentator can more slily pass O'er a learn'd, unintelligible place; Or, in quotation, shrewd divines leave out Those words, that would against them clear the doubt. So Luther thought the Pater-noster long,
105 When doom'd to say his beads and even-song;
We find amongst his works, a short satirical thing called a Catalogue of rare Books, one article of which is intitled, M. Lutherus de abbreviatione Orationis Dominicæ, alluding to Luther's omission of the concluding Doxology in his two Catechisms ; which shows the Poet was fond of his joke. In this catalogue (to intimate his sentiments of reformation) he puts Erasmus and Reuchlin in the rank of Lully and Agrippa. I will only observe, that it was written in imitation of Rabelais's famous Catalogue of the Library of St. Victor, one of the finest passages in that extravagant Satire, which was the Manual of the Wits of this time. It was natural therefore to think, that the Catalogue of the Library of St. Victor would become, as it did, the subject of many imitations. The best of which are this of Dr. Donne's, NOTES. and one of Sir Thomas Brown's. Dr. Donne afterwards took orders in the Church of England. We have a large volume of his sermons in the false taste of that time. But the book which made his fortune was his Pseudomartyr, to prove that Papists ought to take the oath of allegiance. In this book, though Hooker had then written his Ecclesiastical Polity, he has approved himself entirely ignorant both of the Origin and End of Civil Government. In the 168th page, and elsewhere, he holds, that when men congregate to form the body of civil society, then it is that the soul of society, SOVEREIGN POWER, is sent into it immediately from God, just as he sends the soul into the human embryo, when the two sexes propagate their kind. In the 91st page, and elsewhere, he maintains that the office of the civil sovereign extends to the care of souls. For this absurd and blasphemous trash, James I. made him Dean of St. Paul's ; all the wit and sublimity of his genius having never enabled him to get bread throughout the better part of his life.- Warburton.
Each day his beads; but having left those laws,
doubt. Where are these spread woods which cloath'd here
tofore Those bought lands? not built, not burnt within door. Where the old landlords' troops, and almes? . In halls Carthusian fasts, and fulsome Bacchanals Equally I hate. Means blest. In rich men's homes I bid kill some beasts, but no hecatombs; None starve, none surfeit so. But (oh) we allow Good works as good, but out of fashion now, Like old rich wardrobes. But my words none draws Within the vast reach of the huge statutes' jaws.
But having cast his cowl, and left those laws,
The lands are bought; but where are to be found
121 But oh! these works are not in fashion now: Like rich old wardrobes, things extremely rare, Extremely fine, but what no man will wear.
Thus much I've said, I trust, without offence; 125 Let no court sycophant pervert my sense, Nor sly informer watch these words to draw Within the reach of treason, or the law.
Ver. 121. These as good works, &c.] Dr. Donne says
“ But (oh) we allow Good works as good, but out of fashion now.” The popish doctrine of good works was one of those abuses in religion which the Church of England condemns in its articles. To this the Poet's words satirically allude. And having throughout this satire given several malignant strokes at the Reformation, which it was penal, and then very dangerous, to abuse, he had reason to bespeak the reader's candour, in the concluding lines :
“ But my words none draws Within the vast reach of the huge statutes' jaws."—Warburton. Ver. 125. Thus much I've said,] These three additional lines are redundant. And two strong epithets in the last line of Donne, vast and huge, were too emphatical to be omitted. Warton.
WELL ! I may now receive, and die. My sin
My mind, neither with pride's itch, nor hath been
Ver. 1. Well! I may now receive, &c.] More short, severe, and pointed than Pope's paraphrastical lines.-Warton.
Ver. 7. The poet's hell,] He has here with great prudence corrected the licentious expression of his original.-Warburton.
Ver. 10. Not the vain itch] Courtiers have the same pride in admiring, which Poets have in being admired. For vanity is often as much gratified in paying our court to our superiors, as in receiving it from our inferiors. - Warburton.
Ver. 13. Had no new verses, nor new suit to show ;] Insinuating “ that Court-poetry, like Court-clothes, only comes thither in honour of the Sovereign; and serves but to supply a day's conversation ! !”—Warburton.
Ver. 14. the Devil would) This addition is mean. And line below, 26, is perhaps the greatest violation of harmony Pope has ever been guilty of, by beginning the verse with the word Noah. And line 17, his fine was odd, seems to be very exceptionable.—Warton. Ver. 19. So was I punish’d,] Thus in former editions :
Such was my fate, whom heaven adjudged,Pope made many alterations in this Satire, and seems to have taken pains in correcting it. Line 65, and succeeding ones, stood thus :
Well met, he cries, and happy sure for each,