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Confounds the civil, keeps the rude in awe, 270 Jests like a licensed fool, commands like law.
Frighted, I quit the room, but leave it so As men from jails to execution go; For, hung with deadly sins, I see the wall, And lined with giants deadlier than them all : 275 Each man an Askapart, of strength to toss For quoits, both Temple-bar and Charing-cross. Scared at the grisly forms, I sweat, I fly, And shake all o'er, like a discover'd spy.
Courts are too much for wits so weak as mine: 280 Charge them with heaven's artillery, bold divine ! From such alone the great rebukes endure, Whose satire's sacred, and whose rage secure: 'Tis mine to wash a few light stains, but theirs To deluge sin, and drown a court in tears.
285 Howe'er what's now Apocrypha, my wit, In time to come, may pass for holy writ.
daughter of Sir George More ; of the difficulties he underwent on this marriage ; of his constant affection to his wife, his affliction at her death, and the sensibility he displayed towards all his friends and relations.Warton.
“ He was born,” says Mr. Ellis, “ at London in 1573, and educated at home till the eleventh year of his age. His academical residence then became divided between Oxford and Cambridge, and his studies between poetry and law. He accompanied the Earl of Essex in an expedition against Cadiz, was secretary some time to Sir Thomas Egerton, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal ; and having taken orders, was promoted to be King's Chaplain, preacher of the Society of Lincoln's Inn, and Dean of St. Paul's. He died in 1631.” His life is written by Isaac Walton.Bowles.
The poetic talents of Donne were not confined to satire, but were displayed to equal advantage in lyric poetry. Many of his productions in this department breathe strongly of that poetic spirit which characterizes the age of Shakespear, and in originality and vigour of sentiment are not exceeded by any passages in the foregoing satires.
As it was the object of the poet, in his Dunciad, to excite his countrymen to exert themselves in the defence and promotion of true taste and sound learning, so, in the following pieces, it is his intention to rouse them to a due sense of their own rights and dignity as a people, to show them the dangers by which they were surrounded, to exhibit vice and corruption in the darkest colours, and thereby to stimulate them to the attainment of public integrity, honour, and virtue. This however is not the light in which these Dialogues seem to have been regarded by his later editors, and particularly by Dr. Warton, who conceives that “the satire is carried to excess,” and “ that the prognostications of ruin to the country were vain and groundless ; for that in about twenty years afterwards it carried its triumphs over all its enemies, through all quarters of the world.” On this it may be observed, that the prognostications of the poet were founded on the political depravity and corruption which he saw around him, and are in fair construction to be considered only as warnings, or denunciations, to apprize his contemporaries, that if they did not act upon higher motives and better principles, and oppose themselves to the torrent, vice would be finally triumphant, would
“ lift her scarlet head, And see pale virtue carted in her stead.” “ From the conclusion of this (the first) Satire,” says Mr. Bowles, one might suppose that there was neither honesty, honour, public spirit, nor virtue in the nation." But this is to take in a literal, what the poet meant should be taken only in a hypothetical sense, and to consider a poetical exaggeration as intended for a serious truth. The object of the poet is more decidedly manifested in his second Dialogue, in which he has celebrated numerous instances of public and private virtue, and has declared it to be his intention,
“ To rouse the watchmen of the public weal,
To virtue's work provoke the tardy Hall,
And goad the prelate slumbering in his stall.”
“ Till all but truth drops still-born from the press,
Like the last Gazette, or the last address.” What effect was, in fact, produced by the remonstrances of the poet upon the manners and morals of his countrymen, and what share he may have had in attaining that great improvement and better state of things which we are informed took place some years afterwards, it would not be an easy task to ascertain ; but that these Dialogues forcibly exhibit
“ The strong antipathy of good to bad ;" that they inculcate high and generous sentiments of public virtue and