« ZurückWeiter »
so work upon the affections of his hearers, as melted and moulded them into a companionable sadness; and so they left the congregation; but then their houses presented them with objects of diversion, and his presented him with nothing but fresh objects of sorrow, in beholding many helpless children, a narrow fortune, and a consideration of the many cares and casualties that attend their education.
In this time of sadness he was importuned by the grave Benchers of Lincoln's Inn (who were once the companions and friends of his youth) to accept of their lecture, which, by reason of Dr. Gataker's removal from thence, was then void; of which he accepted, being most glad to renew his intermitted friendship with those whom he so much loved, and where he had been a Saul, (though not to persecute Christianity, or to deride it, yet in his irregular youth to neglect the visible practice of it), there to become a Paul, and preach salvation to his beloved brethren.
And now his life was as a shining light among his old friends; now he gave an ocular testimony of the strictness and regularity of it; now he might say, as St. Paul adviseth his Corinthians, “ Be ye followers of me, as I follow Christ; and walk as ye have me for an example;” not the example of a busy-body, but of a contemplative, a harmless, an humble, and an holy life and conversation.
The love of that noble society was expressed to him many ways; for, besides fair lodgings that were set apart, and newly furnished for him, with all necessaries, other courtesies were also daily added; indeed so many, and freely, as if they meant their gratitude should exceed his merits : and in this love-strife of desert and liberality they continued for the space of two years, he preaching faithfully and constantly to them, and they liberally requiting him. About which time, the Emperor of Germany
died, and the Palsgrave, who had lately married the Lady Elizabeth,
the King's only daughter, was elected and crowned King of Bohemia, the unhappy beginning of many miseries in that nation.
King James, whose motto (Beati pacifici) did truly speak the very thoughts of his heart, endeavoured first to pre nt, and after to compose the discords of that discomposed state ; and, amongst other his endeavours, did then send the Lord Hay, Earl of Doncaster, his ambassador, to those unsettled princes; and, by a special command from his Majesty, Dr. Donne was appointed to assist and attend that employment to the Princes of the Union; for which the Earl was most glad, and who had always put a great value on him, and taken a great pleasure in his conversation and discourse : and his friends at Lincoln's Inn were as glad; for they feared that his immoderate study, and sadness for his wife's death, would, as Jacob said, make his days few, and respecting his bodily health, evil too; and of this there were many visible signs.
At his going, he left his friends of Lincoln's Inn, and they him, with many reluctations; for though he could not say as St. Paul to his Ephesians, “Behold you, to whom I have preached the kingdom of God, shall from henceforth see my face no more;" yet he believing himself to be in a consumption, questioned, and they feared it; all concluding that his troubled mind, with the help of his unintermitted studies, hastened the decays of his weak body. But God, who is the God of all wisdom and goodness, turned it to the best; for this employment (to say nothing of the event of it) did not only divert him from those too serious studies and sad thoughts, but seemed to give him a new life, by a true occasion of joy, to be an eye-witness of the health of his most dear, and most honoured mistress, the Queen of Bohemia, in a foreign nation; and to be a wit
ness of that gladness which she expressed to see him; who, having formerly known him a courtier, was much joyed to see him in a canonical habit, and more glad to be an ear-witness of his excellent and powerful preaching;
About fourteen months after his departure out of England, he returned to his friends of Lincoln's Inn, with his sorrows moderated, and his health improved; and there betook himself to his constant course of preaching
About a year after his return out of Germany, Dr. Carey was made Bishop of Exeter, and by his removal the deanery of St. Paul's being vacant, the King sent to Dr. Donne, and appointed him to attend him at dinner the next day.. When his Majesty was sat down, before he had ate any meat, he said, after his pleasant manner, “ Dr. Donne, I have invited you to dinner; and though you sit not down with me, yet I will carve to you of a dish that I know you love well; for, knowing you love London, I do therefore make you Dean of St. Paul's; and when I have dined then do you take your beloved dish home to your study, say grace there to yourself, and much good may it do you.”
Immediately after he came to his deanery, he employed workmen to repair and beautify the chapel; suffering, as holy David once vowed, « his eyes and temples to take no rest, till he had first beautified the house of God.”
The next quarter following, when his father-inlaw, Sir George More, (whom time had made a lover and admirer of him,) came to pay to him the conditioned sum of twenty pounds, he refused to receive it, and said, (as good Jacob did, when he heard his beloved son Joseph was alive,) “ It is enough: You have been kind to me and mine: I know your present condition is such as not to abound, and I hope mine is, or will be such, as not
to need it. I will therefore receive no more from you upon that contract;” and in testimony of it freely gave him up his bond.
Immediately after his admission into his deanery, the vicarage of St. Dunstan in the West, London, fell to him by the death of Dr. White, the advowson of it having been given to him long before, by his honourable friend, Richard Earl of Dorset, then the patron, and confirmed by his brother, the late deceased Edward, both of them men of much honour.
By these, and another ecclesiastical endowment which fell to him about the same time, given to him formerly by the Earl of Kent, he was enabled to become charitable to the poor, and kind to his friends, and to make such provision for his children, that they were not left scandalous, as relating to their or his profession and quality.
The next parliament, which was within that present year, he was chosen Prolocutor to the Convocation, and about that time was appointed by his Majesty, his most gracious master, to preach very many occasional sermons, as at St. Paul's Cross, and other places : all which employments he performed to the admiration of the representative body of the whole clergy of this nation.
He was once, and but once, clouded with the King's displeasure, and it was about this time; which was occasioned by some malicious whisperer, who had told his Majesty that Dr. Donne had put on the general humour of the pulpits, and was become busy in insinuating a fear of the King's inclining to popery, and a dislike of his government; and particularly for the King's then turning the evening lectures into catechising, and expounding the Prayer of our Lord, and of the Belief, and Commandments. His Majesty was the more inclinable to believe this, for that a person of nobility and great note, betwixt whom and Dr. Donne there had been a great friend
ship, was at this very time discarded the court, (I shall forbear his name, unless I had a fairer occasion,) and justly committed to prison; which begot many rumours in the common people, who in this nation think they are not wise, unless they be busy about what they understand not, and especially about religion.
The King received this news with so much discontent and restlessness, that he would not suffer the sun to set, and leave him under this doubt; but sent for Dr. Donne, and required his answer to the accusation; which was so clear and satisfactory, that the King said, “ he was right glad he rested no longer under the suspicion." When the King had said this, Dr. Donne kneeled down, and thanked his Majesty, and protested his answer was faithful, and free from all collusion, and therefore 56 desired that he might not rise till, as in like cases he always had from God, so he might have from his Majesty, some assurance that he stood clear and fair in his opinion.” At which the King raised him from his knees with his own hands, and protested he believed him; and that he knew he was an honest man, and doubted not but that he loved him truly.” And, having thus dismissed him, he called some lords of his council into his chamber, and said, with much earnestness, “My Doctor is an honest man; and, my Lords, I was never better satisfied with an answer than he hath now made me; and I always rejoice when I think that by my means he became a divine.”
He was made Dean in the fiftieth year of his age; and in his fifty-fourth year a dangerous sickness seized him, which inclined him to a consumption: but God, as Job thankfully acknowledged, "preserved his spirit," and kept his intellectuals as clear and perfect as when that sickness first seized his body; but it continued long, and threatened him with death, which he dreaded not.