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Dr. JOHN DONNE,
Dean of St. PAUL's,
Quid vetat et nosmet Lucilî scripta legentes Quaerere, num illius, num rerum dura negârit * Versiculos natura magis factos, et euntes Mollius ?
THE manly Wit of Donne, which was the character of his genius, suited best with Satire; and in this he excelled, though he wrote but little ; six short poems being all we find amongst his writings of this fort. Mr. Pope has embellished two of them with his wit and harmony. He called it versifying them, because indeed the lines have nothing more of numbers than their being composed of a certain quantity of syllables. This is the more to be admired, because, as appears by his other poems, and especially from that fine fragment, called the Progress of the Soul, his Verse did not want harmony. But, I suppose, he took the fermoni propiora of Horace too seriously; or rather, was content with the character his master gives of Lucilius,
“ Emunctae naris durus componere versus.” Having spoken of his Progress of the Soul, let me add, thar Poetry scarce ever lost more than by his not pursuing and finilliing that noble design; of which he has only given us the introduction. With regard to his Satires, it is almost as much to be lamented that Mr. Pope did not give us a Paraphrase, in his manner, of the Third, which treats the noblest subject not only of this, but perhaps of any satiric poet. To supply this loss, though in a very small degree, I have here inserted it in the versification of Dr. Parnell. It will at least serve to shew the force of Dr. Donne's genius, and of Mr. Pope's; by removing all that was rustic and shočking in the one, and by not being able to reach a single grace of the other.
N ompassion checks my spleen, yet Scorn denies
u The tears a paffage thro' my swelling Eyes ;
To laugh or weep at fins might idly show
Unheedful passion, or unfruitful woe.
Satire! arise, and try thy sharper way,
If ever Satire cur'd an old disease.
Is not Religion (Heav'n-descended dame)
As worthy all our soul's devoutest flame,
As Moral Virtue in her early sway,
When the best Heathens saw by doubtful day?
Are not the joys, the promis'd joys above,
As great and strong to vanquish earthly love,
As earthly glory, fame, respect, and show,
As all rewards their Virtue found below?
Alas! Religion proper means prepares,
These means are ours, and must its End be theirs ?
And shall thy Father's spirit meet the fight,
Of Heathen Sages cloath'd in heav'nly light,
Whose Merit of strict life, severely suited
To Reason's dictates, may be faith imputed ?
Whilst thou, to whom he taught the nearer road,
Art ever banilh'd from the blest abode.
Oh! if thy temper fuch a fear can find,
This fear were valour of the noblest kind.
Dar'lt thou provoke, when rebel fouls aspire,
Thy Maker's Vengeance, and thy Monarch's Tre?
Or live entonib'd in ships, thy leader's prey,
Spoil of the war, the famine, or the sea ?
In search of pearl, in depth of ocean breathe,
Or live, exil'd the sun, in mines beneath ?
Or, where in tempefts icy mountains roll,
Attempt a paffage by the Northern pole?
Or dar'lt thou parch within the fires of Spain,
Or burn beneath the line, for Indian gain?
Or for some Idol of thy Fancy draw
Some loose-gown’d dame; O courage made of straw!
Thus, desp’rate Coward! would'st thou bold appear,
Yet when thy God has plac'd thee Centry here,
To thy own foes, to bis, ignobly yield,
And leave, for wars forbid, th' appointed field ? 40
Know thy own foes; th' Apoftate Angel, he
You strive to please, the foremost of the Three;
He makes the pleasures of his realm the bait,
But can be give for Love, that acts in Hate ?
The World's thy second Love, thy second Foe, 45
The World, whose beauties perilh as they blow,
They Ay, she fades herself, and at the best
You grasp a wither'd strumper to your breast.
The Flesh is next, which in fruition wastes,
High Aufh'd with all the sensual joys it tastes, 50
While men the fair, the goodly Soul destroy,
From whence the fleß has pow'r to taste a joy.
Seek thou Religion, primitively sound
Well, gentle friend, but where may she be found ?
By Faith Implicite blind Ignaro led,
Thinks the bright Seraph from his Country fled,
And seeks her seat at Rome, because we know
She there was seen a thousand years ago;
And loves her Relick rags, as men obey
The foot-cloth where the Prince sat yesterday. 60
These pageant Forms are whining Obed's fcorn,
Who seeks Religion at Geneva born,