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Letters to Severall Persons of Honour   By: (1572-1631)

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First Page:

LETTERS TO SEVERALL PERSONS OF HONOUR

This edition is limited to six hundred copies

LETTERS TO SEVERALL PERSONS OF HONOUR

BY JOHN DONNE

THE TEXT EDITED, WITH NOTES, BY CHARLES EDMUND MERRILL, JR.

NEW YORK STURGIS & WALTON COMPANY 1910

COPYRIGHT, 1910 BY STURGIS & WALTON COMPANY

TO PAYSON MERRILL

QUALEM NEQUE CANDIDIOREM TERRA TULIT, NEQUE CUI ME SIT DEVINCTIOR ALTER

NOTE

The Letters to Severall Persons of Honour, now for the first time reprinted in their original form, were collected and published by John Donne, Jr., in 1651, twenty years after the death of the author. Apparently the sales were not large, for three years later the original sheets were rebound with a new title page and put on the market as a second edition. Not many copies of the earlier, and still fewer of the later date, have come down to us.

In the present volume changes from and additions to the original text are indicated by brackets, with a single exception: errors in punctuation have been corrected without comment when, and only when, they seem seriously to impair the intelligibility of the text. In the case of a few letters the reading followed is that of the original manuscripts, for which I am indebted to the great kindness of Mr. Edmund Gosse.

Readers of Mr. Gosse's brilliant study , The Life and Letters of John Donne (London: Heinemann, 1899) will not need to be reminded of the obligations under which he has placed all later students of Donne's life and work. I have, in addition, to thank him for generous encouragement and for many helpful suggestions, specific and general.

C. E. M., Jr.

Huntington, Long Island October 14, 1910.

LETTERS TO SEVERALL PERSONS OF HONOUR

[Illustration: JOHN DONNE

From an engraving by Pierre Lombart, prefixed to the POEMS of 1633, after a portrait of Donne at the age of forty. ]

( Facsimile of Title Page of Original Edition. )

LETTERS TO SEVERALL PERSONS OF HONOUR:

WRITTEN BY JOHN DONNE

Sometime Deane of S{t} Pauls London .

Published by JOHN DONNE D{r}. of the Civill Law.

LONDON , Printed by J. Flesher , for Richard Marriot , and are to be sold at his shop in S{t} Dunstans Church yard under the Dyall. 1651.

To the most virtuous and excellent Lady, Mris. BRIDGET DUNCH .

MADAM,

It is an argument of the Immortality of the Soul, that it can apprehend, and imbrace such a Conception; and it may be some kinde of Prophecy of the continuance and lasting of these Letters, that having been scattered, more then Sibyls leaves, I cannot say into parts, but corners of the World, they have recollected and united themselves, meeting at once, as it were, at the same spring, from whence they flowed, but by Succession.

But the piety of ├ćneas to Anchises, with the heat and fervour of his zeale, had been dazelled and extinguished by the fire of Troy, and his Father become his Tombe, had not a brighter flame appeared in his Protection, and Venus herself descended with her embraces, to protect her Martiall Champion; so that there is no safer way to give a perpetuity to this remnant of the dead Authour, but by dedicating it to the Altar of Beauty and perfection; and if you, Madam, be but pleased to shed on it one beame of your Grace and Favour, that very Adumbration will quicken it with a new Spirit, and defend it from all fire (the fate of most Letters) but the last; which, turning these into ashes, shall revive the Authour from his Urne, and put him into a capacity of celebrating you, his Guardian Angell, who has protected that part of his Soul, that he left behinde him, his Fame and Reputation.

The courtesies that you conferre upon the living may admit of some allay, by a possibility of a Retaliation; but what you bestow upon the Dead is a Sacrifice to pure Virtue; an ungifted Deity, 'tis true, without Oblation, Altar, or Temple, if she were not enshrined in your noble brest, but I must forever become her votary, if it be but for giving me this Inclination, and desire of being

Madam Your most humble servant Jo... Continue reading book >>




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