Helen Gardner (ed.), John Donne: The Elegies and The Songs and Sonnets

Contents
Find Location in text

Main Text

The Braceletupon the losse of his mistresses chaine, for which he made satisfaction

  • 1Not that in colour it was like thy haire,
  • 2For Armelets of that thou maist let me weare;
  • Critical Apparatus3Nor that thy hand it oft embrac'd and kist,
  • 4For so it had that good which oft I mist;
  • Editor’s Note5Nor for that seely old moralitie,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus6That as those links are tyed our love should be;
  • Critical Apparatus7Mourne I that I thy seavenfold chaine have lost,
  • Critical Apparatus8Nor for the luck sake; but the bitter cost.
  • Editor’s Note9  Oh shall twelve righteous Angels, which as yet
  • Editor’s Note10No leaven of vile soder did admit,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus11Nor yet by any fault have stray'd or gone
  • 12From thefirst state of their creation,
  • Editor’s Note13Angels, which heaven commanded to provide
  • 14All things to me, and be my faithfull guide,
  • 15To gaine new friends, t'appease great enemies,
  • 16To comfort my soule, when I lye or rise;
  • Editor’s Note17Shall these twelve innocents, by thy severe
  • 18Sentence (dread Judge) my sins great burden beare?
  • 19Shall they be damn'd, and in the furnace throwne,
  • 20And punisht for offences not their owne?
  • pg 221They save not me, they doe not ease my paines
  • Editor’s Note22When in that hell they are burnt and tyed in chaines.
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus23  Were they but Crownes of France, I cared not,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus24For most of them their naturall country rot
  • 25I thinke possesseth; they come here to us
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus26So leane, so pale, so lame, so ruinous.
  • 27And howso'er French Kings most Christian be,
  • 28Their Crownes are circumcis'd most Jewishly.
  • Editor’s Note29Or were they Spanish Stamps, still travailing,
  • 30That are become as Catholique as their King,
  • Editor’s Note31Those unlick'd beare-whelps, unfil'd Pistolets,
  • Editor’s Note32That, more then cannon-shot, availes or lets,
  • 33Which, negligently left unrounded, looke
  • Editor’s Note34Like many-angled figures in the booke
  • Critical Apparatus35Of some greate Conjurer, which would enforce
  • 36Nature, as these do Justice, from her course;
  • 37Which, as the soule quickens head, feet, and heart,
  • Critical Apparatus38As streames, like veines, run through th'earths every part,
  • Editor’s Note39Visit all countries, and have slily made
  • Critical Apparatus40Gorgeous France ruin'd, ragged, and decay'd,
  • 41Scotland, which knew no state, proud in one day,
  • Editor’s Note42And mangled seventeen-headed Belgia.
  • Editor’s Note43Or were it such gold as that wherewithall
  • 44Almighty Chymicks from each minerall
  • 45Having by subtile fire a soule out-pull'd
  • 46Are durtily and desperately gull'd;
  • Critical Apparatus47I would not spit to quench the fire they'were in,
  • 48For they are guilty of much heinous sin.
  • 49But shall my harmless Angels perish? Shall
  • 50I lose my guard, my ease, my food, my all?
  • 51Much hope, which they should nourish, will be dead,
  • 52Much of my able youth, and lustyhead
  • pg 353Will vanish; if thou love, let them alone
  • Critical Apparatus54For thou wilt love me lesse when they are gone.
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus55  Oh be content, that some loud-squeaking Cryer,
  • 56Well-pleas'd with one leane thred-bare groate for hire,
  • 57May like a devill rore through every street,
  • Critical Apparatus58And gall the finders conscience if they meet.
  • Editor’s Note59Or let me creepe to some dread Conjurer,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus60Which with fantastique schemes fullfills much paper,
  • Editor’s Note61Which hath divided Heaven in tenements,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus62And with whores, theeves and murtherers stuft his rents
  • 63So full, that though he passe them all in sin,
  • 64He leaves himself no room to enter in.
  • Critical Apparatus65And if, when all his art and time is spent,
  • Critical Apparatus66He say 'twill ne'r be found; Oh be content.
  • Critical Apparatus67Receive from him the doome ungrudgingly
  • 68Because he is the mouth of Destiny.
  • 69  Thou say'st (alas) the gold doth still remaine
  • 70Though it be chang'd, and put into a chaine.
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus71So, in the first, fall'n Angels resteth still
  • 72Wisdom and knowledge, but 'tis turn'd to ill;
  • 73As these should do good workes, and should provide
  • 74Necessities, but now must nurse thy pride.
  • 75And they are still bad Angels, mine are none,
  • Editor’s Note76For forme gives being, and their forme is gone.
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus77Pity these Angels yet; their dignities
  • 78Passe Vertues, Powers, and Principalities.
  • 79  But thou art resolute; Thy will be done.
  • 80Yet with such anguish as her only sonne
  • 81The mother in the hungry grave doth lay,
  • 82Unto the fire these Martyrs I betray.
  • Editor’s Note83Good soules, for you give life to every thing,
  • 84Good Angels, for good messages you bring,
  • pg 4Critical Apparatus85Destin'd you might have been to such a one
  • 86As would have lov'd and worship'd you alone,
  • 87One which would suffer hunger, nakednesse,
  • 88Yea death, ere he would make your number lesse;
  • 89But I am guilty of your sad decay,
  • 90May your few fellowes longer with me stay.
  • Editor’s Note91  But oh, Thou wretched Finder, whom I hate
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus92So much that I'almost pity thy estate;
  • Editor’s Note93Gold being the heaviest metall amongst all,
  • 94May my most heavy curse upon thee fall.
  • Critical Apparatus95Here fetter'd, manacl'd, and hang'd in chaines
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus96First mayst thou be, then chain'd to hellish paines;
  • 97Or be with forraigne gold brib'd to betray
  • 98Thy country,'and faile both of that and thy pay.
  • 99May the next thinge thou stoop'st to reach containe
  • 100Poyson, whose nimble fume rot thy moist braine,
  • Editor’s Note101Or libells, or some interdicted thinge,
  • 102Which negligently kept thy ruine bringe.
  • 103Lust-bred diseases rot thee'and dwell with thee
  • Critical Apparatus104Itchy desire and no abilitie.
  • Critical Apparatus105May all the hurt which ever Gold hath wrought,
  • Critical Apparatus106All mischiefes which all devills ever thought,
  • 107Want after plenty, poore and gouty age,
  • Critical Apparatus108The plagues of travellers, love and marriage
  • Critical Apparatus109Afflict thee; and at thy lifes latest moment
  • 110May thy swolne sins themselves to thee present.
  • Critical Apparatus111  But I forgive. Repent thou honest man.
  • Editor’s Note112Gold is restorative; restore it then.
  • Critical Apparatus113Or if with it thou beest loath to depart
  • 114Because 'tis cordiall, would 'twere at thy heart.

Notes Settings

Notes

Critical Apparatus
The Bracelet, &c. (Elegy XI Gr). TCC omits. First printed in 1635. Text from C 57 with spelling regularized to that of 1633, punctuation supplemented and paragraphing supplied. Title from 1635: Armilla. To a Lady whose chaine was lost Dob, (The Bracelett: To …) S 96: To a Lady whose chayne was lost. The Bracelet. Armilla O'F: Mr. John Donne to a Ladie whose Chaine he had lost Cy: The Bracelet JC, B; The Chaine P
Critical Apparatus
3 thy Sigma;: this C 57, TCD
Editor’s Note
l. 5. moralitie: signification.
Critical Apparatus
6 those] these 1635, Gr
are tyed] are knitt Cy: were ty'ed B: were knit 1635, Gr
love] loves Dob, A 25, JC, B: hearts O'F, S 96
Editor’s Note
l. 6. That as those links are tyed our love should be. 'Tyed' has overwhelming authority; only Cy reads with 1635. The consensus of I, II, and W estabishes 'love' as the true reading against 'hearts' (III —Dob) which echoes the 'moralitie' in the play. Cf.
  • Till when, receiue this precious Carcanet,
  • In signe that, as the linkes are interlaced,
  • So both our hearts are still combind in one.…
  • (Soliman and Perseda, ii. i. 22–24.)
Critical Apparatus
7 thy Σ: this C 57
Critical Apparatus
8 luck] luckes Dob, O'F, W
Editor’s Note
ll. 9–22. O shall twelve righteous Angels, &c. The reign of Elizabeth was marked by a 'financial operation of unexampled magnitude', the restoration of the coinage; see W. Cunningham, The Growth of English Industry and Commerce, 1907, ii. 127–42. The bulk of the money coined in England was silver and its re-coining was completed by 1560. The amount of gold coined was small, the commonest gold coins being the angel (or angel-noble) and the royal (or rose-noble), which had risen in value to 10s. Since gold was an international currency, there was a considerable amount of foreign currency in circulation. This was revalued against English silver, crowns (French, Kaisers, and Burgundians) at 6s. and pistoles (Spanish, Venetian, and Flemish) at 5s. 10d. There were also foreign coins closely resembling the English angels. These were declared to be worth no more than 9s. 3d. at best, and the worst of them to be worth as little as 7s. The complaints against these 'bad angels' are stated in a proclamation of 1587:
Forasmuch as a great part of our moneys of Gold of our Realme of England, and such Gold of forraine countries, which are now currant within our said Realme, are by the sinister and unlawfull dealings of wicked persons, not onely caried out of our Realme to forraine countreys, and there by divers meanes diminished of their value, and from thence returned hither, and payed in liew of lefull coyne for the commodities of our countreys, and some other of them embased by clipping, sowthering and other unlaw-full practises of their due fines, so that both the one sort and the other (by the meanes aforesaide) are brought much inferiour to their first true value and goodnesse … (Cunningham, ii. 138–9).
The obvious quibble on 'good and bad angels' is a favourite with dramatists in the latter half of the 1590's. Here and in ll. 69–78 it is transformed by Donne's fantastic ingenuity in seeing analogies. Both passages are soaked in Biblical phraseology and are full of theological implications.
Editor’s Note
l.10. leaven of vile soder: debasing element of soldering metal. Cf. 'the leaven of the Pharisees' (Matt. xvi. 6) and 'the leaven of malice and wickedness' (1 Cor. v. 8), Broken, chipped, and cracked coins were patched by soldering.
Critical Apparatus
11 fault] taint Dob, O'F, S 96, W, JC: taynts B: way 1635, Gr or Σ: and C 57, TCD
Editor’s Note
l. 11. fault. 'way' (1635) is without manuscript support. I retain 'fault' (I and II) as more applicable to a defect in a coin than 'taint' (III, W).
Editor’s Note
ll. 13–15. Angels, which heaven commanded,&c. Cf. 'He shall give his angels charge over thee' (Ps. xci. 11, Matt. iv. 6). The speaker may have in mind all that Raphael did for Tobias.
Editor’s Note
ll. 17–22. There is a flippant use in this passage of that doctrine of the Atonement that holds that Christ bore men's sins and their punishment as their substitute: cf. 'He took not on him the nature of angels', Heb. ii. 16.
Editor’s Note
l. 22. burnt and tyed in chaines. Cf. 'In Adamantine Chains and penal Fire ' (Paradise Lost, i. 48), based on 2 Pet. ii. 4 and Jude 6.
Critical Apparatus
23 cared Σ: car'd C 57, H 49, TCD
Editor’s Note
ll. 23–42. A reform of the French currency was contemplated in the 1570's, but the wars prevented its being carried out. Neither France nor Spain could show anything comparable to the Elizabethan achievement. Donne is not usually thought of as a patriot; but in this contrast between 'good' English coins and 'ad' foreign ones, as elsewhere in the Elegies, he shows the common Elizabethan pride in English ways and the common contempt for foreign.
Editor’s Note
l. 23. Were they but Crownes of France, I cared not. Donne normally uses contracted forms for the past tense and participle of weak verbs; but here, as in 'Farewell to Love' (l. 13), the metre requires 'carèd'.
A. W. Ward's statement that the Clown's allusion to French crowns in Dr. Faustus would have been unintelligible in Marlowe's day, which Greg cited to argue that the A text contains unoriginal matter (Dr. Faustus, 1950, p. 32), is unacceptable. Although there was an increase in commerce between France and England from 1595, proclamations show that French crowns circulated freely throughout the reign of Elizabeth.
Critical Apparatus
24 them] those A 25: these Cy, P, 1635, Gr
naturall country] … countrys O'F, Cy, Gr: countryes naturall P, 1635
Editor’s Note
l. 24. their naturall country rot: their native country's rot. For the idiom, see O.E.D., 'country', III.13. The jest on French crowns and the 'French disease' is exploited at length by Nashe in the 'Epistle Dedicatorie' to Have with you to Saffron Waldon, 1596. Professor F.P.Wilson told me that he was not aware of an earlier datable example of this jest. It occurs in A Midsummer Night's Dream, I. ii. 86 and elsewhere in Shakespeare.
Critical Apparatus
26 leane … pale … lame ] … lame … pale TCD: pale … lame … leane A 25, Cy, P, 1635, Gr: lame … leane … pale B
Editor’s Note
l. 26. leane … pale … lame . The King of France was styled Rex Christianissimus from 1464 and was always so addressed by the Pope. The King of Spain's traditional title 'His Most Catholic Majesty' is said to have been granted to Ferdinand of Aragon in 1492 for his reconquest of Granada. See Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 1957, pp. 275 and 252.
Editor’s Note
l. 29. Spanish Stamps, still travailing. 'Stamp', from meaning the design impressed on a coin, came to be used for the coin itself; see O.E.D., 'stamp', sb. III.12.b, and 15. The ubiquity of Spanish gold is a common complaint. Grierson cites Raleigh, Discovery of Guiana, 1596:
It is his [the king of Spain's] Indian gold that endangereth and disturbeth all the nations of Europe; it purchaseth intelligence, creepeth into councils, and setteth bound loyalty at liberty in the greatest monarchies of Europe (Works, ed. Oldys and Birch, 1829, viii. 388).
Editor’s Note
l. 31. unlick'd beare-whelps. For discussion of the notion, surviving in the metaphor 'lick into shape', that 'a Bear brings forth her young informous and unshapen, which she fashioneth after by licking them over,' see Sir Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica, book iii, chap. vi.
Pistolets: Spanish écus.
Editor’s Note
l. 32. availes or lets. The singular verbs must be explained by attraction to the preceding noun 'cannon-shot'.
Editor’s Note
l. 34. many-angled figures. The figure most commonly used in conjuring was the pentagram or five-pointed star.
Critical Apparatus
35 which] that A 25, Cy, P, 1635, Gr: and so in 60, 87, 106
Critical Apparatus
38 run Σ: runs C 57, H 49
Editor’s Note
ll. 39–41.
  • and have slily made
  • Gorgeous France ruin'd, ragged, and decay'd,
  • Scotland, which knew no state, proud in one day.
The activity of Spain in France and Scotland was a main concern of the Parliament of 1593. The opening speech of the Lord Keeper, Sir John Puckering (printed Eng. Hist. Rev. xxxi. 128–34), told at length how the King of Spain was taking every opportunity to revenge the defeat of the Armada. 'In France at first he fought with his money, but with other mens weapons, and at there perill, corrupting with his Indian treasure', now he was sending his armies there too.
So that partlie by the terror of these sundrie forces, partlie by the helpe of the french Rebells waged by his money, and the assistance of sundrie principall townes and citties, which if they were not corrupted by his golde, would never have shut their gates against their naturall kinge … he attempteth … to commaunde all that late most flourishing kingdome.
After speaking of the danger of invasion by way of Brittany, Puckering turned to the danger from Scotland: 'Lastly in Scotland he hath of late endeavoured by corrupcion of his monye and pensions, to make a partie there readye to receaue an armye.' This theme was taken up by Burghley in the Lords who clinched his argument by revealing details of Spanish intrigue in Scotland, the affair of the 'Spanish Blanks'. He told of Philip's offer to send an army of 25,000 men to the west of Scotland that summer and to pay the wages of 10,000 Scots. See J. E. Neale, Elizabeth and her Parliaments, 1584–1601, 1957, pp. 246–7 and 301–2.
The ruin of France by the wars of Religion was a standing warning to Englishmen of the horrors of civil war. With the conversion of Henry of Navarre in 1593, his entry into Paris in 1594 and recognition by the Pope, the tide turned towards recovery. After 1595 Donne's reference would lose its point.
The beggary of Scotland had been made embarrassingly clear at James's wedding in 1589.I cannot propose a precise interpretation of 'proud in one day', and can only suggest it means 'rich overnight', the contrast being between the ruin of once wealthy France and the sudden enriching of poverty-stricken Scotland.
Critical Apparatus
40 ruin'd, ragged] ragged, ruind Dob, O'F, S 96, W, A 25, JC, B, S
Editor’s Note
l 42. And mangled seventeen-headed Belgia. This is probably a general reference to the destructiveness of the war in the Low Countries; but 'mangled' might be taken as 'hacked apart' and refer to the division of the seventeen provinces into a Southern and a Northern Union in 1579.
Editor’s Note
ll. 43–46. The basic theory of alchemy was that all minerals contained the same prima materia, called the 'mercury of the philosophers', or 'soul of mercury'. This 'soul' could be extracted, or 'out-pulled' by fire and upon it was projected the tincture, or stone of the philosophers, to produce gold. Cf. 'The Comparison', ll. 35–37 and note.
Critical Apparatus
47 they 'were in] … are … Dob, S, 1633, Gr: therein A 25, Cy,P
Critical Apparatus
54 me Σ: omit C 57, H 49
Critical Apparatus
55 Oh] And P, 1635, Gr
Editor’s Note
ll. 55–68. Cf. Soliman and Perseda, I. iv, where a cryer is sent through the streets to cry a lost chain. Resorting to conjurers in such cases was frequent. There is a case recorded in 1593 when a Mrs. Shelley is reported to have 'had a conference at Cambridge … with Fletcher of Gonville and Caius College, said to be skilful in astronomy and moved him to set a figure how she should recover certain jewels'. She told another woman that she 'wanted to take up with a cunning man for something she had lost' and spoke 'afterwards of the planets and houses' (C.S.P. Dom., 17 Feb. 1593). Such 'figures' can be found in John Melton's Astrologaster or the Figure-Caster (1620), which contains, as its title-page states, 'the Arraignment of Artless Astrologers, and Fortunetellers that cheat many ignorant people under the pretence of foretelling things to come, of telling things that are past, finding out things that are lost …'. The author visits a conjurer, pretending to have lost a chain of gold of 300 links in Westminster Hall. Collections of magical recipes give directions how to proceed in recovering stolen goods; see British Museum MS. Add. 36674, item 6: 'How experyments for thinges that are stolen ought to be wroughte.'
Critical Apparatus
58 they] he JC, P, 1635
Editor’s Note
ll. 59–60. Conjurerpaper. This is a peculiarly shocking example of what Professor Lewis has dubbed 'Simpsonian rhyme', with a weak tenth syllable rhyming with a weak eleventh; see P. Simpson, 'The Rhyming of Stressed with Unstressed Syllables in Elizabethan Verse' (M.L.R. xxxviii, 1943).
Critical Apparatus
60 schemes] scenes TCD, P, 1633: sheaves S
fullfills] fills S 96: fills vp P: fills so B: fils ful S, 1635, Gr
Critical Apparatus
60 Which] That A 25, Cy, P, 1635, Gr
Editor’s Note
1.60. Which with fantastique schemes fullfills much paper. The misreading 'scenes' for 'schemes' occurs in Dr. Faustus (A text, 1. 81) and was declared unintelligible by Boas and Greg. 'Schema' and 'Figura' are interchangeable terms in magical works. Cf. 'Satire I', 1. 60, 'heavens Scheme'. Manuscript authority is overwhelmingly on the side of 'fullfills', and the Concordance shows Donne's fondness for using 'fulfil' in its now archaic sense of 'fill up'; see O.E.D., 'fulfil', I.a.
Editor’s Note
1. 61. tenements:, rows of houses. Cf.
  • Searching for things lost, with a sive, and sheeres,
  • Erecting figures, in your rowes of houses.…
(The Alchemist, I. i. 95–96)
The heavens were divided into twelve 'houses' or 'mansions', each presided over by a sign of the Zodiac. A 'Scheme' or 'Figure' of the heavens can be found in Melton's Astrologaster (facing p. 12). It is a rectangle divided into eighty-four compartments by setting the seven planets along the top and the twelve houses down the side. In each compartment trades and occupations are placed, some respectable, some plainly not, and some dubious. In the last two classes may be put Highwaymen, Cutpurses, Roaring Boys, Brothers of the Sword, Laundresses, and Chambermaids.
Critical Apparatus
62 his] her H 49, TCD, Dob, O'F, S 96: their B
Editor’s Note
l. 62. And with whores, theeves and murtherers stuft his rents. Like a slum-landlord, the conjurer has packed shady characters into his 'rents', that is, property let out. Melton's table may suggest that Donne had in mind persons placed inthe compartments there; but Melton himself, possibly echoing Donne's jest, has a passage suggesting the reference is to the conjurer's clients:
These twelve Houses are the Tenements most commonly such Astrologers as you your selfe doe let out to simple people, whereby they purchase to themselves much money, and to their Tenants much sorrow (p. 35).
Critical Apparatus
65 And] But P, 1635, Gr
Critical Apparatus
66 Oh] yet Cy, P, 1635, Gr
Critical Apparatus
67 from him the doome] … that doome P, 1635, Gr: the doome from him Dob, O'F, S 96, W, JC, B, S
Critical Apparatus
71 the] those Dob, O'F, S 96, W, JC, B
Editor’s Note
ll. 71–72. So, in the first, fall'n Angels … ill. Of the three kinds of knowledge, natural, speculative, and affective (that is, leading to the love of God), the fallen angels retained the first and, to a certain degree, the second; but were wholly deprived of the third, since 'voluntas dæmonum obstinata est in malo'. See Aquinas, S T., Ia pars, q. lxiv, art. 1–2, cited by Grierson.
Editor’s Note
1. 76. For forme gives being; … In Aristotelian and Scholastic philosophy'form' is the essential determinant principle of a thing. The bestowal of form on matter 'gives being'.
Critical Apparatus
77 Angels yet; B, 1635: … yet, TCD, O'F, S 96, W, A 25, JC: Angels, yet C 57, H 49, Dob, Cy,P,S: Angels; yet Gr; see note
Editor’s Note
1. 77. Pity these Angels yet; … I have adopted the pointing of II, III, and W against that of I and Dob (which here reads against the other members of Group III), but have strengthened the comma to a semicolon. Grierson placed the stop before 'yet', arguing that the meaning was: 'Pity these Angels, for yet (i.e. until they are melted down) they, as good angels, are superior in dignity to Vertues, Powers and Principalities among the bad angels.' But there seems no reason for taking it that Donne is thinking of bad angels here. I prefer to understand 'Pity these angels while there is still time'; see O.E.D., 'yet', II.5.b.
The order of angelic beings is Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones; Dominions, Virtues, and Powers; Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. The point of Donne's jest is that whereas the Angels of Heaven are inferior to the three orders he names, his golden Angels are more powerful and more honoured than earthly Virtues, Powers, and Princes.
Editor’s Note
11. 83–84. Good soules … Good Angels. In the old philosophy the whole universe was regarded as living and everything had a 'soul' or animating principle. The original meaning of άγγελος was 'messenger', later specialized to 'messenger from God'.
Critical Apparatus
85 a] an S 96, S, 163, Gr
Editor’s Note
11. 91–110. Cf. 'The Curse' (p. 40). The model for these 'curses' is the pseudo-Virgilian 'Dirae' and Ovid's poem against Ibis.
Critical Apparatus
92 So much that] … much as Dob, S 96, W, JC: So as O'F: So that Cy, P, 1635, Gr: So much B
almost Σ: shall most S 96: omit C 57, H 49 estate Σ: state C 57, H 49, Dob, S 96, W, A 25, JC; see note
Editor’s Note
l. 92. So much that I'almost pity thy estate. This is a lame line at best. It seems certain that it must have begun 'So much that … ' or 'So much as …. ', and that 'So as' (O'F), 'So that' (Cy, P), and 'So much' (B) are attempts to regularize by dropping a syllable. The reading 'state' (I, III-Lut and O'F, W, A 25, JC) appears to be an attempt to regularize the line at the other end. It gives a ten-syllable line which cannot be scanned:
So much that I almost pity thy state.
This is made worse in Group I by the omission of 'almost'.I print the line as it appears in Group II, adding an elision mark before 'almost'.
Editor’s Note
l. 93. Goldbeing the heaviest metall. This was true until the discovery of platinum.
Critical Apparatus
95–110 Omit O'F
Critical Apparatus
96 to Σ: in C 57, H 49, Dob, S 96, Cy
Editor’s Note
l. 96.I have preferred the reading of Group II and W to that of Groups I and III.
Editor’s Note
ll. 101–2.
  • Or libells, or some interdicted thinge,
  • Which negligently kept thy mine bringe.
Thomas Kyd was arrested on 12 May 1593 on suspicion of being guilty of 'a libell that concerned the State', and when his room was searched a fragment of a 'disputation' was discovered among his papers that laid him open to the more deadly charge of atheism. He was examined and put to the torture. In his letter to Puckering he wrote:
When I was first suspected for that libell that concern'd the state, amongst those waste and idle papers (which I carde not for) & which unaskt I did deliver up, were founde some fragments of a disputation toching that opinion, affirmd by Marlowe to be his, and shufled with some of myne (unknowne to me) by some occasion of our wrytinge in one chamber twoe yeares synce.
See The Works of Thomas Kyd, edited by F. S. Boas, 1901, pp. lxv–lxxiii and cviii. It is difficult not to see a reference in Donne's lines to Kyd's negligent keeping of a dangerous document.
Critical Apparatus
104 Itchy] Itching P, 1635, Gr
Critical Apparatus
105 hurt which ever Gold hath] ill … A 25: evills that gold ever P, 1635, Gr
Critical Apparatus
106 mischiefes] mischiefe 1635
Critical Apparatus
108 love and marriage] love, Marriage Cy, P, 1633: love; marriage Gr
Critical Apparatus
109 latest] last Dob, A 25, Cy, B, 1635, Gr
Critical Apparatus
111 thou] then H 49, Dob, S 96, W, JC, B: thee Cy, P, 1635, Gr
Editor’s Note
ll.112–14
  • Gold is restorative; restore it then.
  • Or if with it thou beest loath to depart
  • Because 'tis cordiall, would 'twere at thy heart.
Grierson cites Burton, Anatomy, part 2, subsect. 4:
Men say as much of Gold, and some other Minerals, as these have done of pretious stones. Erastus still maintains the opposite part. Disput. in Paracelsum cap. 4,fol. 196. he confesseth of gold, that it makes the heart merry, but in no other sense but as it is in a misers chest: at mihi plaudo simul ac nummos contemplor in arca, as he said in the Poet, it so revives the spirits, and is an excellent receit against Melancholy,
  • For Gold in Physick is a cordial
  • Therefore he loved Gold in special.
Burton after quoting Chaucer (Prologue, ll. 443–4) goes on to say that Erastus 'discommends and inveighs against' Aurum potabile, supporting him in the margin by a quotation from 'our Dr. Guin' ('Metallica omnia … nec tuto nec commode intra corpus sumi'), and ending 'Erastus concludes their Philosophical stones and potable gold, &c to be no better then poyson'.
I take it that Donne's final couplet means: 'If you aren't willing to give it up I hope it poisons you.'
Barwick (Life of Morton, 1660) reports:
At one time time when Bishop Morton gave him (Donne) a good quantity of Gold (then a usefull token) saying, Here Mr. Donne, take this, Gold is restorative: He presently answered Sir, I doubt I shall never restore it back again: and I am assured that he never did.
Critical Apparatus
113 Or] But A 25, Cy, P, B, S, 1635, Gr
with] from A 25, Cy, P, S, 1635, Gr.
logo-footer Copyright © 2018. All rights reserved.
Access is brought to you by Log out