John Donne, Sir Henry Goodyer [Goodere]
W. Milgate (ed.), John Donne: The Satires, Epigrams and Verse Letters
- 1Went you to conquer? and have so much lost
- Critical Apparatus2 Yourself, that what in you was best and most,
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus3Respective frendship, should so quickly dye?
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus4In publique gaine my share'is not such that I
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus5Would lose your love for Ireland: better cheap
- Critical Apparatus6I pardon death (who though hee do not reap,
- 7Yet gleanes hee many of our frends away)
- 8Then that your waking mind should bee a pray
- Editor’s Note9To letargies. Lett shott, and boggs, and skeines
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus10With bodies deale, as fate bidds or restreynes;
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus11Ere sicknesses attack, yong death is best;
- Editor’s Note12Who payes before his death doth scape arest.
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus13Lett not your soule (at first with graces fill'd,
- Critical Apparatus14And since, and thorough crooked lymbecks, still'd
- pg 7515In many schools and courts, which quicken it,)
- 16It self unto the Irish negligence submit.
- Critical Apparatus17I aske not labor'd letters which should weare
- 18Long papers out: nor letters which should feare
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus19Dishonest carriage: or a seers Art:
- 20Nor such as from the brayne come, but the hart.
H. W, in Hiber. Belligeranti. First printed in Gr. Text and title from Bur (as transcribed by L. Pearsall Smith).
2 most,] most Bur
3 frendship,] frendship Bur
l. 3. Respective: considerate, courteous (as in King John, I, i. 188, 'too respective and too sociable').
4 share'is] share is Bur
ll. 4–5. To win Ireland as an Englishman is not as important as losing Wotton's friendship as a man.
5 lose] loose Bur
ll. 5–9. better cheap I pardon death, etc. 'I could forgive your death in battle as a cheaper loss than that of your energy and liveliness of mind.' 'Better cheap' is adverbial (O.E.D., 'cheap', 9).
6 reap,] reap Bur
l. 9. shines: Gaelic daggers (Gaelic, sgian, 'knife'). Cf. Soliman and Perseda, 1. iii. 21–22 (The Works of Thomas Kyd, ed. F. S. Boas, p. 169):
- Against the light foote Irish have I served,
- And in my skinne bare tokens of their skenes.
10 restreynes;] restreynes Bur
l. 10. or. So Pearsall Smith; Grierson reads 'and'.
11 attack,] attack Bur
best;] best Bur
l. 11. yong: while young, early. For the thought cf, 'The Progress of the Soul', ll. 49–50.
l. 12. Who payes before his death, etc. A difficult line. 'A man who fulfils all his obligations before his death is never arrested for not doing so'; hence, I suppose, a man who dies in full discharge of his powers and talents cannot be 'arrested' by sicknesses of the soul—e.g. (l. 16) neglectfulness and sloth.
13 first] first) Bur
fill'd] filld Bur
ll. 13–15. Wotton's soul is likened to the 'soul' of a substance (cf. 'To Mr Rowland Woodward', ll. 25–27, and note, p. 224), which is the highest part of the substance, but can be refined and purified by being distilled ('still'd'). 'Lymbecks' or alembics, which had a curved neck (though Courts and other 'schools' are morally 'crooked') were used for this purpose. In Wotton's life the instruments of purification have been the centres of learning and of state. Cf. 'To Sir Henry Goodyer', ll. 17–18.
14 since,] since Bur
still'd] stild Bur
17 labor'd] labored Bur
19 Art:] Art Bur
l. 19. a seers Art: the divining of their contents by powers of 'vision'. There is a pun on 'seer'; the reference is to the common practice of reading some one else's correspondence before re-sealing it and sending on the messenger. Donne is asking, not for secret or dangerous news, but for a letter conveying friendly feelings.