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These are the talents that adorn them all,
Piecemeal they win this acre first, then that,
O'er a learn'd, unintelligible place;
Or, in quotation, fhrewd Divines leave out
Those words, that would against them clear the doubt.
So Luther thought the Pater-nofter long,
When doom'd to fay his beads and Even-fong;
VER. 105. So Luther, &c.] Our Poet, by judiciously transpofing this fine fimilitude, has given new luftre to his Author's
Each day his Beads; but having left thofe laws,
The writings, and (unwatch'd) leaves out fes heires,
Hard words, or fenfe; or, in Divinity
As controverters in vouch'd Texts, leave out
Shrewd words, which might against them clear the doubt.
Where are thefe fpread woods which cloath'd
Those bought lands? not built, not burnt within door. Where
thought. The Lawyer (fays Dr. Donne) enlarges his legal instruments, to the bigness of glofs'd civil Laws, when it is to convey property to himself, and to fecure his own ill-got wealth. But let the fame Lawyer convey property to you, and he then omits even the neceffary words; and becomes as concife and loose as the hafty poftils of a modern Divine. So Luther, while a Monk, and by his Inftitution, obliged to fay Mass, and pray in person for others, thought even his Pater-nofter too long. But when he fet up for a Governor in the Church, and his bufinefs was to direct others how to pray for the fuccefs of his new Model; he then lengthened the Pater-nofter by a new claufe. This representation of the first part of his conduct was to ridicule his want of devotion; as the other, where he tells us, that the addition was the power and glory claufe, was to fatirize his ambition; and both together, to infinuate that from a Monk, he was become totally fecularized.
About this time of his life Dr. Donne had a ftrong propenfity to the Roman Catholic Religion, which appears from feveral ftrokes in these Satires. We find amongst his works, a short fatirical thing called a Catalogue of rare Books, one article of which is intitled, M. Lutherus de abbreviatione Orationis Dominica, alluding to Luther's omiffion of the concluding Doxology in his two Catechifms; which fhews the Poet was fond of his joke. In this catalogue (to intimate his fentiments of Reformation) he puts Erasmus
But having cast his cowl, and left those laws,
No kitchens emulate the vestal fire.
Where are those troops of Poor, that throng'd of
The good old landlord's hofpitable door?
Well, I could wish, that still in lordly domes
Some beasts were kill'd, tho' not whole hecatombs ;
and Reuchlin in the rank of Lully and Agrippa. I will only obferve, that it was written in imitation of Rabelais's famous Catalogue of the Library of St. Vidor, one of the fineft paffages in that extravagant Satire, which was the Manual of the Wits of this time. It was natural therefore to think, that the Catalogue of the Library of St. Vidor would become, as it did, the fubject of many imitations. The best of which are this of Dr. Donne's, and one of Sir Thomas Brown's.-Dr. Donne afterwards took orders in the church of England. We have a large volume of his fermons in the false taste of that time. But the book which made his fortune was his Pfeudo martyr, to prove that Papists ought to take the oath of allegiance. In this book, though Hooker had then written his Ecclefiaftical Policy, he has approved himself entirely ignorant both of the Origin and End of Civil Government. In the 168th page, and elsewhere, he holds, that when men congregate to form the body of Civil Society, then it is, that the foul of Society, SOVEREIGN POWER, is fent into it immediately from God, just as he fends the foul into the human embryo, when the two fexes propagate their kind. In the 191ft page, and elsewhere, he maintains that the office of the civil Sovereign extends to the care of Souls. For this abfurd and blafphemous trash, James I. made him Dean of St. Paul's; all the wit and fublimity of his genius having never enabled him to get bread throughout the better part of his life.
Where the old landlords troops, and almes? In halls Carthufian Fafts, and fulfome Bacchanals
Equally I hate. Means bleft.
I bid kill fome beasts. but no
None starve, none furfeit fo.
In rich men's homes hecatombs ;
But (oh) we allow
Good works as good, but out of fashion now,
VER. 121. These as good works, &c.] Dr. Donne fays, "But (oh) we allow
Good works as good, but out of fashion now."
The popish doctrine of good works was one of those abuses in Religion which the Church of England condemns in its Articles. To this the Poet's words fatirically allude. And having throughout this fatire given feveral malignant ftrokes at the Reformation, which it was penal, and then very dangerous to abuse, he had reafon to befpeak the Reader's candor, in the concluding lines, "But my words none draws Within the vast reach of th' huge ftatutes jaws."
That both extremes were banish'd from their walls, Carthufian fafts, and fulfome Bacchanals;
And all mankind might that juft Mean obferve,
In which none e'er could furfeit, none could starve.
Thus much I've faid, I truft, without offence;
VER. 125. Thus much I've faid,] These three additional lines are redundant. And two ftrong epithets in the last line of Donne, vaft and huge, were too emphatical to be omitted.