001H Donne, John (1573-1631)
Paradoxes, Problemes, Essayes, characters, written by Dr Donne Dean of Pauls: to which is added a book of epigrams: written in Latin by the same author; translated into English by J: Maine, D.D. As also Ignatius his Conclave, a satyr, translated out of the originall copy written in Latin by the same author; found lately amongst his own papers.
London: printed by T:N: for Humphrey Moseley at the Prince’s Armes in St Pauls Churchyard, 1652
Essayes in divinity; by the late Dr Donne, Dean of St Paul’s. Being several disquisitions, interwoven with meditations and prayers: before he entred into holy orders. Now made publick by his son J.D. Dr of the civil law.
London : printed by T.M. for Richard Marriot, and are to be sold at his shop in St Dunstan’s Church-yard Fleet-street, 1651 $ Sold
Duodecimo: 6 x 3 1/2 inches . Two volumes bound as one: ad 1 A8, B-K12, L4 (with blanks L3-4); ad II. [A]6 (-A2-6, cancelled as usual, see note below), chi2 (-chi2 blank), B-K12, L4
THIRD EDITION, FIRST ISSUE, and FIRST EDITION, respectively. Bound in contemporary calf, covers ruled in blind with blind-tooled fleuron cornerpieces, early paper label on spine, plain endpapers, red-sprinkled edges; extremities rubbed, spine with some minor repair but unusually well-preserved.The front hinge is tender. The topmost cord is snapped but it is still pretty sound.
“Ignatius his Conclave. Or, his Inthronisation in a late election in Hell” has a separate title page dated 1653; signatures and pagination are continuous. The last two leaves of Ignatius his conclave are blank. “Essayes in divinity” has separate title page, with the imprint “printed by T.M. for Richard Marriot, … 1651”, its own pagination, and register.
“When the younger Donne decided to make Juvenilia more respectable by adding the Essayes in Divinity he felt he must try to suppress his dedication to Sir Henry Vane the younger with confusing results. … It seems probably that the address to Vane, republican and regicide, came to be regarded as impolitic when he was dedicating the composite volume to Francis Lord Newport, a consistent royalist” (Keynes, p. 126). The present volume retains the dedication to Newport, but the one to Vane (A2–6) is cancelled, as usual.
Donne’s ‘Ignatius his Conclave’, a damning, satirical exposé of the Jesuits and the order’s founder, Ignatius of Loyola, appeared one year after his ‘Pseudo-Martyr’, a work of deadly seriousness in which Donne argued that English recusants, rather than risking martyrdom in refusing the oath of allegiance, risked suicide instead. “Pseudo-Martyr” was a work of serious controversial literature; “Ignatius”, while still revealing its author’s erudition, is rich in comedic –if biting- episodes.
Donne begins by telling us that his “little wandring sportful Soule” went traveling through the universe while he lay in an “extasie,” until he “saw all the rooms of Hell open to my sight.” In Hell, he watched as the souls of six learned men contended for the title of Greatest Innovator, that is one “which had so attempted any innovation in this life, that they gave an affront to all antiquitie, and induced doubts, and anxieties, and scruples, and after, a libertie of beleeving what they would; at length established opinions, directly contrary to all established before.”
Each approached Lucifer to make his case, and in each instance Lucifer consulted Ignatius of Loyola, who had made his way up to the side of Lucifer’s throne. For Ignatius, seeing that his position of authority in Hell was at risk “opposed himselfe against all others. He was content they should bee damned, but not that they should governe.”
The six contestants are, in order of appearance, Copernicus, Paracelsus, Machiavelli, Columbus, Pietro Aretino, and Filippo Neri. Copernicus makes his case first, explaining that his heliocentric theory (which “lowers” the Sun and “raises” the Earth) has had the effect of raising poor Lucifer from the lowest position in the heavens to the highest. Lucifer, in a quandary, calls upon Ignatius for his opinion. Ignatius (who by that time had learned a great deal about astronomy from the Jesuit scientists who showed up almost daily in Hell) and, while admitting that Copernicus’ theory is correct, tells Lucifer that Clavius, the great Jesuit astronomer who staunchly denied heliocentrism in defense of the incorrect doctrine of geocentrism, deserves a spot before Copernicus.
Ignatius also rejects the physician-alchemist Paracelsus, telling Lucifer that the Jesuits, who practice medicine even though they are untrained, can kill off just as many people as Paracelsus can with his quackery. Paracelsus also transmutes metals found in Lucifer’s domain, metals that may be better used to fashion expensive gifts for Lucifer’s confrère, the pope. He therefore advises Lucifer to appoint Paracelsus as head of the “Legion of homicide-phisitians.”
The next contender, Machiavelli, addresses Ignatius (Lucifer’s “beloved son”) directly, in an effort to plant suspicion in Lucifer’s mind. Machiavelli praises the followers of Ignatius for bringing equivocation into the world, an art learned from “The secretest Records of Hell itselfe: that is out of the minds of Lucifer, the Pope, and Ignatius (persons truly equivocal).” Although Machiavelli admits that the Jesuits have wrought far greater death and confusion on Earth than he could ever have hoped to, he prides himself on having given the Jesuits an alphabet upon which to build, and having taught them “perfidiousness and dissembling of religion.” He excites such suspicion in Lucifer’s mind that the devil plans to keep Machiavelli on board as a to foil Ignatius, of whom the devil has grown suspicious. But Ignatius, ever the more cunning disputant, reminds Lucifer that Machiavelli does not even believe in the Devil. Moreover, Machiavelli refused to give the popes due credit for their spectacular sins. Ignatius then launches into a long catalogue of the most notorious of those sins, a list so long that Donne, the narrator, remarks, “Truely, I thought this Oration of Ignatius overlong, and I began to thinke of my body which I had so long abandoned, lest it should putrefy, or grow mouldy, or bee buried.”
Ignatius also dispatches Columbus and Aretino yet the pope awards the title of Greatest Innovator to Saint Filippo Neri. Still, Lucifer realizes that he cannot leave out Ignatius all together. His plan to exalt Ignatius is as follows: He will write to the pope and have him order Galileo to lasso the moon, bringing it sufficiently close to Earth that the Jesuits will all be able to sail there together, with Ignatius as their ruler. For while Lucifer cannot die, and therefore Ignatius cannot inherit his throne, he reassures Ignatius that on the moon, he may “beget and propagate many Hells, and enlarge your empire, and so come nearer unto the high seat (i.e. Heaven) which I left at first.”
In the final scene, Pope Boniface appears on throne next to Lucifer’s own. Terrified that Ignatius will take his own place, Lucifer helps the Jesuit depose the pope and hurl him from his seat. Remarking on this final episode, Donne tells the reader, “after I had seene a Jesuit turne the Pope out of his Chaire in Hell, I suspected that that Order would attempt as much at Rome.”
“Donne’s ‘Juvenilia’ are clever and entertaining trifles, most of which were probably written before or soon after 1600 during his youth. His own opinion of them was expressed in a letter written probably to Sir Henry Wotton in 1600:‘Only in obedience I send you some of my paradoxes; I love you and myself and them too well to send them willingly for they carry with them a confession of their lightness & your trouble & my shame. But indeed they were made rather to deceive tyme than her daughter truth: although they have been written in an age when anything is strong enough to overthrow her: if they make you to find better reasons against them they do their office: for they are but swaggerers: quiet enough if you resist them. If perchance they be pretyly guilt, that is there best for they are not hatcht: they are rather alarums to truth to arme her then enemies: & they have only this advantadg to scape from being caled ill things that they are nothings: therefore take heed of allowing any of them least you make another.’
“Owing to their rather free nature they could not be published during Donne’s lifetime, but in 1632, shortly after his death, part of them was licensed by Sir Henry Herbert. …It is not known through what channels the publisher, Henry Seyle, obtained possession of the text, which had been circulating for over thirty years in a number of manuscripts, but it is probable that the publication was quite unauthorized.”(Keynes)
In this edition, Donne’s son added an additional paradox (XII. below), seven additional problems (XI – XVII below), two “Characters”: “The Character of a Scot at First Sight” and “The True Character of a Dunce”. To these were appended an “Essay of Valour” and Maine’s translation of some of Donne’s Latin epigrams. The twelve “Paradoxes” are as follows: I. A Defence of Womens Inconstancy. II. That Women Ought to Paint. III. That by Discord things increase. IV. That Good is More Common Than Evill. V. That all things kill themselves. VI. That it is possible to find some vertue in some Women. VII. That Old men are more fantastike than Young. VIII. That Nature is our worst guide. IX. That only Cowards dare dye. X. That a Wise man is known by much laughing. XI. That the gifts of the Body are better than those of the Minde. XII. That Virginity is a vertue. These are followed by seventeen “Problemes”: I. Why have Bastards best Fortunes? II. Why Puritans make long Sermons? III. Why did the Divell reserve Iesuites till the latter Dayes? IV. Why is there more Variety of Greene, than of any other Colour? V. Why do Young Lay-men so much study Divinity? VI. Why hath the Common Opinion afforded Women Soules? VII. Why are the Fairest falsest? VIII. Why Venus Starre only doth cast a shadow? IX. Why is Venus Starre Multinominous, called both Hesperus and Vesper? X. Why are new officers least oppressing? XI. Why doth the Pox undermine affect so much to undermine the Nose? XII. Why die none for love now? XIII. Why do women delight much in Feathers? XIV. Why doth not Gold soyle the fingers? XV. Why do Greate men of all dependants, choose to preserve their little Pimps? XVI. Why are courtiers sooner Atheists than men of other conditions? XVII. Why are statesmen most incredulous?
Essayes in Divinity:
“Donne’s ‘Essayes in Divinity’ is an attempt by a profoundly philosophical mind to grasp the meaning of time and eternity and the link between the two. In this quest, ‘Essayes’ is ostensibly a commentary upon the first verse of Genesis and of Exodus, but in fact it is an exegesis composed in the manner of the recent humanists of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-centuries that takes the reader well beyond biblical explication. Like the humanists, Donne treats any piece of ancient learning or contemporary scientific thinking as a fair source for speculation, and, like them again, he brings his exegesis to bear equally on personal and general philosophical issues. Marked by this humanism, the exegetical commentary of the first of the two parts of ‘Essayes’ dealing with Genesis seeks to explain the emanation of time out of the infinite, against the background of a universe whose received concept had just been called into question. The exegesis of Exodus that follows in the second part of the work attempts to elucidate how the human consciousness sojourns through time, today as well as yesterday, and succeeds in understanding its destiny during the passage of its days, years and decades. As such, ‘Essayes’ marks an end to more than a decade of personal upheaval in Donne’s life, and, with its clarity of philosophical purpose, it introduced him to the last and great period of his production that confirmed his place in literary history.”(Anthony Raspa, “Essayes in Divinity”, Introduction, p. xiii)
Wing D1861, cf. D1867; ESTC R1266, R209209; Grolier/Donne 28 (this copy); Grolier/ Wither to Prior 297, 295; Keynes, Donne 46, 50; Thomason Tracts 179:E.1359, E.1362