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of forbidden things. His studies of sensuality, however, are for the most part normal, even in their grossness. There was in him more of the Yahoo than of the decadent. There was an excremental element in his genius as in the genius of that other gloomy dean, Jonathan Swift. Donne and Swift were alike satirists born under Saturn. They laughed more frequently from disillusion than from happiness. Donne, it must be admitted, turned his disillusion to charming as well as hideous uses. Go and Catch a Falling Star is but one of a series of delightful lyrics in disparagement of women. In several of the Elegies, however, he throws away his lute and comes to the satirist's more prosaic business. He writes frankly as a man in search of bodily experiences :

Whoever loves, if he do not propose

The right true end of love, he's one that goes
To sea for nothing but to make him sick.

In Love's Progress he lets his fancy dwell on the detailed geography of a woman's body, with the sick imagination of a schoolboy, till the beautiful seems almost beastly. In The Anagram and The Comparison he plays the Yahoo at the expense of all women by the similes he uses in insulting two of them. In The Perfume he relates the story of an intrigue with a girl whose father discovered his presence in the house as a result of his using scent. Donne's jest about this is suggestive of his uncontrollable passion for ugliness:

Had it been some bad smell, he would have thought
That his own feet, or breath, that smell had brought.

It may be contended that in The Perfume he was describing an imaginary experience, and indeed we have his own words on record: "I did best when I had least truth for my subjects." But even if we did not accept Mr. Gosse's commonsense explanation of these words, we should feel that the details of the story have a vividness that springs straight from reality. It is difficult to believe that Donne had not actually lived in terror of the gigantic manservant who was set to spy on the lovers :

The grim eight-foot-high iron-bound serving-man
That oft names God in oaths, and only then;
He that to bar the first gate doth as wide

As the great Rhodian Colossus stride,

Which, if in hell no other pains there were,

Makes me fear hell, because he must be there.

But the most interesting of all the sensual intrigues of Donne, from the point of view of biography, especially since Mr. Gosse gave it such eminent significance in that Life of John Donne in which he made a living man out of a mummy, is that of which we have the story in Jealousy and His Parting from Her. It is another story of furtive and forbidden love. Its theme is an intrigue carried on under a Husband's towering eyes,

That flamed with oily sweat of jealousy.

A characteristic touch of grimness is added to the story by making the husband a deformed man. Donne, however, merely laughs at his deformity, as he bids the lady laugh at the jealousy that reduces her to tears:

O give him many thanks, he is courteous,
That in suspecting kindly warneth us.
We must not, as we used, flout openly,

In scoffing riddles, his deformity;

Nor at his board together being sat,

With words, nor touch, scarce looks adulterate.

And he proposes that, now that the husband seems to have discovered them, they shall henceforth carry on their intrigue at some distance from where

He, swol'n and pampered with great fare,
Sits down and snorts, cag'd in his basket chair.

It is an extraordinary story, if it is true. It throws a scarcely less extraordinary light on the nature of Donne's mind, if he invented it. At the same time, I do not think the events it relates played the important part which Mr. Gosse assigns to them in Donne's spiritual biography. It is impossible to read Mr. Gosse's two volumes without getting the impres

sion that "the deplorable but eventful liaison," as he calls it, was the most fruitful occurrence in Donne's life as a poet. He discovers traces of it in one great poem after another— even in the Nocturnal upon St. Lucy's Day, which is commonly supposed to relate to the Countess of Bedford, and in The Funeral, the theme of which Professor Grierson takes to be the mother of George Herbert. I confess that the oftener I read the poetry of Donne the more firmly I become convinced that, far from being primarily the poet of desire gratified and satiated, he is essentially the poet of frustrated love. He is often described by the historians of literature as the poet who finally broke down the tradition of Platonic love. I believe that, far from this being the case, he is the supreme example of a Platonic lover among the English poets. He was usually Platonic under protest, but at other times exultantly so. Whether he finally overcame the more consistent Platonism of his mistress by the impassioned logic of The Ecstasy we have no means of knowing. If he did, it would be difficult to resist the conclusion that the lady who wished to continue to be his passionate friend and to ignore the physical side of love was Anne More, whom he afterwards married. If not, we may look for her where we will, whether in Magdalen Herbert (already a young widow who had borne ten children when he first met her) or in the Countess of Bedford or in another. The name is not important, and one is not concerned to know it, especially when one remembers Donne's alarming

curse on :

Whoever guesses, thinks, or dreams he knows

Who is my mistress.

One sort of readers will go on speculating, hoping to discover real people in the shadows, as they speculate about Swift's Stella and Vanessa and his relations to them. It is enough for us to feel, however, that these poems railing at or glorying in Platonic love are no mere goldsmith's compliments, like the rhymed letters to Mrs. Herbert and Lady Bedford. Miracles of this sort are not wrought save by the

heart. We do not find in them the underground and sardonic element that appears in so much of Donne's merely amorous work. We no longer see him as a sort of Vulcan hammering out the poetry of base love, raucous, powerful, mocking. He becomes in them a child of Apollo, as far as his temperament will allow him. He makes music of so grave and stately a beauty that one begins to wonder at all the critics who have found fault with his rhythms-from Ben Jonson, who said that " for not keeping accent, Donne deserved hanging," down to Coleridge, who declared that his "muse on dromedary trots," and described him as rhyme's sturdy cripple." Coleridge's quatrain on Donne is, without doubt, an unequalled masterpiece of epigrammatic criticism. But Donne rode no dromedary. In his greatest poems he rides Pegasus like a master, even if he does weigh the poor beast down by carrying an encyclopædia in his saddle-bags.

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Not only does Donne remain a learned man on his Pegasus, however: he also remains a humorist, a serious fantastic. Humour and passion pursue each other through the labyrinth of his being, as we find in those two beautiful poems, The Relic and The Funeral, addressed to the lady who had given him a bracelet of her hair. In the former he foretells what will happen if ever his grave is broken up and his skeleton discovered with

A bracelet of bright hair about the bone.

People will fancy, he declares, that the bracelet is a device of lovers

To make their souls at the last busy day
Meet at the grave and make a little stay.

Bone and bracelet will be worshipped as relics-the relics of a Magdalen and her lover. He conjectures with a quiet smile :

All women shall adore us, and some men.

He warns his worshippers, however, that the facts are far different from what they imagine, and tells the miracle

seekers what in reality were "the miracles we harmless lovers wrought":

First we loved well and faithfully,

Yet knew not what we lov'd, nor why;
Difference of sex no more we knew
Than our guardian angels do;

Coming and going, we

Perchance might kiss, but not between those meals;

Our hands ne'er touch'd the seals,

Which nature, injur'd by late law, sets free :
These miracles we did; but now, alas!

All measure, and all language, I should pass,
Should I tell what a miracle she was.

In The Funeral he returns to the same theme:

Whoever comes to shroud me do not harm

Nor question much

That subtle wreath of hair that crowns my arm;
The mystery, the sign you must not touch,
For 'tis my outward soul.

In this poem, however, he finds less consolation than before in the too miraculous nobleness of their love:

Whate'er she meant by it, bury it with me,

For since I am

Love's martyr, it might breed idolatry,
If into other hands these relics came;
As 'twas humility

To afford to it all that a soul can do,

So, 'tis some bravery,

That, since you would have none of me, I bury some

of you.

In The Blossom he is in a still more earthly mood, and declares that, if his mistress remains obdurate, he will return to London, where he will find another mistress:

As glad to have my body as my mind.

The Primrose is a further appeal for a less intellectual love :

Should she

Be more than woman, she would get above

All thought of sex, and think to move

My heart to study her, and not to love.

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