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awake, and tell me, sayes this Text Quis homo? who is that other that thou talkest of ? What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death?'
This last extract illustrates another interest of these sermons. Donne is a master of Death and Judgment, but after all he could not live in them altogether. There is in his sermons less than one would expect of the contemporary life which he had lived so fully. But there are some curious glimpses of it which are interesting to-day. This last extract gives us the frequent executions of these times, the procession from Newgate to Tyburn which was one of the sights of London till near the end of the 18th century. And another passage, which I will quote presently, opens with a curious simile which is a striking exhibition of the part played by the gallows in the life of all Europe three hundred years ago. Elsewhere we get a picture of the horrible habits of burying in those days, particularly in times of plague, and in St Paul's. Other details of Donne's time are that it was only in his predecessor's day that the Corporation of London were invited to sit in the choir of St Paul's as they still do; that men often kept their hats on in the church, a practice of which he complains more than once ; that humane men in those days looked upon the discovery of gunpowder as a beneficial invention,
by which (says Donne, unable to look forward 300 years) wars come to quicker ends than heretofore and the great expense of blood is avoided'; that the scandal of clergymen obtaining preferments by promising pensions out of their incomes to those by whose means they were btained, was then so notorious that Donne openly rebukes it from the pulpit; that Donne had seen Henri IV interrupt the audience of an ambassador to kneel and pray at the call of a church bell; that preaching was then so much the greatest of the clergyman's duties that Donne seems to make few mentions of the others; that he who was no Low Church Puritan habitually speaks of himself, even in the days of Laud, not as Priest but as Minister or Preacher; that he has no hesitation whatever in quoting and praising Luther; that there was then frequent applause in church during sermons; and, last and best, that there was 'cheerful street music in the winter mornings' in the cities of those days, to
which Donne compares the joy administered by the servants of God’in the holy Sacrament, comparing himself, the preacher, to the sad and doleful bellman that waked you before and, though but by his noise, prepared you for their music.'
But such interest as things of this kind give is of course only incidental. The essential interest is that of the sermons themselves as sermons. I have spoken of their wonderful persistence or continuity and compared it to the never-ceasing pursuit of wave by wave in the
But it may perhaps be even more fitly compared to the windings of a great river which again and again seems to be losing itself or turning back towards its source, as Donne's thoughts constantly return upon and correct their predecessors; and yet, as the river in spite of his windings is all the while making sure way to the sea, so Donne, when he is really himself, never forgets the goal to which he is conducting us and never fails to set us safely there before he ends.
All this may be seen, not merely in the complete text of the sermons, but even in Mr Pearsall Smith's selected passages, especially in the longer extracts such as that entitled Reason and Faith.' They illustrate the extraordinary fullness of Donne's mind, quotation following upon quotation, fancy upon fancy, argument upon argument, and often, one must confess, conceit upon conceit.
. He sometimes makes his modern readers regret his power of visual and physical imagination, for his favourite subject for its exercise is that of the body after death.
But the greatest of the gifts which give him his high place among the masters of English prose is his sheer eloquence. There are few more splendid flights in any language than that famous outburst on Eternity which is an oasis is an otherwise dull and pedantic sermon.
‘A state but of one Day, because no Night shall over-take, or determine it, but such a Day, as is not of a thousand yeares, which is the longest measure in the Scriptures, but of a thousand millions of millions of generations : Qui nec proceditur hesterno, nec excluditur crastino, A day that hath no pridie, nor postridie, yesterday doth not usher it in, nor tomorrow shall not drive it out. Methusalém, with all his hundreds of yeares, was but a Mushrome of a nights growth, to this day, And all the foure Monarchies, with all their thousands of yeares, And all the powerfull Kings, and all the beautifull Queenes of this world, were but as a bed of flowers, some gathered at six, some at seaven, some at eight, All in one Morning, in respect of this Day. In all the two thousand yeares of Nature, before the Law given by Moses, And the two thousand yeares of Law, before the Gospel given by Christ, And the two thousand of Grace, which are running now, (of which last houre we have heard three quarters strike, more then fifteen hundred of this last two thousand spent) In all this six thousand, and in all those, which God may be pleased to adde, In domo patris, In this House of his Fathers, there was never heard quarter clock to strike, never seen minute glasse to turne.'
And the great passage in the sermon on the death of James I, strange as the language used about him sounds to modern ears, does not come very far behind this in beauty.
But it must not be supposed that Donne, who, like Bossuet, is greatest when he has death for his subject, treats death always and only as the destined doom of all men, the inevitable end of our business and our pleasures, the gate of judgment, the King of Terrors. If those who listen to him are most commonly filled with trembling and awe, his voice also knows the way of consolation. He is a Christian preacher, and does not forget that, awful as death must always be, to a Christian it has a forward look as well as a backward. The Collect for Easter Eve prays that “through the grave and gate of death we may pass to our joyful resurrection’; and thousands of sermons have been preached on that thought and with those familiar words in the preacher's mind. Is there one which contains a passage more beautiful than that which is here entitled The Gate of Death,' and which begins with that sad and curious picture, to which I have already alluded, of the place of execution as the first thing man saw in those days as he drew close to a town? There are greater things in the book. But there is nothing which in a small space shows more of the characteristics of Donne: the beauty of his thought and also its curiousness; his mingling of the life of his day with the life of eternity; his vivid directness and actuality; the Latin sentences which he scatters about his English with such surprising felicity ; Vol. 233,-No. 463.
the ease and abundance of it all, which yet never affects its clarity; the note of sincerity and truth, of an individual and personal voice, which neither his art nor his learning ever long conceal. It shall be my last quotation, and I shall do best to end with it, without adding any more words of my own.
As he that travails weary and late towards a great City, is glad when he comes to a place of execution, becaus he knows that is neer the town; so when thou comest to the gateof death, glad of that, for it is but one step from that to thy Jerusalem. Christ hath brought us in some neerness to Salvation, as he is vere Salvator mundi, in that we know, that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world : and he hath brought it neerer than that, as he is Salvator corporis sui, in that we know, That Christ is the head of the Church, and the Saviour of that body : And neerer than that, as he is Salvator tuus sanctus, In that we know, He is the Lord our God, the holy One of Israel, our Saviour : But neerest of all, in the Ecce Salvator tuus venit, Behold thy Salvation commeth. It is not only promised in the Prophets, nor only writ in the Gospel, nor only seal'd in the Sacraments, nor only prepared in the visitations of the holy Ghost, but, Ecce, behold it, now, when thou canst behold nothing else. The sun is setting to thee, and that for ever; thy houses and furnitures, thy gardens and orchards, thy titles and offices, thy wife and children are departing from thee, and that for ever; a cloud of faintnesse is come over thine eyes, and a cloud of sorrow over all theirs; when his hand that loves thee best hangs tremblingly over thee to close thine eyes, Ecce Salvator tuus venit, behold then a new light, thy Saviours hand shall open thine eyes, and in his light thou shalt see light; and thus shalt see, that though in the eyes of men thou lye upon that bed, as a Statue on a Tomb, yet in the eyes of God, thou standest as a Colossus, one foot in one, another in another land; one foot in the grave, but the other in heaven; one hand in the womb of the earth, and the other in Abrahams bosome; and then vere prope, Salvation is truly neer thee, and neerer than when thou believedst, which is our last word.'
Art. 6.—THE LEVANT COMPANY AND ITS RIVALS,
1. State Papers : Turkey' and 'Levant Company' MSS.
Public Record Office. 2. Historical Manuscripts Commission : Ninth Report,
Part II (1884); Thirteenth Report, Part II (1893). 3. The Present State of the Ottoman Empire. By Sir Paul
Ricaut. 6th Ed., 1686. 4. The State of the Turkey Commerce considered from its
Origin to the Present Time. By Sir James Porter (in Observations on the Religion, Law, Government and
Manners of the Turks. 2nd Ed., 1771). 5. Une Ambassade française en Orient sous Louis XV:
La Mission du Marquis de Villeneuve (1728-1741). By
Albert Vandal. Paris, 1887. 6. Les Voyages du Marquis de Nointel (1670-1680). By
Albert Vandal. Paris, 1900. 7. Voyage en Syrie et en Egypte pendant les années 1783, 1784 et 1785. By C. F. Volney.
By C. F. Volney. Paris, 1787.
The formation of a new company for the extension of British trade in the Near East is an event welcome to those who have been lamenting the decline of our commerce with that part of the world; but it also possesses a wider interest for the student of England's history. The new Levant Company' represents an attempt to revive, in a modern form, one of our oldest mercantile enterprises—to link up, as it were, the 20th century with the days of Queen Elizabeth, when the original association of that name first saw the light. The birth of that association and its earlier history were related in a recent number of this Review.* Here it is proposed to sketch briefly its fortunes through the ensuing two hundred years.
The whole of the 17th century was for English commerce generally a period of steady progress; and in this development the Merchants of England trading into the Levant Seas' bore a leading part. Year after year their ships went forth, laden with the cloths of Worcester and