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STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER
he come to snap the chain which bound him so closely to a family of zealots? Was it simple indifference to religion in general? or sacrifice of conscience to worldly interests? or a genuine process of intellectual change? Donne's answer is simple. It was the force of reason. He set to work, he says, to 'survey and digest' the whole body of controversy. He specially studied and elaborately annotated the great Catholic champion, Bellarmine, and 'about his twentieth year' came to be, if not a decided Protestant, yet far less than a decided Papist. This investigation, meanwhile, was but part of a wide range of study. He was 'diverted from legal studies' by the 'worst voluptuousness, which is an hydroptic immoderate desire of human learning and languages.' Undoubtedly, Donne 'sucked at the flagon' with 'a sacred thirst,' and honestly sought for escape from an awkward position by launching upon the boundless ocean of controversy. It is the natural impression of a youthful enthusiast in learning—especially the learning of that day—that a decision can be reached by worrying through endless disputations. The process is more likely to land a man in scepticism or rapid oscillation between different creeds than in any definite creed; and,