Page:Studies of a Biographer 3.djvu/92
STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER
This passage must be enough to illustrate the vigour with which Donne can often throw aside his 'mouse and elephant,' and his elaborate refinements on grammatical and logical niceties, and glow with genuine fire, though frequently we have to exclude so much uncongenial matter that our appreciation ceases to be spontaneous. And there is perhaps the final interest of Donne. In one way he has partly become obsolete because he belonged so completely to the dying epoch. The scholasticism in which his mind was steeped was to become hateful and then contemptible to the rising philosophy; the literature which he had assimilated went to the dust-heaps; preachers condescended to drop their doctorial robes; downright common-sense came in with Tillotson and South in the next generation; and not only the learning but the congenial habit of thought became unintelligible. Donne's poetical creed went the
death, when thou shalt have evidence enough of thy Maker by feeling hell. 'I respite thee but a few hours, but six hours, but till midnight. Wake then, and then, dark and alone, hear God ask thee then, and remember that I asked thee now, Is there a God? And if thou darest, say No!'