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John Donne


by John Donne




I HAVE had three births; one, natural, when I came into the world; one, supernatural, when I entered into the ministry; and now, a preternatural birth, in returning to life, from this sickness. In my second birth, your Highness' royal father vouchsafed me his hand, not only to sustain me in it, but to lead me to it. In this last birth, I myself am born a father: this child of mine, this book, comes into the world, from me, and with me. And therefore, I presume (as I did the father, to the Father) to present the son to the Son; this image of my humiliation, to the lively image of his Majesty, your Highness. It might be enough, that God hath seen my devotions: but examples of good kings are commandments; and Hezekiah writ the meditations of his sickness, after his sickness. Besides, as I have lived to see (not as a witness only, but as a partaker), the happiness of a part of your royal father's time, so shall I live (in my way) to see the happiness of the times of your Highness too, if this child of mine, inanimated by your gracious acceptation, may so long preserve alive the memory of

Your Highness humblest and devotedest,



Introduction, by Izaak Walton

The Stations of the Sickness

1. The first alteration, the first grudging of the sickness

2. The strength and the function of the senses, and other faculties, change and fail

3. The patient takes his bed

4. The physician is sent for

5. The physician comes

6. The physician is afraid

7. The physician desires to have others joined with him

8. The king sends his own physician

9. Upon their consultation, they prescribe

10. They find the disease to steal on insensibly, and endeavor to meet with it so

11. They use cordials, to keep the venom and the malignity of the disease from the heart

12. They apply pigeons, to draw the vapours from the head

13. The sickness declares the infection and malignity thereof by spots

14. The Physicians observe these accidents to have fallen upon the critical days

15. I sleep not day or night

16. From the bells of the church adjoining, I am daily remembered of my burial in the funerals of others

17. Now, this bell tolling softly for another, says to me, Thou must die

18. The bell rings out, and tells me in him, that I am dead

19. At last the physicians, after a long and stormy voyage, see land: They have so good signs of the concoction of the disease, as that they may safely proceed to purge

20. Upon these indications of digested matter, they proceed to purge

21. God prospers their practice, and he, by them, calls Lazarus out of his tomb, me out of my bed

22. The physicians consider the root and occasion, the embers, and coals, and fuel of the disease, and seek to purge or correct that

23. They warn me of the fearful danger of relapsing


The Anglican Library, This HTML edition copyright 2000.

John Donne

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