John Donne

Evelyn Simpson, Helen Gardner, and T. S. Healy (eds), Selected Prose

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45. To Mr. George Gerrard

[? December 1630]1


This advantage you, and my other friends have, by my frequent Fevers, that I am so much the oftener at the gates of heaven, and this advantage by the solitude and close imprisonment that they reduce me to after, that I am thereby the oftener at my prayers; in which, I shall never leave out your happinesse; and, I doubt not, but amongst his many other blessings, God will adde to you some one for my prayers. A man would almost be content to dye, (i there were no other benefit in death) to hear of so much sorrow, and so much good testimony from good men, as I, (God be blessed pg 170for it) did upon the report of my death. Yet, I perceive it went not through all; for, one writ unto me, that some (and he said of my friends) conceived, that I was not so ill, as I pretended, but withdrew my self, to save charges, and to live at ease, discharged of preaching. It is an unfriendly, and God knows, an ill grounded interpretation: for in these times of necessity, and multitudes of poor there is no possibility of saving to him that hath any tendernesse in him; and for affecting my ease, I have been always more sorry, when I could not preach, than any could be, that they could not hear me. It hath been my desire, (and God may be pleased to grant it me) that I might die in the Pulpit; if not that, yet that I might take my death in the Pulpit, that is, die the sooner by occasion of my former labours. I thanke you, for keeping our George in your memory, I hope God reserves it for so good a friend as you are, to send me the first good newes of him. For the Diamond Lady, you may safely deliver Roper, whatsoever belongs to me, and he will give you a discharge for the money. For my L. Percy, we shall speake of it, when we meet at London; which, as I do not much hope before Christmas, so I do not much fear at beginning of Tearm; for I have in treated one of my fellowes to preach to my Lord Mayor, at Pauls upon Christmas day, and reserved Candlemas day to my self for that service, about which time also, will fall my Lent Sermon, except my Lord Chamberlaine beleeve me to be dead, and leave me out; for as long as I live, and am not speechlesse, I would not decline that service. I have better leasure to write, than you to read, yet I will not oppresse you with too much letter, God blesse you, and your sonne, as

  • Your poor friend and humble servant in Christ Jesus
  • J. Donne

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Editor’s Note
1 This letter, which was printed in the second edition of Donne's Poems in 1635, as well as in the Letters, 1651, is in the Poems dated 7 January 1630 (i.e. 1631). But since it speaks of the arrangements that Donne has made for the sermon at Christmas at St. Paul's, it must have been written before Christmas.
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