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be remembered that during that period his grandfather was deprived of his estates and an uncle was driven out of his house by a mob. In 1581 another uncle, Father Jasper Heywood, arrived in England on a mission from Rome, and was ultimately put into prison, where he languished for some years. Under persecution such as this, religious belief either breaks down or is intensified: one can imagine how the supreme importance of religion was impressed upon John Donne. It is with great difficulty that a man, even if he so desires, rids himself of the teachings of his childhood, and it is important to note that an element of the outlook which Donne absorbed in early life remained with him to the end. Meanwhile, on the secular side the lad passed for a prodigy. From 1580 to 1583 he had tutors who grounded him in Latin and French. Some one, possibly the Uncle Jasper referred to above, likened him to Pico della Mirandola, who " was rather born wise than made so by study.” In 1584, at the age of eleven, he was entered at Hart Hall, Oxford, with his brother Henry, who was a year younger than himself. It was no uncommon thing for Catholic children to be sent to the universities very young, that they might have the benefit of the course without taking the oaths required of more mature students. Here Donne stayed for two years, according to Walton, and then, without attempting to take a degree, which involved the oath of allegiance, was transferred to Cambridge. His residence in Oxford is important chiefly because it seems probable that there he first became interested in the study of Spanish thought and literature. There is no doubt that he was unusually well read in the mystics of that nation, and Oxford at this time was a centre of Spanish culture. At Cambridge, where he resided until 1589, “ he was," says Walton, “a most laborious student, often changing his studies, but endeavouring to take no degree, for the reasons formerly mentioned.” At Cambridge he probably studied mathematics and the sciences.
At the age of seventeen, then, Donne had completed five years of university training, and, having brilliant abilities and a vast desire for knowledge, was regarded as a phenomenon of learning. Throughout all this period Walton says that his tutors “were advised to instil into him particular principles of the Romish Church; of which those tutors professed, though secretly, themselves to be members.” The next information we have concerning him, and the first which is attested by documentary evidence, is his entry at Lincoln's Inn in 1592.
The reader has probably been annoyed by the reservations implied above concerning statements by Izaak Walton in his “Life of Dr John Donne," and doubtless argues that since Walton knew Donne his evidence should be accepted. As a matter of fact, Walton knew Donne only during the last and most saintly
period of his life; and, exquisite piece of work though his account is, it suffers as a biography because he was concerned to gloss over the earlier portion of Donne's life in order to make it fit in with the highly edifying end, and because his knowledge of the facts of Donne's younger life was inadequate. An example occurs at the point which we have reached.
At some period of his youth Donne travelled extensively in Spain and Italy. Walton says that, having accompanied the Earl of Essex on the Cadiz and Azores expeditions, which took place in 1596 and 1597, Donne“ returned not back to England, till he had stayed some years, first in Italy, and then in Spain.” Now this is impossible, for during these very years Donne held a promising post in England. What is more probable is that, having completed his university training and come into a share of his father's wealth, Donne followed the custom of the well-to-do youth of his day, and travelled on the Continent. This would account for the two years following 1589, of which no record is extant, and is supported by a portrait of Donne which appears in the 1635 and 1639 editions of his works. It shows him as a youth, and is inscribed Anno Dni. 1591. Ætatis suæ 18. Antes muerto que mudado. The Spanish motto seems rather significant, but nothing certain can be deduced. However he had spent the time since leaving Cambridge, Donne was entered at Lincoln's Inn on May 6, 1592. He had already been a member of Thavies Inn, where his brother Henry had chambers. The latter's career was to be tragically short. In the following year he was arrested for having sheltered a Romish priest, and was thrown into the Clink, where he died of gaol fever, being then nineteen years old.
If the biographer of Donne is lamentably short of facts as material, at least the physical appearance of his subject is well known to him, for there exist no fewer than four portraits of Donne. The first of these is that mentioned above, and before attempting to reconstruct from his poetry the life of this remarkable young man it may be well to see if any aid can be obtained from the portrait, dated one year previously. Certain details of the face are clear enough; we find a large nose coarsely moulded at the base, and thick, full lips. Both of these features are generally understood to indicate a sensual strain in the character. The eyes are large, and look as though they were prominent, and here lies the crux of the face. If those eyes were bold and staring, then the arrogance which is usually spoken of in connexion with the painting might be assumed; but as they may have been clear and keen, or intelligent and sensitive, it is difficult to see how such a deduction can be made. The expression of a face depends so much upon the eyes that an arrogant look can hardly be assumed. Something there is, however, which has probably given rise to the idea, and which is the most striking thing about the portrait
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an exceedingly mature look of the face. The portrait looks out at one with the appraising gaze of a man of thirty. The signs of youth are remarkably slight, and chiefly external. Certain contours of the face are inevitably smooth, for after all he was but a lad of eighteen; the Spanish tag in the right-hand top corner corresponds to the forgotten luggage-label of modern days. There remain to be noted the dress, which is more or less military in type, and the grip of the right hand on a sword-hilt. If we are right in supposing that Donne was abroad between 1589 and 1591 it is quite possible that he served in some minor foreign campaign, for he was emphatically of the type that welcomes trouble wherever it may be found. It is more probable that the dress represents merely some fad for simplicity, and that the sword-hilt is simply a claim to rank.
Whether the face was a pleasant one, then, can hardly be determined; it certainly shows signs of a passionate nature. What is certain is that in viewing it one feels the impact of a weight of level, piercing intelligence seldom found in one so young. No one need be surprised if a consciousness of such mental powers resulted in arrogance; the phenomenon is not unknown.
One other thing calls for remark. It follows almost as a corollary to what has been said of the remarkable maturity of this portrait that the face shows no sign of the casual gaiety of youth.