Donne's position among English poets, regarded from the historical and what we like to call scientific point of view, has been defined with learning and discrimination by Mr. Courthope in his History of English Poetry. As a phenomenon of curious interest for the student of the history of thought and literary fashions, there it is. Mr. Courthope is far too well-informed and judicious a critic to explain Donne's subtle thought and erudite conceits by a reference to 'Marini and his followers'. Gongora and Du Bartas are alike passed over in silence. What we are shown is the connexion of 'metaphysical wit' with the complex and far-reaching changes in men's conception of Nature which make the seventeenth century perhaps the greatest epoch in human thought since human thinking began.
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