[PW] ?Donne, Bacon, and island metaphor

John Henderson jrhenderson9 at gmail.com
Tue Feb 12 10:31:22 PST 2019

Gillian Beer, in "The Making of a Cliché: 'No Man is an Island'"
European Journal of English Studies 1997, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 33-47, at
least addresses the issue, writing "John Donne himself may well have
had in mind Francis Bacon's essay 'Of Goodnesse and Goodnesse of
Nature' where Bacon comments that 'If a Man be Gracious, and Courteous
to Strangers, it shewes he is a Citizen of the World, and that his
Heart is no Island, cut off from other Lands; but a Continent, that
joynes to them'. Two uses do not, of course, make a cliché. Moreover,
Donne enlarges the scope of Bacon's passage to include mortality as
well as largesse of response ('for whom the bell tolls' as well as 'a
citizen of the world')."

John Henderson

On Sun, Feb 10, 2019 at 5:54 PM John Henderson <jrhenderson9 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Help requested for any insights, information, or resources concerning
> any connection between the following two quotations.
>  Francis Bacon (1561–1626): "If a man be gracious and courteous to
> strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart
> is no island, cut off from other lands, but a continent, that joins to
> them."
> – from  "Of Goodness and Goodness Of Nature" originally written in
> 1612 and included in a collection of essays published in 1625.
> John Donne (1572–1631): "No man is an island, entire of itself; every
> man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main."
> – written in December 1623 and included in "Devotions upon emergent
> occasions" published in 1624.
> Here's is the query I received:
> "The two lines seem too close to be entirely independent, but it seems
> not only that there might have been influence in either direction, or
> that both men were influenced by a common source, maybe it was a
> commonplace at the time. Bacon and Donne were friends  - Bacon saw
> Donne's first sermon in 1617.  I'm interested in finding out if anyone
> knowledgeable has commented on the influences in this passage - I'm
> sure scholars of these men must have noticed this many times."
> A GoogleBooks search has also failed to yield any help. I have not
> found any answers in my search of MLA Bibliography or JStor, yet. I've
> sent for a couple articles through ILL that may or may not shed light.
> John Henderson
> retired librarian

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