By Wilkie Collins
In Basil's mystery and unconsummated marriage to Margaret Sherwin, and the ensuing horrors of betrayal, madness, and loss of life, Collins finds the bustling, advertisement London of the 1st half the 19th century.
Collins' therapy of adultery surprised modern reviewers, or even this present day the passionate and lurid surroundings he created has the facility to disturb the fashionable reader.
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23 Donne deepens his attack, moreover, by suggesting that both ﬁgures actually combine rather than avoid opposite extremes. ”24 His “abhorre[nce]” implies dread as much as hatred, however, and he is not only rash but also cowardly in giving up the search for “true religion” out of excessive fear. Donne’s comparison of Phrygius to one who “dares marry none” indeed makes him a “desperate coward” like those 28 CHAPTER ONE who “dare” to neglect religion in the ﬁrst verse paragraph or those who “dare dye” in Donne’s paradox concerning suicides: he rashly denies himself the possibility of ﬁnding salvation within a true church because he is overly afraid of the possibility of being damned by the choice of a false one.
While Donne’s warning against spiritual sleep echoes Pauline admonitions like “Let us not sleep, as do others” (1 Thess. 5:6), his warning against running recalls classical, patristic, and humanist attacks on rash behavior that misses the mean. 8). 46 Donne’s descriptions of “runn[ing] away” from spiritual perfection in Pseudo-Martyr and of “running to death unimportun’d” in his paradoxes similarly associate running with foolish extremism. Donne’s conception of a skeptical mean is not wholly unique.
Yet Donne’s directives continue to employ the notion of a skeptical mean. 51 Donne adapts this skeptical method to argue that the individual must not relinquish true religion by accepting either of the extreme “contraries” espoused by opposing pseudo- DONNE AND THE PERSONAL MEAN 35 authorities: “Is not this excuse for mere contraries, / Equally strong? ” (ll. 52 Donne denies that men “stand / In so’ill case here” (ll. 89–90) that temporal rulers can dictate the religious choices of their subjects.