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The Rhetoric of the Conscience in Donne, Herbert, and Vaughan

Ceri Sullivan


Early modern theologians such as William Perkins, William Ames, Jeremy Taylor, and Richard Baxter see the rectified conscience as a syllogism worked out in partnership with God, which compares actions to the law, and comes to a conclusion. It is thus a linguistic act. John Donne, George Herbert, and Henry Vaughan focus on the points where the conversation breaks down. In their poems, hearts refuse to confess, laws are forgotten or mixed up, and judgements are omitted. Between them, God and the poets take decisive action, torturing, inscribing, fragmenting, and writhing the heart in a set of tr ... More

Keywords: William Perkins, William Ames, Jeremy Taylor, Richard Baxter, conscience, rhetoric, John Donne, Henry Vaughan, George Herbert

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2008 Print ISBN-13: 9780199547845
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199547845.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Ceri Sullivan, author
Reader in English, Bangor University
Author Webpage