The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading & Publishing

The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing was founded to create a global network for book historians working in a broad range of scholarly disciplines. Research addresses the composition, mediation, reception, survival, and transformation of written communication in material forms from marks on stone to new media. Perspectives range from the individual reader to the transnational communication network. With more than a thousand members in over forty countries, SHARP works in concert with affiliated academic organizations around the world to support the study of book history in all its forms.

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The Will (1633)

    Before I sigh my last gaspe, let me breath, 
    Great Love, some Legacies; Here I bequeath 
    Mine eyes to Argus, if mine eyes can see, 
    If they be blinde, then Love, I give them thee;
    My tongue to Fame; to’Embassadours mine eares;
      To women, or the sea, my teares.
    Thou, Love, hast taught mee heretofore
  By making mee serve her who’had twenty more,
That I should give to none, but such, as had too much before. 
    My constancie I to the planets give;
    My truth to them, who at the Court doe live;
    Mine ingenuity and opennesse,
    To Jesuites; to Buffones my pensivenesse;
    My silence to’any, who abroad hath beene;
      My money to a Capuchin.
    Thou Love taught’st me, by appointing mee
  To love there, where no love receiv’d can be,
Onely to give to such as have an incapacitie.

    My faith I give to Roman Catholiques;
    All my good works unto the Schismaticks
    Of Amsterdam: my best civility
    And Courtship, to an Universitie;
    My modesty I give to souldiers bare;
      My patience let gamesters share.
    Thou Love taughtst mee, by making mee
  Love her that holds my love disparity,
Onely to give to those that count my gifts indignity.

    I give my reputation to those
    Which were my friends; Mine Industry to foes;
    To Schoolemen I bequeath my doubtfulnesse;
    My sicknesse to Physitians, or excesse;
    To Nature all that I in Ryme have writ; 
      And to my company my wit.
    Thou Love, by making mee adore
  Her, who begot this love in mee before,
Taughtst me to make, as though I gave, when I do but restore.

    To him for whom the passing bell next tolls,
    I give my physick bookes; my writen rowles
    Of Morall counsels, I to Bedlam give;
    My brazen medals, unto them which live
    In want of bread; To them which passe among
      All forrainers, mine English tongue.
    Thou, Love, by making mee love one
  Who thinkes her friendship a fit portion
For yonger lovers, dost my gifts thus disproportion.

    Therefore I’ll give no more; but I’ll undoe
    The world by dying; because love dies too.
    Then all your beauties will bee no more worth
    Than gold in Mines, where none doth draw it forth;
    And all your graces no more use shall have
      Than a Sun dyall in a grave.
    Thou Love taughtst mee, by making mee
  Love her, who doth neglect both mee and thee,
To’invent, and practise this one way, to’annihilate all three.
John Donne [1572–1631]