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Robert Henrick

in 1629, to the vicarage of Dean Prior in Devonshire. After about twenty years' residence in this rural parish, Herrick was ejected from his living by the storms of the civil war, which, as Jeremy Taylor says, 'dashed the vessel of the church and state all in pieces.' Whatever regret the poet may have felt on being turned adrift on the world, he could have experienced little on parting with his parishioners, for he describes them in much the same way as Crabbe portrayed the natives of Suffolk, among whom he was cast in early life, as a 'wild amphibious race,' rude almost as salvages,' and 'churlish


as the seas.' Herrick gives us a glimpse of his own character

Born I was to meet with age,
And to walk life's pilgrimage:
Much, I know, of time is spent ;
Tell I can't what's resident.
Howsoever, cares adieu !

I'll have nought to say to you;
But I'll spend my coming hours
Drinking wine and crown'd with flowers.

This light and genial temperament would enable the poet to ride out the storm in composure. About the time that he lost his vicarage, Herrick appears to have published his works. His Noble Numbers, or Pious Pieces, are dated 1647; his Hesperides, or the Works both Humane and Divine of Robert Herrick, Esquire,' in 1648. The clerical prefix to his name seems now to have been abandoned by the poet, and there are certainly many pieces in his second volume which would not become one ministering at the altar, or belonging to the sacred profession. Herrick lived in Westminster, and was supported or assisted by the wealthy royalists. He associated with the jovial spirits of the age. He quaffed the mighty bowl' with Ben Jonson, but could not, he tells us, thrive in frenzy,' like rare Ben, who seems to have excelled all his fellow-compotators in sallies of wild wit and high imaginations. The recollection of these brave translunary scenes' of the poets inspired the muse of Herrick in the following


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After the Restoration, Herrick was replaced in his Devonshire vicarage. How he was received by the 'rude salvages' of Dean Prior, or how he felt on quitting the gaieties of the metropolis, to resume his clerical duties and seclusion, is not recorded. He was now about seventy years of age, and was probably tired of canary sack and tavern jollities. He had an undoubted taste for the pleasures of a country life, if we may judge from his works, and the fondness with which he dwells on old English festivals and rural customs. Though his rhymes were sometimes wild, he says his life was chaste, and he repented of his errors :—

For these my unbaptised rhymes, Writ in my wild unhallowed times, For every sentence, clause, and word, That's not inlaid with thec, O Lord!

Forgive me, God, and blot each line
Out of my book that is not thine;
But if, 'mongst all thou findest one
Worthy thy benediction,

That one of all the rest shall be
The glory of my work and me.

The poet should better have evinced the sincerity and depth of his contrition, by blotting out the unbaptised rhymes himself, or not reprinting them; but the vanity of the author probably triumphed over the penitence of the Christian. Gaiety was the dess fair and free, that did not move happily in natural element of Herrick. His muse was a godserious numbers. The time of the poet's death has not been ascertained, but he must have arrived at a ripe old age.

many years after his death. They are now again in The poetical works of Herrick lay neglected for have been set to music, and are sung and quoted by esteem, especially his shorter lyrics, some of which all lovers of song. His verses, Cherry Ripe, and Gather the Rose-buds while ye may (though the sentitaken from Spenser), possess a delicious mixture of ment and many of the expressions of the latter are playful fancy and natural feeling. Those To Blosof pathos that wins its way to the heart. They soms, To Daffodils, and To Primroses, have a tinge abound, like all Herrick's poems, in lively imagery and conceits; but the pensive moral feeling predominates, and we feel that the poet's smiles might as such delicate fancies and snatches of lyrical melody well be tears. Shakspeare and Jonson had scattered among their plays and masques-Milton's Comus and the Arcades had also been published-Carew and Suckling were before him-Herrick was, therefore, not without models of the highest excellence in this species of composition. There is, however, in his songs and anacreontics, an unforced gaiety and natural tenderness, that show he wrote chiefly from the impulses of his own cheerful and happy nature. The select beauty and picturesqueness of Herrick's language, when he is in his happiest vein, is worthy of his fine conceptions; and his versification is harmony itself. His verses bound and flow like some exquisite lively melody, that echoes nature, by wood and dell, and presents new beauties at every turn and winding. The strain is short, and sometimes fantastic; but the notes long linger in the mind, and take their place for ever in the memory. One or two words, such as 'gather the rose-buds,' call up a summer landscape, with youth, beauty, flowers, and music. This is, and ever must be, true poetry.

To Blossoms.

Fair pledges of a fruitful tree,
Why do you fall so fast?
Your date is not so past,
But you may stay yet here a while,
To blush and gently smile,
And go at last.

What! were ye born to be

An hour or half's delight, And so to bid good-night? 'Tis pity nature brought ye forth Merely to show your worth, And lose you quite.

But you are lovely leaves, where we
May read how soon things have
Their end, though ne'er so brave:
And after they have shown their pride,
Like you a while, they glide
Into the grave.

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Be Twelfth-day queen for the night here.
Which known, let us make
Joy-sops with the cake;

And let not a man then be seen here,
Who unurged will not drink,
To the base from the brink,

A health to the king and the queen here.
Next crown the bowl full
With gentle lamb's-wool;2
Add sugar, nutmeg, and ginger,
With store of ale, too;
And thus ye must do

To make the wassail a swinger.
Give them to the king
And queen wassailing;

And though with ale ye be wet here ;

Yet part ye from hence,
As free from offence,
As when ye innocent met here.

The Country Life.

Sweet country life, to such unknown,
Whose lives are others', not their own!
But, serving courts and cities, be
Less happy, less enjoying thee.
Thou never plough'd the ocean's foam,
To seek and bring rough pepper home;
Nor to the eastern Ind dost rove,

To bring from thence the scorched clove;
Nor, with the loss of thy lov'd rest,
Bring'st home the ingot from the west.
No; thy ambition's master-piece
Flies no thought higher than a fleece;
Or how to pay thy hinds,3 and clear
All scores, and so to end the year;
But walk'st about thy own dear grounds,
Not craving others' larger bounds;
For well thou know'st 'tis not th' extent
Of land makes life, but sweet content.
When now the cock, the ploughman's horn,
Calls for the lily-wristed morn,
Then to thy corn-fields thou dost go,
Which, though well soil'd, yet thou dost know
That the best compost for the lands
Is the wise master's feet and hands.
There, at the plough, thou find'st thy team,
With a hind whistling there to them;
And cheer'st them up by singing how
The kingdom's portion is the plough.
This done, then to th' enamelled meads
Thou go'st; and, as thy foot there treads,
Thou seest a present godlike power
Imprinted in each herb and flower;

1 Amongst the sports proper to Twelfth Night in England was the partition of a cake with a bean and pea in it: the individuals who got the bean and pea were respectively king and queen for the evening.

2 A drink of warm ale, with roasted apples and spices in it. The term is a corruption from the Celtic.

3 Farm-labourers. The term is still used in Scotland.

And smell'st the breath of great-eyed kine, Sweet as the blossoms of the vine.

Here thou behold'st thy large, sleek neat,1
Unto the dewlaps up in meat;

And, as thou look'st, the wanton steer,
The heifer, cow, and ox, draw near,
To make a pleasing pastime there.
These seen, thou go'st to view thy flocks
Of sheep, safe from the wolf and fox;
And find'st their bellies there as full
Of short sweet grass, as backs with wool;
And leav'st them, as they feed and fill,
A shepherd piping on the hill.

For sports, for pageantry, and plays,
Thou hast thy eves and holy-days,
On which the young men and maids meet
To exercise their dancing feet;
Tripping the comely country round,2
With daffodils and daisies crowned.
Thy wakes, thy quintels, here thou hast,
Thy May-poles, too, with garland's graced ;
Thy morris-dance, thy Whitsun ale,
Thy shearing feast, which never fail;
Thy harvest-home, thy wassail-bowl,
That's tost up after fox i' th' hole;
Thy mummeries, thy twelfth-night kings
And queens, thy Christmas revellings;
Thy nut-brown mirth, thy russet wit,
And no man pays too dear for it.

To these thou hast thy time to go,

And trace the hare in the treacherous snow:

Thy witty wiles to draw, and get
The lark into the trammel net;
Thou hast thy cock rood, and thy glade,
To take the precious pheasant made;
Thy lime-twigs, snares, and pitfalls, then,
To catch the pilfering birds, not men.
O happy life, if that their good
The husbandmen but understood!
Who all the day themselves do please,
And younglings, with such sports as these;
And, lying down, have nought t' affright
Sweet sleep, that makes more short the night.


Some asked me where the rubies grew, And nothing did I say,

But with my finger pointed to

The lips of Julia.

Some asked how pearls did grow, and where,
Then spake I to my girl,
To part her lips, and show me there

The quarelets of pearl.

One ask'd me where the roses grew, I bade him not go seek ; But forthwith bade my Julia show A bud in either cheek.

Upon Julia's Recovery.

Droop, droop no more, or hang the head,
Ye roses almost withered;
New strength and newer purple get
Each here declining violet ;

Oh! primroses, let this day be
A resurrection unto ye;
And to all flowers ally'd in blood,
Or sworn to that sweet sisterhood.
For health on Julia's cheek hath shed
Claret and cream commingled ;
And these her lips do now appear
As beams of coral, but more clear.
A kind of dance.

1 Cattle.

The Bag of the Bee.

About the sweet bag of a bee,
Two Cupids fell at odds;

And whose the pretty prize should be,
They vowed to ask the gods.
Which Venus hearing, thither came,
And for their boldness stript them;
And taking thence from each his flame,
With rods of myrtle whipt them.
Which done, to still their wanton cries,
When quiet grown sh' ad seen them,
She kiss'd and wiped their dove-like eyes,
And gave the bag between them.

Upon a Child that Died.

Here she lies, a pretty bud,
Lately made of flesh and blood,
Who as soon fell fast asleep,
As her little eyes did peep.
Give her strewings, but not stir
The earth that lightly covers her!

Epitaph upon a Child.

Virgins promis'd, when I died,
That they would, each primrose-tide,
Duly morn and evening come,
And with flowers dress my tomb :
Having promis'd, pay your debts,
Maids, and here strew violets.

A Thanksgiving for his House.
Lord, Thou hast given me a cell,
Wherein to dwell;

A little house, whose humble roof
Is weatherproof;

Under the spars of which I lie
Both soft and dry.
Where Thou, my chamber
Hast set a guard
Of harmless thoughts, to watch and keep
Me while I sleep.

for to ward,

Low is my porch, as is my fate,
Both void of state;

And yet the threshold of my door
Is worn by the poor,

Who hither come, and freely get
Good words or meat.
Like as my parlour, so my hall,
And kitchen small;

A little buttery, and therein A little bin,

Which keeps my little loaf of bread
Unchipt, unflead.
Some brittle sticks of thorn or brier
Make me a fire,

Close by whose living coal I sit,
And glow like it.
Lord, I confess, too, when I dine,
The pulse is Thine,

And all those other bits that be
There placed by Thee.

The worts, the purslain, and the mess
Of water cress,

Which of Thy kindness Thou hast sent:
And my content

Makes those, and my beloved beet,
To be more sweet.

'Tis Thou that crown'st my glittering hearth

With guiltless mirth;

And giv'st me wassail bowls to drink,

Spiced to the brink.

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To find God.

Weigh me the fire; or canst thou find
A way to measure out the wind;
Distinguish all those floods that are
Mixt in that watery theatre,
And taste thou them as saltless there,
As in their channel first they were.
Tell me the people that do keep
Within the kingdoms of the deep;
Or fetch me back that cloud again,
Beshiver'd into seeds of rain.
Tell me the motes, dusts, sands, and spears
Of corn, when summer shakes his ears;
Show me that world of stars, and whence
They noiseless spill their influence:
This if thou canst, then show me Him
That rides the glorious cherubim.

Cherry Ripe.

Cherry ripe, ripe, ripe, I cry,
Full and fair ones come and buy;
If so be you ask me where
They do grow?-I answer, There,
Where my Julia's lips do smile-
There's the land, or cherry-isle;
Whose plantations fully show
All the year where cherries grow.

To Corinna, to go a Maying.

Get up, get up for shame, the blooming morn
Upon her wings presents the god unshorn.

See how Aurora throws her fair
Fresh-quilted colours through the air;
Get up, sweet slug-a-bed, and see
The dew bespangling herb and tree.
Each flower has wept, and bow'd toward the east,
Above an hour since, yet you are not drest,
Nay, not so much as out of bed ;
When all the birds have matins said,
And sung their thankful hymns: 'tis sin,
Nay, profanation, to keep in,

When as a thousand virgins on this day,
Spring sooner than the lark to fetch in May.

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Come, my Corinna, come; and, coming, mark
How each field turns a street, each street a park

Made green, and trimm'd with trees; see how
Devotion gives each house a bough,

Or branch; each porch, each door, ere this,
An ark, a tabernacle is,

Made up of white thorn neatly interwove;
As if here were those cooler shades of love.
Can such delights be in the street,
And open fields, and we not see't?
Come, we'll abroad, and let's obey
The proclamation made for May:
And sin no more, as we have done, by staying,
But, my Corinna, come, let's go a Maying.
There's not a budding boy or girl, this day,
But is got up, and gone to bring in May.

A deal of youth, ere this, is come
Back, and with white thorn laden home.
Some have despatch'd their cakes and cream
Before that we have left to dream;

And some have wept, and woo'd, and plighted troth, And chose their priest, ere we can cast off sloth:

Many a green gown has been given; Many a kiss, both odd and even ; Many a glance, too, has been sent From out the eye, love's firmament; Many a jest told of the key's betraying This night, and locks pick'd; yet w' are not a Maying.

1 Herrick here alludes to the multitudes which were to be seen roaming in the fields on May morning; he afterwards refers to the appearance of the towns and villages bedecked with


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