1807 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Robert Herrick

Samuel Egerton Brydges, in Censura Literaria 3 (1807) 234-38.



Hesperides: or the works both humane and divine of Robert Herrick, Esq.

Effugient avidos carmina nostra rogos.
OVID.

London, Printed for John Williams and Francis Eglesfield, and are to be sold at the Crown and Marygold in St. Paul's Churchyard, 1648, 8vo. pp. 398.

Then follows another title-page.

His Noble Numbers: or his pious pieces, wherein, amongst other things, he sings the birth of his Christ: and sighs for his Saviour's sufferings on the Crosse. Hesiod [Greek characters].

London, Printed for John Williams and Francis Eglesfield, 1647. pp. 79.

Mr. Nichols, in is History of Leicestershire, Vol. II. p. 631, et seq. has given the fullest account of the poet hitherto published, and reprinted there many of his poems, which illustrate his family connections. He was the 4th son of Nicholas Heyrick, a goldsmith of eminence in Cheapside, London, who died 9 Nov. 1592, by Julian Stone; and was born aat St. Vedast, Foster-Lane, 24 August 1591. He was educated at St. John's Coll. Camb. and afterwards at Trinity Hall; where, taking orders, he was presented to the Vicarage of Dean-Prior, Co. Dev. in 1629, from which he was ejected during the Civil Wars; and then, as appears by the above title-page, laid aside the gown, and assumed the lay habit. After the restoration, he was restored to his Vicarage; but the date of his death has not been discovered. Some specimens of his poetry may be acceptable.

TO THE VIRGINS, TO MAKE MUCH OF TIME.
Gather ye rosebuds, while ye may;
Old Time is still a flying:
And this same flower, that smiles to day,
To morrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of Heaven, the Sun,
The higher he's a getting;
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting!

That age is best, which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times shall succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time;
And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may for ever tarry.

THE NIGHT PIECE, TO JULIA.
Her eyes the glow-worm lend thee,
The shooting stars attend thee;
And the elves also
Whose little eyes glow,
Like the sparks of fire, befriend thee.

No Will' o' th' Wisp mislight thee;
Nor snake, or slow-worm bite thee;
But on, on thy way,
Not making a stay,
Shine ghost there is none to affright thee.

Let not the dark thee cumber;
What though the Moon does slumber?
The stars of the night
Will lend thee their light,
Like tapers clear without number.

Then, Julia, let me wooe thee,
Thus, thus, to come unto me:
And when I shall meet
Thy silvery feet,
My soul I'll pour into thee.

HIS WISH TO PRIVACY.
Give me a cell,
To dwell
Where no foot hath
A path:
There will I spend,
And end
My wearied years
In tears.

TO BLOSSOMS.
Fair pledges of a fruitful tree,
Why do ye fall so fast?
Your date is not so past;
But you may stay yet here awhile
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?
'Twas pity Nature brought ye forth
Merely to shew 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 shewn their pride,
Like you, awhile, they glide
Into the grave.

THE COUNTRY LIFE: TO THE HONOURED MR. ENDIMION PORTER, GROOM OF THE BED-CHAMBER TO HIS MAJESTY.
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'st 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, and clear
All scores; and so to end the year;
But walk'st about thy own dear bounds,
Not envying others larger grounds:
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 forth the lilly-wristed Morn;
Then to thy corn-fields thou dost go,
Which tho' 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 chear'st them up by singing how
The kingdom's portion is the plough.
This done, then to th' enamel'd meads
Thou go'st; and as thy foot, there treads,
Thou see'st a present Godlike power
Imprinted in each herb and flower;
And smell'st the breath of great-eyed kine,
Sweet as the blossoms of the Vine.
Here thou behold'st thy large sleek Neat
Unto the dew-laps 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 a hill.
For sports, for pageantry, and plays,
Thou hast thy Eves, and holydays;
On which the young men and maids meet,
To exercise their dancing feet;
Tripping the comely country round,
With daffodils and daisies crown'd.
Thy Wakes, the Quintels, here thou hast;
Thy may-poles too with garlands grac'd;
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 times to go,
And trace the hare in the treacherous snow;
And witty wiles to draw, and get
The lark into the trammel net;
Thou hast thy cockrood, and thy glade
To take the precious pheasant made;
Thy lime-twigs, snares, and pit-falls 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.
CAETERA DESUNT.