The poetry of Herrick had been wellnigh forgotten until about the commencement of the present century, when, by the extertions of Dr. Nott, Dr. Drake, Mr. Ellis, and a writer in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1796, (see ante,) he secured a popularity which seems likely to remain permanent among the disciples of the school of English lyric poetry. If we are deemed unnecessarily harsh in our condemnation of those licentious strains which disfigure the beauty of so many pages of Herrick's Hesperides, we need do no more than record the author's own mature verdict on these frequent transgressions against good taste and good morals:
For these may unbaptized rhymes
Writ in my wild unhallowed times,—
For every sentence, clause, and word,
That's not inlaid with thee, 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 of thy benediction,
That one of all the rest shall be
The glory of my work and me.
It is well thus to repent of an offence: but far better would have been never to have offended!