« ZurückWeiter »
in the year 1640 or 1641, for the second edition of his Works bears date 1642; but as Herrick's productions were all written before 1648, and many of them twenty, or, perhaps, thirty years previous to this period, it is obvious he could have been no imitator of the friend of Clarendon, but must have been indebted merely to his own exertions and genius, for the grace and polish of his versification. I consider likewise, the two little Poems, entitled the “ Primrose" and the
Inquiry,” which were first published in Carew's Works, and afterwards appeared among the Poems of Herrick, to have certainly belonged to the latter, and to have been attributed to Carew by the Editor's mistake. In the first place it is not probable that Herrick, who certainly superintended and arranged his own productions, and who must have been familiar with the volume of his ingenious rival, would have republished these pieces as his own, if he had not possessed a prior claim to them; and, secondly, the Poem termed the "
· Enquiry,” by the Editor of Carew, is, in Herrick, addressed to a beloved Mistress, to “ Mrs. Eliz. Wheeler," under the name of the lost Shep
herdesse, * and by the nature of its variations from the copy in Carew, bears indubitablemarks of being the original, from whence those lines were taken, and which, being probably written early, and circulated in Manuscript by Herrick's friends, might easily, from a general resemblance of style and manner, be mistaken, by the Editor, for a genuine production of Carew.
If, in point of versification, Herrick may enter into competition with either Carew or Waller, he will be found still more coinpetent to contend with them as to sentiinent and imagery. It has been justly observed, that “ Carew has the ease, without the pedantry of Waller ;"pin the remark will apply with equal propriety to Herrick. His amatory poems unite the playful gaiety of Anacreon with the tender sweetness of Catullus, and are altogether devoid of that mythological allusion and cold conceit, which, in the pages of Waller, so frequently disgust the reader. There is a vein also of rich de
* Vide Hesperides, page 120. + Headley, vol. i. Biographical Sketches, page 39.
scription in the poetry of Herrick, undiscoverable in the productions of the two other poets, and which resembles the best manner of Milton's Minora and Marlowe's Passionate Shepherd. Nor has he been unsuccessful in imitating the Horatian style and imagery, of which I shall give a specimen, while, at the same time, the morality of another portion of his lyrics, breathes an air of the most pleasing melancholy. I hesitate not, therefore, to consider him in the same degree superior to Carew, as Carew most assuredly is to Waller, whose versification, as I have elsewhere observed, has alone embalmed his memory.
In bringing forward proofs of the justness of the general observations I have now given, on the merits of the poetry of Herrick, it wiil be necessary to throw them under some arrangement, and the following will, perhaps, best answer our purpose, viz. AMATORY, ANACREONTIC, HORATIAN, MoRAL and DESCRIPTIVE.
Quid sit futurum cras, fuge quærere: et
The taste for AMATORY Poetry at the period when Herrick flourished, appears to have been very gross and defective; it was either loaded with ideas coarse and vulgarly obscene, or was vitiated by metaphysical or mythological conceits. Elegance, delicate voluptuousness, or pathos, were in vain sought for where they were most required. It was our author, with his contemporaries Wither, Shirley and Carew, who re-introduced a style of composition in this province, more consonant to Nature's genuine feelings. Cowley, and his disciples in ge