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of his youth was spent in London. No anecdotes are preserved of the earlier period of his life. It is probable, that his education as a boy was somewhat neglected. His father was not wealthy, and the necessary demands of a numerous family, must have deprived him of the means of bestowing a liberal education upon his sons.
Fortunately for Robert Herrick, when he was about twenty-two years of age, he attracted the notice, and obtained the patronage of his uncle, Sir William Heyrick. This gentleman placed him at College, and assisted in supporting him there for several years. It was long a matter of doubt, to which of the Universities he belonged, but Nichols' has ascertained in a satisfactory manner, that he was entered as a Fellow Commoner of St John's College, Cambridge, in 1615. He remained there for three years, during which he applied with great ardour to the studies he had formerly
1 Hist. of the County of Leicester, Vol. II. p. 631.
neglected. The expences of the College, however, exceeded his means, and he seems to have felt deeply and anxiously his inability to procure books. "My studie craves but your assistance," he says in writing to his uncle," to furnish hir with books, wherein she is most desirous to laboure. Blame not her modest boldness, but suffer the aspertions of your love to distill upon her; and next to Heaven, she will consecrate hir laboures unto you; and because that Time hath devoured some years, I am the more importunate in the craving." Herrick's demands upon the liberality of his uncle were generally successful, and probably the more so, that their invariable object was to obtain the means of prosecuting his education with success. Among his other pursuits at this period, he devoted much of his time to the poets of Greece and of Rome. Of the former, his favourites appear to have been Homer, Pindar, and Anacreon-Of the latter,
1 Hist. of the County of Leicester, Vol. II. p.
Stately Virgil, witty Ovid, by
There are few better specimens of classical translation in our language, than Herrick's Dialogue betwixt Horace and Lydia, and his Cheat of Cupid, or the Ungentle Guest.
In 1618, Herrick turned his thoughts to the study of the law, and wrote to his uncle for advice upon the subject, complaining at the same time of the expence of St John's College, and expressing a desire to remove to Trinity Hall. "I make known my thoughts," he says, " and modestly crave your counsell whether it were better for me to direct my study towards the lawe or not." His wishes were acquiesced in by
1 Hesperides, Vol. II. p. 8.
2 Hist. of the County of Leicester, ut sup.
his indulgent patron, and it appears that he entered at Trinity Hall before the end of the year 1618. It is not likely that his legal studies were long persevered in, as, before leaving the University, he took his degree not in law but in arts.1
Having obtained the patronage of the Earl of Exeter, Herrick took orders, and was presented by Charles the First, in October 1629, to the vicarage of Dean Prior, in Devonshire, vacant by the promotion of Dr Potter to the see of Carlisle. The next nineteen years of his life were spent as a country clergyman; but although he enjoyed the highest degree of popularity, and was much beloved by the neighbouring gentry for his florid and witty discourse,3 he seems to have been dissatisfied with the dulness and obscurity of his retirement:
1 Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. LXVI. p. 461.
More discontents I never had,
Since I was born, then here;
He describes Deanbourn, a river near to which he occasionally lived, as rockie and rude, and he characterizes the inhabitants of its banks in the following terms:
A people currish; churlish as the seas;
There may, however, have been some affectation in all this, for it was undoubtedly during his residence in the delightful county of Devon, that Herrick cultivated his genius for poetry, and acquired that love of flowers and of fragrance, which imparted to his verse the beauty of the one, and the sweetness of the other. His writings certainly appear to emanate from a happy mind, and the greater proportion of the Hesperides must have been composed while he was vicar of Dean Prior. The volume, in