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These reasons, to which, as a pleasure to myself I must add your own pure taste and ability in art, have made me desirous to dedicate my book to you. It is not, indeed, a moment specially propitious to poetry!— The gate of Europe, like that other seen in vision by Milton, is now

With dreadful faces throng'd, and fiery arms:

men's minds are not in tune with the music of Helicon. Yet hence, also, a contrast arises which makes Poetry even more precious. 'The sweet Muses before everything,'' dulces ante omnia Musae, carry us with them to another and a better, if a more shadowy, world. We can there, it is true, have no abiding habitation: yet at times, quitting reality, with its hard dissonances, its restless revolution, it is lawful for us to dwell in the 'larger aether and purple light' which clothe the Elysian fields of art. That atmosphere some, (and you among them), breathe rather as natives than as visitors: there at least, whatever the loud world may be pursuing, are grace and harmony; there are peace

and permanence. Permanence, indeed, so far as man's work can seem to attain it, is to be found only in such record of noble deeds or lovely thoughts and images, is sculptor and painter, ‘music and sweet poetry,' can provide. Is that gift of enduring charm, beauty that will not fade, reserved for the verse contained in this little book ?—I should not have cared to grace it with your name, were I not convinced that such will be Herrick's portion.


Jan. 13:1877


BORN 1591: DIED 1674

THOSE Who most admire the Poet from whose many pieces a selection only is here offered, will, it is probable, feel most strongly (with the Editor) that excuse is needed for an attempt of an obviously presumptuous nature. The choice made by any selector invites challenge: the admission, perhaps, of some poems, the absence of more, will be censured :- Whilst others may wholly condemn the process, in virtue of an argument not unfrequently advanced of late, that a writer's judgment on his own work is to be considered final, and his book to be taken as he left it, or left altogether; a literal reproduction of the original text being occasionally included in this requirement.

If poetry were composed solely for her faithful band of true lovers and true students, such a facsimile as that last indicated would have claims irresistible; but if the first and last object of this, as of the other Fine Arts, may be defined in language borrowed from a

different range of thought, as the greatest pleasure of the greatest number,' it is certain that less stringent forms of reproduction are required and justified. The great majority of readers cannot bring either leisure or taste, or information sufficient to take them through a large mass (at any rate) of ancient verse, not even if it be Spenser's or Milton's. Manners and modes of speech, again, have changed; and much that was admissible centuries since, or at least sought admission, has now, by a law against which protest is idle, lapsed into the indecorous. Even unaccustomed forms of spelling are an effort to the eye;-a kind of friction, which diminishes the ease and enjoyment of the reader.

These hindrances and clogs, of very diverse nature, cannot be disregarded by Poetry. In common with everything which aims at human benefit, she must work not only for the 'faithful': she has also the duty of 'conversion.' Like a messenger from heaven, it is hers to inspire, to console, to elevate: to convert the world, in a word, to herself. Every rough place that slackens her footsteps must be made smooth: nor, in this Art, need there be fear that the way will ever be vulgarized by too much ease, nor that she will be loved less by the elect, for being loved more widely.

Passing from these general considerations, it is true that a selection framed in conformity with them, especially if one of our older poets be concerned, parts with a certain portion of the pleasure which poetry may confer. A writer is most thoroughly to be judged by the whole of what he printed. A selector inevitably holds too despotic a position over his author. The frankness of speech which we have abandoned is an

interesting evidence how the tone of manners changes. The poet's own spelling and punctuation bear, or may bear, a gleam of his personality. But such last drops of pleasure are the reward of fully-formed taste ; and fully-formed taste cannot be reached without full knowledge. This, we have noticed, most readers cannot bring. Hence, despite all drawbacks, an anthology may have its place. A book which tempts many to read a little, will guide some to that more profound and loving study of which the result is, the full accomplishment of the poet's mission.

We have, probably, no poet to whom the reasons here advanced to justify the invidious task of selection apply more fully and forcibly than to Herrick. Highly as he is to be rated among our lyrists, no one who reads through his fourteen hundred pieces can reasonably doubt that whatever may have been the influences, wholly unknown to us,-which determined the contents of his volume, severe taste was not one of them. Peccat fortiter :—his exquisite directness and simplicity of speech repeatedly take such form that the book cannot be offered to a very large number of those readers who would most enjoy it. The spelling is at once arbitrary and obsolete. Lastly, the complete reproduction of the original text, with explanatory notes, edited by Mr Grosart, supplies materials equally full and interesting for those who may, haply, be allured by this little book to master one of our most attractive poets in his integrity.

In Herrick's single own edition of Hesperides and Noble Numbers, but little arrangement is traceable : nor have we more than a few internal signs of date in composition. It would hence be unwise to attempt

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