ROBERT HERRICK'S BOOK OF POEMS WAS PUBLISHED IN 1648. HE was fifty-seven years old and had waited a long time for the event, as the climax of a lifetime's devotion to the art of writing poetry. Only a fraction had already been published-what Herrick called "a little-peeping-part" -- and nothing under his own name. Now it was to be unveiled as a glorious whole, and the long delay only made the event more magnificent.
Like to a bride, come forth, my book, at last.
The fortunate printers were John Williams and Francis Eglesfield. Williams had a shop called the Crown in St. Paul's Churchyard, and Eglesfield had one called the Marigold in the same location. There was also an arrangement made with a Devon printer named Thomas Hunt, who had a press in Exeter in the Cathedral churchyard. Hunt took a certain number of copies and put his own imprint upon them, since it seemed reasonable to suppose that Herrick would have friends and admirers in the West Country.1
Herrick called his book Hesperides, after the nymphs of the West who guarded the golden apples; and if Devon was not precisely what the Greeks had in mind, Herrick seems to have felt that the analogy was close enough for his golden poems. The subtitle explained that these were "the works, both humane and divine, of Robert Herrick, Esq." but it was found expedient to give the "divine" poems a separate heading at the end of the book and entitle them His Noble Numbers.
It may be that this plan was the suggestion of Frances Egles-____________________