ROBERT HERRICK was born into a family of jewelers -- both his father and his uncle were goldsmiths -- and it is not too farfetched to find the family influence in the poet's delicately engraved, jewel-encrusted work. After serving as his uncle's apprentice and originating his own patterns in rings and brooches, Herrick was sent to St. John's College, but took his degree from Trinity Hall.
Little is known of the next ten years in Herrick's life. It has been conjectured that he spent most of the time preparing for the ministry. A completely contrary rumor placed Herrick in the metropolis, where he is said to have spent his days wildly and most of his nights in doing nothing seriously. This is not too plausible; Herrick's verse rarely pictures the author as a thoroughgoing roisterer. Never rowdy, it is often lascivious, but seldom rudely lecherous. Even when Herrick boasts of being wanton, he does so with a deprecation which is almost a denial. A couplet entitled POETS reassures us:
Wantons we are; and though out words be such, Our lives do differ from our lines by much.
It is more than likely, however, that Herrick joined the company at the Sun, the Triple Tun, and other taverns shortly after, if not during, his career as jeweler and scholar. Cherished by the individ-