Robert Herrick

William Aldis Wright

General Description

Date: 1856
Genre: Prose essay


◦ Gordon, “Oxford and Cambridge Magazine”.

◦ Houghton, The Wellesley Index, pp. 723-731.

◦ “William Aldis Wright.” In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Scholarly Commentary

Guest Editor: PC Fleming


This essay is by William Aldis Wright (1831-1914), and was his only contribution to the Magazine. He later became well-known as a biblical and literary scholar.

Wright begins his essay with a discussion of Herrick’s life and ancestry. This biographical approach to non-contemporary poets is typical of the essays in the Magazine; see for example Heeley’s essay on Sidney, and Price’s essay on Shakespeare’s minor poems. Wright’s essay is similar to Price’s in its use of the poems to investigate biographical questions.

Wright’s essay can be differentiated from others in the Magazine by his use of quotations; he quotes extensively, and seems content to let Herrick’s poetry speak for itself. This is in contrast to Fulford, who tends to favor long explanatory passages in his essays.

Wright’s evaluation of Herrick is less laudatory than other essays in the Magazine. Though he clearly admires Herrick, he criticizes his poems that take on the character of the “gay cavalier”. These poems, says Wright, are “quenched by the torrent of coarseness and sensuality which disfigures so much of his writings” (530).

Printing History

First printed in The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine , September, 1856.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: Wright001.raw.xml