Tom Cain and Ruth Connolly (eds), The Complete Poetry of Robert Herrick, Vol. 2

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MS 28 A Pastorall upon the birth of Prince Charles presented to the King, and set by Mr. Nic: Laniere


Cambridge University Library, Add. MS 79, ff. 46r–47r

A poem in praise of the prince's birth cannot be any later than 1630 and given the statement in 1648 that this was set by Nicholas Lanier (213 Title), then the Master of the King's Music, and performed before the king, it is probably not later than June 1630.62 Herrick revises it extensively for print, rewriting ll. 2–3, 6, 15, and 29, and he inserts an additional couplet after l. 22 of the MS text and an extra line after l. 40. The text below must therefore be much closer to the original song-text and it is unfortunate that the setting by Lanier does not appear to have survived. The poem is evidence of Herrick's burgeoning relationship with court musicians, particularly with members of the 'Lutes Viols and Voices' (see 907.3–4 n.), a group created by Charles I in 1626.63 This poempg 127 appears to have circulated in the years immediately after the birth of the prince, which is hardly surprising, but also undergoes a brief revival when poems on his birth recirculate following the coronation of Charles II.

There is no significant variation between the witnesses, although it is possible to identify affiliations between them. What variants there are seem to be the product of scribal substitutions rather than authorial revision. That said, as all the witnesses have unique variants and 1648 is revised it is difficult at times to distinguish between authorial readings and scribal variants. The copytext is a 1660s miscellany (CU79), which is one of only two witnesses (the other is a 1630s miscellany copied from the same source though at a different remove) to agree with 1648 in its readings of ll. 19–20. Although a late transcription, we judge this to be made from an early copy.

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Editor’s Note
62 For cross references and notes see the commentary to 213.
Editor’s Note
63 See 111.13 n., 851.1–5 n., 907.3–4 n., and Cunningham, Consort Music, pp. 1–23.
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