Reference > Cambridge History > Cavalier and Puritan > The Sacred Poets > His knowledge of Spanish and Italian literature
  Crashaw’s relation to Herbert A large proportion of his work translation  


The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VII. Cavalier and Puritan.

II. The Sacred Poets.

§ 6. His knowledge of Spanish and Italian literature.

Crashaw’s knowledge of Spanish and Italian affected both the matter and the manner of his poetry. Not only did it bring the writings of the Spanish mystics within his reach, but, also, it infected him with the hyperboles and luscious sweetness of the Neapolitan poet, Marino.   14
  Whether the panegyrist of St. Teresa could have remained content with Laud’s “Beauty of Holiness” is doubtful; but the destructive violence of the parliamentary commissioners and the downfall of church and king at Naseby must have made him despair of the Anglican church. On his being deprived of his fellowship on 8 April, 6  1644, or, perhaps, without waiting for this misfortune, he seems to have gone to Oxford, and cannot be traced again till Cowley found him, in 1646, in Paris. By this time, he had become a Roman Catholic, and the “authour’s friend” in the preface to Steps to the Temple, which was published in this year, speaks of him as “now dead to us.” Crashaw cannot be charged with self-seeking in changing his creed, for he was in sore straits when his brother-poet brought him to the notice of Henrietta Maria, who was then in Paris. With letters of introduction from the queen, and with pecuniary help from others, including, probably, the countess of Denbigh, whose “goodnes and charity” he acknowledges on the title-page of his next volume, Crashaw set out for Rome. There he became secretary to cardinal Palotta, governor of Rome. An English traveller, John Bargrave, who had been ejected with Crashaw from Peterhouse, describes Palotta as “papable and esteemed worthy by all.” The same writer gives the last scanty notice of the poet. His delicate conscience was distressed by the laxity of the cardinal’s household, and he denounced them to his master, a man of stern morals.   15
  Palotta recognised that Rome was no longer a safe place for Crashaw after this exposure, and at once procured him a minor office in the church of our Lady of Loretto, of which he was patron. He was instituted on 24 April, 1649, and, by the following August, another had his office, Crashaw having died of a fever, which, perhaps, he had contracted on the journey. There he was buried, the “richest offering of Loretto’s shrine.” Cowley’s elegy on the “Poet and Saint” remains Crashaw’s best monument, and is a fit tribute from him whom the elder poet acclaimed, on the strength of his Poetical Blossoms, as “young master of the world’s maturitie.” Crashaw’s posthumous volume, Carmen Deo Nostro (1652), which contained almost all that was good in the earlier volumes with many valuable additions, had a sympathetic editor, Thomas Carre, 7  “confessor to the English nuns at Paris,” but the French printers made sorry work with the English words.   16

Note 6. Not 11 June, as Grosart and others after him. See Walker, T. A., Peterhouse, p. 108. [ back ]
Note 7. See D. of N. B. for his real name, Miles Pinkney. [ back ]

  Crashaw’s relation to Herbert A large proportion of his work translation  

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