Richard Crashaw, an English poet and divine, born in London, died in Loretto, Italy, about 1650. The son of an Anglican clergyman, he was educated at the Charterhouse, London, and Pembroke hall, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1633, and became fellow of Peterhouse in 1637. In 1634 he published anonymously at Cambridge a volume of Latin poems under the title of Epigrammata Sacra, in which occurs the celebrated verse on the miracle at Cana:
Lympha pudica Deum vidit et erubuit. (The modest water saw its God and blushed).
The English verse (which oftenhas "conscious" instead of "modest") has been attributed also to Milton and Dryden. Crashaw was afterward admitted to holy orders, and lived for several years in St. Mary's church, near his college, occupied with religious offices, and with composing devotional poems, and was noted as an eloquent preacher. In 1644, for refusing to accept the covenant, he was ejected from his fellowship, and removed to Paris, where he became a Roman Catholic. Cowley sought him there in 1646, and finding him in great poverty obtained for him the favor of Queen Henrietta Maria, who gave him letters of recommendation to dignitaries of the church in Italy. He went to Rome, and became successively secretary to one of the cardinals, and a canon in the church of Loretto. His English poems, entitled "Steps to the Temple, Sacred Poems, with other Delights of the Muses," were published in London in 1646. A posthumous volume appeared at Paris in 1652 under the title Carmen Deo nostro. Several of his pieces are admirable translations from Latin and Italian. His poems are remarkable for the beauty, force, and passion with which they treat religious subjects. He has also left some miscellaneous poems of great beauty. One of the finest of Cowley's compositions is a monody on his death.
Editions of his collected works appeared in 1670 and 1785. His complete works, edited by W. B. Turnbull, were published in London in 1858.