Two Gentle Men: The Lives of George Herbert and Robert Herrick

By Marchette Chute | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR

GEORGE HERBERT WAS AN IDEAL STUDENT FROM THE POINT OF view of the University authorities -- an aristocratic young man who was willing to work and a clever young man who was willing to be obedient. He. was neither a worldling nor a radical, and the master of Trinity College took him under his wing and gave him special attention. Dr. Nevile suffered a paralytic stroke when Herbert was twenty-two and died soon afterwards, but by that time his protégé was well launched on his university career.

The only area where George Herbert seems to have ignored the rules was in the matter of dress. The ideal of both universities was a monastic one, and the students were supposed to wear their hair short and their gowns reaching to the ankles. The ideal of dress in the young men themselves was a fantastic glitter of laces and silks and buttons and bows, and they saw no reason to leave their curls and their feathers behind them when they went to college. A Cambridge undergraduate who paid three shillings for his surplice paid eight shillings for a satin collar and four times that amount for a pair of garters and roses. Herbert apparently dressed expensively and well. Almost too well, for Izaak Walton says that his "clothes seemed to prove, that he put too great a value on his parts and parentage."

Walton was also obliged to admit that Herbert's behavior at Trinity College was not of the friendliest. "He kept himself too much retired, and at too great a distance with all his inferiors." In fairness to Herbert, however, it must be remembered that he lived in a period when the maintenance of social distinctions was part of a gentleman's duty. As Henry Peacham. put it, "To be overfree and familiar with inferiors argues a baseness of spirit and begetteth contempt." It is also fair to remember that the

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Two Gentle Men: The Lives of George Herbert and Robert Herrick
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • Part One - George Herbert 9
  • Chapter One 11
  • Chapter Two 22
  • Chapter Three 35
  • Chapter Four 47
  • Chapter Five 57
  • Chapter Six 68
  • Chapter Seven 77
  • Chapter Eight 85
  • Chapter Nine 93
  • Chapter Ten 107
  • Chapter Eleven 116
  • Chapter Twelve 123
  • Chapter Thirteen 134
  • Chapter Fourteen 148
  • Part Two - Robert Herrick 153
  • Chapter Fifteen 155
  • Chapter Sixteen 161
  • Chapter Seventeen 170
  • Chapter Eighteen 178
  • Chapter Nineteen 184
  • Chapter Twenty 192
  • Chapter Twenty-One 203
  • Chapter Twenty-Two 211
  • Chapter Twenty-Three 219
  • Chapter Twenty-Four 226
  • Chapter Twenty-Five 235
  • Chapter Twenty-Six 244
  • Chapter Twenty-Seven 255
  • Chapter Twenty-Eight 265
  • Appendix - Walton's Biography of Herbert 277
  • Selected Bibliography 283
  • Index 299
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