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

By Marchette Chute | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE

AT CAMBRIDGE IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY, THE PUBLIC Orator did the work that would now be called public relations. The University depended on the good will of men in high places, and it was the duty of the Orator to combine a judicious mixture of flattery and gratitude with an alert eye for future favors, all couched in the smooth and polished Latin that was suited to the dignity of the University and the ears of the great.

Above all, the University. depended on the good will of the King, and within four months of his election the new Public Orator faced a severe test of his ability. King James, that most determined of literary men, had just had his prose works translated into Latin and he presented copies of the large volume, handsomely bound in velvet and gold, to both Oxford and Cambridge. There had been a long rivalry between the two universities for the favor of the King, and Oxford bowed before the book as though it were an honored guest. The Vice-Chancellor bore it to the library in a reverent procession headed by twenty doctors clothed in scarlet, and the keeper of the library made "a very pretty speech" expressing his gratitude for the precious object. All this was reported back to the King, who had the natural vulnerability of any author and was "exceeding well pleased."

The University of Cambridge had unfortunately failed to arrange for similar ceremonies, and it was up to the Public Orator to compose a letter of thanks effective enough to counteract the ingenuity of its sister university. George Herbert sharpened his Latin and his wits and allowed his mind to float in that Renaissance, realm where kings are gods. Then he produced a letter so drunk with exaltation, so quivering with reverence over the great

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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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