GEORGE HERBERT MIGHT BE WILLING TO HONOR HONESTY AND high purpose wherever he found it, but there was one point of view with which he could not sympathize. He was a devout son of the Church of England and he could not bring himself to look with courtesy upon the Puritans.
In 1620, the year Herbert became Public Orator, there appeared in print a set of verses called Anti-Tami-Cami-Categoria, written seventeen years before but only just published. It was the work of a learned Scotch Presbyterian named Andrew Melville, and it savagely attacked both the Church of England and the University of Cambridge.
Melville's verses had been inspired by the behavior of the two universities at the time of the Millenary Petition in 1603. Oxford and Cambridge had both attacked as seditious the ministers who signed the petition, and Melville at once attacked the two universities. He used this as a springboard for a general indictment of the ritual in the Church of England, and his verses lost none of their bite in the seventeen years they waited for publication.
In George Herbert's eyes, Melville had committed a double fault. He had attacked Mother Church and Mother Cambridge, and Herbert was the devoted, uncritical son of both. He did not allow himself to be intimidated by Melville's age or his high reputation, and he counterattacked with a vigorous set of Latin verses called Musae Responsoriae.
Andrew Melville was a formidable opponent, a scholar in his seventies who was honored all over Europe as a mighty champion of the Protestant cause. When he was young he travelled over half France to get a training in Hebrew and divinity and then