IZAAK WALTON SAW GEORGE Herbert ONLY ONCE AND REPORTED that he was "lean to an extremity." This must have been when Donne preached the funeral sermon for Magdalen, since Walton attended the service and Herbert certainly was there. He had spent the past year at his brother's house in Woodford, but instead of being benefited by the change of air he had acquired what the seventeenth century called a consumption. Looking for a better climate, he went to a manor house in Wiltshire which was owned by his stepfather's elder brother Henry, Lord Danvers.
The house was a "noble" one, set in a park of magnificent oaks. The meadows of that peaceful, airy place were famous for their pasture, and the fattest cattle that went to the London market came from the manor of Dauntsey. The house stood on a terrace set back from the river Avon, with the broad sweep of the meadows beyond; and tucked in next to it was the parish church of St. James, with the Dauntsey shield in front of the altar and the family coat of arms on the benches.
The Danvers family had come to Dauntsey in the fifteenth century, when the first Sir John Danvers became the third husband of the "lady of Dauntsey." The father of George Herbert's host had been named John also, a handsome man of gentle temper who distinguished himself in the preparations against the Armada. He became a great landowner through his marriage with Elizabeth Nevile, Lord Latimer's daughter, a brilliant and beautiful woman who read Chaucer and managed her huge estates with equal vigor.
Old Sir John was no longer living, but his picture hung in the parish church and George Herbert wrote the little rhymed epi-