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

By Marchette Chute | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWELVE

A YEAR AFTER HE PREACHED THE PENTECOST SERMON IN LINCOLN Cathedral, George Herbert was offered a benefice in the Church of England.

A rectory in southern Wiltshire had become vacant when its nonresident rector, the Bishop of Rochester, was promoted to another see. The King had promoted Dr. Curll and had the right to name his successor; but the rectory was normally in the gift of the Earls of Pembroke, and the new Earl, Philip Herbert, suggested that it be given to his kinsman George.

The benefice consisted of two churches on the highway that linked the Earrs seat at Wilton with the cathedral city of Salisbury. There was the parish church of St. Peter's near the entrance to Wilton House and about a mile away the little chapel of St. Andrew's at Bemerton, built to take care of the extra needs of what had once been a flourishing community. The rector's house was at Bemerton, so neglected that it was almost uninhabitable, and all three buildings were in need of repair.

Herbert hesitated over the offer for more than a month, not because he thought it unworthy of him but because he believed himself unworthy of it. When he was a young man studying divinity at Cambridge, he had worried about his books and his finances but he had apparently never questioned his worthiness to be a minister in the Church of England. Now, twelve years later, he questioned it profoundly. The minister was the deputy of Christ, the accredited instrument to bring men to salvation, and Herbert believed he was not fit for so high an office.

The answer, when it finally came, was the same as before. It was not his private capacities that mattered. He had none. Every-

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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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