BY THE TIME ROBERT BERRICK WAS TWENTY-TWO IT WAS apparent that he would never be a goldsmith. He had spent six years as an apprentice and his term of service had four more years to run, but it was clear that the profession in which his father and uncle had distinguished themselves was not for him. Three years earlier his brother Thomas had left London, and in 1613 Robert made an equally drastic move. His uncle William released him from his contract, and Robert went to the University of Cambridge.
Herrick was much older than the average undergraduate, or, as he himself rather elegantly put it in a letter to his uncle, "Time hath devoured some years." Although boys of thirteen and fourteen sometimes went to Cambridge, George Herbert was about the normal age when he entered Trinity College at sixteen and Herrick was off to a very late start when he entered the rival college of St. John's at twenty-two.
St. John's was just north of Trinity, with only a garden wall between them, but the two Colleges did not live together in the brotherhood that might be expected of such close neighbors. The College heads wrangled over the use of the meadows on the other side of the river Cam, and the students pursued a permanent feud that sometimes exploded into riots. Two years before Herrick entered, there had been a magnificent fight among the undergraduates, started by Trinity College but entered into with the greatest enthusiasm by St. John's.
The feud may have had something to do with the fact that St. John's had been the largest and richest College in the University until it was eclipsed by the founding of Trinity. It was still an impressive place, built of red brick and with perhaps