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records show also a number of legal and financial transactions involving sums of considerable size. At the height of his career Shakespeare may have had an income of more than twenty thousand dollars a year, reckoning according to the purchasing power of money to-day. In 1597 he purchased New Place, at that time the finest residence in Stratford. In 1602 he bought one hundred and seven acres in Old Stratford; in 1605 he bought the right to farm the Stratford tithes; in 1610 he bought the Combe estate. He, “in his elder days," writes Ward, "lived at Stratford, and supplied the stage with two plays every year, and for that had an allowance so large that he spent at the rate of a thousand a year, as I have heard.”
The Stratford records have preserved for us some knowledge of events which must have strongly affected his life during these years. In 1596 Hamnet, his only son, died at the age of eleven years; in 1601 his father died; in 1607, his eldest child, Susanna, was married to John Hale, a doctor; in 1608 his mother, Mary Arden Shakespeare, died; in 1616, February 10, bis daughter Judith married Thomas Quiney, a vintner.
Shakespeare seems to have retired wholly from London circles and interests toward the close of his life. It is conjectured that about 1611 he sold his shares in the theater and went to live as a country gentleman of wealth in Stratford. In his house, March 25, 1616, he signed his last will and testament. And there he died April 23, 1616, and two days later was buried in the chancel of the little Stratford church. Over his remains is a flat dark tombstone with the inscription:
Good frend, for Jesus sake forbeare
Shakespeare's main work was done in the field of the drama and his great fame rests upon the insight, breadth of sympathy, and power of expression he displayed in that field. Extracts from his plays, poetic though such extracts may appear, yet lose something of their force and pertinency by being plucked from their context. We have chosen, therefore, to represent Shakespeare's poetry by a few lyrics selected from those sprinkled through his comedies and by a baker's dozen of his Sonnets.
Meres in 1598 wrote of Shakespeare's “sugred Sonnets among his private friends." Alto gether there are preserved to us 154 Sonnets. The series from number 1 to 126 seems to have been addressed to a man, and from 127 to 154 to a woman. Scholars have sought to interpret the story of the Sonnets as autobiographical, but, although some of them seem to point to real incidents in his life, most of them were probably written in accordance with the sonneteering fashion of the day. The few that we have selected in the text were chosen because of their inherent nobleness of thought and beauty of expression rather than because of their possible autobiographical interpretation,
ROBERT HERRICK THE luxury and splendor of the Elizabethan age, based on a proud consciousness of increasing wealth and power and held within bounds by a wise queen, decayed rapidly under Elizabeth's immediate successors. Vice and profligacy came to the fore with few redeeming traces of genius, until with a remarkable convulsion the whole rotten system was swept aside for a while and replaced with the austerities of Puritanism. The literature that had reflected so brilliantly the life and spirit of the Elizabethan age, reflected later the corruption of the Jacobean and Caroline ages that followed. The drama, through which medium the greatest geniuses had expressed themselves, went to the last extremes in portraying the contemporary ways of life and thought and was finally checked by the closing of the theatres by the Puritans. Even persons of no Puritan cast of mind must agree that the check was necessary.
Although with the accession of the Puritans to power, the whole character of government, society, and literature seems to have undergone a volte-face, it was undoubtedly a fact that England remained at heart deeply devoted to its royalist ideals. The memories of English glory and renown were too recent and too intimately bound up with royalty to be extinguished at once. In literature of the day the majority of names is made up of Cavalier poets, in whose opinion the happy phrase or the quick turn of thought in a short lyric was but an accomplishment of the cultivated gentlemen. We have, then, side by side with the stern Puritan writers, at whose head stood Milton, a group of talented, polished gentlemen whose work in literature has survived to the present day. Lovelace, Suckling, Carew, Davenant, Herrick, all belong to the Cavalier poets; their lives were bound up with the royalist cause and tbeir poetry reflected their ideals.
Greatest of the poets of these sympathies was Robert Herrick. In the period when the drama was decaying, Herrick developed the lyric to heights never before reached and seldom since surpassed; removed by fate from the political struggles that preceded Charles's execution and settled in a little Devonshire pastorate, he spent his time in writing his little songs to imaginary inamorata. With the delicate artistry of a goldsmith, Herrick was carving cherry-stones, while his contemporary Milton was adorning the Doric and Ionic columns of literature. Says Swinburne: “The last of his line, he is and will probably be always the first in rank and station of English song-writers. We have only to remember how rare it is to find a perfect song, good to read and good to sing, combining the merits of Coleridge and Shelley with the capabilities of Tommy Moore and Haynes Bayly, to appreciate the unique and unapproachable excellence of Herrick."
Robert Herrick, born in London and baptized August 24, 1591, was a descendant of a family well known in Leicestershire from early in the fourteenth century. His grandfather, John Eyrick, or Herrick, was a freeman in Leicester in 1535 and later was twice the Lord Mayor of the town; his father, Nicholas Herrick, was a goldsmith of London who died November 9, 1592, fifteen months after the poet's birth, from the effects of a fall from an upper window. Nicholas Herrick left an estate which realized upwards of £5000, which in modern values would equal about £30,000. Robert, with the other children, was left by the terms of his father's will to the guardianship of William Heyrick (Herrick), his uncle, one of the wealthiest goldsmiths of the time.
Of Herrick's youth we know little for certain. Frequent references to “beloved Westminster” have led to the belief that he was educated at this school. In 1607, when he was sixteen years old, he was bound apprentice for ten years to his uncle, then become Sir William Herrick.
The indentures of his apprenticeship were apparently waived later by his uncle, for we have record of his matriculation as a fellow commoner at St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1614. A number of letters from him to his uncle, written during his residence at college, are extant. Most of them are requests for remittances, as, for example:
Sir, my dutie remember to yourself and Lady; the cause essentiall is this: That I would entreat you to paye to this bringer to Mr. Adrian Marius, bookseller, in the Black Friers, the some of Xl. The which my tutor hath receaved, to be payde at London ... Your ever obsequious, R. Hearick.
CAMBRIDGE, 11th of October. And again:
... The essence of my writing is (as heretofore) to entreat you to paye for my use to Mr. Arthour Johnson, bookseller, in Paule's Churchyard, the ordinarie sume of tenn pounds, and that with as much sceleritie you maye, though I could wish chardges had leaden wings and tortice feet to come upon me; sed votis puerilibus opto. ... Thus I salute your vert ues. CAMBR., April, 1617.1
HOPEFULL R. HEARICK. 1 From letters selected by Mr. Nichols and published in his History of Leicestershire.
Herrick's university career must have been marked by extravagance. He seems to have had a quarterly allowance of £10 (value now about £60) and to have received on several occasions substantial help from his uncle; yet we find him leaving St. John's for Trinity Hall with the avowed purpose of curtailing his expenses, and the records show that as late as 1629 he was still in debt £10 168. 9d. to the college steward. He took his bachelor's degree in 1617 and his master's degree in 1620.
When Herrick left the university and returned to London, his funds must have been restricted. Although Nicholas Herrick had left a goodly fortune, its division between his wife and seven children left comparatively little for each child. Furthermore, Robert Herrick's tendencies at the university indicated that, as soon as the restraining influence of his careful” uncle was removed, any fortune he might have would soon be dissipated. An occasional reference in his poems shows that he appreciated financial help from his patrons, as:
To the Patron of Poets, Mr. End. Porter
But likewise oyle of maintenance to it. ... Just what year Herrick took holy orders is not known. It was a natural career for a university-trained man, and yet Herrick was hardly the type we should expect in a pulpit or pastorate. He may have adopted the career in the expectation of speedy preferment. He had influential friends at court, Pembroke, Westmoreland, Edward Norgate and others; his poems for New Year anthems had been set to music by the most notable composer of the day, Henry Lawes; he may have been known personally to the king.
In 1629, apparently upon the recommendation of the Earl of Exeter, Herrick was presented by the king to the vicarage of Dean Prior, in Devonshire. Although the annual value of the living was only £50 (about £300 in modern value), the elevation of the previous incumbent, Dr. Potter, to be Bishop of Carlisle may have inspired high hopes in Herrick's breast.
These hopes were never realized. After Herrick had settled in the little Devonshire pastorate, he seems to have been forgotten by his associates at court. The evidence afforded by many of his poems shows conclusively that he was discontented with his lot, and yet he did not, like Spenser, make repeated journeys to London in search of royal favor. For nineteen years he lived a bachelor life in the secluded village. His household consisted of one old servant, Prudence Baldwin by name, a pet dog, a goose, a hen, and a tame pig which he had taught to drink beer out of a tankard. Donald Mitchell draws rather a gross picture of him: “This Robert Herrick was a ponderous, earthy-looking man, with huge double chin, drooping cheeks, a great Roman nose, prominent glassy eyes, that showed around them the red lines begotten of strong potions of Canary, and the whole set upon a massive neck which might have been that of Heliogabalus.” As a pastor he was acceptable, although he never seems to have done more than his routine duties. Tradition records that upon one occasion he hurled his sermon at the heads of his little congregation, cursing his listeners for their inattention.
It is characteristic of man to complain of his lot, so we should not take too seriously Herrick's comments upon “dull Devonshire," the “rockie” and “rude” Deanbourne River near by, and
A people currish; churlish as the seas;
And rude, almost, as rudest salvages. It is certain that Herrick did much of his best work while he was at Dean Prior. His interest was aroused by the quaint semi-pagan customs of the villagers, he loved the Morris-dances, the wakes, the Twelfth-Night revels, and he celebrated these in his verse. Steeped as he was in classic poetry, permeated with the spirit of Anacreon, Horace, Martial, Tibullus, and the rest, Herrick succeeded in creating in his imagination an Arcadian paradise from his Devonshire village environment.
In 1648 the Puritans, recognizing Herrick's royalist sympathies, removed him from his vicarage. He went at once to London, prepared to rejoin his old companions and congenial wits. He hailed his release from the dull routine of the Dean Prior pastorate with joy; he referred to the time of his residence therein as “a long and dreary banishment.”
At London he dropped his clergyman's title and garb, and became Robert Herrick, Esquire. Tradition has it that he was at this time in abject poverty, subsisting on the charity of his friends, but it seems improbable that his many wealthy relatives would have allowed him to come to such a pass. At any rate, it is certain that he undertook at this time the arrangement and publication (1648) of his poems under the title Hesperides ; or, The Books both Human and Divine of Robert Herrick. The “Divine” works which formed a part of the published volume were entitled “Noble Numbers.” He had previously, in 1635, contributed some verses to A Description of the King and Queen of Fairies, and a record has been found, date April 29, 1640, of “The severall poems written by Master Robert Herrick”; but these are lost to us, and we must take it for granted that they are included in the Hesperides volume. Herrick did not show in his poems a wide range, but in the pastoral lyric he is unsurpassed. He has left in his single public cation that is known to us about thirteen hundred poems, all of them very short, many of them but a single couplet. A number of them are worthless as poetry and a few are coarse, vulgar, rude, and repulsive, but some — and after careful selection it is astonishing how many these are — are gems of purest ray. He has portrayed with sure art the quaint aspects of English country life: –
I sing of May-poles, hock-carts, wassails, wakes,
Of bridegrooms, brides and of their bridal cakes. And again his short love lyrics reach in delicacy and fervor heights that have never been excelled.
After the publication of this volume, the details of Herrick's life for fourteen years are lost to us. We have some indications that his poems were well received by the Cavalier partisans, for many of them were set to music by the most prominent composers of the day, Lawes, Laniere, Ramsay, and Wilson. The fact that he had been ejected from his vicarage because of his royalist sympathies, too, must have given him a certain popularity. Until the first days of the Restoration, however, we have no record of where he was or of what he was doing, or of how he lived. Then, in August of 1662, Herrick, seventy-one years old, was restored to his vicarage at Dean Prior, displacing the Puritan sympathizer, Dr. Syms, who fourteen years before had taken the vicarage.
Again his life is closed to us. Biographers have vainly tried to unearth some details of his remaining years at Dean Prior. Certain it is that nothing more came from his pen. We are left to imagine his bachelor household, the servant, the dog, the goose, the hen, and the famed pig that drank out of a tankard. Our sole remaining exact information is obtained from the parish register, as follows: —
Robert Herrick, Vicker, was buried
JOHN MILTON ALTHOUGH the excesses of rigor that marked the abrupt change from Caroline government to the Puritan Commonwealth were the work of but a few fanatics, these excesses have stamped indelibly upon the minds of succeeding generations the Puritan characteristics. We still lay stress, as Macaulay did, upon “the ostentatious simplicity of their dress, their sour aspect, their nasal twang, their stiff posture, their long graces, their Hebrew names, the Scriptural phrases which they introduced on every occasion, their contempt of human learning, their detestation of polite amusements.” And Milton, who bas become to many the typical representative of his age in literature, has suffered in character as a result of our impressions and prejudices. Steadfast of purpose, noble in life, dignified in mien, learned in the Scriptures he was, but without
ostentation or vain pride, and with no peer in human learning, - as for example in a knowledge of the classics, — or in an appreciation of such polite amusements as music and poetry.
Of Milton's life we know much more than of the lives of Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, or Herrick. John Milton was born in London December 9, 1608. His father, John Milton, was a wealthy London scrivener or notary, endowed with a rare taste in art, poetry, and music, and himself a composer whose tunes were admitted to the best contemporary collections. His mother, Sarah Jeffrey, was one of the two orphan daughters of a London "citizen and merchanttaylor.” Of her Milton once wrote: “A most excellent mother and particularly known for her charities through the neighborhood.”
The little home in Bread Street, London, with which Milton's life until he was sixteen years old was closely associated, was one well adapted to foster the development of his genius. The noblest of moral precept and example was combined with the artistic tastes of his music-loving father and with the strict classical training required for entrance to the university. Milton himself in later years bore witness to his father's influence over his studies: “Both at the grammar school and also under other masters at home he caused me to be instructed daily.” His training he absorbed with an assiduity very unusual in a child. Naturally serious in temperament, he set for himself even in boyhood rigorous standards of thought and conduct. At the age of twelve he rarely left his books before midnight.
At sixteen he matriculated at Christ College, Cambridge, where he spent the next seven years of his life, four years studying for his B.A. degree and three for his M.A. There he continued his studious life and apparently became inspired with the idea that he should prepare himself for some notable creation in poetry. In certain Latin epistles to his friend Charles Diodati, then at Oxford, he referred to his ambitions; and he wrote a number of Latin poems and several English poems which stand out notably above the work of his college mates. The English poems of this period include On the Death of a Fair Infant, Hymn on the Morning of Christ's Nativity, the sonnets On Shakespeare and On his being Arrived to the Age of Twenty-three. Most remarkable of these is the Hymn on the Morning of Christ's Nativity, which, though diffuse and marked with conceits inherited from the influence of John Donne, shows in passages the inspiration of an original genius.
It was the hope of Milton's father that Milton would take holy orders upon the completion of bis studies at Cambridge, but the young poet's nature rebelled against the restraints imposed thereby. In later life he expressed his convictions on the subject: “The church, to whose service by the intention of my parents and friends I was destined as a child, and in mine own resolutions, till coming to some maturity of years, and perceiving what tyranny had invaded in the church, that he who would take orders must subscribe slave, and take an oath withal ... I thought it better to prefer a blameless silence before the sacred office of speaking, bought and begun with servitude and forswearing.” He was referring to the system which Archbishop Laud was establishing and maintaining in the Church of England. Milton, therefore, left Cambridge in 1632 with his master's degree, but with no definite profession. In his sonnet On his being Arrived to the Age of Twenty-three, written shortly before he left college, he refers to his fixed hope of future accomplishment: —
Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth,
As ever in my great Task-master's eye. The next few years were among the happiest of Milton's life. His father had in his seventieth year retired from business and settled in the little village of Horton, a short distance from Lon