Home  »  Volume V: English THE DRAMA TO 1642 Part One  »  § 13. Contrast between Court and Country

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IV. Prose and Poetry: Sir Thomas North to Michael Drayton.

XIV. Some Political and Social Aspects of the Later Elizabethan and Earlier Stewart Period

§ 13. Contrast between Court and Country

The perfect courtier (we are apprised in the same dialogue), who has put such a training as the above to the proof, should quit the court which has been the scene of his self-devotion after his fortieth year, having by that time reached the decline of his age. Instead of making himself a laughing-stock by lingering in livelier scenes, and among more aspiring companions, he should now withdraw among everyday experiences and responsibilities, and become a country gentleman. The range of his duties has now been narrowed to that of looking after his property, doing his duty as justice of the peace and quorum—it is to be hoped after the originally equitable fashion of Mr. Justice Clement rather than in the “countenancing” ways of Mr. Justice Shallow—attending to musters and surveys of arms, perhaps occasionally riding up to Westminster as a parliament man. His years do not permit of his taking much share in the sports of younger country gentlemen—among which hawking holds the first place, hare-hunting or, in some places, stag-hunting coming next; but he can lend his countenance to the various country feasts which, from Shrove Tuesday to Martinmas or Christmas even in protestant England still dot the working year.