“I swear by God’s body, I’d rather that my son should hang than study letters. For it becomes the sons of gentlemen to blow the horn nicely, to hunt skillfully and elegantly, carry and train a hawk. But the study of letters should be left to the sons of rustics.”


In August 1564, the Queen ascended to Cambridge—for even she must be said to go up—with a train of courtiers. In honor of the great occasion, seventeen1 of that party, privy councillors and gilded youth, were granted degrees. Among those in the company so honored were Sir William Cecil and two of his royal wards: the hatchling earls Edward de Vere, the 17th of Oxford and Edward Manners, the 3rd of Rutland. They were then 14 and 15.