[Read the whole of the 'Solstitium' scene here.]
My candidate for Solstitium is Sir Christopher Hatton.
|Solstitium is placid, balanced, modest. Uniquely among the servants he is treated with respect and honour throughout his examination and departs with Summer's unqualified affection.|
| The stage direction says he enters:|
'like an aged Hermit'
'like an aged Hermit'
'attended by a train of shepherds'
|Hatton died aged fifty-one: by the standards of his own day he was approaching old age. According to Robert Cecil after his appointment to the Privy Council Hatton adopted the flat cap, the sign of an elderly man. Brooks says a portrait belonging to the Tyrwhitt-Drake family shows Hatton 'seated; he wears a large ruff, has a white beard and looks rather old.'|
Like his friend Whitgift Hatton never married and his epitaph describes him as 'coelebs'. There were rumours he had an illegitimate daughter, but certainly in comparison with more sexually-active rivals like Leicester and Ralegh Hatton must always have appeared strikingly continent.
'Shepherds' are poets: Hatton, very much in contrast to Burghley, was a recognised patron of poets.
|He bears the colours black and white.||Elizabeth's colours, which Hatton adopted. Before he was able to link himself with the armigerous Cheshire family of Hatton, he adopted arms in black and white. His portraits, and even his jousting armour, tend to show him in these colours.|
Solstitium is treated with respect throughout his scene.
Compare the way Vertumnus calls him with the flippant summoning of the others:
He is then spoken of by Summer only with warm approval ('I like thy moderation wondrous well;') and keen regret ('Nought but day's eyes and fair looks gave I thee?').
|Sir Christopher Hatton had died the previous November. He had been Whitgift's dearest friend as well as his political ally. |
"In Hatton he found a friend through life at court..."(Strype)
Whitgift's chaplain, right-hand man and eventual successor, Richard Bancroft, had formerly been chaplain to Sir Christopher Hatton. Their shared affection for the late Lord Chancellor must have formed a common bond between the Archbishop and his closest aide. Any depiction of Hatton before Whitgift and Bancroft would therefore have to present the recently-deceased courtier in a tender and generous light.
Solstitium carries balances, and states |
'I love to dwell betwixt the hills and dales;
Neither to be so great to be envied,
Nor yet so poor the world should pity me.'
The keynote of Solstitium's character is his placidity.
|Hatton was a moderate - politically, religiously and by natural temperament. His rewards at Elizabeth's hands were substantial, but he was less demanding than many of her favourites. In comparison with the ambitious Ralegh he probably seemed modest, at least to the eyes of a friend. |
There are many references to Hatton's serene temper, but here's one from a letter of 1578 by Aylmer, who'd inadvertently upset him:
Evidently a longtime servant he has been elbowed out lately by greedier, younger men, and his merits overlooked: |
'Such use these times have got, that none must beg
But those that have young limbs to lavish fast.'
|Hatton first came to Elizabeth's favour in 1564, and kept it in the face of challenges from his contemporaries Oxford and Leicester. But it was Ralegh, twelve years younger, who effectively eclipsed him. After the greedy, flamboyant Sir Walter arrived on the scene Hatton fell into neglect rather than disgrace. His surprise appointment to the office of Lord Chancellor was evidently due to his friend Whitgift's influence.|
Surprisingly, although Summer has power to punish and condemn bad servants, it seems it is too late to do anything to reward the faithful Solstitium:|
'A little sooner hadst thou spoke to me
Thou hadst been heard: but now the time is past.'
Death waiteth at the door for thee and me...'
Will Summer:'Let us have no more of these grave matters'
Why is the time for doing good to Solstitium past? Because Hatton had died eleven months previously.