Belles lettres offered a career which was easier than scholarship for poor men to enter, if only because it demanded less formal preparation. Germany's Friedrich Schiller and Scotland's Robert Burns were both of humble farm stock, while Caron Beaumarchais, author of the The Marriage of Figaro and The Barber of Seville, was the son of a Parisian watchmaker. Equally representative of the literary calling in their day, however, were Goethe, the wealthy patrician from Frankfurt, and Harrow-educated Richard Brinsley Sheridan, witty playwright, member of Parliament, friend of some of Britain's most influential aristocrats and politicians. Two great compatriots, respectively the fathers of modern Italian comic and tragic drama, illustrate the contrasts that were possible. Carlo Goldoni began his career as a strolling player from Modena. Count Vittorio Alfieri came of one of the Piedmontese nobility's richest families. But perhaps more significant in this connection is the fact that even the low-born among the writers referred to above, save for the tragically shortlived Burns, eventually acquired fortunes and social recognition. Schiller was honoured, and paid, as a history professor and literary artist in residence by the enlightened Duke of Saxe-Weimar from 1789 until the poet's death in 1805. Beaumarchais, now styling himself Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, became a brilliant figure at the French royal court. Goldoni too was invited to Paris and there given a pension by Louis XVI. The ruling aristocracy of the Old Regime knew how to flatter writers, though in some cases, including that of Beaumarchais, it did not even attempt to make them stop ridiculing the existing social order.