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But, alas ! my muse is slow;
And raise pleasure to her height,
Thou dost teach me to contemn
This beautiful allusion to his own pursuits and misfortunes, has been often referred to with admiration, and ought never to be omitted in any collection of poetical extracts. It is calculated to throw a mild, pensive lustre, both on humanity and on poetry.
ART. VII.-The Life of Edward Lord Herbert of Cherbury.
Written by himself. London. For J. Dodsley, in Pail. Mall, 1770.
The transition-age of our history, as the reign of James I. has been happily termed, is remarkable for so many instances of profligacy, corruption, and baseness, amongst our nobility, that were the character of Lord Herbert of Cherbury much less distinguished than it is, by the high qualities which adorn it, the contemplation of its excellences would be a most seasonable relief to our minds, when sickened with the vices of such men as Somerset and Northampton. The standard of honourable, and indeed of virtuous feeling, seems never to have been reduced lower amongst us than at this period, when even the most exalted spirits were unable entirely to soar above the mephitic atmosphere in which they were enveloped. The wisdom of Bacon could not prevent him from grovelling in the dust of a court, and soiling the splendours of a character which might have shone stainless through all ages, by arts which have rendered him a warning to posterity, when he should have been its highest example. The varied accomplishments of Raleigh, a man whom Nature had fashioned to be the model of all gallantry, honour, and wisdom, serve but as lights to draw into more conspicuous notice his faults and his follies, for of vices he ought surely to be acquitted. Not all the learning and patriotism of Coke can ever cleanse his fame from the blot with which his fierce inhumanity towards the unfortunate Raleigh has stained it. Thus, amongst nearly all the eminent men of that day, we look in vain for that conjunction of the great and the good, which is the only basis of a truly noble character. There cannot be a stronger proof of the disorganized state of moral feeling at this period, than the various fates of the individuals whom we have just named. Somerset, a convicted adulterer and murderer, retired upon a pension.-Northampton, his accomplice, endowed an almshouse, and died an edifying death in his own palace.-Bacon, the services for which he had sold his honour forgotten, perished in destitute poverty-the learned head and the brave heart of Raleigh could not save him from the steel of the executioner; and disgrace was the portion accorded to the honesty and profound sagacity of Sir Edward Coke. In times thus ordered, it is gratifying to find one instance where worth and valour, and learning and prosperity, were all united, as they were in the person of Edward, Lord Herbert of Cherbury.
Even in making these very few observations, we feel as though we were wronging our readers, and detaining them from a banquet by expatiating on the excellence of the viands. To those, indeed, who have not already devoured the work, we can promise a rich and delightful feast, which we hope they may relish with a zest equal to that which, as we well recollect, attended our first perusal of these captivating memoirs.
Edward Herbert, afterwards created Lord Herbert of Cherbury in England, was born in the year 1581, and was the eldest son of Richard Herbert, Esq. a gentleman of ancient family in Monmouthshire. Many of his ancestors were celebrated for their valour, a quality which they transmitted unimpaired to their descendant. His great grandfather, Sir Richard Herbert,“ was that incomparable hero, who in the history of Hall and Grafton, as it appears) twice passed through a great army of Northern men, alone, with his pole-axe in his hand, and returned without any mortal hurt, which is more than is famed of Amadis de Gaul, or the Knight of the Sun.” The subject of the memoirs before us, received his earliest education in the house of his “ lady grandmother," where he profited so much, that before he was nine years of age, he made an oration of a sheet of paper, and fifty or sixty verses in the space of a day on the theme of Audaces fortuna juvat. At the age of twelve, he was sent to the University of Oxford; and in 1598, he married the daughter of Sir William Herbert, of St. Gillians; after which event, he returned to Oxford, and “ followed his book more close than ever.” When he was about eighteen, his mother took a house in London, in which he resided with her for some years.
On his arrival in the metropolis, he was introduced at the court of Elizabeth.
“ About the year of our Lord 1600, I came to London, shortly after which the attempt of the Earl of Essex, related in our history, followed; which I had rather were seen in the writers of that argument, than here. Not long after this, curiosity, rather than ambition, brought me to court; and as it was the manner of those times, for all men to kneel down before the great Queen Elizabeth, who then reigned, I was likewise upon my knees in the presence chamber, when she passed by the chapel at Whitehall. As soon as she saw me, she stopped, and swearing by her oath, demanded, Who is this? Every body there present looked upon me, but no man knew me, until Sir James Croft, a pensioner, finding the Queen staid, returned back and told who I was, and that I had married Sir William Herbert, of St. Gillians', daughter. The Queen hereupon looked attentively upon me, and swearing again her ordinary oath, said, it is pity he was married so young, and thereupon gave her hand to kiss twice, both times gently clapping me upon the cheek. I remember little more of myself, but that from that time until King James's coming to the crown, I had a son which died shortly afterwards, and that I attended my studies seriously; the more I learnt out of my books, adding still a desire to know more.”
On the accession of James I. he was made a knight of the Bath, on which occasion he experienced some extraordinary marks of attention, which he has recorded in his life. On the sleeve of the robe with which the knight was invested, it was formerly usual to fasten a knot of white silk and gold, which was to be worn until the knight “ had done something famous in arms, or until some lady of honour should take it off, and fasten it on her sleeve, saying, I will answer he shall prove good knight.” Sir Edward Herbert had not long worn the knot, when a principal lady of the court, whose name is now lost to us, but who was certainly, in most men's opinions, the handsomest,” took off the knot from the new knight's sleeve, and pledged her honour for his. An incident like this might have awakened all the feelings of chivalric gallantry in a heart less sensible to their impressions, than that of Sir Edward Herbert. In the year 1608, Sir Edward resolved, notwithstanding his lady's aversion to the measure, to visit the continent; and accordingly proceeded to Paris, where he became acquainted with the Constable Montmorency, the hero of Dreux and St. Denis. During his residence at the castle of Merlon, the residence of “ that brave old general," Sir Edward displayed, in the following manner, the almost Quixotic gallantry of his disposition :
“ Passing two or three days here, it happened one evening that a daughter of the duchess, of about ten or eleven years of age, going from the castle to walk in the meadows, myself, with divers French gentlemen, attended her and some gentlewomen that were with her. The young lady wearing a knot of ribband on her head, a French chevalier took it suddenly and fastened it to his hatband. The young lady, addressing herself to me, said, Monsieur, I pray get my ribband from that gentleman ; hereupon, going towards him courteously, with my hat in my hand, desired him to do me the honour, that I may
deliver the lady her ribband or bouquet again ; but he roughly answering me, Do you think I will give it you, when I have refused it to her? I replied, Nay, then, sir, I will make you restore it by force; whereupon also, putting on my hat and reaching at his, he, to save himself, ran