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WILLIAM HERBERT, EARL OF PEMBROKE, was the son of Sir Richard Herbert of Ewyas by Margaret his wife, daughter and heir of Sir Matthew Cradock of Swansea. He was born in the year 1502. In the year 1535 he was Esquire of the body to king Henry the VIII. and when that king lay upon his death-bed, being chief gentleman of the privy-chamber, and of the privy-council, the king constituted him one of his executors, leaving him by his will a legacy of £300. and appointed him one of the counsellors to his son prince Edward, in all matters concerning both his private and public affairs. For his services to K. Edward VI. on the death of Sir Anthony Brown, knight, he was made master of the horse, and on Dec. 1, 1548, was elected one of the Knights Companions of the Garter, and installed on Dec. 13, following. In 1551, he was advanced, by letters patent, to the degree of a baron of this realm, by the title of Lord Herbert of Caerdiff; and on the morrow created Earl of Pembroke.
His first wife was Anne, daughter of Thomas Lord Parr of Kendall, and sister to Catherine Parr, sixth wife of Henry VIII. as also sister and coheir to William Marquis of Northampton. By her he had two sons, Henry Lord Herbert, who succeeded him in the earldom of Pembroke, and who, at the same time that Lord Guildford Dudley was married to Lady Jane Gray, was married to Lady Catherine Gray her sister; and Sir Edward Herbert of Poole- or Powis-Castle; also one daughter, Anne, married to Francis Lord Talbot, son and heir to George, the sixth Earl of Shrewsbury. Lady Pembroke died at his seat at Baynard's-Castle in 1551.
His second wife was Anne, daughter of George Earl of Shrewsbury, and widow of Peter Compton, ancestor of the Earl of Northampton. By her he had no issue. She was buried at Erith in Kent, Aug. 8, 1588.
In the year 1553 he surrendered his place of master of the horse to Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick, son of the D. of Northumberland.
At the funeral of Edward VI. he was one of the principal mourners; and was one of the chief of the privy
council, who signed a letter to the Lady Mary, acknowledging the Lady Jane Gray, lawful queen of the realm. But soon perceiving that the whole nation was averse to the D. of Northumberland's proceedings in the settlement of the crown, he was among the first that formed a party for the proclaiming of Mary on July 19, 1553; who had such a sense of his services, that she took him into favour, and on the insurrection of Sir Thomas Wyatt, she chose him general of the forces raised to oppose him. On Philip King of Spain landing in England, July 19, 1554, the Earl of Pembroke waited on him, and was present at his marriage with the queen at Winchester on the 25th; and Nov. 12, on the King and Queen's going to the parliament, he carried the sword before them.
On Queen Elizabeth's accession to the throne, Nov. 17, 1558, he was sworn of her privy-council, and with the Marquis of Northampton, the Earl of Bedford, and the Lord John Gray, was entrusted by the Queen to be present at the consultations of those learned men and divines, who met at Sir Thomas Smith's house, and settled the reformation of religion as it is now established. He died at Hampton Court, March 17, 1569-70, ih the 63d of his age. year
Collins's Peerage, Vol. III. p. 31, &c..
The following dates brought into one view will give a yet clearer insight into the transactions of this play and period.
1553, latter end of May, Lady Jane Gray was mar ried to Lord Guilford Dudley. June 21, The Succession was changed.
July 6, Edward VI. died, in the 16th year of his age.
10, Lady Jane proclaimed Queen.
25, Duke of Northumberland sent to the
22, D. of Northumberland and Sir John: Gates beheaded.
1553, Aug. 23,
Gardiner made Lord Chancellor. Nov. 3. Lady Jane and Lord Guilford tried. 1554. Jan. Insurrection of the Duke of Suffolk and Sir Thomas Wyatt.
Feb. 12. Lady Jane and Lord Guilford Dudley were beheaded.
On comparing these facts and dates with the incidents of the Play, it appears, that the time which it takes up is rather more than nine months, from the marriage of Lady Jane Gray and Lord Guilford Dudley to their death; but that the author has altered the order of some of the events, omitted some, and varied from the history in several particulars. One of the very prominent features of the play is the love of the Earl of Pembroke for Lady Jane Gray, and his friendship with Lord Guilford Dudley and rivalry with him, together with their quarrel and reconciliation. This appears to me to be a very great fault, both as it is falsifying history, and also as it occupies that space in the play which might have been employed in events of a more interesting nature which really happened. The death of Edward VI. the trial of Lady Jane and Lord Guilford, and the characters of Queen Mary and of Feckenham might, I think, have been introduced with a very good effect; nay, I think the interest of the spectator and of the reader would have been still more strongly excited had they seen her at the beginning of the play in the retirement of Broadgate, and been present at the visit of Ascham.
It appears to me, that, were our dramas more frequently founded on history, and that followed as closely as the nature of the stage will admit, they might be rendered a very useful species of amusement; but, as they are now too commonly constructed, the most gross and unnecessary deviations are made. In the Play of THE ROYAL OAK, produced the last summer at the Haymarket Theatre, the history is so altered, and so many new incidents are introduced, that it is likely, not only to give persons not well acquainted with the history very erroneous ideas, but it also does great injustice to the
memory of several persons whose names deserve to be handed down to posterity with respect and affection. To TRUSTY DICK PENDERELL are we indebted for disguising the King in the habit of a peasant and concealing him in his house, in the wood with him at work, or in The Royal Oak But, in the place of him, the author of the Play has introduced a different character, and given him the name of Arthur Maythorn.
With these ideas respecting historical dramas, had I been aware to how great an extent Rowe has varied from fact in this Play of Lady Jane Gray, when I printed my Proposals, which was before I set down to compare it with the history, I should have had more doubt respecting the propriety of introducing it. But the history which is prefixed and given in some of the Notes, and also the observations here made, will, I hope, rather tend to the instruction of the reader, and afford hints to future authors in writing historical dramas.
Of the merits of this piece the author of the Biographia Dramatica' says, "This is an admirable play, and is "frequently performed with success to this day, though "not absolutely on the acting list of plays."" The 66 quarrel and reconciliation between Lord Guilford and "Lord Pembroke are very fine; and the scene of Lady "Jane, previous to her mounting the scaffold, has "abundance of pathos in it. On the whole, I think I 66 may venture to pronounce it equal to any, and supe"rior to most of the dramatic pieces of this admirable "author." Vol. II. p. 183.
Never having seen this piece performed, and having more than once witnessed the admirable acting of Mrs. Siddons in Jane Shore, that play has had an advantage with me which Lady Jane Gray has not had, and which makes it much more interesting to me, as I can never read it without bringing to mind the representation. But I am of opinion, that, were Lady Jane Gray well performed, an audience of any taste and judgment would be highly gratified.* The amiable piety of Lady Jane, the
* I am informed that Lady Jane Gray is now sometimes performed by the Norwich Company, and is always received with approbation.
delicate love between her and Lord Guilford, the friendship, quarrel and reconciliation of Lord Guilford and Pembroke, the sweetness of the poetry, and the value of the moral and religious sentiments, form a Tragedy which is surpassed by but few on our stage. The alterations made in it have been fewer, I believe, than in any former play.
The Reader may be pleased to be referred to An Epistle from Lady Jane Gray to Lord Guilford Dudley, supposed to have been written in the Tower, a few days before they suffered: by GEORGE KEATE, Esq. in the second volume of his POEMS. There are some things in it liable to the objections which I have made in my different works to the sentiments and language of our poets; but it is a pleasing poem, and applicable to our present purpose. There is a beautiful Portrait of Lady Jane prefixed to it.
The copies used in printing this play have been one printed for Lowndes, &c. in 1791. Bell's edition of 1776, and the original 4to. of 1715.
Clare Hall, Oct. 9, 1811.