Devereux, Robert

, son to the former, and third earl of Essex, was born in 1592, at Essex-house, in the Strand; and at the time of his father’s unhappy death, was under the care of his grandmother, by whom he was sent to Eton school, where he was first educated. In the month of January 1602, he was entered a gentleman-commoner of Merton- college, Oxford, where he had an apartment in the warden’s lodgings, then Mr. Savile, afterwards the celebrated sir Henry Savile, his father’s dear friend, and who, for his sake, was exceedingly careful in seeing that he was learnedly and religiously educated. The year following, he was restored to his hereditary honours; and in 1605, when king James visited the university of Oxford, our young earl of Essex was created M. A. on the 30th of August, for the first tirne, which very probably he had forgotten, or he would not have received the same honour above thirty years afterwards. He was already in possession of his father’s high spirit, of which he gave a sufficient indication in a quarrel which he had with prince Henry. Some dispute arose between them at a game at tennis; the prince called his companion the son of a traitor; who retaliated by giving him a severe blow with his racket; and the king was obliged to interfere to restore peace. At the age of fourteen, he was betrothed to lady Frances Howard, who was still younger than himself; but he immediately set out on his travels, and during his absence the affections of his young wife were estranged from him, and fixed upon the king’s favourite, Carr, afterwards earl of Somerset. The consequence was a suit instituted against the husband for impotency, in which, to the disgrace of the age, the king interfered, and which ended in | a divorce. The earl of Essex, feeling himself disgraced by the sentence, retired to his country seat, and spent some years in rural sports and amusements. In 120, being wearied of a state of inaction, he joined the earl of Oxford in a military expedition to the Palatinate, where they served with companies of their own raising, under sir Horatio Vere, and in the following year they served in Holland, under prince Maurice, In the course of the winter they returned to England, and lord Essex appeared in the ranks of the opposition in parliament. On this account he was not favourably received at court, which was the mean of attaching him the more closely to foreign service. He commanded a regiment raised in England for the United States in 1624, and though nothing very important was atchieved by the English auxiliaries, yet he acquired experience, and distinguished himself among the nobility of the time. On the accession of Charles I. he was employed as vice-admiral in an expedition against Spain, which proved unsuccessful. In 1626, he made another campaign in the Low Countries, and shortly after he formed another unhappy match, by marrying the daughter of sir William Paulet, from whom, owing to her misconduct, he was divorced within two years. He now resolved to give himself up entirely to public life; he courted popularity, and made friends among the officers of the army and the puritan ministers. He was, however, employed by the king in various important services; but when the king and court left the metropolis, lord Essex pleaded in excuse his obligation to attend in his place as a peer of the realm, and was accordingly deprived of all his employments; a step which alone seemed wanting to fix him in opposition to the king; and in July 1642 he accepted the post of general of the parliamentary army. He opposed the king in person at Edge-hill, where the victory was so indecisive, that each party claimed it as his own. After this he was successful in some few instances, but in other important trusts he did little to recommend him to the persons in whose interests he was employed. He was, however, treated with external respect, until the self-denying ordinance threw him entirely out of the command: he resigned his commission, but not without visible marks of discontent. Unwilling to lose him altogether, the parliament voted that he should be raised to a dukedom, and be allowed 10,000l. per annum, to support his new dignity; but these were | vented by a sudden death, which, as in the case of his grandfather, was by some attributed to unfair means. He died September 14, 1646. Parliament directed a public funeral for him, which was performed with great solemnity in the following month, at Westminster abbey. In his conduct, the particulars of which may be seen in the history of the times, a want of steadiness is to be discovered, which candour would refer to the extraordinary circumstances in which public men were then placed. Personal affronts at court, whether provoked or not, led him to go a certain length with those who, he did not perceive, wanted to go much farther, and although he appeared in arms against his sovereign, no party was pleased with his efforts to preserve a balance; yet, with all his er/ors, Hume and other historians, not friendly to the republican cause, have considered his death as a public misfortune. Hume says, that fully sensible of the excesses to which affairs had been carried, and of the worse consequences which were still to be apprehended, he had resolved to conciliate a peace, and to remedy as far as possible all those ills to which, from mistake rather than any bad intention, he had himself so much contributed. The presbyterian, or the moderate party among the commons, found themselves considerably weakened by his death; and the small remains of authority which still adhered to the house of peers, were in a manner wholly extinguished. 1

1 Biog. Brit. Clarendon’s History. Hume, &c.