Herbert, George

, an eminent and exemplary divine, younger brother to the preceding, was born April 3, 1593, at Montgomery castle. His father died when he was very young; and until the age of twelve, he was educated under private tutors in his mother’s house. He was then put under the care of Dr. Neale, dean of Westminster, and afterwards archbishop of York, who placed him at Westminster-school. At the age of fifteen, being then a king’s scholar, he was elerted to Trinity college, Cambridge, and went thither about 1608, during the mastership of that great benefactor to the college, Dr. Nevil, who, at his mother’s request, took particular notice of him. At college he was assiduous in his studies, and virtuous in his conduct. Here he took his bachelor’s degree in 1612, and that of master in 1616, before which he had obtained a fellowship. During his studies, his principal relaxation was music, for which he had a good taste, and in which, as Walton says, “he became a great master.” At this time, however, he betrayed a little of the vanity of youth and birth, by affecting great finery of dress, and maintaining a reserved behaviour towards his inferiors. In 1619, he was chosen university orator, which office he held for eight years, much to the satisfaction of his hearers, and particularly of those great personages whom he had occasionally to address. The terms of flattery he appears to have known how to use with great profusion; and in more than one instance, pleased king James very much with his liberal offerings of this kind. He gave no less satisfaction to his majesty also, by his apt and ingenious replies to Andrew Melville, a Scotch divine, at the Hampton-court conference. His talents recommended him to the notice of Dr. Andrews, bishop of Winchester, and of the great | lord Bacon, who is said to have entertained such a high opinion of Mr. Herbert, as to consult him in his writings, before they went to press, and dedicated to him his translation of some ef the Psalms into English verse, as the best judge of divine poetry. Nor was bishop Andrews less enraptured with his character; for Herbert, having, in consequence of a dispute between them on predestination and sanctity of life, written a letter to the bishop on the subject in Greek, Andrews used to show it to many scholars, and always carried it about him. Sir Henry Wotton and Dr. Donne may also be added to the number of those eminent men of his time whose friendship he shared.

All this sufficiently shews that his attainments were of no common kind; but unfortunately the praises he received, and the favour into which he was admitted, inspired him with ambition to rise at court. His predecessors in the office of public orator, sir Robert Nanton and sir Francis Nethersole, had both risen to places of distinction in the state; and he being at this time a favourite with the king, and “not meanly valued and loved by the most eminent and most powerful of the court nobility,” began to cherish hopes of similar success. With this view he frequently left Cambridge to attend the king, wheresoever the court was and the king having given him a sinecure worth about 120l. a year, he devoted himself yet more to court-attendance, and seldom visited Cambridge, unless the king was there. But, as Walton says, “God, in whom there is an unseen chain of causes,” terminated his hopes of rising at court, by the deaths of the duke of Richmond and the marquis of Hamilton, his chief patrons, and about the same time, by that of king James.

The loss of these friends appears to have given a new turn to his mind. He now left London, and went to the house of a gentleman in Kent, where he lived for a considerable time in great privacy, and after having taken a careful retrospect of his past views and hopes, he determined to dedicate himself to the church, and, to use his own words, to “consecrate all his learning and all his abilities to advance the glory of that God which gave them; knowing that I can never do too much for him that hath done so much for me, as to make me a Christian. And I will labour to be like my Saviour, by making humility lovely in the eyes of all men, and by following the merciful and meek example of my dear Jesus.” Such was | his resolution, and perhaps few men have more literally fulfilled it in every respect. His life from this time became a pattern to all, but especially to his brethren in the church.

It appears that when at college, about 1617, he had applied himself to the study of divinity, which his subsequent views at court probably interrupted. Having now obtained deacon’s orders, he was made prebendary of Leighton Bromswold, in the diocese of Lincoln, a piece of preferment given to him by bishop (afterwards archbishop) Williams. His first memorable act, when he entered on this, was to rebuild the parish church of Leighton, which he undertook at great risk of expence to himself, but by the aid of his friends, he was enabled to accomplish this, his favourite object,

About 1629, he was seized with a quotidian ague, which obliged him to remove to Woodford in Essex, for change of air; and when, after his ague had abated, some consumptive appearances were apprehended, he went to Dauntsey in Wiltshire, the seat of lord Danvers, earl of Danby, who appropriated an apartment for him, and treated him with the greatest care and kindness. Here, by abstaining from hard study, and by air and exercise, he apparently recovered his health, and then declared his resolution to marry, and to take priest’s orders. Accordingly he married Jane Danvers, daughter of Mr. Charles Danvers of Bainton in Wilts, related to the earl of Danby; and about three months after his marriage, at the request of Philip earl of Pembroke, the king presented him to the living of Bemerton, into which he was inducted April 26, 1630. Here he passed the remainder of his days, discharging the duties of a parish priest in a manner so exemplary, that the history of his life here, as given by Walton, or perhaps as delineated by himself in his “Country Parson,” may justly be recommended as a model. His own behaviour was indeed an exact comment on all he wrote, which appears to have come from the heart of a man of unfeigned piety and humility. Unhappily, however, for his rlock, his life was shortened by a return of the consumptive symptoms which had formerly appeared, and he died in February 1632, and was buried March 3.

He published, 1. “Oratio qua auspicatissimum sereniss. princ. Caroli reditnm ex Hispaniis celebravit G. H. acad. Cantab. Orator,1623. 2. A translation of Coniaro “Oil | Temperance.” 3. “Herbert’s Remains, &c.” Lond. 1652, 12mo. In this volume is his “Priest to the Temple, or the Country Parson’s character and rule of Holy Life,” a series of short chapters on the duties and character of a parish priest, which has been separately and very recently printed, and always much admired. 4. “The Temple, Sacred Poems and private ejaculations,Cambridge, 1633, 12mo, often reprinted. As a poet Mr. Herbert ranks with Donne, Quarles, and Crashaw; but, as some critics have asserted, is inferior to these. He was, however, the most popular poet of his day, for, according to Walton, 10,Ooo copies of this work were sold, and we know that there have been editions since Walton’s time. At the end of this volume is a collection of poems entitled “The Synagogue,” which Granger very improperly attributes to Crashaw. Mr. Zouch has endeavoured to prove that these pieces were written by Mr. Christopher Hervey. There are some Latin poems by Herbert in the “Ecclesiastes Solomonis,” published by Dr. Duport, in the “Epicedium Cantabrigiense,1612, and the “Lachrymae Cantabrigienses,1619; and a series of his letters are in the orator’s book at Cambridge. 1


Life by Walton, Zouch’s edition. Ellis’s Specimens, Headlcy’s Beautios.