Sherburne, Sir Edward

, an English poet, was descended from an antient family of the same name at Stanyhurst, in Lancashire. His grandfather, Henry, appears to | have belonged, but in what capacity is not known, to Corpus Christi college, Oxford, and settled in that city, where Edward the father of our poet was born. This Edward went afterwards to London, and became secretary to the first East India company, established by queen Elizabeth’s charter, and in 1613, obtained a reversionary grant of the office of clerk of the ordnance. He was afterwards knighted by Charles I. He married Frances, the second daughter pf John Stanley of Roydon Hall, in Essex, esq. and resided in Goldsmith’s Rents, near Redcross-street, Cripplegate. Mis son, the poet, was born here Sept 18, 1618, and educated by the celebrated Thomas Farnaby, who then taught a school in Goldsmith’s rents. On his removal to Sevenoaks in Kent, in 1636, young Sherburne was educated privately, under the care of Mr. Charles Aleyn, the poetical historian of the battles of Cressy and Poictiers, who had been one of Farnaby’s ushers. On the death of Aleyn in 1640, his pupil being intended for the army, was sent to complete his education abroad, and had travelled in France and part of Italy, when his father’s illness obliged him to return. After his father’s death in 1641, he succeeded to the clerkship of his majesty’s ordnance, the reversion of which had been procured for him in 1638,- but the rebellion prevented his retaining it long. Being a Roman catholic, and firmly attached to the king, he was ejected by a warrant of the house of Lords in April or May 1642, and harassed by a long and expensive confinement in the custody of the usher of the black rod.

On his release he determined to follow the fortunes of his royal master, who made him commissary-general of the artillery, in which post he witnessed the battle of Edge-hill, and afterwards attended the king at Oxford, where he was created master of arts, Dec. 20, 1642. Here he took such opportunities as his office permitted of pursuing his studies, and did not leave Oxford untilJune 1646, when it was surrendered to the parliamentary forces. He then went to London, and was entertained by a near relation, John Povey, esq. at his chambers in the Middle Temple. Being plundered of all his property, and what is ever most dear* to a man of learning, his ample library, he would probably have sunk under his accumulated sufferings, had he not met with his kinsman, Thomas Stanley, esq. father of the learned Thomas Stanley, esq. who was a sufferer in the same cause, and secreted near the same place. But some | degree of toleration must have been extended to him soon after, as in 1648, he published his translation of Seneca’s “Medea,” and in the same year, Seneca’s answer to Lucilius’s question “Why good men suffer misfortunes, seeing there is a divine providence?” In 1651, he published his “Poems and Translations,” with a Latin dedication to Mr. Stanley; and when sir George Savile, afterwards marquis of Halifax, returned from his travels about that time, he appointed Mr. Sherburne superintendant of his affairs; and by the recommendation of his mother, kidy Savile, he was afterwards made travelling tutor to her nephew, sir John Coventry. With this gentleman he visited various parts of the continent, from March 1654 to October 1659. On the restoration, sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, afterwards lord Shaftesbury, put another into his place in the ordnance, but on Mr. Sherburne’s application to tlve House of Peers, it was restored to him, although its emoluments were soon greatly retrenched.

The peace of the country being now re-established, he appears to have applied himself to a studious life, and replenished his library, which, according to Wood, was esteemed one of the most considerable belonging to any gentleman in or near London. In 1675, he published “The Sphere of Marcus Manilius, made an English poem, with annotations, and an astronomical index,” which was honoured by the very particular and liberal approbation of the Royal Society; and in 1679, he published a translation of Seneca’s “Troades, or the Royal Captives/’ and he left in manuscript a translation of” Hyppolitus,“which two, with theMedea" before mentioned, he endeavoured to prove were all that Seneca wrote.

During the commotions excited by the popish plot, attempts were made to remove him from his place in the ordnance, as a suspected papist, but these were ineffectual; and his majesty, who appears to have been satisfied with his character and conduct, conferred on him the honour of knighthood, Jan. 6, 1682, As, however, he could not take the oaths on the revolution, he quitted his public employment, and by this step sacrificed his property to his principles. For some time he lived a retired and probably a comfortable life, but poverty at length induced him to seek relief. In 1696, he presented a supplicatory memorial to the earl of Romney, then master general of the ordnance, and another to the king. In both, he represented, | in very earnest but modest language, his long and faithful services, his total loss of fortune in the cause of royalty, his extreme indigence, and his advanced age (he being then upwards of eighty-two years old), and concluded with an humble request that an annual stipend for his support might be granted upon the quarter books of the office. The writer to whom we are indebted for this account has not been able to discover that this request was ever complied with. He adds, that sir Edward was well acquainted with the duties of his station, to the discharge of which he dedicated a long life, and was the principal person concerned in drawing up the “Rules, orders, and instructions” given to the office of ordnance in 1683, which with very few alterations, have been confirmed at the beginning of every reign since, and are those by which the office is now governed.

To these scanty notices, may be added his acquaintance with Dr. Bent ley, which was occasioned by that learned critic’s announcing an intention of publishing a new edition of Manilius. Sir Edward, who had formerly translated the first book of that poet into English verse, took this opportunity of sending to Bentley his collection of editions and papers belonging to Caspar Gevanius, who had also intended an edition of Manilius, but was prevented by death.

The writer of his life in the Biographia Britannica, concludes it with lamenting the misfortune of Anthony Wood’s carrying on his history no longer than the year 1700, and thus leaving it doubtful when sir Edward Sherburne died; but this is one of the many instances of carelessness which occur in those latter volumes of the Biographia that were principally intrusted to Dr. Nichols. Collier, whose Dictionary is in less reputation than it deserves, and which contains many curious facts not easily to be found elsewhere, ascertains Sherburne’s death from his epitaph, part of which he wrote for himself. He died Nov. 4, 1702, and was interred on the 8th in the chapel belonging to the Tower of London.

In Sherburne’s poems considerable genius may be discovered, but impeded by the prevailing taste of his age for strained metaphors and allusions. Poetical lovers then thought no compliments too extravagant, and ransacked the remotest, and apparently most barren sources for what were considered as striking thoughts, but which appear to us unnatural, if not ridiculous. He appears to have derived | most of his reputation from his translations. He was a man of classical learning and a critic, and frequently conveys the sense of his author with considerable spirit, although his versification is in general flat and inharmonious. In his sacred poerns he seems to rise to a fervency and elegance which indicate a superior inspiration. 1

1 Biog. Brit. Dodd’s Ch. Hist.- —Gent. Mag. vol. LXVI.Johnson and Chalmers’s English poets, 1810. —Gent. Mag. LXVI.