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Herbert, Edward, 1st Baron Herbert

Herbert, Edward, 1st Baron Herbert (1583–1648). Herbert was of a younger branch of the earls of Pembroke which had settled in Montgomery castle. After attending University College, Oxford, he was knighted at the coronation of James I in 1603. From 1619 to 1624 he served as ambassador in Paris and was given an Irish barony, followed by an English one in 1629. He waited in vain for further employment and during the Civil War kept a low profile at Montgomery. He made no resistance when parliamentary troops occupied the castle in 1644, being anxious to preserve his books. Herbert's many publications include De veritate (1624), an early deist exposition, and an admiring Life of Henry VIII (1649). But he is best known for his Autobiography, first published by Horace Walpole in 1764. Herbert was not inhibited by false modesty and pays warm tribute to his own valour, appearance (‘I could tell how much my person was commended’), irresistible sex appeal, and good breath. George Saintsbury, a strong-minded critic, dismissed him as ‘not a very bad poet, a very great coxcomb, and a hero chiefly by his own report’. He was the elder brother of George Herbert.

J. A. Cannon

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Herbert of Cherbury, Edward Herbert, 1st Baron

Edward Herbert Herbert of Cherbury, 1st Baron, 1583–1648, English philosopher, poet, and diplomat; elder brother of George Herbert, the metaphysical poet. He was ambassador to France (1619–24) and was created Baron Herbert of Cherbury in 1629. A precursor of deism, Lord Herbert laid down his principles of natural religion in De veritate (1624), De religione laici (1645), and De religione gentilium (1663). His secular metaphysical poetry also shows the influence of his philosophy, for even his love poems in Poems (1665) reflect the serious, analytic approach of the rationalist. He also wrote a biography of Henry VIII (1649) and an autobiography, first published by Horace Walpole in 1764.

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