Home » Languages » English (Sr. Secondary) » Essay, Biography or Paragraph on “Edward Herbert” great author complete biography for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Essay, Biography or Paragraph on “Edward Herbert” great author complete biography for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Edward Herbert

(1582 – 1648)


Edward Herbert was born at Eyton, Shropshire, on March 3, 1582. He was the eldest son of Richard Herbert (c.1554-96), Sheriff of Montgomeryshire and an MP, and Magdalen Herbert (later Lady Danvers), the patron of John Donne and other literary figures. He was largely educated at home, but as a boy he came under the tutelage of the Welsh autodidact Edward Thelwall, who apparently taught him Welsh and of whom Herbert spoke with great respect. He entered University College, Oxford, in 1595.

At the outbreak of the Civil War Lord Herbert found himself caught between his natural loyalty as an aristocrat to Charles I and his political beliefs about arbitrary power, which he expressed in an unpublished manuscript. His Autobiography tells us he had the sweetest-smelling sweat and that he was irresistible to women, especially if they were married to someone else. According to Herbert they kept portraits of him hidden between their breasts. Herbert boasts about his prowess in battle and his exaggerated sense of honour. His other side was rather different: he was a significant metaphysical poet, a serious philosopher and a competent soldier. He played the lute and composed music, and he spoke several languages. He was a loyal servant to the King, and was never afraid to speak his mind. Thus, Herbert’s boasting was not entirely unjustified—indeed we might say that he was the last Renaissance man in some respects. Herbert’s philosophical task, set forth in his two major works on the subject, De veritate (1624) and De religion gentilium (1645), was to effect the reconcilement of religions by uncovering their common ground in antiquity Herbert proposed that all religions can be reduced to the following propositions, which were innate and which he called Religious Common Notions: (1) There is a God; (2) God ought to be worshipped; (3) Virtue and Piety are the essential components of any religion; (4) Vice is expiated through some form of repentance; (5) There are rewards and punishments after death.

As a poet, Herbert is of the ‘metaphysical’ school—his poetry is tough, philosophical, and sometimes obscure, but he often comes up with powerful imagery and a kind of bleak pathos that suffuses his whole oeuvre. Herbert’s philosophical work was praised by Descartes who wrote that Herbert’s “mind had few equal,” by Pierre Gassendi who called him “the second Verulam” (Bacon) and by Ben Jonson, who referred to him as “all-virtuous Herbert,” who could not be contained because he was “so many men” in one. His poetry is over-shadowed by that of his brother George and his philosophical works were, until recently, unavailable in English.


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