1769 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Thomas Overbury

James Granger, in Biographical History of England (1769; 1824) 2:128-29.



Sir Thomas Overbury, a gentleman of eminent parts and learning, and of judgment and experience beyond his years, was long the friend and confidant of Robert Carr, earl of Somerset. His abilities were of singular service to that favourite, who did nothing without his advice and direction; and was accustomed to make use of his pen in his addresses to the king, and to his mistress. Overbury, who was naturally haughty and overbearing, presumed to oppose the earl's marriage with the Countess of Essex, and expected the same deference to be paid to his judgment on this, as upon every other occasion. This opposition drew upon him the rage of the earl, and the fury of the countess, who contrived to get him imprisoned in the Tower, and to dispatch him by poison. His poem called The Wife, supposed to be written for his friend, is the character of a good woman; just the reverse of the woman that he married. This poem, which is printed with his Characters, &c. had gone through sixteen editions in 1638; the last was published 1753, 8vo. Ob. Sept. 15, 1613.