1690 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Thomas Herbert

Anthony Wood, Athenae Oxonienses (1690-91) ed. Bliss (1815) 4:15-19.



THOMAS HERBERT son of Christop. Herbert, son of Thomas Herbert sometime alderman of the city of York, descended (being a younger brother) from sir Rich. Herbert of Colebroke in Monmouthshire, knight, was born in Yorkshire, particularly, as I conceive, within the city of York, admitted commoner of Jesus coll. in 1621, under the tuition of Mr. Jenkin Lloyd his kinsman; but before he took a degree, his uncle called Dr. Ambr. Aikroyd fellow of Trin. coll. in Cambr. brother to his mother Jane (dau. of Jo. Aikroyd of Folkerthorpe in Yorkshire) invited him to that house, where his continuance being short, he went thence to London to wait upon that most noble count William earl of Pembroke, who owning him for his kinsman and intending his advancement, he sent him to travel in 1626, with allowance to defray his charges. So that spending some years in travelling into Africa and Asia the great, he did at his return wait on the said noble count; who inviting him to dinner the next day at Baynard's Castle in London, died suddenly that night, whereby the expectation of preferment from him being frustrated, he left England a second time and visited several parts of Europe. After his return he married, and setling in his native country, delighted himself more with the converse of the muses, than in the rude and brutish pleasures which most gentlemen follow. In the time of the rebellion he adhered to the cause of the parliament, and by the endeavours of Philip earl of Pembroke, he became not only one of the commissioners of parliament to reside in the army of sir Thomas Fairfax, but also a commissioner to treat with those of the king's side for the surrender of Oxford garrison. Afterwards he attended the said count, especially at that time (in Jan. 1646) when he with other commissioners were sent from the parliament to the king at Newcastle to treat about peace, and bring them nearer to London. When his majesty came thence and was setled at Holdenby in Northamptonshire, jealousies increased which begat fears; against which there was then no fence. The commissioners, puruant to instructions, addressed themselves all together, on a certain time, unto the king, and acquainted him therewith, and humbly prayed his majesty to dismiss such of his servants as were there, and had waited upon him at Oxon. This their application was in no wise pleasing to the king, he having had long experience of the loyalty and good affection of those his servants, as it appeared by his countenance, and the pause he made, e're he gave the commissioners any answer. Howbeit, after some expostulation and deliberation, he condescended to what they proposed, they not opposing the continuance of Mr. Jam. Maxwell, and Mr. Patr. Maule their attendance upon his royal person, as grooms of his majesty's bedchamber, in which place they had several years served the king. Next day his majesty's servants came, as at other times, into the presence chamber, where all dinner time they waited; but after his majesty rose from dinner, he acquainted them with what had passed 'twixt him and the commissioners, and thereupon they all knelt and kissed his majesty's hand, and with great expressions of grief for their dismiss, they poured forth their prayers for his majesty's freedom and preservation, and so left Holdenby. All that afternoon the king withdrew himself into his bedchamber, having given orders that none should interrupt him in his privacy. Soon after this, his majesty purposing to send a message to the parliament; he, after dinner, called Philip earl of Pembroke to him and told him that he would have Mr. Herbert come into his chamber, which the earl acquainting the commissioners with, Mr. Tho. Herbert, our author, was brought into the bedchamber by Mr. Maxwell, and upon his knees desired to know the king's pleasure: He told him he would send a message to the parliament, and having none there that he usually employed, and unwilling it should go under his own hand, called him for that purpose. Mr. Herbert having writ as his majesty dictated, was enjoyn'd secrecy, and not to communicate it to any, until made public by both houses, if by them held meet; which he carefully observed. This errand was, as I conceive, His Majesty's Message for Peace, dated from Holdenby 12 May 1647. About a week after, the king was pleased to tell the commissioners, that seeing that Mr. Jam. Levingston, Hen. Moray, John Asburnham, and Will. Legge were for the present dismist, he had taken notice of Mr. Jam. Harrington and Mr. Tho. Herbert, who had followed the court from Newcastle, and having received satisfaction concerning their sobriety and education, he was willing to receive them as grooms of his bed-chamber, to wait upon his person with Mr. Maule and Mr. Maxwell; which the commissioners approving, they were that night admitted, and by his majesty instructed as to the duty and service he expected from them. So as they thenceforth attended his royal person, agreeable to that great trust, with due observance and loyalty, and were by Maule and Maxwell affectionately treated. Being thus setled in that honourable office and in good esteem with his maj. Mr. Herb. continued with him, when all the rest of the chamber were removed, till his majesty was, to the horror of all the world, brought to the block. It was then that Mr. Herbert was fully satisfied that the king was not the man that the presbyterians, independents, and other factious people (who obtained their ends by lies and slanders) made him to be. He clearly found that he was no papist, no obstinate person, no cruel or bloody man, no false dealer, &c. but purely a man of God, which made him in an high manner lament his untimely death. His majesty tho' he found him to be presbyterianly affected, yet withal he found him very observant and loving, and therefore intrusted him with many matters of moment, among which was his sending by him from the isle of Wight his gracious message to the parliament, which in the evening he gave sealed up to him (directed to the speaker of the lord's house) with a letter to his daughter the princess Elizabeth, who was then at St. James's with her governess. The wind was then averse, and much ado Mr. Herbert had to cross the sea. But no delay was suffer'd in regard the king had commanded him to hasten away, that his letters might be delivered next day before the lords rose. When he was landed at S. Hampton, he took post, and it may not be forgotten, that at one stage the postmaster (a malevolent person) understanding from whom the pacquet came, and that it required extraordinary speed, he mounted him upon an horse that had neither good eyes or feet, so as usually he stumbled much, which, with deep ways and dark weather, would have abated his hast and endanger the rider: Yet so it fell out by good providence, that the horse, albeit at full gallop most of that 12 miles riding, neither stumbled nor fell, at which the people at the next stage admired. The king's pacquet was within the time limited delivered to William lord Grey of Werk, at that time speaker. Which done, Mr. Herbert waited on the young princess at S. James's, who gave him her hand to kiss, and was overjoyed at his majesty's kind letter, to which her highness the next day returned an answer by the said Mr. Herbert, who at his arrival at Carisbroke, had the king's thanks for his diligence: And for a badge of the fair esteem that king Charles II. had of him "for faithfully serving his royal father during the two last years of his life," he did, after his restoration, by lett. pat. dat. 3 July 1660, advance him to the dignity of a baronet by the name of Thomas Herbert of Tinterne in Monmouthshire, because Little Tinterne about half a mile from Tinterne abbey was his own estate and the seat of Tho. Herbert before-mention'd. He hath written,

A Relation of some Years Travels into Africa and the greater Asia, especially the Territories of the Persian Monarchy, and some Parts of the Oriental Indies and Isles adjacent. Lond. 1634. &c. 1677. which is the fourth impression, wherein many things are added, which were not in the former. All the impressions are in fol. and adorn'd with cuts. He also, at the proposal of John de Laet his familiar friend living at Leyden, did translate some books of his India occidentalis, but certain business interposing, the perfecting of them was hindred. He left behind him at his death an historical account of the two last years of the life of king Ch. I. the martyr, which he entit.

Threnodia Carolina; written by him, an. 1678. in qu. on this account, viz. that the parliament a little before taking into their consideration of appointing 70 thousand pounds for a funeral of the said king, and for a monument to be erected over his grave, sir Will. Dugdale then garter king of arms, sent to our author sir Thomas living at York, to know of him whether ever the said king spoke in his hearing, where he would have his body bestowed in burial; to which sir Tho. returning a large answer, with many observations and things worthy of note concerning that king: Sir William thereupon being much taken with it, as containing many things which he never heard of before, did desire him by another letter to write a treatise of the actions and sayings of the said king from his first confinement to his death; which he did accordingly. About the same time, the author of this book, having occasion to write to sir Thomas for information of certain persons then, or about that time, attending the king, he thereupon sent him several letters in answer to his queries, with divers other matters by way of digression: which letters contain, as it seems, the chief contents of Thren. Car. and are several times quoted in this work. He also assisted the said sir Will. Dugdale in his compiling the third vol. of Monast. Anglic. as I shall tell you when I come to speak of that knight in the FASTI, an. 1642. At length this worthy person sir Thom. Herbert, who was a great observer of men and things in his time, died in his house at York on the first day of March (S. David's day) in sixteen hundred eighty and one, aged 76 years, and was buried in the church there commonly called S. Crux or S. Cross, situated in the street called Fossegate. Over his grave was a monument soon after erected, by his widow Elizabeth, daughter of sir Gervas Cutler of Stainborough in Yorksh. knight, with a large inscription thereon. Wherein we are instructed that he took to his first wife, Lucia daughter of sir Walt. Alexander servant to king Charles I. by whom he had issue Philip, Henry heir to his father, Montgomery, Thomas, William &c....