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HERBERT, EDWARD, LORD HERBERT OF CHERBURY (1583-1648) Born in Eyton, Shropshire, Edward Herbert was older brother to the much better known poet George Herbert. Educated at University College, Oxford, he married in 1599 and settled in London after 1600. Made Knight of the Bath by James I, he enjoyed the company of others of his aristocratic rank. He served as ambassador to France from 1619 to 1624, traveled widely, and became a philosopher and diplomat. His philosophical treatise written in Latin De Veritate (1625) gained him fame because of his views on the principles of natural religion; he was later dubbed the "father of deism." Herbert believed that virtue should combine with piety as the chief part of worship. He also proposed four degrees of truth, based on his theory of the necessity for harmony between the human mind and its surrounding world.

Herbert first became part of the Irish peerage, then received a baronetcy from King Charles I, after which he joined the Council of War. After completing military service, he welcomed retirement to Montgomery Castle in 1644, receiving a pension from Parliament the following year. He published the respectably written The Life and Reign of Henry VIII (1644) from a Royalist point of view. In addition, he supplied some interesting detail about his era when he wrote his life's story through the year 1624. Titled Autobiography, it was published by Horace Walpole, famous for his gothic fiction.

Herbert's poetry was not published until a slim posthumous volume was issued in 1665. The sonnets, epitaphs, satires, madrigals, and odes would never have been revealed to the world if not for the efforts of his uncle, Henry Herbert (some sources claim his son pub lished his poetry). He shared his brother's bent for metaphysical poetry, but not for religious topics. An example of his use of metaphysical references employing paradox may be found in his "An Ode upon a Question." Judged by various critics intelligent, graceful, musical, vigorous, and fresh, Edward Herbert's verse did not reach the excellence of his brother's work; some critics feel he never reached his potential. However, critics note that with superior versification and strong topical themes, Herbert's poetry easily finds a place among that of the better known poets of his age. An additional example of his skill and talent for the musical line may be found in "Elegy Over a Tomb."

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