Born 3 March 1583, at Eyton-on-Severn, son of Richard (died 1596 and Magdalen Herbert, of Montgomery. He entered University College, Oxford, in May 1596, married Mary Herbert in 1599, living at first in London but returning in 1605 to Montgomery where he was appointed magistrate and sheriff. In 1608 he made the first of many journeys to Europe which he describes so vividly in his Life, one of the earliest autobiographies in the English language. In 1619 he was appointed English ambassador at Paris and lived there in great state until his dismissal in 1624. Created lord Herbert of Cherbury in 1629, he seems to have been disappointed by the rewards which followed his services to the Crown. In the Civil War he remained neutral and refused repeated invitations to join the Royalist cause. His castle falling to the Parliamentarians, Herbert moved to London and died there 20 August 1648.
A handsome, vain, sensitive man, a bold and profound thinker, Edward Herbert was a strange mixture of philosopher and buffoon. His is a rich personality moulded by an age of transition from the activity of the Elizabethan age to the rationalism of the late Stuart period. His De Veritate, 1624, bridges the gulf between Renaissance thought and that of the modern age, and his writings on religion point the way to deism and to the liberal theology of a later period. [His Life informs us that he could speak Welsh.]
Published date: 1959
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