Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 26.djvu/184

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Herbert
Herbert
178

the fine of 2,500l. imposed on his elder son for his delinquency should be cancelled. His grandson Edward and his friends Selden and Evan Thomas of Bishops Castle, Shropshire, were his executors, and were charged to bring his petition in behalf of his elder son before parliament. His Latin and Greek books were left to Jesus College, Oxford, where they still remain. Herbert's wife had died 29 Oct. 1634, and was buried in Montgomery Church. Three children survived both parents: Richard, the heir (see ad fin.}; Edward, of whose spendthrift habits Herbert was constantly complaining ; Beatrice, born at Montgomery 13 Aug. 1604. Another daughter, Florence, born 27 Sept. 1605, died young.

Herbert, who was called ‘the black Lord Herbert,’ on account of his dark hair and complexion, was very handsome. Four portraits are known: (1) in the robes of a knight of the Bath (now at Powis Castle) ; (2) a miniature by ‘one Larkin’ (perhaps Lockie), painted for Sir Thomas Lucy (now at Charlecote); (3) lying on the ground after a duel, by Isaac Oliver (now at Powis Castle); (4) a portrait, attributed to Oliver, now at Penshurst, Kent. A fifth portrait of Herbert, mounted on a favourite horse, is described in the ‘Autobiography’ (p. 111), but its whereabouts are not known. The third portrait was engraved in Horace Walpole's edition of the ‘Autobiography,’ 1764, and both that and the first were etched for the edition of 1886.

In his will Herbert states that he had begun ‘a manifest of my action in these late troubles,’ and promised to name a person by word of mouth to complete and publish it. The reference is doubtless to his autobiography, which only extends as far as his recall from France in 1624. Two manuscript copies were made after his death, one of which belonged to his grandson Edward, and the other to his brother Sir Henry. The former copy was found in the eighteenth century, half destroyed, in the house of its original owner's descendants at Lymore, Montgomeryshire. The second copy, originally deposited in Sir Henry's house at Ribbesford, came under Horace Walpole's notice in 1763, and Walpole, impressed by its entertaining character, printed it for private circulation at Strawberry Hill in 1764. Walpole dedicated it to Lord Powis, into whose possession the manuscript had come. The memoir was reissued in 1770, 1809, and 1826. A critical edition, by the present writer, appeared in 1886. No manuscript is now known to be extant.

Herbert is best known to modern readers by his autobiography. Childlike vanity is the chief characteristic of the narrative. He represents himself mainly as a gay Lothario, the hero of innumerable duels, whose handsome face and world-wide reputation as a soldier gained for him the passionate adoration of all the ladies of his acquaintance and the respect of all men of distinction. He enters into minute details about his person and habits. He declares that he grew in height when nearly forty years old, that he had a pulse in his head, that he never felt cold in his life, and that he took to tobacco in his later years with good effect on his health. But Herbert's veracity even on such points is disputable; his accounts of his literary friends and his mother are very incomplete, his dates are conflicting, and he does himself an injustice by omitting almost all mention of his serious studies, which give him an important place in the history of English philosophy and poetry. He only shows the serious side of his character in a long digression on education in the early part of his memoirs, where he recommends a year's reading in philosophy and six months' study of logic, although ‘I am confident,’ he adds, ‘a man may have quickly more than he needs of these arts.’ Botany he praises as ‘a fine study,’ and ‘worthy of a gentleman,’ and he has some sensible remarks on moral and physical training. At the end of his autobiography he states that he had written a work on truth, which he had shown to two great scholars, Tilenus and Grotius, who had exhorted him to print it, and that a miraculous sign to the same effect had been vouchsafed him from heaven in answer to a prayer.

Herbert's chief philosophical treatise, ‘De Veritate, prout distinguitur a Revelatione, verisimili, possibili, et a falso,’ was first published in Paris in 1624. It is all in Latin, and is often very obscurely expressed; it is dedicated ‘Lectori cuivis integri et illibati judicii;’ and is the earliest purely metaphysical treatise written by an Englishman. After accepting as an axiom that truth exists, Herbert evolves a somewhat hazy but interesting theory of perception to the effect that the mind consists of an almost infinite number of ‘faculties,’ exactly corresponding to the number of objects in the world. When an object is brought into contact with the mind, the corresponding ‘faculty’ grows active, and thus perception is established. The ‘faculties’ are reducible to four classes, of which the chief is natural instinct. This somewhat resembles the Aristotelian νούς, or the commonsense of other philosophies. It is the source of primary truths (κοιναί έυυοιαι, notitiæ communes) which are implanted in man at his birth, come direct from God, and have priority of all other notions. The other three classes