Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. II. Ben Jonson to Dryden
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. II. The Seventeenth Century: Ben Jonson to Dryden
Critical Introduction by John Churton Collins
Lord Herbert of Cherbury (1583–1648)
[Edward Herbert, Lord Herbert of Cherbury, elder brother of the poet George Herbert.]  1
THE WORLD has long done justice to Lord Herbert’s famous treatise De Veritate, to his admirable Life of Henry VIII, to his singularly interesting Autobiography; but no one has yet been found to vindicate his claim to a place among English poets. His poems first appeared in a little volume which was published in 1665, nearly eighteen years after his death; and, as we gather from the preface, were collected by Henry Herbert, uncle to the second Lord Herbert of Cherbury, to whom they are dedicated. They consist of Sonnets, Epitaphs, Satires, Madrigals, and Odes in various measures. Herbert is, like his more distinguished brother, a disciple of the Metaphysical School, though his poems, unlike those of George, are not of a religious character. With much of that extravagance which deforms the lyric poetry of his contemporaries, Lord Herbert has in a large measure grace, sweetness, and originality. He never lacks vigour and freshness. His place is, with all his faults, beside Donne and Cowley. His versification is indeed as a rule far superior to theirs. It is uniformly musical, and his music is often at once delicate and subtle. Though he did not invent the metre, he certainly discovered the melody of that stanza with which Tennyson’s great poem has familiarised us, and he has as certainly anticipated some of its most beautiful effects. He is never likely to hold the same place among English poets as his brother, but we do not hesitate to say that no collection of representative English poets should be considered complete which does not contain the poetical works of Lord Herbert of Cherbury.  2

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