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LIFE OF SHERBURNE.
This poet descended from an ancient family of the same name at Stanyhurst in Lancashire. His grandfather, Henry, appears to have belonged, but in what capacity is not known, to Corpus Christi College, Oxfordd, and settled in that city, where Edward the father of our poet was born. This Edward went afterwards to London, and became secretary to the first East India company, that was established by queen Elizabeth's charter, and in 1613 obtained a reversionary grant of the office of clerk of the ordnance. He was afterwards knighted by Charles I*. He married Frances, the second daughter of John Stanley, of Roydon Hall, in Essex, esq. and resided in Goldsmith’s Rents, near Redcross-street, Cripplegate. His son, the poet, was born here September 18, 1618, and educated by the celebrated Thomas Farnaby, who then taught a school in Goldsmiths' Rents. On his removal to Sevenoaks, in Kent, in 1636, young Sherburne was educated privately under the care of Mr. Charles Aleyn, the poetical historian of the battles of Cressy
* Gent. Mag. LXVI. p. 462. C.
and Poictiers, who had been one of Farnaby's ushers. On the death of Aleyn in 1640, his pupil, being intended for the army, was sent to complete his education abroad, and had travelled in France and part of Italy, when his father's illness obliged him to return. After his father's death in 1641, he succeeded to the clerkship of his majesty's ordnance, the reversion of which had been procured for him in 1638; but the rebellion prevented his retaining it long. Being a Roman catholic, and firmly attached to the king, he was ejected by a warrant of the house of Lords in April or May, 1642, and harassed by a long and expensive confinement in the custody of the usher of the black rod.
On his release, he determined to follow the for. tunes of his royal master, who made him commissary general of the artillery, in which post he witnessed the battle of Edge-hill
, and afterwards attended the king at Oxford, where he was created master of Arts, December 20, 1642. Here he took such opportunities as his office permitted of pursuing his studies, and did not leave Oxford until June, 1646, when it was surrendered to the parliamentary forces. He then went to London, and was entertained by a near relation, John Povey, esq. at his chambers in the Middle Temple. Being plundered of all his property, and what is ever most dear to a man of learning, his ample library, he would probably have sunk under his accumulated sufferings, had he not met with bis kinsman, Thomas Stanley esq.* who was a sufferer in the same cause, and secreted near the same place. But some de. gree of toleration must have been extended to bim soon after, as in 1648 he published his translation of Seneca's Medea, and in the same year Seneca's answer to Lucilius' question, “Why good men
• Father of the learned Thomas Stanley, esq. Phillips dedicated his Theatrum Poetarum to Stanley and Sherburne. C.
suffer misfortunes, seeing there is a Divine Providence?” In 1651, he published his Poems and Translations, with a Latin dedication to Mr. Stanley ; and when sir George Savile, afterwards Marquis of Halifax, returned from his travels about that time, he appointed Mr. Sherburne superintendant of his affairs, and by the recommendation of his mother, lady Savile, he was afterwards made travelling tutor to her nephew, sir John Coventry. With this gentleman he visited various parts of the continent, from March, 1654, to October, 1659. On the Restoration, Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, afterwards lord Shaftesbury, put another into his place in the ordnance; but on Mr. Sherburne's application to the house of peers, it was restored to him, although its emoluments were soon greatly retrenched.
The peace of the country being now re-established, he appears to have applied himself to a studious life, and replenished his library, which, according to Wood, was esteemed one of the most considerable belonging to any gentleman in or near London. In 1675, he published “The Sphere of Marcus Manilius, made an English poem with Annotations, and an Astronomical Index,” which was honoured by the very particular and liberal approbation of the royal society: and in 1679, he published a translation of Seneca's Troades; or the Royal Captives, and he left in manuscript a translation of Hippolitus, which two, with the Medea before mentioned, he endeavoured to prove were all that Seneca wrote.
Collier, whose dictionary is in less reputation than it deserves, and which contains many curious facts not easily to be found elsewhere, ascertains Sherburne's death from an epitaph which he wrote for himself. He died in Nov. 4, 1702, and was interred on the 8th in the chapel belonging to the Tower of London. Vol. V.
In Sherburne's poems considerable genius may be discovered, but impeded by the prevailing taste of his age for strained metaphors and allusions. Poetical lovers then thought no compliments too extravagant, and ransacked the remotest and apparently most barren sources for what were considered as striking thoughts, but which appear to us unnatural, if not ridiculous. He appears to have derived most of his reputation from his translations. He was a man of classical learning and a critic, and frequently conveys the sense of his author with considerable spirit.