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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VIII. The Age of Dryden.

XV. The Progress of Science

§ 5. Lord Herbert of Cherbury

To turn to other evidence, the better diaries of any age afford us, when faithfully written, as fair a clue as do the dramatists of the average intelligent man’s attitude towards the general outlook of humanity on the problems of his age, as they presented themselves to society at large. The seventeenth century was unusually rich in volumes of autobiography and in diaries which the reading world will not readily let die. Some account has been already given of the autobiography of the complaisant lord Herbert of Cherbury; it is again noticed here as giving an interesting account of the education of a highlyborn youth at the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century. Lord Herbert seems to have had a fair knowledge of Latin and Greek and of logic when, in his thirteenth year, he went up to University college, Oxford. Later, he “did attain the knowledge of the French, Italian and Spanish languages,” and, also, learnt to sing his part at first sight in music and to play on the lute. He approved of “so much logic as to enable men to distinguish between truth and falsehood and help them to discover fallacies, sophisms and that which the schoolmen call vicious arguments”; and this, he considered, should be followed by “some good sum of philosophy.” He held it also requisite to study geography, and this in no narrow sense, laying stress upon the methods of government, religions and manners of the several states as well as on their relationships inter se and their policies. Though he advocated an acquaintance with “the use of the celestial globes,” he did “not conceive yet the knowledge of judicial astronomy so necessary, but only for general predictions; particular events being neither intended by nor collected out of the stars.” Arithmetic and geometry he thought fit to learn, as being most useful for keeping accounts and enabling a gentleman to understand fortifications.