April 3, 1593, Montgomery Castle, Wales.
March 1, 1632, Bemerton, Wiltshire, England.
Herbert attended Westminster School and Trinity College at Cambridge, England. When he was appointed the school’s Public Orator, it became his duty to give speeches—in Latin—to visiting dignitaries, and to give thanks for books donated to the school library. King James I was impressed with Herbert, and it seemed for a while he might make Herbert an ambassador. When the king’s death dashed these hopes, Herbert fell back on his original career plans, and was ordained in 1626. His first appointment was as vicar, then rector, of the parish of Bemerton and Fugglestone.
Shortly before he died, Herbert entrusted a manuscript of poetry to Edmond Duncon, telling him:
Sir, I pray deliver this little book to my brother [Nicholas] Ferrar [of Little Gidding, Cambridgeshire], and tell him that he shall find in it a picture of the many spiritual conflicts that have passed betwixt God and my soul, before I could subject mine to the will of Jesus my master; in whose service I have now found perfect freedom; desire him to read it, and then, if he can think it may turn to the advantage of any dejected poor soul, let it be made public; if not let him burn it; for I and it are less than the least of God’s mercies.
The manuscript was published posthumously as The Temple.