Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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HERBERT, Henry William, author, born in London, England, 7 April, 1807; died in New York city, 17 May, 1858. His father, Reverend William Herbert, was a cousin of the Earl of Carnarvon. The son was graduated at Oxford in 1829, with honors. In the winter of the following year, having lost his property through the dishonesty of a trustee, he came to the United States, and after teaching the classics in Newark, New Jersey, in 1831 became Greek and Latin preceptor in a classical institute in New York city, where he taught for about eight years, devoting his leisure hours to writing. His first literary efforts were essays, which were sent anonymously to the leading weeklies, but rejected when payment was demanded for them. Irritated by this, and especially by the return of a carefully prepared article offered to the " Knickerbocker Magazine," he soon afterward established the "American Monthly Magazine," the editorship of which he finally transferred to Charles Fenno Hoffman. His first novel, entitled" The Brothers, a Tale of the Fronde" (1834), was issued anonymously at the urgent request of the publishers. It was well received by the critics of the day, and attributed to G. P. R. James, Gilmore Simms, Theodore S. Fay, and to other native as well as foreign novelists. But the financial reward for so much labor disheartened the author, and he resolved to begin the study of law, and to practise it as a profession. In order to do this, as he soon discovered, he must become an American citizen, and he would not do this, notwithstanding his strong desire to be regarded as an American in sentiment and sympathy. Between 1837 and 1855 he published various novels, but afterward devoted himself to historical composition. He was an enthusiastic sportsman, and was the first in this country to give prominence to that department of literature. Under the pen-name of "Frank Forester" he wrote largely for sporting papers, issuing also several works on hunting and fishing. He was also industrious as a translator. During the last twelve years of his life, Mr. Herbert's home was midway between Newark and Belleville, New Jersey, on the banks of the Passaic, where he owned three quarters of an acre of land, with a cottage. This spot he called "The Cedars," and here after the death of his first wife in 1846 he lived most of the time alone, surrounded by his dogs, of which he was very fond. In February, 1858, he married again, and about three months afterward his wife, influenced by reports concerning his former dissipation, left him, and notified him through the newspapers that she had applied for a divorce. Thereupon he ordered a grand dinner to be served in his rooms in New York city, and invited to it his friends of olden times, only one of whom, however, accepted. After dinner Herbert rose from the table, placed himself before a full-length mirror, and, taking aim from the reflection in the glass, shot himself through the heart. His body was carried back to "The Cedars," and thence through his private gate, which opened into Mount Pleasant cemetery, he was borne to his grave only a few hundred yards from his cottage. A plain stone marks the spot, and on it is carved, according to his wishes, the word Infelicissimus. A movement has been set on foot to erect a monument to his memory. His novels include "Cromwell " (2 vols., New York, 1837); "Marmaduke Wyvil" (1843); "The Roman Traitor" (2 vols., Baltimore, 1846); "The Puritans of New England: A Historical Romance of the Days of Witchcraft " (1853), which was subsequently issued under the title of "The Puritan's Daughter" (Philadelphia). His last romance was the "Saxon Serf," which first appeared as a serial, and when completed was reprinted in book-form under the title of Sherwood Forest (1855). His historical works are "The Captains of the Old World" (New York, 1851); "The Cavaliers of England," and "The Knights of England" (1852); '" The Chevaliers of France" (1853); "Persons and Pictures from French and English History," and "The Captains of the Great Roman Republic" (1854); and "Memoirs of Henry VIII. and his Six Wives" (1855). A companion volume, entitled "The Royal Marys of Mediaeval History." was fully completed at the time of his death, but unfortunately fell into the hands of a money-lender to whom he had hypothecated it, chapter by chapter, as the work progressed. It probably went to the junk-dealer, for it has not yet been found. His books on outdoor sports include "The Field Sports of the United States and British Provinces of North America," with illustrations by himself (2 vols., 1848); "Fish and Fishing of the United States and British Provinces" (1849); "Frank Forester and his Friends" (London, 1849); "Warwick Woodlands," a series of sketches that he had contributed in 1839 to the "American Turf Register" (New York); three collections of articles that had appeared in "Graham's Magazine," entitled "My Shooting-Box" (1846); "American Game in its Season" (1853); and "The Deerstalkers "; "Complete Manual for Young Sportsmen" (1852); and "Horse and Horsemanship in North America " (2 vols., 1857), a large and costly work, the practical portions of which he condensed into a small volume, entitled "Hints to Horsekeepers" (1859). As a translator, Mr. Herbert was very industrious. With the exception, however, of the "Prometheus and Agamemnon" of AEschylus, done mostly for amusement (1849), his translations were chiefly from the French, and consisted of five of the romances of Eugene Sue, with two or three of those of Alexander Dumas, and Weiss's "Protestant Refugees" (1854); "Fugitive Sporting Sketches, edited by Will Wildwood," appeared in 1879, and his "Poems," edited by Morgan Herbert, are in press (1887). David W. Judd is also editing the "Life and Writings of Frank Forester," to comprise ten volumes, two of which have been issued in New York. See "Frank Forester's Life and Writings," by Colonel Thomas Picton (1881).
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