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[Only son of the celebrated earl of Essex, was born

, at Essex-house in 1592, educated at Eton, and was entered a gentleman commoner of Merton college, Oxon, in 1602. In the first year of king James, he was restored to the honours which his father had forfeited, and became a familiar associate with prince Henry, until some disagreement took place between them during a game at tennis. In August 1605, he was created M. A. and in January following, being then scarcely fourteen, was espoused to lady Frances, one of the daughters of Thomas, earl of Suffolk, who was only thirteen; but on account of their immature age, a separation was agreed upon by the advice of their friends. Lord Essex made the tour of France and Germany; and his countess was taken under her mother's protection. On their reunion, they lived together with great discontent; till a divorce was obtained by lady Essex, on an allegation of impotency: her ladyship having fixed her affections on Robert Carr, afterwards viscount Rochester and earl of Somerset, whom she married in about three months from the time she was divorced ? Essex, says Wood 3, per

• Mr. Brydges thinks that the chagrin arising from this un. happy affair, made lord Essex endeavour to hide himself in the country, from the observation and ridicule of the world, for more than seven years.

Mem, of the Peers, vol. i. p. 122. 3 Athen. Oxon. vol. ii. col. 92.

ceiving how little he was beholden to Venus, resolved to address himself to the court of Mars; and for that purpose went into the Netherlands, where he first trailed a pike, and gradually rose to the command of a regiment. Some years after that, he engaged to assist the king and queen of Bohemia in the recovery of their right, where he behaved with gallant resolution, and gained a high renown for feats of arms; yet he became tainted, says his biographer, with calvinistical principles 4. In 1639 he was made lieutenant-general of foot, under the earl of Arundel ; and in 1641 was constituted general of all the forces on the south of Trent. In the same year he was appointed lord chamberlain of the household ; and in 1642, forget

1 uing all his former obligations, undertook the command of the parliamentary army: but his military splendour was eclipsed by Fairfax and others, and he retired in disgust to his house at Eltham, where he died on the 13th of September 1646, not without suspicion of having been poisoned 5. Before this event took place, the parliament voted him a dukedom; but this honour he is said to have rejected with scorn.

* Wood, ut sup.

5 As to the suspicion of lord Essex's having been poisoned, says Dr. Kippis, it can only be regarded as one of the many groundless surmises which were long entertained with regard to the decease of eminent persons, especially if their deaths were sudden. Different accounts have been given of the earl's death: some have ascribed it to an apoplexy; but Ludlow, who was probably well informed, says that it was occasioned by his having overheated himself in the chase of a stag in Windsor forest. Biog. Brit. vol. v. p. 367. An elegy upon his loss appears to have been composed by T. Twiss: and another by Dan. Evance, entitled, Justa Honoraria; or funeral Rites in honour to his deceased Master, Robert Earl of Essex.

Arthur Wilson, whom Wood terms “ a writer of the presbyterian persuasion, that had been of his retinue," tells us that Essex had ever an honest heart, and though nature had not given him eloquence, he had a strong reason which did express him better. His countenance, to those who knew him not, appeared somewhat stern and solemn; to intimates, affable and gentle; to females, obligingly courteous. Lord Clarendon adds the following creditable character. He had no ambition of title, or office, or preferment, but only to be kindly looked upon, and kindly spoken to, and quietly to enjoy his own fortune; and without doubt no man in his nature more abhorred rebellion than he did, nor could he have been led into it by any open and transparent temptation, but by a thousand disguises and couzenages. His pride supplied his want of ambition, and he was angry to see any other man more respected than himself, because he thought he deserved it more, and did better requite it: for he was in his friendships just and constant; and would not have practised foully against those he took to be enemies. No man had credit enough with him to corrupt him in point of loyalty to the king, whilst he thought himself wise enough to know what treason was: but the new doctrine, and distinction of allegiance, and of the king's power in and out of parliament, and the new notions

• Hist. of King James, p. 162.

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