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Francis OSBORNE, the author of the following Memoirs, was younger son of Sir John Osborne, of Chicksand, Bedfordshire. He was privately educated, without being sent either to a school or university ; an omission for which he makes some reflections upon his parents, in his “ Advice to his Son.” According to the fashion of the day, Osborne attached himself to the celebrated Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery, and became master of the horse in his household. His master, with gross ingratitude, followed the parliamentary party in the civil war; and Osborne of course attached himself to the same side, by which he gained trust and employment under Oliver Cromwell. In the latter part of his life he resided in Oxford, to watch, accord
ing to Wood, the conduct of his son John, appointed, by the parliamentary visitors, a fellow of St John's College, in 1648. To this son he addressed his celebrated “ Advice,” evincing no small knowledge of men and manners. It was so popular among the students, that the “godly clergy," as Wood calls them, petitioned the vice-chancellor that it should be publicly burnt, as containing irreligious tenets. To what pitch of popularity this might have raised the work, may be guessed from the effect of a simple prohibition, which was substituted in place of the measure proposed, and had its usual consequences, of greatly increasing the demand for the book.
Osborne's Traditional Memoirs, which are here reprinted, contain many curious particulars concerning the reigns of Elizabeth and James. The modesty of the title may apologize for many inaccuracies inseparable from traditional information. But there is no reason to suppose that the author, in any instance, wilfully misleads his readers. It is very clear, notwithstanding Wood's insinuations, that he lamented the miserable conclusion of the civil war; and from various expressions, both in the Memoirs
and other parts of his works, it would seem Osborne was a friend to the monarchy and church of England, though an enemy to the encroachments of king or hierarchy upon the liberty of the people.
MY DEAR LUCILIUS, I do here leave to your better education another daughter of my brain, that may. not unpossibly pass with the less scandal, because chaste from any desire after new and forbidden discoveries, or of disturbing that huge trade antiquity and custom drive; the first amongst scholars, who think it a sufficient excuse in the justification of a stunt-, ed knowledge, to maintain an impossibility of transcending the abilities of former ages, i yet cannot gainsay a visible improvement