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itic. They left Prague at the end of April, travelled togeth-
er to Heidelberg, visited the Landgrave of Hesse, and ar-
rived at Cologne in May. Here Sidney thought that he
must turn his face immediately homewards, though he great-
ly wished to pass into Flanders. Languet dissuaded him,
MI grounds of prudence, from doing so without direct com-
mission from the queen. Great therefore was the satisfac-
tion of both when letters arrived from England, ordering
Sidney to compliment William the Silent, Prince of Orange,
on the birth of his son. Durinjx this visit to the Nether-

O

laud- he made acquaintance with the two most distinguished
there, and won the respect of both. Don John of
ri.i, the victor of Lepanto, was then acting as viceroy
to the King of Spain. Sidney paid him his respects, and



in.] ENTRANCE INTO COURT-LIFE AND EMBASSY. 41

this is the account Fulke Grcville gives of his recep-
tion :

"Though at the first, in his Spanish haughturc, he (Don John)
gave him access as by descent to a youth, of grace as to a stranger,
and in particular competition, as he conceived, to an enemy ; y<-t after
a while that he had taken his just altitude, he found himself so
stricken with this extraordinary planet that the beholders wondered
to see what ingenuous tribute that brave and high-minded prince
paid to his worth, giving more honour and respect to this hopeful
young gentleman than to the ambassadors of mighty princes."

What happened at Sidney's interview with William of
Orange is not told us. That he made a strong impression
on the stadtholder appears from words spoken to Fulke
Greville after some years. Greville had been sent as am-
bassador to the prince at Delft. Among other things Will-
iam bade him report to Queen Elizabeth his opinion " that
her Majesty had one of the ripest and greatest counsellors
of estate in Sir Philip Sidney that at this day lived in
Europe ; to the trial of which he was pleased to leave his
own credit engaged until her Majesty might please to em-
ploy this gentleman either amongst her friends or enemies."
Sidney's caution prevented his friend from delivering this
message to a sovereign notoriously jealous of foreign inter-
ference in her home affairs.

Philip was in London again in June, when he presented
his respects to her Majesty at Greenwich. That he had
won credit by the discharge of his embassy appears from
a letter written by Mr. Secretary Walsingham to Sir Henry
Sidney soon after his arrival. " There hath not been any
gentleman, I am sure, these many years that hath gone
through so honourable a charge with as great commenda-
tions as he: in consideration whereof I could not but com-
municate this part of my joy with your Lordship, being no
3 D



42 SIR PHILIP SIDNEY. [CHAP.

less a refreshing unto me in these my troublesome businesses
than the soil is to the chafed stag." Henceforth we may
ivirard our hero as a courtier high in favour with the queen,
nned for his solid parts by the foremost statesmen of
tin.- realm, in correspondence with the leaders of the Re-
formed party on the Continent, and surely marked out for
some employment of importance. He had long to wait,
however, before that craving for action in the great world
which we have already indicated as his leading passion,
could even in part be gratified. Meanwhile it was his duty
to hano- about the Court: and how irksome he found that

O *

pettv sphere of compliments, intrigues, and gallantries, can
be read in the impatient letters he addressed to Languet.
Their correspondence was pretty regularly maintained, al-
though the old man sometimes grumbled at his young
friend's want of attention. " Weiaii well, I beseech you,

O v

what it is to grudge through so long a space of time one
single hour to friends who love you so dearly, and who are
more anxious for you than for themselves. By omitting
one dance a month you could have abundantly satisfied
us." In this strain Languet writes occasionally. But his
frequent reference to Philip's "sweetest letters," and the
familiarity he always displays with his private affairs, show
that the young courtier was a tolerably regular correspond-
ent. It is difficult for elderly folk, when they have con-
ceived ardent affection for their juniors, to remember how
very much more space the young occupy in the thoughts
>f the old than the old can hope to command in youthful
brains distracted by the multifarious traffic of society.
Languet had little to do but to ply his pen in his study.
Si iiit-y had to follow the queen on progress, trifle with her
laili> -, join in games of skill and knightly exercises with the
uvntlemen about the Court. Yet it is certain that this life



in.] ENTRANCE INTO COURT-LIFE AND EMBASSY. 43

wearied him. He was for ever seeking to escape ; at one
time planning to join Prince Casimir in the Low Countries ;
at another to take part in Frobisher's expedition ; and more
than once contemplating " some Indian project." Languet
did his best to curb these wandering ambitions. lie had

o

conceived a very firm opinion that Sidney was born to be
a statesman, not a soldier of fortune, not an explorer of the
ocean. At the same time, he greatly dreaded lest his friend
should succumb to the allurements of fashionable idleness.
"My noble Sidney, you must avoid that persistent siren,
sloth." "Think not that God endowed you with parts so
excellent to the end that you should let them rot in leisure.
Rather hold firmly that He requires more from you than
from those to whom He has been less liberal of talents."
" There is no reason to fear lest you should decay in idle-
ness if only you will employ your mind ; for in so great a
realm as England opportunity will surely not be wanting
for its useful exercise." Nature has adorned you with the
richest gifts of mind and body ; fortune with noble blood
and wealth and splendid family connections; and you from
your first boyhood have cultivated your intellect by those
studies which arc most helpful to men in their struggle af-
ter virtue. Will you then refuse your energies to your coun-
try when it demands them ? Will you bury that distin-
guished talent God has given you ?" The career Languet
had traced out for Philip was that of a public servant ; and
he consistently strove to check the young man's restless-
ness, to overcome his discourao-ement, and to stimulate him

o *

while depressed by the frivolities of daily life. It was his
object to keep Philip from roaming or wasting his powers
on adventure, while he also fortified his will against the se-
ductions of an idle Court.

During this summer of 1577 Languet once or twice al-



44 SIR PHILIP SIDNEY. [CHAP.

lucks in vcrv cautious language to some project of great
importance which had recently been mooted between them
<>n the Continent. It involved the participation of emi-
n-nt foreigners. It required the sanction and active as-
- -;unce of the queen. AVhat this was we do not know.
^ me of Sidney's biographers are of opinion that it con-
r.-nied his marriage with a German noblewoman. Others

O

-perhaps with better reason conjecture that his candidat-
ure for the Polish Crown had then been mooted. AVhen
Henri III. resigned the throne of Poland for that of France

O

in 1574 Stephen Bathori was elected king. He lived un-
til 1585. But in 1577, the year of Languet's mysterious
letters, he had not yet given substantial proof of his future
policy; and the Protestant party in Europe might have
been glad to secure a nominee of the English queen as can-
didate in the case of a vacancy. There is no doubt that a

/

belief prevailed after Sidney's death that the crown of Po-
land had in some sort been offered him. The author of
The Life and Death of Sir Philij) Sidney mentions it. Sir
Robert Nannton asserts that the queen refused "to further
his advancement, not onb out of emulation, but out of fear
to lose the jewel of her times." Fuller says that Sidney
declined the honour, preferring to be "a subject to Queen
Elizabeth than a sovereign beyond the seas." It would be
far too flattering to Philip to suppose that a simple Eng-
lish gentleman in his twenty-third year received any actual
offer of a throne which a king of France had recently va-
cated, and which was generally given by election to such
a- could afford to pay dearly for the honour. Yet it is
not impossible that the Reformed princes of Germany may
have thought him a good pawn to play, if Elizabeth were
willing to back him. The F<xdus Evangelicum, it must be
remembered, was by no means yet devoid of actuality.



in.] KNT1IAXCE INTO COURT-LIFE AND EMBASSY. 45

Mary Sidney's recent marriage to the Earl of Pembroke
had strengthened the family by an alliance with one of
England's chief noblemen. After coming home Philip
paid his sister a visit at Wilton, returning, however, soon
to Court in order to watch his father's interests. Sir Ilen-
rv Sidney was still at his post as Lord Deputy of Ireland;
and in his absence the usual intrigues were destroying his
credit with the queen. Brilliant, unscrupulous, mendacious,
Ormond poured calumnies and false insinuations into her
ear. She gave the earl too easy credence, partly because
he was handsome, and partly because the government of
Ireland was always costing money. There seems little
doubt that Sir Henry made no pecuniary profit for himself
out of his viceroyalty, and that he managed the realm as
economically and as justly as was possible. Ormond and
the nobles of his party, however, complained that the Lord
Deputy decided cases inequitably against them, that his
method of government was ruinously expensive, and that
he tvrannouslv exacted from them land-taxes which had

^ /

been remitted by his predecessors. Philip undertook his
father's defence in a written statement, only the rough
notes of which, and those imperfect, have come down to
us. He met the charge of injustice by challenging the ac-
cusers to show evidence. On the question of the land-tax,
or cess, which Ormond and others claimed to have remit-
ted, he proved the inequity and the political imprudence of
freeing great nobles from burdens which must be paid by
the poor. These poor, moreover, were already taxed by
their lords, and shamefully ill-treated by them. "And priv-
ileged persons, forsooth, be all the rich men of the pale,
the burden only lying upon the poor, who may groan, for
their cry cannot be heard." Sir Henry had proposed to
convert the cess, computed at an average of ten pounds,



4G SIR PHILIP SIDNEY. [CHAP.

into a fixed annual payment of five marks. At this the
n ..Mrs cried out that they were being robbed. Philip
di'in.'nstratcd that, according to their o\vn showing, a very
-v compromise had been offered them. On the head of
economy, he was able to make it clear that his father's ad-



ministration tended to save money to the State, allowing
always for the outlay needed by an army in occupation of
a turbulent and disaffected countrv. Such a government

w O

as that of Ireland could not be conducted cheaper. But
some had urged that the Lord Deputy exceeded measure
in the severity of his justice and the cruelty of his execu-
tive. Philip contended that a greater lenity than that
which his father showed would have been worse than follv.

f

"What he wrote upon this point is worthy of careful peru-
sal at the present day. It reminds us that the Irish diffi-
culty has been permanent, and without appreciable altera-
tion, through three centuries. "Little is lenity to prevail
iu minds so possessed with a natural inconstancy ever to
o'o in a new fortune, with a revengeful hate to all English

O o O

as to their only conquerors, and that which is most of all,
with so ignorant obstinacy in Papistry that they do in
their souls detest the present Government." And again :
"Trul v the general nature of all countries not fullv con-

*> V

qucred is against it (i.e. against gentle dealing and conces-
sions). For until bv time they find the sweetness of due

V v

subjection, it is impossible that any gentle means should
put out the remembrance of their lost liberty. And that
the Irishman is that way as obstinate as any nation, with
whom no other passion can prevail but fear (besides their
hi>t>ry, which plainly points it out), their manner of life,
wherein they choose rather all filthiness than any law, and
their own consciences, who best know their own natures,
give sufficient proof of. For under the sun there is not a



in.] ENTRANCE INTO COURT-LIFE AND EMBASSY. 47
nation that live more tyrannous!? than they do one over

/ / J

the other."

This defence seems to have satisfied Elizabeth and excul-
pated the Lord Deputy, without impairing its writer's cred-
it at Court. It is the first of a series of semi-official doc-
uments, in which, more perhaps than in an} 7 other species
of composition, Sidney showed his power as a master of
language. \Yaterhouse wrote to Sir Henry that it was the
most excellent discourse he had ever read, adding, " Let no
man compare with Sir Philip's pen." During the dispute,
and before the queen had expressed her satisfaction with
the Lord Deputy's defence, Ormond addressed some re-
marks to Philip in the presence of the Court. The young
man made no reply, marking his hostility by silence. It
was expected that a duel would follow upon this affront to
the great Irish earl. But Ormond, judging it expedient to
treat Sidney as a virtuous gentleman who was bound to
defend his father's cause, conceded him the indulgence of
a superior.

The storm which threatened Sir Henry Sidney blew
over, in great measure owing to his son's skilful advocacy.
Still Elizabeth retained her grudge against the Viceroy.
He had not yet contrived to flatter that most sensitive
member of the royal person her pocket. Consequently,
the year 1578 scarcely opened before new grievances arose.
The queen talked of removing Sir Henry from his office
with, perchance, the cumbrous honour of a peerage. He,
on the other hand, presented bills to the amount of three
thousand and one pounds, for money disbursed from his
private estate in the co.urse of public business. She re-
fused to sign a warrant for their payment, alleging, appar-
ently, that the Lord Deputy was creating debts of State in
his own interest. Sir Henry retorted and all the extant



18 SIR PHILIP SIDNEY. [CHAP.

documents tend to the belief that his retort was true that
lie had spoilt thus much of his own moneys upon trust for
her Majesty ; and that he needed the sum, barring one
]..-uud, for the payment of his daughter's marriage portion
to the Earl of Pembroke. Perusal of the correspondence

MIS to me to prove that, however bad a diplomatist and
stubborn a viceroy Sir Henry may have been, he was, at
any rate, a thoroughly honest man. And this honest man's
debts, contracted in her name and in her service, the queen
chose to repudiate. It is not wonderful that, under these
circumstances, the Lord Deputy thought of throwing up
his appointment and retiring into private life in England.
Philip's. persuasions induced his father to abandon this de-
sign. He pointed out that the term of office would expire
at Michaelmas, and that it would be more for the Deputy's
credit to tender his resignation at that time without an
open rupture^ One of his letters shows how valuable in
these domestic counsels was the Lady Mary Sidney. Philip
writes that in the meantime that is, between Lady day and
Michaelmas Sir Henry's friends would do their best to
heal the breach ; " Among which friends, before God, there
is none proceeds either so thoroughly or so wisely as your
lady, my mother. For mine own part, I have had only
light from her."

These sentences afford a very pleasing insight into the
relations between father, mother, and eldest son. But the
ti-n>in of the situation for Philip at Court, playing his
part as queen's favourite while his father was disgraced,
shouldering the Irish braggarts whom she protected, and
who had declared war against her viceroy, presenting a
brave front before the world, with only an impoverished

bate to back him, the tension of this situation must
have been too great for his sensitive nerves. We find that



in.] ENTRANCE INTO COURT-LIFE AND EMBASSY. 49

lie indulged suspicions. Things transpired at Court which
he believed had been committed only in most private cor-
respondence to Sir Henry, lie wrote to his father: "I
must needs impute it to some men about you that there is
little written from yon or to you that is not perfectly
known to your professed enemies." A few weeks after
penning these words he thought that he had caught the
culprit in Mr. Edmund Molincux, Sir Henry's secretary.
This explains the following furious epistle, which no biog-
rapher of Sidney should omit in its proper place :

" MR. MOLIXEUX Few words are best. My letters to my father
have come to the ears of some: neither can I condemn any but you.
If it be so, you have played the very knave with me ; and so I will
make you know, if I have good proof of it. But that for so much as
is past. For that is to come, I assure you, before God, that if ever I
know you to do so much as read any letter I write to my father with-
out his commandment or my consent, I Avill thrust my dagger into
you. And trust to it, for I speak in earnest. In the meantime, fare-
well. From Court, this last of May 1578. By me,

"PHILIP SIDNEY."

Philip had made a great mistake a mistake not unlike
that which betrayed him into false judgment of his com-
rade Coningsby. Molineux was as true as steel to his fa-
ther, as loyal as Abdiel to the house of Sidney. It was he
who composed for Hollingshed the heartfelt panegyrics of
Sir Henry, Sir Philip, and Lady Mary. On this occasion
he met the young man's brutal insults with words which
may have taught him courtesy. The letter deserves to be
given in its integrity :

" SIR I have received a letter from you which as it is the first,
so the same is the sharpest that I ever received from any ; and there-
fore it amazetli me the more to receive such an one from you, since I
have (the world can judge) deserved better somewhere, howsoever it
3*



CO SIR PHILIP SIDNEY. [CHAP.



\ou to condemn me no\v. But since it is (I protest to God)
without cause, or yet just ground of suspicion, you use me thus, I
r the injury more patiently for a time, and mine innoceucy I hope
in the end shall try mine honesty, and then I trust you will confess
that you have done me wrong. And since your pleasure so is ex-
pivssi-d that I shall not henceforth read any of your letters (although
I must confess I have heretofore taken both great delight and profit
in reading some of them) yet upon so hard a condition as you seem
to offer, I will not hereafter adventure so great peril, but obey you
hrivin. Howbeit, if it had pleased you, you might have commanded
me in a far greater matter with a less penalty. Yours, when it shall
please you better to conceive of me, humbly to command,

" F. MOLIXECX."

We doubt not that Philip made honourable amends for
his unjust imputations, since good friendship afterwards
subsisted between him and Molineux. The incident, on
which I have thought fit to dwell, reveals something not

O ' O

altogether pleasing in our hero's character. But the real
deduction to be drawn from it is that his position at this
time was well-nigh intolerable.

In the midst of these worrying cares he remained in at-

*/ o

tendance on the queen. It seems that he journeyed with
the Court in all her progresses ; and in May he formed part
of the royal company which Leicester welcomed to his
house at Wanstead. The entertainment provided for her
Majesty was far simpler than that so famous one at Kenil-
worth in 1575. Yet it has for us a special interest, inas-
much as here Philip produced his first literary essay. This
w.-is a rural masque entitled, The Lady of the May. How-
it came to be written we kno\v not ; peradventure at two
sittings, between the evening's dance and retirement to bed.
The thing is slight and without salt. If it were not still
quoted in the list of Sidney's works, we should not notice
it ; and why it ever was printed I am unable to conjecture,



in.] ENTRANCE INTO COURT-LIFE AND EMBASSY. 51

except upon the supposition that even in Elizabeth's days
the last drops from a famous pen, however dull they were,
found publishers. Of dramatic conception or of power in
dialogue it shows nothing ; nor are the lyrics tuneful.
There is plenty of flattery introduced, apparently to glut
the queen's appetite for mud-honey, but yet so clumsily
applied as to suggest a suspicion whether the poet were
not laughing at her. The only character which reveals
force of portraiture and humour is that of Rombus, the
pedagogue, into whose mouth Sidney has put some long-
winded speeches, satirising the pedantic and grossly igno-
rant stvle in vogue among village school-masters. Rornbus,

v O O O

in fact, is a very rough sketch for the picture of Master
Holofernes, as may be judged by his exordium to Queen
Elizabeth

"Stage Direction. Then came forward Master Rombus, and, with
many special graces, made this learned oration :

"Xow the thunder-thumping Jove trail sfund his dotes into your
excellent formosity, which have, with your resplendent beams, thus
segregated the enmity of these rural animals : I am ' potentissima
domina,' a school-master ; that is to say, a pedagogue, one not a little
versed in the disciplinating of the juvenile fry, wherein, to my laud I
say it, I use such geometrical proportion, as neither wanted mansue-
tude nor correction : for so it is described

" 'Parcare subjectos, et debellire snperbos.'

Yet hath not the pulchritude of my virtues protected me from the
contaminating hands of these plebeians ; for coming, ' solummodo,'
to have parted their sanguinolent fray, they yielded me no more rev-
erence than if I had been some 'pecorius asinus.' I, even I, that am,
who am I ? ' Dixi ; verbus sapiento satum est.' But what said that
Trojan ^Eneas, when he sojourned in the surging sulks of the sandif-

erous seas ?

" 'Haec olira memonasse juvebit.'

Well, well, ' ad propositos revertebo ;' the purity of the verity is, that



SIR PHILIP SIDNEY. [CHAP.

a certain ' pulchra puolla profccto,' elected and constituted by the in-
rated determination of all this topographical region, as the sover-
, la<lv of this dame Maia's month, hath been, ( quodammodo,' hunt-
ed, as you would say; pursued by two, a brace, a couple, a cast of
voting men, to whom the crafty coward Cupid had, ' inquaiu,' deliv-
ered his dire dolorous dart."

During this summer Philip obtained a place at Court,
the importance of which his friend Languet seems to have
exaggerated. Zouch says it was the post of cup-bearer to
the queen ; and in this statement there is no improbability,
but there is also nothing to warrant it. At any rate the
office failed to satisfy his ambition ; for he wrote com-

J

plainingly, as usual, of the irksomeness of Court existence.
How disagreeable that must in some respects have been is
made clear to us by Lady Mary's letters in the autumn of
this year. She was expecting her husband home from Ire-
land. He had to reside with her at Hampton Court, where
she could only call one bedroom her own. To the faithful
Molineux she writes :



" I have thought good to put you in remembrance to move my
Lord Chamberlain in my Lord's name, to have some other room
than my chamber for my Lord to have his resort unto, as he was
wont to have; or else my Lord will be greatly troubled, when he
.-hall have any matters of despatch; my lodgings, you see, being very
little, and myself continually sick and not able to be much out of my
lied. For the night-time one roof, with God's grace, shall serve us.
For the daytime, the queen will look to have my chamber always in
a readiness for her Majesty's coming thither; and though my Lord
himsi-lf ran be no impediment thereto by his own presence, yet his
Lordship, trusting to no place else to be provided for him, will be,
as I .-aid before, troubled for want of a convenient place for the de-
of such people as shall have occasion to come to him. There-
fop-, I pray you, in my Lord's own name, move my Lord of Sussex
flp1 ' ;i room for that purpose, and I will have it hanged and lined for



in.] ENTRANCE INTO COURT-LIFE AND EMBASSY. 53

him with stuff from hence. I wish you not to be unmindful hereof;
and so for this time I leave you to the Almighty. From Chiswick,
this llth October 1578."

It would appear that Lady Mary's very modest request



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