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er. where Musidorus was hospitably received.

"The house h.-c'f was built of fair and strong stone, not affecting

much any extraordinary kind of fineness as an honourable repre-

a (inn >tateliness. M " The servants not so many in number

. leanly in apparel and serviceable in behaviour, testifying even in

their countenances that their master took as well care to be served as

of thrm that did serve.''

iVrhap^ Si.lnev,\vhen he penned these sentences, thought
of lVnshnr>t. At any rate they remind us of Jonson's
lines upon that venerable country scat. The pleasance, also,
had the same charm of homeliness and ancient peace:

" The backside of the house was neither field, garden, nor orchard ;

or rather it was both field, garden, and orchard : for as soon as the

ling of the stairs had delivered them down, they came into a

place cunningly set with trees of the most taste-pleasing fruits: but

Y had they taken that into their consideration, but that they

WL-IV sudd'.-nly .-tepped into a delicate green ; of each side of the green

a thiek.-r, and behind the thickets again new beds of flowers, which

_ aider the trees, the trees were to them a pavilion, and they to

i ]n"-aical floor, so that it seemed that art therein would

'lightful by counterfeiting his enemy error and making or-

der in

1 l< re Mnsidorns sojourned some while, until he happened

t" In-ar that his host's son, Clitophon, had been taken pris-

oner l.y the Helots, who were now in revolt against their

'iiian master-. Musidorns begged permission to go to

3 man's rescue; and when he reached the rebels,

1" ! their walled city by a stratagem and began a

"II v battle in the market-place. The eno-ao-ement at first

I C"? O

ral between the Helots and the Arcadians, but at
'' !l - rt1 ' i' ed itself into a single combat, Musidorns at-

O '

- the leader of the Helots with all his miffht. This


duel remained for some time equal and uncertain, when
suddenly the brigand chief threw down his sword, exclaim-
ing, " What ! hath Falladius forgotten the voice of Dai-
phantus? 1 ' It should here be said that Pyrocles and Musi-
dorus had agreed to call each other by these assumed names.
A joyful recognition of course ensued. Pyrocles related
the series of events by which he had been forced to head
the rebels, after being captured by them. Clitophon was
released, and all returned together to Arcadia.

At this point the love intrigue, which forms the main
interest of what Milton called "the vain amatorious poem
of Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia" begins to unfold itself.
An eccentric sovereign, Basilius, Prince of Arcadia, was
married to an accomplished and beautiful woman, Gynecia.
They had two daughters, Pamela the elder, and Philoclea
the younger, equally matched in loveliness of mind and
person, yet differing by subtle contrasts of their incompa-
rable qualities. Basilius, in a fit of jealousy and suspicion,
had left his palace, and was now residing with his wife
and daughters in two rustic lodges, deep-embowered by the
forest. Gynecia, Philoclea, and himself occupied one of
these retreats. Pamela dwelt in the other, under the care
of a clownish peasant family, consisting of Dametas, his
hideous wife Miso, and their etill more odious dauo'hter

1 O

Mopsa. It need not be related how Musidorus fell in love
with Pamela and Pvrocles with Pbiloclea. In order to be


near the ladies of their choice, the princes now assumed
new names and strange disguises. Pyrocles donned Ama-
zon's attire and called himself ZelmanCc Musidorus became
a shepherd and was known as Dorus. Both contrived to
win the affections of the princesses, but meanwhile they
got entangled in embarrassing and dangerous complications.
Dorus had to feign love for the disgusting Mopsa- Zel-


manr wa- persecuted ly the passion of both Basilius and
<. \n<ria; Basilius deeming him a woman, Gynecia recog-
ii'iMiij: a man through his disguise. "When Milton con-
iiiiit-il the Arcadia as "a book in that kind full of mirth
and wittv, but amon" religious thoughts and duties not

O O * '

worthy to be named, nor to be read at any time without
due caution/' he \vas assuredly justified by the unpleasant
situation created for Zelmnne. A young man, travestied
as a i;irl, iii love with a princess, and at the same time har-
assed bv the wanton solicitations of both her father and

I., r mother, is, to say the least, a very risky subject for ro-
mance. Yet Sidney treated it with sufficient delicacy, and
contrived in the end to bring both Basilius and Gynecia to
their senses. u Loathsomely loved and dangerously loving,"
Z' Imanc remained lono- in this entanglement : but when he

o c^ /

and Philoclea eventually attained their felicity in marriage,
both of them concealed Gynecia's error. And she "did,
in the remnant of her life, duly purchase [their good opin-
i"ii] with observing all duty and faith, to the example and
pl'Ty of Greece; so uncertain are mortal judgments, the
same person most infamous and most famous, and neither

I have dwelt on this part of the story because it antici-
pates the plots of many Elizabethan dramas which turned
upon confusions of sex, and to which the custom of boys
art ing female parts lent a curious complexity. If space
allowed I might also follow the more comic fortunes of
1 ' 'His and show how the tale of Amphialus (another lover
Philoclea) is interwoven with that of Pyrocles and Musi-
This subordinate romance introduces one of the
ongest episodes of the work, when Cecropia, the wicked
"f Amphialus, imprisons Zelmane, Philoclea, and
1 Aether in her castle. It is during this imprison-


ment that Pamela utters the prayer made famous by the
fact that Charles I. is supposed to have used it just before
his execution. I will quote it here at length, both for its
beauty of style and for the sake of this historical associa-
tion :

"0 All-seeing Light and Eternal Life of all tilings, to whom noth-
ing is either so great that it may resist, or so small that it is con-
temned ; look upon my misery with Thine eye of mercy, and let Thine
infinite power vouchsafe to limit out some proportion of deliverance
unto me, as to Thee shall seem most convenient. Let not injury,
Lord, triumph over me, and let my faults by Thy hand be corrected,
and make not mine unjust enemy the minister of Thy justice. But
yet, my God, if, in Thy wisdom, this be the aptest chastisement for
my inexcusable folly, if this low bondage be fitted for my over high
desires, if the pride of my not enough humble heart be thus to be
broken, Lord, I yield unto Thy will, and joyfully embrace what sor-
row Thou wilt have me suffer. Only thus much let me crave of Thee :
let my craving, Lord, be accepted of Thee, since even that proceeds
from Thee ; let me crave, even by the noblest title which in my great-
est affliction I may give myself, that I am Thy creature, and by Thy
goodness, which is Thyself, that Thou wilt suffer some beam of Thy
majesty so to shine into my mind that it may still depend confidently
on Thee. Let calamity be the exercise, but not the overthrow of my
virtue ; let their power prevail, but prevail not to destruction. Let
my greatness be their prey; let my pain be the sweetness of their re-
venge; let them, if so it seem good unto Thee, vex me with more and
more punishment ; but, Lord, let never their wickedness have such
a hand but that I may carry a pure mind in a pure body."

Among 1 the papers given to Bishop Juxon by Charles
upon the scaffold was this prayer, slightly altered in some
particulars. His enemies made it a cause of reproach
against him, especially Milton, in a memorable passage of
" Iconoclastes," from which I have already quoted certain
phrases. " Who would have imagined," writes the Latin
secretary, " so little fear in him of the true all-seeing Deity,


little reverence of the Holy Ghost, whose office it is to
di-'tatf and present our Christian prayers, so little care of
truth in his last words, or honour to himself or to his friends,
or "f his afflictions, or that sad hour which was upon

hiiii, a> immediately before his death to pop into the hand
. .f that n'rave bishop who attended him, as a special relique
df his saintly exercises, a prayer stolen word for word from
the mouth of a heathen woman praying to a heathen god;
and that in no serious book, but in the vain amatorious
:i i.f Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia?" Charles' defenders
pt'inted out that the papers given to Juxon had been seized
bv the regicides, and accused them of foisting this prayer
in on purpose to have the opportunity of traducing their
victim to Puritan England. It is also noticeable that it
does not appear in the first edition of Eikon Basilike, nor
in Dr. EaiTs Latin version of that book. However the case
may be, Dr. Johnson showed good sense when he wrote:
' The use of it (the prayer) by adaptation was innocent; and
tliev who could so noisily censure it, with a little extension

- J I

of their malice could contrive what they wanted to ac-


Pamela's prayer has led me so far away from the intri-
- of Sidney's Arcadia that I shall not return to fur-
ther analyses of the fable. The chief merits of the book,
a whole, seem to be an almost inexhaustible variety of


incidents, fairly correct character-drawing, purity of feeling,
abundance of sententious maxims, and great richness of
colouring in the descriptive passages. Its immense popu-
larity may be ascribed to the fact that nothing exactly like
it had appeared in English literature; for Euphues is by

in' ans so romantically interesting or so varied in mate-
>hile the novels of Greene are both shorter and more

notonous. The chivalrous or heroic incidents are so


well combined with the sentimental, and these again are so
prettily set against the pastoral background, that, given an
appetite for romance of the kind, each reader found some-
thing to stimulate his curiosity and to provide him with
amusement. The defects of the Arcadia are apparent ; as,
for instance, its lack of humour, the extravagance of many
of its situations, the whimsicality of its conceits, and the
want of solid human realism in its portraits. These defects
were, however, no bar to its popularity in the sixteenth cen-
tury ; nor would they count as such at present were it not,
as Dr. Zouch pertinently remarks, that " the taste, the man-
ners, the opinions, the language of the English nation, have
undergone a very great revolution since the reign of Queen

^5 CD *-^

Elizabeth." Such a revolution condemns all works which
fascinated a bygone age, and which are not kept alive by
humour and by solid human realism, to ever-gradually-deep-
en in g oblivion.


Before concluding this chapter there is another point of
view under which the Arcadia must be considered. Sidney
interspersed its prose with verses, after the model of Sannaz-
zaro's pastoral, sometimes introducing them as occasion
suggested into the mouths of his chief personages, and
sometimes making them the subject of poetical disputes
between the shepherds of the happy country. Some of
these poems are among the best which he composed. I
would cite in particular the beautiful sonnet which begins
and ends with this line : "My true love hath my heart, and
I have his;" and another opening with "Beauty hath
force to catch the human sight." But what gives special
interest to the verses scattered over the pages of Arcadia
is that in a large majority of them Sidney put in practice
the theories of the Areopagus. Thus we have English
hexameters, elegiacs, sapphics, phaleuciacs or hendecasylla-


'.-jimd*, and anacreontics. I will present some
iiiK-ns of each. Here then are hexameters:

[ -.-rvf.l l.y the heavens to do pastors' company honour,

.loimiiL' your sweet voice to the rural muse of a desert,
II. -iv y..u fully do find this strange operation of love,
II<i\v to the woods love runs as well as rides to the palace ;
. ther he bears reverence to a prince nor pity to beggar,
But (like a point in midst of a circle) is still of a nearness.
All to a lesson he draws, neither hills nor caves can avoid him."

One elegiac couplet will suffice :

" Fortune, Nature, Love, long have contended about me,

Which should most miseries cast on a worm that I am."

V>r will it be needful to quote more than one sapphic

stanza :

" If mine eyes can speak to do hearty errand,
Or mine eyes' language she do hap to judge of,
So that eyes' message be of her received,
Hope, we do live yet."

The hendecasyllables, though comparatively easy to write
in English, hobble in a very painful manner, as thus:

" Reason, tell me thy mind, if here be reason,
In this strange violence to make resistance,
Where sweet graces erect the stately banner
Of virtue's regiment, shining in harness."

S do the asclepiads, which, however, are bv no means so
"f execution :

"0 aweet woods, the delight of solitariness!
<> how much I do like your solitariness!
Where man's mind hath a freed consideration.
f -" ' ive lovely direction ;

Where senses do behold the order of heavenly host,
A: thoughts do behold what the Creator is."


The anacreontics, being an iambic measure, come off
somewhat better, as may be judged by this transcript from
a famous fragment of Sappho :

" My Muse, what ails this ardour?
Mine eyes be dim, my limbs shake,
My voice is hoarse, my throat scorched,
My tongue to this my roof cleaves,
My fancy amazed, my thoughts dulled,
My heart doth ache, my life faints,
My soul begins to take leave."

It is obvious from these quotations that what the school
called "our rude and beo-o-arlv rhyming" is not onlv more

~j d / d7

natural, but also more artistic than their " reformed verse."
Indeed, it may be said without reserve that Sidney's ex-
periments in classical metres have no poetical value what-
soever. They are only interesting as survivals from an
epoch when the hexameter seemed to have an equal chance
of survival with the decasyllabic unrhymed iambic. The
same is true about many of Sidney's attempts to acclima-
tise Italian forms of verse. Thus we find embedded in the
Arcadia terza riraa and ottava rima, sestines and madrigals,
a canzone in which the end of each line rhymes with a
syllable in the middle of the next. So conscientious was
he in the attempt to reproduce the most difficult Italian
metres that he even attempted terza rima with sdrucciolo
or trisyllabic rhymes. I will select an example :

" If sunny beams shame heavenly habitation,
If three-leaved grass seem to the sheep unsavory,
Then base and sore is Love's most high vocation.
Or if sheep's cries can help the sun's own bravery,
Then may I hope my pipe may have ability
To help her praise who decks me in her slavery."

But enough of this. It has proved a difficult task to in-


trod ace t-rza rima at all into English literature; to make
;i.inally exacting a species of it as the sdrucciolo

at all attractive, would almost be beyond the powers of Mr.
Swinburne. The octave, as handled by Sidney, is passable,
a> \vill appear from the even flow of this stanza :

While thus they ran a low but levelled race,
While thus they lived (this was indeed a life!)
With nature pleased, content with present case,
Free of proud fears, brave beggary, smiting strife
Of clime-fall court, the envy-hatching place,
While those restless desires in great men rife
To visit folks so low did much disdain,
This while, though poor, they in themselves did reign."

Of the sestines I will not speak. That form has always
seemed to me tedious even in the hands of the most ex-
pert Italian masters; and Sidney was not the sort of poet
to add grace to its formality by any sprightliness of treat-
111. 'lit. It should be noticed that some of the songs in the
Ai-'-'i'l'd. are put into the mouth of a sad shepherd who is
Sidney himself. Phillisides (for so he has chosen to Latin-
ise the first syllables of his Christian and surnames) ap-
pi-ar-i late in the romance, and prepares us to expect the
hi- her poetry of Astrophel and Stella.



WHILE Philip was in retirement at Wilton two events of
interest happened. His nephew, William Herbert, saw the
light upon the 28th of April ; and Edmund Spenser left
England for Ireland as secretary to the new Viceroy, Lord
Grey of Wilton. The birth of the future Earl of Pern-
broke forcibly reminds us of Sidney's position in the his-
tory of English literature. This baby in the cradle was
destined to be Shakespeare's friend and patron ; possibly
also to inspire the sonnets which a publisher inscribed in
Shakespeare's name to Master W. H. We are wont to re-
gard those enigmatical compositions as the product of
Shakespeare's still uncertain manhood. But William Her-
bert was yet a child when his uncle Philip's life-work end-
ed. Astrophel and Stella had circulated among its au-
thor's private friends for at least four years when Zutphen
robbed England of her poet-hero. At that date little Her-
bert, for whom Shakespeare subsequently wrote the lines

" Take all my loves, my love, yea, take them all ;
What hast thou then more than thou hadst before ?"

this little Herbert was but in his seventh year.

It is also possible, but not probable, that, while Philip

was away in Wiltshire, his half-affianced bride, the daugh-


ter of the Earl of Essex, gave her hand to another suitor,
ll.r -:iardian, the Earl of Huntingdon, wrote upon the 10th
of M:nvh, in 1580, to Lord Burleigh, that he considered
L-rd i:i<-li "a proper gentleman, and one in years very fit
f..r my Ladv Penelope Devereux, if, with the favour and
likinir "f her Majesty, the matter might be brought to
pass." Lord Rich certainly married Penelope Devereux;
but whether it was in 1580, or rather in 1581, admits of
discussion. To fix the exact date of her betrothal is a
matter of some moment. I must therefore point out that,
at that time in England, the commencement of the year
dated officially from March 25. In private correspond-
ence, however, the 1st of January had already begun to
mark the opening of a new year. Privately, then, Lord
Huntingdon's letter may have carried the date, 1580, as we
understand it; but, officially, it must have been reckoned
into the year which we call 1581. Now this letter is en-
dorsed by Burleigh or his secretary, officially, under the
year 1580; and, therefore, we have a strong presumption
in favour of Penelope's not having been engaged to Lord
liich until 1581, seeing that the month of March in 1580


counted then for our month of March in 1581. When I
ivvirw Astrophel and Stella it will appear that I do not at-
tach very great importance to this question of dates. But
I think it safer, on the evidence, to place Stella's marriage
in the spring or summer of 1581.

Lord Rich was the son of the Lord Chancellor of Eng-
land, who had lately died, bequeathing to his heir a very
substantial estate, and a large portion of his own coarse
t mjHTamriit. If we may trust the Earl of Devonshire's
emphatic statement, made some twenty-five years later to
Kinj; James, this marriage was not to the mind of the
lady. Hr says that Penelope, " being in the power of her


friends, was married against her will unto one against

' O CJ

whom she did protest at the solemnity and ever after ; be-
tween whom, from the very first day, there ensued con-

V * *

tinual discord, although the same fears that forced her to
marry constrained her to live with him." I may here re-
mind my readers of her subsequent history. During her
husband's lifetime she left him and became the mistress of
Sir Charles Blount, to whom she bore three children out
of wedlock. lie advanced to the peerage with the in-
herited title of Lord Mountjoy, and was later on created
Earl of Devonshire ; while Lady Rich, in spite of her
questionable conduct, received, by patent, the dignity and
precedence of the most ancient Earldom of Essex. Hav-
ing been divorced from Lord Rich, she was afterwards at
liberty to marry her lover; and in 1605 she became the
Countess of Devonshire. James refused to countenance
the nuptials. He had tolerated the previous illicit connec-
tion. But his opinions upon divorce made him regard its
legalisation with indignant horror. Stella died in 1607 a


disgraced woman, her rights of wifehood and widowhood
remaining unrecognised.

In the course of the summer (1580), Leicester left his
retirement and returned to Court. It was understood that
though still not likinsf the French match, he would in fut-


ure offer no opposition to the queen's wishes ; and on these
terms he induced Philip also to make his peace with her
Majesty. We find him, accordingly, again in London be-
fore the autumn. Two of the longest private letters from
his pen may be referred to this period. They are address-
ed to his brother Robert Sidney, who afterwards became

/ "

Lord Leicester. This young man was then upon his trav-
els, spending more money than his father's distressed cir-
cumstances could well afford. Philip sent him supplies,
5 <i


n^iriLj l;iMuu;i<_:<' f great delicacy and warm brotherly affec-
tion: " For the nioiu-v you have received, assure yourself
true) there is nothing I spend so pleaseth me, as
that which is for you. If ever I have ability, you will find
it ; if n<>t, yet shall not any brother living be better beloved
than you of me." " For 200 a year, assure yourself, if
the estates of England remain, you shall not fail of it;
use it to your best profit." Where Philip found the
money may be wondered; but that he gave it with good
L!T;i<-r is unquestionable. Probably he received more from
the queen in allowances than we are aware of; for he
ranked among the favoured courtiers then known as " pen-
sioner-." As was the fashion of those times, he lectured
his brother somewhat pompously on how to use the op-
portunities of the grand tour. Robert was constantly to
observe the " virtue, passion, and vices" of the foreign
countries through which he travelled.


" liven in the Kingdom of China, which is almost as far as the
Antipodes from us, their good laws and customs are to be learned;
hut to know their riches and power is of little purpose for us, since
that can neither advance nor hinder us. But in our neighbouring
countries both these things are to be marked, as well the latter,
whieh contain things for themselves, as the former, which seek to
know both those, and how their riches and power may be to us avail-
Able, or otherwise. The countries fittest for both these are those you
are going into. France is above all other most needful for us to
mark, e-prrially in the former kind; next is Spain and the Low
Countries; then Germany, which in my opinion excels all others as
much in tin- latter consideration, as the other doth in the former, yet
ii'-itlier a ix- void of neither ; for as Germany, methinks, doth excel in
1 laws, and well administering of justice, so are we likewise to
consider in it tin- many princes with whom we may have league, the
I' 1;l "' 'rad.-, and means to draw both soldiers and furniture thence
of need. So on the other side, as in France and Spain, we are
y lu mark how they stand towards us both m power and in-


clination ; so arc they not without good and fitting use, even in the
generality of wisdom to be known. As in France, the courts of par-
liament, their subaltern jurisdiction, and their continual keeping of
paid soldiers. In Spain, their good and grave proceedings ; their
keeping so many provinces under them, and by what manner, with
the true points of honour ; wherein since they have the most open
conceit, if they seem over curious, it is an easy matter to cut off when
a man sees the bottom. Flanders likewise, besides the neighbourhood
with us, and the annexed considerations thereunto, hath divers things
to be learned, especially their governing their merchants and other
trades. Also for Italy, we knew not what we have, or can have, to
do with them, but to buy their silks and wines ; and as for the other
point, except Venice, whose good laws and customs we can hardly

Online LibraryJohn MorleyEnglish men of letters (Volume 3) → online text (page 37 of 44)