:IM\V it the leaves doth kiss;
vi.] "ASTROPHKL AND STELLA." . i:;.j
Each tree in his best attiring,
Sense of love to love inspiring.
"Love makes earth the water drink,
Love to earth makes water sink ;
And if dumb things be so witty,
Shall a heavenly grace want pity?"
To this and to yet more urgent wooing- Stella replies in
stanzas which are sweetly dignified, breathing the love she
felt, but dutifully repressed.
" Astrophel, said she, my love,
Cease in these effects to prove ;
Now be still, yet still believe me,
Thy grief more than death would grieve me.
"If that any thought in me
Can taste comfort but of thee,
Let me, fed with hellish anguish,
Joyless, hopeless, endless languish.
" If those eyes you praised be
Half so dear as you to me,
Let me home return stark blinded
Of those eyes, and blinder minded ;
"If to secret of my heart
I do any wish impart
Where thou art not foremost placed,
Be both wish and I defaced.
"If more may be said, I say
All my bliss in thee I lay ;
If thou love, my love, content thee.
For all love, all faith is meant thee.
"Trust me, while I thee deny,
In myself the smart I trv ;
SIB PHILIP ,-IIiNEV. [CHAP.
,nt h<m.. ur <loth thus use thee,
ght not refuse thee.
Th-Tcfuiv, d-ur, this no more move,
Lest, though I not l'Mv<> thy love,
Whicli too dt-rp in in - i- framed,
1 should l>lii.-h \\hen thuu art named.
away she went,
I., ivini: him to [so?] passion rent
Witli what she had done and spoken,
That th'-ix'with my song is broken."
Tin- ui-xt >oim - records ^strophel's hard necessity of part-
in - from St'-lia. But why
" Why, alas, doth she thus swear
That she loveth me so dearly I-''
Tin- u'r-'iip ~'f sonnets which these lyrics introduce lead
tip t<> tin- tiual rupture, not indeed of heart and will, but
-<'<\ iM-,-c-itv, which separates the lovers. Stella
throii^h'Hit jilav^ a part which compels our admiration,
and A-tr-'phrl lrinu's himself at length to obedience. The
situation has become iinlearal>le to her. She loves, and,
\\hat i> iii'irc, she ha^ i-.nfe>sed her love. But, at any
pri'-.-, f>r In-r wn sake, for his sake, for honour, for duty,
love it-rlf, >h- must free them both from the enchant-
iii'-nt \\hirlt i> rlo-in^ round them. Therefore the path
\vhidi hitherto ha< U'rii aseendino; throuo-h fair meadows
tii.- In-i-'lit of rapture, n-.w descends upon the other side.
I 1 i> for Sidii'-v a lon^- road of si"-] ls and tears, rebellions
.1 \nitaMi- ri<i dilnrosa, ending, however,
""( ; if and traiujuillity of conscience. For,
.it happier moment- :
vi.] "ASTROPHEL AND STELLA." 137
"For who indeed infelt affection bears,
So captives to his saint both soul and sense,
That, wholly hers, all selfm-ss he forbears;
Then his desires he learns, his life's course thence."
In the hour of their parting Stella betrays her own emo-
" Alas, I found that she with me did smart ;
I saw that tears did in her eyes appear." (Xo. 87.)
After this follow five pieces written in absence :
" Tush, absence ! while thy mists eclipse that light,
My orphan sense fiies to the inward sight,
Where memory sets forth the beams of love." (Xo. 88.)
" Each day seems long, and longs for long-stayed night ;
The night, as tedious, woos the approach of day :
Tired with the dusty toils of busy day,
Languished with horrors of the silent night,
Suffering the evils both of day and night,
While no night is more dark than is my day,
Xor no day hath less quiet than my night." (Xo. 89.)
He gazes on other beauties ; amber-coloured hair, milk-
white hands, rosy cheeks, lips sweeter and redder than the
u They please, I do confess, they please mine eyes ;
But why ? because of you they models be,
Models, such be wood-globes of glistering skies."
A friend speaks to him of Stella:
" You say, forsooth, you left her well of late ;
God, think you that satisfies my care ?
1 would know whether she did sit or walk ;
How clothed, how waited on ; sighed she, or smiled ;
Whereof, with whom, how often did she talk ;
With what pastimes Time's journey she beguiled ;
, . sill rillLIP SIDNEY. L CHAP -
If h.T HI- deigned to BweetCD my poor name.
.,11 and all well said, still say the same."
Irit'-rp"latod in this group is a more than usually fluent
nnet, in which Sidney disclaims all right to call himself
a poet :
,-lla. think not that I by verse seek fame,
\Ylio seek, \vh.. hope, who love, who live but thee ;
TV. - my pride, thy lips my history:
If thou praise not, all other praise is shame.
amtiitious am I as to frame
A ne.-t for my young praise in laurel-tree;
In truth I swear I wish not there should be
(Jraved in my epitaph a poet's name.
N<>r, if I would, could I just title make
That any laud thereof to me should grow,
Without my plumes from other wings I take;
I-'or nothing from my wit or will doth flow,
Sine,- all my words thy beauty doth endite,
And love doth hold my hand and makes me write."
The M. iiints in absence are closed bv a sonff, which, as
/ o *
usual, introduces a new motive. It begins " dear life,"
and indulges a far too audacious retrospect over the past
happine-s cf a lover. If, as seems possible from an allu-
i in N<>. S4, he was indiscreet enough to communicate
hi- poem- to friends, this lyric may have roused the jeal-
"ii-y of Stella's hushand and exposed her to hard treat-
ni'M or ivj.ro.iche>. At any rate, something- he had said
or done au-i-l her pain, and he breaks out into incoherent
"0 fa1 " Huilt, ems,-, child of my bliss ! . . .
i' ">e, v. , Stella vexed is ...
I. and know this V) harmed thee . . .
k" tliy -i-lis, my dear, thy tears I bleed " (No. 93.)
vi.J "ASTROI'lIEL AND STELLA/' 13'J
Should any one doubt the sincerity of accent here, let
him peruse the next seven sonnets, which are written in se-
quence upon the same theme.
" Grief, find the words ; for thou hast made my brain
So dark with misty vapours which arise
From out thy heavy mould, that inbent eyes
Can scarce discern the shape of mine own pain." (Xo. 94.)
"Yet sighs, dear sighs, indeed true friends you are,
That do not leave your left friend at the worst ;
But, as you with my breast I oft have nursed,
So, grateful now, you wait upon my care.
" Nay, Sorrow comes with such main rage that he
Kills his own children, tears, finding that they
Bv Love were made apt to consort with me:
Only, true sighs, you do not go away.' 1 (Xo. 95.)
The night is heavier, more irksome to him; and yet he
finds in it the parallel of his own case:
"Poor Xight in love with Phoebus' light,
And endlessly despairing of his grace." (Xo. 97.)
The bed becomes a place of torment:
" While the black horrors of the silent night
Paint woe's black face so lively to my sight,
That tedious leisure marks each wrinkled line/' (Xo. 98.)
Only at dawn can lie find ease in slumber. The sonnet,
in which this motive is developed, illustrates Sidney's meth-
od of veiling definite and simple thoughts in abstruse and
yet exact phrases. We feel impelled to say that there is
something Shakespearean in the style. But we must re-
member that Shakespeare's sonnets were at this time locked
up within his brain, as the flower is in the bud.
n , sin I'HlUr SIDNEY. [CHAP.
M \\ 1 -|,, lit night persuades each mortal eye
To \\hom nor art nor nature granteth light,
To lav his then mark-wanting shafts of sight
Clo-cd \\itli their quivers in >leep's armoury;
\Vitli \\indo\\ - ope thru mo.-t my mind doth lie
Viewing the shape of darkness, and delight
T.ik - - in that sad hue, \\hich with the inward night
<M hi- ma/cd ]m\\ci-s keeps perfect harmony:
]; ,t \\licii l.ird> charm, and that sweet air which is
\l"rn's messenger with rose-enamelled skies
('.ill.- each wight to salute the flower of bliss ;
In toinl) of lids then buried are mine eyes,
I'uiv<"i l.v their lord who is ashamed to find
Such light in >ense \\ith such n darkened mind." (No. 99.)
T\\-> ^'Mulcts upon Stella's illness (to whicli I should be in-
rlinr.l \ ;i'll the four upon this topic printed in Constable's
/' '//') may Ke omitted. But I cannot refrain from quot-
ing the la-t ^'iii^. It is in the form of a dialogue at night
l.eiierith Sb'lla's \\indow. Though apparently together at
the ('oiirt, he had received express commands from her to
al'>tain fr.nn her society; the reason of which can perhaps
t"im<l in \Y>. 104. This sonnet shows that " envious
'were i-'-ninirnting upon their intimacy ; and Sidney
li ; ''l 'iiiprMini-'-d ln-r by wearing stars upon his armour.
Anyhow h.- i^ UM\\ reduced to roaming the streets in dark-
hopiiiM t<, obtain a glimpse of his beloved.
' Wh<> is it that this dark night
1'inlei neath my window plaineth?'
It i- one \\lio from thy sight
l ; ' 'i- r . :ill, e\ile,| disdailietli
other vulgar light.
' Why. alas, and are you he?
l: " not yet tho-,- fancies changed?'
11 ir, \\iien \,, u find change in me,
"ASTROPHEL AND STELLA." 141
Though from me you be estranged,
Let my change to ruin be.
" ' Well, in absence this will die ;
Leave to see, and leave to wonder.'
Absence sure will help, if I
Can learn how mysejf to sunder
From what in my heart doth lie.
" ' But time will these thoughts remove ;
Time doth work what no man knowetbv
Time doth as the subject prove ;
With time still the affection groweth
In the faithful turtle-dove.
" ' What if ye new beauties see ;
Will not they stir new affection ?'
I will think they pictures be ;
Image-like of saints' perfection.
Poorly counterfeiting thee.
" ' But your reason's purest light
Bids you leave such minds to nourish.'
Dear, do reason no such spite !
Never doth thy beauty flourish
More than in my reason's sight.
'" But the wrongs Love bears will mak?
Love at length leave undertaking.'
No ! the more fools it doth shake,
In a ground of so firm making
Deeper still they drive the stake.
'' ' Peace, I think that some give ear ;
Come no more lest I get anger !'
Bliss, I will my bliss forbear,
Fearing, sweet, you to endanger ;
But mv soul shall harbour there.
j. sill PHILIP SIDNEY. [CHAP.
... Well, begone; l>cirone, I say;
Les1 that Argus' eyes perceive you !'
() unjust is fortune's sway,
Which can make me thus to leave you ;
Ami fmiiT louts to run away!"
A characteristic but rather enigmatical sonnet follows
t j,j s lyric. It i> another night scene. Sidney, watching
f r ,,m lii- window, ju-t misses the sight of Stella as her ear-
ring' hurrie> hy :
" Cursed be the page from whom the bad torch fell ;
Cui>r 1 be the night which did your strife resist;
Cursed be the coachman that did drive so fast." (No. 105.)
Then Astrophel and Stella closes abruptly, with those
ili-'..ninvU'<l sonnets, in one of which the word "despair'
urriiiLj; justifies Nash's definition of " the epilogue, De-
" But soon as thought of thee breeds my delight,
And rnv voung soul flutters to thee liis nest,
rude Despair, my daily unbidden guest,
- traight my wings, straight wraps me in his night."
- "lla's prudent withdrawal of herself from Sidney's
ms to work with salutary effect upon his pas-
As that cools or fades for want of nourishment, so
tin: impulse to write declines; and the poet's sincerity is
nowhere better shown than in the sudden and ragged end-
ing <>f his work. 1 doubt whether the two sonnets on De-
sire and Love, which Dr. (Jrosart has transferred from the
M - Ham-oils Poems and printed here as Nos. 109 and 110,
wi-re really meant to form part of Astrophel and Stella.
-trike me as retrospective, composed in a mood of
;i and s-'iuewhat bitter meditation on the past, and prob-
vi.] "ASTROPHEL AND STELLA." 143
ably after some considerable interval; yet the Latin epi-
graph attached to the second lias the force of an envoy.
Moreover Jiey undoubtedly represent the attitude of mind
in which Sidney bade farewell to unhallowed love, and
which enabled him loyally to pli"-ht his troth to Frances
J * iO
Walsingham. Therefore it will not be inappropriate to
close the analysis of his love poetry upon this note. No
one, reading them, will fail to be struck with their resem-
blance to Shakespeare's superb sonnets upon Lust and
Death ("The expense of spirit "and "Poor soul, thou cen-
tre "), which are perhaps the two most completely power-
ful sonnets in our literature:
u Thou blind man's mark, thou fool's self-chosen snare,
Fond fancy's scum, and dregs of scattered thought;
Band of all evils ; cradle of causeless care ;
Thou web of will whose end is never wrought!
Desire, desire ! I have too dearly bought
.With price of mangled mind thy worthless ware;
Too long, too long, asleep thou hast me brought,
Who shouldst my mind to higher things prepare.
But yet in vain thou hast my ruin sought ;
In vain thou mad'st me to vain things aspire ;
In vain thou kindlest all thy smoky fire :
For virtue hath this better lesson taught
Within myself to seek my only hire,
Desiring naught but how to kill desire.
"Leave me, Love, which readiest but to dust;
And thou, my mind, aspire to higher things;
Grow rich in that which never taketh rust ;
Whatever fades, but fading pleasure brings.
Draw in thy beams, and humble all thy might
To that sweet yoke where lasting freedoms be,
Which breaks the clouds and opens forth the light,
That doth but shine and give us sight to see.
lit SIK I'HILir SIDNEY. ICHAP.VL
o i.ik.' f.i-! liul-l ; let that li^ht bo thy guide
In this small c<>ui>e which birth draws out to death;
An<l think lm\v evil becometh him to slide,
\Vli.i .-r.-krth heaven and comes of heavenly breath.
i farewell, wurld ! thy uttermost I see:
al Lvc, maintain thy life in me!"
"Srr.EXDiDis LOXOUM VALEDICO
"THE DEFENCE OF POESY."
FULKE GREVILLE, touching upon the Arcadia, says that
Sidney "purposed no monuments of books to the world."
" If his purpose had been to leave his memory in books, I
am confident, in the right use of logic, philosophy, history,
and poesy, nay even in the most ingenious of mechanical
arts he would have showed such tracts of a searching and
judicious spirit as the professors of every faculty would
have striven no less for him than the seven cities did to
have Homer of their sept. But the truth is: his end was
not writing, even while he wrote ; nor his knowledge mould-
ed for tables or schools ; but both his wit and understand-
ing bent upon his heart, to make himself and others, not
in words or opinion, but in life and action, good and great."
" His end was not writing even while he wrote." This
is certain ; the whole tenor of Sidney's career proves his
determination to subordinate self-culture of every kind to
the ruling purpose of useful public action. It will also be
remembered that none of his compositions were printed
during his lifetime or with his sanction. Yet he had re-
ceived gifts from nature which placed him, as a critic, high
above the average of his contemporaries. He was no mean
poet when he sang as love dictated. He had acquired and
assimilated various stores of knowledge. He possessed an
-Ill PHILIP SIDNEY. [CHAP.
incite and original taste, a notable faculty for the inar-
.irguments, and a persuasive eloquence in expo-
,. Tli->o <]iialities inevitably found their exercise in
\\ntinir: ami of ail Sidney's writings the one with which
we have to deal now is the ripest.
.Itidirinir by the style alone, I should be inclined to
"/"- Defend of Poesy among his later works. But
\\,. invc no I'l-i't aiti gr MI mis f or fixing tli 6 year of i ts compo-
vition. 1'i-obuhly the commonly accepted date of 1581 is
tin- ri-'ht one. In the year 1579 Stephen Gosson dedicated
to Sidney, without asking his permission, an invective
3t "poet-, pipers, players, and their excusers," which
IK- called The School of Abuse. Spenser observes that Gos-
:i " wa- for his labour scorned; if at least it lie in the
Iness of that nature to scorn. Such folly is it not to
:-n-.l afoivhand the nature and quality of him to whom
we drdi-'atc our books." It is possible therefore that The
- /,/ of J/y//.sr and other treatises emanating from Puri-
tan ho-ti!ity to culture, suggested tliis Apology. Sidney
highest among the functions of the human
His name had been used to give authority and
to a i-h.-ver attack upon poets. He felt the weight
of argument to be on his side, and was conscious of his
ability to conduct the cause. With what serenity of spirit,
- of ti-mpiT, humour, and easy strength of style
at "iic tinn- >.taring to enthusiasm, at another playing with
Mihject, he pn-f.irmed the task, can only be appreci-
i bj a cl,i>o perusal of the essay. It is indeed the
ni-'lrl for Mi.-h kinds of composition a work which com-
> the (jiiaintne- and the blitheness of Elizabethan lit-
\\ith the urbanity and reserve of a later period.
in- by numbering himself among "the paper-
'who, I know not by what mischance, in these
vii.] "THE DEFENCE OF POESY." 147
inv not old years and idlest times, having slipped into the
title of a poet, am provoked to say something unto you in
the defence of that inv unelccted vocation." Hence it is
his duty " to make a pitiful defence of poor poetry, which
from almost the highest estimation of learning, is fallen to
be the laughing-stock of children." Underlying Sidney's
main argument we find the proposition that to attack poe-
try is the same as attacking culture in general ; therefore,
at the outset, he appeals to all professors of learning: will
thev inveigh against the mother of arts and sciences, the
"first nurse, whose milk by little and little enabled them
to feed afterwards of toucher knowledge?" Musa?us, Ho-
mer, and Hesiod lead the solemn pomp of the Greek writ-
ers. Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio in Italy, Gower and
Chaucer in England came before prose -authors. The
earliest philosophers, Empedocles and Parmenides, Solon
and Tyrtaeus, committed their metaphysical speculations,
their gnomic wisdom, their martial exhortation, to verse.
And even Plato, if rightly considered, was a poet : " in the
body of his work, though the inside and strength were
philosophy, the skin as it were, and beauty, depended most
of poetry." Herodotus called his books by the names of
the Muses : " both he and all the rest that followed him,
either stole or usurped of poetry their passionate describ-
ing of passions, the many particularities of battles which
no man could affirm." They also put imaginary speeches
into the mouths of kings and captains. The very names
which the Greeks and Romans, "the authors of most of
our sciences," gave to poets, show the estimation in which
they held them. The Romans called the poet wttes, or
prophet; the Greeks TTOOJ-J/C, or maker, a word, by the way,
which coincides with English custom. What can be high-
er in the scale of human understanding than this faculty of
sill Till LIP SIDNEY. [CHAP.
- Iney enlarges upon its significance, following
a Ime of thought whieh Tasso summed up in one memova-
: " There is no Creator but God and the Poet."
||.- now advan jea a definition, which is substantially the
Minn' as Aii-totle's: " Poe>y is an art of imitation; that is
v, .-i ivpiv<..'iiting, counterfeiting, or figuring forth: to
.phorieally. a speaking picture; with this end to
i and Jit." Of poets there have been three gen-
eral kind-: tir>t, "they that did imitate the inconceivable
- of < rod ;'' secondly, " they that deal with matter
|iliil>'Ilii''al, cither moral or natural or astronomical or
ri'-al ;" thirdly, " ri^ht poets . . . which most proper-
ly do imitate, to teach and delight; and to imitate, borrow
in j of \\hat is, hath been, or shall be; but rano-c onlv,
c? */ '
! IIP d with learned discretion, into the divine consideration
of what may be and should be." The preference given to
third kind of poets may be thus explained: The first
_ r i-"U|> are limited to setting forth fixed theological con-
s; th 1 have their material supplied them by
iciences; 1-ut the- third are the makers and creators of
r uariiin^- and example.
Poeta may aNo be classified according to the several
trerse, But this implies a formal and misleading
limitation. Sidney, like Milton and like Shelley, will not
p-M-try eonfmed to metre: ''apparelled verse being
1'iit an ornament, and no cause to poetry; since there have
many jm-t excellent poets that have never versified,
v -\virm many veisitieix that need never answer to
of po Xenophon's " Cyropaedia," the
and r'l,ai ; " ,,f Heliodorus, are cited as true
'and yet botli tlK-e wrote in prose." "It is not
and versing that maketh a poet; but it is that
'- '' - s of virtues, vices, or what else, wit li
TIL] "TIIK DEFKXCE OF POKSY."
that delightful teaching, which must be tlie right describ-
ing note to know a poet by." Truly " the senate of poets
have chosen verse as their fittest raiment ;" but this they
did, because they. meant, "as in matter they passed all in
all, so in manner to go beyond them." "Speech, next to
reason, is the greatest gift bestowed upon mortality ;" and
verse " which most doth polish that blessing of speech," is,
therefore, the highest investiture of poetic thought.
Having thus defined his conception of poetry, Sidney
inquires into the purpose of all learning. "This purify-
ing of wit, this enriching of memory, enabling of judg-
ment, and enlarging of conceit, which commonly we call
learning, under what name soever it come forth, or to
what immediate end soever it be directed; the final end
is to lead and draw us to as high a perfection as our de-
generate souls, made worse by their clay lodgings, can be
capable of." All the branches of learning subserve the
royal or architectonic science, " which stands, as T think,
in the knowledge of a man's self in the ethic and politic
consideration, with the end of well-doing, and not of well-
knowing only." If then virtuous action be the ultimate
object of all our intellectual endeavours, can it be shown
that the poet contributes above all others to this exalted
aim ? Sidney thinks it can.
Omitting divines and jurists, for obvious reasons, he
finds that the poet's only competitors are philosophers and
historians. It therefore now behoves him to prove that
poetry contributes more to the formation of character for
virtuous action that either philosophy or history. The
argument is skilfully conducted, and developed with nice
art; but it amounts in short to this, that while philosophy
is too abstract and history is too concrete, poetry takes
the just path between these extremes, and combines their
SIR PHILIP SIDNEY. [CHAP.
la in a harmoiiv of ni"iv persuasive force than either.
\ :li tin- peerle>> poet perform both; for whatso-
the philosopher >;iith should be done, he giveth a per-
pi.-uiiv of n, 1\- some <>ne whom he presupposeth it
done, BO a> he coupleth the general notion with the
exam] ." " Anger, the Stoics said, was a short
madness; but let Sophocles bring you Ajax on a stage,
killing or whipping sheep and oxen, thinking them the
armv of < iiv.-ks with their chieftains Agamemnon and
Mcnelans; an<l tell me if yon have not a more familiar
iiM^ht into an-vr than finding in the schoolmen his genius
and ditlei Even Christ used parables and fables for
tin- tinner implication of his divine precepts. If philoso-
phv U too miii.'h occupied with the universal, history is
mueh bound to the particular. It dares not go be-
yond what was, may not travel into what might or should
Moreover, " history being captived to the truth of a
foolish world, is m;in v times a terror from well-doino- and
v O '
:m ' ,a - ni.'iit to unbridled wickedness." It cannot
avoid r'\. alini;' virtue overwhelmed with calamity and vice
in pro.|M-rou> roudition. Poetry labours not under the
-am.- restrictions, Il.-i- ideals, delightfully presented, en-
t./riiiLT tin: >"ul with the enchanting strains of music, "set
tin- mind forward to that which deserves to be called and
"Hiit-d u I." In fine: "as virtue is the most excel-
ent n -ting-place fur all worldly learning to make his end
JO po.-try, bring the most familiar to teach it, and most
to move towards it, in the most excellent work is
next passes the various species of poems in re-