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of his age.
of the Garter. The Government both of Ireland and Wales, which was never before nor since united in one person, he continued to hold for upwards of 20 years. Sir Henry Sidney was one of the most eminent Statesmen in an age celebrated for producing great men in that department; of unblemished honour, and of the strictest integrity; unable, after a life spent in the service of three sovereigns, and in employments where ample fortunes may, and have been acquired, to give a small portion of 2000 pounds to bis daughter, upon her marriage, or to reward his faithful secretary for his services. He was removed from the government of Ireland in 1578, but retained that of Wales until his death, which happened at Ludlow Castle, May 5th, 1586, in the 57th
Greatly indebted as Sir Philip Sidney must have been to the instruction and example of such a father, he was probably even under greater obligations to his excellent mother. This lady, highly born, and carefully instructed, as the ladies of that age were--and as ladies should be in every age-in polite learning, possessed a mind and spirit equal to her illustrious birth. Warned by the fearful example in her family, she shrunk from public life, and sought happiness where it was more likely to be found, in the careful discharge of the retied and domestic duties. She was the first instructor of her son, and formed his infant mind to that love of virtue and noble actions, which afterwards rendered him so illustrious in his life time, and has embalmed his memory every
From his mother's care, the young
Philip was removed to a school at Shrewsbury, which was probably selected from its vicinity to Ludlow Castle, the residence of his father, as Governor of
Wales. He was an instance of early proficiency in mental attainments. Sir Fulke Greville says, “though I lived with him, and knew him from a child, yet I never knew him other than a man, with such a steadiness of mind, lovely and familiar gravity, as carried grace and reverence above his years.” At the age of twelve years he addressed his father in two letters, written in Latin and French. His father's answer, which is a valuable record of paternal solicitude, contains a compendium of excellent advice and instruction, but is, too long for insertion in this place.
In the year 1569, Sir Philip Sidney was removed to Oxford, and entered of Christ Church College; and he afterwards, according to the custom of that age, passed some time at the sister University. During this period, “such," says Fuller, “was his aptitude for learning, that he could never be fed fast enough therewith, and so quick and strong his digestion, that he soon tunned it to wholesome nourishment, and thrived healthfully thereon.”
In 1572, he obtained a licence for travelling, and was in Paris during the massacre of the protestants; in the horror and confusion of which, he saved his life by taking refuge in the residence of Sir Francis Walsingham, the English Ambassador. He spent three years abroad, visited the principal cities of Italy and Gera many, and formed intimacies with several distinguished foreigners. But, perhaps, the greatest acquisition he made during this period of his life, was the friendship of Hubert Languet, a distinguished scholar, and excellent man; who continued ever afterwards to correspond with him, and furnished him with the best advice and instruction.
On his return from abroad, our accomplished young man was immediately introduced to the notice of Queen Elizabeth, under the most favourable auspices, for he seems to have been adopted by his uncle, the powerful Earl of Leicester, as his son and heir.
In 1576, being then only 22 years of age, he was selected to carry the condolence of Queen Elizabeth to the Emperor Rodolph, on the recent death of his father. In this embassy he had a pompous retinue, kept great state, and displayed his armorial bearings with a latin-inscription, descriptive of his high descent and employment, in front of every house in which he chanced to lodge. This embassy seems to have had an object distinct from the ostensible one. Sir Philip Sidney had instructions to procure certain intelligence respecting the manners and views of the Emperor for the information of the British ministry; and to visit the principal protestant states of Germany, for the purpose of effecting an union in defence of their religious opinions. He does not seem to have been engaged in this mission many months; the first letter addressed by him to Walsingham, as Secretary of State, bears date May 1576, and that he was returned in June 1577, appears by a letter of the Secretary's to his father, announcing that event, and highly approving of his conduct.
This was the first, and with the exception of that in which he afterwards lost his life, the only public employment conferred upon Sir Philip Sidney. He continued to reside at court, and occasionally appeared in the pageantry of the age, as a champion in the lists ; but his only office was that of cup-bearer to the queen,
honourable, perhaps, but not important or dignified. He seems at this time to have been supported by a quarterly allowance, paid him by his father, and perhaps by the occasional bounty of his uncle. From the queen, he obtained a sinecure in Wales, of the yearly value of 120 pounds only, on which account he was ircluded in the list of those young aspirants who were considered as her pensioners. So late as the year 1582 he does not not even appear to have obtained a seat at the privy council.
In 1579 he vertured to write a letter to the queen, remonstrating with her on the impolicy of her projected marriage with the Duke of Anjou ; which seems to have been well received, and if we may credit his biographers, produced its desired effect upon the royal mind. He had previously employed his pen in defence of his father's government of Ireland.
In 1580 he incurred the displeasure of the queen in consequence of a quarrel he had with the Earl of Oxford, at a tennis court, and he found it necessary for a time to retire from court. During this retirement, which he passed at Wilton, the seat of his brother in law, the Earl of Pembroke, he wrote his Arcadia.
In 1581 he wrote his Defence of Poetry.
In January, 1583, he was Knighted. About this time be wrote the defence of his uncle, the Earl of Leicester, against the author of a book called Leicester's Commonwealth, but this defence was not published, and certainly produced no good effect upon the character of the Earl.
In the same year, Sir Philip Sidney married Frances the only daughter and heir of Sir Francis Walsingham.
That he married this lady when his affections were fixed on another, is certain, and will be the subject of some future remarks,
In the year 1585, the inhabitants of the Netherlands applied to Queen Elizabeth for protection against the tyranny of the Duke of Alva, and placed several of their principal frontier towns in her hands. Flushing was one of these, and Sir Philip Sidney, now a privy counsellor, was appointed to its government in November. Very soon afterwards a powerful army, under the command of the Earl of Leicester, with the title of Governor and Captain-General of the united provinces of Holland and Zealand, landed in that country, and was immediately joined by Sir Philip in the capacity of General of the Horse.
The campaign which followed, was short and inglorious, and memorable only for the death of Sir Philip Sidney.
On the 22nd of September, 1536, a detachment of the English army accidentally met with a convoy sent by the enemy to Zutphen, a town in Guelderland, then beseiged by the Spaniards. A severe conflict ensued, and the English troops, though inferior in number, had the advantage. Sir Philip Sidney, who commanded the cavalry, bad a horse shot under him; having mounted another, he rushed forward to the relief of Lord Willoughby, who was surrounded and in imminent danger. In this charge he received a severe wound from a musket ball in the left thigh, of which he languished sixteen days, and died.
Such are, in brief, the leading facts in the life of this highly extolled man, and no incident of any importance is omitted. A slight foundation assuredly, on which