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either case, the date would be after Stella's betrothal to Lord Rich. Sonnet 30, " Whether the Turkish new moon minded be," points to political events in Europe which were taking place after the beginning of 1581, and consequently about the period of Penelope's marriage. These five sonnets fall within the first forty-one of a series which numbers one hundred and eight. After them I can discover nothing but allusions to facts of private life, Astrophel's absence from the Court, Stella's temporary illness, a stolen kiss, a lover's quarrel.

In conclusion, I would fain point out that any one who may have composed a series of poems upon a single theme, extending over a period of many months, will be aware how impertinent it is for an outsider to debate their order. Nothing can be more certain, in such species of composition, than that thoughts once suggested will be taken up for more elaborate handling on a future occasion. Thus the contention between love and virtue, which occurs early in Astrophel and Stella, is developed at length towards its close. The Platonic conception of beauty is suggested near the commencement, and is worked out in a later sequence. Sometimes a motive from external life supplies the poet with a single lyric, which seems to interrupt the lover's monologue. Sometimes he strikes upon a vein so fruitful that it yields a succession of linked sonnets and intercalated songs.

I have attempted to explain why I regard Astrophel and Stella as a single whole, the arrangement of which does not materially differ from that intended by its author. I have also expressed my belief that it was written after Penelope Devereux became Lady Rich. This justifies me in saying, as I did upon a former page, that the exact date of her marriage seems to me no matter of vital importance in Sir

Philip Sidney's biography. My theory of the love which it portrays, is that this was latent up to the time of her betrothal, and that the consciousness of the irrevocable at that moment made it break into the kind of regretful passion which is peculiarly suited for poetic treatment. Stella may have wasted some of Philip's time; but it is clear that she behaved honestly, and to her lover helpfully, by the firm but gentle refusal of his overtures. Throughout these poems, though I recognise their very genuine emotion, I cannot help discerning the note of what may be described as poetical exaggeration. In other words, I do not believe. that Sidney would in act have really gone so far as he professes to desire. On paper it was easy to demand more than seriously, in hot or cold blood, he would have attempted. To this artistic exaltation of a real feeling the chosen form of composition both traditionally and artistically lent itself. Finally, when all these points have been duly considered, we must not forget that society at that epoch was lenient, if not lax, in matters of the passions. Stella's position at Court, while she was the acknowledged mistress of Sir Charles Blount, suffices to prove this; nor have we any reason to suppose that Philip was, in this respect, more a spirit without blot" than his contemporaries. Some of his death-bed meditations indicate sincere repentance for past follies; but that his liaison with Lady Rich involved nothing worse than a young man's infatuation, appears from the pervading tone of Astrophel and Stella. A motto might be chosen for it from the 66th sonnet:


"I cannot brag of word, much less of deed."

The critical cobwebs which beset the personal romance of Astrophel and Stella have now been cleared away. Readers of these pages know how I for one interpret its prob

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lems. Whatever opinion they may form upon a topic which has exercised many ingenious minds, we are able at length to approach the work of art, and to study its beauties together. Regarding one point, I would fain submit a word of preliminary warning. However artificial and allusive may appear the style of these love poems, let us prepare ourselves to find real feeling and substantial thought expressed in them. It was not a mere rhetorical embroidery of phrases which moved downright Ben Jonson to ask:

"Hath not great Sidney Stella set
Where never star shone brighter yet?"

It was no flimsy string of pearled conceits which drew from Richard Crashaw in his most exalted moment that allusion


"Sydnaean showers

Of sweet discourse, whose powers

Can crown old Winter's head with flowers."

The elder poets, into whose ken Astrophel and Stella swam like a thing of unimagined and unapprehended beauty, had no doubt of its sincerity. The quaintness of its tropes, and the condensation of its symbolism were proofs to them of passion stirring the deep soul of a finely-gifted, highlyeducated man. They read it as we read In Memoriam, acknowledging some obscure passages, recognising some awkwardness of incoherent utterance, but taking these on trust as evidences of the poet's heart too charged with stuff for ordinary methods of expression. What did Shakespeare make Achilles say?

"My mind is troubled, like a fountain stirred,
And I myself see not the bottom of it."

Charles Lamb puts this point well. "The images which


lie before our feet (though by some accounted the only
natural) are least natural for the high Sydnaean love to ex-
press its fancies.
They may serve for the love of Tibullus,
or the dear author of the Schoolmistress; for passions that
weep and whine in elegies and pastoral ballads. I am sure
Milton (and Lamb might have added Shakespeare) never
loved at this rate."

The forms adopted by Sidney in his Astrophel and Stella sonnets are various; but none of them correspond exactly to the Shakespearian type-four separate quatrains clinched with a final couplet. He adheres more closely to Italian models, especially in his handling of the octave; although we find only two specimens (Nos. 29, 94) of the true Petrarchan species in the treatment of the sextet. Sidney preferred to close the stanza with a couplet. The best and most characteristic of his compositions are built in this way two quatrains upon a pair of rhymes, arranged as a, b, b, a, a, b, b, a; followed by a quatrain c, d, c, d, and a couplet e, e. The pauses frequently occur at the end of the eighth line, and again at the end of the eleventh, so that the closing couplet is not abruptly detached from the structure of the sextet. It will be observed from the quotations which follow that this, which I indicate as the most distinctively Sidneyan type, is by no means invariable. To analyse each of the many schemes under which his sonnets can be arranged, would be unprofitable in a book which does not pretend to deal technically with this form of stanza. Yet I may add that he often employs a type of the sextet, which is commoner in French than in Italian or English poetry, with this rhyming order: c, c, d, e, e, d. I have counted twenty of this sort.

The first sonnet, which is composed in lines of twelve syllables, sets forth the argument:

"Loving in truth, and fain in verse my love to show,

That she, dear she, might take some pleasure of my pain,
Pleasure might cause her read, reading might make her know,
Knowledge might pity win, and pity grace obtain;

I sought fit words to paint the blackest face of woe,
Studying inventions fine her wits to entertain,

Oft turning others' leaves to see if thence would flow

Some fresh and fruitful showers upon my sun-burned brain.
But words came halting forth, wanting invention's stay;

Invention, nature's child, fled step-dame study's blows;
Another's feet still seemed but stranger's in my way.

Thus, great with child to speak, and helpless in my throes,
Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite-

'Fool,' said my Muse to me, 'look in thy heart and write!'"

This means that Sidney's love was sincere; but that he first sought expression for it in phrases studied from famous models. He wished to please his lady, and to move her pity. His efforts proved ineffectual, until the Muse came and said: "Look in thy heart and write." Like Dante, Sidney then declared himself to be one:

"Che quando,

Amore spira, noto; ed a quel modo
Ch'ei detta dentro, vo significando."

Purg. 24. 52.

"Love only reading unto me this art."
Astrophel and Stella, sonnet 28.

The 3d, 6th, 15th, and 28th sonnets return to the same point. He takes poets to task, who

'With strange similes enrich each line,

Of herbs or beasts which Ind or Afric hold."

(No. 3.)

He describes how

"Some one his song in Jove, and Jove's strange tales attires, Bordered with bulls and swans, powdered with golden rain;

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