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sons, he says: "I wish them sent to the best school, and a public. They are in more danger in your own family among ill servants than amongst a thousand boys, however immodest. To breed them at home is to breed them in a shade, whereas in a school they have the light and heat of the sun. They are used and accustomed to things and men. When they come forth into the commonwealth, they find nothing new or to seek. They have made their friendships and aids, some to last till their age." One such friend, whose loving help was given to Sidney till death parted them, entered Shrewsbury school together with him on the 19th of November 1574. This was Fulke Greville, a distant relative, and a boy of exactly the same age. To the sincere attachment which sprang up between them, and strengthened with their growing age, we owe our most valuable information regarding Philip's character and opinions. Fulke Greville survived his friend, became Lord Brooke, and when he died in 1628 the words "Friend to Philip Sidney" were inscribed upon his tomb. From the short biography of his friend, prefixed to a collection of his own works, which was dedicated to Sidney's memory, we obtain a glimpse of the boy while yet at school:
"Of his youth I will report no other wonder but this, that though I lived with him, and knew him from a child, yet I never knew him other than a man; with such staidness of mind, lovely and familiar gravity as carried grace and reverence above greater years. His talk ever of knowledge, and his very play tending to enrich his mind. So as even his teachers found something to observe and learn above that which they had usually read or taught. Which eminence, by nature and industry, made his worthy father style Sir Philip in my hearing (though I unseen) Lumen familiæ suæ.”
According to our present notions, we do not consider it altogether well if a boy between the ages of ten and fifteen
wins praise for exceptional gravity. Yet Fulke Greville does not call Philip bookish; and we have abundant evidence that, while he was early heedful of nourishing his mind, he showed no less eagerness to train his body in such exercises as might be serviceable to a gentleman, and useful to a soldier. Nevertheless, his friend's admiring eulogy of the lad's deportment indicates what, to the end, remained somewhat chilling in his nature—a certain stiffness, want of impulse-want, perhaps, of salutary humour. He could not take the world lightly-could not act, except in rare moments of anger, without reflection. Such a character is admirable; and youths at our public schools, who remain overgrown boys in their games until they verge on twenty, might well take a leaf from Sidney's book. But we cannot refrain from thinking that just a touch of recklessness would have made him more attractive. We must, however, remember that he was no child of the nineteenth century. He belonged to the age of Burleigh and of Bacon, and the circumstances of his birth forced on him precocity in prudence. Being the heir of Sir Henry Sidney and Lady Mary Dudley, he could not but be early conscious of the serious difficulties which perplexed his parents. Had he not been also conscions of a calling to high things, he would have derogated from his illustrious lineage. His gravity, then, befitted his blood and position in that still feudal epoch, his father's eminent but insecure station, and the tragic fate of his maternal relatives.
A letter written by Sir Henry Sidney to his son, while still at school in Shrewsbury, may here be cited. It helps to show why Philip, even as a boy, was earnest. Sympathetic to his parents, bearing them sincere love, and owing them filial obedience, he doubtless read with veneration, and observed with loyalty, the words of wisdom-wiser
than those with which Polonius took farewell of Laertes -dictated for him by the upright and valiant man whom he called father. Long as it is, I shall give it in full; for nothing could better bring before our eyes the ideal of conduct which then ruled English gentlefolk:
"I have received two letters from you, one written in Latin, the other in French; which I take in good part, and wish you to exercise that practice of learning often; for that will stand you in most stead in that profession of life that you are born to live in. And since this is my first letter that ever I did write to you, I will not that it be all empty of some advices, which my natural care for you provoketh me to wish you to follow, as documents to you in this your tender age. Let your first action be the lifting up of your mind to Almighty God by hearty prayer; and feelingly digest the words you speak in prayer, with continual meditation and thinking of Him to whom you pray and of the matter for which you pray. And use this as an ordinary act, and at an ordinary hour, whereby the time itself shall put you in remembrance to do that which you are accustomed to do in that time. Apply your study to such hours as your discreet master doth assign you, earnestly; and the time I know he will so limit as shall be both sufficient for your learning and safe for your health. And mark the sense and the matter of that you read, as well as the words. So shall you both enrich your tongue with words and your wit with matter; and judgment will grow as years groweth in you. Be humble and obedient to your master, for unless you frame yourself to obey others, yea, and feel in yourself what obedience is, you shall never be able to teach others how to obey you. Be courteous of gesture and affable to all men, with diversity of reverence according to the dignity of the person: there is nothing that winneth so much with so little cost. Use moderate diet, so as after your meal you may find your wit fresher and not duller, and your body more lively and not more heavy. Seldom drink wine, and yet sometimes do, lest being enforced to drink upon the sudden you should find yourself inflamed. Use exercise of body, yet such as is without peril of your joints or bones; it will increase your force and enlarge your breath. Delight to be cleanly, as well in all parts of your body as in your garments: it shall make you grateful in each company, and otherwise loathsome. Give yourself to
be merry, for you degenerate from your father if you find not yourself most able in wit and body and to do anything when you be most merry; but let your mirth be ever void of all scurrility and biting words to any man, for a wound given by a word is oftentimes harder to be cured than that which is given with the sword. Be you rather a hearer and bearer away of other men's talk than a beginner and procurer of speech; otherwise you shall be counted to delight to hear yourself speak. If you hear a wise sentence or an apt phrase commit it to your memory with respect of the circumstance when you shall speak it. Let never oath be heard to come out of your mouth nor word of ribaldry; detest it in others; so shall custom make to yourself a law against it in yourself. Be modest in each assembly; and rather be rebuked of light fellows for maiden-like shamefastness than of your sad friends for pert boldness. Think upon every word that you will speak before you utter it, and remember how nature hath ramparted up, as it were, the tongue with teeth, lips, yea, and hair without the lips, and all betokening reins or bridles for the loose use of that member. Above all things, tell no untruth; no, not in trifles: the custom of it is naughty. And let it not satisfy you that, for a time, the hearers take it for truth; for after it will be known as it is, to your shame; for there cannot be a greater reproach to a gentleman than to be accounted a liar. Study and endeavour yourself to be virtuously occupied, so shall you make such a habit of well-doing in you that you shall not know how to do evil, though you would. Remember, my son, the noble blood you are descended of, by your mother's side; and think that only by virtuous life and good action you may be an ornament to that illustrious family, and otherwise, through vice and sloth you shall be counted labes generis, one of the greatest curses that can happen to man. Well, my little Philip, this is enough for me, and too much, I fear, for you. But if I shall find that this light meal of digestion nourisheth anything in the weak stomach of your capacity, I will, as I find the same grow stronger, feed it with tougher food. Your loving father, so long as you live in the fear of God, 66 H. SIDNEY."
To this epistle Lady Mary Sidney added a postscript, which, if it is less correct in style and weighty with wise counsel, interests us by its warm and motherly affection.
"Your noble and careful father hath taken pains (with his own hand) to give you in this his letter so wise, so learned, and most requisite precepts for you to follow with a diligent and humble thankful mind, as I will not withdraw your eyes from beholding and reverent honouring the same,-no, not so long time as to read any letter from me; and therefore at this time I will write no other letter than this and hereby I first bless you with my desire to God to plant in you His grace, and secondarily warn you to have always before the eyes of your mind those excellent counsels of my lord, your dear father, and that you fail not continually once in four or five days to read them over. And for a final leave-taking for this time, see that you show yourself a loving obedient scholar to your good master, and that my lord and may hear that you profit so in your learning as thereby you may increase our loving care of you, and deserve at his hands the continuance of his great joys, to have him often witness with his own hand the hope he hath in your well-doing.
Farewell, my little Philip, and once again the Lord bless you.-— Your loving mother, MARY SIDNEY."
In those days boys did not wait till they were grown men before they went to college. Sidney left Shrewsbury in 1568, and began residence at Christ Church. He was still in his fourteenth year. There he stayed until some time in 1571, when he quitted Oxford without having taken a degree. In this omission there was nothing singular. His quality rendered bachelorship or mastership of arts indifferent to him; and academical habits were then far freer than in our times. That he studied diligently is, however, certain. The unknown writer named Philophilippus, who prefixed a short essay on "The Life and Death of Sir Philip Sidney" to the Arcadia, speaks thus in his quaint language of the years spent at Oxford: "Here an excellent stock met with the choicest grafts; nor could his tutors pour in so fast as he was ready to receive." The Dean of Christ Church, Dr. Thomas Thornton, had it afterwards en