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graved upon his own tomb at Ledbury that he had been the preceptor of “ Philip Sidney, that most noble Knight.” We possess few particulars which throw any light upon Sidney's academical career. There is some reason,
however, to believe that liberal learning at this period flourished less upon the banks of the Isis than at Cambridge and in our public schools. Bruno, in his account of a visit to Oxford ten years later, introduces us to a set of pompous pedants, steeped in mediæval scholasticism and heavy with the indolence of fat fellowships. Here, however, Sidney made the second great friendship of his youth. It was with Edward Dyer, a man of quality and parts, who claims distinction as an English poet principally by one faultless line: “My mind to me a kingdom is.” Sir Edward Dyer and Sir Fulke Greville lived in bonds of closest affection with Sir Philip Sidney through his life, and walked together as pall-bearers at his funeral. That was an age in which friendship easily assumed the accents of passionate love. I may use this occasion to quote verses which Sidney wrote at a later period regarding his two comrades. He had recently returned from Wilton to the Court, and found there both Greville and Dyer.
“My two and I be met,
As three most jointly set
Join hearts and hands, so let it be;
“Welcome my two to me,
Within the heart you be
Join hearts and hands, so let it be;
And again, when tired of the Court, and sighing for the country, he offers up a prayer to Pan, according to the pastoral fashion of the age, in which his two heart's brothers are remembered :
“Only for my two loves' sake,
Grant me with those two remaining." As poetry these pieces are scarcely worth citation. But they agreeably illustrate their author's capacity for friendship.
It was also from Oxford that Sidney sent the first letter still extant in his writing. This is a somewhat laboured Latin epistle to his uncle Leicester. Elizabeth's favourite had taken his nephew under special protection. It was indeed commonly accepted for certain that, failing legitimate issue, the Earl intended to make Philip his beir. This expectation helps us to understand the singular respect paid him through these years of early manhood. Sir Henry Sidney was far from being a rich man. His duties in Ireland and Wales removed him from the circle of the Court, and his bluntness of speech made him unacceptable to the queen. Philip therefore owed more of his prestige to his uncle than to his father. At this time Leicester appears to have been negotiating a marriage contract between the lad at Christ Church and Anne Cecil, daughter of Lord Burleigh. Articles had been drawn up. But the matter fell through; the powerful Secretary of State judging that he could make a better match for his girl than with the son of a needy knight, whose expectations of succeeding to Leicester's estate were problematical. Politely but plainly
he extricated himself from the engagement, and bestowed Anne
upon Edward de Vere, the dissolute and brutal Earl of Oxford. This passage in the life of Sidney is insignificant. That the boy of sixteen could have entertained any strong feeling for his projected bride will hardly admit of belief. One of his biographers, however, notices that about the time when the matter terminated in Anne's betrothal to the Earl of Oxford, Philip fell into bad health. Leicester had to obtain permission for him to eat flesh in Lent from no less a personage than Doctor Parker, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
It is not the business of Sir Philip Sidney's biographer to discuss Elizabeth's Irish policy at lengti. Yet his father's position as governor of the island renders some allusion to those affairs indispensable. Sir Henry Sidney was a brave and eminently honest man, the sturdy servant of his sovereign, active in the discharge of his duties, and untainted by corrupt practice. But he cannot be said to have displayed the sagacity of genius in his dealings with the Irish. He carried out instructions like a blunt proconsul-extirpating O'Neil's rebellion, suppressing the Butlers' war, maintaining English interests, and exercising impartial justice. The purity of his administration is beyond all doubt. Instead of enriching himself by arts familiar to viceroys, he spent in each year of his office more than its emoluments were worth, and seriously compromised his private fortune. Instead of making friends at Court he contrived, by his straightforward dealing, to offend the brilliant and subtle Earl of Ormond. While Sir Henry was losing health, money, and the delights of life among the bogs and wastes of Ulster, Ormond remained attached to the queen's person. His beauty and adroit flattery enabled him to prejudice Elizabeth against her faithful henchman. Broken in health by a painful disease contracted in the hardship of successive campaigns, maddened by bis sovereign's recriminations, and disgusted by her parsimony, Sir Henry Sidney returned in 1571 to England. He was now a man of forty-three, with an impaired constitution and a diminished estate. His wife had lost her good looks in the small - pox, which she caught while nursing the queen through an attack of that malady. Of this noble lady, so patient in the many disasters of her troubled life, Fulke Greville writes: “She chose rather to hide herself from the curious eyes of a delicate time than come upon the stage of the world with any manner of disparagement; this mischance of sickness having cast such a veil over her excellent beauty as the modesty of that sex doth many times upon their native and heroical spirits.” Neither Sir Henry Sidney nor Lady Mary uttered a word of reproach against their royal mistress. It was Elizabeth's good fortune to be devotedly served by men and women whom she rewarded with ingratitude or niggardly recognition. And on this occasion she removed Sir Henry from his dignity of Lord Deputy, which she transferred to his brother-inlaw, Sir William Fitz-William. As a kind of recompense she made him the barren offer of a peerage. The distinction was great, but the Sidneys were not in a position to
A letter, addressed to Lady Mary by Lord Burleigh, explains the difficulty in which they stood. Her husband, she says, is “greatly dismayed with his hard choice, which is presently offered him; as, either to be a baron, now called in the number of many far more able than himself to maintain it withal, or else, in refusing it, to incur her Highness's displeasure.” She points out that the title, without an accompanying grant of land, would be an intolerable burden. Elizabeth had clearly no intention of bestowing estates on the Sidney family; and Lady Mary