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well-furnished cities, where he could mass troops and munitions of war at pleasure. To maintain an opposition on the side of Holland was of course necessary. But the really vulnerable point in the huge Spanish empire seemed to him to be its ill-defended territory in the West Indies. Let then the Protestant League, if possible, be placed upon a firmer basis. Let war in the Low Countries be prosecuted without remission. But, at the same time, let the English use their strongest weapon, attack by sea. Descents might be made from time to time upon the Spanish ports, as Drake had already harried Vera Cruz, and was afterwards to fall on Cadiz. Buccaneering and filibustering expeditions against the Spanish fleets which brought back treasure across the Indian main, were not to be contemned. But he believed that the most efficient course would be to plant a colony upon the American continent, which should at the same time be a source of strength to England and a hostile outpost for incursions into the Spanish settlements. Fulke Greville has devoted a large portion of his Life to the analysis of Sidney's opinions on these subjects. He sums them up as follows: "Upon these and the like assumptions he resolved there were but two ways left to frustrate this ambitious monarch's designs. The one, that which diverted Hannibal, and by setting fire on his own house made him draw in his spirits to comfort his heart; the other, that of Jason, by fetching away his golden fleece and not suffering any one man quietly to enjoy that which every man so much affected."
In the autumn of 1584 Sidney sat again in the House of Commons, where he helped to forward the bill for Raleigh's expedition to Virginia. This in fact was an important step in the direction of his favourite scheme; for his view of the American colony was that it should be a real "plantation,
not like an asylum for fugitives, a bellum piraticum for banditti, or any such base ramas of people; but as an emporium for the confluence of all nations that love or profess any kind of virtue or commerce." Parliament next year had to take strong measures against the Jesuits, who were already fomenting secret conspiracies to dethrone or assassinate the queen. The session ended in March, and in April Raleigh started for the New World. Three months later Sidney received a commission to share the Mastership of the Ordnance with his uncle Warwick. He found that department of the public service in a lamentable plight, owing to Elizabeth's parsimony; and soon after his appointment, he risked her displeasure by firmly pressing for a thorough replenishment of the stores upon which England's efficiency as a belligerent would depend.
It was probably in this year that Sidney took up his pen to defend his uncle Leicester against the poisonous libel, popularly known as Leicester's Commonwealth, and generally ascribed to the Jesuit Parsons. We possess the rough draft of his discourse, which proves convincingly that he at least was persuaded of the earl's innocence. He does not even deign to answer the charges of "dissimulation, hypocrisy, adultery, falsehood, treachery, poison, rebellion, treason, cowardice, atheism, and what not," except by a flat denial, and a contemptuous interrogation: "what is it else but such a bundle of railings, as if it came from the mouth of some half drunk scold in a tavern?" By far the larger portion of the defence is occupied with an elaborate exhibition of the pedigree and honours of the House of Dudley, in reply to the hint that Edmund, Leicester's grandfather, was basely born. Sidney, as we have seen, set great store on his own descent from the Dudleys, which he rated higher than his paternal ancestry; and this aspersion on their
origin inspired him with unmeasured anger. At the close of the pamphlet he throws down the glove to his anonymous antagonist, and defies him to single combat. "And, from the date of this writing, imprinted and published, I will three months expect thine answer." Horace Walpole was certainly not justified in calling this spirited, but illbalanced composition, "by far the best specimen of his abilities."
June 1585 marked an era in the foreign policy of Elizabeth. She received a deputation from the Netherlands, who offered her the sovereignty of the United Provinces if she would undertake their cause. This offer she refused. But the recent adhesion of the French Crown to what was called the Holy League, rendered it necessary that she should do something. Accordingly, she agreed to send 6000 men to the Low Countries, holding Flushing and Brill with the Castle of Rammekins in pledge for the repayment of the costs of this expedition. Sidney began now to be spoken of as the most likely governor of Flushing. But at this moment his thoughts were directed rather to the New World than to action in Flanders. We have already seen why he believed it best to attack Spain there. A letter written to him by Ralph Lane from Virginia echoes his own views upon this topic. The governor of the new plantation strongly urged him to head a force against what Greville called "that rich and desert West Indian mine." Passing by the islands of St. John and Hispaniola, Lane had observed their weakness. "How greatly a small force would garboil him here, when two of his most richest and strongest islands took such alarms of us, not only landing, but dwelling upon them, with only a hundred and twenty men, I refer it to your judgment." Sidney, moreover, had grown to distrust Burleigh's government of England.
"Nature," says Greville, "guiding his eyes first to his native country, he found greatness of worth and place counterpoised there by the arts of power and favour. The stirring spirits sent abroad as fuel, to keep the flame far off; and the effeminate made judges of dangers which they fear, and honour which they understand not." He saw "how the idle-censuring faction at home had won ground of the active adventurers abroad;" he perceived the queen's
'governors to sit at home in their soft chairs, playing fast and loose with them that ventured their lives abroad." All these considerations put together made him more than lukewarm about the Netherlands campaign, and less than eager to take office under so egotistical an administration. It was his cherished scheme to join in some private enterprise, the object of which should be the enfeeblement of Spain and the strengthening of England beyond the Atlantic.
The thoughts which occupied his mind took definite shape in the summer of 1585. "The next step which he intended into the world was an expedition of his own projecting; wherein he fashioned the whole body, with purpose to become head of it himself. I mean the last employment but one of Sir Francis Drake to the West Indies." With these words Greville introduces a minute account of Sidney's part in that famous adventure. He worked hard at the project, stirring up the several passions which might induce men of various sympathies to furnish assistance by money or by personal participation.
"To martial men he opened wide the door of sea and land for fame and conquest. To the nobly ambitious, the far stage of America to win honour in. To the religious divines, besides a new apostolical calling of the lost heathen to the Christian faith, a large field of reducing poor Christians misled by the idolatry of Rome to their
mother primitive church. To the ingeniously industrious, variety of natural riches for new mysteries and manufactures to work upon. To the merchant, with a simple people a fertile and unexhausted earth. To the fortune - bound, liberty. To the curious, a fruitful work of innovation. Generally, the word gold was an attractive adamant to make men venture that which they have in hope to grow rich by that which they have not."
Moreover he "won thirty gentlemen of great blood and state here in England, every man to sell one hundred pounds land" for fitting out a fleet. While firmly resolved to join the first detachment which should sail from Plymouth, he had to keep his plans dark; for the queen would not hear of his engaging in such ventures. It was accordingly agreed between him and Sir Francis that the latter should go alone to Plymouth, and that Sir Philip should meet him there upon some plausible excuse. When they had weighed anchor, Sidney was to share the chief command with Drake. Sir Francis in due course of time set off; and early in September he sent a message praying urgently for his associate's presence. It so happened that just at this time Don Antonio of Portugal was expected at Plymouth, and Philip obtained leave to receive him there. From this point I shall let Fulke Greville tell the story in his own old-fashioned language:
"Yet I that had the honour, as of being bred with him from his youth, so now by his own choice of all England to be his loving and beloved Achates in this journey, observing the countenance of this gallant mariner more exactly than Sir Philip's leisure served him to do, after we were laid in bed acquainted him with my observation of the discountenance and depression which appeared in Sir Francis, as if our coming were both beyond his expectation and desire. Nevertheless that ingenuous spirit of Sir Philip's, though apt to give me credit, yet not apt to discredit others, made him suspend his own and labour to change or qualify by judgment; till within some few days