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ampled series of female successions. The first founder of the family of De l'Isle appears in history during the reign of King John. The last baron of the male blood died in the reign of Richard II., leaving an heiress, who was married to Thomas Lord Berkeley. Their daughter and sole heiress married Richard, Earl of Warwick, and also left an only heiress, who married John Talbot, the great Earl of Shrewsbury. Her eldest son, John Talbot, Baron De l'Isle, created Viscount De l'Isle, left an only daughter, Elizabeth, who was wedded to Sir Edward Grey, created Baron and Viscount De l'Isle. It was the daughter and heiress of this marriage who gave birth to the ambitious and unfortunate Duke of Northumberland. From these dry facts it will be seen that the descendants of Edmund Dudley were not only heirs and representatives of the ancient barony of De l'Isle, but that they also inherited the blood and arms of the illustrious houses of Berkeley, Beauchamp, Talbot, and Grey. When we further remember to what an eminence the Duke of Northumberland climbed, and how his son, the Earl of Leicester, succeeded in restoring the shattered fortunes of the family after that great prince's fall, we can understand why Sir Henry Sidney used the following language to his brother-in-law upon the occasion of Mary Sidney's betrothal to the Earl of Pembroke:—“I find to my exceeding great comfort the likelihood of a marriage between my Lord of Pembroke and my daughter, which great honour to me, my mean lineage and kin, I attribute to my match in your noble house." Philip Sidney, too, when he was called to defend his uncle Leicester against certain libels, expressed his pride in the connection. “I am a Dudley in blood; that Duke's daughter's son; and do acknowledge, though in all truth I may justly affirm that I am by my father's side of ancient and always well-es
teemed and well-matched gentry,-yet I do acknowledge, I say, that my chiefest honour is to be a Dudley."
Philip was born at Penshurst on the 29th of November 1554. At that epoch their alliance with the Dudleys seemed more likely to bring ruin on the Sidneys than new honours. It certainly made their home a house of mourning. Lady Mary Sidney had recently lost her father and her brother Guilford on the scaffold. Another of her brothers, John, Earl of Warwick, after his release from the Tower, took refuge at Penshurst, and died there about a month before his nephew's birth.' Sir Henry's loyalty and prudence at this critical time saved the fortunes of his family. He retired to his country seat, taking no part in the Duke of Northumberland's ambitious schemes; and though he was coldly greeted at Mary's Court, the queen confirmed him in the tenure of his offices and honours by a Ideed of 8th November 1554. She also freed his wife from participation in the attainder of her kinsfolk. Their eldest son was christened Philip in compliment to Mary's Spanish consort. It appears that Sir Henry Sidney subsequently gained his sovereign's confidence; for in this reign he was appointed Vice-Treasurer and Controller of the royal revenues in Ireland.
Of Philip's birthplace Ben Jonson has bequeathed to us a description, animated with more of romantic enthusiasm than was common to his muse.
"Thou art not, Penshurst, built to envious show
1 Duke of Northumberland, d. 22d August 1553; Lord Guilford Dudley and Lady Jane Grey, 12th February 1554; John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, 21st October 1554.
2 Touch is a superlative sort of marble, the classic basanites. The reference to a lantern in the next line but one might pass for a proph ecy of Walpole's too famous lantern at Houghton.
Of polished pillars or a roof of gold:
Thou hast thy walks for health as well as sport:
Thy mount, to which thy dryads do resort,
At his great birth, where all the muses met;
The tree here commemorated by Jonson as having been planted at Sir Philip Sidney's birth, was cut down in 1768, not, however, before it had received additional fame from Edmund Waller. His Sacharissa was the Lady Dorothea Sidney; and the poet was paying her court at Penshurst when he wrote these lines:
"Go, boy, and carve this passion on the bark
Jonson expatiates long over the rural charms of Penshurst, which delighted him on many a summer's holiday. He celebrates the pastures by the river, the feeding-grounds of cattle, the well-stocked game preserves, the fish-ponds, and the deer-park, which supplied that hospitable board with all good things in season.
"The painted partridge lies in every field,
And if the high-swol'n Medway fail thy dish
Next he turns to the gardens:
"Then hath thy orchard fruit, thy garden flowers,
The early cherry, with the later plum,
Fig, grape, and quince, each in his time doth come;
The blushing apricot and woolly peach,
Hang on thy walls, that every child may reach."
The trellised walls remind him of the ancient habitation, which, though homely, is venerable, rearing itself among the humbler dwellings of the peasants, with patriarchal rather than despotic dignity.
"And though thy walls be of the country stone,
They're reared with no man's ruin, no man's groan;
And no one empty-handed to salute
Thy lord and lady, though they have no suit.
Some bring a capon, some a rural cake,
Some nuts, some apples; some that think they make
This poem, composed in the days when Philip's brother Sir Robert Sidney, was master of Penshurst, presents so charming a picture of the old-world home in which Philip was born, and where he passed his boyhood, that I have been fain to linger over it.
Sir Henry Sidney was sent to Ireland in 1556 as ViceTreasurer and General Governor of the royal revenues in that kingdom. He distinguished himself, soon after his arrival, by repelling an invasion of the Scots in Ulster, and killing James MacConnel, one of their leaders, with his own hand. Next year he was nominated Lord Justice of Ireland; and, on the accession of Queen Elizabeth, he obtained the confirmation of his offices. In 1558 the queen nominated him Lord President of Wales, which dignity he held during the rest of his life. It does not exactly appear when he first took the rank of Lord Deputy of Ireland, a title corresponding to that of Lord Lieutenant. But throughout the first seven years of Elizabeth's reign he discharged functions there which were equivalent to the supreme command. In 1564 he received the honour of the Garter, being installed in the same election with King Charles IX. of France. On this occasion he was styled "The thrice valiant Knight, Deputy of the Realm of Ireland, and President of the Council of Wales." Next year he was again despatched to Ireland with the full title and authority of Lord Deputy.
The administration of Wales obliged Sir Henry Sidney to reside frequently at Ludlow Castle, and this was the reason which determined him to send Philip to school at Shrewsbury. Being the emporium of English commerce with North Wales and Ireland, and the centre of a thriving wool-trade, Shrewsbury had then become a city of importance. The burgesses established there a public school, which flourished under the able direction of Thomas Ashton. From a passage in Ben Jonson's prose works it is clear that the advantages of public-school education were well appreciated at that time in England. Writing to a nobleman, who asked him how he might best train up his