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Sidney drew up for Elizabeth's perusal. Yet the exordium to this chapter may be quoted, as representing in brief his position at the close of 1579.

"The next doubtful stage he had to act upon (howsoever it may seem private) was grounded upon a public and specious proposition of marriage between the late famous queen and the Duke of Anjou. With which current, although he saw the great and wise men of the time suddenly carried down, and every one fishing to catch the queen's humour in it; yet when he considered the difference of years, person, education, state, and religion between them; and then called to mind the success of our former alliances with the French; he found many reasons to make question whether it would prove poetical or real on their part. And if real, whether the balance swayed not unequally, by adding much to them and little to his sovereign. The duke's greatness being only name and possibility; and both these either to wither or to be maintained at her cost. Her state, again, in hand; and though royally sufficient to satisfy that queen's princely and moderate desires or expenses, yet perchance inferior to bear out those mixed designs into which his ambition or necessities might entice or draw her."

It came to pass, through Leicester's disgrace, that Philip stood almost alone at Court as the resolute opponent of the French faction. The profligate and unscrupulous Earl of Oxford, now foremost in the queen's favour, was carrying his head aloft, boastful of his compliance with her wishes, and counting doubtless on the highest honours when the match should be completed. An accident brought the two champions of the opposed parties into personal collision. One of Languet's letters enables us to fix the date of the event in September 1579, and Greville's minute account of the same is so curious that I shall transcribe it without further comment.

"Thus stood the Court at that time; and thus stood this ingenuous spirit in it. If dangerously in men's opinions who are curious of the


present, and in it rather to do craftily than well: yet, I say, that princely heart of hers was a sanctuary unto him; and as for the people, in whom many times the lasting images of worth are preferred before the temporary visions of art or favour, he could not fear to suffer any thing there, which would not prove a kind of trophy to him. In this freedom of heart, being one day at tennis, a peer of this realm, born great, greater by alliance, and superlative in the prince's favour, abruptly came into the tennis - court; and, speaking out of these three paramount authorities, he forgot to entreat that which he could not legally command. When, by the encounter of a steady object, finding unrespectiveness in himself (though a great lord) not respected by this princely spirit, he grew to expostulate more roughly. The returns of which style coming still from an understanding heart, that knew what was due to itself and what it ought to others, seemed (through the mists of my lord's passion, swollen with the wind of this faction then reigning) to provoke in yielding. Whereby, the less amazement or confusion of thoughts he stirred up in Sir Philip, the more shadows this great lord's own mind was possessed with; till at last with rage (which is ever ill-disciplined) he commands them to depart the court. To this Sir Philip temperately answers; that if his lordship had been pleased to express desire in milder characters, perchance he might have led out those that he should now find would not be driven out with any scourge of fury. This answer (like a bellows) blowing up the sparks of excess already kindled, made my lord scornfully call Sir Philip by the name of puppy. In which progress of heat, as the tempest grew more and more vehement within, so did their hearts breathe out their perturbations in a more loud and shrill accent. The French Commissioners unfortunately had that day audience in those private galleries whose windows looked into the tennis-court. They instantly drew all to this tumult: every sort of quarrels sorting well with their humours, especially this. Which Sir Philip perceiving, and rising with an inward strength by the prospect of a mighty faction against him, asked my lord with a loud voice that which he heard clearly enough before. Who (like an echo that still multiplies by reflexions) repeated this epithet of puppy the second time. Sir Philip, resolving in one answer to conclude both the attentive hearers and passionate actor, gave my lord a lie, impossible (as he averred) to be retorted; in respect all the world knows, puppies are gotten by dogs and children by men.


"Hereupon these glorious inequalities of fortune in his lordship were put to a kind of pause by a precious inequality of nature in this gentleman; so that they both stood silent a while, like a dumb show in a tragedy; till Sir Philip, sensible of his own wrong, the foreign and factious spirits that attended, and yet even in this question between him and his superior tender of his country's honour, with some words of sharp accent led the way abruptly out of the tennis-court; as if so unexpected an incident were not fit to be decided in that place. Whereof the great lord making another sense, continues his play, without any advantage of reputation, as by the standard of humours in those times it was conceived."

Thus the Earl of Oxford called Sidney a puppy; and Sidney gave him the lie. It was judged inevitable that the former would send a challenge and a duel would ensue. But Oxford delayed to vindicate his honour. The Lords of the Council intervened, and persuaded the queen to effect a reconciliation. She pointed out to Sidney that he owed deference to a peer of the realm. "He besought her Majesty to consider that although he were a great lord by birth, alliance, and grace; yet he was no lord over him." As free men and gentlemen the earl and himself were equals, except in the matter of precedency. Moreover, he reminded Elizabeth that it had been her father's policy to shield the gentry from the oppression of the grandees, in the wise opinion that the Crown would gain by using the former as a balance to the power and ambition of the latter. But having stated his case, he seems to have deferred to her wishes. We do not hear that apologies were made on either side. The matter, however, dropped; Oxford so far retaining his resentment that Sidney's friends believed he entertained a scheme for his assassination.

After reading this passage, we may remember with what spirit on a former occasion Philip gave the cut direct to Ormond. It is also interesting to compare his carriage

upon both occasions with that of his nephew, the Viscount l'Isle, who bearded James' favourite, James Hay, at that time Viscount Doncaster, in his own chamber. A detailed account of this incident, written by Lord l'Isle in vindication of his honour, is printed among the Sidney papers. It casts valuable light upon the manners of the English Court, and illustrates the sturdy temper of the Sidney breed.

Philip contrived apparently to keep the queen's goodwill until the beginning of 1580; for she accepted his present of a crystal cup on New Year's Day. But his position at Court was difficult. Oxford, it was commonly believed, had planned his murder; and being an Italianated Englishman-in other words, a devil incarnate-he may well have entertained some project of the sort. As the avowed champion of the opposition, wielding a pen with which no man could compete, Sidney thought the time had now come to bring matters to an issue by plain utterance. Therefore he drew up a carefully-prepared memorial, setting forth in firm but most respectful language those arguments which seemed to him decisive against the French match. This he presented to Elizabeth early in 1580. Immediately after its perusal, she began to show her resentment, and Philip, like his uncle, found it convenient to leave the Court. His retreat was Wilton, where he remained in privacy for seven months.

I have elsewhere remarked that Sidney showed his powers as a thinker and prose-writer nowhere more eminently than in documents, presenting a wide survey of facts, marshalling a series of arguments, combining the prudence of a statesman and the cunning of an orator. This memorial to the queen is a gem in its own species of composition. It well deserves the high praise which has been given it as


at once the most eloquent and the most courageous piece of that nature which the age can boast. Every important view of the subject is comprised in this letter, which is long, but at the same time so condensed in style and so skilfully compacted as to matter that it well deserves to be read entire; and must lose materially either by abridgment or omission." In it Sidney appeals to what Fulke Greville quaintly calls "that princely heart of hers which was a sanctuary unto him." He enters the sanctuary with reverence, and stands alone there, pleading like a servant before his mistress. He speaks to Elizabeth in the character of a simple gentleman and loyal subject, relying on no support of party, nor representing himself as the mouthpiece of an indignant nation. This independent attitude gives singular lucidity and beauty to his appeal. It is the grave but modest warning of a faithful squire to his liege lady in the hour of danger. Although extracts can do but scanty justice to the merits of Sidney's oratory, I must present such specimens as may serve as samples of his English style and display his method of exposition. He begins as follows:

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"MOST FEARED AND BELOVED, MOST SWEET AND GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN -To seek out excuses of this my boldness, and to arm the acknowledging of a fault with reasons for it, might better show I knew I did amiss, than any way diminish the attempt, especially in your judgment; who being able to discern lively into the nature of the thing done, it were folly to hope, by laying on better colours, to make it more acceptable. Therefore, carrying no other olive branch of intercession, than the laying of myself at your feet; nor no other insinuation, either for attention or pardon, but the true vowed sacrifice of unfeigned love; I will, in simple and direct terms (as hoping they shall only come to your merciful eyes), set down the overflowing of my mind in this most important matter, importing, as think, the continuance of your safety; and as I know, the joys of my life. And because my

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