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approved of the project. Yet she was unable to decide. The Duke of Anjou had raised questions as to the eventuality of England becoming dependent on the French Crown; which it might have been, if he had married the Queen, and succeeded to his childless brother. This made her pause and reflect. She was, moreover, debating the scheme of an alliance with Henri III. against Spain. Between the two plans her mind wavered. As Walsingham wrote to Burleigh: "When her Majesty is pressed to the marriage, then she seemeth to effect a league; and when the league is yielded to, then she liketh better a marriage; and when thereupon she is moved to assent to marriage, then she hath recourse to the league; and when the motion is for the league, or any request is made for money, then her Majesty returneth to the marriage."
These hesitations seem to have been augmented by the urgency of the French Court. On the 16th of April Francis of Bourbon arrived from Paris at the head of a magnificent embassy, with the avowed object of settling preliminaries. They were received with due honour by the principal nobles of Elizabeth's Court, all open opposition. to the marriage having now been withdrawn by common consent. Among the entertainments provided for the envoys during their sojourn in London, Philip played a conspicuous part. Together with the Earl of Arundel, Lord Windsor, and Fulke Greville, he prepared a brilliant display of chivalry. Calling themselves the Four Foster Children of Desire, they pledged their word to attack and win, if possible, by force of arms, the Fortress of Perfect Beauty. This fort, which was understood to be the allegorical abode of the queen, was erected in the Tilt Yard at Whitehall. Seven times the number of the challengers, young gentlemen of knightly prowess, offered themselves as defenders
of the fortress; and it was quite clear from the first how the tournament would end. This foregone conclusion did not, however, mar the sport; and the compliment intended to Elizabeth would have been spoiled, if the Foster Children of Desire could have forced their way into her Castle of Beauty. The assault upon the Fortress of Perfect Beauty began on the 15th of May and was continued on the 16th, when the challengers acknowledged their defeat. They submitted their capitulation to the queen, by the mouth of a lad, attired in ash-coloured clothes, and bearing an olive-branch. From the detailed accounts which survive of the event, I will only transcribe what serves to bring Philip Sidney and his train before us. The passage describes his entrance on the first day of the lists :
"Then proceeded Master Philip Sidney in very sumptuous manner, with armour, part blue and the rest gilt and engraven, with four spare horses, having caparisons and furniture very rich and costly, as some of cloth of gold embroidered with pearl, and some embroidered with gold and silver feathers, very richly and cunningly wrought. He had four pages that rode on his four spare horses, who had cassock coats and Venetian hose, all of cloth of silver, laied with gold lace, and hats of the same with gold bands and white feathers, and each one a pair of white buskins. Then had he thirty gentlemen and yeomen, and four trumpeters, who were all in cassock coats and Venetian hose of yellow velvet laied with silver lace, yellow velvet caps with silver bands and white feathers, and every one a pair of white buskins; and they had upon their coats a scroll or band of silver, which came scarf-wise over the shoulder, and so down under the arm, with this posy or sentence written upon it, both before and behind: Sic nos non nobis."
It behoves us not to ask, but we cannot help wondering, where the money came from for this costly show. Probably Philip was getting into debt. His appeals to friends with patronage at their disposal became urgent during the
ensuing months. Though he obtained no post which combined public duties with pay, a sinecure worth £120 a year was given him. It must be said to his credit that he did not so much desire unearned money as some lucrative appointment, entailing labour and responsibility. This the queen would not grant; even an application made by him. so late as the summer of 1583, begging for employment at the Ordnance under his uncle Warwick, was refused. Meanwhile his European reputation brought invitations, which prudence bade him reject. One of these arrived from Don Antonio of Portugal, a bastard pretender to that kingdom, calling upon Philip Sidney to join his forces. The life at Court, onerous by reason of its expenditure, tedious through indolence and hope deferred, sweetened chiefly by the companionship of Greville and Dyer, wore tiresomely on. And over all these months wavered the fascinating vision of Stella, now a wife, to whom Phillisides was paying ardent homage. It may well be called a dangerous passage in his short life, the import of which we shall have to fathom when we take up Astrophel and Stella for perusal. Courtly monotony had its distractions. The French match, for instance, afforded matter for curiosity and mild excitement. This reached its climax when the Duke of Anjou arrived in person. He came in November, and stayed three months. When he left England in February 1582, the world knew that this project of a marriage for Elizabeth was at an end. Sidney, with the flower of English aristocracy, attended the French prince to Antwerp. There he was proclaimed Duke of Brabant, and welcomed with shows of fantastic magnificence. We may dismiss all further notice of him from the present work, with the mention of his death in 1584. It happened on the first of June, preceding the Prince of Orange's assassination by
just one month. People thought that Anjou also had been murdered.
The greater part of the year 1582 is a blank in Philip's biography. We only know that he was frequently absent from the Court, and in attendance on his father. Sir Henry Sidney's affairs were seriously involved. The Crown refused him substantial aid, and kept him to his post at Ludlow Castle. Yet, at the beginning of 1583, we find Philip again in waiting on the queen; presenting her with a golden flower-pot, and receiving the gracious gift of a lock of the royal virgin's hair. In January Prince Casimir had to be installed Knight of the Garter. Philip was chosen as his proxy, and obtained the honour of knighthood for himself. Henceforward he takes rank as Sir Philip Sidney of Penshurst.
Never thoroughly at ease in courtly idleness, Philip formed the habit of turning his eyes westward, across the ocean, towards those new continents where wealth and boundless opportunities of action lay ready for adventurous knights. Frobisher's supposed discovery of gold in 1577 drew an enthusiastic letter from him. In 1578 he was meditating some "Indian project." In 1580 he wrote wistfully to his brother Robert about Drake's return, "of which yet I know not the secret points; but about the world he hath been, and rich he is returned." In 1582 his college friend, Richard Hakluyt, inscribed the first collection of his Voyages with Sidney's name. All things pointed in the direction of his quitting England for the New World, if a suitable occasion should present itself, and if the queen should grant him her consent. During the spring of 1583 projects for colonisation, or plantation as it then was termed, were afloat among the west country gentlefolk. Sir Humphrey Gilbert and his half-brother
Walter Raleigh, with Sir George Peckham and others, thought of renewing the attempts they had already made in 1578. Elizabeth in that year had signed her first charter of lands to be explored beyond the seas, in favour of Sir Humphrey Gilbert; and now she gave a second to Sir Philip Sidney. It licensed and authorised him
"To discover, search, find out, view, and inhabit certain parts of America not yet discovered, and out of those countries by him, his heirs, factors, or assignees, to have and enjoy, to him, his heirs, and assignees for ever, such and so much quantity of ground as shall amount to the number of thirty hundred thousand acres of ground and wood, with all commodities, jurisdictions, and royalties, both by sea and land, with full power and authority that it should and might be lawful for the said Sir Philip Sidney, his heirs and assignees, at all times thereafter to have, take, and lead in the same voyage, to travel thitherwards or to inhabit there with him or them, and every or any of them, such and so many her Majesty's subjects as should willingly accompany him and them and every or any of them, with sufficient shipping and furniture for their transportation."
In other words, her Majesty granted to Sir Philip Sidney the pretty little estate of three millions of acres in North America. It is true that the land existed, so to say, in nubibus, and was by no means sure to prove an El Dorado. It was far more sure that if the grantee got possession of it, he would have to hold it by his own strength; for Britain, at this epoch, was not pledged to support her colonies. Yet considering the present value of the soil in Virginia or New England, the mere fantastic row of seven figures in American acres, so lightly signed away by her Majesty. is enough to intoxicate the imagination. How Philip managed to extort or wheedle this charter from Elizabeth we have no means of knowing. She was exceedingly jealous of her courtiers, and would not willingly lose sight of