Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]

her proposed marriage with the duke of Anjou.--The letter may be seen in the Cabala ; and it was written, in Wood's opinion, by the desire of Sir Philip's uncle, Robert earl of Leicester. But it does appear extraordinary that so very young a man as Sir Philip then was, should meddle in a concern of this kind, and for which another person had his right hand cut off. This remonstrance occasioned, however, his retirement from court in the summer of 1580, and it was during this seclusion that he wrote his celebrated romance, entituled “ Arcadia,addressed to his sister, Mary, countess of Pembroke.

In 1582 he received the honour of knighhood, and in 1585 he projected an expedition to South America, with that famous navigator, Sir Francis Drake, but the queen refused her consent, and made him the same year governor of Flushing, and general of the horse. The English forces were then engaged in assisting the Dutch to shake off the Spanish yoke, and Sir Philip distinguished himself in this service with great skill and valour. In July 1586, he surprised Axil, and preserved the lives and honour of the English army at the enterprize of Gravelin. So great, indeed, was his reputation on the continent, that it is said, an offer was made him of the crown of Poland, which advancement was hindered by his sovereign, not out of jealousy, but from an unwillingness to lose the jewel of her tiines. Such is the story, but the foundation on which it rests is

suspi

[ocr errors]

suspicious. The name of Sidney stands so high in the history of the age of which he was one of the brightest ornaments, that it is not to be wondered at if somewhat of the marvellous heightens his biography. A circumstance which marked the close of his short, but brilliant life, proves that the high estimation in which he was held by his queen and countrymen was no more t!jan a just respect for superior virtue.

On the 22d of September, 1586, Sir Philip Sidney was mortally wounded in the battle before Zutphen, while he was mounting his third horse, having had two slain under him before. In this sad state as he was conveyed along the ranksto the place where his uncle, Robert, earl of Leices. ter, the general, was ; and being thirsty with excess of bleeding, Sir Philip called for drink, which was presently brought him.

But as he was putting the bottle to his mouth, he saw a poor soldier carried along, who had been wounded at the same time, and who cast up his eyes wistfully at the bottle, which Sir Philip perceiving, immediately took it from his lips without drinking, and delivered it to the poor man with these words,

Thy necessity is yet greater than mine. *"

This beautiful incident, which displays the most exalted courage, blended with the tenderest feelings of sympathy and benevolence, has been

• Life of Sir Philip, by his friend Sir Fulk Grevil.

made the subject of a fine picture by one of the first artists of the present age.

At the same time Count Hollock was under the care of a most excellent surgeon, for a wound in his throat by a musket shot, yet did he neglect his own extremity to save his friend, and sent him to Sir Philip. This surgeon, out of love to his master, returning one day to dress his wound, the count asked him, how Sir Philip did ? On which he told him, with a heavy countenance, that he was not well. At these words, the worthy prince, having more sense of his friend's wound than his own, exclaimed, 'Away villain, never see my face again, till thou bring better news of that man's recovery, for whose redemption many such as I were happily lost.

When all hopes of recovery were gone, Sir Philip called for his will, and having settled his worldly affairs, took an affectionate leave of his brother with these remarkable words :-“ Love my memory; cherish my friends, their faith to me may assure you that they are honest. But above all, govern your will and affections by the will and word of your creator; in me beholding the end of this world, with all her vanities."

After languishing near a month, Sir Philip died at Arnheim ; and his body was brought over to England, and landed at the Tower, from whence it was conveyed to the church in the Minories, and laid in state ; after which it was interred with uncommon solemnity in St. Paul's cathedral.

F 4

So

« PreviousContinue »