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Sidney's parents were Sir Henry Sidney, subsequently lord deputy in Ireland, and Lady Mary Dudley, daughter of the Duke of Northumberland. After an agreeable schooling at Shrewsbury, Sidney took up residence at Christ Church, Oxford, a residence which he cut sort in order to travel abroad, after the fashion of young men of rank. At the time of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, August 23-4, 1572, he was in Paris, and subsequently his travels, during about four years, extended to Germany, Italy, and other parts of the Continent. of these travels, one interesting legacy is his Latin correspondence with the distinguished Huguenot, Hubert Languet. In 1576-77, Sidney was abroad on a diplomatic mission to the Emperor Rudolf II. As a courtier he was esteemed and honored on the continent, both for his personal charm and for his genuine talent. Although he was a favorite of Queen Elizaeth, his opposition to her proposed marriage with the Duke of Anjou may have been the cause his retirement, for a time, to Wilton, where he wrote Arcadia, a pastoral romance (pubshed 1590), in honor of his sister, the countess of Pembroke, and An Apology for Poetry published 1595). During this period of retirement, also, he may have begun writing the nnets and songs addressed to Penelope Devereux, and published, in 1591, as Astrophel and ella. In 1582, Sidney was knighted by the queen, who is said to have interfered later inst his being offered the Polish crown. In 1585, the queen appointed him governor of Fishing, on the coast of the Netherlands. During the siege of Zutphen, in an expedition to tercept a Spanish convoy, he was mortally wounded, and died, October 17, 1586.

Short-lived as he was, Sidney acquired a substantial place in English literature, as a masterly et of the courtly order, as a charming romancer, and as a gentle but firm critic. The carm of his poetry and romance extended to his criticism, and gave to his somewhat too orthodox canons, a permanent allurement of frankness, gentleness, and humor.


But since I have run so long a career in this matter, methinks, before I give my pen a full stop, it shall be but a little rore lost time to inquire, why England, the mother of excellent minds, should e grown so hard a step-mother to poets, to certainly in wit ought to pass all chers, since all only proceeds from their 1o wit, being, indeed, makers of themselves,

t takers of others. How can I but xclaim,

Musa, mihi causas memora, quo numine laeso?

Muse, bring to my mind the reasons: for the injury of what divinity?]

James of Scotland; such cardinals as Bembus and Bibiena; such famous preachers and teachers as Beza and Melancthon; so learned philosophers as 5 Fracastorius and Scaliger; so great orators as Pontanus and Muretus; so piercing wits as George Buchanan; so grave councilors as, besides many, but before all, that Hospital of France, than whom, I think, that realm never brought forth a more accomplished judgment, more firmly builded upon virtue; I say these, with numbers of others, not only to read others' poesies, but to poetize for others' reading: 15 that poesy, thus embraced in all other places, should only find in our time a hard welcome in England, I think the very earth laments it, and therefore decks our soil with fewer laurels than it was accustomed. For heretofore poets have in England also flourished; and, which is to be noted, even in those times when the trumpet of Mars did sound loudest. And now that an over-faint quietness should seem to strew the house for poets, they are almost in as good reputation as the mountebanks at Venice. Truly, even

Sweet poesy! that hath anciently had 20 ings, emperors, senators, great captains, ch as besides a thousand others, David, Varian, Sophocles, Germanicus, not only

favor poets, but to be poets; and of ur nearer times can present for her 25 atrons, a Robert, King of Sicily; the great King Francis of France; King

that, as of the one side it giveth great praise to poesy, which, like Venus (but to better purpose), had rather be troubled in the net with Mars, than enjoy the homely quiet of Vulcan; so serves it for a piece of a reason why they are less grateful to idle England, which now can scarce endure the pain of a pen. Upon this necessarily followeth that base men with servile wits undertake it, who think 10 it enough if they can be rewarded of the printer; and so as Epaminondas is said, with the honor of his virtue, to have made an office by his exercising it, which before was contemptible, to become 15 much cumber ourselves withal. Exerhighly respected; so these men, no more but setting their names to it, by their own disgracefulness, disgrace the most graceful poesy. For now, as if all the Muses were got with child, to bring forth 20 bastard poets, without any commission, they do post over the banks of Helicon, until they make their readers more weary than post-horses; while, in the meantime, they,

any that have strength of wit; a poet no industry can make, if his own genius be not carried into it. And therefore is it an old proverb, Orator fit, poeta nasci5 tur [The orator is made, the poet born]. Yet confess I always, that, as the fertilest ground must be manured, so must the highest flying wit have a Dædalus to guide him. That Dædalus, they say, both in this and in other, hath three wings to bear itself up into the air of due commendation; that is, art, imitation, and exercise. But these, neither artificial rules, nor imitative patterns, we

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cise, indeed, we do, but that very forebackwardly; for where we should exercise to know, we exercise as having known; and so is our brain delivered of much matter which never was begotten by knowledge. For there being two principal parts, matter to be expressed by words, and words to express the matter, in neither we use art or imitation 25 rightly. Our matter is quodlibet [what you will], indeed, although wrongly, performing Ovid's verse,

Quicquid conabor dicere, versus erit; 30 [Whatever I shall try to say will be verse]

But I that, before ever I durst aspire 35
unto the dignity, am admitted into the
company of the paper-blurrers, do find
the very true cause of our wanting esti-
mation is want of desert, taking upon us
to be poets in despite of Pallas. Now, 40
wherein we want desert, were a thank-
worthy labor to express. But if I
knew, I should have mended myself; but
as I never desired the title, so have I
neglected the means to come by it; only, 45
overmastered by some thoughts, I
yielded an inky tribute
unto them.

Marry, they that delight in poesy itself,
should seek to know what they do, and
how they do, and, especially, look them- 50
selves in an unflattering glass of reason,
if they be inclinable unto it.

For poesy must not be drawn by the ears, it must be gently led, or rather it must lead; which was partly the cause 55 that made the ancient learned affirm it was a divine gift, and no human skill, since all other knowledges lie ready for

never marshaling it into any assured rank, that almost the readers cannot tell where to find themselves.

Chaucer, undoubtedly, did excellently in his Troilus and Criseyde; of whom truly, I know not whether to marvel more, either that he in that misty time could see so clearly, or that we in this clear age go so stumblingly after him Yet had he great wants, fit to be forgiver in so reverend antiquity. I account the Mirror for Magistrates meetly furnished of beautiful parts. And in the Earl of Surrey's lyrics, many things tasting o a noble birth, and worthy of a noble mind. The Shepherd's Calendar hati much poetry in its eclogues, indeed, wor thy the reading, if I be not deceived That same framing of its style to an ol rustic language, I dare not allow; since neither Theocritus in Greek, Virgil in Latin, nor Sannazaro in Italian, did af fect it. Besides these, I do not remembe to have seen but few (to speak boldly printed that have poetical sinews them. For proof whereof, let but mos of the verses be put in prose, and ther

imagine; and art hath taught and all ancient examples justified, and at this day the ordinary players in Italy will not err in. Yet will some bring in an example

ask the meaning, and it will be found that one verse did but beget another, without ordering at the first what should be at the last; which becomes a confused mass of words, with a tinkling 5 of the Eunuch in Terence, that containeth sound of rime, barely accompanied with


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matter of two days, yet far short of twenty years. True it is, and so was it to be played in two days, and so fitted to the time it set forth. And though Plautus have in one place done amiss, let us hit it with him, and not miss with him.

But they will say, How then shall we set forth a story which contains both many places and many times? And do they not know that a tragedy is tied to the laws of poesy, and not of history; not bound to follow the story, but having liberty either to feign a quite new matter, or to frame the history to the most trag20 ical conveniency? Again, many things may be told, which cannot be showed: if they know the difference betwixt reporting and representing. As, for example, I may speak, though I am here, of Peru,

Our tragedies and comedies (not without cause, cried out against) observing rules neither of honest civility nor of 10 skilful poetry, excepting Gorboduc (again I say of those that I have seen), which notwithstanding, as it is full of stately speeches and well-sounding phrases, well-sounding phrases, climbing to the height of Seneca's 15 1 style, and as full of notable morality, which it does most delightfully teach, and so obtain the very end of poesy; yet, in truth, it is very defectious in the circumstances, which grieves me, because it might not remain as an exact model of all tragedies. For it is faulty both in place and time, the two necessary companions of all corporal actions. For where the stage should always represent 25 and in speech digress from that to the but one place, and the uttermost time presupposed in it should be, both by Aristotle's precept, and common reason, but one day, there is both many days and many places inartificially imagined.

description of Calicut; but in action I cannot represent it without Pacolet's horse. And so was the manner the ancients took, by some Nuntius [Messen30 ger] to recount things done in former time, or other place.

But if it be so in Gorboduc, how much more in all the rest? where you shall have Asia of the one side, and Afric of the other, and so many other under kingdoms, that the player, when he comes in, 35 must ever begin with telling where he is, or else the tale will not be conceived. Now you shall have three ladies walk to gather flowers, and then we must believe the stage to be a garden. By and by, we 40 hear news of shipwreck in the same place, and then we are to blame if we accept it not for a rock. Upon the back of that comes out a hideous monster, with fire and smoke, and then the miserable 45 leholders are bound to take it for a cave; while, in the meantime, two armies fly in, represented with four swords and Fucklers, and then, what hard heart will not receive it for a pitched field?


Now, of time they are much more liberal; for ordinary it is, that two young princes fall in love; after many traverses She is got with child; delivered of a fair boy; he is lost, groweth a man, falls in 55 love, and is ready to get another child; and all this in two hours' space; which, Low absurd it is in sense, even sense may

Lastly, if they will represent an history, they must not, as Horace saith, begin ab ovo, [from the egg] but they must come to the principal point of that one action which they will represent. By example this will be best expressed. I have a story of young Polydorus, delivered, for safety's sake, with great riches, by his father Priamus to Polymnestor, King of Thrace, in the Trojan war time. He, after some years, hearing the overthrow of Priamus, for to make the treasure his own, murdereth the child; the body of the child is taken up by Hecuba; she, the same day, findeth a sleight to be revenged most cruelly of the tyrant. Where, now, would one of our tragedy-writers begin, but with the delivery of the child? Then should he sail over into Thrace, and so spend I know not how many years, and travel__numbers of places. But where doth Euripides? Even with the finding of the body; leaving the rest to be told by the spirit of Polydorus. This needs no further to be enlarged; the dullest wit may conceive it.

But, besides these gross absurdities,


how all their plays be neither right rather pained than delighted with laughtragedies nor right comedies, mingling ter. Yet deny I not, but that they may kings and clowns, not because the matter go well together; for, as in Alexander's so carrieth it, but thrust in clowns by picture well set out, we delight without head and shoulders to play a part in laughter, and in twenty mad antics we majestical matters, with neither decency laugh without delight: so in Hercules, nor discretion; so as neither the admira- painted with his great beard and furious tion and commiseration, nor the right countenance, in a woman's attire, spinsportfulness, is by their mongrel tragi- ning at Omphale's commandment, it comedy obtained. I know Apuleius did 10 breedeth both delight and laughter; for somewhat so, but that is a thing re- the representing of so strange a power in counted with space of time, not repre- love procures delight, and the scornfulsented in one moment: and I know the ness of the action stirreth laughter. ancients have one or two examples of tragi-comedies, as Plautus hath Amphi-15 truo. But, if we mark them well, we shall find that they never, or very daintily, match hornpipes and funerals. So falleth it out, that, having, indeed, no right comedy in that comical part of our 20 tragedy, we have nothing but scurrility, unworthy of any chaste ears; or some extreme show of doltishness, indeed fit to lift up a loud laughter, and nothing else; where the whole tract of a comedy should 25 be full of delight as the tragedy should be still maintained in a well-raised admiration.



But our comedians think there is no delight without laughter, which is very wrong; for though laughter may come. with delight, yet cometh it not of delight, as though delight should be the cause of laughter; but well may one thing breed both together. Nay, in themselves, they 35 have, as it were, a kind of contrariety. For delight we scarcely do, but in things that have a conveniency to ourselves, or to the general nature. Laughter almost ever cometh of things most disproportioned to ourselves and nature: delight hath a joy in it, either permanent or present; laughter hath only a scornful tickling. For example: we are ravished with delight to see a fair woman, and yet 45 are far from being moved to laughter; we laugh at deformed creatures, wherein certainly we cannot delight; we delight in good chances; we laugh at mischances; we delight to hear the happiness of our 50 friends or country, at which he were worthy to be laughed at that would laugh we shall, contrarily, laugh sometimes to find a matter quite mistaken, and go down the hill against the bias, in the 55 mouth of some such men, as for the respect of them, one shall be heartily sorry, yet he cannot choose but laugh, and so is

But I speak to this purpose, that all the end of the comical part be not upon such scornful matters as stir laughter only, but mix with it that delightful teaching which is the end of poesy. And the great fault, even in that point of laughter, and forbidden plainly by Aristotle, is, that they stir laughter in sinful things, which are rather execrable than ridiculous; or in miserable, which are rather to be pitied than scorned. For what is it to make folks gape at a wretched beggar, and a beggarly clown; or against the law of hospitality, to jest at strangers, because they speak not English so well as we do? what do we learn? since it is certain,

Nil habet infelix paupertas durius in se,
Quam quod ridiculos, homines facit.
[Of all the griefs that harass the distrest,
Sure the most bitter is a scornful jest]

But rather a busy loving courtier, a heartless threatening Thraso; a self-wise-seeming schoolmaster; a wry-transformed traveler: these, if we saw walk in stage names, which we play naturally, therein were delightful laughter, and teaching delightfulness: as in the other, the tragedies of Buchanan do justly bring forth a divine admiration.

But I have lavished out too many words of this play matter; I do it, because, as they are excelling parts of poesy, so is there none so much used in England, and none can be more pitifully abused; which, like an unmannerly daughter, showing a bad education, causeth her mother Poesy's honesty to be called in question.

Other sorts of poetry, almost have we none, but that lyrical kind of songs and sonnets, which, if the Lord gave us so good minds, how well it might be employed, and with how heavenly fruits, both private and public in singing the

praises of the immortal beauty, the immortal goodness of that God, who giveth us hands to write, and wits to conceive; of which we might well want words, but never matter; of which we could turn our eyes to nothing, but we should ever have new budding occasions. But, truly, many of such writings as come under the banner of irresistible love, if I were a mistress, would never persuade me they were 10 in love; so coldly they apply fiery speeches, as men that had rather read lovers' writings, and so caught up certain swelling phrases, which hang togetherlike a man which once told me, 'the wind 15 was at northwest and by south,' because 1 he would be sure to name winds enough than that, in truth, they feel those passions, which easily, as I think, may be bewrayed by the same forcibleness, or energia (as the Greeks call it), of the writer. But let this be a sufficient, though short note, that we miss the right use of the material point of poesy.


derbolt of eloquence, often used the figure of repetition.

Vivit. Vivit? imo in Senatum venit, etc. [He lives. Lives? nay comes to the Senate] 5 Indeed, inflamed with a well-grounded rage, he would have his words, as it were, double out of his mouth; and so do that artificially which we see men do in choler naturally. And we, having noted the grace of those words, hale them in sometimes to a familiar epistle, when it were too much choler to be choleric.

Now for the outside of it, which is 25 words, or, as I may term it, diction, it is even well worse; so is that honey-flowing matron Eloquence, appareled, or rather disguised, in a courtesan-like painted affectation. One time with so far-fetched 30 words, that may seem monsters, but must seem strangers to any poor Englishman: another time with coursing of a letter, as if they were bound to follow the method of a dictionary: another time with figures 35 and flowers, extremely winter-starved.

How well, store of 'similiter cadences' doth sound with the gravity of the pulpit, I would but invoke Demosthenes' soul to tell, who with a rare daintiness useth them. Truly, they have made me think of the sophister, that with too much subtlety would prove two eggs three, and, though he might be counted a sophister, had none for his labor. So these men bringing in such a kind of eloquence, well may they obtain an opinion of a seeming fineness, but persuade few, which should be the end of their fineness.

Now for similitudes in certain printed discourses, I think all herbalists, all stories of beasts, fowls, and fishes are rifled up, that they come in multitudes to wait upon any of our conceits, which certainly is as absurd a surfeit to the ears as is possible. For the force of a similitude not being to prove anything to a contrary disputer, but only to explain to a willing hearer: when that is done, the rest is a most tedious prattling, rather overswaying the memory from the purpose whereto they were applied, than any 40 whit informing the judgment, already either satisfied, or by similitudes not to be satisfied.

But I would this fault were only peculiar to versifiers, and had not as large possession among prose printers: and, which is to be marveled, among many scholars, and, which is to be pitied, among some preachers. Truly, I could wish (if at least I might be so bold to wish, in a thing beyond the reach of my capacity) the diligent imitators of Tully and De- 45 mosthenes, most worthy to be imitated, did not so much keep Nizolian paperbooks of their figures and phrases, as by attentive translation, as it were, devour them whole, and make them wholly theirs. 50 For now they cast sugar and spice upon every dish that is served to the table: like those Indians, not content to wear earrings at the fit and natural place of the ears, but they will thrust jewels through 55 their nose and lips, because they will be sure to be fine. Tully, when he was to drive out Catiline, as it were with a thun

For my part, I do not doubt, when Antonius and Crassus, the great forefathers of Cicero in eloquence, the one (as Cicero testifieth of them) pretended not to know art, the other not to set by it, because with a plain sensibleness they might win credit of popular ears, which credit is the nearest step to persuasion (which persuasion is the chief mark of oratory); I do not doubt, I say, but that they used these knacks very sparingly; which who doth generally use, any man may see, doth dance to his own music; and so to be noted by the audience, more careful to speak curiously than to speak truly. Undoubtedly (at least to my opinion, un

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