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The Life of the Renowned Sir Philip Sidney, c. 1610 12

The Life of the Renowned Sir Philip Sidney, c. 1610 12

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publique action, which is the splendor of Majestie, and unactively

charge the managing of their greatest affaires upon the second-hand

faith, and diligence of Deputies, may they not (I say) understand,

that even then they bury themselves, and their Estates in a cloud of

contempt, and under it both encourage, and shaddow the

conspiracies of ambitious subalternes to their false endes, I mean

the ruine of States and Princes?

Again, where Kingly Parents will suffer, or rather force their

wives and daughters, to descend from the inequality and

reservednesse of Princely education, into the contemptible

familiarity, and popular freedome of Shepherds; may we not discern

that even therein they give those Royall birthes warrant, or

opportunity, to break over all circles of honor, safeguards to the

modesty of that sex; and withall make them fraily, apt to change the

commanding manners of Princely Birth, into the degrading images

of servile basenesse? Lastly, where humor3 takes away this pomp,

and apparatus from King, Crown, and Scepter, to make fear a

Counsellor, and obscurity a wisdom; be that King at home what the

current, or credit of his former Goverment, for a while, may keep

him: yet he is sure among forrain Princes to be justly censured as a

Princely Shepherd, or Shepherdish King: which creatures of scorn

seldome fail to become fit sacrifices for home-born discontentments,

or ambitious forrain spirits to undertake, and offer up.

Againe, who sees not the chanceable arrivall of Euarchus into

Arcadia; his unexpected election to the temporary Soveraignty of

that State; his sitting in a cloudy seat of judgement, to give sentence

(under a mask of Shepherds) against his Son, Nephew, Neeces, the

immediate Successors to that Scepter; and all accused and

condemned of rape, paricide, adulteries, or treasons, by their own

Lawes: I say who sees not, that these dark webs of effeminate

Princes be dangerous forerunners of innovation, even in a quiet,

and equally tempered people? So that if Sir Philip had not made the

integrity of this forrain King an image of more constant, pure, and

higher strain, than nature makes those ordinary mouldes, wherein

she fashioneth earthly Princes, even this opportunity, and map of

desolation prepared for Euarchus, wherein he saw all the successors

of this Province justly condemned under his own sentence, would

have raised up specious rights, or pretences for new ambition in

him; and upon the never-failing pillars of occasion, amasednes of

people, and sad offer of glorious novelties, have tempted him to



establish this Election for a time, successively, to him and his for


To be short, the like, and finer moralities offer themselves

throughout that various, and dainty work of his, for sounder

judgements to exercise their Spirits in; so that if the infancie of these

Ideas, determining in the first generation, yield the ingenuous

Reader such pleasant & profitable diversity, both of flowers, and

fruits, let him conceive, if this excellent Image-maker had liv’d to

finish, and bring to perfection this extraordinary frame of his own

Common-wealth: I meane, the return of Basilius, from his dreames

of humor, to the honor of his former Estate; the marriage of the two

sisters with the two excellent Princes; their issue; the warres stirred

up by Amphialus; his marriage with Helena; their successions;

together with the incident Magnificences, pompes of state,

providences of councells in treaties of peace, or aliance, summons of

warres, and orderly execution of their disorders; I say, what a large

field an active able spirit should have had to walk in, let the advised

Reader conceive with grief. Especially if he please to take

knowledge, that in all these creatures of his making, his intent, and

scope was, to turn the barren Philosophy precepts into pregnant

Images of life; and in them, first on the Monarch’s part, lively to

represent the growth, state, and declination of Princes, change of

Government, and lawes: vicissitudes of sedition, faction, succession,

confederacies, plantations [=colonies], with all other errors, or

alterations in publique affaires. Then again in the subjects case; the

state of favor, disfavor, prosperitie, adversity, emulation, quarrell,

undertaking, retiring, hospitality, travail [=travel], and all other

moodes of private fortunes, or misfortunes. In which traverses (I

know) his purpose was to limn out such exact pictures, of every

posture in the minde, that any man being forced, in the straines of

this line, to pass through any straights, or latitudes of good, or ill

fortune, might (as in a glasse) see how to set a good countenance

upon all the discountenances of adversitie, and a stay upon the

exorbitant smiling of chance.

Now, as I know this was the first project of these workes, rich

(like his youth) in the freedome of affections, wit, learning, stile,

form, and facilitie, to please others: so must I again (as ingenuously)

confess, that when his body declined, and his piercing inward

powers were lifted up to a purer Horizon, he then discovered, not

onely the imperfection, but vanitie of these shadowes, how daintily



soever limned: as seeing that even beauty it self, in all earthly

complexions, was more apt to allure men to evill, than to fashion

any goodness in them. And from this ground, in that memorable

testament of his, he bequeathed no other legacie, but the fire, to this

unpolished Embrio. From which fate it is onely reserved, untill the

world hath purged away all her more gross corruptions.

Again, they that knew him well, will truly confess, this Arcadia of his

to be, both in form, and matter, as much inferior to that unbounded

spirit of his, as the industry and Images of other mens works, are many

times raised above the writers capacities: and besides acknowledge, that

howsoever he could not choose but give them many aspersions of spirit,

and learning from the Father; yet that they were scribled rather as

pamphlets, for entertainment of time, and friends, than any accompt of

himself to the world. Because if his purpose had been to leave his

memory in books, I am confident, in the right use of Logick,

Philosophy, History, and Poesie, nay evn in the most ingenuous of

Mechanicall Arts, he would have shewed such tracts [=traits] of a

searching, and judicious spirit; as the professors of every faculty would

have striven no less for him, than the seaven Cities did to have Homer of

their Sept [=sect, tribe]. But the truth is: his end was not writing, even

while he wrote; nor his knowledge moulded for tables, or schooles; but

both his wit, and understanding bent upon his heart, to make himself,

and others, not in words or opinion, but in life, and action, good and


In which Architectonical art he was such a Master, with so

commanding, and yet equall waies amongst men, that whersoever

he went, he was beloved, and obeyed: yea into what Action soever

he came last at the first, he became first at the last: the whole

managing of the business, not by usurpation, or violence, but (as it

were) by right, and acknowledgment, falling into his hands, as into

a naturall Center.

[A]n unfortunate hand out of those forespoken Trenches, brake the

bone of Sir Philip’s thigh with a Musket-shot. The horse he rode

upon, was rather furiously cholleric, than bravely proud, and so

forced him to forsake the field, but not his back, as the noblest, and

fittest biere to carry a Martiall Commander to his grave. In which

sad progress, passing along by the rest of the Army, where his Uncle

the Generall was, and being thirstie with excess of bleeding, he

called for drink, which was presently brought him; but as he was



putting the bottle to his mouth, he saw a poor Souldier carryed

along, who had eaten his last at the same Feast, gastly casting up his

eyes at the bottle. Which Sir Philip perceiving, took it from his head,

before he drank, and delivered it to the poor man, with these words,

Thy necessity is yet greater than mine. And when he had pledged this

poor souldier, he was presently carried to Arnheim.

Againe, for the Arguments of these [Greville’s own] Tragedies

they be not naked, and casuall, like the Greeke, and Latine, nor (I

confesse) contrived with the variety, and unexpected encounters of

the Italians, but nearer Level’d to those humours, councels, and

practices, wherein I thought fitter to hold the attention of the

Reader, than in the strangeness, or perplexedness of witty Fictions;

In which the affections, or imagination, may perchance find

exercise, and entertainment, but the memory and judgement no

enriching at all; Besides, I conceived these delicate Images to be

over-abundantly furnished in all Languages already.

And [though] my Noble Friend had that dexterity, even with the

dashes of his pen to make the Arcadian Antiques beautifie the Margents

of his works;4 yet the honour which (I beare him record) he never affected,

I leave unto him, with this addition, that his end in them was not vanishing

pleasure alone, but morall Images, and Examples, (as directing threds)

to guide every man through the confused Labyrinth of his own desires,

and life: So that howsoever I liked them5 too well (even in that unperfected

shape they were) to condescend that such delicate (though inferior)

Pictures of himselfe, should be suppressed; yet I do wish that work may

be the last in this kind, presuming no man that followes can ever reach,

much lesse go beyond that excellent intended patterne of his.

For my own part, I found my creeping Genius more fixed upon the

Images of Life, than the Images of Wit, and therefore chose not to write

to them on whose foot the black Oxe had not already trod,6 as the

Proverbe is, but to those only, that are weather-beaten in the Sea of this

World, such as having lost the sight of their Gardens, and groves, study

to saile on a right course among Rocks, and quick-sands.




Gouws glosses ‘indicating the essential nature or quality of some


Gouws glosses ‘defaming, disparaging’.







Gouws glosses ‘inclination, whim, caprice’.

Gouws, p.247, suggests that this is a reference to the Eclogues.

The 1652 edition, unlike the manuscripts and clearly in error, reads

‘not too well’.

Proverbial expression for adversity and old age (Gouws, edn, p. 247).

40. ‘Thus far the worthy Author…’


It is uncertain why—and by whom—the edition of 1613 was

felt to need a further explanation of the break in the plot of

Book III and the process by which the composite 1593 Arcadia

had first been created. The passage to some extent takes the

place of Sanford’s preface (No. 20), which is omitted in 1613

(but restored in subsequent editions). ‘Thus far the worthy

Author…’ is an expanded version of the note supplied at this

point in other editions since 1593, which mostly corresponded

to the closing paragraph below.

This fuller description of the ‘unfortunate mayme’ seems to

have prompted Sir William Alexander to write his ‘bridging

passage’ (No. 41). This was inserted in a later issue of the

1613 edition (see Bent Juel-Jensen, ‘Sir Philip Sidney, 1554–

1586: A Check-List of Early Editions of his Works’, in Kay,

pp. 295–7).

The Countesse of Pembrokes Arcadia…Now the Fourth Time Published,

London, 1613, sig. Ee5.

Thus far the worthy Author had revised or inlarged that first

written Arcadia of his, which onely passed from hand to hand, and

was never printed: having a purpose likewise to have new ordered,

augmented, and concluded the rest, had he not beene prevented by



untymely death. So that all which followeth here of this Work,

remayned as it was done and sent away in severall loose sheets

(beeing never after reviewed, nor so much as scene all together by

himself ) without any certaine disposition or perfect order. Yet for

that it was his, howsoever deprived of the just grace it should have

had, [it] was held too good to be lost: & therefore with much labour

were the best coherencies, that could be gathered out of those

scattred papers, made, and afterwards printed as now it is, onely by

hir Noble care to whose deare hand they were first committed, and

for whose delight and intertaynement only undertaken.

What conclusion it should have had, or how far the Work have

beene extended (had it had his last hand thereunto) was onely

knowne to his owne spirit, where only those admirable Images were

(and no where else) to bee cast.

And here we are likewise utterly deprived of the relation how this

combat ended, and how the Ladies by discovery of the approching

forces were delivered and restored to Basilius: how Dorus returned to

his old master Dametas: all which unfortunate mayme we must be

content to suffer with the rest.

41. Sir William Alexander (Earl of


1616?; c.1634

(a) Alexander’s ‘Supplement’ was evidently prompted by the

expanded account of the ‘unfortunate mayme’ in Arcadia in the

Sidney Folio of 1613 (No. 40). It both fulfils the practical

function of providing a ‘bridging passage’ and incorporates a

reader’s response to a work unusually directly in the work

itself. (Alexander’s piece was printed in the appropriate

position in Sidney editions between 1621—it was inserted in

some copies of the 1613 edition—and 1664. See Bent JuelJensen, ‘Sir Philip Sidney, 1554–1586: A Check-List of Early

Editions of his Work’, in Kay, pp. 295–305).

Alexander’s readers are invited to revisit their favourite



characters. The disabusing of Pamela about Zelmane’s gender

is an affectionately humorous reaction to Pamela’s much

stated ‘majesty’. Basilius, Gynecia, and Dametas are similarly

reintroduced (pp. 344–5). As Alexander explains at the end of

the supplement, he aims to honour Sidney as much as Arcadia

in the death of Philisides, which is the subject of the excerpt

here. ‘It is a nice touch to make Sidney in love with his own

Philoclea’ (The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia, ed. Maurice

Evans, Harmondsworth, 1977, p. 864).

For the ‘Tilting in Iberia’, see NA, pp. 255–7. On the dating

of the supplement, see further Alison Mitchell and Katharine

Foster, ‘Sir William Alexander’s Supplement to Book III of

Sidney’s Arcadia’, The Library 5th series, vol. 24, 1969, pp.


Philisides, disguised as the Knight of the Sheep, has, while

fighting with Anaxius, been fatally wounded in the thigh by

an enemy dart (p. 328).

From S[ir] W[illiam] Alexander], ‘A Supplement of the Said

Defect’, The Countesse of Pembrokes Arcadia, London, 1621, pp.

337–8, 346.

Being met and all others retired, hee with these wordes deepely

wounded their soules. Deare friends, whom I may justly call so,

though none of us as yet doth know another; I see I have acted my

part, and the Curtaine must quickly bee drawne. Death, the onely

period of all respects, doth dispense with a free speech. At a Tilting

in Iberia (where I was borne) dedicated to the memorie of the

Queene Andromanes marriage: a novice in armes (amongst others) I

ranne in a Pastorall shew against the Corinthian knights, whom the

successe had preferred in the opinion of the beholders: till the

worthily admirable Princes, Musidorus and Pyrocles, drawn forth by

the yong Prince Palladius, brought back the reputation to our partie,

and there did such things as might have honoured Mars, if he had

beene in any of their places; and made eyther of them worthie of

his. Thereafter being drawne away from that countrey by an

accident, the report whereof craves a longer time, and a stronger

breath than the heavens are like to afford mee, their glorie

tyrannizing over my rest, did kindle such flames in my bosome, that



burning with a generous ardour, I did resolve (leaving mine owne

countrey, as too strict a bound for my thoughts) to trie my fortune

where I might eyther live famous or die unknowne: vowing withall

to travell, till those Princes were eyther the Subject or witnesses of

my valour. What passed in my way, I passe over: perchance others

may remember. At last, invited by fame, I came to this fatall

Countrey: the band of my heart [it] was, and must bee of my bodie:

where first carried with curiositie, the fever of youth, I went to the

Arcadian Pastoralls for my recreation; but found the ruine of my

rest. There, blinded with beholding and tormented with delight, my

earnest eyes surfeited on the patterne of perfection, the quintessence

of worth, even the most divinely divine Philoclea. Ah, too

adventurous eyes! Neyther could this content them, but they would

needes offer up her picture on the Altar of my heart; where, by my

thoughts their choice might be allowed, yea, and Idolatrously

advanced. For they, scorning the simple rudenesse of the eyes (as

easily defrauded of their too forwardly affected object) would

securely entreasure it in a more precious Place, by a piercing

apprehension sinking it in the soule for ever. For a time, suffered as

a stranger and a Sheepheard, knowne (as you know) by the name of

Philisides amongst the rest I had the meanes to poure forth my

plaints before her; but never to her; and (though ore-thrown, not

rendred), I had concluded never to have thrown the Dice betwixt

hope and despair, so betraying my estate to the tyrannie of anothers

will. No, I was resolved she should never know her power in mee,

till I had knowne her minde of mee: so that if she would not raise

mee, she should not have meanes to insult over mee. Thus if I had

not procured pitie, I should not have exposed my selfe to disdaine.

In the haughtinesse of my heart (thinking nothing impossible) I durst

promise my selfe that (my deedes having purchased reputation) with

wordes, worthy of respect, I might venter the processe of my affection.

In the meane time I joined joyfully with you in this late warre now

ended: though professing a general desire of glorie, yet for a particular

end, and happie end, since I end for her. But since, whilest I lived, I had

not the meanes (as I wished) to content her, I crave not, by knowledge of

this, after death to discontent her. It shall satisfie mee that I die before

my hopes: and shee cannot grieve for the loss of that which shee never

knew to be hers.

With this, the other sliding apart to beare and burie his sorrow

privately, the blacke Knight weeping embraced him in his armes,



and told him what hee was: saying hee was glad that his vow was

performed; hee being a benefited witnesse, not the endangered

subject of his valour. Then contentment, budding forth in his

countenance, flourished in a smile: and having kissed his friendes,

desiring to live in their memorie, wished them as contented lives, as

his was a death. Hee died as joyfully as hee left them sorrowfull,

who had knowed him a mirrour of courage, and courtesie, of

learning and armes; so that it seemed, that Mars had begotten him

upon one of the Muses.

If this little Essay have not that perfection which is required for

supplying the want of that place for which it was intended, yet shall

it serve as shadow to give luster to the rest. I have onely heerein

conformed my selfe to that which preceeded my beginning, and was

knowne to be that admirable Authors owne, but doe differ in some

things from that which followes, specially in the death of Philisides,

making choise of a course, whereby I might best manifest what

affection I beare to the memorie of him, whom I tooke to be alluded

unto by that name, and whom I onely by this imperfect parcell

(designing more) had a minde to honour.

(b) From Anacrisis: or, A Censure of Some Poets Ancient and Modern,

in The Works of William Drummond of Hawthornden, Edinburgh,

1711, pp. 161–2. (Alexander wished ‘this Piece [to] appear to

the World with your Name’ as a testimony to their friendship

and to Drummond’s diligent perusal of the poets; ibid., p.


But I confess that the Arcadia of S.P.Sidney (either being considered

in the whole, or in several Lineaments) is the most excellent Work

that, in my Judgment, hath been written in any Language that I

understand, affording many exquisite Types of Perfection for both

the Sexes; leaving the Gifts of Nature, whose Value doth depend

upon the Beholders, wanting no Virtue whereof a Humane Mind

would be capable. As for Men, Magnanimity, Carriage, Courtesy,

Valour, Judgment, Discretion; and in Women, Modesty,

Shamefastness, Constancy, Continency, still accompanied with a

tender sense of Honour. And his chief Persons being Eminent for

some singular Virtue, and yet all Virtues being united in every one



of them, Men equally excelling both for Martial Exercise and for

Courtly Recreations, showing the Author, as he was indeed, alike

well versed both in Learning and Arms: It was a great Loss to

Posterity, that his untimely Death did prevent the Accomplishing of

that excellent Work.

Long since, being young, I adventured a Piece with him,

beginning at the very half Sentence, where he left with the Combat

betwixt Zelmane and Anaxius, and continuing till the Ladies were

returned to their Father, intending further, if I had not been

otherways diverted, meerly out of my Love to the Author’s

Memory, which I celebrated under the Name of Philisides; intending

to have altered all that followed after my Addition, having

conformed my self only to that which went before; and though

being there but an Imitator, I could not really give the Principall it

self, but only as it were the Pourtrait, and that done by too gross a

Pencil, Non cuivis homini contingit adire Corinthum.1 It were enough to be

excellent by being Second to Sidney, since who ever could be that,

behoved to be before others.

This Kind of Invention in Prose, hath been attempted by sundry

in the Vulgar Languages, as (leaving, as not worthy to be named

here, those ridiculous Works composed of Impossibilities, and

considering the best,) Sanazarius’s Arcadia in Italian, Diana de

Montemajor in Spanish, Astrea in French, whose Authors being all of

excellent Wits, in a Bucolick Strain disguising such Passions of

Love, as they suffered or devised under the Persons of Shepherds,

were bound by the Decorum of that which they profess’d, to keep

so low a Course, that though their Spirits could have reach’d to

more generous Conceptions, yet they could not have delivered them

in Pastorals, which are only capable of Affections fit for their

Quality; where S.P.Sidney, as in an Epick Poem did express such

things, as both in War and in Peace were fit to be practised by

Princes. The most lofty of the other is the Marquis d’Urfee in his

Astrea, and the choise Pieces there, representing any of the better

Sorts, do seem borrowed from ancient Histories, or else Narrations

that hapned in modern Times, rather than true Discourses showing

Persons such as they were indeed, though with other Names, than

for the framing of them for Perfection, they should have been

devised to be.


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