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Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia, Moderniz'd by Mrs. Stanley, 1725

Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia, Moderniz'd by Mrs. Stanley, 1725

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unhappy Youth, cease, O cease to wound my Heart with thy

foreboding Sorrows, which strike much deeper than any Sword can

ever have Power of doing; exert thy natural Magnanimity, nor be a

Coward only for thy Argalus: Assure thy self I have not yet so much

offended Heaven, that it shou’d bless me with thy Beauties, and

give me the Possession of thy wondrous Merit, only to tear me thus

in a Moment from thee, and make my Fall the greater: No, no,

believe me, my Parthenia, I still shall live; live long to pay thee back

an endless Store of Love and Gratitude; therefore dry up those

Tears, whose every falling Drop gives me far greater Pain, than if I

felt the trickling Blood distilling from my aching Heart: Believe me,

my prophetick Soul informs me that I shall soon return; return

possess’d with joyful Victory, to meet my Triumph in the Circle of

thy Arms, and lay my Laurels at my fair One’s Feet.

While he was thus speaking, Parthenia’s Colour chang’d at every

Sentence; but when he clos’d his Lips with the dreadful

Confirmation of his going, Amazement and Despair usurp’d her

every Sense, and put her past the Power of making a Reply; which

Argalus perceiving, he caught her in his Arms to take a last Adieu,

with so much Eagerness, as if he meant to print his Soul upon her

Lips, and leave it as a Pledge of his Return. But they were cold, and

quite insensible of the Impression, the mighty Shock having entirely

overcome her Spirits, and laid her in a welcome Swoon, which for

some Moments gave a Respit to her Griefs. Argalus thought staying

till she recover’d, wou’d only serve to renew in both of them the

Pangs of parting; and therefore delivering her to her Attendants,

hurry’d away by the mistaken Notions of tyrannick Honour, he

hasted to the Camp.

[The concluding sentence:] Thus on all sides their late Misfortunes

turned to Blessings: the Royal Lovers received the Recompence of

their past Cares; and found the Truth of what has been so long

asserted, that Time and Assiduity (at least in Love) will conquer

every Difficulty, and pay us double Interest for every

Disappointment which we have or can endure.


72. Elizabeth Montagu


Elizabeth Robinson (1720–1800) married the wealthy Edward

Montagu (cousin of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s son,

Edward) in August 1742. She was later famous as a leading

‘blue-stocking’ and literary hostess, and the author of An Essay

on the Genius and Writings of Shakespeare (1769). Arcadia seems to

have been a frequent topic of semi-serious conversation and

entertainment in the circles in which she moved, especially

among the women (as in the days of Anne Clifford). These

included Montagu’s correspondent Mary Pendarves (later

Mrs Delany, 1700–88): in 1740, ‘I have laid aside the Arcadia

till Mrs. Pendarves comes, who is so fond of it, and …she

shall read it to us’ (Elizabeth Montagu, Queen of the Blue-Stockings,

Her Correspondence from 1740 to 1761, ed. Emily J. Climenson,

London, 1906, vol. 1, p. 56). Many years later, in 1774,

Pendarves was still adopting the same tone as her friend

where Sidney was concerned, so often using ‘delight’ and its

cognates in describing her joy in seeing a friend’s children that

‘Sir Phillip Sidney in his Arcadia cannot be more guilty of

reiteration!’ (The Autobiography and Correspondence of Mary

Granville, Mrs Delany, ed. Lady Llanover, Second Series,

London, 1862, vol. 2, p. 64). Sidney’s is no longer ‘the

language of the heart’.

Letter to Mary Pendarves, 16 August 1742, in The

Autobiography and Correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs Delany,

ed. Lady Llanover, First Series, London, 1861, vol. 2, pp.


After breakfast we employ ourselves as you imagine; we are reading

Sir Philip Sidney’s famous Romance, which is far exceeding the

exceedingness of the most exceeding imagination, as if, the things of

which he spoke exceeded all imagination, or the imagination with

which he wrote, exceeded all things; so much more excellent are the

things of which he writes as that the things which he writes are far



exceeding all other excellence, for art therein does borrow the

appearance of nature, and nature the excellence of art, so the eye

doth not know whether to praise skilful art or happy chance therein,

but surely both together does greatly delight the mind’s eye, and

work in the beholder a goodly admiration! Seriously it is a pity, two

such excellent Geniuses in Queen Elizabeth’s days as Spenser and

Sir Philip should write of only such feigned imaginary beings as

fairies and lovers; now that the world is not superstitious and

credulous, such personages are not so well received as they used to

be. We do not only remember you in our happy hours, but the

remembrance of you gives us hours! Surely by mimicry I have fallen into the

style of Sir Philip; but to you I need speak no language but the

language of the heart to assure you I am your very sincere and

faithful friend,


73. John Upton


John Upton (1707–60), Prebendary of Rochester, published

his edition of The Faerie Queene in 1758.

The common criticism of Sidney’s experiments with

classical metres is sharpened by contrast with Shakespeare,

whose reputation reached a new height both in criticism and

the theatre in the 1740s (see Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage,

1623–1801, ed. Brian Vickers, 6 vols, London, 1974–81,

introduction to vol. 3, pp. 12–14 and passim; vol. 4, p. 26).

Critical Observations on Shakespeare, London, 1746, pp. 335, 343–4.

The greatest beauty in diction is, when it corresponds to the sense.

This beauty our language, with all its disadvantages, can attain; as

I could easily instance from Shakespeare and Milton. We have



harsh, rough consonants, as well as the soft and melting, and these

should sound in the same musical key.

These measures [those used by Shakespeare] are all so agreeable

to the genius of our language, that Shakespeare’s fine ear and skill

are seen in what he gives us, as well as in what he omits. Sir Philip

Sydney, who was a scholar (as noblemen were in Queen Elizabeth’s

reign) but wanted Shakespeare’s ear, has dragged into our language

verses, that are enough to set one’s ear an edge: thus for instance

the elegiac verses,

Sir Philip Sydney thought, like Vossius, that such a number of

syllables was the only thing wanting, and that we had no long or

short words in our language; but he was much mistaken. His

saphics are worse, if possible, than his elegiacs:

So much mistaken oftentimes are learned men, when they don’t

sufficiently consider the peculiar genius, and distinguishing

features, as it were, of one language from another.

74. McNamara Morgan


Morgan (d. 1762) wrote satires and Florizel and Perdita (1754), ‘a

particularly mindless adaptation of The Winter’s Tale which enjoyed,

nevertheless, much success in the theatre’ (Shakespeare: the Critical

Heritage 1623–1801, ed. Brian Vickers, 6 vols, London, 1974–81,

vol. 4, p. 53). In Philoclea, according to the Preface, he ‘was obliged

to alter’ Sidney’s fable ‘very considerably to render it dramatic.’

Pyrocles disguises himself as a shepherd, not an Amazon; Gynecia

becomes an unpleasant stepmother, and Amphialus simply a villain.

Amphialus and Basilius are both killed in the battle at the end:

there is no trial and no Euarchus, and the story is mainly concerned



with removing obstacles to the exalted love of Pyrocles and

Philoclea and, secondarily, Musidorus and Pamela. There is much

dwelling on ‘the Passions’. Thanks to the actors playing Pyrocles

and Philoclea, Spranger Barry and Maria Isabella Nossiter, ‘the

more tender and sensible parts of the audience could not fail being

affected by the passionate scenes of love’ in the play (David Erskine

Baker and Isaac Reed, Biographia dramatica, 3 vols in 4, London,

1812, vol. 3, p. 144).

Philoclea did not on the whole, however, please

contemporary reviewers. It is ‘crowded with an immense

number of absurdities, both in language and plot; the first

being alternately bombastic and puerile, and the other

incorrect, imperfect, and contradictory’ (ibid.); it fails to

observe the unities, and lacks all probability (Paul Hiffernan,

The Tuner, 21 January 1754).

The play was performed nine times at Covent Garden in

January-February 1754 (The London Stage 1660–1800, ed.

George Winchester Stone Jr., Part Four: 1747–1776,

Carbondale, Ill., 1962, pp. 404–7).

Philoclea: A Tragedy, London, 1754, sig. A4; Act II, pp. 24–7.


When great ELIZA fill’d the British Throne, She

mark’d the matchless SIDNEY for her own; Around

whose Temples ev’ry Laurel twin’d, In early Youth, the

Glory of Mankind! With Genius, Birth, Wit, Fortune,

Fame inspir’d, He plann’d this Tale, which WALLER

since admir’d;1 In gay Arcadia let his Fancy rove, And

form’d another Paradise for Love: Where blooming

still, in his immortal Page, His PHILOCLEA charm’d

thro’ ev’ry Age. Nor think the Story Fiction, drawn

with Art, ’Tis a true Hist’ry of the human Heart.


SCENE, the Garden

You see to what a Strait I am reduc’d;—

For, I must hence, this very Night, before

The curs’d appointed Hour. And, if you’ll not

Consent to share my Fate, and with me fly



This desart Solitude, alas! I fear

I ne’er shall see my Philoclea more.

Philoclea. O talk not so! I cannot live without thee!—

But, my sweet Prince, wilt thou be faithful to me?

Wilt thou, for ever, be as kind as now?

There’s such a lovely Terror in thy Looks,

Such Strength and Softness mingled in thy Frame,

That my whole Sex, I’m sure, will grow my Rivals.

And, Oh! I fear some wond’rous Beauty’s Charms

May make thee to neglect thy Philoclea,

And then, I know, my Heart wou’d break with Grief.

Pyrocles. Give me thy Hand; (Kneels) and thus I summon all

The Pow’rs presiding o’er Connubial Rites.

Hymen, thou God of ever-chaste Desire!

Bright Cytherea! and thou God of Love!

Celestial Graces! Heav’n-born Concord! hear;

And thou, great Thunder-bearer Jove! look down,

Be thou the Witness of my holy Vow!

If ever, ev’n in Thought, my Heart shall stray

From this sweet Virgin’s Love, then let your Bolts

Strike this false Breast, and hurl my Soul to Hell.

(Philoclea kneels.

Philoclea. And here, on my Part, I repeat the same;

And in the presence of the Gods, I swear,

That, as my Pyrocles has been my first,

So shall he be my last, my only Love.—(Rises.

Now I’ll go with thee to the utmost Earth,

To the bleak North, or to the Torrid Zone,

O’er snowy Mountains, or o’er scorching Sands;

Where’er you go, it is the Land of Love,

A magic Spring shall bloom beneath our Feet.

Pyrocles. Come, I will sit thee on the Throne of Macedon,

Whence Alexander rul’d the subject Globe.

My Joy! my Life! my Happiness! my Bride!

A brighter Queen than e’er shone there before,

Tho’ the fair Pride of Asia fill’d it once.

Philoclea. And thou shalt sit inthroned in my Heart,

My Lord! my Prince! my Sovereign! my Love!

Here shalt thou reign, with most despotic Sway,

(Embraces him.

And ev’ry Passion, Appetite and Wish

Shall, as true Subjects, own thee for their King:

Rebel Inconstancy shall fly the State,












While tender Love, thy faithful firm Ally,

Shall guard the Blessings of thy peaceful Reign.

How poor a Kingdom’s Macedon to thine!

Thy precious Heart is more than Worlds to me!—

But, ere we go, I have another Care,

A Care, that’s second to my Love alone.

I have a Friend, that’s dearer than my Life;

One, whom I love, almost as well as thee,

And, when thou know’st him, thou shalt love him too.

’Tis Musidorus, ’tis my valiant Kinsman,

Bellona’s fav’rite Son! the Prince of Thessaly!

O he’s a gallant and a Godlike Youth!

A Soul compos’d of Majesty! Yet he,

(Such is the Power of Beauty, and of Love)

Now lurks, like me, beneath a Shepherd’s Weeds,

And is that Dorus, who subdu’d Amphialus.

My Sister almost did suspect as much;

For, from his Dignity of Soul, and Port

Sublime, she thought he was no vulgar Being.

Know, ’twas her Beauty that transform’d him so:

(We sympathize in Love as all Things else).

And now, my Princess, I would have thee tell her,

Ere we escape, his Quality and Name.

I’ll fly, the gladsome Messenger of Love,

And pour the soft Infection to her Heart.—

’Tis Death to leave thee.

But we’ll meet at Night,

To part no more.—You know the Hour and Place.

It is an Age till then.

O Philoclea!

Shou’d you forget, a Moment may destroy us.

My Heart shall cease to beat, my Nerves to feel,

And ev’ry Sense grow careless of its Charge,

When I forget to wish myself with thee.

Adieu, thy fairest, kindest Excellence;

Till next we meet, I’m banish’d from myself. (Exeunt.



See No. 52


75. Samuel Johnson

1755, 1765, 1770

Johnson’s considerable familiarity with Arcadia, no doubt

increased by his research for the Dictionary (see (a) below), is

further evidenced by two passing references in The Letters of

Samuel Johnson, ed. Bruce Redford, 5 vols, Oxford, 1992–4,

vol. 3, p. 57, and vol. 4, p. 198. To Boswell (1 September 1777;

later quoted in Boswell’s Life of Johnson) he writes whimsically

that he will leave plans for ‘some other little adventure’ like

the Hebridean journey ‘To vertue, fortune, wine, and

woman’s breast’ (OA 65, with ‘wine’ for ‘time’). To Hester

Thrale’s daughter Susanna (9 September 1783) he instances

the fate of the painter who ‘mingled in the battle, that he

might know how to paint it’, only to have his hands cut off

(see NA, p. 282), to show that ‘it is better to know vice and

folly by report than by experience’.

Johnson did not, however, grant Sidney and his

contemporaries the accolade of inclusion in The Lives of the

Poets. For many in the mid-eighteenth century Sidney’s

language, and his work more generally, are frontier country:

‘the boundary, beyond which I make few excursions.’ (See

George Ellis, Specimens of the Early English Poets, London, 1790,

pp. ii–iii, for one expression of the view that Johnson could

have recommended the works of Surrey, Wyatt, Sidney and

Ralegh ‘as justly and successfully’ as those of Blackmore,

Sprat and Yalden.)

(a) Preface to A Dictionary of the English Language, London,

1755, sig. C1.

…as every language has a time for rudeness antecedent to

perfection, as well as of false refinement and declension, I have been

cautious lest my zeal for antiquity might drive me into times too

remote, and croud my book with words now no longer understood.

I have fixed Sidney’s work for the boundary, beyond which I make

few excursions. From the authours which rose in the time of



Elizabeth, a speech might be formed adequate to all the purposes of

use and eloquence. If the language of theology were extracted from

Hooker and the translation of the Bible; the terms of natural

knowledge from Bacon; the phrases of policy, war, and navigation

from Raleigh; the dialect of poetry and fiction from Spenser and

Sidney; and the diction of common life from Shakespeare, few ideas

would be lost to mankind, for want of English words, in which they

might be expressed.

(b) Mr. Johnson’s Preface to his Edition of Shakespear’s Plays,

London, 1765, p. xxi.

Shakespeare, indeed, was not the only violator of chronology, for in

the same age Sidney, who wanted not the advantages of learning,

has, in his Arcadia, confounded the pastoral with the feudal times,

the days of innocence, quiet and security, with those of turbulence,

violence and adventure.

(c) Letter to Hester Thrale, 20 July 1770, The Letters of Samuel

Johnson, ed. Bruce Redford, 5 vols, Oxford, 1992–4, vol. 1, p.


If Sidney had gone, as he desired, the great voyage with Drake,1

there would probably have been such a narrative as would have

equally satisfied the Poet and Philosopher.



See The Prose Works of Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke, ed. John Gouws,

Oxford, 1986, p. 132.


76. ‘Philisides’


The modernized blank verse pastorals of the unidentified

‘Philisides’ seem to have attracted little attention. As early as 1725

Mrs Stanley (No. 71) had left out the eclogues in accordance with

‘the opinion of most of my Subscribers’; later in the century Clara

Reeve (No. 81) said that ‘Sidney’s Pastorals, are dull and

unintelligible, and are generally skipped over by those who still

read and admire the Arcadia’.

The Shepherd’s Calender. Being 12 Pastorals. Attempted in Blank Verse.

The Subjects partly taken from the select Pastorals of Spencer, and Sir Philip

Sidney, Dublin, 1758. From the Sixth Pastoral, pp. 17–19 (see OA71).

STREPHON and CLAIUS, lament their hopeless state thro’ Love.

By this the Night, out of the darksome Reign

Of Erebus, had call’d her teemed Steeds;

And lazy Vesper, in his timely Hour,

From golden Ỉta, had ascended Heav’n;

When Strephon, an undone forsaken Swain,

And hap’less Pastor Claius, Woe begone,

Thus in a dreary Forest mourn’d their Plight.


Ye Goat-herd Gods, that love the grassie Hills,

Ye rural Nymphs that haunt the Vallies green,

Ye Satyrs that in quiet Woods delight;

Vouchsafe your silent Ears to my love Song;

Which to my Sorrows gives an early Day,

And to the Night my Misery prolongs.


Oh, Mercury, forerunner of the Night!

Dian! Sweet Huntress of the savage Wilds!

Oh, lovely Star, the Morning’s Harbinger!

While with my Voice the Forests wild I fill,

Vouchsafe your silent Ears unto my Plaint,

Which oft hath tired Echo in her Cave.


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