1662 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Philip Sidney

Thomas Fuller, in History of the Worthies of England (1662) 2:75.



SIR PHILIP SIDNEY. Reader, I am resolved not to part him from his Father, such the Sympathy betwixt them, living and dying both within the compass of the same year. Otherwise, this Knight, in relation to my Book, may be termed an Ubiquitary, and appear amongst Statesmen, Soldiers, Lawyers, Writers, yea Princes themselves, being (though not elected) in election to be King of Poland, which place he declined, preferring rather to be a Subject to Queen Elizabeth, than a Soveraign beyond the Seas.

He was born at Penshurst in this County [Kent], son to Sir Henry Sidney (of whom before) and Sisters son to Robert Earl of Leicester, bred in Christs Church in Oxford. Such his appetite to Learning, that he could never be fed fast enough therewith; and so quick and strong his digestion, that he soon turned it into wholesome nourishment, and thrived healthfully thereon.

His homebred abilities travel perfected with forraign accomplishments, and a sweet Nature set a glosse upon both. He was so essential to the English Court, that it seemed maimed without his company, being a compleat Master of Matter and Language, as his Arcadia doth evidence.

I confesse I have heard some of modern pretended Wits cavil thereat, meerly because they made it not themselves: such who say, that his Book, is the occasion that many pretious hours are otherwise spent no better, must acknowledge it also the cause, that many idle hours are otherwise spent no worse, than in reading thereof.

At last, leaving the Court, he followed the Camp, being made Governor of Flushing, under his Uncle Earl of Leicester. But the Walls of that City (though high and strong) could not confine the activity of his mind, which must into the Field, and before Zutphen was unfortunately slain with a shot, in a small skirmish, which we may sadly tearm a great battle, considering our heavy losse therein. His Corps being brought over into England, was buried in the Quire of St. Pauls, with general lamentation.