1802 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Philip Sidney

Joseph Ritson, Bibliographia Poetica (1802) 331-33 & n.



SIR PHILIP SIDNEY, "Englands Mars and Muse," wrote several pieces of lyrical, pastoral, and other kinds of poetry, disperse'd throughout The countesse of Pembrokes Arcadia, his principal work; originally, but imperfectly, printed in 1590, 4to. again, complete, 1593, fo. and often afterward. Sir P. S. his Astrophel and Stella. Wherein the excellence of sweete poesie is concluded. To the end of which are added, sundry other rare sonnets of divers noblemen and gentlemen: printed for T. Newman, 1591, 4to. This Astrophel and Stella, a collection of 108 sonnets, and 11 songs, is annexed to the Arcadia, 1593, and all subsequent editions; to which are, likewise, subjoin'd several other pieces of poetry under the general title of "Sonets," several of which appear'd in Constables Diana, 1594; together with a sort of masque or shew exhibited to Q. Elizabeth in Wansteed garden. Two other poems, by sir Philip, may be found in Davisons Poetical rapsody, 1602. "He also," according to Wood, "turn'd the psalms of David into English verse," which were in MS. in the library of the earl of Pembroke at Wilton, left thereunto by his sister Mary countess of Pembroke. A copy, at least, is in Trinity-college, Cambridge. Another was purchase'd by captain Alexander Dalrymple from the library of doctor Taylour. [Author's note: From Donnes poem "upon the translation of the psalmes by sir P. Sidney and the countess of Pembroke his sister, it would seem that the performance had been executed in conjunction. See the edition of 1635, p. 366.] Ben Jonsons censure of Sidney was, that he "did not keep a decorum in making every one speak as well as himself." Puttenham, however, reckons him, along with "maister Challener, and that other gentleman who wrate the late shepheardes callender," as the best "for eglogue and pastorall poesie." he dye'd, of a wound receive'd in the battle of Zutphen, on the 16th of October 1586, and was inter'd on the 16th of February following in St. Pauls cathedral, with universal lamentation.