1845 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Philip Sidney

Edward Farr, in Select Poetry chiefly devotional of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth (1845) xvi.



SIR PHILIP SIDNEY and the COUNTESS OF PEMBROKE were the offspring of Sir Henry Sidney, of Penshurst, in Kent. Sir Philip was one of the most celebrated characters of his times. His popularity was great both at home and abroad. In his youth he attended both the universities; and when his education was completed, he visited different foreign countries. He spent a year in Italy, and on his return he was taken into favour by Queen Elizabeth. In 1580, Sir Philip accompanied a military force sent from England to assist the people of the Netherlands in throwing off the yoke of Spain. During this expedition he lost his life in a skirmish near Zutphen.

In this selection Sir Philip Sidney is introduced, together with his sister the Countess of Pembroke, as the joint authors of "The Psalmes of David, translated into divers and sundry kindes of verse, more rare and excellent, for the method and varietie, than ever yet hath been done in English." Manuscript copies of this version of the Psalms of David are to be found in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and in the libraries of two or three private individuals. It is not certain which portions were written by Sir Philip and which by the countess; but the title-page of one of the MSS. in the Bodleian Library states that the version was "begun by the noble and learned gent, Sir Philip Sidney, Knt. and finished by the Right Honorable the Countess of Pembroke, his sister."