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CHARACTER OF SIR PHILIP SIDNEY.
a man ; an accomplished and high-souled man; he had among his contemporary countrymen neither equal nor competitor. Such was the verdict in his own times not of flatterers only, or friends, but of England, of Europe ; such is the title of merit under which the historian may enroll him, with confidence and with complacency, among the illustrious few whose names and example still serve to kindle in the bosom of youth the animating glow of virtuous emulation a.
Leicester never appears in an amiable light except in connexion with his nephew ; for whom his affection was not only sincere but ardent. A few extracts from a letter written by him to sir Thomas Heneage, captain of the queen's guards, giving an account of the action in which Sidney received his mortal wound, will illustrate this remark; while it records the gallant exploits of several of his companions in
After relating that sir Philip had gone out with a party to intercept a convoy of the enemy's, he adds; “ Many of our horses were hurt and killed, among which was my nephew's own. and changed to another, and would needs to the charge again ; and once passed those musqueteers, where he received a sore wound upon his thigh, three' fingers above his knee, the bone broken quite in pieces; but for which chance, God did send such a day as I think was never many years seen, so few against so many." The earl then enumerates the other commanders and distinguished persons engaged in the action. Colonel Norris, the earl of
• Sce Zouch's Life of sir Philip Sidney.
CHARACTER OF SIR PHILIP SIDNEY.
Essex, sir Thomas Perrot ; "and my unfortunate Philip, with sir William Russell, and divers gentlemen ; and not one hurt but only my nephew. They killed four of their enemy's chief leaders and carried the valiant count Hannibal Gonzaga away with them upon a horse; also took captain George Cressier, the principal soldier of the camp and captain of all the Albanese. My lord Willoughby overthrew him at the first encounter, man and horse. The gentleman did acknowledge it himself. There is not a properer gentleman in the world towards than this lord Willoughby is ; but I can hardly praise one more than another, they all did so well; yet every one had his horse killed or hurt. And it was thought very strange that sir William Stanley with three hundred of his men should pass, in spite of so many musquets, , such troops of horse three several times, making them remove their ground ; and to return with no more loss than he did. Albeit, I must say it, it was too much loss for me; for this young man, he was my greatest comfort, next her majesty, of all the world ; and if I could buy his life with all I have, to my shirt I would give it. How God will dispose of him I know not; but fear I must needs, greatly, the worst ; the blow in so dangerous a place and so great; yet did I never hear of any man that did abide the dressing and setting of his bones better than he did; and he was carried afterwards in my barge to Arnheim ; and I hear this day, he is still of good heart and comforteth all about him as much as may be. God of his mercy grant me his life! which I cannot but doubt of greatly.
DEATH OF SIR HENRY SIDNEY.
I was abroad that time in the field giving some order to supply that business, which did endure almost two hours in continual fight; and meeting Philip coming upon his horseback, not a little to my grief. But I would you had stood by to hear his most loyal speeches to her majesty; his constant mind to the cause; his loving care over me, and his most resolute determination for death ; not one jot appalled for his blow, which is the most grievous I ever saw with such a bullet ; riding so a long mile and a half upon his horse, ere he came to the camp; not ceasing to speak still of her majesty, being glad if his hurt and death might any way honor her majesty; for hers he was whilst he lived, and God's he was sure to be if he died. Prayed all men to think the cause was as well her majesty's as the country's; and not to be discouraged; “ for you have seen such success as may encourage us all; and this my hurt is the ordinance of God by the hap of the war.” Well, I pray God, if it be his will, save me his life; even as well for her majesty's service sake, as for mine own comfort."
Sir Henry Sidney was spared the anguish of following such a son to the grave; having himself quitted the scene a few months before. It was in 1578 that he received orders to resign the government of Ireland, having become obnoxious to the gentlemen of the English pale by his rigor in levying certain assessments for the maintenance of troops and the expenses of his own household, which they affirmed to be illegally imposed. There is every reason to
CHARACTER OF SIR HENRY SIDNEY.
believe that their complaint was well founded; but Elizabeth, refusing as usual to allow her prerogative to be touched, imprisoned several Irish lawyers who came to England to appeal against the tax; and sir Henry being able to prove that he had royal Warrant for what he had done, was finally exonerated by the privy-council from all the charges which had been preferred against him ; and retained to the last his office of lord president of Wales.
The sound judgement of sir Henry Sidney taught him, that his near connexion with the earl of Leicester had its dangers as well as its advan. tages; and observing the turn for show and expense with which it served to inspire the younger members of his family, he would frequently enjoin them to consider more whose sons than whose nephews they were.” In fact he was not able to
fortunes for them ;-the offices he held were higher in dignity than emolument; his spirit was noble and munificent; and the following among other anecdotes may serve to show that he himself was not averse to a certain degree of parade ; at least on particular occasions. The queen, standing once at a window of her palace at Hampton-court, saw a gentleman approach escorted by two hundred attendants on horseback; and turning to her courtiers, she asked with some surprise, who this might be? But on being informed that it was sir Henry Sidney, her lord deputy of Ireland and president of Wales, she answered; “ And he may well do it, for he has two of the best offices in my kingdom.”
The following letter, addressed to sir Henry as
CHARACTER OF SIR HENRY SIDNEY.
lord president of Wales, discloses an additional trait of his character, which cannot fail to recommend him still more to the esteem of a humane and en"lightened age ;-his reluctance, namely, to lend his concurrence to the measures of religious persecution which the queen and her bishops now urged upon all persons in authority as their incumbent duty.
Sir Francis Walsingham to sir H. Sidney lord
president of Wales.
• My very good lord;
My lords of late calling here to remembrance the commission that was more than a year ago given out to your lordship and certain others for the reformation of the recusants and obstinate persons in religion, within Wales and the marches thereof, marvelled
very much that in all this time they have heard of nothing done by you and the rest; and truly, my lord, the necessity of this time requiring so greatly to have these kind of men diligently and sharply proceeded against, there will here a very hard construction be made, I fear me, of you, to retain with
the said commission so long, doing no good therein. Of late now I received your lordship's letter touching such persons as you think meet to have the custody and oversight of Montgomery Castle, by which it appeareth you have begun, in your present journeys in Wales, to do some what in causes of religion ; but having a special commission for that purpose, in which are named special and very apt persons to join with you in those matters, it will be thought strange to my lords