« PreviousContinue »
which is not yet left, although it be a great exa pence of time, and worthy reprehension. For the nobility, gentlemen, and merchantmen, especially at great meetings, do sit commonly till two or three of the clock at afternoon, so that with many it is an hard matter to rise from the table to go to evening prayer, and return from thence to come time enough to supper. For my part, I am persuaded that the purpose of the Normans, at the first, was to reduce the ancient Roman order in feeding once in the day, and toward the evening, as I have read and noted.
The above extract, from the curious information it contains, could not well have been shortened; but its length precludes my giving a specimen from either of the other contributors. What would our forefathers think of dinners begun at six and eight o'clock, and protracted to beyond midnight!
The Chronicles compiled by Fabian, Hall, Grafton, and Holinshed, produced a considerable revolution in the state of popular knowledge. Prior to the appearance of these elaborate and voluminous compilations, the history of England was shut up from the general reader in the Latin narratives of the monkish annalists. And though small portions of English history are contained in the Polychronicon, and in the Chronicles of England, they are so interwoven with fable, as to be often of little real utility. Fabian, indeed, retains thé romantic origin of the Britons; and even Holinshed's work commences with a fabulous narrative, by Harrison, though different from that of his early predecessors. But with Holinshed fable dies; the historians and chroniclers subsequent to him, call our attention to accounts which, for the most part, are proper subjects for authentic and rational history.
SIR PHILIP SIDNEY,
Or Sydney, son of sir Henry Sidnes, by Mary his wife, eldest daughter of John Dudley, duke of Northumberland, was born in 1554, at Penshurst in Kent. His father being lord president of Wales, he was sent to school at Shrewsbury, in the vicinity, and afterwards entered, at the age of 12 or 13, the College of Christ-church, Oxford. Quitting the university in 1572, he soon after commenced his travels, though only 18 years old ; and in France, Charles IX. ib said to have been so struck with his merit, that he made hiin one of the gentlemen of his chamber. This, however, was justly thought to be an act of treacherous favour in that prince, with a view to decoy admiral Coligni and luis adherents to Paris, at the king of Nararse's wedding, when the proVOL. II,
testants thinking themselves secure by that marriage, were barbarously massacred on the 24th of August, 1572. At this awful juncture, sir Francis Walsingham being resident at Paris as ambassador from queen Elizabeth, Sidney, with many others, took refuge in his house. Leaving Paris soon after, he pursued his route through Germany and Italy, and' returned to England in 1575.
He was knighted in 1583; and some time after appointed governor of Flushing, one of the cautionary towns delivered by the Dutch to queen Elizabeth; and also general of the horse under his uncle Robert, earl of Leicester. His high merit and fame as a general in the Low Countries gained him the honour of being nominated, on the death of Stephen Batori, for the crown of Poland; but Elizabeth refused to aid him with her interest, impatient of the thought of losing him. His authority in the United Provinces became so powerful, that prospects calculated to excite and reward ambition opened before him; but to his glory be it spoken, his reason was accustomed to cast in the opposite scale his duties as a patriot and a man, and thus preserved the just equilibrium of his soul. He died in 1586, at the age of 32, from a wound he had received in the thigh, in a battle near Zutphen, in Gelderland.
After he had received his death-wound, being overcome with thirst from excessive bleeding, he called for drink, which was immediately brought him. At the moment he was lifting it to his mouth, a poor soldier was carried by, desperately wounded, who fixed his eyes eagerly upon the bottle. Sidney observing this, instantly delivered it to him, with these words-" Thy necessity is yet greater than mine."
Sir Philip Sidney was regarded by his cotemporaries with enthusiastic admiration. His valour, his generosity and nobleness of soul, his warm humanity, which prompted him to relieve the distressed, not to mention his intellectual polish and superiority, interested and attached all hearts. So deep was the sorrow for his untimely fate, that many months after his death, it was thought unbecoming for any gentleman of quality to appear at court or in the city, in any light or gaudy apparel.
As an author, he is remembered chiefly by his Arcadia, a pastoral.Romance, which was kritten about the year 1580; and may be said