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I banish every sullen face
Let all who love their Margot smilePerpetual sunshine I command,
Believing melancholy guile." To humour her, a herald page
Blew three times on a silver horn; And all cried “ Viva Marguerite!
The Rose, the Rose without a thorn!” She, laughing, bowing, stroked her hawk,
And bade them saddle for the chase, Trying her crossbow lock-serene
Her candid brow, her happy face.
As full of gambols as a fawn-
Child of the sunshine and the dawn.
His pen to write a canzonet, Lean languidly against the vase,
Over the Psyche grandly set ! Even the Chancellor grew glad
When she would call him to the dance, Or with a blossom, playful tossed,
Awoke him from a moody trance. Her laugh was good as book and bell
To scare all evil things away; Whene'er she came, she seemed to chase
One balf the shadows from the day. A living carmine dyed her cheek
Her bosom was the sunniest snowA lily, summer-tinged, her neck
Ivory white her swelling brow. Oh, she was beautiful !-her skin
Was soft as rose-leaves-fie! her hand Was white as April's purest cloud
She was fit queen for Dian's band ! Blue eyes she had, so soft, and filled
With such a swimming, dancing light, They shed a glory when they beamed,
Starlike and excellently bright. A Venice tiring, edged with pearls,
Arched o'er her forehead like a wreath ;What lapidary's angled stone
Could match the eyes that shone beneath ? Just now-eyes sparkling with fun
She bade them shower the flower-leaves o'er her; A Flora crowned, she stood to hear
Old Ronsard touch his mandagoraThe Sleep Song, that he made to lull
His mistress, whom his serenade Had woke too rudely-sweet it was
To hear a lute so deftly played. And now this Juno, still in bud,
Proud gathers up her satin train, Laughing
to scorn old Coligny Telling a Valois how to reign ; Maulevrier passing through an arch
Of flowers still dripping with the dew, Whispers, “ The Admiral will know more
By next year's St. Bartholomero."
SIR HENRY SYDNEY'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY.
An interesting piece of autobiography, written by Sir Henry Sydney towards the close of his life, is in course of publication in “ The Ulster Journal of Archæology;" and I do not hesitate, in drawing the attention of the reader to this instructive memoir, as it will shortly appear, a full-length, self-drawn sketch of one of the most eminent of English worthies of the Elizabethan age, to anticipate its conclusion, by giving them the hitherto unedited closing passages of a rare instance of personal narratives of that memorable era.
The autobiographer filled, for many years, and at one and the same time, the exalted posts of Lord-Deputy of Ireland and President of Wales. His graphic retrospect is valuable, in comprising a political account of his government of the former country, and is especially so, because, being addressed to the secretary of state, Sir Francis Walsingham, at the time the writer's son, the illustrious Sir Philip Sydney, was contracted in marriage to the minister's heiress, the narrative was, in consequence of this new bond of friendship between the two aged and experienced statesmen, dictated in thorough confidence; and, accordingly, reveals the secret history of Anglo-Irish politics during the writer's critical and eventful government. Yet, however serviceable this document may be historically, I incline to set value on it more for its private than public revelations, since this singular autobiography lays bare, in candid and touching terms, the griefs and distresses of a very excellent Englishman, who, although raised far above the vulgar nobility of his day by birth, connexions, inherited riches, accumulated offices and honours, and by his rare constitution of body and mind, yet-though he had long enjoyed the two highest provincial employments under the crown-exhibits himself as by no means set above adversity and necessity, such as, though not of ordinary sort, were still more galling to a man whose generous heart swelled with the pride and spirit of a Sydney
The writer's immediate object was to explain to the father of his son's affianced bride the causes of his inability to make a befitting settlement on this son, his eldest, and one who nobly merited a lordly competence. He had the mortifying duty of confessing that, notwithstanding his own father had bequeathed to him Penshurst Place, with its broad lands, and many another rich manor; and that, though three successive sovereigns had loaded him with high offices, his fine private fortune and princely emoluments had proved insufficient; that he had plunged so deeply into debt as that he, who still governed a third part of the realm, was reduced to the humiliating apprehension that he might be cast into the Queen's Bench prison. His lofty mind was manifestly already imprisoned ; he was, as he says, “ trembling,” for his proud heart was depressed and almost broken. In such a strait, it was little solace to him to reflect that his distress was caused, not indeed by selfish waste, but an over-liberal
public expenditure. All his income had been too little to pay for the royal style in which he had kept his house of presidency at Ludlow, and his viceregal court in the old, ruinous, castle-rack-revenue of Dublin. It availed him nothing that in past palmy days he had outshone in halberdiers, horses, and other paraphernalia his predecessors' pomp, or had lavished his money in repairing and rebuilding numerous fortresses, churches, and bridges. These were prince's works, requiring a prince's purse. But, although such reflections must have but faintly alleviated the remorse of this good and generous governor, we can forgive an improvidence so magnificent and public spirited. His claims to favourable consideration must have been well comprehended when he wrote, and it is with no surprise that we find the noble Sydney, a veteran pillar of the state, supplicating the throne he had so long and strongly supported for some solid acknowledgment of his services. His narrative, indeed, may be regarded as a memorial framed with the object of setting forth his claims
upon the favour of the crown, and in another original document he sets down a financial title to remuneration by recounting several matters in which he had largely increased the revenue. In reading the former, our senses of admiration and regret for the author will be increased by knowing that, in the words of his secretary, “ In the queen's service he spent his youth, his whole life, sold his lands, and consumed much of his patrimony, to the hinderance of his posterity, without any great recompense or reward.”
The marriage of “ the young knight, Sir Philip,” who had but just received his spurs, being a main “ argument” (as the classics say), let us slightly notice the bridegroom's antecedents. He was born at Penshurst, in 1554, so that he was eight-and-twenty when he married. When at school, and but twelve years old, his father addressed him a letter of counsel as to conduct, so much resembling, in some passages, the admirable advice Polonius gives to Laertes, that one would almost believe the bard of Avon had read the letter. He had been affianced to a daughter of Lord Burghley's, and, when he married Mistress Walsingham, was in love with another young lady. How, then, was it that Secretary Walsingham obtained the honour" (as Naunton justly terms it) of becoming his father-in-law ?
The dark shade concealing truth regarding the breaking off of the match between him and the “Stella" of his poetry, Lady Penelope Devereux, daughter of the chivalrous first Earl of Essex, is not at all enlightened by any revelation on his father's part. At so early an age as fifteen, his promise of future celebrity induced Sir William Cecil, the secretary of state (afterwards Lord Burghley), to consent that young Sydney should be betrothed to Anne Cecil, the powerful minister's daughter; and his father assures the secretary that, if he, the writer, "might have the greatest prince's daughter in Christendom for him," the projected marriage should still come off. However, the lady's father was not equally eager, as appears by an unedited letter, yet extant ; and, in the mean while, the superior graces of Stella, sister of the handsome favourite, so inflamed the heart of the youthful poet, as to disincline him to a match that would have yielded no other charms than political influence. Sonnet after sonnet having expressed his earnest passion for the lovely Devereux, who is described as a woman of exquisite beauty, on a
grand and splendid scale, the fair lady began to regard him-wasted and woe begone as he was, the mere “ruins," as he says, “ of her conquest”with tender pity; and, presently, he gloried in an acknowledged return of love. Her heart, naturally good and guarded, though afterwards betrayed to evil, was at the same time surrendered conditionally,
His only, while he virtuous courses takes. No one can believe that a breach of this condition broke off a match sanctioned by nature's most cherished feelings. On the contrary, the proposed union seems to have been prevented by our autobiographer at the time of the miserable death of the lady's father, who died deeply indebted, and almost disgraced by the failure of his enterprise for the recovery of Ulster to English dominion. The earl, while lying hopelessly on his death-bed in Dublin Castle, and having frequently, as this narrative states, “most lovingly and earnestly desired to see the young courtier, then affianced to the lady of his heart, he went to him with all the speed he could make, but found him dead at his coming." The visit of the illustrious Sydney to Ireland under these painful, but interesting, circumstances, is unnoticed by both his and Essex’s biographers.
Our memorialist was perhaps over-ambitious in seeking an alliance for his son, whose unusual qualities form, nevertheless, an intelligible excuse for his father's idolatry. Sir Henry's secretary wrote to him on that occasion, frankly reprehending him for not keeping faith in the matter of his son's marriage. “ All the best sort of the lords of England,” says the secretary,
wish well to the children of the late Earl of Essex, and do expect what will become of the treaty between Mr. Philip and my Lady Penelope. Truly, I must say to your lordship, the breaking off from this match, if the default be on your part, will turn to more dishonour than can be repaired with any other marriage.” The fair and hapless victim of this breach of promise was divorced (as is well known) from the man her guardians wedded her to, and being married by a former lover during the lifetime of her husband, the affair, then almost without precedent, caused so much outcry, that she and her new lord, the admirable and distinguished Earl of Devonshire, lived but a short time under the infamy cast on them by the over-puritanical temper of the times. Such was the fate of Sydney's Stella. The impassioned lover, poet, and paragon of chivalry survived his marriage but a short time. The heroic circumstances of his death are well known. His genius was such, men used to exclaim, “He seems born for whatever he goes
about to do!" His fame as a generous patron of merit bad spread through Europe ; he has, indeed, no nobler trait of character than that he was “ the common rendezvous of worth in his time.” He perished in the summer of his youth, “having trod," as it has been beautifully expressed, “from the cradle to the grave amid incense and flowers, and died in a dream of glory!”
His widow, Frances Walsingham, - heiress of the renowned minister, and an accomplished and, as Horace of Strawberry Hill styles her, “remarkable woman,” had a different destiny to that of the unfortunate lady who had won her husband's love. On his death, an elegy was dedicated to her by a deep sympathiser, the feeling author of "The Faerie Queene,” representing, with more imagination than good taste,
Stella as chief mourner! Not very long after, the nearest sufferer consoled herself by espousing Essex, the magnificent brother of that mourner, who, meanwhile, though Lady Rich, was consolable in the society of the first object of her affections. Truly, it was natural and well that these loving and lovable beings should devolve their hearts on some one or two, after their irreparable loss. Yet, somehow or other, they irresistibly remind us of a witty passage in a letter from that “paragon of the age” to Queen Elizabeth, in which, quoting a Celtic caione, or mourning song, chanted over a dead body, he says:
" The Irish are wont to call over a corpse, 'He was rich !-he was fair! Why did he die so cruelly ? »
After the death of her second spouse, on the scaffold, the Countess of Essex united herself to a young nobleman, said to resemble her former husbands in high qualities and personal beauty — the Earl of St. Albans and Clanricarde, "a handsome, brave Irishman,” who had, reluctantly, been brought forward to fill the part of royal favourite, vacant by his predecessor's execution. The daughter of the great Protestant minister even embraced her third husband's religion, having become a Romanist; and appears to have lived long and happily in the wilds of Connaught, since a visitor, the wit, lawyer, and poet, Sir John Davys, reports that he had “found the Earl of Clanricarde, and his wife, the Countess of Essex, living in very honourable style, and his lady very well contented, and everything as well served as ever I saw in England.”
Let us now take up the memoir from its beginning. I should have premised that the original is in the State Paper Office, entitled, in Lord Burghley's handwriting, “Sir Henrie Sydney to Sir Francis Walsingham, 1583:"
“ DEARE SIR,-I have understood of late that couldnes is thought in me in proceedinge in the matter of mariage of our children. In trouth (Sir) it is not so, nor so shall it ever be founde ; for compremittinge the consideration of the articles to the Earles named by you, and to the Earle of Huntington, I most willingly agree, and protest I joy in the allyanse with all my harte. But syns, by your letters of the third of January, to my great discomfort, I fynde there is no hope of relief of her Majestie for my decayed estate in her Highnes service (for synce you give it over, I will never make more meanes, but say spes et fortuna valete), I am the more careful to keep myself able, by sale of parte of that which is lefte, to ransom me out of the servitude I lyve in for my debts ; for as I knowe, Sir, that it is the vertue which is, or that you suppose is, in my sonne, that you made choise of him for your daughter, refusinge happly far greater and farre ritcher matches than he, so was my confidence great, that by your good meane, I might have obtayned some smale reasonable sute of her Majestie ; and therefore I nothing regarded any present gayne, for if I had, I might have receaved a great some of money for my good will of my sonne's mariage, greatlie to the relief of my private bytinge necessitie. For truelie (Sir) I respect nothing by provision or prevencion of that which may come hereafter ;-as this ;-I am not so unlustie but that I may be so imployed, as I have occasion to sell lande to redeeme myself out of prison, nor yet am I so oulde, nor my wief so healthie, but that she may die, and I marrye agayne and