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He stayed till I caused Mopsa bid him do something upon his horse; which no sooner said, than with a kind rather of quick gesture than show of violence, you might see him come towards me, beating the ground in so due time as no dancer can observe better measure. If you remember the ship we saw once when the sea went high upon the coast of Argos, so went the beast. But he, as if centaur like he had been one piece with the horse, was no more moved than one with the going of his own legs; and in effect so did he command him as his own limbs: for though he had both spurs and wand, they seemed rather marks of sovereignty than instruments of punishment, his hand and leg, with most pleasing grace, commanding without threatening, and rather remembering than


chastising; at least if sometimes he did, it was so stolen as neither our eyes could discern it, nor the horse with any change did complain of it he ever going so just with the horse, either forthright or turning, that it seemed as he borrowed the horse's body, so he lent the horse his mind. In the turning one might perceive the bridle hand somewhat gently stir; but indeed so gently, as it did rather distil virtue, than use violence. Himself, which methinks is strange, showing at one instant both steadiness and nimbleness; sometimes making him turn close to the ground like a cat, when scratchingly she wheels about after a mouse: sometimes with a little move rising before; now like a raven leaping from ridge to ridge, then like one of Dametas' kids bound over the hillocks; and all so done as neither the lusty kind showed any roughness, nor the easier any idleness, but still like a well obeyed master, whose beck is enough for a discipline, ever concluding each thing he did with his face to me-wards, as if thence came not only the beginning, but the ending of his motions.

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It would be fatiguing to unravel the plot of the Arcadia, intricate and remote from the possibilities of life as those of the Greek and Italian romances upon which it is modelled, and pestered with episodes, as the solar system with comets. The characters excite no very lively interest, but are appropriate to their chivalric and pastoral surroundings. The book can never again be popular, but neither can it ever be forgotten; and a judicious abridgment might even now be a literary success. Most of the poetry would in such a case disappear, as too palpably artificial and mechanical, although it is impossible not to admire the intellectual energy and command of language

which could produce so much really good writing to order, frequently in interesting though unsuccessful experiments, probably made under the influence of Gabriel Harvey, in the introduction of classical metres into English, and the naturalisation of foreign forms like the terza rima and the sestine. Sometimes a genuine blossom of song is enccuntered among the artificial flowers:

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Get hence, fond Grief, the canker of
the mind:

Farewell complaint, the miser's1 only

Away, vain Cares, by which few men
do find

Their sought for treasure.

You helpless sighs, blow out your
breath to nought:

Fears, drown yourselves for woe your
cause is wasted :

Thought, think to end; too long the
fruit of thought

My mind hath tasted.

But thou, sure Hope, tickle my leap-
ing heart:

Comfort, step thou in place of wonted

Fore-felt Desire, begin to savour part
Of coming gladness.

Let voice of sighs into clear music


Eyes, let your tears with gazing be

now mended:

Instead of Thought, true Pleasure be

And never ended.

The genuineness of the feeling in Astrophel and Stella has been a subject of discussion, but Mr. Symonds and Mr. Courthope, who represent opposite views on this question, agree that the sonnets

must have been written after the marriage of Penelope Devereux, the object
of Sidney's too Platonic attachment, to Lord Rich, and consequently must
have an autobiographic basis. This seems sufficiently clear from internal
evidence. Sonnet 33, for example, manifestly expresses Sidney's remorse for
having failed to win the lady's hand while it was yet to be won :

I might !—unhappy now!-O me, I might
And then would not, or could not, see my bliss ;

Till now, wrapt in a most infernal night,

I find how heavenly day, wretch! I did miss.
Heart, rend thyself, thou dost thyself but right;

1 Wretch.

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No lovely Paris made thy Helen his :

No force, no fraud, robbed thee of thy delight,
Nor fortune of thy fortune author is.
But to myself myself did give the blow.
While too much wit, forsooth, so troubled me,
That I respects for both our sakes must show :
And yet could not by rising morn foresee
How fair a day was near: O punished eyes,
That I had been more foolish, or more wise!


Sonnet 87, with its speech of duty, affords conclusive proof of Stella having been a married, or at least a betrothed, woman:

When I was forced from Stella ever dear

Stella, food of my thoughts, heart of my heart-
Stella, whose eyes make all my tempests clear--
By Stella's laws of duty to depart;

Alas! I found that she with me did smart;

I saw that tears did in her eyes appear;
I saw that sighs her sweetest lips did part,
And her sad words my sadded sense did hear.
For me, I wept to see pearls scattered so;
I sighed her sighs, and wailed for her woe;
Yet swam in joy, such love in her was seen.
Thus while the effect most bitter was to me,

And nothing than the cause more sweet could be,
I had been vexed, if vexed I had not been.

If any doubt could remain, it should be sufficient to weigh the poetical Sidney's

merit of the Stella sonnets, addressed

to the heroine of a real history, against the mere elegance of the verse of the Arcadia, composed to comply with a convention. In Astrophel and Stella Sidney appears for the first time as a true poet, and far in advance of any predecessor in his own line. It does not thence follow that his passion was of a very intense character. It was genuine while it lasted, but gratification would soon have killed it, and even disappointment could not long keep it alive. It never forbids his helping himself out with an appropriation from a French or Italian poet, or turning

Initial Letter from Sidney's "Arcadia," 1590

aside to mere ingenuities, like the following exceedingly pretty but exceedingly

palpable conceit:

Morpheus, the lively son of deadly Sleep,
Witness of life to them that living die,

A prophet oft, and oft an history,

A poet eke, as humours fly or creep;

Since thou in me so sure a power dost keep,

Sonnets to

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That never I with closed-up sense do lie,
But by thy work my Stella I descry,

Teaching blind eyes both how to smile and weep;
Vouchsafe, of all acquaintance, this to tell,
Whence hast thou ivory, rubies, pearl and gold,
To show her skin, lips, teeth and head so well?
Fool! answers he, no Indes such treasures hold;
But from thy heart, while my sire charmeth thee,
Sweet Stella's image do I steal to me.

Sidney at his best, it will be admitted, is in the sonnet no unworthy

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Form of Sid ney's Sonnets

Map and View of the Town of Zutphen, the scene of Sidney's death

forerunner of Shakespeare. Had he bent himself to acclimatise the Petrarchan form of the sonnet he might have been a precursor of Milton also. It will be noticed that the form of sonnet he employs frequently approaches that of Spenser, who begins each quatrain with a rhyme to the last line of the quatrain preceding, in attempting a compromise between the Petrarchan sonnet and the characteristically English succession of three quatrains concluding with a couplet. He clearly recognised the superiority of the Petrarchan form, and would probably have adopted it if he had been able to overcome its difficulties. Yet it is hardly a matter for regret that he shrunk from the attempt; for while the Petrarchan form is far more artistic, and fitter for the expression of a single grave or graceful thought, the more rapid flow of the English sonnet often adapts it better for the expression of simple but earnest feeling.

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