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the public a poem in thirteen books, entitled “Albion's England,” in which some of the historical incidents and legendary stories afterwards so ably worked up by Shakspere in his dramas are to be found. William Webbe publishes “A Discourse of English Poetry.” Edmund Spenser, in the month of June, receives a grant from government of three thousand and twenty-eight acres of land in the county of Cork, out of the confiscated estates of the Earl of Desmond (of which his friend, Sir Walter Raleigh, had also received twelve thousand acres some time before,) and is obliged to reside in the castle of Kilcolman, near Doneraile, one of the strongest fortresses of the rebel chief. Sir Philip Sidney, who had gone to the Netherlands in 1585, as governor of Flushing, and who is now assisting the persecuted protestants to resist the tyranny of the Spaniards, after showing great bravery in his capacity of general of the cavalry, and taking the town of Axel, encounters a detachment of the Spanish army at Zutphen, in the month of September, and receives a wound from which he expires on the nineteenth of October, in the thirty-third year of his age. It is here that an incident occurred which shows at once the true nobility of the man. As they were bearing him from the battle-field, parched with thirst from loss of blood and fatigue, he requested a drink of water, which was procured him. But as he was raising that best of all beverages to his lips, a poor mangled soldier was carried by, who fixed his glaring eyes with 'envy on the cup. “ Take it,” said the poet-general, who observed his anxious gaze; "thy necessity is yet greater than mine." The death of the truly-illustrious Sidney caused the harp of almost every poet to wail its threnody for his loss; and Elizabeth, who prized him much, causes his corpse to be removed to London, and honoured with a public funeral in St. Paul's cathedral. Sir Philip Sidney has left a name behind him, for every virtue and accomplishment, which will last as long as true manhood has an admirer on earth. William Howitt has depicted his character so ably in that delightful work of his called “Visits to Remarkable Places,” that I must quote the passage, merely remarking that if this little volume should fall into the hands of any one who can spare the money, I would really advise them to procure the book from which I now make the extract:
• The universal admiration that he won from his cotemporaries is one of the most curious cireumstances of the history of these times. The generous and affectionate enthusiasm with which he inspired both his own country and foreigners, has, perhaps, no parallel. The • admirable Crichton' is the only person who occurs to our minds as
presenting anything like the same universality of talents and accom. plishments; but Crichton was a meteor which blazed for a moment, and left only a name of wonder. Sir Philip still continues to be spoken of, by all genuine poets and men of high intellect, with much of the same affectionate honour that he received from his own age, • He approaches,' says Dr Aikin, ‘more nearly to the idea of a perfect knight, than any character of any age or nation.'
“ This perfection of character is shown by these particulars: that from his boyhood he was eager for the acquisition of all possible knowledge, – language, philosophy, poetry, every species of art and science were devoured by him ; yet he did not give himself up merely to the pursuit of knowledge ; he never became a mere bookworm,He was equally fond of field sports and manly exercises.
He was looked up to as the perfect model of a courtier, without the courtier's baseness of adulation. Elizabeth pronounced him the brightest jewel of her crown He was deemed the very mirror of knighthood. In the camp he was the ardent warrior; he was sent on foreign embassage of high importance, and proved himself a dexterous politician, There was a universality of talent and of taste about him that marked him as a most extraordinary man. His facility of amassing information, and putting on accomplishments, was marvellous. Yet he never seemed to have any mere worldly ambition. It was the pure love of glory that animated him; and, in striving for it, he never for a moment appeared capable of the common jealousies of emulation ; on the contrary, he was the friend, and the warm and beloved friend, of every one who
himself most distinguished. Sir Fulk Greville, afterwards Lord Brooke, had it inscribed on his monument, as his peculiar glory, that he was THE FRIEND OF SIR PHILIP SIDNEY. He was the friend of Spenser, Dyer, Raleigh, Ben Jonson, Sir Henry and Sir Edward Wotton, the learned Herbert Languet, and indeed of all the finest spirits of his age; yet it was, after all, less by the brilliancy of his intellect than by the warmth of his heart, that he won so singularly on the admiration of all men. The grand secret of his unprecedented popularity lay in the nobility of his nature. Nothing could be more delightful than the high, unworldly, and incorruptible character of his mind. It was this ardent, sunny, and unselfish disposition, which was so beautiful in all his family relations, His father, Sir Henry Sidney, him. self one of the noblest characters in history, says of him, in a letter to his second son, Robert Sidney, “Follow the advice of your most loving brother, who in loving you is comparable with me, or exceed. . eth me. Imitate his virtues, exercises, studies, and actions.
He is a rare ornament of his age; the very formula that all well disposed young gentlemen of our court do form their manners and life by. in truth, I speak it, without flattery of him or myself. HE HATH THB MOST VIRTUES THAT I EVER FOUND IN ANY MAN.'
“ What a proud testimony from a father to a son ! But the same admirable affection constantly displayed itself towards his brother and sister. His letters to his brother Robert are full of the most delightfully gay, yet loving and wise spirit. Writing to him while on his travels, he declared, -what he invariably proved by his conduct,' 'There is nothing I spend so pleaseth me as that which is for you. If ever I have ability, you will find it; if not, yet shall not any brother liviog be better beloved than you of me.'
“ His tender attachment to his sister, the celebrated Countess of Pembroke, is known to all the world. It was to Wilton that he betook himself during his temporary absence from court, on account of his difference with the insolent Earl of Oxford, to write his · Arcadia.' It was to her that he dedicated it, calling it • Pembroke's Arcadia.' It was to her that he sent it, sheet by sheet, when he was not present with her to read it to her; living in her approbation of it, and seeking no other fame from it, for it was not published till after his death.
“ Such were the noble and endearing qualities that made Sir Philip Sidney the idol of his timcs in foreign countries as well as in his own; that induced Poland to offer its crown; that covered his hearse with the laments of the poetical and learned amongst his cotemporariesthree volumes of such funeral tributes being published in varions languages, on the occasion of his death; the two great universities striving which should outdo the other in the number and intensity of its melodious tears.'
“ The death of Sir Philip Sidney, from a wound reeeived on the field of Zutphen, has become celebrated by the circumstance continually referred to as an example of the most heroic magnanimitygiving up the water, for which he had earnestly implored, to a dying soldier near-saying, "He has more need of it than 1. But the whole of his behaviour, from that time to the hour of his death, twenty-five days afterwards, was equally characteristic,-being spent amongst his friends, in the exercise of the most exemplary patience and sweetness of temper, and in the discussion of such solemn topics as the near view of eternity naturally brings before the spirit of the dying Christian."
The stage progresses wonderfully. According to Secretary Walsingham, there are now two hundred players in and about London. Christopher Marlow has introduced blank-verse, for the first time, on the public stage, in his play of
Tamburlaine the Great ;" Norton and Sackville having, as we have seen, previously used it in dramatic composition before the birth of Shakspere, and ascoigne and Kinwelmarsh within two years after his birth ; but the “Gorboduc" of the former was merely represented before Elizabeth and her court; and the “ Jocasta" of the latter at Gray's Inn. So that it will be seen, whatever faults may belong to Marlow, he is nevertheless entitled to respect, as one of the earliest patriarchs of the English drama. Michael Drayton thus sings of him.
• Next Marlow, bathed in the Thespian springs,
Had in him those brave translunary things
The ill-treatment of the unfortunate Queen of Scots, who is still kept a close prisoner, moves a few chivalrous souls, urged on by crafty Jesuits, to engage in a conspiracy against the life of Elizabeth, and for the liberation of her victim. The wily Walsingham, however, would cheat the very devil, and has copies of all their letters before they reach the parties to whom they are dispatched. A picture made for Mary, to show her the features of her deliverers (for such they hope to be,) is copied before it reaches her, and shown by wily Walsingham to Elizabeth.
Of course, the designs of the conspirators are frustrated, and the law takes its course upon them. And an awfully cruel course it is; one that makes ones flesh creep to hear of it. It is September, and fourteen men are to suffer, and truly they are “a romantic and chivalrous band of catholics." Å priest, named Ballard, is the arch-conspirator, a brave fellow too, who under better circumstances would have been a better man. Anthony Babington, a wealthy, beautiful, and accomplished gentleman, is one of the victims; and Chidiock Titchbourne is another. I wish I had space here to give the reader the letter that this last-named victim wrote to his “ most loving wife alive,"—his "sweet cheek," as he tenderly calls her, the night previous to his execution; or the speech that he made to the crowd who had assembled to witness his inhuman sufferings; but the following “ Verses made by Chidiock Tichboure of himself, in the Tower, the night before he suffered death,” are too good to be omitted :
“ My prime of youth is but a frost of cares,
My feast of joy is but a dish of pain,
And all iny goods is but vain hope of gain.
The fruit is dead, and yet the leaves are green :
I saw the world, and yet I have not seen ;
I loukt for life, and yet it was a shade :
And now I die and now I am but made.
There is something very brave in this unfortunate young
man spending the last night of his life, on this nineteenth of September, in writing to her from whom he was now parted for ever, and in calmly writing verses like the foregoing. And his fate is the more pitiable from the fact, that though he was privy to the plot, he had always disapproved of the assassination of the queen, but he would not disclose it to ruin his dear friend. The whole history of the plot is a “romance of real iife," as well as the fate of Tichbourne. But I must content myself with merely quoting the account of the execution, which I do from the Chronicle of Sir Richard Baxter :
"The twentieth day of the month, the first seven in St. Giles Fields, where they were wont to meet, were hanged, cut down instantly, their privy members cut off, and themselves yet living and beholding it, were in cruel manner bowelled and quartered; namely, Ballard, Babington, Savage, who, the rope breaking, fell down from the gibbet, and was presently taken by the hangman, his priey members cut off, and bowelled, while he was perfectly living), Barnwell, Tichburn, Tilney, and Abbington. The next day, the other seren were drawn to the same place, and executed in the same fashion, but in a more gentle manner, by the queen's special charye, who detested the former cruelty; for they were to hang till they were quite dead, Salisbury first, then Dun, then Jones, Chernock, Traverse, Gage, and with them Hierome Bellamy, who had concealed Babington after he was proclaimed traitor (whose brother being guilty of the same fact, had strangled himself in prison)."
The Queen of Scots is now tried, on the 11th of October, as one of the conspirators, at Fotheringay Castle, in Northamptonshire, where she is prisoner. The court adjourns to the Star-chamber, at Westminster, and on the twentyfifth of the same month she is condemned. Both houses of parliament petition that the sentence of death may be put in execution immediately. The judgment is proclaimed by sound of trumpet in the metropolis, the bells ring for four-and-twenty hours, bonfires blaze in the streets, and there is a scene of hellish joy; and all because the head of a fair and frail female, whose unlucky chance it is, by accident of birth, to be heir to the English crown, is shortly to roll on the scaffold. Taken on the whole, monarchy has been a most unhappy institution for those who were unfortunate enough to belong to the blood. royal.
On the twenty-third of June, the lords of the Starchamber, that arbitrary court, confirm the former laws, authorising the minions of power to search booksellers' shops and printing-offices, to discover heretical books, and imprison the offenders. For our freedom of the press was not won in a day, but required the bravest efforts of the