« PredošláPokračovať »
plation, entertain the mind, neglect or destroy the boddy; others that satisfy the senses, distast the mind, perhaps hurt it: but such of our pleasures have their worth only from our vanity; but this, a Person soe qualified leaves noe part of us unsatisfied, nor any thing in relation to this world to be wished to compleat our happinesse; weare it not then much better to use that prudence by which they pretend to moderate theire affections, only in making choice of such a person to be the object of them, as may absolutely deserve their utmost intentions ?
Besides what can reasonably be brought to fortify this opinion, if we examine what men have bin free or possessed with this passion, we shall find few that have not tasted of it, unlesse they be ordinary and vulgar spirits, or such as by the vanity of ambition or some other furious passion or vice (which love abhorres) transported even unto madnesse, which neverthelesse hathe not defended some of them from being made slaves to Venus. And amongst the heathens, the Poets whoe weare theare wisest men, and in their fables comprehended all the misteryes of phylosophy, exempted not theire gods from this passion. And amongst Christians, I know but tow cautions that are put by men of understanding, which are, that love to the creature be not of such a degree as to take us from the worship and love of God; th' other that we defend ourselves from unlawfull desires, both of which I grant, and yet have as much as I desire; for that same love, for which God created and beautified the world, is the only means for us to returne unto him, who is the fountain of our being: and through the imperfections of our owne natures being not able to see or comprehend his greatnesse and goodnesse otherwise then by his works, must make us from visible things to raise our thoughts up to him. And for unlawful desires, they are not more contrary unto religion then to love, which delights only in beauty and virtue, hates the deformity of vice, and of that brutish lust which distinguisheth not of honour or justice. He cannot be said to love a woman, that would buy his owne pleasure with hir dishonour or crime; he only loves himself. Besides, the love which I defend being in a great degree spirituall, cannot desire any thing that is vicious; vice destroys the principall object of love (which is the mind) and the benefite that is reaped by such pleasures, can only satisfy the senses, which thearefore love not only desires not, but hates.
But the greatest reason why we should apply ourselves to oppose the birth and growth of this passion, is the infinite paines and sorrowes that it causeth, how many are made miserable for one that attaines to happinesse by it; and even thoes are first exposed to all miseries. before they obtaine theare desire. And truly to this I have very littell to answeare; only this, that as love is the cause of the greatest ills that men suffer, it is the cause alsoe of the most perfect pleasures, consisting only in extreams, and as many are made miserable by VOL. XV.-No. 83.
love, none are made happy without love. It is the most active instrument of our natures, and causeth the most good or hurt to us. But though a quiet indifferent state, voide of great griefes or joyes, weare to be chosen rather then this slippery precipice, from whence we are soe likely to fall into misery, discourses upon it weare vaine; for our weak reason, which should be our guide, is carried away captive by the power of beauty and virtue, against which blindnesse only and stupidity are able to make any defence.
Theare is another sort of people whoe are great pretenders to wisdome, whoe say that the objects of our desires should be such as satisfy the mind, and that if any such can be found, too great a valeu cannot be put upon it, but deny that can be found amongst women; they are only light creatures, fit to satisfy the senses, maintain our species, and quensh our naturall desires, and have not such mindes as can give delight to a wise man.
How great an ignorance is this! Socrates learnt his phylosophy from Pictinna: though shee receaved hir first principles from him, shee grew soe excellent as to be able to teach hir master, whoe was able to teach all the rest of the world. And Pericles, to whome all Greece gave the preference for wisdome, confessed he knew nothing but what he had learnt from the faire Aspasia; both of which weare as excellent for their beauty as understanding: and whoe is it that doth not know that every age hath produced some very excellent in thoes things for which men most prize themselves, and yet theis grave fooles despise them?
It is true that weomen have not thoes helps from studdy and education as men have, but in the natural powers of the mind are noe ways inferior. They exempt themselves from the trouble of thoes knotty sciences that serve only to deceave fooles, which furnish the tongue with wordes, but tend nothing to the framing of the understanding ; and instead of this they have a pleasantnesse of wit in conversation very much beyond men, and a well composednesse of judgment, which, if they did not deserve our love, would move our envy and unto whatsoever they apply themselves, either learning, businesse, domestick or publike governement, shew themselves at the least equall to our sex. I should be glad if I could except military business, naturally disliking any thing of violence amongst them; but even in that many have bin excellent.
But above all, the softnesse, gentlenesse, and sweetnesse that is in them, doth justly move our love and admiration, whereas mens minds are as ruggid and harsh as theire faces; fit for boisterous action by the strength and hardinesse of theire boddyes, but incapable of giving pleasure: and even in that quality which men soe much prize in themselves, which is courage, how many of them hath been faine to take example in generous and bold resolutions from theire wives, daughters, or mistresses. Epicharis suffered torture
better than any of forty the most eminent senators of Rome, of divers kindred of the chiefe of the soldiery, concealing by hir constancy the conspiracy which the weaknesse of the others revealed. Seneca was glad to receave encouragement and example to dye from Paulina, Petus from Arria in his extremity, and the famous Brutus often from Porcia: besides infinite number of exemples of virtue, by which that sweet sexe shewes they can, when it is needfull, excell ours in gallantry as well as beauty, and gives us sufficient reason to conclude that they cannot only mitigate the troubles of our life, which wee through a turbelent illnesse of nature create to one another, but by theire examples mollify our hardinesse by pleasures we receave from them, recompense the mischief our harsh tempers expose us unto, and that they only are the worthy objects of our affections, it being as evident that we owe our pleasures to them, as our birth; they are only to ease our griefes and cares, and which is more beneficiall unto us, soften that rigid fiercenesse of mind which is our crime and plague, the instruments of our owne and others miseryes, by the sweet allurements of pleasure that we receave from them; let not any man through a fond and impudent presumption in his owne merit despise that sex.
[The family of Sidney is described as being of rare nobleness, both in blood and personal distinction. From Brian de l'Isle, one of King John's evil councillors, had descended the title of de l'Isle through the illustrious John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, and thence in the female line by the Greys of Groby and the Dudleys of evil memory to John Earl of Northumberland, father of the ill-starred Lord Guilford Dudley, husband of Lady Jane Grey, and of Robert the favourite of Elizabeth, created by her Earl of Leicester. He died without acknowledged legitimate issue. The Earldom of Leicester was revived in the line of the Sidneys, the first of whom came with Henry the Second from Anjou, and whose distinction before their ennobling had culminated in Sir William Sidney, a famous knight and commander under Henry the Eighth, and tutor, chamberlain, and steward of the household to Edward the Sixth from his birth to his corronation. His son, Henry Sidney, was brought up as companion of the young King, who died in his arms. He was reputed at the King's accession, 'for his virtues, fine composition of body, gallantry and liveliness of spirit, the completest young gentleman of the Court.' He married Lady Mary Dudley, eldest daughter of John Earl of Warwick, afterwards Earl of Northumberland.
But for all his services-and no statesman and soldier of the glorious reign of Elizabeth performed worthier for the Queen and country-Sir Henry Sidney, the greatest, wisest, and justest Lord Deputy Ireland ever had before or since, died a knight. His eldest son was the star of chivalry, the paragon of courtesy, and all virtues and accomplishments-Sir Philip Sidney, who, while serving under his unworthy uncle, the Queen's favourite, died of his wounds received in the battle of Zutphen on the 16th of October 1586. The only daughter who survived him was Mary, married to Henry Earl of Pembroke, to whom her brother dedicated his Arcadia, and on whom Ben Jonson wrote his famous epitaph :-
Underneath this sable hearse
Sidney's sister, Pembroke's mother;
Sir Henry died in the same year as his most famous son Philip, on the 6th of May 1586, and his wife, of great nobility and large ingenuous spirit,' only survived him till the 11th of August following. On the death of father and brother, the honours of Warwick and Leicester centred in Robert Sidney, Sir Henry's second son, most worthy of such parentage. He fought in the battle in which his brother fell, and with such bravery that he was knighted on the field. He shared with Sir Francis Vere the glory of commanding the English auxiliaries sent in 1597 to aid Prince Maurice of Nassau against the Spaniards. He was the close friend of the unfortunate Earl of Essex during the reign of Elizabeth, of all sovereigns the best served, yet the most niggard of honours, except to her favourites, and to them the most profuse of favours to the most unworthy. Sir Robert Sidney, like his father, never rose beyond knighthood, but after James's accession honours were showered upon him; he was created Baron Sidney of Penshurst in May 1603, Viscount de l'Isle three years later, Knight of the Garter in 1616, and two years after Earl of Leicester. The first Earl Robert married Barbara Gammage, heiress of John Gammage of Coitty, Rhogied and Llanvihangel in the county of Glamorgan, in whose veins met the blood of one of the Norman followers of the Conqueror and the princes of Glamorgan. She was the mother of the builder of the house in Leicester Fields.
Up to the reign of Elizabeth, the Sidneys, like most of the nobility, had lived in the City. Sidney House was on the west side of the Old Bailey; but Sir Henry occupied Baynard's Castle, where his first son died, and where Robert was born. Robert Sidney approved himself worthy of a name so singularly illustrious by the virtues and distinctions of those who have borne it. A student of exemplary diligence at Oxford, he was as exemplary a soldier under his father at Flushing. In 1616 he was made a Knight of the Bath, and as Viscount de l'Isle he sat in the Parliaments of the 18th and 21st of James and the 1st of Charles. In 1618 he married Dorothy Percy, eldest daughter of that eccentric but stately and studious Peer, Henry, Earl of Northumberland, who during his fifteen years' confinement in the Tower, under James's groundless suspicion of complicity in the Gunpowder Plot, shared the prison-studies of Raleigh and of his friend and travelling companion, Harriot, the naturalist, and Hughes and Warner, the mathematicians, popularly known as 'the Duke's three Magi,' just as he was as 'Henry the Wizard.' He had been the fellow-soldier of Sir Robert and Philip Sidney in the Low Countries, and the union of his eldest daughter to a friend so worthy and noble must have been as great a satisfaction to him as the secret marriage of his younger and lighter-minded Lucy to James Hay, Lord Viscount Doncaster, afterwards Earl of Carlisle (one of James's minions, though one of the least worthless), was a mortification. The sisters loved each other, though the Lady Dorothy was incomparably the nobler and purer of the two. But the sisters' husbands never were and never could have been friends.
With his wife's brother Algernon, afterwards the tenth Earl of Northumberland, whom Clarendon calls the greatest and proudest peer of his time, Lord Leicester lived on terms of lifelong intimacy and affection. Through the two troubled Parliaments of 1621 and 1624, wherein was foreshadowed the collision of parliamentary power and royal prerogative which in the next reign led to civil war and the scaffold of Whitehall, he steered that middle course which commended itself to his clear calm judgment. His temperament was cautious to a fault. Lord Clarendon, after admitting his great parts and his honour and fidelity to the King, repre
sents him as rather a speculative than a practical man, who expected a greater certitude in the consultation of business than the business of this world is capable of, and complains of the staggering and irresolution of his nature. In truth his reason, like that of his brother-in-law, the Earl of Northumberland, was altogether on the side of law, and Parliament as the framer of law, against prerogative and the King as its interpreter, though his aversion to extremes in men and measures, and his love of retirement and study, prevented him from asserting his principles with the same distinctness, and carrying them out in practice with the same determination, as Northumberland.
In 1632 Lord Leicester (who had succeeded to the title in 1620) was appointed ambassador extraordinary to the King of Denmark, in which mission James Howell was his secretary. Its object was partly ceremonial, to condole with the King of Denmark and the Princes of Holstein on the death of Sophia, Queen Dowager of Denmark and mother of Anne, Queen of James the First. But the ambassador was charged besides to look after the interest of King Charles and his sister Elizabeth and wife of the Elector Palatine, in the Queen Dowager's dowry, accumulations of which were reputed to have made her, says Howell, the richest Queen in Christendom. He embarked at Margate on board one of his Majesty's ships commanded by Sir John Penington, in October, taking with him his two eldest boys Philip and Algernon, lads of ten and twelve. His design was to train these boys early to the knowledge of men, of business, and of foreign languages and countries.
Thus it appears that Algernon Sidney was educated under the watchful inspection of his father, who took him with him in his embassies, to Denmark in 1632, and to France in 1636. When Lord Leicester was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, he gave his son Algernon a commission in his own regiment of horse, and on several occasions he proved that he possessed all the courage and gallantry of his race. When the war broke out between the King and the Parliament in 1643, Algernon and his brother returned to England, and they were ordered to join the King at Oxford, but the Parliament, having had information of this, sent to intercept them on their landing, and placed them under guard. The King, who supposed this step had been taken through their own connivance, was much offended; and the event seemed to prove that his suspicions were just, for they both joined the army of the Parliament. In 1644, Algernon was appointed by the Earl of Manchester to the command of a troop of horse in his own regiment; and in the following year Fairfax promoted him to the colonelcy of a regiment of horse, with whom he was in several actions, and he was appointed governor of Chichester. In 1646 his brother being appointed Lieutenant Governor and Commander of the Forces in Ireland, he accompanied him thither and was made Lieutenant-General of Cavalry and Governor of Dublin. When the High Court of Justice was formed in 1648 for the trial of the King, he was nominated a member; it is certain, however, that he was not present either when sentence was pronounced, or the warrant for its execution signed.
On the establishment of the Protectorate, from being a zealous republican he became a violent enemy to Cromwell after he had made himself Protector, and he therefore retired from public affairs, and it was then in his quiet retreat in Leicester House, Leicester Square, that he wrote his Treatise on Love above given.
It is almost needless to say that this noble and chivalrous lover was true and constant to the last!
Some years after writing this Treatise on Love, in 1659, he was appointed with Sir Robert Honeywood and Bulstrode Whitelocke Commissioners to the Sound to mediate a peace between the Kings of Sweden and Denmark.
While he was at the Court of Denmark M. Terlon, the French ambassador, had the confidence to tear out of the University album this verse which the Colonel when it was presented to him had written: