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SIDNEY's estimate of poetry heralded such poetic achievement as the world had only once or twice witnessed. What Sidney outlined, Spenser and Shakespeare executed, though not always in the precise forms which he himself would have approved. In this essay he appears as a link between the soundest theory of ancient times and the romantic production of the modern era, as a humanist actuated by ethical convictions, as a man of affairs discharging the function of the scholar with the imaginative insight of the poet. To assist in placing the student of English literature at the point of view from which he can rightly judge of the merits and relations of Sidney's immortal disquisition is the object of the present editor's labors.
In modernizing the spelling and punctuation of the text, I have been guided by the principles which have been well expressed by Dr. Edwin A. Abbott, in the Preface to his edition of Bacon's Essays, pp. iii-iv : “As regards spelling, the principle adopted in the following pages is this : whatever quotations or extracts are made for critical or antiquarian purposes are printed with the old spelling, but the Essays themselves are placed on the same footing as the Bible and Shakespeare ; and, as being not for an age but for all ages, they are spelt with the spelling of this age. Still less scruple has been felt in departing from the old punctuation ; it has no right to be considered Bacon's ; it often makes absolute nonsense of a passage ; it sometimes produces ambiguities that may well cause perplexities even to intelligent readers; and its retention can only be valuable to archæologists as showing how little importance should be. attached to the commas and colons scattered at random through their pages by the Elizabethan compositors.”
My obligations to various scholars will be found recorded in their proper places in the Notes; but I take pleasure in bringing together, in the order of their citation, the names of Dr. J. A. H. Murray of Oxford, Mr. Ralph O. Williams of New Haven, Prof. T. F. Crane of Cornell University, Prof. Daniel G. Brinton of the University of Pennsylvania, Prof. Bernadotte Perrin of Adelbert University, and Prof. Thomas D. Goodell of Yale University,
A. S. C. NEW HAVEN, July 4, 1890.
1. SKETCH OF SIDNEY'S LIFE.
(Adapted from the Chronicle in Arber's edition.)
PHILIP SIDNEY “ was son of Sir Henry Sidney by the Lady Mary his wife, eldest daughter of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland; was born, as 'tis supposed, at Penhurst in Kent, 29 November, 1554, and had his Christian name given to him by his father from King Philip, then lately married to Queen Mary” (Wood, Athena Oxonienses). He was the eldest of three sons and four daughters. Philip Sidney and Fulke Greville, both of the same age (nine years), and who became friends for life, enter Shrewsbury School on the same day, Oct. 17, 1564. Fulke Greville thus testifies of his schoolfellow : “Of whose youth I will report no other wonder but thus, that though I lived with him, and knew him from a child, yet I never knew him other than a man; with such staidness of mind, lovely and familiar gravity, as carried grace and reverence above greater years. His talk ever of knowledge, and his very play tending to enrich his mind, so as even his teachers found something in him to observe and learn, above that which they had usually read or taught; which eminence by nature and industry made his worthy father style Sir Philip in my hearing (though I unseen) Lumen familiæ suæ" (the light of his family]. “While he was very young, he was sent to Christ Church to be improved in all sorts of learning ... where continuing till he was about 17 years of age
(Wood, Athena Oxonienses). This settlement at Oxford was made when