صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني



melancholy history we shall have occasion to contemplate hereafter.

Thomas Percy, earl of Northumberland, brother to that earl who had suffered death on account of the Northern rebellion ; — by his participation in which he had himself also incurred a fine, though afterwards remitted; — was naturally exposed at this juncture to vehement suspicions. After some examinations before the council, cause was found for his committal to the Tower; and here, according to the iniquitous practice of the age, he remained for a considerable time without being brought to trial. At length the public was informed that another prisoner on a like account having been put to the torture to force disclosures, had revealed matters against the earl of Northumberland amounting to treason ; on which account he had thought fit to anticipate the sentence of the law by shooting himself through the heart. That the earl was really the author of his own death was indeed proved before a coroner's jury by abundant and unexceptionable testimony; as well as by his deliberate precautions for making his lands descend to his son and his indignant declaration that the queen, on whom he bestowed a most opprobrious epithet, should never have his estate ;, though it may still bear a doubt whether a consciousness of guilt, despair of obtaining justice, or merely the misery of an indefinite captivity, were the motive of the rash act; but the catholics, actuated by the true spirit of party, added without scruple the death of this nobleman to the “ foul and midnight murders” perpetrated within these gloomy walls.


Meantime the opposition to popery, which had now become the reigning principle of English policy, was to be maintained on other ground and with other weapons than those with which an inquisitorial high commission, or a fierce system of penal enactments, had armed the hands of religious intolerance, political jealousy, or private animosity; and all the more generous and adventurous spirits prepared with alacrity to draw the sword in the noble cause of Belgian independence, against the united tyranny and bigotry of the detestable

Philip II.

The death of that patriot herd William prince of Orange by the hand of a fanatical assassin; had plunged his country in distress and dismay; and the States-general had again made an earnest tender of their sovereignty to Elizabeth. She once more declined it, from the same motives of caution and anxiety to avoid the imputation of ambitious encroachment on the rights of neighbouring princes which had formerly determined her. But more than ever aware how closely her own safety and welfare were connected with the successful resistance of these provinces, she now consented to send over an army to their succour, and to grant them supplies of money ; in consideration of which several cautionary towns were put into her hands.' Of these, Flushing was one; and Elizabeth gratified at once the protestant zeal of Philip Sidney and his aspirations after military glory, by appointing him its governor. It was in November 1585 that he took possession of his charge.

Meanwhile the earl of Leicester, whose haughty



and grasping spirit led him to covet distinction and authority in every line, was eagerly soliciting the supreme command of this important armament; and in spite of the general mediocrity of his talents and his very slight experience in the art of war, his partial mistress had the weakness to indulge him in this unreasonable and ill-advised pretension. The title of general of the queen's auxiliaries in Holland was conferred upon him, and with it a command over the whole English navy paramount to that of the lord-high-admiral himself.

He landed at Flushing; and was received first by its governor and afterwards by the states of Holland and Zealand with the highest honors; and with the most magnificent festivities which it was in their power to exhibit. A splendid band of youthful nobility followed in his train :-the foremost of them all was his stepson Robert earl of Essex, now in his 19th year ; who had already made his appearance at court and experienced from her majesty a reception which clearly progposticated, to such as were conversant in the

ways of the court, the height of favor to which he was predestined.

It was highly characteristic of the jealous haughtiness of Elizabeth's temper, that the extraordinary honors lavished by the States upon Leicester instantly awakened her utmost indignation. She regarded them as too high for any subject; even for him who enjoyed the first place in her royal favor, whom she had invested with an amplitude of authority quite unexampled, and who represented herself in the council of the States-general. She



expressed her anger in a tone which made both Leicester and the Belgians tremble; and the explanations and humble submissions of both parties were found scarcely sufficient to appease her. At the same time, the incapacity and misconduct of Leicester as a commander were daily becoming more conspicuous and more offensive in the eyes of the Dutch authorities; and the most serious evils would immediately have ensued, but for the prudence, the magnanimity, the conciliating behaviour and the strenuous exertions, by which his admirable nephew laboured unceasingly to remedy his vices and cover his deficiencies.

The brilliant valor of the English troops; and particularly of the young nobility and gentry who led them on, was conspicuous in every encounter ; but the want of a chief able to cope with that accomplished general the prince of Parma, precluded them from effecting any important object. Philip Sidney distinguished himself by a well-conducted surprise of the town of Axel; and received in reward, among a number of others, the honor of knighthood from the hands of his uncle. Afterwards, having made an attack with the horse under his command' on a reinforcement which the enemy was attempting to throw into Zutphen, a hot action ensued; in which though the advantage remained with the English, it was dearly purchased by the blood of their gallant leader, who received a shot above the knee, which after sixteen days of acute suffering brought his valuable life to its termination.

Thus perished at the early age of thirty-two sir



Philip Sidney; the pride and pattern of his time, the theme of song, the favorite of English story. The beautiful anecdote of his resigning to the dying soldier the draught of water with which he was about to quench his thirst as he rode faint and bleeding from the fatal field, is told to every child; and inspires a love and reverence for his name which never ceases to cling about the hearts of his countrymen. He is regarded as the most perfect example which English history affords of the preux Chevalier ; and is named in parallel with the spotless and fearless Bayard the glory of Frenchmen, whom he excelled in all the accomplishments of peace as much as the other exceeded him in the number and splendor of his military achievements.

The demonstrations of grief for his loss and the honours paid to his memory, went far beyond all former example ; and appeared to exceed what belongs to a private citizen. The court went into mourning for him; and his remains received a magnificent funeral in St. Paul's; the United Provinces having in vain requested permission to inter him at their own expense, with the promise that he should have as fair a tomb as any prince in Christendom. Elizabeth always remembered him with affection and regret.

Cambridge and Oxford published three volumes of “ Lachrymæ" on the melancholy event. Spenser in verse and Camden in prose, commemorated and deplored their friend and patron, A crowd of humbler contemporaries pressed emulously forward to offer up their mite of panegyric and lamentation; and it would be endless to enumerate the poets and other writers of later

« السابقةمتابعة »