43 Pages

Chap. III. The Last Years of Chivalry in England

Ifpoetry nourished the love of valorous knighthood, learning was equally its £I'iend; and when Spenser addressed Sidney as the noble and vir:. tuous gentleman, and most worthy of all titles of learning and chivalry, he spoke the feeling of his age, that the accomplishments of the mind were best displayed in martial demeanour. At

the birth of Sidney, as Ben Jonson says, all the muses met. In reading the Arcadia, it is impossible to separate the author from the work, or to think that he has not poured forth all those imaginings of his £ancy v.hich his heart had marked for its own. He has pourtrayed knights and damsels valiant and gentle, placing all their fond aspirations of happiness in a rural life, and despising the pageantry of courts for the deep harmonies of nature. But Sidney's mind was chivalric as well as romantic; and he was so fond of reverting to the fabled ages of his country, that it was his intention to turn all the stories of the Arcadia into the admired legends of Arthur and his knights. ". To modern taste the Arcadia of Sir Philip Sidney presents no charms: yet, by a singular contradiction, the author, who was the personification of his book, is regarded as the model of perfection.