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The remainder is also worth quotation
• What may it be, that even in heavenly place
That busy archers his sharp arrows tries?
them, if so it seem good unto thee, vex me with more and more punishment: but, O Lord, let never their wickedness have such a hand, but that I may carry a pure mind in a pure body. To the taste of to-daya taste which rejoices in flimsy ‘railway volumes' and sensation-melodramas—the elaborate polish of the ‘Arcadia,' and its Platonic purity, may, perhaps, be unacceptable; but the scholar and the poet will never weary of its exquisite moral fancies and its beautiful descriptive passages. Here is a pastoral picture' which Walpole may not have been able to relish, but which has a true Kentish colouring about it, and was probably suggested by the neighbourhood of Penshurst itself
There were hills which garnished their proud heights with stately trees; humble vallies whose base estate scemed comforted with the refreshing of silver rivers; meadows enamelled with all sorts of eye-pleasing flowers; thickets which, being lined with most pleasant shade, were witnessed so too, by the cheerful disposition of many well-tuned birds; each pasture stored with sheep feeding with soher security, while the pretty lambs with bleating oratory craved the dams' comfort; here a shepherd's boy piping as though he should never be old, there a young shepherdess knitting, and withal singing, and it seemed that her voice comforted ber hands to work, and her hands kept time to her voice-music. As for the houses of the country (for many houses came under their eye) they were all scattered, no two being one by the other, and yet not so far off as that it barred mutual succour; a show, as it were, of an accompanionable solitariness, and of a civil wilderness.'
Of Sidney's poetry I may not speak with an unqualified praise. Too often, indeed, it walks upon stilts; it deals too liberally in conceits and euphuisms. Nevertheless, his Sonnets are full of fine thought and tender feeling. The beautiful opening of one of the most fanciful has been rendered familiar to English readers by Wordsworth’s adaptation
To fill up this cursory notice of Sir Philip's life, we need but glance at the poet's love-history. W still a youth he grew enamoured of the beautiful Lady Rich, whom in the fashion of his age he celebrated in his ' Astrophel and Stella,' and whose graces inspired his Sonnets.' But his suit proved unsuccessful, and his maturer fancy then turned to the fair daughter of Elizabeth's secretary, Sir Francis Walsingham. The lady became his wife, and brought him an only daughter. After Sir Philip Sidney's death she married the Earl of Essex, but accepted from Spenser the dedication of ' Astrophel,' the elegy in which he commemorated her first husband.
Next to the pleasure of looking upon the faces of those we love is that of visiting their favourite haunts - the trees in whose shadows they reposed- the bowers in which they beguiled the time with fairy fancies -- the scenes of their joys and pleasures, hopes, griefs, and fears—the hallowed ground which genius or affection has rendered ever sacred. To the field of Hastings,—the ruins of Kenilworth,—the venerable halls of Newstead, the modest house in the High Street of Stratford-uponAvon,--how many a pilgrim wends his way in reverent love, and having gazed upon the 'cherished shrine,' returns rejoicing and exultant in the knowledge of a new and closer approach to the poet he has loved or the hero he has mourned! The scenes which a great man has dwelt among, and preferred, during his earthly career, have always seemed to me the fullest and most eloquent of his relics--material developments
. With how sad steps, ( Moon, thou climb'st
the skies, How silently, and with how sad a face !"
of his genius, silent revelations of his innermost soul, pregnant commentaries upon his life, his deeds, his thoughts. It is not enough to read Shakspeare in the closet, -you must study him on the banks of the Avon. You best understand the characters and feelings of the Elizabethan worthies when seated in the dim quaint oriel, or treading the 'banquet-hall deserted' of an old Elizabethan mansion. And so having gossiped of Sidney and his . Arcadia'-his eventful life, and hero's death-let us betake ourselves to his birthplace, to the home of his earlier years—to Penshurst.
And a pleasanter pilgrimage no spring or summer day can afford; for Penshurst is one of the fairest of the many fair halls of Kent, and brings, as it were, the splendour and poetical materialism of the Elizabethan age within an hour of London. Even so: in one hour you may fly from the din of those grinding wheels of labour which ever revolve in the crowded city, to the green glades of an old park, and the quaint stillness of an old mansion, the old-world solitude of a sequestered Kentish village. From the surging and seething life of the capital to the rook-haunted beeches of Saccharissa's Walk, and the murmurous depths of Barbara Gamage's Bower, is almost as great a transition as from the days of locomotives and Armstrong guns back to those of doublets and trunks, Bilboa swords, and heavy arquebusses; but it is a transition which is eminently good for the jaded fancy and wearied intellect. Neither in the future nor the present is it well that a man should wholly live: both heart and brain demand that he should sometimes seek the eloquent shadows of the past.
Let us, then, suppose ourselves arrived at the Penshurst station on the South-Eastern railway. We have quitted the train, we have yielded up our tickets, and have set forward on our pilgrimage into fresh fields and pastures new. At first we breast a tolerably steep hill, whose grassy slopes on either hand dip far away into pleasant valleys,
which again, in the distance, penetrate into the bosom of well-wooded hills. Having accomplished the ascent we turn to the right, and wind through a thorough Kentish lane, deep-banked and leaf-shadowed, into the village of Penshurst -nearly two miles, we believe, from the railway station. But for the pedestrian pilgrim' it will be best to turn aside at a small step-stile, near a well-looking cottage on the left, and opposite to Mr. Wells's house of Redleaf,' and so to strike across the park in a tolerably straight line to the grand old house.* Having examined the Home of the Sidneys he may afterwards sum up his excursion with a visit to Penshurst church, and the quaint, quiet village.
The park is somewhat deficient in timber, but has, nevertheless, a fair abundance of fine old trees, and many“ sunny spots of greenery for poets made. The views from several points are extremely beautiful; and when a setting sun lights up with crimson glories the fantastic proportions of the Place,' the landscape assumes an aspect of peculiar interest. The park ascends from the house in a northerly direction, and sends out on either hand a number of small dells to lose themselves in the green depths of the distant hills. Hop-clusters hang upon the slopes, save where the green sward teems with sheep · feeding in sober security,' or lies
enamelled with all sorts of eyepleasing flowers. Besides these general beauties the park has special attractions for artist, poet, and scholar in its memorials of genius and virtue, love and loveliness. Assuredly, the pilgrim will press forward to the Sidney Oak• Thatstaller tree, which of a nut was set At his great birth, where all the Muses met.'
It stands in lonely grandeur, like some deserted king, near the dimpling waters of Lincup (or Lancup)
The house is shown to visitors on Mondays and Saturdays ; or, if the family be absent, daily. There is a neat inn opposite the railway station, and another (the Leicester Arms) in Penshurst village.
Wel. Its trunk is hollow, but its ago head still wear a triumplant crown of latiness. Ir thrre feet from the ground the girth is said to measure twenty-six feet. And thus it has grown
a stately oak, And in the beauty of its strength has too And flourisd, when its perishable part Hath moulder'd dust to dust.'- SOLIHEY.
It was upon the bark of Sidney's tree that Waller prepared to insorile his love for the Lady Dorothy Sidne!, the beauty whom he celebratul under the absurd name of Succhialissa
"Go, bor, and carve this passion on the bark On yonder tree, which stands the bacred mark Or noble Sidney's birth.'
The L y's Oak which Ben Jonson Sang of
• The ruddy Satyrs oft provoke The lighter Fauns to reach thy Lady's Oak
Then, the poet exclaims--
The plants admire,
low'd, They round about her into a bours crowd : Or if she walks, in even ranks they stand, Like some well-marshalld and obsequious
Perhaps the finest thing in the park is the long avenue of limes, extending from the terrace eastward, which, I think, has been several times sketched by Lee and others of our landscape-masters. Very noble, indeed, it is; a grand natural arcade, or pillared aisle, of stateliest proportions, within whose silent shadows the gentle Sir Philip dreamed of well-foughten fields of chivalry, and the grave Algernon Sidney mused upon his Utopian commonwealth. • Are days of old familiar to thy mind, O reader? Hast thou let the midnight hour Pass unperceived, whilst thou in fancy lived With bigh-born beauties and enamoured chiefs Sharing their hopes, and with a breathless joy Whose expectation touch'd the verge of pain, · Following their dangerous fortunes?
If such love Hath ever thrill'd thy bosom), thou wilt tread, As with a pilgrim's reverential thoughts, The groves of Penshurst.'
And now, with the echo of Southey's graceful verse soft-ringing in our ears, we pass from the groves to the venerable · Place’or Castle' of Penshurst.* Next month we shall take the reader there with us.
* In old times it was called indifferently the Castle or the Place. Pencester, its early appellation, would seem to mean the camp on the hill;' Penshurst, the "wooded
was felled, we are told, in 1768. * Thy copse, tov, named of Gamage, thou hast
there, That never fails to serve the season'd deer,' named after Barbara Gamage, Countess of Leicester, is now reduced to a few decrepit limes, and would no longer tempt to its shades the * antler'd herd.' Time, moreover, has shorn much of the glory of the becches in Saccharissu's lluik, that once famous avenue where, as the Lady Dorothy mused in maiden meditation,' and 'fancy free,' the poet Waller pressed his unregarded suit upon her. Better audience, it seens, was given to his lays by other listeners• While in this park I sing, the list'ning drer Attend my passion, and forget to fear ; When to the beches I report my flame, They low their heads as if they felt the same.