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Sidney was one of the brightest ornaments of the court of Queen Elizabeth.
His prose romance, Arcadia, was the favourite light reading of the court ladies, and he himself was the most popular man of his day. He distinguished himself as a soldier in the war in the Netherlands, and died of a wound received at the battle of Zutphen.
A STAG-HUNT. From Arcadia.
THEN went they together abroad, the good Kalander 1 entertaining them with pleasant discoursing-how well he loved the sport of hunting when he was a young man, how much in the comparison thereof he disdained all chamber-delights, that the sun (how great a journey soever he had to make) could never prevent him with earliness, nor the moon, with her sober countenance, dissuade him from watching till midnight for the deers feeding. O, said he, you will never live to my age, without you keep yourself in breath with exercise, and in heart with joyfulness; too much thinking doth consume the spirits; and oft it falls out, that, while one thinks too much of his doing, he leaves to do the effect of his thinking. Then spared he not to remember, how much Arcadia was changed since his youth ; activity and goodfellowship being nothing in the price it was then held in ; but, according to the nature of the old-growing world, still worse and worse. Then would he tell them stories of such gallants as he had known; and so, with pleasant company, beguiled the time's haste, and shortened the way's length, till they came to the side of the wood, where the hounds were in couples, staying their coming, but with a whining accent craving liberty ; many of them in colour and marks so resembling, that it shewed they were of one kind. The huntsmen handsomely attired in their green liveries, as though they were children of summer, with staves in their hands to beat the guiltless earth, when the hounds were at a fault; and with horns about their necks, to sound an alarm upon a silly fugitive: the hounds were straight uncoupled, and ere long the stag thought it better to trust to the nimbleness of his feet than to the slender fortification of his lodging ; but even his feet betrayed him ; for, howsoever they went, they themselves uttered themselves to the scent of their enemies, who, one taking it of another, and sometimes believing the wind's advertisements, sometimes the view of-their faithful counsellors—the huntsmen, with open mouths, then denounced war, when the war was already begun. Their cry being composed of so well-sorted mouths, that any man would perceive therein some kind of proportion, but the skilful woodmen did find a music. Then delight and variety of opinion drew the horsemen sundry ways, yet cheering their hounds with voice and horn, kept still as it were together. The wood seemed to conspire with them against his own citizens, dispersing their noise through all his quarters; and even the nymph Echo left to bewail the loss of Narcissus, and became a hunter. But the stag was in the end so hotly pursued, that, leaving his flight, he was driven to make courage of despair; and so turning his head, made the hounds, with change of speech, to testify that he was at a bay: as if from hot pursuit of their enemy, they were suddenly come to a parley.
1 Ovid relates that the nymph Echo, having deceived Hera, the wife of Zeus, the supreme god of the Greeks, was changed by her into an echo, a being without any control over its tongue. In this state she fell in love with a youth named Narcissus, and, her love not being returned, she pined away in grief till nothing remained of her but her voice.
RICHARD HOOKER: 1553-1600.
Hooker was a clergyman of the English Church, distinguished for his learn
ing and piety. His book on The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, a defence of the church against the Puritans, is a master-piece of reasoning and eloquence, and is one of our greatest works.
OF LAW. From Ecclesiastical Polity.
The stateliness of houses, the goodliness of trees, when we behold them, delighteth the eye; but that foundation which beareth up the one, that root which ministereth unto the other nourishment and life, is in the bosom of the earth concealed; and if there be at any time occasion to search into it, such labour is then more necessary than pleasant, both to them which undertake it, and for the lookers on. In like manner the use and benefit of good laws; all that live under them may enjoy with delight and comfort, albeit the grounds and first original causes from whence they have sprung be unknown, as to the greatest part of men they are. But when they who withdraw their obedience pretend that the laws which they should obey are corrupt and vicious, for better examination of their quality, it behoveth the very foundation and root, the highest well-spring and fountain of them, to be discovered. Which, because we are not oftentimes accustomed to do, when we do it, the pains we take are more needful a great deal than acceptable; and the matters which we handle seem, by reason of newness (till the mind grow better acquainted with them), dark, intricate, and unfamiliar.
And because the point about which we strive is the quality of our laws, our first entrance hereinto cannot better be made than with consideration of the nature of law in general.
All things that are have some operation not violent or casual. Neither doth anything ever begin to exercise the same without some fore-conceived end for which it worketh. And the end which it worketh for is not obtained, unless the work be also fit to obtain it by. For unto every end every operation will not serve. That which doth assign unto each thing the kind, that which doth moderate the force and power, that which doth appoint the form and measure of working, the same we term a Law. So that no certain end could ever be obtained unless the actions whereby it is obtained
were regular, that is to say, made suitable, fit, and correspondent unto their end by some canon, rule, or law.
Moses, in describing the work of creation, attributeth speech unto God: “God said, let there be light; let there be a firmament; let the waters under the heaven be gathered together into one place ; let the earth bring forth ; let there be lights in the firmament of heaven. Was this only the intent of Moses, to signify the infinite greatness of God's power by the easiness of His accomplishing such effects, without travail, pain, or labour ? Surely it seemeth that Moses had herein besides this a further purpose, namely, first to teach that God did not work as a necessary, but a voluntary Agent, intending beforehand and decreeing with Himself that which did outwardly proceed from Him ; secondly, to shew that God did then institute a law natural to be observed by creatures, and therefore, according to the manner of laws, the institution thereof is described as being established by solemn injunction. His commanding those things to be which are, and to be in such sort as they are, to keep that tenure and course which they do, importeth the establishment of nature's law. This world's first creation, and the preservation since of things created, what is it but only so far forth a manifestation by execution, what the eternal law of God is concerning things natural ? And as it cometh to pass in a kingdom rightly ordered, that after a law is once published it presently takes effect far and wide, all states framing themselves thereunto; even so let us think it fareth in the natural course of the world : since the time that God did first proclaim the edicts of His law upon it, heaven and earth have hearkened unto His voice, and their labour hath been to do His will. “He made a law for the rain, he gave his decree unto the sea, that the waters should not pass his commandment. Now, if nature should intermit her course, and leave altogether, though it were but for a while, the observation of her own laws; if those principal and mother elements of the world, whereof all things in this lower world are made, should lose the qualities which now they have ; if the frame of that heavenly arch erected over our heads should loosen and dissolve itself; if celestial spheres should forget their wonted motions, and by irregular volubilities turn themselves any way as it might happen ; if the prince of the lights of heaven, which now as a giant doth run its unwearied course, should, as it were through a languishing faintness, begin to stand and to rest himself ; if the moon should wander from her beaten way; the times and seasons of the year blend themselves by disordered and confused mixture ; the winds breathe out their last gasp ; the clouds yield no rain; the earth be defeated of heavenly influence; the fruits of the earth pine away as children at the withered breasts of their mother, no longer able to yield them relief; what would become of man himself, whom these things now do all serve ? See we not plainly that obedience of creatures unto the law of nature is the stay of the whole world ?
Of Law there can be no less acknowledged than that her seat is the bosom of God; her voice the harmony of the world. All things in heaven and earth do her homage ; the very least as feeling her care, and the greatest as not exempted from her power. Both angels and men, and creatures of what condition soever, though each in different sort and manner, yet all with uniform consent, admiring her as the mother of their peace and joy.
SIR WALTER RALEIGH: 1552-1618.
Raleigh's early years were spent in foreign wars. In 1580 he gained the
favour of Queen Elizabeth by his prompt suppression of a rebellion in Ireland. He conducted several important nautical expeditions, some of which were designed for the colonisation of Virginia. On the accession of James I., he was unjustly condemned for high treason, and confined in the Tower for fourteen years, during which time he wrote his famous History of the World. Having designed an expedition to South America, he was allowed to proceed upon it. It proved a failure, and Raleigh on his return was beheaded.
THE BATTLE OF THERMOPYLÆ. From History of the World.
After such time as Xerxes had transported the army over the Hellespont, and landed in Thrace-leaving the description of his passage alongst that coast, and how the river of Lissus was drunk dry by his multitudes, and the lake near to Pissyrus by his cattle, with other accidents in his marches towards Greece I will speak of the encounters he had, and the shameful and incredible overthrows which he received. As first at Thermopylæ, a narrow passage of half an acre of ground, lying between the mountains which divide Thessaly from Greece, where sometime the Phocians had raised a wall with gates, which was then for the most part