Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/56

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41
SIDNEY, A.

commissioners, and by them sent up to London for safe custody. Whether this was intended by Sidney or no, it is certain that from this time he ardently attached himself to the Parliamentary cause. On the ioth of May 1644 he was made captain of horse in Manchester's army, under the Eastern Association. He was shortly afterwards made lieutenant-colonel, and charged at the head of his regiment at Marston Moor (and July), where he was wounded and rescued with difficulty. On the 2nd of April 1645 he was given the command of a cavalry regiment in Cromwell's division of Fairfax's army, was appointed governor of Chichester on ioth May, and in December was returned to parliament for Cardiff. In July 1646 he went to Ireland, where his brother was lord-lieutenant, and was made lieutenant-general of horse in that kingdom and governor of Dublin. Leaving London on 1st of February 1647, Sidney arrived at Cork on the 22nd. He was soon (8th April), however, recalled by a resolution of the House passed through the interest of Lord Inchiquin. On the 7th of May he received the thanks of the House of Commons. On the 13th of October 1648 he was made lieutenant of Dover castle, of which he had previously been appointed governor. He was at this time identified with the Independents as opposed to the Presbyterian party. He was nominated one of the com- missioners to try Charles I., but took no part in the trial, retiring to Penshurst until sentence was pronounced. That Sidney approved of the trial, though not of the sentence, there can, however, be little doubt, for in Copenhagen he publicly and vigorously expressed his concurrence. On the 15th of May 1649 he was a member of the committee for settling the succession and for regulating the election of future parliaments. Sidney lost the governorship of Dover, however, in March 1651, in conse- quence, apparently, of a quarrel with his officers. He then went to the Hague, where he quarrelled with Lord Oxford at play, and a duel was only prevented by their friends. He returned to England in the autumn, and henceforward took an active share in parliamentary work. On the 25th of November Sidney was elected on the council of state and was evidently greatly con- sidered. In the usurpation of Cromwell, however, he utterly re- fused all concurrence, nor would he leave his place in parliament except by force when Cromwell dispersed it on the 20th of April 1653. He immediately retired to Penshurst, where he was con- cerned chiefly with family affairs. In 1654 he again went to the Hague, and there became closely acquainted with De Witt. On his return he kept entirely aloof from public affairs, and it is to this period that the Essay on Love is ascribed.

Upon the restoration of the Long Parliament, in May 1659, Sidney again took his seat, and was placed on the council of state. He showed himself in this office especially anxious that the military power should be duly subordinated to the civil. In June he was appointed one of three commissioners to mediate for a peace between Denmark, supported by Holland, and Sweden. He was probably intended to watch the conduct of his colleague, Admiral Montagu (afterwards 1st earl of Sandwich), who was in command of the Baltic squadron. Of his character we have an interesting notice from Whitelocke, who refused to accompany him on the ground of his " overruling temper and height." Upon the conclusion of the treaty he went to Stockholm as plenipotentiary ; and in both capacities he behaved with resolution and address. When the restoration of Charles II. took place Sidney left Sweden, on the 28th of June 1660, bringing with him from the king of Sweden a rich present in testimony of the estimation in which he was held. Sidney went first to Copenhagen, and then, being doubtful of his reception by the English court, settled at Hamburg. From there he wrote a celebrated letter vindicating his conduct, which will be found in the Somers Tracts. He shortly afterwards left Hamburg, and passed through Germany by way of Venice to Rome. His stay there, however, was embittered by misunderstandings with his father and consequent straits for money. Five shillings a day, he says, served him and two men very well for meat, drink and firing. He devoted himself to the study of books, birds and trees, and speaks of his natural delight in solitude being largely in- creased. In 1663 he left Italy, passed through Switzerland, where he visited Ludlow, and came to Brussels in September, where his portrait was painted by van Egmondt; it is now at Penshurst. He had thoughts of joining the imperial service, and offered to transport from England a body of the old Commonwealth men; but this was refused by the English court. It is stated that the enmity against him was so great that now, as on other occasions, attempts were made to assassinate him. On the breaking out of the Dutch war, Sidney, who was at the Hague, urged an invasion of England, and shortly afterwards went to Paris, where he offered to raise a rebellion in England on receipt of 100,000 crowns. Unable, however, to come to terms with the French government, he once more went into retirement in 1666,— this time to the south of France. In August 1670 he was again in Paris, and Arlington proposed that he should receive a pension from Louis; Charles II. agreed, but insisted that Sidney should return to Languedoc. In illustration of his austere principles it is related that, Louis having taken a fancy to a horse belonging to him and insisting on possessing it, Sidney shot the animal, which, he said, " was born a free creature, had served a free man, and should not be mastered by a king of slaves." His father was now very ill, and after much difficulty Sidney obtained leave to come to England in the autumn of 1677. Lord Leicester died in November; and legal business connected with other portions of the succession detained Sidney from returning to France as he had intended. He soon became involved in political intrigue, joining, in general, the country party, and holding close communication with Barillon, the French ambassador. In the beginning of 1679 he stood for Guildford, and was warmly supported by William Penn, with whom he had long been in- timate, and to whom he is said (as is now thought, erroneously) to have afforded assistance in drawing up the constitution of Pennsylvania. He was defeated by court influence, and his petition to the House, complaining of an undue return, never came to a decision. His Letters to Henry Savile, written at this period, are of great interest. He was in Paris, apparently only for a short while, in November 1679. Into the prosecution of the Popish Plot Sidney threw himself warmly, and was among those who looked to Monmouth, rather than to Orange, to take the place of James in the succession, though he afterwards disclaimed all interest in such a question. He now stood for Bramber (Sussex), again with Penn's support, and a double return was made. He is reported on the ioth of August 1679 as being elected for Amersham (Buckingham) with Sir Roger Hill. When parliament met, however, in October 1680, his election was declared void. But now, under the idea that an alliance between Charles and Orange would be more hostile to English liberty than would the progress of the French arms, he acted with Barillon in influencing members of parliament in this sense, and is twice mentioned as receiving the sum of 500 guineas from the ambassador. Of this there is no actual proof, and it is quite possible that Barillon entered sums in his accounts with Louis which he never paid away. In any case it is to be remembered that Sidney is not charged with receiving money for advocating opinions which he did not enthusiastically hold.

Upon the dissolution of the last of Charles's parliaments the king issued a justificatory declaration. This was at once answered by a paper entitled A Just and Modest Vindication, 6*c, the first sketch of which is imputed to Sidney. It was then, too, that his most celebrated production, the Discourses concerning Government, was concluded, in which he upholds the doctrine of the mutual compact and traverses the High Tory positions from end to end. In especial he vindicates the propriety of resistance to kingly oppression or misrule, upholds the existence of an hereditary nobility interested in their country's good as the firmest barrier against such oppression, and maintains the authority- of parliaments. In each point the English constitution, which he ardently admires, is, he says, suffering: the prerogatives of the crown are disproportionately great; the peerage has been degraded by new creations; and parliaments are slighted.

For a long while Sidney kept himself aloof from the duke of Monmouth, to whom he was introduced by Lord Howard. After