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Sir Philip Sidney


The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia, 1593    

T O   M Y   D E A R E   L A D I E

H Ere now have you (most deare, and most worthy to be most deare Lady) this idle worke of mine :  which I fear (like the Spiders webbe) will be thought fitter to be swept away, then worn to any other purpose.   For my part, in very trueth (as the cruell fathers among the Greekes, were woont to doo to the babes they would not foster) I could well find in my harte, to cast out in some desert of forgetfulnes this child, which I am loath to father.   But you desired me to doo it, and your desire, to my hart is an absolute commandement.   Now, it is done onelie for you, onely to you :  if you keepe it to your selfe, or to such friendes, who will weigh errors in the ballaunce of good will, I hope, for the fathers sake, it will be pardoned, perchance made much of, though in it selfe it have deformities.   For indeede, for severer eyes it is not, being but a trifle, and that triflinglie handled.   Your deare selfe can best witnes the maner, being done in loose sheetes of paper, most of it in your presence, the rest, by sheetes, sent unto you, as fast as they were done.   In summe, a young head, not so well stayed as I would it were, (and shall be when God will) having many many fancies begotten in it, if it had not ben in some way delivered, would have growen a monster, & more sorie might I be that they came in, then that they gat out. But his chiefe safetie, shalbe the not walking abroad ;  & his chiefe protection, the bearing the liverye of your name ;  which (if much much good will do not deceave me) is worthy to be a sanctuary for a greater offender.   This say I, because I knowe the vertue so ;  and this say I, because it may be ever so ;  or to say better, because it will be ever so.   Read it then at your idle tymes, and the follyes your good judgement wil finde in it, blame not, but laugh at.    And so, looking for no better stuffe, then, as in an Haberdashers shoppe, glasses, or feathers, you will continue to love the writer, who doth excedinglie love you ;  and most most hartelie praies you may long live, to be a principall ornament to the familie of the Sidneis.

Your loving Brother   

Philip Sidnei


Sidney, Sir Philip. "Dedication." The Countesse of Pembroke's Arcadia.
The Complete Works of Sir Philip Sidney. Vol 1. Albert Feuillerat, Ed.
Cambridge: University Press, 1939.  3-4.

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