SIR PHILIP SIDNEY AT CAMBRIDGE.
SIR PHILIP, having exhausted the scanty advantages of Oxford, followed the example of the great Flavius Josephus, and went to Cambridge. The records of his life at this place are scanty. Devotion to study seems to have injured his health, for the college book sets him down as "greaviuslie trubbled by ye cattarrhhe in ye Wintrie Wether." We find, also, that he was on terms of intimacy with the leading men of the college, especially with a certain Decanus, - a man whom history passes over in silence, but who apparently was an instructor in ethics. This worthy man often invited young Philip to spend the afternoon with him, and doubtless derived much pleasure from the conversation of the ingenuous youth.
In one of his youthful poems Philip speaks of this instructor in terms of great respect. Although the lines are hardly worthy the author of "The Defence of Poetry," they display a charming modesty, and show gleams of true poetic fire. They are as follows:-
"Allthough itt may bee seen
That I am verie grean,
I woulde not give a D - n
To know how grate a shamm
The Semmi-Anualls amm."
The doubtful grammar of the last line may be explained by either the years of the writer, or the unsettled condition of the English language at the time when he wrote; but the allusion to the Semmi-Anualls is not so easily explained, for antiquarians disagree about the nature of the festival called by that name. The noted scholar A. Proctor, who has devoted much time to the study of this subject, makes the following statement:-
"The labor of the year was lightened somewhat by a season of festivity, occurring about the middle of the year, and lasting several days, called the Semmi-Anualls. The amusements, which were varied, remind one somewhat of a country fair of the present day. In the Bodleian is preserved a tattered and dingy pamphlet, in which the exercises are designated by mysterious combinations of letters and numerals, and are briefly described. After much study I have deciphered a part of it. As each student kept at least one horse, racing was one of the chief amusements, and the list of races was remarkably large. Among them were Gk 9 and Gk 1, the former for famous trotters, and the latter for those who had never beaten 3.30. Ltn 2 was an exhibition of family cobs, Ltn 7 of draft-horses, and Eng 5 of ladies' saddle-horses. Phycs 2 seems to have been a trial of strength with lifting-machines, and Eng 6, a test of the capacity of the lungs. Phil 7 was hazardous tight rope walking, Phil 2 a performance upon the flying trapeze, and Phil 3 apparently was a balloon ascension. (This last statement, I know, supposes that balloons were invented at an earlier date than is commonly given; but probably the ascensions so plainly described here were only to a small height and in a captive balloon. Some, however, maintain that this amusement was not a balloon ascension at all but was diving after stones in muddy water) Span I was a three-legged race, and Gmn 6 a race backward. Various objects of interest were exhibited to amuse those who took no part in the active sports, and to coax away the pennies of the verdant. In one tent, N. H. 2, were the Living Skeleton and the Bearded Lady; in a second, Hist 5, were the Dwarf and the Big-headed Boy; and a third, N. H. 6, contained a large collection of vegetables, especially some beets of mammoth size. Phil 5 contained a living crocodile, and was connected with F. A. 2, in which was a gorgeous panorama of Egypt and the Holy Land. Sanskt seems to have been an exhibition of stump-pullers, and Hebr undoubtedly was a jackass race. These are only a small part of the amusements, but the nature of the rest cannot be definitely ascertained."