Sir Philip Sidney's Last Letter

This epic hero, poet, statesman, soldier, and a favourite of Queen Elizabeth, was endowed to the highest degree with the human virtues.

Given command of a force in the Netherlands by the Queen, he was shot in the thigh by a musket ball on September 22, 1586, while trying to intercept a convoy of provisions for the enemy during the Battle of Zutphen.

Though a prey to burning thirst, he refused, in favour of a dying soldier, a cup of water that was brought to him, saying: "Thy need is greater than mine".

He was only thirty-two, and clung to life. Though in the throes of death, he still had the strength to write to Jean Wyer (surgeon to the Duke of Cleves) the accompanying note, which we translate, the original being in Latin:

Click here to view larger Sir Philip Sidney documentMy Weire, come come, I am in great peril of my life and I want thee. Neither living nor dead will I be ungrateful. I can do no more than earnestly pray that thou mayest hasten. Farewell. At Arnem. Thine.

PH. Sidney.

Unfortunately the letter arrived too late to be of use, for the gallant soldier died on the following day.

(Public Records Office)
[Sidney, Sir Philip (1554-1586), was an author, courtier, and soldier during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England. He became famous for his literary criticism, prose fiction, and poetry.]

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