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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VIII. The Age of Dryden.

X. Memoir and Letter Writers

§ 22. Diary of Henry Sidney (Earl of Romney)

The Diary of Henry Sidney (afterwards earl of Romney and lord-lieutenant of Ireland), which extends from June, 1679, to January, 1682, during which period the writer held the post of ambassador at the Hague and had in his hand the threads of much important negotiation, public and private, with William III of Orange, possesses no literary qualities; but interspersed with it are a number of letters to and from Sidney which add considerably to its general interest. Foremost among these are the sprightly communications, partly in a very necessary cipher, of the countess of Sunderland, with whom, though her husband’s doings and prospects are among her most frequent themes, he was on the very friendliest of terms. They also include letters from the dowager countess, a charming old lady whom, in her younger days, Waller had celebrated as Sacharissa, and from Sir William Temple and others. The author of Gramont’s Memoirs is severe on the difference between Henry Sidney’s gifts of intellect and of “figure”; but, both he and his favourite correspondent played an important part in drawing closer the relations which resulted in seating William of Orange on the English throne; and she deserves a place among the letter-writers of her age, if only for her graphic vignettes of Whitehall and the doings of “that jade” (in cipher), the double-faced duchess of Portsmouth.