Edward Waterhouse was Secretary of State for Ireland. His account of Sidney’s A Discourse on Irish Affairs serves as a reminder that during Sidney’s lifetime he was, outside an intimate circle, at least as likely to be known and regarded for his practical, argumentative writing skills as for poetic prowess. See Introduction, p. 1. The Discourse ‘was written for a specific purpose: to reinforce the case of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland when he came over in October 1577 to vindicate to the Privy Council Sir Henry Sidney’s administration of the “cess”, or land tax, in the Irish Pale’ (MP, p. 3).
I have optainid that at my Lord Chancellors Coming, your Lordships Matters shall have present hearing: And I think that to the Cess Rates, Mr. Philip, Mr. Whitten, and I, shalbe called to assist him. Before the Arrival of Mr. Whitten, Mr. Philip had gatherid a Collection of all the Articlis, which have been enviously objectid to your Goverment, whereunto he had framid an Answer in way of Discours, the most excellently (if I have eny Judgement) that ever I red in my Lief; the Substance wherof is now approved in your Letters, and Notes, by Mr. Whitten. But let no Man compare with Mr. Philips Pen. I know he will send it your Lordship, and when you read it, you shall have more Cause to praye [praise?—MP, p. 4] God for him, then to impute Affection to me, in this my Opinion of him.