Temple (1555-1627) became known to Sidney through send-ing and dedicating to him his P. Rami Dialecticae…, Cambridge, 1584, and became his secretary in November 1585. According to tradition Sidney died in his arms. Much later (1609) Temple became Provost of Trinity College, Dublin, and was knighted in 1622.
The Analysis is a rigorous Latin critique of A Defence of Poetry on Ramist principles (on which see further the helpful introduction and notes in William Temple’s ‘Analysis’ of Sir Philip Sidney’s ‘Apology for Poetry’, ed. and trans. John Webster Binghamton, NY, 1984). Latin was the habitual written tongue of the academic, but the choice of a different language from the one Sidney uses and promotes in A Defence aptly suggests the considerable divergence between the two authors’ points of view. As Webster says (ibid., pp. 28, 35) Sidney’s view of poetry was certain to please poetry readers but also ‘to elicit scepticism from those scholars who practised any of the arts which suffered in Sidney’s artful comparisons’, including the logician and moral philosopher Temple; further, in accordance with Temple’s view that poetry is a logical art, ‘where Sidney emphasizes poetry’s power to move, Temple consistently shifts this focus to issues of truth and understanding’. Whereas Sidney argues that ‘poetry is essentially different from all other arts, Temple insists that it is to be valued for what it shares with those arts’.
Evidently meant to be read and reacted to by Sidney himself, the Analysis allows some insight into a period when the works were circulating in manuscript, subject to sugges tions for qualification and improvement, open to disagreement and debate. ‘The brilliance of Sidney’s work may at times make us think of Sidney’s as the only possible Tudor aesthetic; Temple’s positions remind us it was not’ (Analysis, ed. Webster, pp. 37-8).
The passage of A Defence which Temple discusses below is MP, pp. 78-80.