The Civil Wars (excerpts)
The swift approach and unexpected speed
The king had made upon this new-rais'd force,
In the unconfirmed troops, much fear did breed,
Untimely hind'ring their intended course.
The joining with the Welsh they had decreed
Was hereby dash'd; which made their cause the worse.
Northumberland, with forces from the north,
Expected to be there, was not set forth.
And yet undaunted Hotspur, seeing the king
So near arriv'd, leaving the work in hand,
With forward speed his forces marshalling,
Sets forth his farther coming to withstand.
And with a cheerful voice encouraging
His well experienc'd and adventurous band,
Brings on his army, eager unto fight;
And plac'd the same before the king in sight.
"This day," saith he, "my valiant trusty friends,
Whatever it doth give, shall glory give;
This day, with honour, frees our state, or ends
Our misery with fame, that still shall live.
And do but think, how well the same he spends,
Who spends his blood, his country to relieve.
What? have we hands, and shall we servile be?
Why were swords made, but to preserve men free.
"Besides, the assured hope of victory
Which we may even promise on our side,
Against this weak constrained company,
Whom force and fear, not will and love doth guide,
Against a prince, whose foul impiety
The heavens do hate, the earth cannot abide:
Our number being no less, our courage more,
No doubt we have it, if we work therefore."
This said, and thus resolv'd, even bent to charge
Upon the king; who well their order view'd,
And wary noted all the course at large
Of their proceeding, and their multitude,
And deeming better, if he could discharge
The day with safety, and some peace conclude,
Great proffers sends of pardon and of grace
If they would yield, and quietness embrace.
Which though his fears might drive him to propose,
To time his business, for some other end;
Yet, sure, he could not mean t' have peace with those
Who did in that supreme degree offend.
Nor were they such, as would be won with shows;
Or breath of oaths, or vows could apprehend:
So that in honour the offers he doth make,
Were not for him to give nor them to take.
And yet this much his courses do approve,
He was not bloody in his natural;
And yield he did to more then might behove
His dignity to have dispens'd withal:
And, unto Worcester, he himself did move
A reconcilement to be made of all:
But Worcester, knowing it could not be secur'd,
His nephews onset, yet for all, procur'd.
Which seeing, the king, with greater wrath incens'd,
Rage, against fury, doth with speed prepare.
"And though," said he, "I could have well dispens'd
With this day's blood, which I have sought to spare;
That greater glory might have recompens'd
The forward worth of these, that so much dare;
That we might good have had by th' overthrown,
And the wounds we make might not have been our own:
"Yet, since that other men's iniquity
Calls on the sword of wrath, against my will;
And that themselves exact this cruelty,
And I constrained am this blood to spill;
Then on, brave followers, on courageously,
True-hearted subjects, against traitors ill;
And spare not them, who seek to spoil us all
Whose foul confused end, soon see you shall."
Forthwith, began these fury-moving sounds,
The notes of wrath, the music brought from Hell,
The rattling drums, which trumpets voice confounds
The cries, the encouragements, the shouting shrill;
That, all about, the beaten air rebounds
Confused thundering-murmurs horrible;
To rob all sense, except the sense to fight.
Well hands may work; the mind hath lost his sight.
O war! begot in pride and luxury,
The child of malice, and revengeful hate;
Thou impious good, and good impiety,
That art the foul refiner of a state;
Unjust-just scourge of men's iniquity,
Sharp-easer of corruptions desperate;
Is there no means but that a sin-sick land
Must be let blood with such a boisterous hand?
How well mightst thou have here been spar'd this day,
Had not wrong-counsell'd Percy been perverse?
Whose forward hand, inur'd to wounds, makes way
Upon the sharpest fronts of the most fierce:
Where now an equal fury thrusts to stay
And back-repel that force, and his disperse:
Then these assail, then those re-chase again,
Till stay'd with new-made hills of bodies slain.
There, lo that new-appearing glorious star,
Wonder of arms, the terror of the field,
Young Henry, labouring where the stoutest are,
And even the stoutest forced back to yield;
There is that hand bolden'd to blood and war,
That must the sword, in wondrous actions, wield:
Though better he had learn'd with others' blood;
A less expense to us, to him more good.
Yet here had he not speedy succour lent
To his endanger'd father, near oppress'd,
That day had seen the full accomplishment
Of all his travails, and his final rest.
For, Mars-like Douglas all his forces bent
To encounter and to grapple with the best;
As if disdaining any other thing
To do, that day, but to subdue a king.
And three, with fiery courage, he assails;
Three, all as kings adorn'd in royal wise:
And each successive after other quails;
Still wond'ring whence so many kings should rise.
And, doubting lest his hand or eyesight fails,
In these confounded, on a fourth he flies,
And him unhorses too: whom had he sped,
He then all kings, in him, had vanquished.
For Henry had divided, as it were,
The person of himself into four parts;
To be less known, and yet known everywhere,
The more to animate his people's hearts;
Who, cheered by his presence, would not spare
To execute their best and worthiest parts.
By which, two special things effected are:
His safety, and his subjects' better care.
And never worthy prince a day did quit
With greater hazard, and with more renown
Than thou didst, mighty Henry, in this fight;
Which only made thee owner of thine own:
Thou never prov'dst the tenure of thy right
(How thou didst hold thy easy-gotten crown)
Till now; and, now, thou shew'st thyself chief lord,
By that especial right of kings: the sword.
And dear it cost, and much good blood is shed
To purchase thee a saving victory:
Great Stafford thy high constable lies dead,
With Shorly, Clifton, Gawsell, Calverly,
And many more; whose brave deaths witnessed
Their noble valour and fidelity:
And many more had left their dearest blood
Behind, that day, had Hotspur longer stood.
But he, as Douglas, with his fury led,
Rushing into the thickest woods of spears,
And brakes of swords, still laying at the head
(The life of th' army) whiles he nothing fears
Or spares his own, comes all invironed
With multitude of power, that over-bears
His manly worth; who yields not, in his fall;
But fighting dies, and dying kills withal.
What ark, what trophy, what magnificence
Of glory, Hotspur, had'st thou purchas'd here;
Could but thy cause as fair as thy pretence
Be made unto thy country to appear!
Had it been her protection and defence
(Not thy ambition) made thee sell so dear
Thyself this day, she must have here made good
An everlasting statue for thy blood.
Which thus mis-spent, thy army presently,
(As if they could not stand, when thou wert down)
Dispers'd in rout, betook them all to fly:
And Douglas, faint with wounds, and overthrown,
Was taken; who yet won the enemy
Which took him (by his noble valour shown,
In that day's mighty work) and was preserv'd
With all the grace, and honour he deserv'd.
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