Page images
PDF
EPUB

NIGHT BEFORE THE BATTLE OF AGINCOURT.
The confident and over-lusty French
For the low-rated English play at dice,
And chide the cripple tardy-gaited night,
Who, like a foul and ugly witch, does limp
So tediously away. The poor condemned English,
Like sacrifices, by their watchful fires
Sit patiently, and inly ruminate
The morning's danger: and their gesture sad
(Investing lank lean cheeks and war-worn coats)
Presenteth them unto the gazing moon
So many horrid ghosts. 0, now, who will behold
The royal captain of this ruin'd band, -
Walking from watch to watch, from tent to tent,
Let him cry praise and glory on his head !
For forth he goes, and visits all his host,
Bids them good-morrow with a modest smile,
And calls them brothers, friends, and countrymen.
Upon his royal face there is no note
How dread an army hath enrounded him;
Nor doth he dedicate one jot of colour
Unto the weary and all-watched night;
But freshly looks, and overbears attaint,
With cheerful semblance and sweet majesty;
That ev'ry wretch, pining and pale before,
Beholding him, plucks comfort from his looks.
A largess universal, like the sun,
His liberal eye doth give to every one,
Thawing cold fear.

SHAKSPEARE.

GLOUCESTER'S SPEECH TO THE NOBLES.
Brave peers of England, pillars of the state,
To you duke Humphrey must unload his grief,
Your grief, the common grief of all the land.
What! did my brother Henry spend his youth,
His valour, coin, and people, in the wars;
Did he so often lodge in open fields,
In winter's cold, and summer's parching heat,
To conquer France, his true inheritance ?
And did my brother Bedford toil his wits
To keep by policy what Henry got?.
Have you yourselves, Somerset, Buckingham,
Brave York, and Salisbury, victorious Warwick,
Received deep scars in France and Normandy?
Or hath my uncle Beaufort and myself,
With all the learned council of the realm,
Studied so long, sat in the council-house
Early and late, debating to and fro,
How France and Frenchmen might be kept in awe ?

And was his Highness, in his infancy,
Crowned in Paris, in despite of foes?'
And shall these labours and these honours die ?
Shall-Henry's conquest, Bedford's vigilance,
Your deeds of war, and all our council, die?
Oh! peers of England, shameful is this league!
Fatal this marriage ! cancelling your fame;
Blotting your names from books of memory;
Razing the characters of your renown;
Defacing monuments of conquer'd France;
Undoing all, as all had never been. SHAKSPEARE.

RICHMOND ENCOURAGING HIS SOLDIERS.
Thus far into the bowels of the land
Have we march'd on without impediment;
Richard, the bloody and devouring boar,
Whose ravenous appetite has spoiled your fields,
Laid this rich country waste, and rudely cropp’d
Its ripen'd hopes of fair prosperity, -
Is now even in the centre of the isle.
Thrice is he arm'd who hath his quarrel just,
And he but naked, tho'lock'd up in steel,
Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted :
The very weight of Richard's guilt shall crush him.
Then let us on, my friends, and boldly face him.
For me, the ransom of my bold attempt,
Shall bé this body on the earth's cold face;
But if we thrive, the glory of the action,
The meanest soldier here shall share his part of.
Advance your standards, draw your willing swords,
Sound drums and trumpets, boldly and cheerfully;
“God and St. George, Richmond, and Victory !”

SHAKSPEARE.

COLUMBUS. “ All work of man is like that of a swimmer, whom an ocean threatens to devour. If he front it bravely, behold how loyally it supports him, and bears him as its conqueror along! The winds had something else to do than to fill, rightly or wrongly, the sails of Columbus's cockle-boats. He was not among articulately speaking men, but among dumb monsters, tumbling and howling. * Patiently he waited till the mad south-wester spent itself; with swift decision he struck in when the favouring east sprang up. Mutiny of men he sternly repressed. Complaint of weariness, weakness, or despondency in others, and in himself, he swallowed down. There was a depth of silence in him, deeper than the sea. His strong soul embraced and harnessed the unmeasured world.”CARLYLE.

Thy soul was nerved with more than mortal force,

Bold mariner upon a chartless sea,
With none to second, none to solace thee.
Alone, who daredst keep thy resolute course

Through the broad waste of waters drear and dark, 'Mid wrathful skies, and howling winds, and worse, The prayer, the taunt, the threat, the muttered curse

Of all thy brethren in that fragile bark :
For on thy brow, throbbing with hopes immense,

Had just Ambition set his royal mark,
Enriching thee with noble confidence,

That having once thy venturous sails unfurled,
No danger should defeat thy recompense, ,
The god-like gift to man of half the world.

TUPPER's Ballads and Poems.

COLUMBUS ON FIRST BEHOLDING AMERICA.*

God of my sires ! o'er ocean's brim

Yon beauteous land appears at last;
Rise, comrades ! raise your holiest hymn,

For now our toils are past:
See o'er the bosom of the deep,

She gaily lifts her summer charms,
As if at last she long'd to leap

From dark oblivion's arms,
What forms, what lovely scenes may rise

Secluded from thy flowery breast;
Pure is thy sea, and calm thy sky,

Thou Garden of the West!
Around each solitary hill

A rich magnificence is hurld,
Thy youthful face seems wearing still

The fresh fragrance of the world.
We come, with hope our beacon bright,

Like Noah drifting o’er the wave,
To claim a world—the ocean's might,

Has shrouded like the grave;
And oh, the dwellers of the ark

Ne’er pin’d with fonder hearts, to see
The bird of hope regain their bark,

Than I have long'd for thee.
Around me was the boundless flood,

O'er which no mortal ever pass’d,
Above me was a solitude

As measureless and vast;
Yet in the air and on the sea,

The voice of the Eternal one
Breathed forth the song of hope to me,

And bade me journey on!

* In 1492,

My bark! the winds are fair unfurld

To waft thee on thy watery road,
Oh haste that I to this new world

May give glad tidings of her God;
That I may lead those tribes aright,

So long on error's ocean driven,
And point to their bewilderd sight,

A fairer path to heaven.

What have the proudest conquerors rear'd

To hold their honours forth to fame?
Things which a few short years have sear'd

And left without a name !
But I ’mid empires prostrate hurld,

'Mid all the glories time has rent-
Will raise no column, but a world,

To stand my monument !-D. MORE.

TIIE BATTLE OF FLODDEN.*

“But, see ! look up-on Flodden bent,
The Scottish foe has fired his tent."-

And sudden, as he spoke,
From the sharp ridges of the hill,
All downward to the banks of Tiíl,

Was wreathed in sable smoke;
Volumed and vast, and rolling far,
The cloud enveloped Scotland's war,

As down the hill they broke;
Nor martial shout, nor minstrel tone,
Announced their march; their tread alone,
At times one warning trumpet blown,

At times a stifled hum,
Told England, from his mountain-throne

King James did rushing come.-
Scarce could they hear, or see their foes,
Until at weapon-point they close.
They close, in clouds of smoke and dust,
With sword-sway, and with lance's thrust;

And such a yell was there,
Of sudden and portentous birth,
As if men fought upon the earth,

And fiends in upper air.
Long looked the anxious squires; their eye
Could in the darkness nought descry.

* In 1513.

At length the freshening western blast
Aside the shroud of battle cast;
And, first, the ridge of mingled spears
Above the brightening cloud appears ;
And in the smoke the pennons flew,
As in the storm the white sea-mew.
Then marked they, dashing broad and far,
The broken billows of the war;
And plumed crests of chieftains brave,
Floating like foam upon the wave;

But nought distinct they see:
Wide raged the battle on the plain;
Spears shook, and falchions flashed amain;
Fell England's arrow-flight like rain;
Crests rose, and stooped, and rose again,

Wild and disorderly.
Amid the scene of tumult, high
They saw Lord Marmion's falcon fly:
And stainless Tunstall's banner white,
And Edmund Howard's lion bright,
Still bear them bravely in the fight;

Although against them come,
Of gallant Gordons many a one,
And many a stubborn Highlandman,
And many a rugged Border clan,

With Huntly, and with Home.

Far on the left, unseen the while,
Stanley broke Lennox and Argyle;
Though there the western mountaineer
Rushed with bare bosom on the spear,
And ftung the feeble targe aside,
And with both hands the broad-sword plied :
'Twas vain-But Fortune, on the right,
With fickle smile cheered Scotland's fight,
Then fell that spotless banner white, -

The Howard's lion fell :
Yet still Lord Marmion's falcon flew
With wavering flight, while fiercer grew

Around the battle yell.
The border slogan rent the sky!
A Home! a Gordon! was the cry;

Loud were the clanging blows;
Advanced,-forced back, ,—now low, now high,

The pennon sunk and rose;
As bends the bark's mast in the gale,
When rent are rigging, shrouds, and sail,

It wavered 'mid the foes.

By this, though deep the evening fell,
Still rose the battle's deadly swell;

« PreviousContinue »