Imatges de pÓgina
[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

tions are from original sketches with which we For although they with their counter-mining have been favoured.

somewhat disappointed the Englishmen, and The siege of Harfleur is somewhat briefly came to fight with them hand to hand within described by Holinshed. The conduct of that the mines, so that they went no further forward enterprise was agreeable to the rules of war with that work; yet they were so enclosed on laid down by “Master Giles," the principal each side, as well by water as land, that succour military authority of that period. The loss they saw could none come to them.” Harfleur sustained by the besieging army was very great; surrendered on the 22nd of September, after a and in a few days the English forces were visited siege of thirty-six days. The previous negociby a frightful dysentery. Many of the most ations between Henry and the governor of the eminent leaders fell before its ravages. This town were conducted by commissioners. Shakwas, probably, to be attributed to the position spere, of course, dramatically brought his prinof the invading army; for, according to Holin- cipal personage upon the scene, in the convenshed, those who valiantly defended the siege, tion by which the town was surrendered. damming up the river that hath his course Holinshed, who in general has an eye for the through the town, the water rose 60 high picturesque, has no description of the gorgeous betwixt the king's camp, and the Duke of ceremony which accompanied the surrender; Clarence's camp, divided by the same river, but such a description is found in the older that the Englishmen were constrained to with narratives, which represent the king upon “his draw their artillery from one side.” The mines royal throne, placed under a pavilion at the and the counter-mines of Fluellen are to be top of the hill before the town, where his found in Holinshed : " Daily was the town nobles and other principal persons, an illustriassaulted: for the Duke of Gloucester, to whom ous body of men, were assembled in numbers, in the order of the siege was committed, made their best equipments ; his crowned triumphal three mines under the ground, and approaching helmet being held on his right hand upon a to the walls with his engines and ordinance, halbert-staff, by Sir Gilbert Umfreville.” (Cotwould not suffer them within to take any rest. ton MS.) The account of the loss which the

[ocr errors]

English army sustained, during the thirty-six hardihood in the resolve, which almost entirely days subsequent to its landing, would be almost covers its rashness. His trust, said the king, incredible, if its accuracy were not supported was in God; he was resolved to see the terriby every conflicting testimony. It appears tories which were his own; he would not that if Henry landed with thirty thousand men, subject himself to the reproach of cowardice. more than two-thirds must, during the short "Our mind,” said he, “is prepared to endure period of the siege, have been slain, have died every peri), rather than they shall be able to of disease, or have been sent back to England breathe the slightest reproach against your as incapable of proceeding. The English army, king. We will go, if it pleases God, without when it quitted Harfleur, did not amount to harm or danger, and if they disturb our journey, much more than eight thousand fighting men. we will frustrate their intentions with honour, The priest who accompanied the expedition victory, and triumph.” The army commenced says, “There remained fit for drawing the sword its perilous march about the 8th of October. or for battle not above nine hundred lancers, The king, upon landing in France, had issued a and five thousand archers.” Monstrelet, and proclamation forbidding, under pain of death, other French writers, rate the English forces at all plunder and other excesses. This proclamaa much greater number.

tion was now renewed. The army was five days “King Henry,” says Holinshed, “after the before it reached Abbeville. The bridges of the winning of Harfleur, determined to have pro- Somme were everywhere broken down; and the ceeded further to the winning of other towns dispirited forces were, in consequence, compelled and fortresses : but because the dead time of to march up the south bank of the river till the winter approached it was determined by they reached Nesle. There, over a temporary advice of his council, that he should in all 'bridge, Henry at length crossed the Somme. convenient speed set forward, and march The opposition to his march had now become through the country towards Calais by land, most formidable. The daring character of his lest his return as then homewards should of movement from Harfleur had roused the French slanderous tongues be named a running away." from their supineness. The fifth Scene of this From the contemporary writers it appears that Act is a most spirited representation of the this resolution was taken by Henry against the mingled contempt and anger with which the advice of his council. There was a chivalrous French nobility regarded Henry's progress

[graphic][merged small]
[ocr errors]

through the heart of the country. Holinshed | they came. Rest could they none take, for their describes the resolution to send the herald enemies with alarms did ever so infest them; Montjoy to Henry. Three heralds, according to daily it rained, and nightly it freezed : of fuel the contemporary accounts, appeared before there was great scarcity, of fluxes plenty: money the English king on the 20th. His answer enough, but wares for their relief to bestow it is thus given in Holinshed :—"Mine intent is on had they none." And yet, under these cir. to do as it pleaseth God; I will not seek your cumstances, the proclamation against plunder master at this time; but if he or his seek me, was enforced with undeviating justice. The I will meet with them, God willing. If any of fact of a man being hanged for stealing a your nation attempt once to stop me in my sacred vessel is found in Holinshed. journey now towards Calais, at their jeopardy The oriflamme had been hoisted, the last time be it; and wish I not any of you so unadvised that the sacred banner was displayed in France. as to be the occasion that I dye your tawny Sixty thousand princes, and knights, and ground with your red blood.” Henry continued esquires, and men at arms, were gathered round to press on his troops with great regularity, the national standard. When Henry crossed though they suffered the most serious priva- the river Ternoise, on the 24th of October, this tions. They were shrewdly out of beef,” as mighty army stood before him, "filling,” says Orleans says ; — they were “with sickness the priest who accompanied the march,“ much enfeebled," as Henry declares. Holinshed very large field as with an innumerable host of describes their situation with great quaintness : locusts.” “The enemies had destroyed all the corn before

[ocr errors]


19 CHORUS.—" Fills the wide vessel of the uni- was being equipped for the battle or tournaverse."

ment. We are gravely informed by Warburton that » SCENE II.-" The horsemen sit like fixed can"we are not to think Shakspere so ignorant

dle-sticks, as to imagine it was night over the whole globe

With torch-staves in their hand." at once.” Ben Jonson has these lines :

What a picture of the want of animation,O for a clap of thunder now, as loud

As to be heard throughout the universe!" We are not to think Jonson so ignorant as not to know that a clap of thunder could not possibly be heard throughout the mundane system. 20 CHORUS.—Each battle sees the other's umber'd

face." “The author's profession,” says Malone, "probably furnished him with this epithet.” But players redden their cheeks as well as brown them, and we therefore must in the same way suppose that when the Friar says to Juliet

“ The roses in thy lips and cheeks shall fade," Shakspere was thinking of rouge. 21 CHORUS.—“ With busy hammers closing rivets

ир.The plate armour was not only riveted in parts, before it was put on; but the armourers were employed in closing up parts which fitted on to each other by rivets, when the knight

(Fired Candlestick.)

[ocr errors]

the silent despair-which the French imputed “fixed candlestick” in his possession ;—and the to the poor “ beggar'd host " of the English-is copy of this is worth pages of verbal explanasuggested by this image, when we rightly un- tion. derstand it. Mr. Douce had such an ancient

[ocr errors]


HISTORICAL. The magnificent chorus of this Act presents | God, by confessing their sins with tears, and such a vivid picture of the circumstances that numbers of them taking the sacrament; for, as marked the eve of the battle of Agincourt, that it was related by some prisoners, they looked even if they were not, for the most part, sup for certain death on the morrow.” ported by authentic history, it would be impos- The foundation of the great scene when Westsible to dispossess ourselves of the belief that moreland wishes— they were true. “The French,” according to

“But one ten thousand of those men in England, Holinshed, “were very merry, pleasant, and full That do no work to-day ! ” of game”-“the English made peace with God

is in Holinshed. “It is said, that as he heard in confessing their sins.” Holinshed also men.

one of the host utter his wish to another thus : tions the French playing at dice for the English I would to God there were with us now so prisoners. But the narratives of Monstrelet and of St. Remy are much more minute than Holin many good soldiers as are at this hour within

England !' The king answered : 'I would not shed; and in one or two small particulars they wish a man more here than I have; we are differ from that of the poet. The account of indeed in comparison to the enemies but a few, Monstrelet is exceedingly interesting :

but if God of his clemency do favour us and our “The French, with all the royal officers, that just cause (as I trust he will), we shall speed well is to say, the Constable, the Marshal Boucicault,

enough."" This circumstance, however, really the Lord of Dampierre and Sir Clignet de Bra

occurred, not as Holinshed has described it on bant, each styling himself admiral of France; the day of the battle, but when the French host the Lord of Rambures, master of the cross-bows; with many other princes, barons, and knightsplanted their banners with loud acclamations of joy around the royal banner of the Constable, on the spot they had fixed upon, situated in the county of St. Pol, or territory of Azincourt, by which the next morning the English must pass on their march to Calais. Great fires were this night lighted near to the banner under which each person was to fight; but, although the French were full one hundred and fifty thousand “chevaucheurs," with a great number of wagons and carts, cannon, ribaudequins, and all other military stores, they had but little music to cheer their spirits; and it was remarked with surprise, that scarcely any of their horses neighed during the night, which was considered by many as a bad omen. The English during the whole night played on their trumpets and various other instruments, insomuch that the whole neighbourhood resounded with their music; and notwithstanding they were much fatigued and oppressed by cold, hunger, and other annoyances, they made their peace with

[Sir Thomas Erpingham.]


was first seen by the English ; and he who with camails.” They were drawn up between uttered the wish for some more men was Sir two woods, in a space wholly inadequate for the Walter Hungerford.

movements of such an immense body; and the The French forces, on the morning of the 25th ground was soft from heavy rains. It was with of October, were drawn up in three lines on the the utmost difficulty they could stand or lift plain of Agincourt, through which the route to their weapons. The horses at every step sunk Calais lay. The battle-field is thus described into the mud. Henry formed his little band in by Dr. John Gordon Smith, in a paper in "The one line, the archers being posted between the Transactions of the Royal Society of Literature,' wings, in the form of a wedge, with sharp stakes 1829 :

fixed before them. The king, habited in his “ Those who travel to Paris vid St. Omer and “cote d'armes,” mounted a small gray horse ; Abbeville, pass over the field of battle, which but he subsequently fought on foot. He adskirts the high road (to the left, in the direction dressed his troops with his usual spirit. Each just mentioned), about sixteen miles beyond St. army remained inactive for some hours. A Omer; two on the Paris side of a considerable truce was at length proposed by the French. village or bourg named Fruges ; about eight The reply of Henry, before an army ten times north of the fortified town of Hesdin; and as great as his own, differed little from the thirty, or thereabout, in the same direction from terms he had offered in his own capital. Towards Abbeville. All accounts of the battle mention the middle of the day the order was given to the hamlet of Ruisseauville, through which very the English to advance, by Henry crying aloud, place the high-road to Paris now passes. Azin- “Advance banners.” Sir Thomas de Erpyngham, cour is a commune, or parish, consisting of a the commander of the archers, threw his trunmost uninteresting collection of

cheon into the air, exclaiming, “Now strike !"

The English immediately prostrated themselves * Slobbery dirty farms,'

to the ground, beseeching the protection of (or rather farmers' residences,) and cottages, such Heaven, and proceeded in three lines on the as, in that part of the country, are met with in French army. The archers of Henry soon put all directions; once, however, distinguished by the French cavalry in disorder; and the whole a castle, of which nothing now remains but the army rushing on, with the national huzza, the foundation. The scene of the contest lies archers threw aside their bows, and slew all between this commune and the adjoining one of Tramecour, in a wood belonging to which latter the king concealed those archers whose prowess and vigour contributed so eminently to the glorious result. Part of this wood still remains; though (if I remember rightly), at the time of our visit, the corner into which the bowmen were thrown had been materially thinned, if, indeed, the original timber had not been entirely cut down, and its place but scantily supplied by brush or underwood. Some of the trees, however, in the wood of Tramecour, were very old in 1816."

It is unnecessary for us to follow the Chroniclers, or the more minute contemporary historians, through their details of the fearful carnage and victory of Agincourt. We may, however, put the facts shortly before our readers, as they may be collected from Sir H. Nicolas's elaborate and careful history of the battle :

The fighting men of France wore “long coats of steel, reaching to their knees, which were very heavy; below these was armour for the legs; and above, white harness, and bacinets,

(Montacute, Earl of Salisbury.]

« AnteriorContinua »