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English, pretended that he had come to treat with her about her ransom.
“ Viewing him with just resentment and disdain, she cried, Begone! you have neither the power to ransom me. Then, turning her eyes towards the two earls, she said, I know that you English are determined to put me to death, and imagine that after I am dead, you will
conquer France. But though there were an 100,000 GDam'mees more in France than there are, they will never conquer that kingdom. So early had the English got this odious nick-name by their too frequent use of that horrid imprecation.”
A contemporary historian, who had frequently conversed with Henry VI. mentions it as a very remarkable and extraordinary peculiarity in the character of that prince, “ that he did not swear in common conversation; but reproved his ministers and officers of state when he heard them swearing."
Caxton speaks thus of the manners of the youth in his time: “I see that the children that be born in London increase and profit, not like their fathers and elders, but, for most part, after that they be come to their perfect years of discretion, and ripeness of age, how well that their fathers have left to them great quantities of goods, yet scarcely among ten, two thrive.
“ O blessed Lord ! when I remember this, I am all abashed : 1 cannot judge the cause: but
fairer, nor wiser, nor better-spoken children in their youth, be no where than there be in London. But at their full ripening, there is no carnal * nor good corn found, but chaff for the most part."
The irregularities committed by Henry V. while Prince of Wales were, to all appearance and probability, the result of a vicious disposition, rendered still more so by the ample means of indulgence he possessed. Gloomy, therefore, , seemed the prospect his subjects had before them; but that gloom was in a considerable degree dispelled by the manly and considerate man ner in which he endured the disgrace it procured him, from a strict and impartial administration of the laws of the realm by an intrepid judge, his courage in the field, his banishment of all the loose companions who surrounded him during his thoughtless hours ; and finally, he confirmed their hopes by the appointment of grave and experienced persons to all places of dignity and importance.
Nature had formed this monarch in her most happy moments; and, besides endowing him with the graces of feature and form, gave him sagacity, courage, prutlence, and other virtues, which made him invincible in the field, great in the cabinet, and, above all, conspicuous in the exercise of the duties of husband, father, and friend.
* i. e. Kernel.
It may not be amiss to mention some particulars relating to the battle of Agincourt, in the reign of Henry V. as they will serve to shew the courage and address of the British nation at that time.' Which qualities have since existed in full effect, though the mode of fighting has caused their exercise to be far more limited than when the English carried their victorious arms into the heart of France. Some degree of rashness had led the brave Henry into difficulties which required the utmost exertions of his talents to extricate himself from.
Without entering into particulars, it may be sufficient to say that disorders, incident to their situation, had reduced the English army to ten thousand men; many of whom were either seriously indisposed, or convalescents. With this very inadequate force, he found himself compelled to contend against at least one hundred thousand; exclusive of a deprivation of all kinds of supplies, except such as they could obtain at the point of the sword, or induce the people to bring, tempted by liberal prices.
The king, thus circumstanced, commenced a retreat; which he conducted in so politic a manner that it did not in the most distant degree resemble a flight. He led his men gradually forward, partaking with them in all their hardships
and deprivations; and conversed with the common soldiers in familiar and cheerful terms. They at length reached the Somme, but found that the enemy had rendered the ford impassable, by driving stakes into the bottom of the river, and stationed themselves in great force on the opposite bank. Disappointed, but not dismayed, Henry advanced along the river till he found a pass near Bethencourt, where having crossed, he reached Agincourt on the 24th of October, 1415.
The French army had information of Henry's route, and met him at the village just mentioned. The latter immediately reconnoitered their position, and was convinced he could proceed no farther without risking a battle. Favoured by a clear moon-light, he collected his most experienced officers, and made choice of the ground which he thought best calculated to render the numbers of the enemy disadvantageous to themselves. He then returned to his quarters, and the night was passed in perfect quiet, and in mutual encouragement to meet the dangers of the following morning, with a determination to conquer or perish. In a single instance the brave Monarch heard one of his nobles wish a part of the knights and their vassals then in England idle were there to assist them ;—"No," exclaimed the king, “I would not have one man more. If we are defeated, we are too many: if it should please God to give us
the victory, as I trust he will, the smaller our number the greater our glory."
The first operation of the 25th was to take the ground previously chosen, which immediately compelled the constable (d'Albert) to compress his men into so small a compass that they were literally nearly unable to move their arms. Henry, having thus contrived to force his opponents into a front of only 13,000 men, placed a party of archers in ambush so as to flank their lines. He then dismissed his prisoners on their parole, sent his baggage into the village of Agincourt in his rear, caused the whole of his front to be secured with pointed stakes driven into the ground to defend it from the approach of cavalry, and arranged his men behind them, each armed with bows and arrows, a battle axe, and sword.
Seizing the dread interval when the two armies were thus opposed to each other in perfect silence, Henry rode in front of his troops, in the full majesty of his nature, in bright armour, and his helmet encircled by a crown of gold, set with rich jewels. As his noble white charger pranced along the line he greeted the men ; told them the French had resolved to deprive each of their prisoners, made that day, of three fingers of their right hands; and added, he that distinguished himself should thenceforward be considered a gentleman, and entitled to bear coat armour.