The Civil Wars between the Two Houses of Lancaster and York

Book IV

Original Text: 
Samuel Daniel, The first foure bookes of the civile warres betweene the two houses of Lancaster and Yorke (London: P. Short for S. Waterson, 1595). STC 6244.
282The king had made upon this new-rais'd force,
283In the unconfirmed troops, much fear did breed,
284Untimely hind'ring their intended course.
285The joining with the Welsh they had decreed
286Was hereby dash'd; which made their cause the worse.
287Northumberland, with forces from the north,
288Expected to be there, was not set forth.
XXXVII
289      And yet undaunted Hotspur, seeing the king
290So near arriv'd, leaving the work in hand,
291With forward speed his forces marshalling,
292Sets forth his farther coming to withstand.
293And with a cheerful voice encouraging
294His well experienc'd and adventurous band,
295Brings on his army, eager unto fight;
296And plac'd the same before the king in sight.
XXXVIII
297    "This day," saith he, "my valiant trusty friends,
298Whatever it doth give, shall glory give;
299This day, with honour, frees our state, or ends
300Our misery with fame, that still shall live.
301And do but think, how well the same he spends,
302Who spends his blood, his country to relieve.
303What? have we hands, and shall we servile be?
304Why were swords made, but to preserve men free.
XXXIX
305    "Besides, the assured hope of victory
306Which we may even promise on our side,
307Against this weak constrained company,
308Whom force and fear, not will and love doth guide,
309Against a prince, whose foul impiety
310The heavens do hate, the earth cannot abide:
311Our number being no less, our courage more,
312No doubt we have it, if we work therefore."
XL
313    This said, and thus resolv'd, even bent to charge
314Upon the king; who well their order view'd,
315And wary noted all the course at large
316Of their proceeding, and their multitude,
317And deeming better, if he could discharge
318The day with safety, and some peace conclude,
319Great proffers sends of pardon and of grace
320If they would yield, and quietness embrace.
XLI
321    Which though his fears might drive him to propose,
322To time his business, for some other end;
323Yet, sure, he could not mean t' have peace with those
324Who did in that supreme degree offend.
325Nor were they such, as would be won with shows;
326Or breath of oaths, or vows could apprehend:
327So that in honour the offers he doth make,
328Were not for him to give nor them to take.
XLII
329    And yet this much his courses do approve,
331And yield he did to more then might behove
332His dignity to have dispens'd withal:
333And, unto Worcester, he himself did move
334A reconcilement to be made of all:
335But Worcester, knowing it could not be secur'd,
336His nephews onset, yet for all, procur'd.
XLIII
337    Which seeing, the king, with greater wrath incens'd,
338Rage, against fury, doth with speed prepare.
339"And though," said he, "I could have well dispens'd
340With this day's blood, which I have sought to spare;
341That greater glory might have recompens'd
342The forward worth of these, that so much dare;
343That we might good have had by th' overthrown,
344And the wounds we make might not have been our own:
XLIV
345    "Yet, since that other men's iniquity
346Calls on the sword of wrath, against my will;
347And that themselves exact this cruelty,
348And I constrained am this blood to spill;
349Then on, brave followers, on courageously,
350True-hearted subjects, against traitors ill;
351And spare not them, who seek to spoil us all
352Whose foul confused end, soon see you shall."
XLV
353    Forthwith, began these fury-moving sounds,
354The notes of wrath, the music brought from Hell,
355The rattling drums, which trumpets voice confounds
356The cries, the encouragements, the shouting shrill;
357That, all about, the beaten air rebounds
358Confused thundering-murmurs horrible;
359To rob all sense, except the sense to fight.
360Well hands may work; the mind hath lost his sight.
XLVI
361    O war! begot in pride and luxury,
362The child of malice, and revengeful hate;
363Thou impious good, and good impiety,
364That art the foul refiner of a state;
365Unjust-just scourge of men's iniquity,
366Sharp-easer of corruptions desperate;
367Is there no means but that a sin-sick land
368Must be let blood with such a boisterous hand?
XLVII
369    How well mightst thou have here been spar'd this day,
370Had not wrong-counsell'd Percy been perverse?
371Whose forward hand, inur'd to wounds, makes way
372Upon the sharpest fronts of the most fierce:
373Where now an equal fury thrusts to stay
374And back-repel that force, and his disperse:
375Then these assail, then those re-chase again,
376Till stay'd with new-made hills of bodies slain.
XLVIII
377    There, lo that new-appearing glorious star,
378Wonder of arms, the terror of the field,
379Young Henry, labouring where the stoutest are,
380And even the stoutest forced back to yield;
381There is that hand bolden'd to blood and war,
382That must the sword, in wondrous actions, wield:
383Though better he had learn'd with others' blood;
384A less expense to us, to him more good.
XLIX
385    Yet here had he not speedy succour lent
386To his endanger'd father, near oppress'd,
387That day had seen the full accomplishment
388Of all his travails, and his final rest.
389For, Mars-like Douglas all his forces bent
390To encounter and to grapple with the best;
391As if disdaining any other thing
392To do, that day, but to subdue a king.
L
393    And three, with fiery courage, he assails;
394Three, all as kings adorn'd in royal wise:
395And each successive after other quails;
396Still wond'ring whence so many kings should rise.
397And, doubting lest his hand or eyesight fails,
398In these confounded, on a fourth he flies,
399And him unhorses too: whom had he sped,
400He then all kings, in him, had vanquished.
LI
401    For Henry had divided, as it were,
402The person of himself into four parts;
403To be less known, and yet known everywhere,
404The more to animate his people's hearts;
405Who, cheered by his presence, would not spare
407By which, two special things effected are:
408His safety, and his subjects' better care.
LII
409    And never worthy prince a day did quit
410With greater hazard, and with more renown
411Than thou didst, mighty Henry, in this fight;
412Which only made thee owner of thine own:
413Thou never prov'dst the tenure of thy right
414(How thou didst hold thy easy-gotten crown)
415Till now; and, now, thou shew'st thyself chief lord,
416By that especial right of kings: the sword.
LIII
417    And dear it cost, and much good blood is shed
418To purchase thee a saving victory:
419Great Stafford thy high constable lies dead,
420With Shorly, Clifton, Gawsell, Calverly,
421And many more; whose brave deaths witnessed
422Their noble valour and fidelity:
423And many more had left their dearest blood
424Behind, that day, had Hotspur longer stood.
LIV
425    But he, as Douglas, with his fury led,
426Rushing into the thickest woods of spears,
428(The life of th' army) whiles he nothing fears
429Or spares his own, comes all invironed
430With multitude of power, that over-bears
431His manly worth; who yields not, in his fall;
432But fighting dies, and dying kills withal.
434Of glory, Hotspur, had'st thou purchas'd here;
436Be made unto thy country to appear!
437Had it been her protection and defence
438(Not thy ambition) made thee sell so dear
439Thyself this day, she must have here made good
440An everlasting statue for thy blood.
LVI
441    Which thus mis-spent, thy army presently,
442(As if they could not stand, when thou wert down)
443Dispers'd in rout, betook them all to fly:
444And Douglas, faint with wounds, and overthrown,
445Was taken; who yet won the enemy
446Which took him (by his noble valour shown,
447In that day's mighty work) and was preserv'd
448With all the grace, and honour he deserv'd.

Notes

281] The first five books were published in 1595, the sixth and seventh in 1601-02, and the complete poem in eight books was first issued in 1609. It is a poetical account of the struggle between the House of Lancaster and the House of York from the reign of Richard II to that of Edward IV. The selection here given may be compared with Shakespeare's 1 Henry IV, V, which seem to be indebted to Daniel's narrative. Back to Line
330] natural: natural disposition. Back to Line
406] parts: acts. Back to Line
427] brakes: thickets.
laying: aiming. Back to Line
433] ark: shrine. Back to Line
435] pretence: claim. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1595
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
2RP.1.197; RPO 1996-2000.
Rhyme: