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are the most unprejudiced, or the most refined. I must however beg leave to dissent from so great an authority as that of Sir Philip Sidney, in the judgment which he has passed as to the rude style and evil apparel of this antiquated song; for there are several parts in it where not only the thought but the language is majestic, and the numbers sonorous; at least, the apparel is much more gorgeous than many of the poets made use of in Queen Elizabeth's time, as the reader will see in several of the following quotations.
What can be greater than either the thought or the expression in that stanza,
To drive the deer with hound and horn
Earl Percy took his way!
The. hunting of that day!
This way of considering the misfortunes which this battle would bring upon posterity, not only on those who were born immediately after the battle, and lost their fathers in it, but on those also who perished in future battles which took their rise from this quarrel of the two earls, is wonderfully beautiful, and conformable to the way of thinking among the ancient poets.
Audiet pugnas vitio parenlum
HOR. 1 Od. ii. 23.
Posterity, thinn'd by their fathers' crimes,
What can be more sounding and poetical, or resemble more the majestic simplicity of the ancients, than the following stanzas?
The stout Earl of Northumberland
A vow to God did make,
Three summer's days to take.
With fifteen hundred bowmen bold, All chosen men of might,
To aim their shafts aright.
The nimble deer to take,
An echo shrill did make.
-Vocat ingenti clamore Citkceron
Taygetique canes, domitrixque Epidaurus equorum;
GEORG. in. 43.
Cithaeron loudly calls me to my way;Thy hounds, Taygetus, open and pursue the prey:High Epidaurus urges on my speed, Fam'd for his hills, and for his horses breed:
From hills and dales the cheerful cries rebound;
For Echo hunts along, and propagates the sound.
Lo, yonder doth Earl Douglas come,
His men in armour bright;
All marching in our sight.
All men of pleasant Tividale,
The country of the Scotch warriors, described in these two last verses, has a fine romantic situation, and affords a couple of smooth words for verse. If the reader compares the foregoing six lines of the song with the following Latin verses, he will see how much they are written in the spirit of Virgil:
Adoersi campo apparent, hastasque reductis
Quique alium Preenesle viri, quique arva Gabinxe
Hernica saxa enfant: qui rosea rura Velini,
Qui Telricce korrentes rapes, montemque Severum,
Qui Tiberim Fabarimque bibunt,
#N.xi. 605. vii. 68?, 7l£
Advancing in a line, they couch their spears .
Piaeneste sends a chosen band, With those who plow Saturnia's Gabine land:
That followed from Velinum's dewy land
And mountaineers that from Severus came:
But to proceed:
Earl Douglas on a milk-white steed,
Most like a baron bold,
Turnus ul antemlans tardum pnecesserat agmen, tfc.
Our English archers bent their bows,
Their hearts were good and true;
Full threescore Scots they slew. They clos'd full fast on ev'ry side,
No slackness there was found;
Lay gasping on the ground. With that there came an arrow keen
Out of an English bow,
A deep and deadly blow.
.iEneas was wounded after the same manner by an unknown hand in the midst of a parley.
Has inter voces, media inter talia verba,
Thus, while he spake, unmindful of defence,
But of all the descriptive parts of this song, there are none more beautiful than the four following stanzas, which have a great,force and spirit in them, and are filled with very natural circumstances. The thought in the third stanza was never touched by any other poet, and is such an one as would have shined in Homer or in Virgil:
So thus did both these nobles die,
Whose courage none could stain;
The noble Earl was slain.
He had a bow bent in his hand,
Made of a trusty tree,
Unto the head drew he.
Against Sir Hugh Montgomery
So right his shaft he set,
In his heart-blood was wet.
This fight did last from break of day
Till setting of the sun;
The battle scarce was done.
One may observe, likewise, that in the catalogue of the slain, the author has followed the example of the great ancient poets, not only in giving a long list of the dead, but by diversifying it with little characters of particular persons.
And with Earl Douglas there was slain
Sir Hugh Montgomery,
One foot would never fly:
Sir Charles Murrel of Ratclifftoo,
His sister's son was he;
The familiar sound in these names destroys the majesty of the description; for this reason I do not mention this part of the poem but to shew the natural cast of thought which appears in it, as the two last verses look almost like a translation of Virgil.
-Cmlil et Ripheut justissimus unus
Qui fiat in Teucris et servanltssimus trqui.
Diis aliler visum
XX. ii. 42S.
In the catalogue of the English who fell, Witherington's behaviour is in the same manner particularized very artfully, as the reader is prepared for it by that account which is given of him in the beginning of the battle; though I am satisfied your little buffoon readers (who have seen that passage ridiculed in Hudibras) will not be able to take the beauty of it: for which reason I dare not so much as quote it.
Then stept a gallant 'squire forth,
VVitherington was his name,
To Henry our king for shame,
And I stood looking on.
We meet with the same heroic sentiment in Virgil.
Non pudet, 0 RuluU, cunctis pro talibus unam
£N. xii. 239.