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SPEECH OF EDWARD IV. BEFORE THE BATTLE
The battle of Barnet was fought in April, 1471. The Earl of Warwick, called Warwick the King Maker, commanded the Lancastrians, and Edward IV. the Yorkists. The Lancastrians were defeated, and the Earl of Warwick slain.
1. “ENGLISHMEN and friends," said the martial chief, " to bold deeds go but few words. Before you is the foe! From Ravenspur to London I have marched-treason flying from my sword, loyalty gathering to my standard. With but two thousand men, on the 14th of March I entered England-on the 14th of April, fifty thousand is my muster-roll. Who shall say, then, that I am not king, when one month mans a monarch's army from his subjects' love? And well know ye now that my cause is yours and England's !
2. “Those against us are men who would rule in despite of law,-barons whom I gorged with favors, and who would reduce this fair realm of king, lords, and commons, to be the appanage and property of one man's measureless ambitionthe park, forsooth, the homestead to Lord Warwick's private house!
3. “Ye gentlemen and knights of England, let them and their rabble prosper, and your properties will be despoiledyour lives insecure—all law struck dead. What differs Richard of Warwick from Jack Cade, save that, if his name is nobler, so is his treason greater?
4. “Commoners and soldiers of England-freemen, however humble—what do these rebel lords, who would rule in the name of Lancaster, desire? To reduce you to villeins and to bondsmen, as your forefathers were to them. Ye owe freedom from the barons to the just laws of my sires, your kings.
5. “Gentlemen and knights, commoners and soldiers, Edward the Fourth upon his throne will not profit by a victory more than you. This is no war of dainty chivalry-it is a war of true men against false. No quarter! Spare not either knight or hilding! Warwick, forsooth, will not smite the commons. Truly not—the rabble are his friends.
6. “I say to you”-and Edward, pausing in the excitement and sanguinary fury of his tiger nature-the soldiers, heated like himself to the thirst of blood, saw his eyes sparkle and his teeth gnash as he added, in a deeper and lower, but not less audible voice, “I say to you, slay all! What heel spares the viper's brood ?"
7. “We will, we will !" was the horrid answer, which came hissing and muttered forth from morion and cap of steel.
8. “Hark! to their bombards !” resumed Edward. “The enemy would fight from afar, for they excel us in their archers and gunners. Upon them, then-hand to hand, and
, man to man ! Advance banners-sound trumpets! Sir Oliver, my bassinet! Soldiers, if my standard falls, look for the plume upon your king's helmet! Charge !"
SPEECH OF THE EARL OF WARWICK BEFORE
THE BATTLE OF BARNET.
1. “My friends, my followers, and my children," said the earl, "the field we have entered is one from which there is no retreat; here must your leader conquer, or here die. It is not a parchment pedigree-it is not a name, derived from the ashes of dead men, that make the only character of a king. We Englishmen were but slaves, if, in giving crown and scepter to a mortal like ourselves, we ask not in return the kingly virtues.
2. “Beset of old by evil counselors, the reign of Henry VI. was obscured, and the weal of the realm endangered. Mine own wrongs seemed to me great, but the disasters of my country not less. I deemed that in the race of York, England would know a wiser and happier rule. What was, in this, mine error ye partly know.
3. “A prince dissolved in luxurious vices-a nobility degraded by minions and blood-suckers—a people plundered by purveyors, and a land disturbed by brawl and riot. But
ye know not all: God makes man's hearth man's altar-our hearths were polluted-our wives and daughters were dishonored-vice and immorality ruled the realm.
4. “A king's word should be fast as the pillars of the world. What man ever trusted Edward and was not deceived ? Even now the unknightly liar stands in arms with the weight of perjury on his soul. In his father's town of York, ye know that he took, three short weeks since, solemn oath of fealty to King Henry. And now King Henry is his captive, and King Henry's holy crown upon his traitor's head-traitors calls he us ?
5. "What name, then, rank enough for him ? Edward gave the promise of a brave man, and I served him. He proved a base, a false, a licentious, and a cruel king, and I forsook him; may all free hearts in all free lands so serve kings when they become tyrants.
6. “Ye fight against a cruel and a tortious usurper, whose bold hand cannot sanctify a black heart-ye fight not only for King Henry, the meek and the godly--ye fight not for him alone, but for his young and princely son, the grandchild of Henry of Agincourt, who, old men tell me, has that hero's face, and who, I know, has that hero's frank, and royal, and noble soul-ye fight for the freedom of your land, for the honor of your women, for what is better than any king's cause--for justice and mercy-for truth and manhood's virtues against corruption in the laws, slaughter by the scaffold, falsehood in a ruler's lips, and shameless fraud in the councils of ruthless power.
7. “The order I have ever given in war, I give now: we war against the leaders of evil, not against the hapless tools -We war against our oppressors, not against our misguided brethren. Strike down every plumed crest, but, when the strife is over, spare every common man! Hark! while I speak I hear the march of your foe! Up standards! blow trumpets! And now, as I brace my bassinet, may God grant
I us all a glorious victory, or a glorious grave. On, my merry men ! show these London loons the stout hearts of Warwickshire and Yorkshire. On, my merry men! A Warwick! A Warwick !"