history of england_david hume

Warriors of the continent must be regarded as

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Unformatted text preview: emonstrated with the king, that it would be better policy to prolong the war; at least, to spare his own person in the action. He urged to him, that the desperate situation of the duke of Normandy made it requisite for that prince to bring matters to a speedy decision, and put his whole fortune on the issue of a battle; but that the king of England, in his own country, beloved by his subjects, provided with every supply, had more certain and less dangerous means of ensuring to himself the victory: That the Norman troops, elated on the one hand with the highest hopes, and seeing, on the other, no resource in case of a discomfiture, would fight to the last extremity; and being the flower of all the warriors of the continent, must be regarded as formidable to the English: That if their first fire, which is always the most dangerous, were allowed to languish for want PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 117 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 of action; if they were harassed with small skirmishes, straitened in provisions, and fatigued with the bad weather and deep roads during the winter-season, which was approaching, they must fall an easy and a bloodless prey to their enemy: That if a general action were delayed, the English, sensible of the imminent danger, to which their properties, as well as liberties, were exposed from those rapacious invaders, would hasten from all quarters to his assistance, and would render his army invincible: That, at least, if he thought it necessary to hazard a battle, he ought not to expose his own person; but reserve, in case of disastrous accidents, some resource to the liberty and independance of the kingdom: And that having once been so unfortunate, as to be constrained to swear, and that upon the holy reliques, to support the pretensions of the duke of Normandy, it were better that the command of the army should be entrusted to another, who, not being bound by those sacred ties, might give the soldiers more assured hopes of a prosperous issue to the combat. Harold was deaf to all these remonstrances: Elated with his past prosperity, as well as stimulated by his native courage, he resolved to give battle in person; and for that purpose, he drew near to the Normans, who had removed their camp and fleet to Hastings, where they fixed their quarters. He was so confident of success, that he sent a message to the duke, promising him a sum of money, if he would depart the kingdom without effusion of blood: But his offer was rejected with disdain; and William, not to be behind with his enemy in vaunting, sent him a message by some monks, requiring him either to resign the kingdom, or to hold it of him in fealty, or to submit their cause to the arbitration of the pope, or to fight him in single combat. Harold replied, that the God of battles would soon be the arbiter of all their differences.m The English and Normans now prepared themselves for this important decision; but the aspect of things, on the night before the battle, was very 11th October. different in the two camps. The English spent the time in riot, and jollity, and disorder; the Normans in silence and in prayer, and in the other functions of their religion.n On the morning, the duke called together the most considerable of his commanders, and made them a speech suitable to the occasion. He represented to them, that the event, which they and he had long wished for, was approaching; the whol...
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