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No. 074 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

But to proceed.

Earl Dowglas on a milk-white Steed,
Most like a Baron bold,
Rode foremost of the Company,
Whose Armour shone like Gold.

Turnus ut antevolans tardum precesserat agmen, etc. Vidisti, quo Turnus equo, quibus ibat in armis Aureus …

Our English Archers bent their Bows
Their Hearts were good and true;
At the first Flight of Arrows sent,
Full threescore Scots they slew.

They clos’d full fast on ev’ry side,
No Slackness there was found.
And many a gallant Gentleman
Lay gasping on the Ground.

With that there came an Arrow keen
Out of an English Bow,
Which struck Earl Dowglas to the Heart
A deep and deadly Blow.

AEneas was wounded after the same Manner by an unknown Hand in the midst of a Parly.

Has inter voces, media inter talia verba,
Ecce viro stridens alis allapsa sagitta est,
Incertum qua pulsa manu …

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 those Nobles die,
Whose Courage none could stain:
An English Archer then perceived
The noble Earl was slain.

He had a Bow bent in his Hand,
Made of a trusty Tree,
An Arrow of a Cloth-yard long
Unto the Head drew he.

Against Sir Hugh Montgomery
So right his Shaft he set,
The Gray-goose Wing that was thereon
In his Heart-Blood was wet.

This Fight did last from Break of Day
Till setting of the Sun;
For when they rung the Evening Bell
The Battle scarce was done.

One may observe likewise, that in the Catalogue of the Slain the Author has followed the Example of the greatest 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 Dowglas there was slain
Sir Hugh Montgomery,
Sir Charles Carrel, that from the Field
One Foot would never fly:

Sir Charles Murrel of Ratcliff too,
His Sister’s Son was he;
Sir David Lamb, so well esteem’d,
Yet saved could not be.

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.

… Cadit et Ripheus justissimus unus
Qui fuit in Teucris et servantissimus aequi,
Diis aliter visum est …

In the Catalogue of the English [who [5]] 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,
Witherington was his Name,
Who said, I would not have it told
To Henry our King for Shame,

That e’er my Captain fought on Foot,
And I stood looking on.

We meet with the same Heroic Sentiments in Virgil.

Non pudet, O Rutuli, cunctis pro talibus unam
Objectare animam? numerone an viribus aequi
Non sumus … ?

What can be more natural or more moving than the Circumstances in which he describes the Behaviour of those Women who had lost their Husbands on this fatal Day?

Next Day did many Widows come
Their Husbands to bewail;
They washed their Wounds in brinish Tears,
But all would not prevail.

Their Bodies bath’d in purple Blood,
They bore with them away;
They kiss’d them dead a thousand Times,
When they were clad in Clay.

Thus we see how the Thoughts of this Poem, which naturally arise from the Subject, are always simple, and sometimes exquisitely noble; that the Language is often very sounding, and that the whole is written with a true poetical Spirit.

If this Song had been written in the Gothic Manner, which is the Delight of all our little Wits, whether Writers or Readers, it would not have hit the Taste of so many Ages, and have pleased the Readers of all Ranks and Conditions. I shall only beg Pardon for such a Profusion of Latin Quotations; which I should not have made use of, but that I feared my own Judgment would have looked too singular on such a Subject, had not I supported it by the Practice and Authority of Virgil.


[Footnote 1: that]

[Footnote 2: very sonorous;]

[Footnote 3: should perish]

[Footnote 4: should arise]

[Footnote 5: that]