Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Battle of Naseby (part 1 of 2)

Much of the work I get to read is by nineteenth-century historians trying to clear the name of Puritanism. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, there was quite a name to clear. Puritans were famous for... well... you'll see.

Lord Macaulay (1800-1859), prominent whig politician, essayist and historian, was also a deft poet. Here is the first part of his "Battle of Naseby" (1824 - it wasn't written in two parts originally, but I've divided it for the sake of creating a cliffhanger... and the second part's even better than the first). In it, he describes the battle from the point of view of a Puritan Parliamentarian. Believe it or not, he was quite a defender of Puritanism for his time. Best read out loud, and not for the faint hearted!


By Obadiah Bind-their-Kings-in-chains-and-their-nobles-with-links-of-iron, Serjeant in Ireton’s Regiment

Oh! Wherefore come ye forth, in triumph from the North,
With your hands, and your feet, and your raiment all red?
And wherefore doth your rout send forth a joyous shout?
And whence be the grapes of the wine-press which ye tread?

Oh evil was the root, and bitter was the fruit,
And crimson was the juice of the vintage that we trod;
For we trampled on the throng of the haughty and the strong,
Who sate in the high places, and slew the saints of God.

It was about the noon of the glorious day of June,
That we saw their banners dance, and their cuirasses shine,
And the Man of Blood was there, with his long essenced hair,
And Astley, and Sir Marmaduke, and Rupert of the Rhine.

Like a servant of the Lord, with his Bible and his sword,
The General rode along us to form us in the fight,
When a murmuring sound broke out, and swell’d into a shout,
Among the godless horsemen upon the tyrant’s right.

And hark! like the roar of the billows on the shore,
The cry of battle rises along their charging line!
For God! for the Cause! for the Church! for the Laws!
For Charles King of England and Rupert of the Rhine!

The furious German comes, with his clarions and his drums,
His bravoes of Alsatia, and pages of Whitehall;
They are bursting on our flanks. Grasp your pikes, close your ranks;
For Rupert never comes but to conquer or to fall.

They are here! They rush on! We are broken! We are gone!
Our left is borne before them like stubble on the blast.
O Lord, put forth thy might! O Lord, defend the right!
Stand back to back, in God’s name, and fight it to the last.

1 comment:

Bridges said...

I am ready for the exciting conclusion!


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