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a council was held, to decide whether they should return to England, or make another attempt on France. But, in their crippled state, with hardly any men fit to keep the field, this wears the air more of a bravado than a serious deliberation. The reason falsely and hypocritically assigned by the council, and which is said to have convinced Henry, if it did not proceed from his own suggestion, was, that Providence having declared in favour of his claims to the crown of France by the late victory, enough had been done for the present to establish his right, and that another time the same powerful protection would enable him to obtain the possession which he sought.
It is fit that we now pause, to consider the great talents which Henry displayed during this incursion, : as well as in preparing the means by which he was enabled to make it. He does not appear to have omitted any one measure which, in his circumstances, afforded a reasonable prospect of aiding his attempt, or any one precaution which seemed adapted to secure his dominions against harm from internal or external opposition during his absence. If honesty and good faith be put out of the question, his court of the clergy, his intrigue with the Burgundian, his refraining from all demands on the Parliament till the very last moment, his appeal to them, to his nobles, to his prelates at the council, and all the vigorous measures, both for recruiting his army, collecting a fleet, and supplying the absolute want of funds, entitle him to the praise of a provident, firm, and skilful ruler. In
the expedition itself his genius for war shone forth with extraordinary lustre. It would be difficult to cite any instance of that most difficult of military operations, a retreat, conducted with more skill and more fortitude, in more difficult circumstances, than the march from Harfleur to Maisoncelles. His valour in the field was as conspicuous, though doubtless far less to be admired, because a much less rare accomplishment, than the calmness with which he faced the dangers of his position before the battle, and the ability with which he provided for surmounting them. There wants no foil to set off the lustre of this achievement; yet it is difficult to avoid the reflection suggested by the accident of the two victories having been gained nearly on the same ground, that his ancestor both before and in the battle of Crecy had an incomparably easier task, and did not perform it with more distinguished ability or more complete success.
The return of Henry to England with his captives and his booty' was, as might be expected, greeted with every demonstration of joy by the multitude, too giddy either to reflect on the origin or on the result of national quarrels, and ever prone, especially in a rude age, to take peculiar delight in the contemplation of warlike exploits, and exalt above all other classes of men those who have led their followers to victory. The passage from Calais was so tempes
tuous that some vessels of the fleet were Nov. 1415. driven as far as the Dutch coast. Yet the
height of the waves did not restrain the burgesses of Dover from rushing into the sea, and the King was borne ashore in their arms. The magistrates and the secular clergy, with the friars, assembled in procession to receive him. His journey to the capital was, through the towns especially, a triumphal progress. At Blackheath he was met by the mayor, aldermen, and commons of London, attired in more than the accustomed gorgeousness of civic pomp, and departing from their constant usage of remaining within the city walls. The metropolitan clergy waited on him, bearing in solemn order the relics of seventy saints. The whole city gave itself up to boundless rejoicing, in the outward signs of which the vulgar taste of the age shone forth with signal glare. The gates and the streets were lined with tapestry, picturing the ancient victories of the English arms. Laurels in whole thickets were everywhere displayed. Children appeared aloft, representing cherubs, and chanting hymns, in which the praises of the King were mingled with those of the Almighty; and, that more substantial objects might regale the senses, artificial rills of the luscious wines deemed in those times the most precious of drinks were so conducted as to diffuse copiously this esteemed beverage. The conqueror, however, thought fit to interpose and restrain the flattery of the day. Devoutly ascribing the success of his arms to the favour of Heaven alone, he stopped the procession at St. Paul's, that he might there make his offerings before he reached his palace; and he forbade all further celebration of his victory, either by the poesy or the songs of his obsequious and intoxicated people. So overpowered, indeed, was he with humility, that he would not suffer his helmet to be borne before him, lest the blows which it had received and withstood might be exhibited to the admiration of the spectators. But it was otherwise with him at the ensuing festival of Christmas: that he caused to be celebrated with more than ordinary solemnity, and with every kind of feasting as well as pomp. A general thanksgiving was likewise held for the late successes, and the Divine aid supplicated in behalf of a war undertaken without the shadow of just ground, professedly to support the most extravagant of imaginary claims, but really to gratify a sordid love of plunder.
The Parliament which met under the Regent BedNov. 12, ford, before the King's return, partaking of
1415. the general enthusiasm inspired by his expedition, had granted a tenth and a fifteenth, while it advanced the term of payment of the last year's subsidy. It had likewise granted duties on wool and other merchandize for the King's life. The ParliaMarch 16. ment which Henry called in the following
1414. spring showed a similar liberality, advancing the subsidy granted to the Regent from Martinmas to Whitsuntide. The session, being closed in three weeks, was recommenced soon after Easter, when the
T. de Elm., 72. T. Wals., 440. Tit. Liv., 22. Monstrel., cap. cli. Hol., ij. 83. Hall, 22. Stowe, 551.
King announced that proposals of peace had been received from France through his kinsman Sigismund, King of the Romans, and Emperor elect.
This prince had arrived to visit Henry during the recess; he was well known for his successful efforts to terminate the schism in the Church by the Council of Constance; and, as he had, or pretended to have, some grievances against France, he was received in England with extraordinary pomp, entertained with great magnificence, and, together with the Duke of Holland, who came over about the same time, was honoured with the order of the Garter. An accident, however, had at first thrown some impediment in the way of his reception. While at Paris, on his journey, he had been present at a sitting of the Parliament, and out of respect for his rank, or from courtesy towards a guest, had been placed in the royal chair. A cause chanced to be hearing, in which one of the parties, claiming under a grant from the crown, was about to fail, as incapable of receiving such a gift, for want of a knight's degree. Sigismund, calling for a sword, removed the objection by conferring that honour on the party, and the cause was decided in his favour. This injudicious interference, however, moved the displeasure of the French monarch, who did not fail to reprove the Parliament for permitting so unseemly a proceeding. The accounts of the transaction had preceded the Emperor to England ; and, before he was suffered to land, he had to disavow all design of setting up any