Today coincides with both dates. As a tribute, let’s post both Shakespeare’s speech and something more reasoned by Macaulay.
GLOUCESTER Where is the king? BEDFORD The king himself is rode to view their battle. WESTMORELAND Of fighting men they have full three score thousand. EXETER There’s five to one; besides, they all are fresh. SALISBURY God’s arm strike with us! ’tis a fearful odds. God be wi’ you, princes all; I’ll to my charge: If we no more meet till we meet in heaven, Then, joyfully, my noble Lord of Bedford, My dear Lord Gloucester, and my good Lord Exeter, And my kind kinsman, warriors all, adieu! BEDFORD Farewell, good Salisbury; and good luck go with thee! EXETER Farewell, kind lord; fight valiantly to-day: And yet I do thee wrong to mind thee of it, For thou art framed of the firm truth of valour. Exit SALISBURY BEDFORD He is full of valour as of kindness; Princely in both. Enter the KING WESTMORELAND O that we now had here But one ten thousand of those men in England That do no work to-day! KING HENRY V What’s he that wishes so? My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin: If we are mark’d to die, we are enow To do our country loss; and if to live, The fewer men, the greater share of honour. God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more. By Jove, I am not covetous for gold, Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost; It yearns me not if men my garments wear; Such outward things dwell not in my desires: But if it be a sin to covet honour, I am the most offending soul alive. No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England: God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour As one man more, methinks, would share from me For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more! Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host, That he which hath no stomach to this fight, Let him depart; his passport shall be made And crowns for convoy put into his purse: We would not die in that man’s company That fears his fellowship to die with us. This day is called the feast of Crispian: He that outlives this day, and comes safe home, Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named, And rouse him at the name of Crispian. He that shall live this day, and see old age, Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours, And say ’To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’ Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars. And say ’These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’ Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot, But he’ll remember with advantages What feats he did that day: then shall our names. Familiar in his mouth as household words Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter, Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester, Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d. This story shall the good man teach his son; And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by, From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be remember’d; We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile, This day shall gentle his condition: And gentlemen in England now a-bed Shall think themselves accursed they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day. Re-enter SALISBURY SALISBURY My sovereign lord, bestow yourself with speed: The French are bravely in their battles set, And will with all expedience charge on us. KING HENRY V All things are ready, if our minds be so. WESTMORELAND Perish the man whose mind is backward now! KING HENRY V Thou dost not wish more help from England, coz? WESTMORELAND God’s will! my liege, would you and I alone, Without more help, could fight this royal battle! KING HENRY V Why, now thou hast unwish’d five thousand men; Which likes me better than to wish us one. You know your places: God be with you all!
William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act 4 Scene 3 (1599). One notes that Branagh’s performance (youtubed here) in this role is really very good, as he often is. The author—not ordinarily inclined to sentimentality and well aware of manipulativeness and the logical unsoundness of these words—still finds it hard to see this performance with an unstirred heart. The desire to go out and find some some French knights to perforate with arrows is almost irresistible.No worries, dear readers from France! We wouldn’t want to hurt you, even if you happen to be knights.
If we were to prophesy that in the year 1930 a population of fifty millions, better fed, clad, and lodged than the English of our time, will cover these islands, that Sussex and Huntingdonshire will be wealthier than the wealthiest parts of the West Riding of Yorkshire now are, that cultivation, rich as that of a flower-garden, will be carried up to the very tops of Ben Nevis and Helvellyn, that machines constructed on principles yet undiscovered will be in every house, that there will be no highways but railroads, no travelling but by steam, that our debt, vast as it seems to us, will appear to our great-grandchildren a trifling encumbrance, which might easily be paid off in a year or two, many people would think us insane. We prophesy nothing; but this we say: If any person had told the Parliament which met in perplexity and terror after the crash in 1720 that in 1830 the wealth of England would surpass all their wildest dreams, that the annual revenue would equal the principal of that debt which they considered as an intolerable burden, that for one man of ten thousand pounds then living there would be five men of fifty thousand pounds, that London would be twice as large and twice as populous, and that nevertheless the rate of mortality would have diminished to one-half of what it then was, that the post-office would bring more into the exchequer than the excise and customs had brought in together under Charles the Second, that stage coaches would run from London to York in twenty-four hours, that men would be in the habit of sailing without wind, and would be beginning to ride without horses, our ancestors would have given as much credit to the prediction as they gave to Gulliver’s Travels. Yet the prediction would have been true.
Thomas Babington Macaulay, Review of Southey’s Colloquies (1830). The whole essay, still extremely relevant after 200 years, may be the finest essay in the English language. It certainly is the most brutal book review, as evidenced by its opening paragraph:
It would be scarcely possible for a man of Mr. Southey’s talents and acquirements to write two volumes so large as those before us, which should be wholly destitute of information and amusement. Yet we do not remember to have read with so little satisfaction any equal quantity of matter, written by any man of real abilities. We have, for some time past, observed with great regret the strange infatuation which leads the Poet Laureate to abandon those departments of literature in which he might excel, and to lecture the public on sciences which he has still the very alphabet to learn. He has now, we think, done his worst. The subject which he has at last undertaken to treat is one which demands all the highest intellectual and moral qualities of a philosophical statesman, an understanding at once comprehensive and acute, a heart at once upright and charitable. Mr. Southey brings to the task two faculties which were never, we believe, vouchsafed in measure so copious to any human being, the faculty of believing without a reason, and the faculty of hating without a provocation.