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Henry of Monmouth, Volume 1 by James Endell Tyler

315 and in the work called Ypodigma Neustriae


[Footnote 297: Milner, Church History, Cent. XV.]

[Footnote 298: Turner, History of England, book ii. ch. x.]

[Footnote 299: Rapin, who follows Hall, and gives no better authority, tells us that Prince Henry's court was the receptacle of libertines, debauchees, buffoons, parasites, and the like. The question naturally suggests itself, "Ought not such a writer as Rapin to have sought for some evidence to support this assertion?" Had he sought diligently, and reported honestly, such a sentence as this could never have fallen from his pen. Carte gives a very different view of Henry of Monmouth's court; and a view, as many believe, far nearer the truth. "It was crowded," he says, "by the nobles and great men of the land, when his father's court was comparatively deserted."]

The expressions of Walsingham, (being the same in his History, (p. 315) and in the work called "Ypodigma Neustriae," or "A Sketch of Normandy," which he dedicated to Henry V. himself,) are considered by some persons to have laid an insurmountable barrier in the way of those who would remove

from Henry's "brow," as Prince, "the stain" of "wildness, riot, and dishonour." And, doubtless, no one who would discharge the office of an upright judge or an honest witness, would either suppress or gloss over the passage which is supposed to present these formidable difficulties, or withdraw from the balance a particle of the full weight which might appear after examination to belong to that passage as its own. In our inquiry, however, we must be upon our guard against the fallacy in which too many writers, when handling this question, have indulged by arguing in a circle. We must not first say, Walsingham bears testimony to Henry's early depravity, therefore we must believe him to have been guilty; and then conclude, because tradition fixes delinquency on Henry's early days, therefore Walsingham's passage can admit only of that interpretation which fixes the guilt upon him. Let Walsingham's text be fairly sifted upon its own merits; and then, whatever shall appear to have been his (p. 316) meaning of an adverse nature, let that be added to the evidence against Henry; and let the whole be put into the scale, and weighed against whatever may be alleged in refutation of the charges with which his memory has been assailed. It would be the result then of a morbid deference to the opinions of others, rather than the judgment of his own reasoning, were the Author to withhold his persuasion that more importance has been assigned to Walsingham's words than a full and unbiassed scrutiny into their real bearing would sanction. To the judgment of each individually must this branch of evidence, no less than the entire question of Henry's moral character, be left. A transcript of Walsingham's words, as they appear in the printed editions of his History and in the "Ypodigma Neustriae,"[300] will be found at the foot of the page.[301] The following is probably (p. 317) as close a rendering of the original, as the strangely metaphorical, and in some cases the obscure expressions of Walsingham will bear. "On which day [of Henry's coronation] there was a very severe storm of snow, all persons marvelling at the roughness of the weather. Some considered the disturbance of the atmosphere as portending the new King's destiny to be cold in action, severe in discipline and in the exercise of the royal functions; others, forming a milder estimate of the person of the King, interpreted this inclemency of the sky as the best omen, namely, that the King himself would cause the colds and snows of vices to fall in his reign, and the mild fruits of (p. 318) virtues to spring up; so that, with practical truth, it might be said by his subjects, 'The winter is past, the rain is over and gone.' For verily, as soon as he was initiated with the chaplet of royalty, he suddenly was changed into another man, studying rectitude, modesty, and gravity, [or propriety, moderation, and steadiness,] desiring to exercise every class of virtue without omitting any; whose manners and conduct were an example to persons of every condition in life, as well of the clergy as of the laity."


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