« 上一页继续 »
Some gentlemen of Picardy, having collected about 600 peasants, had fallen upon the English baggage, and were doing execution on the unarmed followers of the camp, who fled before them. Henry, seeing the enemy on all sides of him, began to entertain fears from his prisoners, and he thought it necessary to issue general orders for putting them to death. But on discovering the truth he stopped the slaughter, and was still able to save a great number.
No battle was ever more fatal to France by the number of princes or nobility slain and taken prisoners. Among the former were the Constable himself, the Count of Nevers and the Duke of Brabant, brothers to the Duke of Normandy, the Duke of Alencon, and others. The most eminent prisoners were the Dukes of Orleans and Bourbon. An Archbishop of Sens was slain in this battle. The killed are computed, on the whole, to have amounted to ten thousand men; and as the slaughter fell chiefly upon the cavalry, it is pretended that of these, eight thousand were gentlemen. Henry was master of fourteen thousand prisoners. The person of chief note who fell among the English was the Duke of York, who perished fighting by the king's side, and had thus met with an end more honourable than his life. All the English who were slain exceeded not forty; though some writers make the number more considerable.
The three great battles of Cressy, Poictiers, and Agincourt bear a singular resemblance to each other in their most considerable circumstances. In all of them there appears the same daring in the English princes, who, without any object of importance, merely for the sake of plunder, had ventured so far into the enemy's country as to leave themselves no retreat ; and unless saved by the utmost imprudence of the French commanders, were, from their very situation, exposed to inevitable destruction. But allowance being made for this daring, there appears in the day of action the same presence of mind, dexterity, courage, firmness, and precaution on the part of the English; the same recklessness, confusion, and vain confidence on the part of the French. The events were such as might have been expected from such opposite conduct. The immediate consequences, too, of these three great victories were similar. Instead of pursuing the French with vigour, and taking advantage of their consternation, the English princes, after their victory, seem rather to have relaxed their efforts, and to have allowed the enemy leisure to recover from his losses. Henry interrupted not his march a moment after the battle of Agincourt. He proceeded to Calais, thence to England; he even concluded a truce with the enemy, and it was not till after an interval of two years that any body of English troops appeared in France.
MUNGO PARK AND KING ALMANI. This monarch was called Almani, a Moorish name, though I was told he was not a Mahometan, but a Kaffir, or pagan. I had heard that he had acted towards Major Houghton with great unkindness, and caused him to be plundered. His behaviour, therefore, towards myself at this interview, though much more civil than I expected, was far from freeing me from uneasiness. I still was afraid of some double dealing : and as I was now entirely in his power, I thought it best to smooth the way by a present. Accordingly I took with me in the evening one canister of gunpowder,
some amber, tobacco, and my umbrella; and as I considered that my bundles would certainly be searched, I concealed some few articles in the roof of the hut where I lodged, and I put on my new blue coat in order to preserve it.
All the houses belonging to the king and his family are surrounded by a lofty mud wall, which converts the whole into a kind of citadel. The inside is divided into several courts, each of which must be passed through in order to gain access to the king's presence. At the first place of entrance, I observed a man standing with a musket on his shoulder; and I found the way to the king's presence very intricate, leading through many passages, with sentinels placed at the different doors. When we came to the entrance of the court in which the king resides, both my guide and interpreter, according to custom, took off their sandals ; and the former pronounced the king's name aloud, repeating it till he was answered from within.
We found the monarch sitting upon a mat, and two attendants with him. I repeated what I had before told him concerning the object of my journey, and my reasons for passing through his country. He seemed, however, but half satisfied. The notion of travelling for curiosity was quite new to him. He thought it impossible, he said, that any man in his senses would undertake so dangerous a journey, merely to look at the country and its inhabitants. However, when I offered to show him the contents of my portmanteau, and everything belonging to me, he was convinced ; and it was evident his suspicion had arisen from a belief that every white man must of necessity be a trader.
When I had delivered my presents, he seemed well
pleased, and was particularly delighted with the umbrella, which he opened and shut a great many times, to the great admiration of himself and his two attendants, who could not, for some time, comprehend the use of this wonderful machine. After this, I was about to take my leave, when the king, desiring me to stop awhile, began a long speech in favour of the white men, praising their immense wealth and good dispositions. He next proceeded to say what an excellent thing my blue coat was, of which the yellow buttons seemed especially to catch his fancy. He concluded by entreating me to present it to him, assuring me, for my consolation under the loss of it, that he would wear it on all public occasions, and inform every one who saw him of my great kindness towards him. The request of an African prince in his own dominions, especially to a stranger, comes little short of a command. It is only a way of obtaining by gentle means what he can, if he pleases, take by force; and as it was against my interest to offend him by a refusal, I very quietly took off my coat, the only good one in my possession, and laid it at his feet.
In return for my compliance, he presented me with a plentiful supply of provisions, and desired to see me again in the morning. I therefore attended, and found him sitting upon his bed. He told me he was sick, and wished to have a little blood taken from him ; but I had no sooner tied up his arm, and displayed the lancet, than his courage failed, and he begged me to postpone the operation till the afternoon, as he felt himself, he said, much better than he had been, and thanked me kindly for my readiness to serve him.
He then observed that his women were very desirous
to see me, and requested that I would favour them with a visit. An attendant was ordered to conduct me, and I had no sooner entered the court set apart for the ladies than the whole of them came around me, some begging for physic, some for amber, and all of them desirous of trying that great African remedy, blood-letting. They were ten or twelve in number, most of them young and handsome, and wearing on their heads ornaments of gold and beads of amber.
They rallied me with a good deal of gaiety on different subjects, especially on the whiteness of my skin and the sharpness of my nose. They insisted that both of these were produced by artificial means. The whiteness of my skin, they said, was procured when I was an infant by dipping me in milk; and they said my nose must have been pinched every day until it had acquired its present unsightly appearance. In return for my company or my compliments, they presented me with a jar of honey and some fish, which were sent to my lodging; and I was desired to come again to the king a little before sunset.
I carried with me some beads and writing paper, it being usual to present some small offering on taking leave, in return for which the king gave me five drachms of gold, observing that it was but a trifle, and giver out of pure friendship, but would be of use to me in travelling, for the purchase of provisions. He seconded this act of politeness by one still greater, courteously telling me that though it was customary to examine the baggage of every traveller passing through his country, he would dispense with that ceremony, adding, I was at liberty to depart when I pleased.