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For as the soule doth rule the earthly masse,
brasse. The Faerie Queene, Book iv. Canto 9.
King. This battle fares like to the morning's war,
like a mighty sea Forced by the tide to combat with the wind; Now sways it that
like the selfsame sea
3 Henry VI., Act ii. Sc. 5.
Like as the tide, that comes fro th' ocean mayne
Thus did the battell varie to and fro,
Then he halfe vanquist, then the other seemed;
The Faerie Queene, Book iv. Canto 3. King Henry's description of the battle is very similar to the description contained in these stanzas.
Shakespeare compares the battle to a mighty sea forced by the tide to combat with the wind:
Now one the better, then another best,
Yet neither conqueror, nor conquered. And Spenser compares the battle to the tide which, flowing up the Shenan from the ocean, overrules the current of that river, and is in turn forced back again to the sea :
Now this the better had, now had his fo;
Bard. By this sword, he that makes the first thrust, I'll kill him; by this sword, I will.
Pist. Sword is an oath, and oaths must have their
Henry V., Act i. Sc. 1.
Hot. The king hath many marching in his coats.
Doug. Now, by my sword, I will kill all his coats ;
1 Henry IV., Act v. Sc. 3.
SWEAR BY MY SWORD.'
Mow. I take it up; and by that sword I swear,
Richard II., Act i. Sc. 1.
Hor: } My lord, we will not.
Ham. Never make known what you have seen to
Nay, but swear't.
Mar. Nor I, my lord, in faith.
We have sworn, my lord, already.
Yellow in the cellarage-
Propose the oath, my lord.
seen, Swear by my sword.
Ghost. [Beneath] Swear.
Ham. Hic et ubique ? then we'll shift our ground. Come hither, gentlemen, And lay your hands again upon my sword : Never to speak of this that you have heard, Swear by my sword.
Hamlet, Act i. Sc. 5. Officer. You here shall swear, upon the sword of justice.
Winter's Tale, Act iii. Sc. 2.
Leontes. It shall be possible: Swear by this sword, Thou wilt perform my bidding:
Winter's Tale, Act ii. Sc. 3. He glad of life, and will eke to wreake The guilt on him which did this mischiefe breed, Swore by his sword, that neither day nor weeke He would surceasse, but him whereso he were would seeke.
The Faerie Queene, Book vi. Canto 7. By sanglamort my sword, whose deadly dent The blood hath of so many thousands shedd, I sweare ere long shall dearely it repent, Be he twixt heuen and earth shall hide his hedd, But soone he shall be found, and shortly doen be dead.
The Faerie Queene, Book iii. Canto 10. So can they both themselves full eath perswade To faire accordaunce, and both faults to shade, Either embracing other lovingly, And swearing faith to either on his blade ; Never thenceforth to nourish enmity, But either others cause to maintaine mutually.
The Faerie Queene, Book ii. Canto 8. Bard. Why, Sir John, my face does you no harm.
Fal. No, I'll be sworn; I make as good use of it as many a man doth of a Death's-head or a memento mori: I never see thy face, but I think upon hell-fire and Dives that lived in purple; for there he is in his robes, burning, burning. If thou wert any way given to virtue, I would swear by thy face; my oath should be 'By this fire, that's God's angel :' but thou art altogether given over; and wert indeed, but for the light in thy face, the son of utter darkness.
1 Henry IV., Act iii. Sc. 3.
You may read in Lucian, in that sweet dialogue which is entitled Toxaris, or of friendship, that the common oath of the Scythians was by the sword, and by the fire ; for that they accounted those two special Devine Powers, which should work vengeance on the perjurers. So do the Irish at this day, when they go to battle, say certain prayers or charms to their swords, making a therewith upon the earth, and thrusting the points of their blades into the ground, thinking thereby to have the better success in fight. Also they use commonly to swear by their swords.--SPENSER, A View of the State of Ireland.
It seems to have been usual for men before the Christian era to swear by or upon their swords, but amongst Christians this custom may have originated in the form of the Cross the sword presents where the guard crosses the blade, which I may now represent by the common sign of reference in books shaped like a straight sword thus,-. I have somewhere read that the blades of swords had formerly the sign of the Cross upon them, and I remember a stanza in Spenser's “Faerie Queene' which may support this statement:
The wretched man, that all this time did dwell