Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Best Bess

Perhaps you've already heard this speech, or heard of it. The simple nature of the phrasing, the genuine faith espressed, and the understated courage involved in delivering it make it a magnificent example of both personal resolve and inspiration even today, almost 430 years after Elizabeth I delivered it to her troops assembled at Tilbury:


My loving people, we have been persuaded by some, that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you, I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear; I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good will of my subjects.

And therefore I am come amongst you at this time, not as for my recreation or sport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all; to lay down, for my God, and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honor and my blood, even the dust. I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart of a king, and of a king of England, too; and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realms: to which, rather than any dishonor should grow by me, I myself will take up arms; I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field. I know already, by your forwardness, that you have deserved rewards and crowns; and we do assure you, on the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid you.

In the mean my lieutenant general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble and worthy subject; not doubting by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and by your valor in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over the enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people.

(Sundries proprietress Victoria and I were exchanging odd comments about Judi Dench and a passage from this speech came to mind. While double-checking the actual text with my memory, I was reminded just how marvelous a speech this was, and could not help comparing and contrasting it with the modern practice.)

2 comments:

Winston said...

It would serve all leaders to learn the lesson taught here -- the ability to endear and motivate with such passion and brevity. Our current "leader" proved once again last night that he has not the basic ability to do that, or to learn to do that.

Internet Ronin said...

I agree, Winston. At the same time, I believe that our dear leader actually has the ability to do so, but he has repeatedly failed to make the attempt until it was far too late to make a difference.

In my opinion, "What we have here is a failure to communicate" on a massive scale. It has been intentional. It is also unpardonable.

Thanks for commenting, Winston. Much appreciated.