And not to soldiers only, but to all who are engaged in the long warfare of life, is his conduct an example. To unite in our lives the two qualities expressed in his motto, “High spirit” and “reverent service,” is to be, indeed, not only a true gentleman and a true soldier, but a true Christian also. To show to all who differ from us, not only in war but in peace, that delicate forbearance, that fear of hurting another’s feelings, that happy art of saying the right thing to the right person, which he showed to the captive king, would indeed add a grace and a charm to the whole course of this troublesome world, such as none can afford to lose, whether high or low. Happy are they, who having this gift by birth and station, use it for its highest purposes; still more happy are they, who having it not by birth and station, have acquired it, as it may be acquired, by Christian gentleness and Christian charity.
And, lastly, to act in all the various difficulties of our every-day life, with that coolness, and calmness, and faith in a higher power than his own, which he showed when the appalling danger of his situation burst upon him at Poitiers, would smooth a hundred difficulties, and ensure a hundred victories. We often think that we have no power in ourselves, no advantages of position, to help us against our many temptations, to overcome the many obstacles we encounter. Let us take our stand by the Black Prince’s tomb, and go back once more in thought to the distant fields of France. A slight rise in the wild upland plain, a steep lane through vineyards and underwood, this was all that he had, humanly speaking, on his side; but he turned it to the utmost use of which it could be made, and won the most glorious of battles. So, in like manner, our advantages may be slight—hardly perceptible to any but ourselves—let us turn them to account, and the results will be a hundredfold; we have only to adopt the Black Prince’s bold and cheering words, when first he saw his enemies, “God is my help. I must fight them as best I can;” adding that lofty, yet resigned and humble prayer, which he uttered when the battle was announced to be inevitable, and which has since become a proverb, “God defend the right.”
DEAN STANLEY’S Memorials of Canterbury.
[Notes: The Black Prince. Edward, the son of Edward III, and father of Richard II. He not only won for the English the renown of conquest, but befriended the early efforts after liberty. His untimely death plunged England into the evils of a long minority under his son. The one stain on his name is his massacre of the townsfolk of Limoges.
“Reverent service,” or “I serve” (Ich dien), the motto adopted by the Black Prince from the King of Bohemia, his defeated foe.
Poitiers. His victory won over the French king, John, whom he took prisoner (1356).]
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