Part 7 out of 9
invalid in the three Ridings, Saxon or Norman, but the palfrey of
the Lady Rowena might be seen journeying to his door, in company
with Father Glauber, her almoner, and Brother Thomas of Epsom, her
leech. She lighted up all the churches in Yorkshire with wax-
candles, the offerings of her piety. The bells of her chapel began
to ring at two o'clock in the morning; and all the domestics of
Rotherwood were called upon to attend at matins, at complins, at
nones, at vespers, and at sermon. I need not say that fasting was
observed with all the rigors of the Church; and that those of the
servants of the Lady Rowena were looked upon with most favor whose
hair-shirts were the roughest, and who flagellated themselves with
the most becoming perseverance.
Whether it was that this discipline cleared poor Wamba's wits or
cooled his humor, it is certain that he became the most melancholy
fool in England, and if ever he ventured upon a pun to the
shuddering poor servitors, who were mumbling their dry crusts below
the salt, it was such a faint and stale joke that noboby dared to
laugh at the innuendoes of the unfortunate wag, and a sickly smile
was the best applause he could muster. Once, indeed, when Guffo,
the goose-boy (a half-witted poor wretch), laughed outright at a
lamentably stale pun which Wamba palmed upon him at supper-time,
(it was dark, and the torches being brought in, Wamba said, "Guffo,
they can't see their way in the argument, and are going TO THROW A
LITTLE LIGHT UPON THE SUBJECT,") the Lady Rowena, being disturbed
in a theological controversy with Father Willibald, (afterwards
canonized as St. Willibald, of Bareacres, hermit and confessor,)
called out to know what was the cause of the unseemly interruption,
and Guffo and Wamba being pointed out as the culprits, ordered them
straightway into the court-yard, and three dozen to be administered
to each of them.
"I got you out of Front-de-Boeufs castle," said poor Wamba,
piteously, appealing to Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe, "and canst thou not
save me from the lash?"
"Yes, from Front-de-Boeuf's castle, WHERE YOU WERE LOCKED UP WITH
THE JEWESS IN THE TOWER!" said Rowena, haughtily replying to the
timid appeal of her husband. "Gurth, give him four dozen!"
And this was all poor Wamba got by applying for the mediation of
In fact, Rowena knew her own dignity so well as a princess of the
royal blood of England, that Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe, her consort,
could scarcely call his life his own, and was made, in all things,
to feel the inferiority of his station. And which of us is there
acquainted with the sex that has not remarked this propensity in
lovely woman, and how often the wisest in the council are made to
be as fools at HER board, and the boldest in the battle-field are
craven when facing her distaff?
"Where you were locked up with the Jewess in the tower," was a
remark, too, of which Wilfrid keenly felt, and perhaps the reader
will understand, the significancy. When the daughter of Isaac of
York brought her diamonds and rubies--the poor gentle victim!--and,
meekly laying them at the feet of the conquering Rowena, departed
into foreign lands to tend the sick of her people, and to brood
over the bootless passion which consumed her own pure heart, one
would have thought that the heart of the royal lady would have
melted before such beauty and humility, and that she would have
been generous in the moment of her victory.
But did you ever know a right-minded woman pardon another for being
handsome and more love-worthy than herself? The Lady Rowena did
certainly say with mighty magnanimity to the Jewish maiden, "Come
and live with me as a sister," as the former part of this history
shows; but Rebecca knew in her heart that her ladyship's proposition
was what is called BOSH (in that noble Eastern language with which
Wilfrid the Crusader was familiar), or fudge, in plain Saxon; and
retired with a broken, gentle spirit, neither able to bear the sight
of her rival's happiness, nor willing to disturb it by the contrast
of her own wretchedness. Rowena, like the most high-bred and
virtuous of women, never forgave Isaac's daughter her beauty, nor
her flirtation with Wilfrid (as the Saxon lady chose to term it);
nor, above all, her admirable diamonds and jewels, although Rowena
was actually in possession of them.
In a word, she was always flinging Rebecca into Ivanhoe's teeth.
There was not a day in his life but that unhappy warrior was made
to remember that a Hebrew damsel had been in love with him, and
that a Christian lady of fashion could never forgive the insult.
For instance, if Gurth, the swineherd, who was now promoted to be a
gamekeeper and verderer, brought the account of a famous wild-boar
in the wood, and proposed a hunt, Rowena would say, "Do, Sir
Wilfrid, persecute these poor pigs: you know your friends the Jews
can't abide them!" Or when, as it oft would happen, our lion-
hearted monarch, Richard, in order to get a loan or a benevolence
from the Jews, would roast a few of the Hebrew capitalists, or
extract some of the principal rabbis' teeth, Rowena would exult and
say, "Serve them right, the misbelieving wretches! England can
never be a happy country until every one of these monsters is
exterminated!" or else, adopting a strain of still more savage
sarcasm, would exclaim, "Ivanhoe my dear, more persecution for the
Jews! Hadn't you better interfere, my love? His Majesty will do
anything for you; and, you know, the Jews were ALWAYS SUCH
FAVORITES OF YOURS," or words to that effect. But, nevertheless,
her ladyship never lost an opportunity of wearing Rebecca's jewels
at court, whenever the Queen held a drawing-room; or at the York
assizes and ball, when she appeared there: not of course because
she took any interest in such things, but because she considered it
her duty to attend, as one of the chief ladies of the county.
Thus Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe, having attained the height of his
wishes, was, like many a man when he has reached that dangerous
elevation, disappointed. Ah, dear friends, it is but too often so
in life! Many a garden, seen from a distance, looks fresh and
green, which, when beheld closely, is dismal and weedy; the shady
walks melancholy and grass-grown; the bowers you would fain repose
in, cushioned with stinging-nettles. I have ridden in a caique
upon the waters of the Bosphorus, and looked upon the capital of
the Soldan of Turkey. As seen from those blue waters, with palace
and pinnacle, with gilded dome and towering cypress, it seemeth a
very Paradise of Mahound: but, enter the city, and it is but a
beggarly labyrinth of rickety huts and dirty alleys, where the ways
are steep and the smells are foul, tenanted by mangy dogs and
ragged beggars--a dismal illusion! Life is such, ah, well-a-day!
It is only hope which is real, and reality is a bitterness and a
Perhaps a man with Ivanhoe's high principles would never bring
himself to acknowledge this fact; but others did for him. He grew
thin, and pined away as much as if he had been in a fever under the
scorching sun of Ascalon. He had no appetite for his meals; he
slept ill, though he was yawning all day. The jangling of the
doctors and friars whom Rowena brought together did not in the
least enliven him, and he would sometimes give proofs of somnolency
during their disputes, greatly to the consternation of his lady.
He hunted a good deal, and, I very much fear, as Rowena rightly
remarked, that he might have an excuse for being absent from home.
He began to like wine, too, who had been as sober as a hermit; and
when he came back from Athelstane's (whither he would repair not
unfrequently), the unsteadiness of his gait and the unnatural
brilliancy of his eye were remarked by his lady: who, you may be
sure, was sitting up for him. As for Athelstane, he swore by St.
Wullstan that he was glad to have escaped a marriage with such a
pattern of propriety; and honest Cedric the Saxon (who had been
very speedily driven out of his daughter-in-law's castle) vowed by
St. Waltheof that his son had bought a dear bargain.
So Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe became almost as tired of England as his
royal master Richard was, (who always quitted the country when he
had squeezed from his loyal nobles, commons, clergy, and Jews, all
the money which he could get,) and when the lion-hearted Prince
began to make war against the French King, in Normandy and Guienne,
Sir Wilfrid pined like a true servant to be in company of the good
champion, alongside of whom he had shivered so many lances, and
dealt such woundy blows of sword and battle-axe on the plains of
Jaffa or the breaches of Acre. Travellers were welcome at
Rotherwood that brought news from the camp of the good King: and I
warrant me that the knight listened with all his might when Father
Drono, the chaplain, read in the St. James's Chronykyll (which was
the paper of news he of Ivanhoe took in) of "another glorious
triumph"--"Defeat of the French near Blois"--"Splendid victory at
Epte, and narrow escape of the French King:" the which deeds of
arms the learned scribes had to narrate.
However such tales might excite him during the reading, they left
the Knight of Ivanhoe only the more melancholy after listening: and
the more moody as he sat in his great hall silently draining his
Gascony wine. Silently sat he and looked at his coats-of-mail
hanging vacant on the wall, his banner covered with spider-webs,
and his sword and axe rusting there. "Ah, dear axe," sighed he
(into his drinking-horn)--"ah, gentle steel! that was a merry time
when I sent thee crashing into the pate of the Emir Abdul Melik as
he rode on the right of Saladin. Ah, my sword, my dainty headsman?
my sweet split-rib? my razor of infidel beards! is the rust to eat
thine edge off, and am I never more to wield thee in battle? What
is the use of a shield on a wall, or a lance that has a cobweb for
a pennon? O Richard, my good king, would I could hear once more
thy voice in the front of the onset! Bones of Brian the Templar?
would ye could rise from your grave at Templestowe, and that we
might break another spear for honor and--and--" . . .
"And REBECCA," he would have said; but the knight paused here in
rather a guilty panic: and her Royal Highness the Princess Rowena
(as she chose to style herself at home) looked so hard at him out
of her china-blue eyes, that Sir Wilfrid felt as if she was reading
his thoughts, and was fain to drop his own eyes into his flagon.
In a word, his life was intolerable. The dinner hour of the
twelfth century, it is known, was very early; in fact, people dined
at ten o'clock in the morning: and after dinner Rowena sat mum
under her canopy, embroidered with the arms of Edward the
Confessor, working with her maidens at the most hideous pieces of
tapestry, representing the tortures and martyrdoms of her favorite
saints, and not allowing a soul to speak above his breath, except
when she chose to cry out in her own shrill voice when a handmaid
made a wrong stitch, or let fall a ball of worsted. It was a
dreary life. Wamba, we have said, never ventured to crack a joke,
save in a whisper, when he was ten miles from home; and then Sir
Wilfrid Ivanhoe was too weary and blue-devilled to laugh; but
hunted in silence, moodily bringing down deer and wild-boar with
shaft and quarrel.
Then he besought Robin of Huntingdon, the jolly outlaw, nathless,
to join him, and go to the help of their fair sire King Richard,
with a score or two of lances. But the Earl of Huntingdon was a
very different character from Robin Hood the forester. There was
no more conscientious magistrate in all the county than his
lordship: he was never known to miss church or quarter-sessions; he
was the strictest game-proprietor in all the Riding, and sent
scores of poachers to Botany Bay. "A man who has a stake in the
country, my good Sir Wilfrid," Lord Huntingdon said, with rather a
patronizing air (his lordship had grown immensely fat since the
King had taken him into grace, and required a horse as strong as an
elephant to mount him)--"a man with a stake in the country ought to
stay IN the country. Property has its duties as well as its
privileges, and a person of my rank is bound to live on the land
from which he gets his living."
"'Amen!" sang out the Reverend ---- Tuck, his lordship's domestic
chaplain, who had also grown as sleek as the Abbot of Jorvaulx,
who was as prim as a lady in his dress, wore bergamot in his
handkerchief, and had his poll shaved and his beard curled every
day. And so sanctified was his Reverence grown, that he thought it
was a shame to kill the pretty deer, (though he ate of them still
hugely, both in pasties and with French beans and currant-jelly,)
and being shown a quarter-staff upon a certain occasion, handled it
curiously, and asked "what that ugly great stick was?"
Lady Huntingdon, late Maid Marian, had still some of her old fun
and spirits, and poor Ivanhoe begged and prayed that she would come
and stay at Rotherwood occasionally, and egayer the general dulness
of that castle. But her ladyship said that Rowena gave herself
such airs, and bored her so intolerably with stories of King Edward
the Confessor, that she preferred any place rather than Rotherwood,
which was as dull as if it had been at the top of Mount Athos.
The only person who visited it was Athelstane. "His Royal Highness
the Prince" Rowena of course called him, whom the lady received
with royal honors. She had the guns fired, and the footmen turned
out with presented arms when he arrived; helped him to all
Ivanhoe's favorite cuts of the mutton or the turkey, and forced her
poor husband to light him to the state bedroom, walking backwards,
holding a pair of wax-candles. At this hour of bedtime the Thane
used to be in such a condition, that he saw two pair of candles and
two Ivanhoes reeling before him. Let us hope it was not Ivanhoe
that was reeling, but only his kinsman's brains muddled with the
quantities of drink which it was his daily custom to consume.
Rowena said it was the crack which the wicked Bois Guilbert, "the
Jewess's OTHER lover, Wilfrid my dear," gave him on his royal
skull, which caused the Prince to be disturbed so easily; but
added, that drinking became a person of royal blood, and was but
one of the duties of his station.
Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe saw it would be of no avail to ask this man
to bear him company on his projected tour abroad; but still he
himself was every day more and more bent upon going, and he long
cast about for some means of breaking to his Rowena his firm
resolution to join the King. He thought she would certainty fall
ill if he communicated the news too abruptly to her: he would
pretend a journey to York to attend a grand jury; then a call to
London on law business or to buy stock; then he would slip over to
Calais by the packet, by degrees as it were; and so be with the
King before his wife knew that he was out of sight of Westminster
"Suppose your honor says you are going as your honor would say Bo!
to a goose, plump, short, and to the point," said Wamba the Jester--
who was Sir Wilfrid's chief counsellor and attendant--"depend on't
her Highness would bear the news like a Christian woman."
"Tush, malapert! I will give thee the strap," said Sir Wilfrid, in
a fine tone of high-tragedy indignation. "Thou knowest not the
delicacy of the nerves of high-born ladies. An she faint not,
write me down Hollander."
"I will wager my bauble against an Irish billet of exchange that
she will let your honor go off readily: that is, if you press not
the matter too strongly," Wamba answered, knowingly. And this
Ivanhoe found to his discomfiture: for one morning at breakfast,
adopting a degage air, as he sipped his tea, he said, "My love, I
was thinking of going over to pay his Majesty a visit in Normandy."
Upon which, laying down her muffin, (which, since the royal Alfred
baked those cakes, had been the chosen breakfast cate of noble
Anglo-Saxons, and which a kneeling page tendered to her on a
salver, chased by the Florentine, Benvenuto Cellini,)--"When do you
think of going, Wilfrid my dear?" the lady said; and the moment the
tea-things were removed, and the tables and their trestles put
away, she set about mending his linen, and getting ready his
So Sir Wilfrid was as disgusted at her readiness to part with him
as he had been weary of staying at home, which caused Wamba the
Fool to say, "Marry, gossip, thou art like the man on ship-board,
who, when the boatswain flogged him, did cry out 'Oh!' wherever the
rope's-end fell on him: which caused Master Boatswain to say,
'Plague on thee, fellow, and a pize on thee, knave, wherever I hit
thee there is no pleasing thee.'"
"And truly there are some backs which Fortune is always belaboring,"
thought Sir Wilfrid with a groan, "and mine is one that is ever
So, with a moderate retinue, whereof the knave Wamba made one, and
a large woollen comforter round his neck, which his wife's own
white fingers had woven, Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe left home to join
the King his master. Rowena, standing on the steps, poured out a
series of prayers and blessings, most edifying to hear, as her lord
mounted his charger, which his squires led to the door. "It was
the duty of the British female of rank," she said, "to suffer all--
ALL in the cause of her sovereign. SHE would not fear loneliness
during the campaign: she would bear up against widowhood,
desertion, and an unprotected situation."
"My cousin Athelstane will protect thee," said Ivanhoe, with
profound emotion, as the tears trickled down his basenet; and
bestowing a chaste salute upon the steel-clad warrior, Rowena
modestly said "she hoped his Highness would be so kind."
Then Ivanhoe's trumpet blew: then Rowena waved her pocket-
handkerchief: then the household gave a shout: then the pursuivant
of the good Knight, Sir Wilfrid the Crusader, flung out his banner
(which was argent, a gules cramoisy with three Moors impaled
sable): then Wamba gave a lash on his mule's haunch, and Ivanhoe,
heaving a great sigh, turned the tail of his war-horse upon the
castle of his fathers.
As they rode along the forest, they met Athelstane the Thane
powdering along the road in the direction of Rotherwood on his
great dray-horse of a charger. "Good-by, good luck to you, old
brick," cried the Prince, using the vernacular Saxon. "Pitch into
those Frenchmen; give it 'em over the face and eyes; and I'll stop
at home and take care of Mrs. I."
"Thank you, kinsman," said Ivanhoe--looking, however, not
particularly well pleased; and the chiefs shaking hands, the train
of each took its different way--Athelstane's to Rotherwood,
Ivanhoe's towards his place of embarkation.
The poor knight had his wish, and yet his face was a yard long and
as yellow as a lawyer's parchment; and having longed to quit home
any time these three years past, he found himself envying
Athelstane, because, forsooth, he was going to Rotherwood: which
symptoms of discontent being observed by the witless Wamba, caused
that absurd madman to bring his rebeck over his shoulder from his
back, and to sing--
"Before I lost my five poor wits,
I mind me of a Romish clerk,
Who sang how Care, the phantom dark,
Beside the belted horseman sits.
Methought I saw the griesly sprite
Jump up but now behind my Knight."
"Perhaps thou didst, knave," said Ivanhoe, looking over his
shoulder; and the knave went on with his jingle:
"And though he gallop as he may,
I mark that cursed monster black
Still sits behind his honor's back,
Tight squeezing of his heart alway.
Like two black Templars sit they there,
Beside one crupper, Knight and Care.
"No knight am I with pennoned spear,
To prance upon a bold destrere:
I will not have black Care prevail
Upon my long-eared charger's tail,
For lo, I am a witless fool,
And laugh at Grief and ride a mule."
And his bells rattled as he kicked his mule's sides.
"Silence, fool!" said Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe, in a voice both
majestic and wrathful. "If thou knowest not care and grief, it is
because thou knowest not love, whereof they are the companions.
Who can love without an anxious heart? How shall there be joy at
meeting, without tears at parting?" ("I did not see that his honor
or my lady shed many anon," thought Wamba the Fool; but he was only
a zany, and his mind was not right.) "I would not exchange my very
sorrows for thine indifference," the knight continued. "Where
there is a sun, there must be a shadow. If the shadow offend me,
shall I put out my eyes and live in the dark? No! I am content
with my fate, even such as it is. The Care of which thou speakest,
hard though it may vex him, never yet rode down an honest man. I
can bear him on my shoulders, and make my way through the world's
press in spite of him; for my arm is strong, and my sword is keen,
and my shield has no stain on it; and my heart, though it is sad,
knows no guile." And here, taking a locket out of his waistcoat
(which was made of chain-mail), the knight kissed the token, put it
back under the waistcoat again, heaved a profound sigh, and stuck
spurs into his horse.
As for Wamba, he was munching a black pudding whilst Sir Wilfrid
was making the above speech, (which implied some secret grief on
the knight's part, that must have been perfectly unintelligible to
the fool,) and so did not listen to a single word of Ivanhoe's
pompous remarks. They travelled on by slow stages through the
whole kingdom, until they came to Dover, whence they took shipping
for Calais. And in this little voyage, being exceedingly sea-sick,
and besides elated at the thought of meeting his sovereign, the
good knight cast away that profound melancholy which had
accompanied him during the whole of his land journey.
THE LAST DAYS OF THE LION.
From Calais Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe took the diligence across
country to Limoges, sending on Gurth, his squire, with the horses
and the rest of his attendants: with the exception of Wamba, who
travelled not only as the knight's fool, but as his valet, and who,
perched on the roof of the carriage, amused himself by blowing
tunes upon the conducteur's French horn. The good King Richard
was, as Ivanhoe learned, in the Limousin, encamped before a little
place called Chalus; the lord whereof, though a vassal of the
King's, was holding the castle against his sovereign with a
resolution and valor which caused a great fury and annoyance on the
part of the Monarch with the Lion Heart. For brave and magnanimous
as he was, the Lion-hearted one did not love to be balked any more
than another; and, like the royal animal whom he was said to
resemble, he commonly tore his adversary to pieces, and then,
perchance, had leisure to think how brave the latter had been. The
Count of Chalus had found, it was said, a pot of money; the royal
Richard wanted it. As the count denied that he had it, why did he
not open the gates of his castle at once? It was a clear proof
that he was guilty; and the King was determined to punish this
rebel, and have his money and his life too.
He had naturally brought no breaching guns with him, because those
instruments were not yet invented: and though he had assaulted the
place a score of times with the utmost fury, his Majesty had been
beaten back on every occasion, until he was so savage that it was
dangerous to approach the British Lion. The Lion's wife, the
lovely Berengaria, scarcely ventured to come near him. He flung
the joint-stools in his tent at the heads of the officers of state,
and kicked his aides-de-camp round his pavilion; and, in fact, a
maid of honor, who brought a sack-posset in to his Majesty from the
Queen after he came in from the assault, came spinning like a
football out of the royal tent just as Ivanhoe entered it.
"Send me my drum-major to flog that woman!" roared out the
infuriate King. "By the bones of St. Barnabas she has burned the
sack! By St. Wittikind, I will have her flayed alive. Ha, St.
George! ha, St. Richard! whom have we here?" And he lifted up his
demi-culverin, or curtal-axe--a weapon weighing about thirteen
hundredweight--and was about to fling it at the intruder's head,
when the latter, kneeling gracefully on one knee, said calmly, "It
is I, my good liege, Wilfrid of Ivanhoe."
"What, Wilfrid of Templestowe, Wilfrid the married man, Wilfrid the
henpecked!" cried the King with a sudden burst of good-humor,
flinging away the culverin from him, as though it had been a reed
(it lighted three hundred yards off, on the foot of Hugo de Bunyon,
who was smoking a cigar at the door of his tent, and caused that
redoubted warrior to limp for some days after). "What, Wilfrid my
gossip? Art come to see the lion's den? There are bones in it,
man, bones and carcasses, and the lion is angry," said the King,
with a terrific glare of his eyes. "But tush! we will talk of that
anon. Ho! bring two gallons of hypocras for the King and the good
Knight, Wilfrid of Ivanhoe. Thou art come in time, Wilfrid,
for, by St. Richard and St. George, we will give a grand assault
to-morrow. There will be bones broken, ha!"
"I care not, my liege," said Ivanhoe, pledging the sovereign
respectfully, and tossing off the whole contents of the bowl of
hypocras to his Highness's good health. And he at once appeared to
be taken into high favor; not a little to the envy of many of the
persons surrounding the King.
As his Majesty said, there was fighting and feasting in plenty
before Chalus. Day after day, the besiegers made assaults upon the
castle, but it was held so stoutly by the Count of Chalus and his
gallant garrison, that each afternoon beheld the attacking-parties
returning disconsolately to their tents, leaving behind them many
of their own slain, and bringing back with them store of broken
heads and maimed limbs, received in the unsuccessful onset. The
valor displayed by Ivanhoe in all these contests was prodigious;
and the way in which he escaped death from the discharges of
mangonels, catapults, battering-rams, twenty-four pounders, boiling
oil, and other artillery, with which the besieged received their
enemies, was remarkable. After a day's fighting, Gurth and Wamba
used to pick the arrows out of their intrepid master's coat-of-
mail, as if they had been so many almonds in a pudding. 'Twas well
for the good knight, that under his first coat-of armor he wore a
choice suit of Toledan steel, perfectly impervious to arrow-shots,
and given to him by a certain Jew, named Isaac of York, to whom he
had done some considerable services a few years back.
If King Richard had not been in such a rage at the repeated
failures of his attacks upon the castle, that all sense of justice
was blinded in the lion-hearted monarch, he would have been the
first to acknowledge the valor of Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe, and would
have given him a Peerage and the Grand Cross of the Bath at least a
dozen times in the course of the siege: for Ivanhoe led more than a
dozen storming parties, and with his own hand killed as many men
(viz, two thousand three hundred and fifty-one) within six, as were
slain by the lion-hearted monarch himself. But his Majesty was
rather disgusted than pleased by his faithful servant's prowess;
and all the courtiers, who hated Ivanhoe for his superior valor and
dexterity (for he would kill you off a couple of hundreds of them
of Chalus, whilst the strongest champions of the Kings host could
not finish more than their two dozen of a day), poisoned the royal
mind against Sir Wilfrid, and made the King look upon his feats of
arms with an evil eye. Roger de Backbite sneeringly told the King
that Sir Wilfrid had offered to bet an equal bet that he would kill
more men than Richard himself in the next assault: Peter de
Toadhole said that Ivanhoe stated everywhere that his Majesty was
not the man he used to be; that pleasures and drink had enervated
him; that he could neither ride, nor strike a blow with sword or
axe, as he had been enabled to do in the old times in Palestine:
and finally, in the twenty-fifth assault, in which they had very
nearly carried the place, and in which onset Ivanhoe slew seven,
and his Majesty six, of the sons of the Count de Chalus, its
defender, Ivanhoe almost did for himself, by planting his banner
before the King's upon the wall; and only rescued himself from
utter disgrace by saving his Majesty's life several times in the
course of this most desperate onslaught.
Then the luckless knight's very virtues (as, no doubt, my respected
readers know,) made him enemies amongst the men--nor was Ivanhoe
liked by the women frequenting the camp of the gay King Richard.
His young Queen, and a brilliant court of ladies, attended the
pleasure-loving monarch. His Majesty would transact business in
the morning, then fight severely from after breakfast till about
three o'clock in the afternoon; from which time, until after
midnight, there was nothing but jigging and singing, feasting and
revelry, in the royal tents. Ivanhoe, who was asked as a matter of
ceremony, and forced to attend these entertainments, not caring
about the blandishments of any of the ladies present, looked on at
their ogling and dancing with a countenance as glum as an
undertaker's, and was a perfect wet-blanket in the midst of the
festivities. His favorite resort and conversation were with a
remarkably austere hermit, who lived in the neighborhood of Chalus,
and with whom Ivanhoe loved to talk about Palestine, and the Jews,
and other grave matters of import, better than to mingle in the
gayest amusements of the court of King Richard. Many a night, when
the Queen and the ladies were dancing quadrilles and polkas (in
which his Majesty, who was enormously stout as well as tall,
insisted upon figuring, and in which he was about as graceful as an
elephant dancing a hornpipe), Ivanhoe would steal away from the
ball, and come and have a night's chat under the moon with his
reverend friend. It pained him to see a man of the King's age and
size dancing about with the young folks. They laughed at his
Majesty whilst they flattered him: the pages and maids of honor
mimicked the royal mountebank almost to his face; and, if Ivanhoe
ever could have laughed, he certainly would one night when the
King, in light-blue satin inexpressibles, with his hair in powder,
chose to dance the minuet de la cour with the little Queen
Then, after dancing, his Majesty must needs order a guitar, and
begin to sing. He was said to compose his own songs--words and
music--but those who have read Lord Campobello's "Lives of the Lord
Chancellors" are aware that there was a person by the name of
Blondel, who, in fact, did all the musical part of the King's
performances; and as for the words, when a king writes verses, we
may be sure there will be plenty of people to admire his poetry.
His Majesty would sing you a ballad, of which he had stolen every
idea, to an air that was ringing on all the barrel-organs of
Christendom, and, turning round to his courtiers, would say, "How
do you like that? I dashed it off this morning." Or, "Blondel,
what do you think of this movement in B flat?" or what not; and the
courtiers and Blondel, you may be sure, would applaud with all
their might, like hypocrites as they were.
One evening--it was the evening of the 27th March, 1199, indeed--
his Majesty, who was in the musical mood, treated the court with a
quantity of his so-called composition, until the people were fairly
tired of clapping with their hands and laughing in their sleeves.
First he sang an ORIGINAL air and poem, beginning
"Cherries nice, cherries nice, nice, come choose,
Fresh and fair ones, who'll refuse?" &c.
The which he was ready to take his affidavit he had composed the
day before yesterday. Then he sang an equally ORIGINAL heroic
melody, of which the chorus was
"Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the sea,
For Britons never, never, never slaves shall be," &c.
The courtiers applauded this song as they did the other, all except
Ivanhoe, who sat without changing a muscle of his features, until
the King questioned him, when the knight, with a bow said "he
thought he had heard something very like the air and the words
elsewhere." His Majesty scowled at him a savage glance from under
his red bushy eyebrows; but Ivanhoe had saved the royal life that
day, and the King, therefore, with difficulty controlled his
"Well," said he, "by St. Richard and St. George, but ye never heard
THIS song, for I composed it this very afternoon as I took my bath
after the melee. Did I not, Blondel?"
Blondel, of course, was ready to take an affidavit that his Majesty
had done as he said, and the King, thrumming on his guitar with his
great red fingers and thumbs, began to sing out of tune and as
"COMMANDERS OF THE FAITHFUL.
"The Pope he is a happy man,
His Palace is the Vatican,
And there he sits and drains his can:
The Pope he is a happy man.
I often say when I'm at home,
I'd like to be the Pope of Rome.
"And then there's Sultan Saladin,
That Turkish Soldan full of sin;
He has a hundred wives at least,
By which his pleasure is increased:
I've often wished, I hope no sin,
That I were Sultan Saladin.
"But no, the Pope no wife may choose,
And so I would not wear his shoes;
No wine may drink the proud Paynim,
And so I'd rather not be him:
My wife, my wine, I love I hope,
And would be neither Turk nor Pope."
"Encore! Encore! Bravo! Bis!" Everybody applauded the King's
song with all his might: everybody except Ivanhoe, who preserved
his abominable gravity: and when asked aloud by Roger de Backbite
whether he had heard that too, said firmly, "Yes, Roger de
Backbite; and so hast thou if thou darest but tell the truth."
"Now, by St. Cicely, may I never touch gittern again," bawled the
King in a fury, "if every note, word, and thought be not mine; may
I die in to-morrow's onslaught if the song be not my song. Sing
thyself, Wilfrid of the Lanthorn Jaws; thou could'st sing a good
song in old times." And with all his might, and with a forced
laugh, the King, who loved brutal practical jests, flung his guitar
at the head of Ivanhoe.
Sir Wilfrid caught it gracefully with one hand, and making an
elegant bow to the sovereign, began to chant as follows:--
"King Canute was weary-hearted; he had reigned for years a score,
Battling, struggling, pushing, fighting, killing much and robbing
And he thought upon his actions, walking by the wild sea-shore.
"'Twixt the Chancellor and Bishop walked the King with steps sedate,
Chamberlains and grooms came after, silversticks and goldsticks
Chaplains, aides-de-camp, and pages,--all the officers of state.
"Sliding after like his shadow, pausing when he chose to pause,
If a frown his face contracted, straight the courtiers dropped their
If to laugh the King was minded, out they burst in loud hee-haws.
"But that day a something vexed him, that was clear to old and
Thrice his Grace had yawned at table, when his favorite gleemen
Once the Queen would have consoled him, but he bade her hold her
"'Something ails my gracious master,' cried the Keeper of the Seal.
'Sure, my lord, it is the lampreys served at dinner, or the veal?'
'Psha!' exclaimed the angry monarch. 'Keeper, 'tis not that I feel.
"''Tis the HEART, and not the dinner, fool, that doth my rest impair:
Can a King be great as I am, prithee, and yet know no care?
Oh, I'm sick, and tired, and weary.'--Some one cried, 'The King's
"Then towards the lackeys turning, quick my Lord the Keeper nodded,
Straight the King's great chair was brought him, by two footmen
Languidly he sank into it: it was comfortably wadded.
"'Leading on my fierce companions,' cried be, 'over storm and brine,
I have fought and I have conquered! Where was glory like to mine?'
Loudly all the courtiers echoed: 'Where is glory like to thine?'
"'What avail me all my kingdoms? Weary am I now, and old;
Those fair sons I have begotten, long to see me dead and cold;
Would I were, and quiet buried, underneath the silent mould!
"'Oh, remorse, the writhing serpent! at my bosom tears and bites;
Horrid, horrid things I look on, though I put out all the lights;
Ghosts of ghastly recollections troop about my bed of nights.
"'Cities burning, convents blazing, red with sacrilegious fires;
Mothers weeping, virgins screaming, vainly for their slaughtered
Such a tender conscience,' cries the Bishop, 'every one admires.
"'But for such unpleasant bygones, cease, my gracious lord, to
They're forgotten and forgiven by our Holy Mother Church;
Never, never does she leave her benefactors in the lurch.
"'Look! the land is crowned with minsters, which your Grace's bounty
Abbeys filled with holy men, where you and Heaven are daily praised:
YOU, my lord, to think of dying? on my conscience I'm amazed!'
"'Nay, I feel,' replied King Canute, 'that my end is drawing near.'
'Don't say so,' exclaimed the courtiers (striving each to squeeze a
'Sure your Grace is strong and lusty, and may live this fifty year.'
"'Live these fifty years!' the Bishop roared, with actions made to
'Are you mad, my good Lord Keeper, thus to speak of King Canute!
Men have lived a thousand years, and sure his Majesty will do't.
"'Adam, Enoch, Lamech, Cainan, Mahaleel, Methusela,
Lived nine hundred years apiece, and mayn't the King as well as
'Fervently,' exclaimed the Keeper, 'fervently I trust he may.'
"'HE to die?' resumed the Bishop. 'He a mortal like to US?
Death was not for him intended, though communis omnibus:
Keeper, you are irreligious, for to talk and cavil thus.
"'With his wondrous skill in healing ne'er a doctor can compete,
Loathsome lepers, if he touch them, start up clean upon their feet;
Surely he could raise the dead up, did his Highness think it meet.
"'Did not once the Jewish captain stay the sun upon the hill,
And, the while he slew the foemen, bid the silver moon stand still?
So, no doubt, could gracious Canute, if it were his sacred will.'
"'Might I stay the sun above us, good Sir Bishop?' Canute cried;
'Could I bid the silver moon to pause upon her heavenly ride?
If the moon obeys my orders, sure I can command the tide.
"'Will the advancing waves obey me, Bishop, if I make the sign?'
Said the Bishop, bowing lowly, 'Land and sea, my lord, are thine.'
Canute turned towards the ocean--'Back!' he said, 'thou foaming
"'From the sacred shore I stand on, I command thee to retreat;
Venture not, thou stormy rebel, to approach thy master's seat:
Ocean, be thou still! I bid thee come not nearer to my feet!'
"But the sullen ocean answered with a louder, deeper roar,
And the rapid waves drew nearer, falling sounding on the shore;
Back the Keeper and the Bishop, back the King and courtiers bore.
"And he sternly bade them never more to kneel to human clay,
But alone to praise and worship That which earth and seas obey:
And his golden crown of empire never wore he from that day.
King Canute is dead and gone: Parasites exist alway."
At this ballad, which, to be sure, was awfully long, and as grave as
a sermon, some of the courtiers tittered, some yawned, and some
affected to be asleep and snore outright. But Roger de Backbite
thinking to curry favor with the King by this piece of vulgarity,
his Majesty fetched him a knock on the nose and a buffet on the ear,
which, I warrant me, wakened Master Roger; to whom the King said,
"Listen and be civil, slave; Wilfrid is singing about thee.--
Wilfrid, thy ballad is long, but it is to the purpose, and I have
grown cool during thy homily. Give me thy hand, honest friend.
Ladies, good night. Gentlemen, we give the grand assault to-morrow;
when I promise thee, Wilfrid, thy banner shall not be before mine."--
And the King, giving his arm to her Majesty, retired into the
ST. GEORGE FOR ENGLAND.
Whilst the royal Richard and his court were feasting in the camp
outside the walls of Chalus, they of the castle were in the most
miserable plight that may be conceived. Hunger, as well as the
fierce assaults of the besiegers, had made dire ravages in the
place. The garrison's provisions of corn and cattle, their very
horses, dogs, and donkeys had been eaten up--so that it might well
be said by Wamba "that famine, as well as slaughter, had THINNED
the garrison." When the men of Chalus came on the walls to defend
it against the scaling-parties of King Richard, they were like so
many skeletons in armor; they could hardly pull their bowstrings at
last, or pitch down stones on the heads of his Majesty's party, so
weak had their arms become; and the gigantic Count of Chalus--a
warrior as redoubtable for his size and strength as Richard
Plantagenet himself--was scarcely able to lift up his battle-axe
upon the day of that last assault, when Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe ran
him through the--but we are advancing matters.
What should prevent me from describing the agonies of hunger which
the Count (a man of large appetite) suffered in company with his
heroic sons and garrison?--Nothing, but that Dante has already done
the business in the notorious history of Count Ugolino; so that my
efforts might be considered as mere imitations. Why should I not,
if I were minded to revel in horrifying details, show you how the
famished garrison drew lots, and ate themselves during the siege;
and how the unlucky lot falling upon the Countess of Chalus, that
heroic woman, taking an affectionate leave of her family, caused
her large caldron in the castle kitchen to be set a-boiling, had
onions, carrots and herbs, pepper and salt made ready, to make a
savory soup, as the French like it; and when all things were quite
completed, kissed her children, jumped into the caldron from off a
kitchen stool, and so was stewed down in her flannel bed-gown?
Dear friends, it is not from want of imagination, or from having no
turn for the terrible or pathetic, that I spare you these details.
I could give you some description that would spoil your dinner and
night's rest, and make your hair stand on end. But why harrow your
feelings? Fancy all the tortures and horrors that possibly can
occur in a beleaguered and famished castle: fancy the feelings of
men who know that no more quarter will be given them than they
would get if they were peaceful Hungarian citizens kidnapped and
brought to trial by his Majesty the Emperor of Austria; and then
let us rush on to the breach and prepare once more to meet the
assault of dreadful King Richard and his men.
On the 29th of March in the year 1199, the good King, having
copiously partaken of breakfast, caused his trumpets to blow, and
advanced with his host upon the breach of the castle of Chalus.
Arthur de Pendennis bore his banner; Wilfrid of Ivanhoe fought on
the King's right hand. Molyneux, Bishop of Bullocksmithy, doffed
crosier and mitre for that day, and though fat and pursy, panted up
the breach with the most resolute spirit, roaring out war-cries and
curses, and wielding a prodigious mace of iron, with which he did
good execution. Roger de Backbite was forced to come in attendance
upon the sovereign, but took care to keep in the rear of his august
master, and to shelter behind his huge triangular shield as much as
possible. Many lords of note followed the King and bore the
ladders; and as they were placed against the wall, the air was
perfectly dark with the shower of arrows which the French archers
poured out at the besiegers, and the cataract of stones, kettles,
bootjacks, chests of drawers, crockery, umbrellas, congreve-
rockets, bombshells, bolts and arrows and other missiles which the
desperate garrison flung out on the storming-party. The King
received a copper coal-scuttle right over his eyes, and a mahogany
wardrobe was discharged at his morion, which would have felled an
ox, and would have done for the King had not Ivanhoe warded it off
skilfully. Still they advanced, the warriors falling around them
like grass beneath the scythe of the mower.
The ladders were placed in spite of the hail of death raining
round: the King and Ivanhoe were, of course, the first to mount
them. Chalus stood in the breach, borrowing strength from despair;
and roaring out, "Ha! Plantagenet, St. Barbacue for Chalus!" he
dealt the King a crack across the helmet with his battle-axe, which
shore off the gilt lion and crown that surmounted the steel cap.
The King bent and reeled back; the besiegers were dismayed; the
garrison and the Count of Chalus set up a shout of triumph: but it
As quick as thought Ivanhoe was into the Count with a thrust in
tierce, which took him just at the joint of the armor, and ran him
through as clean as a spit does a partridge. Uttering a horrid
shriek, he fell back writhing; the King recovering staggered up the
parapet; the rush of knights followed, and the union-jack was
planted triumphantly on the walls, just as Ivanhoe,--but we must
leave him for a moment.
"Ha, St. Richard!--ha, St. George!" the tremendous voice of the
Lion-king was heard over the loudest roar of the onset. At every
sweep of his blade a severed head flew over the parapet, a spouting
trunk tumbled, bleeding, on the flags of the bartizan. The world
hath never seen a warrior equal to that Lion-hearted Plantagenet,
as he raged over the keep, his eyes flashing fire through the bars
of his morion, snorting and chafing with the hot lust of battle.
One by one les enfans de Chalus had fallen; there was only one left
at last of all the brave race that had fought round the gallant
Count:--only one, and but a boy, a fair-haired boy, a blue-eyed
boy! he had been gathering pansies in the fields but yesterday--it
was but a few years, and he was a baby in his mother's arms! What
could his puny sword do against the most redoubted blade in
Christendom?--and yet Bohemond faced the great champion of England,
and met him foot to foot! Turn away, turn away, my dear young
friends and kind-hearted ladies! Do not look at that ill-fated
poor boy! his blade is crushed into splinters under the axe of the
conqueror, and the poor child is beaten to his knee! . . .
"Now, by St. Barbacue of Limoges," said Bertrand de Gourdon, "the
butcher will never strike down yonder lambling! Hold thy hand, Sir
King, or, by St. Barbacue--"
Swift as thought the veteran archer raised his arblast to his
shoulder, the whizzing bolt fled from the ringing string, and the
next moment crashed quivering into the corselet of Plantagenet.
'Twas a luckless shot, Bertrand of Gourdon! Maddened by the pain
of the wound, the brute nature of Richard was aroused: his fiendish
appetite for blood rose to madness, and grinding his teeth, and
with a curse too horrible to mention, the flashing axe of the royal
butcher fell down on the blond ringlets of the child, and the
children of Chalus were no more! . . .
I just throw this off by way of description, and to show what MIGHT
be done if I chose to indulge in this style of composition; but as
in the battles which are described by the kindly chronicler, of one
of whose works this present masterpiece is professedly a
continuation, everything passes off agreeably--the people are
slain, but without any unpleasant sensation to the reader; nay,
some of the most savage and blood-stained characters of history,
such is the indomitable good-humor of the great novelist, become
amiable, jovial companions, for whom one has a hearty sympathy--so,
if you please, we will have this fighting business at Chalus, and
the garrison and honest Bertrand of Gourdon, disposed of; the
former, according to the usage of the good old times, having been
hung up or murdered to a man, and the latter killed in the manner
described by the late Dr. Goldsmith in his History.
As for the Lion-hearted, we all very well know that the shaft of
Bertrand de Gourdon put an end to the royal hero--and that from
that 29th of March he never robbed nor murdered any more. And we
have legends in recondite books of the manner of the King's death.
"You must die, my son," said the venerable Walter of Rouen, as
Berengaria was carried shrieking from the King's tent. "Repent,
Sir King, and separate yourself from your children!"
"It is ill jesting with a dying man," replied the King. "Children
have I none, my good lord bishop, to inherit after me."
"Richard of England," said the archbishop, turning up his fine
eyes, "your vices are your children. Ambition is your eldest
child, Cruelty is your second child, Luxury is your third child;
and you have nourished them from your youth up. Separate yourself
from these sinful ones, and prepare your soul, for the hour of
departure draweth nigh."
Violent, wicked, sinful, as he might have been, Richard of England
met his death like a Christian man. Peace be to the soul of the
brave! When the news came to King Philip of France, he sternly
forbade his courtiers to rejoice at the death of his enemy. "It is
no matter of joy but of dolor," he said, "that the bulwark of
Christendom and the bravest king of Europe is no more."
Meanwhile what has become of Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe, whom we left
in the act of rescuing his sovereign by running the Count of Chalus
through the body?
As the good knight stooped down to pick his sword out of the corpse
of his fallen foe, some one coming behind him suddenly thrust a
dagger into his back at a place where his shirt-of-mail was open
(for Sir Wilfrid had armed that morning in a hurry, and it was his
breast, not his back, that he was accustomed ordinarily to protect);
and when poor Wamba came up on the rampart, which he did when the
fighting was over,--being such a fool that he could not be got to
thrust his head into danger for glory's sake--he found his dear
knight with the dagger in his back lying without life upon the body
of the Count de Chalus whom he had anon slain.
Ah, what a howl poor Wamba set up when he found his master killed!
How he lamented over the corpse of that noble knight and friend!
What mattered it to him that Richard the King was borne wounded to
his tent, and that Bertrand de Gourdon was flayed alive? At
another time the sight of this spectacle might have amused the
simple knave; but now all his thoughts were of his lord: so good,
so gentle, so kind, so loyal, so frank with the great, so tender to
the poor, so truthful of speech, so modest regarding his own merit,
so true a gentleman, in a word, that anybody might, with reason,
As Wamba opened the dear knight's corselet, he found a locket round
his neck, in which there was some hair; not flaxen like that of my
Lady Rowena, who was almost as fair as an Albino, but as black,
Wamba thought, as the locks of the Jewish maiden whom the knight
had rescued in the lists of Templestowe. A bit of Rowena's hair
was in Sir Wilfrid's possession, too; but that was in his purse
along with his seal of arms, and a couple of groats: for the good
knight never kept any money, so generous was he of his largesses
when money came in.
Wamba took the purse, and seal, and groats, but he left the locket
of hair round his master's neck, and when he returned to England
never said a word about the circumstance. After all, how should he
know whose hair it was? It might have been the knight's
grandmother's hair for aught the fool knew; so he kept his counsel
when he brought back the sad news and tokens to the disconsolate
widow at Rotherwood.
The poor fellow would never have left the body at all, and indeed
sat by it all night, and until the gray of the morning; when,
seeing two suspicious-looking characters advancing towards him, he
fled in dismay, supposing that they were marauders who were out
searching for booty among the dead bodies; and having not the least
courage, he fled from these, and tumbled down the breach, and never
stopped running as fast as his legs would carry him, until he
reached the tent of his late beloved master.
The news of the knight's demise, it appeared, had been known at his
quarters long before; for his servants were gone, and had ridden
off on his horses; his chests were plundered: there was not so much
as a shirt-collar left in his drawers, and the very bed and
blankets had been carried away by these FAITHFUL attendants. Who
had slain Ivanhoe? That remains a mystery to the present day; but
Roger de Backbite, whose nose he had pulled for defamation, and who
was behind him in the assault at Chalus, was seen two years
afterwards at the court of King John in an embroidered velvet
waistcoat which Rowena could have sworn she had worked for Ivanhoe,
and about which the widow would have made some little noise, but
that--but that she was no longer a widow.
That she truly deplored the death of her lord cannot be questioned,
for she ordered the deepest mourning which any milliner in York
could supply, and erected a monument to his memory as big as a
minster. But she was a lady of such fine principles, that she did
not allow her grief to overmaster her; and an opportunity speedily
arising for uniting the two best Saxon families in England, by an
alliance between herself and the gentleman who offered himself to
her, Rowena sacrificed her inclination to remain single, to her
sense of duty; and contracted a second matrimonial engagement.
That Athelstane was the man, I suppose no reader familiar with
life, and novels which are a rescript of life, and are all strictly
natural and edifying, can for a moment doubt. Cardinal Pandulfo
tied the knot for them: and lest there should be any doubt about
Ivanhoe's death (for his body was never sent home after all, nor
seen after Wamba ran away from it), his Eminence procured a Papal
decree annulling the former marriage, so that Rowena became Mrs.
Athelstane with a clear conscience. And who shall be surprised, if
she was happier with the stupid and boozy Thane than with the
gentle and melancholy Wilfrid? Did women never have a predilection
for fools, I should like to know; or fall in love with donkeys,
before the time of the amours of Bottom and Titania? Ah! Mary, had
you not preferred an ass to a man, would you have married Jack
Bray, when a Michael Angelo offered? Ah! Fanny, were you not a
woman, would you persist in adoring Tom Hiccups, who beats you, and
comes home tipsy from the Club? Yes, Rowena cared a hundred times
more about tipsy Athelstane than ever she had done for gentle
Ivanhoe, and so great was her infatuation about the former, that
she would sit upon his knee in the presence of all her maidens, and
let him smoke his cigars in the very drawing-room.
This is the epitaph she caused to be written by Father Drono (who
piqued himself upon his Latinity) on the stone commemorating the
death of her late lord:--
Hic est Guilfridus, belli dum vixit avidus:
Cum gladio et lancea, Normania et quoque Francia
Verbera dura dabat: per Turcos multum equitabat:
Guilbertum occidit: atque Hierosolyma vidit.
Heu! nunc sub fossa sunt tanti militis ossa,
Uxor Athelstani est conjux castissima Thani.
And this is the translation which the doggerel knave Wamba made of
the Latin lines:
"Under the stone you behold,
Buried, and coffined, and cold,
Lieth Sir Wilfrid the Bold.
"Always he marched in advance,
Warring in Flanders and France,
Doughty with sword and with lance.
"Famous in Saracen fight,
Rode in his youth the good knight,
Scattering Paynims in flight.
"Brian the Templar untrue,
Fairly in tourney he slew,
Saw Hierusalem too.
"Now he is buried and gone,
Lying beneath the gray stone:
Where shall you find such a one?
"Long time his widow deplored,
Weeping the fate of her lord,
Sadly cut off by the sword.
"When she was eased of her pain,
Came the good Lord Athelstane,
When her ladyship married again."
Athelstane burst into a loud laugh, when he heard it, at the last
line, but Rowena would have had the fool whipped, had not the Thane
interceded; and to him, she said, she could refuse nothing.
I trust nobody will suppose, from the events described in the last
chapter, that our friend Ivanhoe is really dead. Because we have
given him an epitaph or two and a monument, are these any reasons
that he should be really gone out of the world? No: as in the
pantomime, when we see Clown and Pantaloon lay out Harlequin and
cry over him, we are always sure that Master Harlequin will be up
at the next minute alert and shining in his glistening coat; and,
after giving a box on the ears to the pair of them, will be taking
a dance with Columbine, or leaping gayly through the clock-face, or
into the three-pair-of-stairs' window:--so Sir Wilfrid, the
Harlequin of our Christmas piece, may be run through a little, or
may make believe to be dead, but will assuredly rise up again when
he is wanted, and show himself at the right moment.
The suspicious-looking characters from whom Wamba ran away were no
cut-throats and plunderers, as the poor knave imagined, but no
other than Ivanhoe's friend, the hermit, and a reverend brother of
his, who visited the scene of the late battle in order to see if
any Christians still survived there, whom they might shrive and get
ready for heaven, or to whom they might possibly offer the benefit
of their skill as leeches. Both were prodigiously learned in the
healing art; and had about them those precious elixirs which so
often occur in romances, and with which patients are so miraculously
restored. Abruptly dropping his master's head from his lap as he
fled, poor Wamba caused the knight's pate to fall with rather a
heavy thump to the ground, and if the knave had but stayed a minute
longer, he would have heard Sir Wilfrid utter a deep groan. But
though the fool heard him not, the holy hermits did; and to
recognize the gallant Wilfrid, to withdraw the enormous dagger still
sticking out of his back, to wash the wound with a portion of the
precious elixir, and to pour a little of it down his throat, was
with the excellent hermits the work of an instant: which remedies
being applied, one of the good men took the knight by the heels and
the other by the head, and bore him daintily from the castle to
their hermitage in a neighboring rock. As for the Count of Chalus,
and the remainder of the slain, the hermits were too much occupied
with Ivanhoe's case to mind them, and did not, it appears, give them
any elixir: so that, if they are really dead, they must stay on the
rampart stark and cold; or if otherwise, when the scene closes upon
them as it does now, they may get up, shake themselves, go to the
slips and drink a pot of porter, or change their stage-clothes and
go home to supper. My dear readers, you may settle the matter among
yourselves as you like. If you wish to kill the characters really
off, let them be dead, and have done with them: but, entre nous, I
don't believe they are any more dead than you or I are, and
sometimes doubt whether there is a single syllable of truth in this
Well, Ivanhoe was taken to the hermits' cell, and there doctored by
the holy fathers for his hurts; which were of such a severe and
dangerous order, that he was under medical treatment for a very
considerable time. When he woke up from his delirium, and asked
how long he had been ill, fancy his astonishment when he heard that
he had been in the fever for six years! He thought the reverend
fathers were joking at first, but their profession forbade them
from that sort of levity; and besides, he could not possibly have
got well any sooner, because the story would have been sadly put
out had he appeared earlier. And it proves how good the fathers
were to him, and how very nearly that scoundrel of a Roger de
Backbite's dagger had finished him, that he did not get well under
this great length of time; during the whole of which the fathers
tended him without ever thinking of a fee. I know of a kind
physician in this town who does as much sometimes; but I won't do
him the ill service of mentioning his name here.
Ivanhoe, being now quickly pronounced well, trimmed his beard,
which by this time hung down considerably below his knees, and
calling for his suit of chain-armor, which before had fitted his
elegant person as tight as wax, now put it on, and it bagged and
hung so loosely about him, that even the good friars laughed at his
absurd appearance. It was impossible that he should go about the
country in such a garb as that: the very boys would laugh at him:
so the friars gave him one of their old gowns, in which he
disguised himself, and after taking an affectionate farewell of his
friends, set forth on his return to his native country. As he went
along, he learned that Richard was dead, that John reigned, that
Prince Arthur had been poisoned, and was of course made acquainted
with various other facts of public importance recorded in Pinnock's
Catechism and the Historic Page.
But these subjects did not interest him near so much as his own
private affairs; and I can fancy that his legs trembled under him,
and his pilgrim's staff shook with emotion, as at length, after
many perils, he came in sight of his paternal mansion of
Rotherwood, and saw once more the chimneys smoking, the shadows of
the oaks over the grass in the sunset, and the rooks winging over
the trees. He heard the supper gong sounding: he knew his way to
the door well enough; he entered the familiar hall with a
benedicite, and without any more words took his place.
. . . . . .
You might have thought for a moment that the gray friar trembled
and his shrunken cheek looked deadly pale; but he recovered himself
presently: nor could you see his pallor for the cowl which covered
A little boy was playing on Athelstane's knee; Rowena smiling and
patting the Saxon Thane fondly on his broad bullhead, filled him a
huge cup of spiced wine from a golden jug. He drained a quart of
the liquor, and, turning round, addressed the friar:--
"And so, gray frere, thou sawest good King Richard fall at Chalus
by the bolt of that felon bowman?"
"We did, an it please you. The brothers of our house attended the
good King in his last moments: in truth, he made a Christian
"And didst thou see the archer flayed alive? It must have been
rare sport," roared Athelstane, laughing hugely at the joke. "How
the fellow must have howled!"
"My love!" said Rowena, interposing tenderly, and putting a pretty
white finger on his lip.
"I would have liked to see it too," cried the boy.
"That's my own little Cedric, and so thou shalt. And, friar, didst
see my poor kinsman Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe? They say he fought
well at Chalus!"
"My sweet lord," again interposed Rowena, "mention him not."
"Why? Because thou and he were so tender in days of yore--when you
could not bear my plain face, being all in love with his pale one?"
"Those times are past now, dear Athelstane," said his affectionate
wife, looking up to the ceiling.
"Marry, thou never couldst forgive him the Jewess, Rowena."
"The odious hussy! don't mention the name of the unbelieving
creature," exclaimed the lady.
"Well, well, poor Wil was a good lad--a thought melancholy and
milksop though. Why, a pint of sack fuddled his poor brains."
"Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe was a good lance," said the friar. "I have
heard there was none better in Christendom. He lay in our convent
after his wounds, and it was there we tended him till he died. He
was buried in our north cloister."
"And there's an end of him," said Athelstane. "But come, this is
dismal talk. Where's Wamba the Jester? Let us have a song. Stir
up, Wamba, and don't lie like a dog in the fire! Sing us a song,
thou crack-brained jester, and leave off whimpering for bygones.
Tush, man! There be many good fellows left in this world."
"There be buzzards in eagles' nests," Wamba said, who was lying
stretched before the fire, sharing the hearth with the Thane's
dogs. "There be dead men alive, and live men dead. There be merry
songs and dismal songs. Marry, and the merriest are the saddest
sometimes. I will leave off motley and wear black, gossip
Athelstane. I will turn howler at funerals, and then, perhaps, I
shall be merry. Motley is fit for mutes, and black for fools.
Give me some drink, gossip, for my voice is as cracked as my
"Drink and sing, thou beast, and cease prating," the Thane said.
And Wamba, touching his rebeck wildly, sat up in the chimney-side
and curled his lean shanks together and began:--
"LOVE AT TWO SCORE.
"Ho! pretty page, with dimpled chin,
That never has known the barber's shear,
All your aim is woman to win--
This is the way that boys begin--
Wait till you've come to forty year!
"Curly gold locks cover foolish brains,
Billing and cooing is all your cheer,
Sighing and singing of midnight strains
Under Bonnybells' window-panes.
Wait till you've come to forty year!
"Forty times over let Michaelmas pass,
Grizzling hair the brain doth clear;
Then you know a boy is an ass,
Then you know the worth of a lass,
Once you have come to forty year.
"Pledge me round, I bid ye declare,
All good fellows whose beards are gray:
Did not the fairest of the fair
Common grow, and wearisome, ere
Ever a month was passed away?
"The reddest lips that ever have kissed,
The brightest eyes that ever have shone,
May pray and whisper and we not list,
Or look away and never be missed,
Ere yet ever a month was gone.
"Gillian's dead, Heaven rest her bier,
How I loved her twenty years syne!
Marian's married, but I sit here,
Alive and merry at forty year,
Dipping my nose in the Gascon wine."
"Who taught thee that merry lay, Wamba, thou son of Witless?"
roared Athelstane, clattering his cup on the table and shouting the
"It was a good and holy hermit, sir, the pious clerk of Copmanhurst,
that you wot of, who played many a prank with us in the days that we
knew King Richard. Ah, noble sir, that was a jovial time and a good
"They say the holy priest is sure of the next bishopric, my love,"
said Rowena. "His Majesty hath taken him into much favor. My Lord
of Huntingdon looked very well at the last ball; but I never could
see any beauty in the Countess--a freckled, blowsy thing, whom they
used to call Maid Marian: though, for the matter of that, what
between her flirtations with Major Littlejohn and Captain Scarlett,
"Jealous again--haw! haw!" laughed Athelstane.
"I am above jealousy, and scorn it," Rowena answered, drawing
herself up very majestically.
"Well, well, Wamba's was a good song," Athelstane said.
"Nay, a wicked song," said Rowena, turning up her eyes as usual.
"What! rail at woman's love? Prefer a filthy wine cup to a true
wife? Woman's love is eternal, my Athelstane. He who questions it
would be a blasphemer were he not a fool. The well-born and well-
nurtured gentlewoman loves once and once only."
"I pray you, madam, pardon me, I--I am not well," said the gray
friar, rising abruptly from his settle, and tottering down the
steps of the dais. Wamba sprung after him, his bells jingling as
he rose, and casting his arms around the apparently fainting man,
he led him away into the court. "There be dead men alive and live
men dead," whispered he. "There be coffins to laugh at and
marriages to cry over. Said I not sooth, holy friar?" And when
they had got out into the solitary court, which was deserted by all
the followers of the Thane, who were mingling in the drunken
revelry in the hall, Wamba, seeing that none were by, knelt down,
and kissing the friar's garment, said, "I knew thee, I knew thee,
my lord and my liege!"
"Get up," said Wilfrid of Ivanhoe, scarcely able to articulate:
"only fools are faithful."
And he passed on, and into the little chapel where his father lay
buried. All night long the friar spent there: and Wamba the Jester
lay outside watching as mute as the saint over the porch.
When the morning came, Wumba was gone; and the knave being in the
habit of wandering hither and thither as he chose, little notice
was taken of his absence by a master and mistress who had not much
sense of humor. As for Sir Wilfrid, a gentleman of his delicacy of
feelings could not be expected to remain in a house where things so
naturally disagreeable to him were occurring, and he quitted
Rotherwood incontinently, after paying a dutiful visit to the tomb
where his old father, Cedric, was buried; and hastened on to York,
at which city he made himself known to the family attorney, a most
respectable man, in whose hands his ready money was deposited, and
took up a sum sufficient to fit himself out with credit, and a
handsome retinue, as became a knight of consideration. But he
changed his name, wore a wig and spectacles, and disguised himself
entirely, so that it was impossible his friends or the public
should know him, and thus metamorphosed, went about whithersoever
his fancy led him. He was present at a public ball at York, which
the lord mayor gave, danced Sir Roger de Coverley in the very same
set with Rowena--(who was disgusted that Maid Marian took
precedence of her)--he saw little Athelstane overeat himself at the
supper and pledge his big father in a cup of sack; he met the
Reverend Mr. Tuck at a missionary meeting, where he seconded a
resolution proposed by that eminent divine;--in fine, he saw a
score of his old acquaintances, none of whom recognized in him the
warrior of Palestine and Templestowe. Having a large fortune and
nothing to do, he went about this country performing charities,
slaying robbers, rescuing the distressed, and achieving noble feats
of arms. Dragons and giants existed in his day no more, or be sure
he would have had a fling at them: for the truth is, Sir Wilfrid of
Ivanhoe was somewhat sick of the life which the hermits of Chalus
had restored to him, and felt himself so friendless and solitary
that he would not have been sorry to come to an end of it. Ah, my
dear friends and intelligent British public, are there not others
who are melancholy under a mask of gayety, and who, in the midst of
crowds, are lonely? Liston was a most melancholy man; Grimaldi had
feelings; and there are others I wot of:--but psha!--let us have
the next chapter.
IVANHOE TO THE RESCUE.
The rascally manner in which the chicken-livered successor of
Richard of the Lion-heart conducted himself to all parties, to his
relatives, his nobles, and his people, is a matter notorious, and
set forth clearly in the Historic Page: hence, although nothing,
except perhaps success, can, in my opinion, excuse disaffection to
the sovereign, or appearance in armed rebellion against him, the
loyal reader will make allowance for two of the principal
personages of this narrative, who will have to appear in the
present chapter in the odious character of rebels to their lord and
king. It must be remembered, in partial exculpation of the fault
of Athelstane and Rowena, (a fault for which they were bitterly
punished, as you shall presently hear,) that the monarch
exasperated his subjects in a variety of ways,--that before he
murdered his royal nephew, Prince Arthur, there was a great
question whether he was the rightful king of England at all,--that
his behavior as an uncle, and a family man, was likely to wound the
feelings of any lady and mother,--finally, that there were
palliations for the conduct of Rowena and Ivanhoe, which it now
becomes our duty to relate.
When his Majesty destroyed Prince Arthur, the Lady Rowena, who was
one of the ladies of honor to the Queen, gave up her place at court
at once, and retired to her castle of Rotherwood. Expressions made
use of by her, and derogatory to the character of the sovereign,
were carried to the monarch's ears, by some of those parasites,
doubtless, by whom it is the curse of kings to be attended; and
John swore, by St. Peter's teeth, that he would be revenged upon
the haughty Saxon lady,--a kind of oath which, though he did not
trouble himself about all other oaths, he was never known to break.
It was not for some years after he had registered this vow, that he
was enabled to keep it.
Had Ivanhoe been present at Ronen, when the King meditated his
horrid designs against his nephew, there is little doubt that Sir
Wilfrid would have prevented them, and rescued the boy: for Ivanhoe
was, as we need scarcely say, a hero of romance; and it is the
custom and duty of all gentlemen of that profession to be present
on all occasions of historic interest, to be engaged in all
conspiracies, royal interviews, and remarkable occurrences: and
hence Sir Wilfrid would certainly have rescued the young Prince,
had he been anywhere in the neighborhood of Rouen, where the foul
tragedy occurred. But he was a couple of hundred leagues off, at
Chalus, when the circumstance happened; tied down in his bed as
crazy as a Bedlamite, and raving ceaselessly in the Hebrew tongue
(which he had caught up during a previous illness in which he was
tended by a maiden of that nation) about a certain Rebecca Ben
Isaacs, of whom, being a married man, he never would have thought,
had he been in his sound senses. During this delirium, what were
politics to him, or he to politics? King John or King Arthur was
entirely indifferent to a man who announced to his nurse-tenders,
the good hermits of Chalus before mentioned, that he was the
Marquis of Jericho, and about to marry Rebecca the Queen of Sheba.
In a word, he only heard of what had occurred when he reached
England, and his senses were restored to him. Whether was he
happier, sound of brain and entirely miserable, (as any man would
be who found so admirable a wife as Rowena married again,) or
perfectly crazy, the husband of the beautiful Rebecca? I don't
know which he liked best.
Howbeit the conduct of King John inspired Sir Wilfrid with so
thorough a detestation of that sovereign, that he never could be
brought to take service under him; to get himself presented at St.
James's, or in any way to acknowledge, but by stern acquiescence,
the authority of the sanguinary successor of his beloved King
Richard. It was Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe, I need scarcely say, who
got the Barons of England to league together and extort from the
king that famous instrument and palladium of our liberties at
present in the British Museum, Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury--
the Magna Charta. His name does not naturally appear in the list
of Barons, because he was only a knight, and a knight in disguise
too: nor does Athelstane's signature figure on that document.
Athelstane, in the first place, could not write; nor did he care a
pennypiece about politics, so long as he could drink his wine at
home undisturbed, and have his hunting and shooting in quiet.
It was not until the King wanted to interfere with the sport of
every gentleman in England (as we know by reference to the Historic
Page that this odious monarch did), that Athelstane broke out into
open rebellion, along with several Yorkshire squires and noblemen.
It is recorded of the King, that he forbade every man to hunt his
own deer; and, in order to secure an obedience to his orders, this
Herod of a monarch wanted to secure the eldest sons of all the
nobility and gentry, as hostages for the good behavior of their
Athelstane was anxious about his game--Rowena was anxious about her
son. The former swore that he would hunt his deer in spite of all
Norman tyrants--the latter asked, should she give up her boy to the
ruffian who had murdered his own nephew?* The speeches of both
were brought to the King at York; and, furious, he ordered an
instant attack upon Rotherwood, and that the lord and lady of that
castle should be brought before him dead or alive.
*See Hume, Giraldus Cambrensis, The Monk of Croyland, and Pinnock's
Ah, where was Wilfrid of Ivanhoe, the unconquerable champion, to
defend the castle against the royal party? A few thrusts from his
lance would have spitted the leading warriors of the King's host: a
few cuts from his sword would have put John's forces to rout. But
the lance and sword of Ivanhoe were idle on this occasion. "No, be
hanged to me!" said the knight, bitterly, "THIS is a quarrel in
which I can't interfere. Common politeness forbids. Let yonder
ale-swilling Athelstane defend his--ha, ha--WIFE; and my Lady
Rowena guard her--ha, ha, ha--SON." And he laughed wildly and
madly; and the sarcastic, way in which he choked and gurgled out
the words "wife" and "son" would have made you shudder to hear.
When he heard, however, that, on the fourth day of the siege,
Athelstane had been slain by a cannon-ball, (and this time for
good, and not to come to life again as he had done before,) and
that the widow (if so the innocent bigamist may be called) was
conducting the defence of Rotherwood herself with the greatest
intrepidity, showing herself upon the walls with her little son,
(who bellowed like a bull, and did not like the fighting at all,)
pointing the guns and encouraging the garrison in every way--better
feelings returned to the bosom of the Knight of Ivanhoe, and
summoning his men, he armed himself quickly and determined to go
forth to the rescue.
He rode without stopping for two days and two nights in the
direction of Rotherwood, with such swiftness and disregard for
refreshment, indeed, that his men dropped one by one upon the road,
and he arrived alone at the lodge-gate of the park. The windows
were smashed; the door stove in; the lodge, a neat little Swiss
cottage, with a garden where the pinafores of Mrs. Gurth's children
might have been seen hanging on the gooseberry-bushes in more
peaceful times, was now a ghastly heap of smoking ruins: cottage,
bushes, pinafores, children lay mangled together, destroyed by the
licentious soldiery of an infuriate monarch! Far be it from me to
excuse the disobedience of Athelstane and Rowena to their
sovereign; but surely, surely this cruelty might have been spared.
Gurth, who was lodge-keeper, was lying dreadfully wounded and
expiring at the flaming and violated threshold of his lately
picturesque home. A catapult and a couple of mangonels had done
his business. The faithful fellow, recognizing his master, who had
put up his visor and forgotten his wig and spectacles in the
agitation of the moment, exclaimed, "Sir Wilfrid! my dear master--
praised be St. Waltheof--there may be yet time--my beloved mistr--
master Athelst . . ." He sank back, and never spoke again.
Ivanhoe spurred on his horse Bavieca madly up the chestnut avenue.
The castle was before him; the western tower was in flames; the
besiegers were pressing at the southern gate; Athelstane's banner,
the bull rampant, was still on the northern bartizan. "An Ivanhoe,
an Ivanhoe!" he bellowed out, with a shout that overcame all the
din of battle: "Nostre Dame a la rescousse!" And to hurl his lance
through the midriff of Reginald de Bracy, who was commanding the
assault--who fell howling with anguish--to wave his battle-axe over
his own head, and cut off those of thirteen men-at-arms, was the
work of an instant. "An Ivanhoe, an Ivanhoe!" he still shouted,
and down went a man as sure as he said "hoe!"
"Ivanhoe! Ivanhoe!" a shrill voice cried from the top of the
northern bartizan. Ivanhoe knew it.
"Rowena my love, I come!" he roared on his part. "Villains! touch
but a hair of her head, and I . . ."
Here, with a sudden plunge and a squeal of agony, Bavieca sprang
forward wildly, and fell as wildly on her back, rolling over and
over upon the knight. All was dark before him; his brain reeled;
it whizzed; something came crashing down on his forehead. St.
Waltheof and all the saints of the Saxon calendar protect the
knight! . . .
When he came to himself, Wamba and the lieutenant of his lances
were leaning over him with a bottle of the hermit's elixir. "We
arrived here the day after the battle," said the fool; "marry, I
have a knack of that."
"Your worship rode so deucedly quick, there was no keeping up with
your worship," said the lieutenant.
"The day--after--the bat--" groaned Ivanhoe. "Where is the Lady
"The castle has been taken and sacked," the lieutenant said, and
pointed to what once WAS Rotherwood, but was now only a heap of
smoking ruins. Not a tower was left, not a roof, not a floor, not
a single human being! Everything was flame and ruin, smash and
Of course Ivanhoe fell back fainting again among the ninety-seven
men-at-arms whom he had slain; and it was not until Wamba had
applied a second, and uncommonly strong dose of the elixir that he
came to life again. The good knight was, however, from long
practice, so accustomed to the severest wounds, that he bore them
far more easily than common folk, and thus was enabled to reach
York upon a litter, which his men constructed for him, with
Rumor had as usual advanced before him; and he heard at the hotel
where he stopped, what had been the issue of the affair at
Rotherwood. A minute or two after his horse was stabbed, and
Ivanhoe knocked down, the western bartizan was taken by the
storming-party which invested it, and every soul slain, except
Rowena and her boy; who were tied upon horses and carried away,
under a secure guard, to one of the King's castles--nobody knew
whither: and Ivanhoe was recommended by the hotel-keeper (whose
house he had used in former times) to reassume his wig and
spectacles, and not call himself by his own name any more, lest
some of the King's people should lay hands on him. However, as he
had killed everybody round about him, there was but little danger
of his discovery; and the Knight of the Spectacles, as he was
called, went about York quite unmolested, and at liberty to attend
to his own affairs.
We wish to be brief in narrating this part of the gallant hero's
existence; for his life was one of feeling rather than affection,
and the description of mere sentiment is considered by many well-
informed persons to be tedious. What WERE his sentiments now, it
may be asked, under the peculiar position in which he found
himself? He had done his duty by Rowena, certainly: no man could
say otherwise. But as for being in love with her any more, after
what had occurred, that was a different question. Well, come what
would, he was determined still to continue doing his duty by her;--
but as she was whisked away the deuce knew whither, how could he do
anything? So he resigned himself to the fact that she was thus
He, of course, sent emissaries about the country to endeavor to
find out where Rowena was: but these came back without any sort of
intelligence; and it was remarked, that he still remained in a
perfect state of resignation. He remained in this condition for a
year, or more; and it was said that he was becoming more cheerful,
and he certainly was growing rather fat. The Knight of the
Spectacles was voted an agreeable man in a grave way; and gave some
very elegant, though quiet, parties, and was received in the best
society of York.
It was just at assize-time, the lawyers and barristers had arrived,
and the town was unusually gay; when, one morning, the attorney,
whom we have mentioned as Sir Wilfrid's man of business, and a most
respectable man, called upon his gallant client at his lodgings,
and said he had a communication of importance to make. Having to
communicate with a client of rank, who was condemned to be hanged
for forgery, Sir Roger de Backbite, the attorney said, he had been
to visit that party in the condemned cell; and on the way through
the yard, and through the bars of another cell, had seen and
recognized an old acquaintance of Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe--and the
lawyer held him out, with a particular look, a note, written on a
piece of whity-brown paper.
What were Ivanhoe's sensations when he recognized the handwriting
of Rowena!--he tremblingly dashed open the billet, and read as
"MY DEAREST IVANHOE,--For I am thine now as erst, and my first love
was ever--ever dear to me. Have I been near thee dying for a whole
year, and didst thou make no effort to rescue thy Rowena? Have ye
given to others--I mention not their name nor their odious creed--
the heart that ought to be mine? I send thee my forgiveness from
my dying pallet of straw.--I forgive thee the insults I have
received, the cold and hunger I have endured, the failing health of
my boy, the bitterness of my prison, thy infatuation about that
Jewess, which made our married life miserable, and which caused
thee, I am sure, to go abroad to look after her. I forgive thee
all my wrongs, and fain would bid thee farewell. Mr. Smith hath
gained over my gaoler--he will tell thee how I may see thee. Come
and console my last hour by promising that thou wilt care for my
boy--HIS boy who fell like a hero (when thou wert absent) combating
by the side of ROWENA."
The reader may consult his own feelings, and say whether Ivanhoe
was likely to be pleased or not by this letter: however, he
inquired of Mr. Smith, the solicitor, what was the plan which that
gentleman had devised for the introduction to Lady Rowena, and was
informed that he was to get a barrister's gown and wig, when the
gaoler would introduce him into the interior of the prison. These
decorations, knowing several gentlemen of the Northern Circuit, Sir
Wilfrid of Ivanhoe easily procured, and with feelings of no small
trepidation, reached the cell, where, for the space of a year, poor
Rowena had been immured.
If any person have a doubt of the correctness, of the historical
exactness of this narrative, I refer him to the "Biographie
Universelle" (article Jean sans Terre), which says, "La femme d'un
baron auquel on vint demander son fils, repondit, 'Le roi pense-t-
il que je confierai mon fils a un homme qui a egorge son neveu de
sa propre main?' Jean fit enlever la mere et l'enfant, et la
laissa MOURIR DE FAIM dans les cachots."
I picture to myself, with a painful sympathy, Rowena undergoing
this disagreeable sentence. All her virtues, her resolution, her
chaste energy and perseverance, shine with redoubled lustre, and,
for the first time since the commencement of the history, I feel
that I am partially reconciled to her. The weary year passes--she
grows weaker and more languid, thinner and thinner! At length
Ivanhoe, in the disguise of a barrister of the Northern Circuit, is
introduced to her cell, and finds his lady in the last stage of
exhaustion, on the straw of her dungeon, with her little boy in her
arms. She has preserved his life at the expense of her own, giving
him the whole of the pittance which her gaolers allowed her, and
perishing herself of inanition.
There is a scene! I feel as if I had made it up, as it were, with
this lady, and that we part in peace, in consequence of my providing
her with so sublime a death-bed. Fancy Ivanhoe's entrance--their
recognition--the faint blush upon her worn features--the pathetic
way in which she gives little Cedric in charge to him, and his
promises of protection.
"Wilfrid, my early loved," slowly gasped she, removing her gray
hair from her furrowed temples, and gazing on her boy fondly, as
he nestled on Ivanhoe's knee--"promise me, by St. Waltheof of
Templestowe--promise me one boon!"
"I do," said Ivanhoe, clasping the boy, and thinking it was to that
little innocent the promise was intended to apply.
"By St. Waltheof?"
"By St. Waltheof!"
"Promise me, then," gasped Rowena, staring wildly at him, "that you
never will marry a Jewess?"
"By St. Waltheof," cried Ivanhoe, "this is too much, Rowena!"--But
he felt his hand grasped for a moment, the nerves then relaxed, the
pale lips ceased to quiver--she was no more!
IVANHOE THE WIDOWER.
Having placed young Cedric at school at the hall of Dotheboyes, in
Yorkshire, and arranged his family affairs, Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe
quitted a country which had no longer any charms for him, and in
which his stay was rendered the less agreeable by the notion that
King John would hang him, if ever he could lay hands on the
faithful follower of King Richard and Prince Arthur.
But there was always in those days a home and occupation for a
brave and pious knight. A saddle on a gallant war-horse, a pitched
field against the Moors, a lance wherewith to spit a turbaned
infidel, or a road to Paradise carved out by his scimitar,--these
were the height of the ambition of good and religious warriors; and
so renowned a champion as Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe was sure to be
well received wherever blows were stricken for the cause of
Christendom. Even among the dark Templars, he who had twice
overcome the most famous lance of their Order was a respected
though not a welcome guest: but among the opposition company of the
Knights of St. John, he was admired and courted beyond measure; and
always affectioning that Order, which offered him, indeed, its
first rank and commanderies, he did much good service; fighting in
their ranks for the glory of heaven and St. Waltheof, and slaying
many thousands of the heathen in Prussia, Poland, and those savage
Northern countries. The only fault that the great and gallant,
though severe and ascetic Folko of Heydenbraten, the chief of the
Order of St. John, found with the melancholy warrior, whose lance
did such good service to the cause, was, that he did not persecute
the Jews as so religious a knight should. He let off sundry
captives of that persuasion whom he had taken with his sword and
his spear, saved others from torture, and actually ransomed the two
last grinders of a venerable rabbi (that Roger de Cartright, an
English knight of the Order, was about to extort from the elderly
Israelite,) with a hundred crowns and a gimmal ring, which were all
the property he possessed. Whenever he so ransomed or benefited
one of this religion, he would moreover give them a little token or
a message (were the good knight out of money), saying, "Take this
token, and remember this deed was done by Wilfrid the Disinherited,
for the services whilome rendered to him by Rebecca, the daughter
of Isaac of York!" So among themselves, and in their meetings and
synagogues, and in their restless travels from land to land, when
they of Jewry cursed and reviled all Christians, as such abominable
heathens will, they nevertheless excepted the name of the Desdichado,
or the doubly-disinherited as he now was, the Desdichado-Doblado.
The account of all the battles, storms, and scaladoes in which Sir
Wilfrid took part, would only weary the reader; for the chopping
off one heathen's head with an axe must be very like the
decapitation of any other unbeliever. Suffice it to say, that
wherever this kind of work was to be done, and Sir Wilfrid was in
the way, he was the man to perform it. It would astonish you were
you to see the account that Wamba kept of his master's achievements,
and of the Bulgarians, Bohemians, Croatians, slain or maimed by his
hand. And as, in those days, a reputation for valor had an immense
effect upon the soft hearts of women, and even the ugliest man, were
he a stout warrior, was looked upon with favor by Beauty: so
Ivanhoe, who was by no means ill-favored, though now becoming rather
elderly, made conquests over female breasts as well as over
Saracens, and had more than one direct offer of marriage made to him
by princesses, countesses, and noble ladies possessing both charms
and money, which they were anxious to place at the disposal of a
champion so renowned. It is related that the Duchess Regent of
Kartoffelberg offered him her hand, and the ducal crown of
Kartoffelberg, which he had rescued from the unbelieving Prussians;
but Ivanhoe evaded the Duchess's offer, by riding away from her
capital secretly at midnight and hiding himself in a convent of
Knights Hospitallers on the borders of Poland. And it is a fact
that the Princess Rosalia Seraphina of Pumpernickel, the most lovely
woman of her time, became so frantically attached to him, that she
followed him on a campaign, and was discovered with his baggage
disguised as a horse-boy. But no princess, no beauty, no female
blandishments had any charms for Ivanhoe: no hermit practised a more
austere celibacy. The severity of his morals contrasted so
remarkably with the lax and dissolute manner of the young lords and
nobles in the courts which he frequented, that these young
springalds would sometimes sneer and call him Monk and Milksop; but
his courage in the day of battle was so terrible and admirable, that
I promise you the youthful libertines did not sneer THEN; and the
most reckless of them often turned pale when they couched their
lances to follow Ivanhoe. Holy Waltheof! it was an awful sight to
see him with his pale calm face, his shield upon his breast, his
heavy lance before him, charging a squadron of heathen Bohemians, or
a regiment of Cossacks! Wherever he saw the enemy, Ivanhoe
assaulted him: and when people remonstrated with him, and said if he
attacked such and such a post, breach, castle, or army, he would be
slain, "And suppose I be?" he answered, giving them to understand
that he would as lief the Battle of Life were over altogether.
While he was thus making war against the Northern infidels news was
carried all over Christendom of a catastrophe which had befallen
the good cause in the South of Europe, where the Spanish Christians
had met with such a defeat and massacre at the hands of the Moors
as had never been known in the proudest day of Saladin.
Thursday, the 9th of Shaban, in the 605th year of the Hejira, is
known all over the West as the amun-al-ark, the year of the battle
of Alarcos, gained over the Christians by the Moslems of Andaluz,
on which fatal day Christendom suffered a defeat so signal, that it
was feared the Spanish peninsula would be entirely wrested away
from the dominion of the Cross. On that day the Franks lost
150,000 men and 30,000 prisoners. A man-slave sold among the
unbelievers for a dirhem; a donkey for the same; a sword, half a
dirhem; a horse, five dirhems. Hundreds of thousands of these
various sorts of booty were in the possession of the triumphant
followers of Yakoobal-Mansoor. Curses on his head! But he was a
brave warrior, and the Christians before him seemed to forget that
they were the descendants of the brave Cid, the Kanbitoor, as the
Moorish hounds (in their jargon) denominated the famous Campeador.
A general move for the rescue of the faithful in Spain--a crusade
against the infidels triumphing there, was preached throughout
Europe by all the most eloquent clergy; and thousands and thousands
of valorous knights and nobles, accompanied by well-meaning varlets
and vassals of the lower sort, trooped from all sides to the
rescue. The Straits of Gibel-al-Tariff, at which spot the Moor,
passing from Barbary, first planted his accursed foot on the
Christian soil, were crowded with the galleys of the Templars and
the Knights of St. John, who flung succors into the menaced
kingdoms of the peninsula; the inland sea swarmed with their ships
hasting from their forts and islands, from Rhodes and Byzantium,
from Jaffa and Ascalon. The Pyrenean peaks beheld the pennons and
glittered with the armor of the knights marching out of France into
Spain; and, finally, in a ship that set sail direct from Bohemia,
where Sir Wilfrid happened to be quartered at the time when the
news of the defeat of Alarcos came and alarmed all good Christians,
Ivanhoe landed at Barcelona, and proceeded to slaughter the Moors
He brought letters of introduction from his friend Folko of
Heydenbraten, the Grand Master of the Knights of Saint John, to the
venerable Baldomero de Garbanzos, Grand Master of the renowned
order of Saint Jago. The chief of Saint Jago's knights paid the
greatest respect to a warrior whose fame was already so widely
known in Christendom; and Ivanhoe had the pleasure of being
appointed to all the posts of danger and forlorn hopes that could
be devised in his honor. He would be called up twice or thrice in
a night to fight the Moors: he led ambushes, scaled breaches, was
blown up by mines; was wounded many hundred times (recovering,
thanks to the elixir, of which Wamba always carried a supply); he
was the terror of the Saracens, and the admiration and wonder of
To describe his deeds, would, I say, be tedious; one day's battle
was like that of another. I am not writing in ten volumes like
Monsieur Alexandre Dumas, or even in three like other great
authors. We have no room for the recounting of Sir Wilfrid's deeds
of valor. Whenever he took a Moorish town, it was remarked, that
he went anxiously into the Jewish quarter, and inquired amongst the
Hebrews, who were in great numbers in Spain, for Rebecca, the
daughter of Isaac. Many Jews, according to his wont, he ransomed,
and created so much scandal by this proceeding, and by the manifest
favor which he showed to the people of that nation, that the Master
of Saint Jago remonstrated with him, and it is probable he would
have been cast into the Inquisition and roasted, but that his
prodigious valor and success against the Moors counterbalanced his
heretical partiality for the children of Jacob.
It chanced that the good knight was present at the siege of Xixona
in Andalusia, entering the breach first, according to his wont, and
slaying, with his own hand, the Moorish lieutenant of the town, and
several hundred more of its unbelieving defenders. He had very
nearly done for the Alfaqui, or governor--a veteran warrior with a
crooked scimitar and a beard as white as snow--but a couple of
hundred of the Alfaqui's bodyguard flung themselves between Ivanhoe
and their chief, and the old fellow escaped with his life, leaving
a handful of his beard in the grasp of the English knight. The
strictly military business being done, and such of the garrison as
did not escape put, as by right, to the sword, the good knight, Sir
Wilfrid of Ivanhoe, took no further part in the proceedings of the
conquerors of that ill-fated place. A scene of horrible massacre
and frightful reprisals ensued, and the Christian warriors, hot
with victory and flushed with slaughter, were, it is to be feared,
as savage in their hour of triumph as ever their heathen enemies
Among the most violent and least scrupulous was the ferocious
Knight of Saint Jago, Don Beltran de Cuchilla y Trabuco y Espada y
Espelon. Raging through the vanquished city like a demon, he
slaughtered indiscriminately all those infidels of both sexes whose
wealth did not tempt him to a ransom, or whose beauty did not
reserve them for more frightful calamities than death. The
slaughter over, Don Beltran took up his quarters in the Albaycen,
where the Alfaqui had lived who had so narrowly escaped the sword
of Ivanhoe; but the wealth, the treasure, the slaves, and the
family of the fugitive chieftain, were left in possession of the
conqueror of Xixona. Among the treasures, Don Beltran recognized
with a savage joy the coat-armors and ornaments of many brave and
unfortunate companions-in-arms who had fallen in the fatal battle
of Alarcos. The sight of those bloody relics added fury to his
cruel disposition, and served to steel a heart already but little
disposed to sentiments of mercy.
Three days after the sack and plunder of the place, Don Beltran was
seated in the hall-court lately occupied by the proud Alfaqui,
lying in his divan, dressed in his rich robes, the fountains
playing in the centre, the slaves of the Moor ministering to his
scarred and rugged Christian conqueror. Some fanned him with
peacocks' pinions, some danced before him, some sang Moor's
melodies to the plaintive notes of a guzla, one--it was the only
daughter of the Moor's old age, the young Zutulbe, a rosebud of
beauty--sat weeping in a corner of the gilded hall: weeping for her
slain brethren, the pride of Moslem chivalry, whose heads were
blackening in the blazing sunshine on the portals without, and for
her father, whose home had been thus made desolate.
He and his guest, the English knight Sir Wilfrid, were playing at
chess, a favorite amusement with the chivalry of the period, when a
messenger was announced from Valencia, to treat, if possible, for
the ransom of the remaining part of the Alfaqui's family. A grim
smile lighted up Don Beltran's features as he bade the black slave
admit the messenger. He entered. By his costume it was at once
seen that the bearer of the flag of truce was a Jew--the people
were employed continually then as ambassadors between the two races
at war in Spain.
"I come," said the old Jew (in a voice which made Sir Wilfrid
start), "from my lord the Alfaqui to my noble senor, the invincible
Don Beltran de Cuchilla, to treat for the ransom of the Moor's only
daughter, the child of his old age and the pearl of his affection."
"A pearl is a valuable jewel, Hebrew. What does the Moorish dog
bid for her?" asked Don Beltran, still smiling grimly.
"The Alfaqui offers 100,000 dinars, twenty-four horses with their
caparisons, twenty-four suits of plate-armor, and diamonds and
rubies to the amount of 1,000,000 dinars."
"Ho, slaves!" roared Don Beltran, "show the Jew my treasury of
gold. How many hundred thousand pieces are there?" And ten
enormous chests were produced in which the accountant counted 1,000
bags of 1,000 dirhems each, and displayed several caskets of jewels
containing such a treasure of rubies, smaragds, diamonds, and
jacinths, as made the eyes of the aged ambassador twinkle with
"How many horses are there in my stable?" continued Don Beltran;
and Muley, the master of the horse, numbered three hundred fully
caparisoned; and there was, likewise, armor of the richest sort for
as many cavaliers, who followed the banner of this doughty captain.
"I want neither money nor armor," said the ferocious knight; "tell
this to the Alfaqui, Jew. And I will keep the child, his daughter,
to serve the messes for my dogs, and clean the platters for my
"Deprive not the old man of his child," here interposed the Knight
of Ivanhoe; "bethink thee, brave Don Beltran, she is but an infant
"She is my captive, Sir Knight," replied the surly Don Beltran; "I
will do with my own as becomes me."
"Take 200,000 dirhems," cried the Jew; "more!--anything! The
Alfaqui will give his life for his child!"
"Come hither, Zutulbe!--come hither, thou Moorish pearl!" yelled
the ferocious warrior; "come closer, my pretty black-eyed houri of
heathenesse! Hast heard the name of Beltran de Espada y Trabuco?"
"There were three brothers of that name at Alarcos, and my brothers
slew the Christian dogs!" said the proud young girl, looking boldly
at Don Beltran, who foamed with rage.
"The Moors butchered my mother and her little ones, at midnight, in
our castle of Murcia," Beltran said.
"Thy father fled like a craven, as thou didst, Don Beltran!" cried
the high-spirited girl.
"By Saint Jago, this is too much!" screamed the infuriated
nobleman; and the next moment there was a shriek, and the maiden