Part 11 out of 12
from the foundation, and a good way higher up; but are hollowed
out towards the top, and terminate in a sort of turrets
communicating with the interior of the keep itself. The distant
appearance of this huge building, with these singular
accompaniments, is as interesting to the lovers of the
picturesque, as the interior of the castle is to the eager
antiquary, whose imagination it carries back to the days of the
Heptarchy. A barrow, in the vicinity of the castle, is pointed
out as the tomb of the memorable Hengist; and various monuments,
of great antiquity and curiosity, are shown in the neighbouring
* Note J. Castle of Coningsburgh.
When Coeur-de-Lion and his retinue approached this rude yet
stately building, it was not, as at present, surrounded by
external fortifications. The Saxon architect had exhausted his
art in rendering the main keep defensible, and there was no other
circumvallation than a rude barrier of palisades.
A huge black banner, which floated from the top of the tower,
announced that the obsequies of the late owner were still in the
act of being solemnized. It bore no emblem of the deceased's
birth or quality, for armorial bearings were then a novelty among
the Norman chivalry themselves and, were totally unknown to the
Saxons. But above the gate was another banner, on which the
figure of a white horse, rudely painted, indicated the nation and
rank of the deceased, by the well-known symbol of Hengist and his
All around the castle was a scene of busy commotion; for such
funeral banquets were times of general and profuse hospitality,
which not only every one who could claim the most distant
connexion with the deceased, but all passengers whatsoever, were
invited to partake. The wealth and consequence of the deceased
Athelstane, occasioned this custom to be observed in the fullest
Numerous parties, therefore, were seen ascending and descending
the hill on which the castle was situated; and when the King and
his attendants entered the open and unguarded gates of the
external barrier, the space within presented a scene not easily
reconciled with the cause of the assemblage. In one place cooks
were toiling to roast huge oxen, and fat sheep; in another,
hogsheads of ale were set abroach, to be drained at the freedom
of all comers. Groups of every description were to be seen
devouring the food and swallowing the liquor thus abandoned to
their discretion. The naked Saxon serf was drowning the sense
of his half-year's hunger and thirst, in one day of gluttony and
drunkenness---the more pampered burgess and guild-brother was
eating his morsel with gust, or curiously criticising the
quantity of the malt and the skill of the brewer. Some few of
the poorer Norman gentry might also be seen, distinguished by
their shaven chins and short cloaks, and not less so by their
keeping together, and looking with great scorn on the whole
solemnity, even while condescending to avail themselves of the
good cheer which was so liberally supplied.
Mendicants were of course assembled by the score, together with
strolling soldiers returned from Palestine, (according to their
own account at least,) pedlars were displaying their wares,
travelling mechanics were enquiring after employment, and
wandering palmers, hedge-priests, Saxon minstrels, and Welsh
bards, were muttering prayers, and extracting mistuned dirges
from their harps, crowds, and rotes.*
* The crowth, or crowd, was a species of violin. The rote a
* sort of guitar, or rather hurdy-gurdy, the strings of
* which were managed by a wheel, from which the instrument
* took its name.
One sent forth the praises of Athelstane in a doleful panegyric;
another, in a Saxon genealogical poem, rehearsed the uncouth and
harsh names of his noble ancestry. Jesters and jugglers were not
awanting, nor was the occasion of the assembly supposed to render
the exercise of their profession indecorous or improper. Indeed
the ideas of the Saxons on these occasions were as natural as
they were rude. If sorrow was thirsty, there was drink---if
hungry, there was food---if it sunk down upon and saddened the
heart, here were the means supplied of mirth, or at least of
amusement. Nor did the assistants scorn to avail themselves of
those means of consolation, although, every now and then, as if
suddenly recollecting the cause which had brought them together,
the men groaned in unison, while the females, of whom many were
present, raised up their voices and shrieked for very woe.
Such was the scene in the castle-yard at Coningsburgh when it was
entered by Richard and his followers. The seneschal or steward
deigned not to take notice of the groups of inferior guests who
were perpetually entering and withdrawing, unless so far as was
necessary to preserve order; nevertheless he was struck by the
good mien of the Monarch and Ivanhoe, more especially as he
imagined the features of the latter were familiar to him.
Besides, the approach of two knights, for such their dress
bespoke them, was a rare event at a Saxon solemnity, and could
not but be regarded as a sort of honour to the deceased and his
family. And in his sable dress, and holding in his hand his
white wand of office, this important personage made way through
the miscellaneous assemblage of guests, thus conducting Richard
and Ivanhoe to the entrance of the tower. Gurth and Wamba
speedily found acquaintances in the court-yard, nor presumed to
intrude themselves any farther until their presence should be
I found them winding of Marcello's corpse.
And there was such a solemn melody,
'Twixt doleful songs, tears, and sad elegies,---
Such as old grandames, watching by the dead,
Are wont to outwear the night with.
The mode of entering the great tower of Coningsburgh Castle is
very peculiar, and partakes of the rude simplicity of the early
times in which it was erected. A flight of steps, so deep and
narrow as to be almost precipitous, leads up to a low portal in
the south side of the tower, by which the adventurous antiquary
may still, or at least could a few years since, gain access to a
small stair within the thickness of the main wall of the tower,
which leads up to the third story of the building,---the two
lower being dungeons or vaults, which neither receive air nor
light, save by a square hole in the third story, with which they
seem to have communicated by a ladder. The access to the upper
apartments in the tower which consist in all of four stories, is
given by stairs which are carried up through the external
By this difficult and complicated entrance, the good King
Richard, followed by his faithful Ivanhoe, was ushered into the
round apartment which occupies the whole of the third story from
the ground. Wilfred, by the difficulties of the ascent, gained
time to muffle his face in his mantle, as it had been held
expedient that he should not present himself to his father until
the King should give him the signal.
There were assembled in this apartment, around a large oaken
table, about a dozen of the most distinguished representatives of
the Saxon families in the adjacent counties. They were all old,
or, at least, elderly men; for the younger race, to the great
displeasure of the seniors, had, like Ivanhoe, broken down many
of the barriers which separated for half a century the Norman
victors from the vanquished Saxons. The downcast and sorrowful
looks of these venerable men, their silence and their mournful
posture, formed a strong contrast to the levity of the revellers
on the outside of the castle. Their grey locks and long full
beards, together with their antique tunics and loose black
mantles, suited well with the singular and rude apartment in
which they were seated, and gave the appearance of a band of
ancient worshippers of Woden, recalled to life to mourn over the
decay of their national glory.
Cedric, seated in equal rank among his countrymen, seemed yet, by
common consent, to act as chief of the assembly. Upon the
entrance of Richard (only known to him as the valorous Knight of
the Fetterlock) he arose gravely, and gave him welcome by the
ordinary salutation, "Waes hael", raising at the same time a
goblet to his head. The King, no stranger to the customs of his
English subjects, returned the greeting with the appropriate
words, "Drinc hael", and partook of a cup which was handed to him
by the sewer. The same courtesy was offered to Ivanhoe, who
pledged his father in silence, supplying the usual speech by an
inclination of his head, lest his voice should have been
When this introductory ceremony was performed, Cedric arose, and,
extending his hand to Richard, conducted him into a small and
very rude chapel, which was excavated, as it were, out of one of
the external buttresses. As there was no opening, saving a
little narrow loop-hole, the place would have been nearly quite
dark but for two flambeaux or torches, which showed, by a red and
smoky light, the arched roof and naked walls, the rude altar of
stone, and the crucifix of the same material.
Before this altar was placed a bier, and on each side of this
bier kneeled three priests, who told their beads, and muttered
their prayers, with the greatest signs of external devotion. For
this service a splendid "soul-scat" was paid to the convent of
Saint Edmund's by the mother of the deceased; and, that it might
be fully deserved, the whole brethren, saving the lame Sacristan,
had transferred themselves to Coningsburgh, where, while six of
their number were constantly on guard in the performance of
divine rites by the bier of Athelstane, the others failed not to
take their share of the refreshments and amusements which went on
at the castle. In maintaining this pious watch and ward, the
good monks were particularly careful not to interrupt their hymns
for an instant, lest Zernebock, the ancient Saxon Apollyon,
should lay his clutches on the departed Athelstane. Nor were
they less careful to prevent any unhallowed layman from touching
the pall, which, having been that used at the funeral of Saint
Edmund, was liable to be desecrated, if handled by the profane.
If, in truth, these attentions could be of any use to the
deceased, he had some right to expect them at the hands of the
brethren of Saint Edmund's, since, besides a hundred mancuses of
gold paid down as the soul-ransom, the mother of Athelstane had
announced her intention of endowing that foundation with the
better part of the lands of the deceased, in order to maintain
perpetual prayers for his soul, and that of her departed husband.
Richard and Wilfred followed the Saxon Cedric into the apartment
of death, where, as their guide pointed with solemn air to the
untimely bier of Athelstane, they followed his example in
devoutly crossing themselves, and muttering a brief prayer for
the weal of the departed soul.
This act of pious charity performed, Cedric again motioned them
to follow him, gliding over the stone floor with a noiseless
tread; and, after ascending a few steps, opened with great
caution the door of a small oratory, which adjoined to the
chapel. It was about eight feet square, hollowed, like the
chapel itself, out of the thickness of the wall; and the
loop-hole, which enlightened it, being to the west, and widening
considerably as it sloped inward, a beam of the setting sun found
its way into its dark recess, and showed a female of a dignified
mien, and whose countenance retained the marked remains of
majestic beauty. Her long mourning robes and her flowing wimple
of black cypress, enhanced the whiteness of her skin, and the
beauty of her light-coloured and flowing tresses, which time had
neither thinned nor mingled with silver. Her countenance
expressed the deepest sorrow that is consistent with resignation.
On the stone table before her stood a crucifix of ivory, beside
which was laid a missal, having its pages richly illuminated, and
its boards adorned with clasps of gold, and bosses of the same
"Noble Edith," said Cedric, after having stood a moment silent,
as if to give Richard and Wilfred time to look upon the lady of
the mansion, "these are worthy strangers, come to take a part in
thy sorrows. And this, in especial, is the valiant Knight who
fought so bravely for the deliverance of him for whom we this day
"His bravery has my thanks," returned the lady; "although it be
the will of Heaven that it should be displayed in vain. I thank,
too, his courtesy, and that of his companion, which hath brought
them hither to behold the widow of Adeling, the mother of
Athelstane, in her deep hour of sorrow and lamentation. To your
care, kind kinsman, I intrust them, satisfied that they will
want no hospitality which these sad walls can yet afford."
The guests bowed deeply to the mourning parent, and withdrew from
their hospitable guide.
Another winding stair conducted them to an apartment of the same
size with that which they had first entered, occupying indeed the
story immediately above. From this room, ere yet the door was
opened, proceeded a low and melancholy strain of vocal music.
When they entered, they found themselves in the presence of about
twenty matrons and maidens of distinguished Saxon lineage. Four
maidens, Rowena leading the choir, raised a hymn for the soul of
the deceased, of which we have only been able to decipher two or
Dust unto dust,
To this all must;
The tenant hath resign'd
The faded form
To waste and worm---
Corruption claims her kind.
Through paths unknown
Thy soul hath flown,
To seek the realms of woe,
Where fiery pain
Shall purge the stain
Of actions done below.
In that sad place,
By Mary's grace,
Brief may thy dwelling be
Till prayers and alms,
And holy psalms,
Shall set the captive free.
While this dirge was sung, in a low and melancholy tone, by the
female choristers, the others were divided into two bands, of
which one was engaged in bedecking, with such embroidery as their
skill and taste could compass, a large silken pall, destined to
cover the bier of Athelstane, while the others busied themselves
in selecting, from baskets of flowers placed before them,
garlands, which they intended for the same mournful purpose. The
behaviour of the maidens was decorous, if not marked with deep
affliction; but now and then a whisper or a smile called forth
the rebuke of the severer matrons, and here and there might be
seen a damsel more interested in endeavouring to find out how her
mourning-robe became her, than in the dismal ceremony for which
they were preparing. Neither was this propensity (if we must
needs confess the truth) at all diminished by the appearance of
two strange knights, which occasioned some looking up, peeping,
and whispering. Rowena alone, too proud to be vain, paid her
greeting to her deliverer with a graceful courtesy. Her
demeanour was serious, but not dejected; and it may be doubted
whether thoughts of Ivanhoe, and of the uncertainty of his fate,
did not claim as great a share in her gravity as the death of her
To Cedric, however, who, as we have observed, was not remarkably
clear-sighted on such occasions, the sorrow of his ward seemed so
much deeper than any of the other maidens, that he deemed it
proper to whisper the explanation---"She was the affianced bride
of the noble Athelstane."---It may be doubted whether this
communication went a far way to increase Wilfred's disposition to
sympathize with the mourners of Coningsburgh.
Having thus formally introduced the guests to the different
chambers in which the obsequies of Athelstane were celebrated
under different forms, Cedric conducted them into a small room,
destined, as he informed them, for the exclusive accomodation of
honourable guests, whose more slight connexion with the deceased
might render them unwilling to join those who were immediately
effected by the unhappy event. He assured them of every
accommodation, and was about to withdraw when the Black Knight
took his hand.
"I crave to remind you, noble Thane," he said, "that when we last
parted, you promised, for the service I had the fortune to render
you, to grant me a boon."
"It is granted ere named, noble Knight," said Cedric; "yet, at
this sad moment------"
"Of that also," said the King, "I have bethought me---but my time
is brief---neither does it seem to me unfit, that, when closing
the grave on the noble Athelstane, we should deposit therein
certain prejudices and hasty opinions."
"Sir Knight of the Fetterlock," said Cedric, colouring, and
interrupting the King in his turn, "I trust your boon regards
yourself and no other; for in that which concerns the honour of
my house, it is scarce fitting that a stranger should mingle."
"Nor do I wish to mingle," said the King, mildly, "unless in so
far as you will admit me to have an interest. As yet you have
known me but as the Black Knight of the Fetterlock---Know me now
as Richard Plantagenet."
"Richard of Anjou!" exclaimed Cedric, stepping backward with the
"No, noble Cedric---Richard of England!---whose deepest interest
---whose deepest wish, is to see her sons united with each other.
---And, how now, worthy Thane! hast thou no knee for thy prince?"
"To Norman blood," said Cedric, "it hath never bended."
"Reserve thine homage then," said the Monarch, "until I shall
prove my right to it by my equal protection of Normans and
"Prince," answered Cedric, "I have ever done justice to thy
bravery and thy worth---Nor am I ignorant of thy claim to the
crown through thy descent from Matilda, niece to Edgar Atheling,
and daughter to Malcolm of Scotland. But Matilda, though of the
royal Saxon blood, was not the heir to the monarchy."
"I will not dispute my title with thee, noble Thane," said
Richard, calmly; "but I will bid thee look around thee, and see
where thou wilt find another to be put into the scale against
"And hast thou wandered hither, Prince, to tell me so?" said
Cedric---"To upbraid me with the ruin of my race, ere the grave
has closed o'er the last scion of Saxon royalty?"---His
countenance darkened as he spoke.---"It was boldly---it was
"Not so, by the holy rood!" replied the King; "it was done in the
frank confidence which one brave man may repose in another,
without a shadow of danger."
"Thou sayest well, Sir King---for King I own thou art, and wilt
be, despite of my feeble opposition.---I dare not take the only
mode to prevent it, though thou hast placed the strong temptation
within my reach!"
"And now to my boon," said the King, "which I ask not with one
jot the less confidence, that thou hast refused to acknowledge my
lawful sovereignty. I require of thee, as a man of thy word, on
pain of being held faithless, man-sworn, and 'nidering',*
to forgive and receive to thy paternal affection the good knight,
Wilfred of Ivanhoe. In this reconciliation thou wilt own I have
an interest---the happiness of my friend, and the quelling of
dissension among my faithful people."
"And this is Wilfred!" said Cedric, pointing to his son.
"My father!---my father!" said Ivanhoe, prostrating himself at
Cedric's feet, "grant me thy forgiveness!"
"Thou hast it, my son," said Cedric, raising him up. "The son of
Hereward knows how to keep his word, even when it has been passed
to a Norman. But let me see thee use the dress and costume of
thy English ancestry---no short cloaks, no gay bonnets, no
fantastic plumage in my decent household. He that would be the
son of Cedric, must show himself of English ancestry.---Thou art
about to speak," he added, sternly, "and I guess the topic. The
Lady Rowena must complete two years' mourning, as for a betrothed
husband---all our Saxon ancestors would disown us were we to
treat of a new union for her ere the grave of him she should have
wedded---him, so much the most worthy of her hand by birth and
ancestry---is yet closed. The ghost of Athelstane himself would
burst his bloody cerements and stand before us to forbid such
dishonour to his memory."
It seemed as if Cedric's words had raised a spectre; for, scarce
had he uttered them ere the door flew open, and Athelstane,
arrayed in the garments of the grave, stood before them, pale,
haggard, and like something arisen from the dead! *
* The resuscitation of Athelstane has been much criticised,
* as too violent a breach of probability, even for a work of
* such fantastic character. It was a "tour-de-force", to
* which the author was compelled to have recourse, by the
* vehement entreaties of his friend and printer, who was
* inconsolable on the Saxon being conveyed to the tomb.
The effect of this apparition on the persons present was utterly
appalling. Cedric started back as far as the wall of the
apartment would permit, and, leaning against it as one unable to
support himself, gazed on the figure of his friend with eyes that
seemed fixed, and a mouth which he appeared incapable of
shutting. Ivanhoe crossed himself, repeating prayers in Saxon,
Latin, or Norman-French, as they occurred to his memory, while
Richard alternately said, "Benedicite", and swore, "Mort de ma
In the meantime, a horrible noise was heard below stairs, some
crying, "Secure the treacherous monks!"---others, "Down with them
into the dungeon!"---others, "Pitch them from the highest
"In the name of God!" said Cedric, addressing what seemed the
spectre of his departed friend, "if thou art mortal, speak!---if
a departed spirit, say for what cause thou dost revisit us, or if
I can do aught that can set thy spirit at repose.---Living or
dead, noble Athelstane, speak to Cedric!"
"I will," said the spectre, very composedly, "when I have
collected breath, and when you give me time---Alive, saidst thou?
---I am as much alive as he can be who has fed on bread and water
for three days, which seem three ages---Yes, bread and water,
Father Cedric! By Heaven, and all saints in it, better food hath
not passed my weasand for three livelong days, and by God's
providence it is that I am now here to tell it."
"Why, noble Athelstane," said the Black Knight, "I myself saw you
struck down by the fierce Templar towards the end of the storm at
Torquilstone, and as I thought, and Wamba reported, your skull
was cloven through the teeth."
"You thought amiss, Sir Knight," said Athelstane, "and Wamba
lied. My teeth are in good order, and that my supper shall
presently find---No thanks to the Templar though, whose sword
turned in his hand, so that the blade struck me flatlings, being
averted by the handle of the good mace with which I warded the
blow; had my steel-cap been on, I had not valued it a rush, and
had dealt him such a counter-buff as would have spoilt his
retreat. But as it was, down I went, stunned, indeed, but
unwounded. Others, of both sides, were beaten down and
slaughtered above me, so that I never recovered my senses until I
found myself in a coffin---(an open one, by good luck)---placed
before the altar of the church of Saint Edmund's. I sneezed
repeatedly---groaned---awakened and would have arisen, when the
Sacristan and Abbot, full of terror, came running at the noise,
surprised, doubtless, and no way pleased to find the man alive,
whose heirs they had proposed themselves to be. I asked for wine
---they gave me some, but it must have been highly medicated, for
I slept yet more deeply than before, and wakened not for many
hours. I found my arms swathed down---my feet tied so fast that
mine ankles ache at the very remembrance---the place was utterly
dark---the oubliette, as I suppose, of their accursed convent,
and from the close, stifled, damp smell, I conceive it is also
used for a place of sepulture. I had strange thoughts of what
had befallen me, when the door of my dungeon creaked, and two
villain monks entered. They would have persuaded me I was in
purgatory, but I knew too well the pursy short-breathed voice of
the Father Abbot.---Saint Jeremy! how different from that tone
with which he used to ask me for another slice of the haunch!
---the dog has feasted with me from Christmas to Twelfth-night."
"Have patience, noble Athelstane," said the King, "take breath
---tell your story at leisure---beshrew me but such a tale is as
well worth listening to as a romance."
"Ay but, by the rood of Bromeholm, there was no romance in the
matter!" said Athelstane.---"A barley loaf and a pitcher of water
---that THEY gave me, the niggardly traitors, whom my father, and
I myself, had enriched, when their best resources were the
flitches of bacon and measures of corn, out of which they
wheedled poor serfs and bondsmen, in exchange for their prayers
---the nest of foul ungrateful vipers---barley bread and ditch
water to such a patron as I had been! I will smoke them out of
their nest, though I be excommunicated!"
"But, in the name of Our Lady, noble Athelstane," said Cedric,
grasping the hand of his friend, "how didst thou escape this
imminent danger---did their hearts relent?"
"Did their hearts relent!" echoed Athelstane.---"Do rocks melt
with the sun? I should have been there still, had not some stir
in the Convent, which I find was their procession hitherward to
eat my funeral feast, when they well knew how and where I had
been buried alive, summoned the swarm out of their hive. I
heard them droning out their death-psalms, little judging they
were sung in respect for my soul by those who were thus famishing
my body. They went, however, and I waited long for food---no
wonder---the gouty Sacristan was even too busy with his own
provender to mind mine. At length down he came, with an unstable
step and a strong flavour of wine and spices about his person.
Good cheer had opened his heart, for he left me a nook of pasty
and a flask of wine, instead of my former fare. I ate, drank,
and was invigorated; when, to add to my good luck, the Sacristan,
too totty to discharge his duty of turnkey fitly, locked the
door beside the staple, so that it fell ajar. The light, the
food, the wine, set my invention to work. The staple to which my
chains were fixed, was more rusted than I or the villain Abbot
had supposed. Even iron could not remain without consuming in
the damps of that infernal dungeon."
"Take breath, noble Athelstane," said Richard, "and partake of
some refreshment, ere you proceed with a tale so dreadful."
"Partake!" quoth Athelstane; "I have been partaking five times
to-day---and yet a morsel of that savoury ham were not altogether
foreign to the matter; and I pray you, fair sir, to do me reason
in a cup of wine."
The guests, though still agape with astonishment, pledged their
resuscitated landlord, who thus proceeded in his story:---He had
indeed now many more auditors than those to whom it was
commenced, for Edith, having given certain necessary orders for
arranging matters within the Castle, had followed the dead-alive
up to the stranger's apartment attended by as many of the guests,
male and female, as could squeeze into the small room, while
others, crowding the staircase, caught up an erroneous edition of
the story, and transmitted it still more inaccurately to those
beneath, who again sent it forth to the vulgar without, in a
fashion totally irreconcilable to the real fact. Athelstane,
however, went on as follows, with the history of his escape:---
"Finding myself freed from the staple, I dragged myself up stairs
as well as a man loaded with shackles, and emaciated with
fasting, might; and after much groping about, I was at length
directed, by the sound of a jolly roundelay, to the apartment
where the worthy Sacristan, an it so please ye, was holding a
devil's mass with a huge beetle-browed, broad-shouldered brother
of the grey-frock and cowl, who looked much more like a thief
than a clergyman. I burst in upon them, and the fashion of my
grave-clothes, as well as the clanking of my chains, made me more
resemble an inhabitant of the other world than of this. Both
stood aghast; but when I knocked down the Sacristan with my fist,
the other fellow, his pot-companion, fetched a blow at me with a
"This must be our Friar Tuck, for a count's ransom," said
Richard, looking at Ivanhoe.
"He may be the devil, an he will," said Athelstane. "Fortunately
he missed the aim; and on my approaching to grapple with him,
took to his heels and ran for it. I failed not to set my own
heels at liberty by means of the fetter-key, which hung amongst
others at the sexton's belt; and I had thoughts of beating out
the knave's brains with the bunch of keys, but gratitude for the
nook of pasty and the flask of wine which the rascal had imparted
to my captivity, came over my heart; so, with a brace of hearty
kicks, I left him on the floor, pouched some baked meat, and a
leathern bottle of wine, with which the two venerable brethren
had been regaling, went to the stable, and found in a private
stall mine own best palfrey, which, doubtless, had been set apart
for the holy Father Abbot's particular use. Hither I came with
all the speed the beast could compass---man and mother's son
flying before me wherever I came, taking me for a spectre, the
more especially as, to prevent my being recognised, I drew the
corpse-hood over my face. I had not gained admittance into my
own castle, had I not been supposed to be the attendant of a
juggler who is making the people in the castle-yard very merry,
considering they are assembled to celebrate their lord's funeral
---I say the sewer thought I was dressed to bear a part in the
tregetour's mummery, and so I got admission, and did but disclose
myself to my mother, and eat a hasty morsel, ere I came in quest
of you, my noble friend."
"And you have found me," said Cedric, "ready to resume our brave
projects of honour and liberty. I tell thee, never will dawn a
morrow so auspicious as the next, for the deliverance of the
noble Saxon race."
"Talk not to me of delivering any one," said Athelstane; "it is
well I am delivered myself. I am more intent on punishing that
villain Abbot. He shall hang on the top of this Castle of
Coningsburgh, in his cope and stole; and if the stairs be too
strait to admit his fat carcass, I will have him craned up from
"But, my son," said Edith, "consider his sacred office."
"Consider my three days' fast," replied Athelstane; "I will have
their blood every one of them. Front-de-Boeuf was burnt alive
for a less matter, for he kept a good table for his prisoners,
only put too much garlic in his last dish of pottage. But these
hypocritical, ungrateful slaves, so often the self-invited
flatterers at my board, who gave me neither pottage nor garlic,
more or less, they die, by the soul of Hengist!"
"But the Pope, my noble friend,"---said Cedric---
"But the devil, my noble friend,"---answered Athelstane; "they
die, and no more of them. Were they the best monks upon earth,
the world would go on without them."
"For shame, noble Athelstane," said Cedric; "forget such wretches
in the career of glory which lies open before thee. Tell this
Norman prince, Richard of Anjou, that, lion-hearted as he is, he
shall not hold undisputed the throne of Alfred, while a male
descendant of the Holy Confessor lives to dispute it."
"How!" said Athelstane, "is this the noble King Richard?"
"It is Richard Plantagenet himself," said Cedric; "yet I need not
remind thee that, coming hither a guest of free-will, he may
neither be injured nor detained prisoner---thou well knowest thy
duty to him as his host."
"Ay, by my faith!" said Athelstane; "and my duty as a subject
besides, for I here tender him my allegiance, heart and hand."
"My son," said Edith, "think on thy royal rights!"
"Think on the freedom of England, degenerate Prince!" said
"Mother and friend," said Athelstane, "a truce to your
upbraidings---bread and water and a dungeon are marvellous
mortifiers of ambition, and I rise from the tomb a wiser man than
I descended into it. One half of those vain follies were puffed
into mine ear by that perfidious Abbot Wolfram, and you may now
judge if he is a counsellor to be trusted. Since these plots
were set in agitation, I have had nothing but hurried journeys,
indigestions, blows and bruises, imprisonments and starvation;
besides that they can only end in the murder of some thousands of
quiet folk. I tell you, I will be king in my own domains, and
nowhere else; and my first act of dominion shall be to hang the
"And my ward Rowena," said Cedric---"I trust you intend not to
"Father Cedric," said Athelstane, "be reasonable. The Lady
Rowena cares not for me---she loves the little finger of my
kinsman Wilfred's glove better than my whole person. There she
stands to avouch it---Nay, blush not, kinswoman, there is no
shame in loving a courtly knight better than a country franklin
---and do not laugh neither, Rowena, for grave-clothes and a thin
visage are, God knows, no matter of merriment---Nay, an thou wilt
needs laugh, I will find thee a better jest---Give me thy hand,
or rather lend it me, for I but ask it in the way of friendship.
---Here, cousin Wilfred of Ivanhoe, in thy favour I renounce and
abjure------Hey! by Saint Dunstan, our cousin Wilfred hath
vanished!---Yet, unless my eyes are still dazzled with the
fasting I have undergone, I saw him stand there but even now."
All now looked around and enquired for Ivanhoe, but he had
vanished. It was at length discovered that a Jew had been to
seek him; and that, after very brief conference, he had called
for Gurth and his armour, and had left the castle.
"Fair cousin," said Athelstane to Rowena, "could I think that
this sudden disappearance of Ivanhoe was occasioned by other than
the weightiest reason, I would myself resume---"
But he had no sooner let go her hand, on first observing that
Ivanhoe had disappeared, than Rowena, who had found her situation
extremely embarrassing, had taken the first opportunity to escape
from the apartment.
"Certainly," quoth Athelstane, "women are the least to be trusted
of all animals, monks and abbots excepted. I am an infidel, if I
expected not thanks from her, and perhaps a kiss to boot---These
cursed grave-clothes have surely a spell on them, every one flies
from me.---To you I turn, noble King Richard, with the vows of
allegiance, which, as a liege-subject---"
But King Richard was gone also, and no one knew whither. At
length it was learned that he had hastened to the court-yard,
summoned to his presence the Jew who had spoken with Ivanhoe, and
after a moment's speech with him, had called vehemently to horse,
thrown himself upon a steed, compelled the Jew to mount another,
and set off at a rate, which, according to Wamba, rendered the
old Jew's neck not worth a penny's purchase.
"By my halidome!" said Athelstane, "it is certain that Zernebock
hath possessed himself of my castle in my absence. I return in
my grave-clothes, a pledge restored from the very sepulchre, and
every one I speak to vanishes as soon as they hear my voice!
---But it skills not talking of it. Come, my friends---such of
you as are left, follow me to the banquet-hall, lest any more of
us disappear---it is, I trust, as yet tolerably furnished, as
becomes the obsequies of an ancient Saxon noble; and should we
tarry any longer, who knows but the devil may fly off with the
Be Mowbray's sins so heavy in his bosom,
That they may break his foaming courser's back,
And throw the rider headlong in the lists,
A caitiff recreant!
Our scene now returns to the exterior of the Castle, or
Preceptory, of Templestowe, about the hour when the bloody die
was to be cast for the life or death of Rebecca. It was a scene
of bustle and life, as if the whole vicinity had poured forth its
inhabitants to a village wake, or rural feast. But the earnest
desire to look on blood and death, is not peculiar to those dark
ages; though in the gladiatorial exercise of single combat and
general tourney, they were habituated to the bloody spectacle of
brave men falling by each other's hands. Even in our own days,
when morals are better understood, an execution, a bruising
match, a riot, or a meeting of radical reformers, collects, at
considerable hazard to themselves, immense crowds of spectators,
otherwise little interested, except to see how matters are to be
conducted, or whether the heroes of the day are, in the heroic
language of insurgent tailors, flints or dunghills.
The eyes, therefore, of a very considerable multitude, were bent
on the gate of the Preceptory of Templestowe, with the purpose of
witnessing the procession; while still greater numbers had
already surrounded the tiltyard belonging to that establishment.
This enclosure was formed on a piece of level ground adjoining to
the Preceptory, which had been levelled with care, for the
exercise of military and chivalrous sports. It occupied the brow
of a soft and gentle eminence, was carefully palisaded around,
and, as the Templars willingly invited spectators to be witnesses
of their skill in feats of chivalry, was amply supplied with
galleries and benches for their use.
On the present occasion, a throne was erected for the Grand
Master at the east end, surrounded with seats of distinction for
the Preceptors and Knights of the Order. Over these floated the
sacred standard, called "Le Beau-seant", which was the ensign, as
its name was the battle-cry, of the Templars.
At the opposite end of the lists was a pile of faggots, so
arranged around a stake, deeply fixed in the ground, as to leave
a space for the victim whom they were destined to consume, to
enter within the fatal circle, in order to be chained to the
stake by the fetters which hung ready for that purpose. Beside
this deadly apparatus stood four black slaves, whose colour and
African features, then so little known in England, appalled the
multitude, who gazed on them as on demons employed about their
own diabolical exercises. These men stirred not, excepting now
and then, under the direction of one who seemed their chief, to
shift and replace the ready fuel. They looked not on the
multitude. In fact, they seemed insensible of their presence,
and of every thing save the discharge of their own horrible duty.
And when, in speech with each other, they expanded their blubber
lips, and showed their white fangs, as if they grinned at the
thoughts of the expected tragedy, the startled commons could
scarcely help believing that they were actually the familiar
spirits with whom the witch had communed, and who, her time being
out, stood ready to assist in her dreadful punishment. They
whispered to each other, and communicated all the feats which
Satan had performed during that busy and unhappy period, not
failing, of course, to give the devil rather more than his due.
"Have you not heard, Father Dennet," quoth one boor to another
advanced in years, "that the devil has carried away bodily the
great Saxon Thane, Athelstane of Coningsburgh?"
"Ay, but he brought him back though, by the blessing of God and
"How's that?" said a brisk young fellow, dressed in a green
cassock embroidered with gold, and having at his heels a stout
lad bearing a harp upon his back, which betrayed his vocation.
The Minstrel seemed of no vulgar rank; for, besides the splendour
of his gaily braidered doublet, he wore around his neck a silver
chain, by which hung the "wrest", or key, with which he tuned his
harp. On his right arm was a silver plate, which, instead of
bearing, as usual, the cognizance or badge of the baron to whose
family he belonged, had barely the word SHERWOOD engraved upon
it.---"How mean you by that?" said the gay Minstrel, mingling in
the conversation of the peasants; "I came to seek one subject for
my rhyme, and, by'r Lady, I were glad to find two."
"It is well avouched," said the elder peasant, "that after
Athelstane of Coningsburgh had been dead four weeks---"
"That is impossible," said the Minstrel; "I saw him in life at
the Passage of Arms at Ashby-de-la-Zouche."
"Dead, however, he was, or else translated," said the younger
peasant; "for I heard the Monks of Saint Edmund's singing the
death's hymn for him; and, moreover, there was a rich death-meal
and dole at the Castle of Coningsburgh, as right was; and thither
had I gone, but for Mabel Parkins, who---"
"Ay, dead was Athelstane," said the old man, shaking his head,
"and the more pity it was, for the old Saxon blood---"
"But, your story, my masters---your story," said the Minstrel,
"Ay, ay---construe us the story," said a burly Friar, who stood
beside them, leaning on a pole that exhibited an appearance
between a pilgrim's staff and a quarter-staff, and probably acted
as either when occasion served,---"Your story," said the stalwart
churchman; "burn not daylight about it---we have short time to
"An please your reverence," said Dennet, "a drunken priest came
to visit the Sacristan at Saint Edmund's------"
"It does not please my reverence," answered the churchman, "that
there should be such an animal as a drunken priest, or, if there
were, that a layman should so speak him. Be mannerly, my friend,
and conclude the holy man only wrapt in meditation, which makes
the head dizzy and foot unsteady, as if the stomach were filled
with new wine---I have felt it myself."
"Well, then," answered Father Dennet, "a holy brother came to
visit the Sacristan at Saint Edmund's---a sort of hedge-priest is
the visitor, and kills half the deer that are stolen in the
forest, who loves the tinkling of a pint-pot better than the
sacring-bell, and deems a flitch of bacon worth ten of his
breviary; for the rest, a good fellow and a merry, who will
flourish a quarter-staff, draw a bow, and dance a Cheshire round,
with e'er a man in Yorkshire."
"That last part of thy speech, Dennet," said the Minstrel, "has
saved thee a rib or twain."
"Tush, man, I fear him not," said Dennet; "I am somewhat old and
stiff, but when I fought for the bell and ram at Doncaster---"
"But the story---the story, my friend," again said the Minstrel.
"Why, the tale is but this---Athelstane of Coningsburgh was
buried at Saint Edmund's."
"That's a lie, and a loud one," said the Friar, "for I saw him
borne to his own Castle of Coningsburgh."
"Nay, then, e'en tell the story yourself, my masters," said
Dennet, turning sulky at these repeated contradictions; and it
was with some difficulty that the boor could be prevailed on, by
the request of his comrade and the Minstrel, to renew his tale.
---"These two 'sober' friars," said he at length, "since this
reverend man will needs have them such, had continued drinking
good ale, and wine, and what not, for the best part for a
summer's day, when they were aroused by a deep groan, and a
clanking of chains, and the figure of the deceased Athelstane
entered the apartment, saying, 'Ye evil shep-herds!---'"
"It is false," said the Friar, hastily, "he never spoke a word."
"So ho! Friar Tuck," said the Minstrel, drawing him apart from
the rustics; "we have started a new hare, I find."
"I tell thee, Allan-a-Dale," said the Hermit, "I saw Athelstane
of Coningsburgh as much as bodily eyes ever saw a living man. He
had his shroud on, and all about him smelt of the sepulchre---A
butt of sack will not wash it out of my memory."
"Pshaw!" answered the Minstrel; "thou dost but jest with me!"
"Never believe me," said the Friar, "an I fetched not a knock at
him with my quarter-staff that would have felled an ox, and it
glided through his body as it might through a pillar of smoke!"
"By Saint Hubert," said the Minstrel, "but it is a wondrous tale,
and fit to be put in metre to the ancient tune, 'Sorrow came to
the old Friar.'"
"Laugh, if ye list," said Friar Tuck; "but an ye catch me singing
on such a theme, may the next ghost or devil carry me off with
him headlong! No, no---I instantly formed the purpose of
assisting at some good work, such as the burning of a witch, a
judicial combat, or the like matter of godly service, and
therefore am I here."
As they thus conversed, the heavy bell of the church of Saint
Michael of Templestowe, a venerable building, situated in a
hamlet at some distance from the Preceptory, broke short their
argument. One by one the sullen sounds fell successively on the
ear, leaving but sufficient space for each to die away in distant
echo, ere the air was again filled by repetition of the iron
knell. These sounds, the signal of the approaching ceremony,
chilled with awe the hearts of the assembled multitude, whose
eyes were now turned to the Preceptory, expecting the approach of
the Grand Master, the champion, and the criminal.
At length the drawbridge fell, the gates opened, and a knight,
bearing the great standard of the Order, sallied from the castle,
preceded by six trumpets, and followed by the Knights Preceptors,
two and two, the Grand Master coming last, mounted on a stately
horse, whose furniture was of the simplest kind. Behind him came
Brian de Bois-Guilbert, armed cap-a-pie in bright armour, but
without his lance, shield, and sword, which were borne by his two
esquires behind him. His face, though partly hidden by a long
plume which floated down from his barrel-cap, bore a strong and
mingled expression of passion, in which pride seemed to contend
with irresolution. He looked ghastly pale, as if he had not
slept for several nights, yet reined his pawing war-horse with
the habitual ease and grace proper to the best lance of the Order
of the Temple. His general appearance was grand and commanding;
but, looking at him with attention, men read that in his dark
features, from which they willingly withdrew their eyes.
On either side rode Conrade of Mont-Fitchet, and Albert de
Malvoisin, who acted as godfathers to the champion. They were in
their robes of peace, the white dress of the Order. Behind them
followed other Companions of the Temple, with a long train of
esquires and pages clad in black, aspirants to the honour of
being one day Knights of the Order. After these neophytes came a
guard of warders on foot, in the same sable livery, amidst whose
partisans might be seen the pale form of the accused, moving with
a slow but undismayed step towards the scene of her fate. She
was stript of all her ornaments, lest perchance there should be
among them some of those amulets which Satan was supposed to
bestow upon his victims, to deprive them of the power of
confession even when under the torture. A coarse white dress, of
the simplest form, had been substituted for her Oriental
garments; yet there was such an exquisite mixture of courage and
resignation in her look, that even in this garb, and with no
other ornament than her long black tresses, each eye wept that
looked upon her, and the most hardened bigot regretted the fate
that had converted a creature so goodly into a vessel of wrath,
and a waged slave of the devil.
A crowd of inferior personages belonging to the Preceptory
followed the victim, all moving with the utmost order, with arms
folded, and looks bent upon the ground.
This slow procession moved up the gentle eminence, on the summit
of which was the tiltyard, and, entering the lists, marched once
around them from right to left, and when they had completed the
circle, made a halt. There was then a momentary bustle, while
the Grand Master and all his attendants, excepting the champion
and his godfathers, dismounted from their horses, which were
immediately removed out of the lists by the esquires, who were in
attendance for that purpose.
The unfortunate Rebecca was conducted to the black chair placed
near the pile. On her first glance at the terrible spot where
preparations were making for a death alike dismaying to the mind
and painful to the body, she was observed to shudder and shut her
eyes, praying internally doubtless, for her lips moved though no
speech was heard. In the space of a minute she opened her eyes,
looked fixedly on the pile as if to familiarize her mind with the
object, and then slowly and naturally turned away her head.
Meanwhile, the Grand Master had assumed his seat; and when the
chivalry of his order was placed around and behind him, each in
his due rank, a loud and long flourish of the trumpets announced
that the Court were seated for judgment. Malvoisin, then, acting
as godfather of the champion, stepped forward, and laid the glove
of the Jewess, which was the pledge of battle, at the feet of the
"Valorous Lord, and reverend Father," said he, "here standeth the
good Knight, Brian de Bois-Guilbert, Knight Preceptor of the
Order of the Temple, who, by accepting the pledge of battle which
I now lay at your reverence's feet, hath become bound to do his
devoir in combat this day, to maintain that this Jewish maiden,
by name Rebecca, hath justly deserved the doom passed upon her in
a Chapter of this most Holy Order of the Temple of Zion,
condemning her to die as a sorceress;---here, I say, he standeth,
such battle to do, knightly and honourable, if such be your noble
and sanctified pleasure."
"Hath he made oath," said the Grand Master, "that his quarrel is
just and honourable? Bring forward the Crucifix and the 'Te
"Sir, and most reverend father," answered Malvoisin, readily,
"our brother here present hath already sworn to the truth of his
accusation in the hand of the good Knight Conrade de
Mont-Fitchet; and otherwise he ought not to be sworn, seeing that
his adversary is an unbeliever, and may take no oath."
This explanation was satisfactory, to Albert's great joy; for the
wily knight had foreseen the great difficulty, or rather
impossibility, of prevailing upon Brian de Bois-Guilbert to take
such an oath before the assembly, and had invented this excuse to
escape the necessity of his doing so.
The Grand Master, having allowed the apology of Albert Malvoisin,
commanded the herald to stand forth and do his devoir. The
trumpets then again flourished, and a herald, stepping forward,
proclaimed aloud,---"Oyez, oyez, oyez.---Here standeth the good
Knight, Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert, ready to do battle with any
knight of free blood, who will sustain the quarrel allowed and
allotted to the Jewess Rebecca, to try by champion, in respect of
lawful essoine of her own body; and to such champion the reverend
and valorous Grand Master here present allows a fair field, and
equal partition of sun and wind, and whatever else appertains to
a fair combat." The trumpets again sounded, and there was a dead
pause of many minutes.
"No champion appears for the appellant," said the Grand Master.
"Go, herald, and ask her whether she expects any one to do battle
for her in this her cause." The herald went to the chair in which
Rebecca was seated, and Bois-Guilbert suddenly turning his
horse's head toward that end of the lists, in spite of hints on
either side from Malvoisin and Mont-Fitchet, was by the side of
Rebecca's chair as soon as the herald.
"Is this regular, and according to the law of combat?" said
Malvoisin, looking to the Grand Master.
"Albert de Malvoisin, it is," answered Beaumanoir; "for in this
appeal to the judgment of God, we may not prohibit parties from
having that communication with each other, which may best tend to
bring forth the truth of the quarrel."
In the meantime, the herald spoke to Rebecca in these terms:
---"Damsel, the Honourable and Reverend the Grand Master demands
of thee, if thou art prepared with a champion to do battle this
day in thy behalf, or if thou dost yield thee as one justly
condemned to a deserved doom?"
"Say to the Grand Master," replied Rebecca, "that I maintain my
innocence, and do not yield me as justly condemned, lest I become
guilty of mine own blood. Say to him, that I challenge such delay
as his forms will permit, to see if God, whose opportunity is in
man's extremity, will raise me up a deliverer; and when such
uttermost space is passed, may His holy will be done!" The
herald retired to carry this answer to the Grand Master.
"God forbid," said Lucas Beaumanoir, "that Jew or Pagan should
impeach us of injustice!---Until the shadows be cast from the
west to the eastward, will we wait to see if a champion shall
appear for this unfortunate woman. When the day is so far
passed, let her prepare for death."
The herald communicated the words of the Grand Master to Rebecca,
who bowed her head submissively, folded her arms, and, looking up
towards heaven, seemed to expect that aid from above which she
could scarce promise herself from man. During this awful pause,
the voice of Bois-Guilbert broke upon her ear---it was but a
whisper, yet it startled her more than the summons of the herald
had appeared to do.
"Rebecca," said the Templar, "dost thou hear me?"
"I have no portion in thee, cruel, hard-hearted man," said the
"Ay, but dost thou understand my words?" said the Templar; "for
the sound of my voice is frightful in mine own ears. I scarce
know on what ground we stand, or for what purpose they have
brought us hither.---This listed space---that chair---these
faggots---I know their purpose, and yet it appears to me like
something unreal---the fearful picture of a vision, which appals
my sense with hideous fantasies, but convinces not my reason."
"My mind and senses keep touch and time," answered Rebecca, "and
tell me alike that these faggots are destined to consume my
earthly body, and open a painful but a brief passage to a better
"Dreams, Rebecca,---dreams," answered the Templar; "idle visions,
rejected by the wisdom of your own wiser Sadducees. Hear me,
Rebecca," he said, proceeding with animation; "a better chance
hast thou for life and liberty than yonder knaves and dotard
dream of. Mount thee behind me on my steed---on Zamor, the
gallant horse that never failed his rider. I won him in single
fight from the Soldan of Trebizond---mount, I say, behind me---in
one short hour is pursuit and enquiry far behind---a new world of
pleasure opens to thee---to me a new career of fame. Let them
speak the doom which I despise, and erase the name of
Bois-Guilbert from their list of monastic slaves! I will wash
out with blood whatever blot they may dare to cast on my
"Tempter," said Rebecca, "begone!---Not in this last extremity
canst thou move me one hair's-breadth from my resting place
---surrounded as I am by foes, I hold thee as my worst and most
deadly enemy---avoid thee, in the name of God!"
Albert Malvoisin, alarmed and impatient at the duration of their
conference, now advanced to interrupt it.
"Hath the maiden acknowledged her guilt?" he demanded of
Bois-Guilbert; "or is she resolute in her denial?"
"She is indeed resolute," said Bois-Guilbert.
"Then," said Malvoisin, "must thou, noble brother, resume thy
place to attend the issue---The shades are changing on the circle
of the dial---Come, brave Bois-Guilbert---come, thou hope of our
holy Order, and soon to be its head."
As he spoke in this soothing tone, he laid his hand on the
knight's bridle, as if to lead him back to his station.
"False villain! what meanest thou by thy hand on my rein?" said
Sir Brian, angrily. And shaking off his companion's grasp, he
rode back to the upper end of the lists.
"There is yet spirit in him," said Malvoisin apart to
Mont-Fitchet, "were it well directed---but, like the Greek fire,
it burns whatever approaches it."
The Judges had now been two hours in the lists, awaiting in vain
the appearance of a champion.
"And reason good," said Friar Tuck, "seeing she is a Jewess---and
yet, by mine Order, it is hard that so young and beautiful a
creature should perish without one blow being struck in her
behalf! Were she ten times a witch, provided she were but the
least bit of a Christian, my quarter-staff should ring noon on
the steel cap of yonder fierce Templar, ere he carried the matter
It was, however, the general belief that no one could or would
appear for a Jewess, accused of sorcery; and the knights,
instigated by Malvoisin, whispered to each other, that it was
time to declare the pledge of Rebecca forfeited. At this instant
a knight, urging his horse to speed, appeared on the plain
advancing towards the lists. A hundred voices exclaimed, "A
champion! a champion!" And despite the prepossessions and
prejudices of the multitude, they shouted unanimously as the
knight rode into the tiltyard, The second glance, however, served
to destroy the hope that his timely arrival had excited. His
horse, urged for many miles to its utmost speed, appeared to reel
from fatigue, and the rider, however undauntedly he presented
himself in the lists, either from weakness, weariness, or both,
seemed scarce able to support himself in the saddle.
To the summons of the herald, who demanded his rank, his name,
and purpose, the stranger knight answered readily and boldly, "I
am a good knight and noble, come hither to sustain with lance and
sword the just and lawful quarrel of this damsel, Rebecca,
daughter of Isaac of York; to uphold the doom pronounced against
her to be false and truthless, and to defy Sir Brian de
Bois-Guilbert, as a traitor, murderer, and liar; as I will prove
in this field with my body against his, by the aid of God, of Our
Lady, and of Monseigneur Saint George, the good knight."
"The stranger must first show," said Malvoisin, "that he is good
knight, and of honourable lineage. The Temple sendeth not forth
her champions against nameless men."
"My name," said the Knight, raising his helmet, "is better known,
my lineage more pure, Malvoisin, than thine own. I am Wilfred
"I will not fight with thee at present," said the Templar, in a
changed and hollow voice. "Get thy wounds healed, purvey thee a
better horse, and it may be I will hold it worth my while to
scourge out of thee this boyish spirit of bravado."
"Ha! proud Templar," said Ivanhoe, "hast thou forgotten that
twice didst thou fall before this lance? Remember the lists at
Acre---remember the Passage of Arms at Ashby---remember thy proud
vaunt in the halls of Rotherwood, and the gage of your gold chain
against my reliquary, that thou wouldst do battle with Wilfred of
Ivanhoe, and recover the honour thou hadst lost! By that
reliquary and the holy relic it contains, I will proclaim thee,
Templar, a coward in every court in Europe---in every Preceptory
of thine Order--unless thou do battle without farther delay."
Bois-Guilbert turned his countenance irresolutely towards
Rebecca, and then exclaimed, looking fiercely at Ivanhoe, "Dog of
a Saxon! take thy lance, and prepare for the death thou hast
drawn upon thee!"
"Does the Grand Master allow me the combat?" said Ivanhoe.
"I may not deny what thou hast challenged," said the Grand
Master, "provided the maiden accepts thee as her champion. Yet I
would thou wert in better plight to do battle. An enemy of our
Order hast thou ever been, yet would I have thee honourably met
"Thus---thus as I am, and not otherwise," said Ivanhoe; "it is
the judgment of God---to his keeping I commend myself.
---Rebecca," said he, riding up to the fatal chair, "dost thou
accept of me for thy champion?"
"I do," she said---"I do," fluttered by an emotion which the fear
of death had been unable to produce, "I do accept thee as the
champion whom Heaven hath sent me. Yet, no---no---thy wounds are
uncured---Meet not that proud man---why shouldst thou perish
But Ivanhoe was already at his post, and had closed his visor,
and assumed his lance. Bois-Guilbert did the same; and his
esquire remarked, as he clasped his visor, that his face, which
had, notwithstanding the variety of emotions by which he had been
agitated, continued during the whole morning of an ashy paleness,
was now become suddenly very much flushed.
The herald, then, seeing each champion in his place, uplifted his
voice, repeating thrice---"Faites vos devoirs, preux chevaliers!"
After the third cry, he withdrew to one side of the lists, and
again proclaimed, that none, on peril of instant death, should
dare, by word, cry, or action, to interfere with or disturb this
fair field of combat. The Grand Master, who held in his hand the
gage of battle, Rebecca's glove, now threw it into the lists, and
pronounced the fatal signal words, "Laissez aller".
The trumpets sounded, and the knights charged each other in full
career. The wearied horse of Ivanhoe, and its no less exhausted
rider, went down, as all had expected, before the well-aimed
lance and vigorous steed of the Templar. This issue of the
combat all had foreseen; but although the spear of Ivanhoe did
but, in comparison, touch the shield of Bois-Guilbert, that
champion, to the astonishment of all who beheld it reeled in his
saddle, lost his stirrups, and fell in the lists.
Ivanhoe, extricating himself from his fallen horse, was soon on
foot, hastening to mend his fortune with his sword; but his
antagonist arose not. Wilfred, placing his foot on his breast,
and the sword's point to his throat, commanded him to yield him,
or die on the spot. Bois-Guilbert returned no answer.
"Slay him not, Sir Knight," cried the Grand Master, "unshriven
and unabsolved---kill not body and soul! We allow him
He descended into the lists, and commanded them to unhelm the
conquered champion. His eyes were closed---the dark red flush
was still on his brow. As they looked on him in astonishment,
the eyes opened---but they were fixed and glazed. The flush
passed from his brow, and gave way to the pallid hue of death.
Unscathed by the lance of his enemy, he had died a victim to the
violence of his own contending passions.
"This is indeed the judgment of God," said the Grand Master,
looking upwards---"'Fiat voluntas tua!'"
So! now 'tis ended, like an old wife's story.
When the first moments of surprise were over, Wilfred of Ivanhoe
demanded of the Grand Master, as judge of the field, if he had
manfully and rightfully done his duty in the combat? "Manfully
and rightfully hath it been done," said the Grand Master. "I
pronounce the maiden free and guiltless---The arms and the body
of the deceased knight are at the will of the victor."
"I will not despoil him of his weapons," said the Knight of
Ivanhoe, "nor condemn his corpse to shame---he hath fought for
Christendom---God's arm, no human hand, hath this day struck him
down. But let his obsequies be private, as becomes those of a
man who died in an unjust quarrel.---And for the maiden---"
He was interrupted by a clattering of horses' feet, advancing in
such numbers, and so rapidly, as to shake the ground before them;
and the Black Knight galloped into the lists. He was followed by
a numerous band of men-at-arms, and several knights in complete
"I am too late," he said, looking around him. "I had doomed
Bois-Guilbert for mine own property.---Ivanhoe, was this well,
to take on thee such a venture, and thou scarce able to keep thy
"Heaven, my Liege," answered Ivanhoe, "hath taken this proud man
for its victim. He was not to be honoured in dying as your will
"Peace be with him," said Richard, looking steadfastly on the
corpse, "if it may be so---he was a gallant knight, and has died
in his steel harness full knightly. But we must waste no time
---Bohun, do thine office!"
A Knight stepped forward from the King's attendants, and, laying
his hand on the shoulder of Albert de Malvoisin, said, "I arrest
thee of High Treason."
The Grand Master had hitherto stood astonished at the appearance
of so many warriors.---He now spoke.
"Who dares to arrest a Knight of the Temple of Zion, within the
girth of his own Preceptory, and in the presence of the Grand
Master? and by whose authority is this bold outrage offered?"
"I make the arrest," replied the Knight---"I, Henry Bohun, Earl
of Essex, Lord High Constable of England."
"And he arrests Malvoisin," said the King, raising his visor, "by
the order of Richard Plantagenet, here present.---Conrade
Mont-Fitchet, it is well for thee thou art born no subject of
mine.---But for thee, Malvoisin, thou diest with thy brother
Philip, ere the world be a week older."
"I will resist thy doom," said the Grand Master.
"Proud Templar," said the King, "thou canst not---look up, and
behold the Royal Standard of England floats over thy towers
instead of thy Temple banner!---Be wise, Beaumanoir, and make no
bootless opposition---Thy hand is in the lion's mouth."
"I will appeal to Rome against thee," said the Grand Master, "for
usurpation on the immunities and privileges of our Order."
"Be it so," said the King; "but for thine own sake tax me not
with usurpation now. Dissolve thy Chapter, and depart with thy
followers to thy next Preceptory, (if thou canst find one), which
has not been made the scene of treasonable conspiracy against the
King of England---Or, if thou wilt, remain, to share our
hospitality, and behold our justice."
"To be a guest in the house where I should command?" said the
Templar; "never!---Chaplains, raise the Psalm, 'Quare fremuerunt
Gentes?'---Knights, squires, and followers of the Holy Temple,
prepare to follow the banner of 'Beau-seant!'"
The Grand Master spoke with a dignity which confronted even that
of England's king himself, and inspired courage into his
surprised and dismayed followers. They gathered around him like
the sheep around the watch-dog, when they hear the baying of the
wolf. But they evinced not the timidity of the scared flock
---there were dark brows of defiance, and looks which menaced the
hostility they dared not to proffer in words. They drew together
in a dark line of spears, from which the white cloaks of the
knights were visible among the dusky garments of their retainers,
like the lighter-coloured edges of a sable cloud. The multitude,
who had raised a clamorous shout of reprobation, paused and gazed
in silence on the formidable and experienced body to which they
had unwarily bade defiance, and shrunk back from their front.
The Earl of Essex, when he beheld them pause in their assembled
force, dashed the rowels into his charger's sides, and galloped
backwards and forwards to array his followers, in opposition to a
band so formidable. Richard alone, as if he loved the danger his
presence had provoked, rode slowly along the front of the
Templars, calling aloud, "What, sirs! Among so many gallant
knights, will none dare splinter a spear with Richard?---Sirs of
the Temple! your ladies are but sun-burned, if they are not worth
the shiver of a broken lance?"
"The Brethren of the Temple," said the Grand Master, riding
forward in advance of their body, "fight not on such idle and
profane quarrel---and not with thee, Richard of England, shall a
Templar cross lance in my presence. The Pope and Princes of
Europe shall judge our quarrel, and whether a Christian prince
has done well in bucklering the cause which thou hast to-day
adopted. If unassailed, we depart assailing no one. To thine
honour we refer the armour and household goods of the Order which
we leave behind us, and on thy conscience we lay the scandal and
offence thou hast this day given to Christendom."
With these words, and without waiting a reply, the Grand Master
gave the signal of departure. Their trumpets sounded a wild
march, of an Oriental character, which formed the usual signal
for the Templars to advance. They changed their array from a
line to a column of march, and moved off as slowly as their
horses could step, as if to show it was only the will of their
Grand Master, and no fear of the opposing and superior force,
which compelled them to withdraw.
"By the splendour of Our Lady's brow!" said King Richard, "it is
pity of their lives that these Templars are not so trusty as they
are disciplined and valiant."
The multitude, like a timid cur which waits to bark till the
object of its challenge has turned his back, raised a feeble
shout as the rear of the squadron left the ground.
During the tumult which attended the retreat of the Templars,
Rebecca saw and heard nothing---she was locked in the arms of her
aged father, giddy, and almost senseless, with the rapid change
of circumstances around her. But one word from Isaac at length
recalled her scattered feelings.
"Let us go," he said, "my dear daughter, my recovered treasure
---let us go to throw ourselves at the feet of the good youth."
"Not so," said Rebecca, "O no---no---no---I must not at this
moment dare to speak to him---Alas! I should say more than---No,
my father, let us instantly leave this evil place."
"But, my daughter," said Isaac, "to leave him who hath come forth
like a strong man with his spear and shield, holding his life as
nothing, so he might redeem thy captivity; and thou, too, the
daughter of a people strange unto him and his---this is service
to be thankfully acknowledged."
"It is---it is---most thankfully---most devoutly acknowledged,"
said Rebecca---"it shall be still more so---but not now---for the
sake of thy beloved Rachel, father, grant my request---not now!"
"Nay, but," said Isaac, insisting, "they will deem us more
thankless than mere dogs!"
"But thou seest, my dear father, that King Richard is in
presence, and that------"
"True, my best---my wisest Rebecca!---Let us hence---let us
hence!---Money he will lack, for he has just returned from
Palestine, and, as they say, from prison---and pretext for
exacting it, should he need any, may arise out of my simple
traffic with his brother John. Away, away, let us hence!"
And hurrying his daughter in his turn, he conducted her from the
lists, and by means of conveyance which he had provided,
transported her safely to the house of the Rabbi Nathan.
The Jewess, whose fortunes had formed the principal interest of
the day, having now retired unobserved, the attention of the
populace was transferred to the Black Knight. They now filled
the air with "Long life to Richard with the Lion's Heart, and
down with the usurping Templars!"
"Notwithstanding all this lip-loyalty," said Ivanhoe to the Earl
of Essex, "it was well the King took the precaution to bring thee
with him, noble Earl, and so many of thy trusty followers."
The Earl smiled and shook his head.
"Gallant Ivanhoe," said Essex, "dost thou know our Master so
well, and yet suspect him of taking so wise a precaution! I was
drawing towards York having heard that Prince John was making
head there, when I met King Richard, like a true knight-errant,
galloping hither to achieve in his own person this adventure of
the Templar and the Jewess, with his own single arm. I
accompanied him with my band, almost maugre his consent."
"And what news from York, brave Earl?" said Ivanhoe; "will the
rebels bide us there?"
"No more than December's snow will bide July's sun," said the
Earl; "they are dispersing; and who should come posting to bring
us the news, but John himself!"
"The traitor! the ungrateful insolent traitor!" said Ivanhoe;
"did not Richard order him into confinement?"
"O! he received him," answered the Earl, "as if they had met
after a hunting party; and, pointing to me and our men-at-arms,
said, 'Thou seest, brother, I have some angry men with me---thou
wert best go to our mother, carry her my duteous affection, and
abide with her until men's minds are pacified.'"
"And this was all he said?" enquired Ivanhoe; "would not any one
say that this Prince invites men to treason by his clemency?"
"Just," replied the Earl, "as the man may be said to invite
death, who undertakes to fight a combat, having a dangerous
"I forgive thee the jest, Lord Earl," said Ivanhoe; "but,
remember, I hazarded but my own life---Richard, the welfare of
"Those," replied Essex, "who are specially careless of their own
welfare, are seldom remarkably attentive to that of others---But
let us haste to the castle, for Richard meditates punishing some
of the subordinate members of the conspiracy, though he has
pardoned their principal."
From the judicial investigations which followed on this occasion,
and which are given at length in the Wardour Manuscript, it
appears that Maurice de Bracy escaped beyond seas, and went into
the service of Philip of France; while Philip de Malvoisin, and
his brother Albert, the Preceptor of Templestowe, were executed,
although Waldemar Fitzurse, the soul of the conspiracy, escaped
with banishment; and Prince John, for whose behoof it was
undertaken, was not even censured by his good-natured brother.
No one, however, pitied the fate of the two Malvoisins, who only
suffered the death which they had both well deserved, by many
acts of falsehood, cruelty, and oppression.
Briefly after the judicial combat, Cedric the Saxon was summoned
to the court of Richard, which, for the purpose of quieting the
counties that had been disturbed by the ambition of his brother,
was then held at York. Cedric tushed and pshawed more than once
at the message---but he refused not obedience. In fact, the
return of Richard had quenched every hope that he had entertained
of restoring a Saxon dynasty in England; for, whatever head the
Saxons might have made in the event of a civil war, it was plain
that nothing could be done under the undisputed dominion of
Richard, popular as he was by his personal good qualities and
military fame, although his administration was wilfully careless,
now too indulgent, and now allied to despotism.
But, moreover, it could not escape even Cedric's reluctant
observation, that his project for an absolute union among the
Saxons, by the marriage of Rowena and Athelstane, was now
completely at an end, by the mutual dissent of both parties
concerned. This was, indeed, an event which, in his ardour for
the Saxon cause, he could not have anticipated, and even when the
disinclination of both was broadly and plainly manifested, he
could scarce bring himself to believe that two Saxons of royal
descent should scruple, on personal grounds, at an alliance so
necessary for the public weal of the nation. But it was not the
less certain: Rowena had always expressed her repugnance to
Athelstane, and now Athelstane was no less plain and positive in
proclaiming his resolution never to pursue his addresses to the
Lady Rowena. Even the natural obstinacy of Cedric sunk beneath
these obstacles, where he, remaining on the point of junction,
had the task of dragging a reluctant pair up to it, one with each
hand. He made, however, a last vigorous attack on Athelstane,
and he found that resuscitated sprout of Saxon royalty engaged,
like country squires of our own day, in a furious war with the
It seems that, after all his deadly menaces against the Abbot of
Saint Edmund's, Athelstane's spirit of revenge, what between the
natural indolent kindness of his own disposition, what through
the prayers of his mother Edith, attached, like most ladies, (of
the period,) to the clerical order, had terminated in his keeping
the Abbot and his monks in the dungeons of Coningsburgh for three
days on a meagre diet. For this atrocity the Abbot menaced him
with excommunication, and made out a dreadful list of complaints
in the bowels and stomach, suffered by himself and his monks, in
consequence of the tyrannical and unjust imprisonment they had
sustained. With this controversy, and with the means he had
adopted to counteract this clerical persecution, Cedric found the
mind of his friend Athelstane so fully occupied, that it had no
room for another idea. And when Rowena's name was mentioned the
noble Athelstane prayed leave to quaff a full goblet to her
health, and that she might soon be the bride of his kinsman
Wilfred. It was a desperate case therefore. There was obviously
no more to be made of Athelstane; or, as Wamba expressed it, in a
phrase which has descended from Saxon times to ours, he was a
cock that would not fight.
There remained betwixt Cedric and the determination which the
lovers desired to come to, only two obstacles---his own
obstinacy, and his dislike of the Norman dynasty. The former
feeling gradually gave way before the endearments of his ward,
and the pride which he could not help nourishing in the fame of
his son. Besides, he was not insensible to the honour of allying
his own line to that of Alfred, when the superior claims of the
descendant of Edward the Confessor were abandoned for ever.
Cedric's aversion to the Norman race of kings was also much
undermined,---first, by consideration of the impossibility of
ridding England of the new dynasty, a feeling which goes far to
create loyalty in the subject to the king "de facto"; and,
secondly, by the personal attention of King Richard, who
delighted in the blunt humour of Cedric, and, to use the language
of the Wardour Manuscript, so dealt with the noble Saxon, that,
ere he had been a guest at court for seven days, he had given his
consent to the marriage of his ward Rowena and his son Wilfred of
The nuptials of our hero, thus formally approved by his father,
were celebrated in the most august of temples, the noble Minster
of York. The King himself attended, and from the countenance
which he afforded on this and other occasions to the distressed
and hitherto degraded Saxons, gave them a safer and more certain
prospect of attaining their just rights, than they could
reasonably hope from the precarious chance of a civil war. The
Church gave her full solemnities, graced with all the splendour
which she of Rome knows how to apply with such brilliant effect.
Gurth, gallantly apparelled, attended as esquire upon his young
master whom he had served so faithfully, and the magnanimous
Wamba, decorated with a new cap and a most gorgeous set of silver
bells. Sharers of Wilfred's dangers and adversity, they
remained, as they had a right to expect, the partakers of his
more prosperous career.
But besides this domestic retinue, these distinguished nuptials
were celebrated by the attendance of the high-born Normans, as
well as Saxons, joined with the universal jubilee of the lower
orders, that marked the marriage of two individuals as a pledge
of the future peace and harmony betwixt two races, which, since
that period, have been so completely mingled, that the
distinction has become wholly invisible. Cedric lived to see
this union approximate towards its completion; for as the two
nations mixed in society and formed intermarriages with each
other, the Normans abated their scorn, and the Saxons were
refined from their rusticity. But it was not until the reign of
Edward the Third that the mixed language, now termed English, was
spoken at the court of London, and that the hostile distinction
of Norman and Saxon seems entirely to have disappeared.
It was upon the second morning after this happy bridal, that the
Lady Rowena was made acquainted by her handmaid Elgitha, that a
damsel desired admission to her presence, and solicited that
their parley might be without witness. Rowena wondered,
hesitated, became curious, and ended by commanding the damsel to
be admitted, and her attendants to withdraw.
She entered---a noble and commanding figure, the long white veil,
in which she was shrouded, overshadowing rather than concealing
the elegance and majesty of her shape. Her demeanour was that of
respect, unmingled by the least shade either of fear, or of a
wish to propitiate favour. Rowena was ever ready to acknowledge
the claims, and attend to the feelings, of others. She arose,
and would have conducted her lovely visitor to a seat; but the
stranger looked at Elgitha, and again intimated a wish to
discourse with the Lady Rowena alone. Elgitha had no sooner
retired with unwilling steps, than, to the surprise of the Lady
of Ivanhoe, her fair visitant kneeled on one knee, pressed her
hands to her forehead, and bending her head to the ground, in
spite of Rowena's resistance, kissed the embroidered hem of her
"What means this, lady?" said the surprised bride; "or why do you
offer to me a deference so unusual?"
"Because to you, Lady of Ivanhoe," said Rebecca, rising up and
resuming the usual quiet dignity of her manner, "I may lawfully,
and without rebuke, pay the debt of gratitude which I owe to
Wilfred of Ivanhoe. I am---forgive the boldness which has
offered to you the homage of my country---I am the unhappy
Jewess, for whom your husband hazarded his life against such
fearful odds in the tiltyard of Templestowe."
"Damsel," said Rowena, "Wilfred of Ivanhoe on that day rendered
back but in slight measure your unceasing charity towards him in
his wounds and misfortunes. Speak, is there aught remains in
which he or I can serve thee?"
"Nothing," said Rebecca, calmly, "unless you will transmit to
him my grateful farewell."
"You leave England then?" said Rowena, scarce recovering the
surprise of this extraordinary visit.
"I leave it, lady, ere this moon again changes. My father had a
brother high in favour with Mohammed Boabdil, King of Grenada
---thither we go, secure of peace and protection, for the payment
of such ransom as the Moslem exact from our people."
"And are you not then as well protected in England?" said Rowena.
"My husband has favour with the King---the King himself is just
"Lady," said Rebecca, "I doubt it not---but the people of England
are a fierce race, quarrelling ever with their neighbours or
among themselves, and ready to plunge the sword into the bowels
of each other. Such is no safe abode for the children of my
people. Ephraim is an heartless dove---Issachar an over-laboured
drudge, which stoops between two burdens. Not in a land of war
and blood, surrounded by hostile neighbours, and distracted by
internal factions, can Israel hope to rest during her
"But you, maiden," said Rowena---"you surely can have nothing to
fear. She who nursed the sick-bed of Ivanhoe," she continued,
rising with enthusiasm---"she can have nothing to fear in
England, where Saxon and Norman will contend who shall most do
"Thy speech is fair, lady," said Rebecca, "and thy purpose
fairer; but it may not be---there is a gulf betwixt us. Our
breeding, our faith, alike forbid either to pass over it.
Farewell---yet, ere I go indulge me one request. The bridal-veil
hangs over thy face; deign to raise it, and let me see the
features of which fame speaks so highly."
"They are scarce worthy of being looked upon," said Rowena; "but,
expecting the same from my visitant, I remove the veil."
She took it off accordingly; and, partly from the consciousness
of beauty, partly from bashfulness, she blushed so intensely,
that cheek, brow, neck, and bosom, were suffused with crimson.
Rebecca blushed also, but it was a momentary feeling; and,
mastered by higher emotions, past slowly from her features like
the crimson cloud, which changes colour when the sun sinks
beneath the horizon.
"Lady," she said, "the countenance you have deigned to show me
will long dwell in my remembrance. There reigns in it
gentleness and goodness; and if a tinge of the world's pride or
vanities may mix with an expression so lovely, how should we
chide that which is of earth for bearing some colour of its
original? Long, long will I remember your features, and bless
God that I leave my noble deliverer united with---"
She stopped short---her eyes filled with tears. She hastily
wiped them, and answered to the anxious enquiries of Rowena
---"I am well, lady---well. But my heart swells when I think of
Torquilstone and the lists of Templestowe.---Farewell. One, the
most trifling part of my duty, remains undischarged. Accept this
casket---startle not at its contents."
Rowena opened the small silver-chased casket, and perceived a
carcanet, or neck lace, with ear-jewels, of diamonds, which were
obviously of immense value.
"It is impossible," she said, tendering back the casket. "I dare
not accept a gift of such consequence."
"Yet keep it, lady," returned Rebecca.---"You have power, rank,
command, influence; we have wealth, the source both of our
strength and weakness; the value of these toys, ten times
multiplied, would not influence half so much as your slightest
wish. To you, therefore, the gift is of little value,---and to
me, what I part with is of much less. Let me not think you deem
so wretchedly ill of my nation as your commons believe. Think ye
that I prize these sparkling fragments of stone above my liberty?
or that my father values them in comparison to the honour of his
only child? Accept them, lady---to me they are valueless. I
will never wear jewels more."
"You are then unhappy!" said Rowena, struck with the manner in
which Rebecca uttered the last words. "O, remain with us---the
counsel of holy men will wean you from your erring law, and I
will be a sister to you."
"No, lady," answered Rebecca, the same calm melancholy reigning
in her soft voice and beautiful features---"that---may not be. I
may not change the faith of my fathers like a garment unsuited to
the climate in which I seek to dwell, and unhappy, lady, I will
not be. He, to whom I dedicate my future life, will be my
comforter, if I do His will."
"Have you then convents, to one of which you mean to retire?"
"No, lady," said the Jewess; "but among our people, since the
time of Abraham downwards, have been women who have devoted their
thoughts to Heaven, and their actions to works of kindness to
men, tending the sick, feeding the hungry, and relieving the
distressed. Among these will Rebecca be numbered. Say this to
thy lord, should he chance to enquire after the fate of her whose
life he saved."
There was an involuntary tremour on Rebecca's voice, and a
tenderness of accent, which perhaps betrayed more than she would
willingly have expressed. She hastened to bid Rowena adieu.
"Farewell," she said. "May He, who made both Jew and Christian,
shower down on you his choicest blessings! The bark that waits
us hence will be under weigh ere we can reach the port."
She glided from the apartment, leaving Rowena surprised as if a
vision had passed before her. The fair Saxon related the
singular conference to her husband, on whose mind it made a deep
impression. He lived long and happily with Rowena, for they were
attached to each other by the bonds of early affection, and they
loved each other the more, from the recollection of the obstacles
which had impeded their union. Yet it would be enquiring too
curiously to ask, whether the recollection of Rebecca's beauty
and magnanimity did not recur to his mind more frequently than
the fair descendant of Alfred might altogether have approved.
Ivanhoe distinguished himself in the service of Richard, and was
graced with farther marks of the royal favour. He might have
risen still higher, but for the premature death of the heroic
Coeur-de-Lion, before the Castle of Chaluz, near Limoges. With
the life of a generous, but rash and romantic monarch, perished
all the projects which his ambition and his generosity had
formed; to whom may be applied, with a slight alteration, the
lines composed by Johnson for Charles of Sweden---
His fate was destined to a foreign strand,
A petty fortress and an "humble" hand;
He left the name at which the world grew pale,
To point a moral, or adorn a TALE.
NOTE TO CHAPTER I.
Note A.---The Ranger or the Forest, that cuts the foreclaws off
A most sensible grievance of those aggrieved times were the
Forest Laws. These oppressive enactments were the produce of the
Norman Conquest, for the Saxon laws of the chase were mild and
humane; while those of William, enthusiastically attached to the
exercise and its rights, were to the last degree tyrannical. The
formation of the New Forest, bears evidence to his passion for
hunting, where he reduced many a happy village to the condition
of that one commemorated by my friend, Mr William Stewart Rose:
"Amongst the ruins of the church
The midnight raven found a perch,
A melancholy place;
The ruthless Conqueror cast down,
Woe worth the deed, that little town,
To lengthen out his chase."
The disabling dogs, which might be necessary for keeping flocks
and herds, from running at the deer, was called "lawing", and was
in general use. The Charter of the Forest designed to lessen
those evils, declares that inquisition, or view, for lawing dogs,
shall be made every third year, and shall be then done by the
view and testimony of lawful men, not otherwise; and they whose
dogs shall be then found unlawed, shall give three shillings for
mercy, and for the future no man's ox shall be taken for lawing.
Such lawing also shall be done by the assize commonly used, and
which is, that three claws shall be cut off without the ball of
the right foot. See on this subject the Historical Essay on the
Magna Charta of King John, (a most beautiful volume), by Richard
NOTE TO CHAPTER II.
Note B.---Negro Slaves.
The severe accuracy of some critics has objected to the
complexion of the slaves of Brian de Bois-Guilbert, as being
totally out of costume and propriety. I remember the same
objection being made to a set of sable functionaries, whom my
friend, Mat Lewis, introduced as the guards and mischief-doing
satellites of the wicked Baron, in his Castle Spectre. Mat
treated the objection with great contempt, and averred in reply,
that he made the slaves black in order to obtain a striking
effect of contrast, and that, could he have derived a similar
advantage from making his heroine blue, blue she should have
I do not pretend to plead the immunities of my order so highly
as this; but neither will I allow that the author of a modern
antique romance is obliged to confine himself to the introduction
of those manners only which can be proved to have absolutely
existed in the times he is depicting, so that he restrain himself
to such as are plausible and natural, and contain no obvious
anachronism. In this point of view, what can be more natural,
than that the Templars, who, we know, copied closely the luxuries
of the Asiatic warriors with whom they fought, should use the
service of the enslaved Africans, whom the fate of war
transferred to new masters? I am sure, if there are no precise
proofs of their having done so, there is nothing, on the other
hand, that can entitle us positively to conclude that they never
did. Besides, there is an instance in romance.
John of Rampayne, an excellent juggler and minstrel, undertook
to effect the escape of one Audulf de Bracy, by presenting
himself in disguise at the court of the king, where he was
confined. For this purpose, "he stained his hair and his whole
body entirely as black as jet, so that nothing was white but his
teeth," and succeeded in imposing himself on the king, as an
Ethiopian minstrel. He effected, by stratagem, the escape of the
prisoner. Negroes, therefore, must have been known in England in
the dark ages.*
* Dissertation on Romance and Minstrelsy, prefixed to
* Ritson's Ancient Metrical Romances, p. clxxxvii.
NOTE TO CHAPTER XVII.
The realm of France, it is well known, was divided betwixt the
Norman and Teutonic race, who spoke the language in which the
word Yes is pronounced as "oui", and the inhabitants of the
southern regions, whose speech bearing some affinity to the
Italian, pronounced the same word "oc". The poets of the former
race were called "Minstrels", and their poems "Lays": those of
the latter were termed "Troubadours", and their compositions
called "sirventes", and other names. Richard, a professed
admirer of the joyous science in all its branches, could imitate
either the minstrel or troubadour. It is less likely that he
should have been able to compose or sing an English ballad; yet
so much do we wish to assimilate Him of the Lion Heart to the
band of warriors whom he led, that the anachronism, if there be
one may readily be forgiven.
NOTE TO CHAPTER XXI.
Note D.---Battle of Stamford.
A great topographical blunder occurred here in former editions.
The bloody battle alluded to in the text, fought and won by King
Harold, over his brother the rebellious Tosti, and an auxiliary
force of Danes or Norsemen, was said, in the text, and a
corresponding note, to have taken place at Stamford, in
Leicestershire, and upon the river Welland. This is a mistake,
into which the author has been led by trusting to his memory, and
so confounding two places of the same name. The Stamford,
Strangford, or Staneford, at which the battle really was fought,
is a ford upon the river Derwent, at the distance of about seven
miles from York, and situated in that large and opulent county.
A long wooden bridge over the Derwent, the site of which, with
one remaining buttress, is still shown to the curious traveller,
was furiously contested. One Norwegian long defended it by his
single arm, and was at length pierced with a spear thrust through
the planks of the bridge from a boat beneath.
The neighbourhood of Stamford, on the Derwent, contains some
memorials of the battle. Horseshoes, swords, and the heads of
halberds, or bills, are often found there; one place is called
the "Danes' well," another the "Battle flats." From a tradition
that the weapon with which the Norwegian champion was slain,
resembled a pear, or, as others say, that the trough or boat in
which the soldier floated under the bridge to strike the blow,
had such a shape, the country people usually begin a great
market, which is held at Stamford, with an entertainment called
the Pear-pie feast, which after all may be a corruption of the
Spear-pie feast. For more particulars, Drake's History of York
may be referred to. The author's mistake was pointed out to him,
in the most obliging manner, by Robert Belt, Esq. of Bossal
House. The battle was fought in 1066.
NOTE TO CHAPTER XXII.
Note E.---The range of iron bars above that glowing charcoal.
This horrid species of torture may remind the reader of that to
which the Spaniards subjected Guatimozin, in order to extort a
discovery of his concealed wealth. But, in fact, an instance of
similar barbarity is to be found nearer home, and occurs in the
annals of Queen Mary's time, containing so many other examples of
atrocity. Every reader must recollect, that after the fall of
the Catholic Church, and the Presbyterian Church Government had
been established by law, the rank, and especially the wealth, of
the Bishops, Abbots, Priors, and so forth, were no longer vested
in ecclesiastics, but in lay impropriators of the church
revenues, or, as the Scottish lawyers called them, titulars of
the temporalities of the benefice, though having no claim to the
spiritual character of their predecessors in office.
Of these laymen, who were thus invested with ecclesiastical
revenues, some were men of high birth and rank, like the famous
Lord James Stewart, the Prior of St Andrews, who did not fail to
keep for their own use the rents, lands, and revenues of the
church. But if, on the other hand, the titulars were men of
inferior importance, who had been inducted into the office by the
interest of some powerful person, it was generally understood
that the new Abbot should grant for his patron's benefit such
leases and conveyances of the church lands and tithes as might
afford their protector the lion's share of the booty. This was
the origin of those who were wittily termed Tulchan*
* A "Tulchan" is a calf's skin stuffed, and placed before a
* cow who has lost its calf, to induce the animal to part
* with her milk. The resemblance between such a Tulchan and
* a Bishop named to transmit the temporalities of a benefice
* to some powerful patron, is easily understood.
Bishops, being a sort of imaginary prelate, whose image was set
up to enable his patron and principal to plunder the benefice
under his name.
There were other cases, however, in which men who had got grants
of these secularised benefices, were desirous of retaining them
for their own use, without having the influence sufficient to
establish their purpose; and these became frequently unable to
protect themselves, however unwilling to submit to the exactions
of the feudal tyrant of the district.
Bannatyne, secretary to John Knox, recounts a singular course of
oppression practised on one of those titulars abbots, by the Earl
of Cassilis in Ayrshire, whose extent of feudal influence was so
wide that he was usually termed the King of Carrick. We give the
fact as it occurs in Bannatyne's Journal, only premising that the
Journalist held his master's opinions, both with respect to the
Earl of Cassilis as an opposer of the king's party, and as being
a detester of the practice of granting church revenues to
titulars, instead of their being devoted to pious uses, such as
the support of the clergy, expense of schools, and the relief of
the national poor. He mingles in the narrative, therefore, a
well deserved feeling of execration against the tyrant who
employed the torture, which a tone of ridicule towards the
patient, as if, after all, it had not been ill bestowed on such
an equivocal and amphibious character as a titular abbot. He
entitles his narrative,
THE EARL OF CASSILIS' TYRANNY AGAINST A QUICK (i.e. LIVING) MAN.
"Master Allan Stewart, friend to Captain James Stewart of
Cardonall, by means of the Queen's corrupted court, obtained the
Abbey of Crossraguel. The said Earl thinking himself greater
than any king in those quarters, determined to have that whole
benefice (as he hath divers others) to pay at his pleasure; and
because he could not find sic security as his insatiable appetite
required, this shift was devised. The said Mr Allan being in
company with the Laird of Bargany, (also a Kennedy,) was, by the
Earl and his friends, enticed to leave the safeguard which he had
with the Laird, and come to make good cheer with the said Earl.
The simplicity of the imprudent man was suddenly abused; and so
he passed his time with them certain days, which he did in