Romance by William Makepeace Thackeray
I. THE OVERTURE.
OF THE BUSINESS.
CHAPTER II. THE
LAST DAYS OF THE
CHAPTER III. ST.
IVANHOE TO THE
CHAPTER VII. THE
END OF THE
CHAPTER I. THE OVERTURE.—
COMMENCEMENT OF THE BUSINESS.
WELL-BELOVED novel-readers and gentle patronesses of romance,
assuredly it has often occurred to every one of you, that the books we
delight in have very unsatisfactory, conclusions, and end quite
prematurely with page 320 of the third volume. At that epoch of the
history it is well known that the hero is seldom more than thirty
years old, and the heroine by consequence some seven or eight years
younger; and I would ask any of you whether it is fair to suppose that
people after the above age have nothing worthy of note in their lives,
and cease to exist as they drive away from Saint George's, Hanover
Square? You, dear young ladies, who get your knowledge of life from
the circulating library, may be led to imagine that when the marriage
business is done, and Emilia is whisked off in the new
travelling-carriage, by the side of the enraptured Earl; or Belinda,
breaking away from the tearful embraces of her excellent mother, dries
her own lovely eyes upon the throbbing waistcoat of her bridegroom—
you may be apt, I say, to suppose that all is over then; that Emilia
and the Earl are going to be happy for the rest of their lives in his
lordship's romantic castle in the North, and Belinda and her young
clergyman to enjoy uninterrupted bliss in their rose-trellised
parsonage in the West of England: but some there be among the
novel-reading classes—old experienced folks—who know better than
this. Some there be who have been married, and found that they have
still something to see and to do, and to suffer mayhap; and that
adventures, and pains, and pleasures, and taxes, and sunrises and
settings, and the business and joys and griefs of life go on after, as
before the nuptial ceremony.
Therefore I say, it is an unfair advantage which the novelist
takes of hero and heroine, as of his inexperienced reader, to say
good-by to the two former, as soon as ever they are made husband and
wife; and I have often wished that additions should be made to all
works of fiction which have been brought to abrupt terminations in the
manner described; and that we should hear what occurs to the sober
married man, as well as to the ardent bachelor; to the matron, as well
as to the blushing spinster. And in this respect I admire (and would
desire to imitate,) the noble and prolific French author, Alexandre
Dumas, who carries his heroes from early youth down to the most
venerable old age; and does not let them rest until they are so old,
that it is full time the poor fellows should get a little peace and
quiet. A hero is much too valuable a gentleman to be put upon the
retired list, in the prime and vigor of his youth; and I wish to know
what lady among us would like to be put on the shelf, and thought no
longer interesting, because she has a family growing up, and is four
or five and thirty years of age? I have known ladies at sixty, with
hearts as tender and ideas as romantic as any young misses of sixteen.
Let us have middle-aged novels then, as well as your extremely
juvenile legends: let the young ones be warned that the old folks have
a right to be interesting: and that a lady may continue to have a
heart, although she is somewhat stouter than she was when a
schoolgirl, and a man his feelings, although he gets his hair from
Thus I would desire that the biographies of many of our most
illustrious personages of romance should be continued by fitting
hands, and that they should be heard of, until at least a decent age.
- Look at Mr. James's heroes: they invariably marry young. Look at Mr.
Dickens's: they disappear from the scene when they are mere chits. I
trust these authors, who are still alive, will see the propriety of
telling us something more about people in whom we took a considerable
interest, and who must be at present strong and hearty, and in the
fall vigor of health and intellect. And in the tales of the great Sir
Walter (may honor be to his name), I am sure there are a number of
people who are untimely carried away from us, and of whom we ought to
My dear Rebecca, daughter of Isaac of York, has always, in my
mind, been one of these; nor can I ever believe that such a woman, so
admirable, so tender, so heroic, so beautiful, could disappear
altogether before such another woman as Rowena, that vapid,
flaxen-headed creature, who is, in my humble opinion, unworthy of
Ivanhoe, and unworthy of her place as heroine. Had both of them got
their rights, it ever seemed to me that Rebecca would have had the
husband, and Rowena would have gone off to a convent and shut herself
up, where I, for one, would never have taken the trouble of inquiring
But after all she married Ivanhoe. What is to be done? There is
no help for it. There it is in black and white at the end of the
third volume of Sir Walter Scott's chronicler that the couple were
joined together in matrimony. And must the Disinherited Knight, whose
blood has been fired by the suns of Palestine, and whose heart has
been warmed in the company of the tender and beautiful Rebecca, sit
down contented for life by the side of such a frigid piece of
propriety as that icy, faultless, prim, niminy-piminy Rowena? Forbid
it fate, forbid it poetical justice! There is a simple plan for
setting matters right, and giving all parties their due, which is here
submitted to the novel-reader. Ivanhoe's history must have had a
continuation; and it is this which ensues. I may be wrong in some
particulars of the narrative,—as what writer will not be?—but of
the main incidents of then history, I have in my own mind no sort of
doubt, and confidently submit them to that generous public which
likes to see virtue righted, true love rewarded, and the brilliant
Fairy descend out of the blazing chariot at the end of the pantomime,
and make Harlequin and Columbine happy. What, if reality be not so,
gentleman and ladies; and if, after dancing a variety of jigs and
antics, and jumping in and out of endless trap-doors and windows
through life's shifting scenes, no fairy comes down to make us
comfortable at the close of the performance? Ah! let us give our
honest novel-folks the benefit of their position, and not be envious
of their good luck.
No person who has read the preceding volumes of this history, as
the famous chronicler of Abbotsford has recorded them, can doubt for a
moment what was the result of the marriage between Sir Wilfrid of
Ivanhoe and Lady Rowena. Those who have marked her conduct during her
maidenhood, her dislanguished politeness, her spotless modesty or
demeanor, her unalterable coolness under all circumstances, and her
lofty and gentlewomanlike bearing, must be sure that her married
conduct would equal her spinster behavior, and that Rowena the wife
would be a pattern of correctness for all the matrons of England.
Such Was the fact. For miles around Rotherwood her character for
piety was known. Her castle was a rendezvous for all the clergy and
monks of the district, whom she fed with the richest viands, while she
pinched herself upon pulse and water. There was not an invalid in the
three Ridings, Saxon or Norman, but the palfrey of the Lady Rowena
might be seen journeying to his door, in company with Father Glauber,
her almoner, and Brother Thomas of Epsom, her leech. She lighted up
all the churches in Yorkshire with wax-candles, the offerings of her
piety. The bells of her chapel began to ring at two o'clock in the
morning; and all the domestics of Rotherwood were called upon to
attend at matins, at complins, at nones, at vespers, and at sermon. I
need not say that fasting was observed with all the rigors of the
Church; and that those of the servants of the Lady Rowena were looked
upon with most favor whose hair-shirts were the roughest, and who
flagellated themselves with the most becoming perseverance.
Whether it was that this discipline cleared poor Wamba's wits or
cooled his humor, it is certain that he became the most melancholy
fool in England, and if ever he ventured upon a pun to the shuddering
poor servitors, who were mumbling their dry crusts below the salt, it
was such a faint and stale joke that nobody dared to laugh at the
innuendoes of the unfortunate wag, and a sickly smile was the best
applause he could minister. Once, indeed, when Guffo, the goose-boy
(a half-witted poor wretch), laughed outright at a lamentably stale
pun which Wamba palmed upon him at supper-time, (it was dark, and the
torches being brought in, Wamba said, "Guffo, they can't see their way
in the argument, and are going __to throw a little light upon the
_subject,") the Lady Rowena, being disturbed in a theological
controversy with Father Willibald, (afterwards canonized as St.
Willibald, of Bareacres, hermit and confessor,) called out to know
what was the cause of the unseemly interruption, and Guffo and Wamba
being pointed out as the culprits, ordered them straightway into the
court-yard, and three dozen to be administered to each of them.
"I got you out of Front-de-Boeuf's castle," said poor Wamba,
piteously, appealing to Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe, "and canst thou not
save me from the lash?"
"Yes, from Front-de-Boeuf's castle, __where you were locked up
with the Jewess in the _tower!" said Rowena, haughtily replying, to
the timid appeal of her husband. "Gurth, give him four dozen!"
And this was all poor Wamba got by applying for the mediation of
In fact, Rowena knew her own dignity so well as a princess of the
royal blood of England, that Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe, her consort,
could scarcely call his life his own, and was made, in all things, to
feel the inferiority of his station. And which of us is there
acquainted with the sex that has not remarked this propensity in
lovely woman, and how often the wisest in the council are made to be
as fools at her board, and the boldest in the battle-field are craven
when facing her distaff?
"__Where you were locked up with the Jewess in the _tower," was a
remark, too, of which Wilfrid keenly felt, and perhaps the reader will
understand, the significancy. When the daughter of Isaac of York
brought her diamonds and rubies—the poor gentle victim!—and,
meekly laying them at the feet of the conquering Rowena, departed into
foreign lands to tend the sick of her people, and to brood over the
bootless passion which consumed her own pure heart, one would have
thought that the heart of the royal lady would have melted before such
beauty and humility, and that she would have been generous in the
moment of her victory.
But did you ever know a right-minded woman pardon another for
being handsome and more love-worthy than herself? The Lady Rowena did
certainly say with mighty magnanimity to the Jewish maiden, "Come and
live with me as a sister, as the former part of this history shows;
but Rebecca knew in her heart that her ladyship's proposition was what
is called _bosh (in that noble Eastern language with which Wilfrid the
Crusader was familiar), or fudge, in plain Saxon; and retired with a
broken, gentle spirit, neither able to bear the sight of her rival's
happiness, nor willing to disturb it by the contrast of her own
wretchedness. Rowena, like the most high-bred and virtuous of women,
never forgave Isaac's daughter her beauty, nor her flirtation with
Wilfrid (as the Saxon lady chose to term it) ; nor, above all, her
admirable diamonds and jewels, although Rowena was actually in
possession of them.
In a word, she was always flinging Rebecca into Ivanhoe's teeth.
There was not a day in his life but that unhappy warrior was made to
remember that a Hebrew damsel had been in love with him, and that a
Christian lady of fashion could never forgive the insult. For
instance, if Gurth, the swineherd, who was now promoted to be a
gamekeeper and verderer, brought the account of a famous wild-boar in
the wood, and proposed a hunt, Rowena would say, "Do, Sir Wilfrid,
persecute these poor pigs: you know your friends the Jews can't abide
them! Or when, as it oft would happen, our lionhearted monarch,
Richard, in order to get a loan or a benevolence from the Jews, would
roast a few of the Hebrew capitalists, or extract some of the
principal rabbis' teeth, Rowena would exult and say, "Serve them
right, the misbehaving wretches! England can never be a happy country
until every one of these monsters is exterminated!—or else, adopting
a strain of still more savage sarcasm, would exclaim, "Ivanhoe my
dear, more persecution for the Jews! Hadn't you better interfere, my
love? His Majesty will do anything for you; and, you know, the Jews
were __always such favorites of _yours," or words to that effect.
But, nevertheless, her ladyship never lost an opportunity of wearing
Rebecca's jewels at court, whenever the Queen held a drawing-room; or
at the York assizes and ball, when she appeared there: not of course
because she took any interest in such things, but because she
considered it her duty to attend, as one of the chief ladies of the
Thus Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe, having attained the height of his
wishes, was, like many a man when he has reached that dangerous
elevation, disappointed. Ah, dear friends, it is but too often so in
life! Many a garden, seen from a distance, looks fresh and green,
which, when beheld closely, is dismal and weedy; the shady walks
melancholy and grass-grown; the bowers you would fain repose in,
cushioned with stinging-nettles. I have ridden in a caique upon the
waters of the Bosphorus, and looked upon the capital of the Soldan of
Turkey. As seen from those blue waters, with palace and pinnacle,
with gilded dome and lowering cypress, it seemeth a very Paradise of
Mahound: but, enter the city, and it is but a beggarly labyrinth of
rickety huts and dirty alleys, where the ways are steep and the smells
are foul, tenanted by mangy dogs and ragged beggars—a dismal
illusion! Life is such, ah, well-a-day! It is only hope which is real,
and reality is a bitterness and a deceit.
Perhaps a man with Ivanhoe's high principles would never bring
himself to acknowledge this fact; but others did for him. He grew
thin, and pined away as much as if he had been in a fever under the
scorching sun of Ascalon. He had no appetite for his meals; he slept
ill, though he was yawning all day. The jangling of the doctors and
friars whom Rowena brought together did not in the least enliven him,
and he would sometimes give proofs of somnolency during their
disputes, greatly to the consternation of his lady. He hunted a good
deal, and, I very much fear, as Rowena rightly remarked, that he might
have an excuse for being absent from home. He began to like wine,
too, who had been as sober as a hermit; and when he came back from
Athelstane's (whither he would repair not unfrequently), the
unsteadiness of his gait and the unnatural brilliancy of his eye were
remarked by his lady: who, you may be sure, was sitting up for him.
As for Athelstane, he swore by St. Wullstan that he was glad to have
escaped a marriage with such a pattern of propriety; and honest
Cedric the Saxon (who had been very speedily driven out of his
daughter-in-law's castle) vowed by St. Waltheof that his son had
bought a dear bargain.
So Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe became almost as tired of England as his
royal master Richard was, (who always quitted the country when he had
squeezed from his loyal nobles, commons, clergy, and Jews, all the
money which he could get,) and when the lionhearted Prince began to
make war against the French King, in Normandy and Guienne, Sir Wilfrid
pined like a true servant to be in company of the good champion,
alongside of whom he had shivered so many lances, and dealt such
woundy blows of sword and battle-axe on the plains of Jaffa or the
breaches of Acre. Travellers were welcome at Rotherwood that brought
news from the camp of the good King: and I warrant me that the knight
listened with all his might when Father Drono, the chaplain, read in
the _St. _James's _Chronykyll (which was the paper of news he of
Ivanhoe took in) of "another glorious triumph"—"Defeat of the French
near Blois" —"Splendid victory at Epte, and narrow escape of the
French King:" the which deeds of arms the learned scribes had to
However such tales might excite him during the reading, they left
the Knight of Ivanhoe only the more melancholy after listening: and
the more moody as he sat in his great hall silently draining his
Gascony wine. Silently sat he and looked at his coats-of-mail hanging
vacant on the wall, his banner covered with spider-webs, and his sword
and axe rusting there. "Ah, dear axe," sighed he (into his
drinking-horn)—"ah, gentle steel! that was a merry time when I sent
thee crashing into the pate of the Emir Abdul Melik as he rode on the
right of Saladin. Ah, my sword, my dainty headsman? my sweet
split-rib? my razor of infidel beards! is the rust to eat thine edge
off, and am I never more to wield thee in battle? What is the use of a
shield on a wall, or a lance that has a cobweb for a pennon? O
Richard, my good king, would I could bear once more thy voice in the
front of the onset! Bones of Brian the Templar? would ye could rise
from your grave at Templestowe, and that we might break another spear
for honor and—and -"
"And _Rebecca," he would have said; but the knight paused here in
rather a guilty, panic: and her Royal Highness the Princess Rowena (as
she chose to style herself at home) looked so hard at him out of her
china-blue eyes, that Sir Wilfrid felt as if she was reading his
thoughts, and was fain to drop his own eyes into his flagon.
In a word, his life was intolerable. The dinner hour of the
twelfth century, it is known, was very early; in fact, people dined
at ten o'clock in the morning: and after dinner Rowena sat mum under
her canopy, embroidered with the arms of Edward the Confessor, working
with her maidens at the most hideous pieces of tapestry, representing
the tortures and martyrdoms of her favorite saints, and not allowing a
soul to speak above his breath, except when she chose to cry out in
her own shrill voice when a handmaid made a wrong stitch, or let fall
a ball of worsted. It was a dreary life. Wamba, we have said, never
ventured to crack a joke, save in a whisper, when he was ten miles
from home; and then Sir Wilfrid Ivanhoe was too weary and
blue-devilled to laugh; but hunted in silence, moodily bringing down
deer and wild-boar with shaft and quarrel.
Then he besought Robin of Huntingdon, the jolly outlaw, nathless,
to join him, and go to the help of their fair sire King Richard, with
a score or two of lances. But the Earl of Huntingdon was a very
different character from Robin Hood the forester. There was no more
conscientious magistrate in all the county than his lordship: he was
never known to miss church or quarter-sessions; he was the strictest
game-proprietor in all the Riding, and sent scores of poachers to
Botany Bay. "A man who has a stake in the country, my good Sir
Wilfrid," Lord Huntingdon said, with rather a patronizing air, (his
lordship had grown immensely fat since the King had taken him into
grace, and required a horse as strong as an elephant to mount him) "a
man with a stake in the country ought to stay in the country.
Property has its duties as well as its privileges, and a person of my
rank is bound to live on the land from which he gets his living."
"Amen!" sang out the Reverend ---- Tuck, his lordship's domestic
chaplain, who had also grown as sleek as the Abbot of Jorvaulx, who
was as prim as a lady in his dress, wore bergamot in his handkerchief,
and had his poll shaved and his beard curled every day. And so
sanctified was his Reverence grown, that he thought it was a shame to
kill the pretty deer, (though he ate of them still hugely, both in
pasties and with French beans and currant-jelly,) and being shown a
quarter-staff upon a certain occasion, handled it curiously, and asked
what that ugly great stick was?"
Lady Huntingdon, late Maid Marian, had still some of her old fun
and spirits, and poor Ivanhoe begged and prayed that she would come
and stay at Rotherwood occasionally, and _egayer the general dulness
of that castle. But her ladyship said that Rowena gave herself such
airs, and bored her so intolerably with stories of King Edward the
Confessor, that she preferred any place rather than Rotherwood, which
was as dull as if it had been at the top of Mount Athos.
The only person who visited it was Athelstane. "His Royal Highness
the Prince" Rowena of course called him, whom the lady received with
royal honors. She had the guns fired, and the footmen turned out with
presented arms when he arrived; helped him to all Ivanhoe's favorite
cuts of the mutton or the turkey, and forced her poor husband to light
him to the state bedroom, walking backwards, holding a pair of
wax-candles. At this hour of bedtime the Thane used to be in such a
condition, that he saw two pair of candles and two Ivanhoes reeling
before him. Let us hope it was not Ivanhoe that was reeling, but only
his kinsman's brains muddled with the quantities of drink which it was
his daily custom to consume. Rowena said it was the crack which the
wicked Bois Guilbert, "the Jewess's other lover, Wilfrid my dear,"
gave him on his royal skull, which caused the Prince to be disturbed
so easily; but added, that drinking became a person of royal blood,
and was but one of the duties of his station.
Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe saw it would be of no avail to ask this man
to bear him company on his projected tour abroad; but still he himself
was every day more and more bent upon going and he long cast about for
some means of breaking to his Rowena his firm resolution to join the
King. He thought she would certainly fall ill if he communicated the
news too abruptly to her: he would pretend a journey to York to attend
a grand jury; then a call to London on law business or to buy stock;
then he would slip over to Calais by the packet, by degrees as it
were; and so be with the King before his wife knew that he was out of
sight of Westminster Hall.
Suppose your honor says you are going as your honor would say Bo!
to a goose, plump, short, and to the point," said Wamba the Jester—
who was Sir Wilfrid's chief counselor and attendant—"depend on't her
Highness would bear the news like a Christian woman."
"Tush, malapert! I will give thee the strap," said Sir Wilfrid, in
a fine tone of high-tragedy indignation. "Thou knowest not the
delicacy of the nerves of high-born ladies. An she faint not, write
me down Hollander."
"I will wager my bauble against an Irish billet of exchange that
she will let your honor go off readily: that is, if you press not the
matter too strongly," Wamba answered, knowingly. And this Ivanhoe
found to his discomfiture: for one morning at breakfast, adopting a
_degage air, as he sipped his tea, he said, "My love, I was thinking
of going over to pay his Majesty a visit in Normandy." Upon which,
laying down her muffin, (which, since the royal Alfred baked those
cakes, had been the chosen breakfast cate of noble Anglo-Saxons, and
which a kneeling page tendered to her on a salver, chased by the
Florentine, Benvenuto Cellini,)— "When do you think of going, Wilfrid
my dear?" the lady said; and the moment the tea-things were removed,
and the tables and their trestles put away, she set about mending his
linen, and getting ready his carpet-bag.
So Sir Wilfrid was as disgusted at her readiness to part with him
as he had been weary of staying at home, which caused Wamba the Fool
to say, "Marry, gossip, thou art like the man on shipboard, who, when
the boatswain flogged him, did cry out 'Oh!' wherever the rope's-end
fell on him: which caused Master Boatswain to say, 'Plague on thee,
fellow, and a pize on thee, knave, wherever I hit thee there is no
And truly there are some backs which Fortune is always
belaboring," thought Sir Wilfrid with a groan, "and mine is one that
is ever sore."
So, with a moderate retinue, whereof the knave Wamba made one, and
a large woollen comforter round his neck, which his wife's own white
fingers had woven, Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe left home to join the King
his master. Rowena, standing on the steps, poured out a series of
prayers and blessings, most edifying to hear, as her lord mounted his
charger, which his squires led to the door. It was the duty of the
British female of rank," she said, "to suffer all—all in the cause
of her sovereign. She would not fear loneliness during the campaign:
she would bear up against widowhood, desertion, and an unprotected
My cousin Athelstane will protect thee," said Ivanhoe, with
profound emotion, as the tears trickled down his basenet; and
bestowing a chaste salute upon the steel-clad warrior, Rowena
modestly said "she hoped his Highness would be so kind."
Then Ivanhoe's trumpet blew: then Rowena waved her
pocket-handkerchief: then the household gave a shout: then the
pursuivant of the good Knight, Sir Wilfrid the Crusader, flung out
his banner (which was argent, a gules cramoisy with three Moors
impaled sable) then Wamba gave a lash on his mule's haunch, and
Ivanhoe, heaving a great sigh, turned the tail of his war-horse upon
the castle of his fathers.
As they rode along the forest, they met Athelstane the Thane
powdering along the road in the direction of Rotherwood on his great
dray-horse of a charger. "Good-by, good luck to you, old brick,"
cried the Prince, using the vernacular Saxon. "Pitch into those
Frenchmen; give it 'em over the face and eyes; and I'll stop at home
and take care of Mrs. I."
"Thank you, kinsman," said Ivanhoe—looking, however, not
particularly well pleased; and the chief's shaking hands, the train
of each took its different way—Athelstane's to Rotherwood, Ivanhoe's
towards his place of embarkation.
The poor knight had his wish, and yet his face was a yard long and
as yellow as a lawyer's parchment; and having longed to quit home any
time these three years past, he found himself envying Athelstane,
because, forsooth, he was going to Rotherwood: which symptoms of
discontent being observed by the witless Wamba, caused that absurd
madman to bring his rebeck over his shoulder from his back, and to
"Before I lost my five poor wits,
I mind me of a Romish clerk,
Who sang how Care, the phantom dark,
Beside the belted horseman sits.
Methought I saw the griesly sprite
Jump up but now behind my Knight."
"Perhaps thou didst, knave," said Ivanhoe, looking over his
shoulder; and the knave went on with his jingle:
"And though he gallop as he may,
I mark that cursed monster black
Still sits behind his honor's back,
Tight squeezing of his heart alway.
Like two black Templars sit they there,
Beside one crupper, Knight and Care.
"No knight am I with pennoned spear,
To prance upon a bold destrere:
I will not have black Care prevail
Upon my long-eared charger's tail,
For lo, I am a witless fool,
And laugh at Grief and ride a mule.
And his bells rattled as he kicked his mule's sides.
"Silence, fool!" said Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe, in a voice both
majestic and wrathful. "If thou knowest not care and grief, it is
because thou knowest not love, whereof they are the companions. Who
can love without an anxious heart? How shall there be joy at meeting,
without tears at parting?" ("I did not see that his honor or in lady
shed many anon," thought Wamba the Fool; but he was only a zany, and
his mind was not right.) "I would not exchange my very sorrows for
thine indifference," the knight continued. "Where there, is a sun,
there must be a shadow. If the shadow offend me, shall I put out my
eyes and live in the dark? No! I am content with my fate, even such as
it is. The Care of which thou speakest, hard though it may vex him,
never yet rode down an honest man. I can bear him on my shoulders,
and make my way through the world's press in spite of him; for my arm
is strong, and my sword is keen, and my shield has no stain on it; and
my heart, though it is sad, knows no guile." And here, taking a locket
out of his waistcoat (which was made of clian-mail), the knight kissed
the token, put it back under the waistcoat again, heaved a profound
sigh, and stuck spurs into his horse.
As for Wamba, he was munching a black pudding whilst Sir Wilfrid
was making the above speech, (which implied some secret grief on the
knight's part, that must have been perfectly unintelligible to the
fool,) and so did not listen to a single word of Ivanhoe's pompous
remarks. They travelled on by slow stages through the whole kingdom,
until they came to Dover, whence they took shipping for Calais. And
in this little voyage, being exceedingly sea-sick, and besides elated
at the thought of meeting his sovereign, the good knight cast away
that profound melancholy which had accompanied him during the whole of
his land journey.
CHAPTER II. THE LAST DAYS OF THE
FROM Calais Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe took the diligence across
country to Limoges, sending on Gurth, his squire, with the horses and
the rest of his attendants: with the exception of Wamba, who travelled
not only as the knight's fool, but as his valet, and who, perched on
the roof of the carriage, amused himself by blowing tunes upon the
_conducteur's French horn. The good King Richard was, as Ivanhoe
learned, in the Limousin, encamped before a little place called
Chalus; the lord whereof, though a vassal of the King's, was holding
the castle against his sovereign with a resolution and valor which
caused a great fury and annoyance on the part of the Monarch with the
Lion Heart. For brave and magnanimous as he was, the Lion-hearted one
did not love to be balked any more than another; and, like the royal
animal whom he was said to resemble, he commonly tore his adversary to
pieces, and then, perchance, had leisure to think how brave the latter
had been. The Count of Chalus had found, it was said, a pot of
money; the royal Richard wanted it. As the count denied that he had
it, why did he not open the gates of his castle at once? It was a
clear proof that he was guilty; and the King was determined to punish
this rebel, and have his money and his life too.
He had naturally brought no breaching guns with him, because those
instruments were not yet invented; and though he had assaulted the
place a score of times with the utmost fury, his Majesty had been
beaten back on every occasion, until he was so savage that it was
dangerous to approach the British Lion. The Lion's wife, the lovely
Berengaria, scarcely ventured to come near him. He flung the
joint-stools in his tent at the heads of the officers of state, and
kicked his aides-de-camp round his pavilion; and, in fact, a maid of
honor, who brought a sack-posset in to his Majesty from the Queen
after he came in from the assault, came spinning like a football out
of the roval tent just as Ivanhoe entered it.
"Send me my drum-major to flog that woman!" roared out the
infuriate King. "By the bones of St. Barnabas she has burned the
sack! By St. Wittikind, I will have her flayed alive. Ha, St.
George! ha, St. Richard! whom have we here?" And he lifted up his
demi-culverin, or curtal-axe a weapon weighing about thirteen
hundredweight—and was about to fling it at the intruder's head,
when the latter, kneeling gracefully on one knee, said calmly, "It is
I, my good liege, Wilfrid of Ivanhoe."
"What, Wilfrid of Templestowe, Wilfrid the married man, Wilfrid
the henpecked!" cried the King with a sudden burst of good-humor,
flinging away the culverin from him, as though it had been a reed (it
lighted three hundred yards off, on the foot of Hugo de Bunyon, who
was smoking a cigar at the door of his tent, and caused that redoubled
warrior to limp for some days after). "What, Wilfrid my gossip? Art
come to see the lion's den? There are bones in it, man, bones and
carsses, and the lion is angry," said the King, with a terrific glare
of his eyes. "But tush! we will talk of that anon. Ho! bring two
gallons of hypocras for the King and the good Knight, Wilfrid of
Ivanhoe. Thou art come in time, Wilfrid, for, by St. Richard and St.
George, we will give a grand assault to-morrow. There will be bones
"I care not, my liege," said Ivanhoe, pledging the sovereign
respectfully, and tossing off the whole contents of the bowl of
hypocras to his Highness's good health. And he at once appeared to
be taken into high favor; not a little to the envy of many of the
persons surrounding the King.
As his Majesty said, there was fighting and feasting in plenty
before Chalus. Day after day, the besiegers made assaults upon the
castle, but it was held so strongly by the Count of Chalus and his
gallant garrison, that each afternoon beheld the attacking-parties
returning disconsolately to their tents, leaving behind them many of
their own slain, and bringing back with them store of broken heads and
maimed limbs, received in the unsuccessful onset. The valor displayed
by Ivanhoe in all these contests was prodigious; and the way in which
he escaped death from the discharges of mangonels, catapults,
battering-rams, twenty-four pounders, boiling oil, and other
artillery, with which the besieged received their enemies, was
remarkable. After a day's fighting, Gurth and Wamba used to pick the
arrows out of their intrepid master's coat-of-mail, as if they had
been so many almonds in a pudding. 'Twas well for the good knight,
that under his first coat-of-armor he wore a choice suit of Toledan
steel, perfectly impervious to arrow-shots, and given to him by a
certain Jew, named Isaac of York, to whom he had done some
considerable services a few years back.
If King Richard had not been in such a rage at the repeated
failures of his attacks upon the castle, that all sense of justice
was blinded in the lionhearted monarch, he would have been the first
to acknowledge the valor of Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe, and would have
given him a Peerage and the Grand Cross of the Bath at least a dozen
times in the course of the siege: for Ivanhoe led more than a dozen
storming parties, and with his own hand killed as many men (viz. two
thousand three hundred and fifty-one) within six, as were slain by the
lion-hearted monarch himself. But his Majesty was rather disgusted
than pleased by his faithful servant's prowess; and all the courtiers,
who hated Ivanhoe for his superior valor and dexterity (for he would
kill you off a couple of hundreds of them of Chalus, whilst the
strongest champions of the King's host could not finish more than
their two dozen of a day), poisoned the royal mind against Sir
Wilfrid, and made the King look upon his feats of arms with an evil
eye. Roger de Backbite sneeringly told the King that Sir Wilfrid had
offered to bet an equal bet that he would kill more men than Richard
himself in the next assault: Peter de Toadhole said that Ivanhoe
stated everywhere that his Majesty was not the man he used to be; that
pleasures and drink had enervated him; that he could neither ride, nor
strike a blow with sword or axe, as he had been enabled to do in the
old times in Palestine: and finally in the twenty-fifth assault, in
which they had very nearly carried the place, and in which onset
Ivanhoe slew seven, and his Majesty six, of the sons of the Count de
Chalus, its defender, Ivanhoe almost did for himself, by planting his
banner before the King's upon the wall; and only rescued himself from
utter disgrace by saving his Majesty's life several times in the
course of this most desperate onslaught.
Then the luckless knight's very virtues (as, no doubt, my
respected readers know,) made him enemies amongst the men nor was
Ivanhoe liked by the women frequenting the camp of the gay King
Richard. His young Queen, and a brilliant court of ladies, attended
the pleasure-loving monarch. His Majesty would transact business in
the morning, then fight severely from after breakfast till about three
o'clock in the afternoon from which time, until after midnight, there
was nothing but jigging and singing, feasting and revelry, in the
royal tents. Ivanhoe, who was asked as a matter of ceremony, and
forced to attend these entertainments, not caring about the
blandishments of any of the ladies present, looked on at their ogling
and dancing with a countenance as glum as an undertaker's, and was a
perfect wet-blanket in the midst of the festivities. His favorite
resort and conversation were with a remarkably austere hermit, who
lived in the neighborhood of Chalus, and with whom Ivanhoe loved to
talk about Palestine, and the Jews, and other grave matters of
import, better than to mingle in the gayest amusements of the court
of King Richard. Many a night, when the Queen and the ladies were
dancing quadrilles and polkas (in which his Majesty, who was
enormously stout as well as tall, insisted upon figuring, and in which
he was about as graceful as an elephant dancing a hornpipe). Ivanhoe
would steal away from the ball, and come and have a night's chat under
the moon with his reverend friend. It pained him to see a man of the
King's age and size dancing about with the young folks. They laughed
at his Majesty whilst they flattered him: the pages and maids of honor
mimicked the royal mountebank almost to his face; and, if Ivanhoe ever
could have laughed, he certainly would one night when the King, in
light-blue satin inexpressibles, with his hair in powder, chose to
dance the minuet de la cour with the little Queen Berangeria.
Then, after dancing, his Majesty must needs order a guitar, and
begin to sing. He was said to compose his own songs words and music—
but those who have read Lord Campobello's "Lives of the Lord
Chancellors" are aware that there was a person by the name of Blondel,
who, in fact, did all the musical part of the King's performances; and
as for the words, when a king writes verses, we may be sure there will
be plenty of people to admire his poetry. His Majesty would sing you
a ballad, of which he had stolen every idea, to an air that was
ringing on all the barrel-organs of Christendom, and, turning round to
his courtiers, would say, "How do you like that? I dashed it off this
morning." Or, "Blondel, what do you think of this movement in B
flat?" or what not; and the courtiers and Blondel, you may be sure,
would applaud with all their might, like hypocrites as they were.
One evening -it was the evening of the 27th March, 1199, indeed—
his Majesty, who was in the musical mood, treated the court with a
quantity of his so-called composition, until the people were fairly
tired of clapping with their hands and laughing in their sleeves.
First he sang an original air and poem, beginning
Cherries nice, cherries nice, nice, come choose,
Fresh and fair ones, who'll refuse? "
The which he was ready to take his affidavit he had composed the
day before yesterday. Then he sang an equally _original heroic melody,
of which the chorus was
Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the sea,
For Britons never, never, never slaves shall be,"
The courtiers applauded this song as they did the other, all
except Ivanhoe, who sat without clanging a muscle of his features,
until the King questioned him, when the knight, with a bow said "he
thought he had heard something very like the air and the words
elsewhere." His Majesty scowled at him a savage glance from under his
red bush eyebrows; but Ivanhoe had saved the royal life that day, and
the King, therefore, with difficulty controlled his indignation.
Well," said he, "by St. Richard and St. George, but ye never heard
this song, for I composed it this very afternoon as I took my bath
after the melee. Did I not, Blondel?"
Blondel, of course, was ready to take an affidavit that his
Majesty had done as he said, and the King, thrumming on his guitar
with his great red fingers and thumbs, began to sing out of tune and
COMMANDERS OF THE FAITHFUL.
"The Pope he is a happy man,
His Palace is the Vatican,
And there he sits and drains his can:
The Pope he is a happy man.
I often say when I'm at home,
I'd like to be the Pope of Rome.
"And then there's Sultan Saladin,
That Turkish Soldan full of sin;
He has a hundred wives at least,
By which his pleasure is increased:
I've often wished, I hope no sin,
That I were Sultan Saladin.
"But no, the Pope no wife may choose,
And so I would not wear his shoes;
No wine may drink the proud Paynim,
And so I'd rather not be him:
My wife, my wine, I love I hope,
And would be neither Turk nor Pope."
Encore! Encore! Bravo! Bis! Everybody applauded the King's song
with all his might: everybody except Ivanhoe, who preserved his
abominable gravity; and when asked aloud by Roger de Backbite whether
he had heard that too, said firmly, "Yes, Roger de Backbite; and so
hast thou if thou darest but tell the truth."
"Now, by St. Cicely, may I never touch gittern again," bawled the
King in a fury, "if every note, word, and thought be not mine; may I
die in to-morrow's onslaught if the song be not my song. Sing thyself,
Wilfrid of the Lanthorn Jaws; thou could'st sing a good song in old
times." And with his might, and with a forced laugh, the King, who
loved brutal practical jests, flung his guitar at the head of Ivanhoe.
Sir Wilfrid caught it gracefully with one hand, and making an
elegant bow to the sovereign, began to chant as follows:
King Canute was weary-hearted; he had reigned for years a score,
Battling, struggling, pushing, fighting, killing much and robbing
And he thought upon his actions, walking by the wild seashore.
"'Twixt the Chancellor and Bishop walked the King with steps
Chamberlains and grooms came after, silversticks and goldsticks
Chaplains, aides-de-camp, and pages,—all the officers of state.
"Sliding after like his shadow, pausing when he chose to pause,
If a frown his face contracted, straight the courtiers dropped
If to laugh the King was minded, out they burst in loud hee-haws.
But that day a something vexed him, that was clear to old and
Thrice his Grace had yawned at table, when his favorite gleemen
Once the Queen would have consoled him, but he bade her hold her
"Something ails my gracious master," cried the Keeper of the Seal.
'Sure, my lord, it is the lampreys served at dinner, or the veal?'
'Psha!' exclaimed the angry monarch. 'Keeper, 'tis not that I
"Tis the heart, and not the dinner, fool, that doth my rest
Can a King be great as I am, prithee, and yet know no care?
Oh, I'm sick, and tired, and weary.'— Someone cried, 'The King's
"Then towards the lackeys turning, quick my Lord the Keeper
Straight the King's great chair was brought him, by two footmen
Languidly he sank into it: it was comfortably wadded.
"'Leading on my fierce companions,' cried he, 'over storm and
I have fought and I have conquered! Where was glory like to mine?
Loudly all the courtiers echoed: 'Where is glory like to thine?'
"What avail me all my kingdoms? Weary am I now, and old;
Those fair sons I have begotten, long to see me dead and cold;
Would I were, and quiet buried, underneath the silent mould!
"Oh, remorse, the writhing serpent! at my bosom tears and bites;
Horrid, horrid things I look on, though I put out all the lights;
Ghosts of ghastly recollections troop about my bed of nights.
"'Cities burning, convents blazing, red with sacrilegious fires;
Mothers weeping, virgins screaming, vainly for their slaughtered
'Such a tender conscience,' cries the Bishop, 'every one admires.
"'But for such unpleasant bygones, cease, my gracious lord, to
They're forgotten and forgiven by our Holy Mother Church;
Never, never does she leave her benefactors in the lurch.
"'Look! the land is crowned with minsters, which your Grace's
Abbeys filled with holy men, where you and Heaven are daily
You, my lord, to think of dying? on my conscience I'm amazed!'
'Nay, I feel,' replied King Canute, 'that my end is drawing near.'
'Don't say so,' exclaimed the courtiers (striving each to squeeze
'Sure your Grace is strong and lusty, and may live this fifty
Live these fifty years the Bishop roared, with actions made to
Are you mad, my good Lord Keeper, thus to speak of King Canute!
Men have lived a thousand years, and sure his Majesty will do't.
"'Adam, Enoch, Lamech, Cainan, Mahaleel, Methusela,
Lived nine hundred years apiece, and mayn't the King as well as
'Fervently,' exclaimed the Keeper, 'fervently I trust he may.'
"'He to die?' resumed the Bishop. 'He a mortal like to us?
Death was not for him intended, though _communis _omnibus:
Keeper, you are irreligious, for to talk and cavil thus.
"'With his wondrous skill in hearing ne'er a doctor can compete,
Loathsome lepers, if he touch them, start up clean upon their
Surely he could raise the dead up, did his Highness think it meet.
"'Did not once the Jewish captain stay the sun upon the hill,
And, the while he slew the foemen, bid the silver moon stand
So, no doubt, could gracious Canute, if it were his sacred will.'
"'Might I stay the sun above us, good Sir Bishop?' Canute cried;
'Could I bid the silver moon to pause upon her heavenly ride?
If the moon obeys my orders, sure I can command the tide.
"'Will the advancing waves obey me, Bishop, if I make the sign?'
Said the Bishop, bowing lowly, 'Land and sea, my lord, are thine.'
Canute turned towards the ocean—'Back!' he said, 'thou foaming
'From the sacred shore I stand on, I command thee to retreat;
Venture not, thou stormy rebel, to approach thy master's seat:
Ocean, be thou still! I bid thee come not nearer to my feet!
But the sullen ocean answered with a louder, deeper roar,
And the rapid waves drew nearer, falling sounding on the shore;
Back the Keeper and the Bishop, back the King and courtiers bore.
"And he sternly bade them never more to kneel to human clay,
But alone to praise and worship That which earth and seas obey:
And his golden crown of empire never wore he from that day.
King Canute is dead and gone: Parasites exist alway."
At this ballad, which, to be sure, was awfully long, and as grave
as a sermon, some of the courtiers tittered, some yawned, and some
affected to be asleep and snore outright. But Roger de Backbite
thinking to curry favor with the King by this piece of vulgarity, his
Majesty fetched him a knock on the nose and a buffet on the ear,
which, I warrant me, wakened Master Roger; to whom the King said,
"Listen and be civil, slave Wilfrid is singing about thee.—Wilfrid,
thy ballad is long, but it is to the purpose, and I have grown cool
during thy homily. Give me thy hand, honest friend. Ladies, good
night. Gentlemen, we give the grand assault to-morrow; when I promise
thee, Wilfrid, thy banner shall not be before mine."—And the King,
giving his arm to her Majesty, retired into the private pavilion.
CHAPTER III. ST. GEORGE FOR ENGLAND.
WHILST the royal Richard and his court were feasting in the camp
outside the walls of Chalus, they of the castle were in the most
miserable plight that may be conceived. Hunger, as well as the fierce
assaults of the besiegers, had made dire ravages in the place. The
garrison's provisions of corn and cattle, their very horses, dogs, and
donkeys had been eaten up—so that it might well be said by Wamba
"that famine, as well as slaughter, had thinned the garrison." When
the men of Chalus came on the walls to defend it against the
scaling-parties of King Richard, they were like so many skeletons in
armor; they could hardly pull their bowstrings at last, or pitch down
stones on the heads of his Majesty's party, so weak had their arms
become; and the gigantic Count of Chalus -a warrior as redoubtable for
his size and strength as Richard Plantagenet himself—was scarcely
able to lift up his battle-axe upon the day of that last assault, when
Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe ran him through the—but we are advancing
What should prevent me from describing the agonies of hunger which
the Count (a man of large appetite) suffered in company with his
heroic sons and garrison?—Nothing, but that Dante has already done
the business in the notorious history of Count Ugolino: so that my
efforts might be considered as mere imitations. Why should I not, if
I were minded to revel in horrifying details, show you how the
famished garrison drew lots, and ate themselves during the siege; and
how the unlucky lot falling upon the Countess of Chalus, that heroic
woman, taking an affectionate leave of her family, caused her large
caldron in the castle kitchen to be set a-boiling, had onions, carrots
and herbs, pepper and salt made ready, to make a savory soup, as the
French like it; and when all things were quite completed, kissed her
children, jumped into the caldron from off a kitchen stool, and so was
stewed down in her flannel bed-gown? Dear friends, it is not from want
of imagination, or from having no turn for the terrible or pathetic,
that I spare you these details. I could give you some description
that would spoil your dinner and night's rest, and make your hair
stand on end. But why harrow your feelings? Fancy all the tortures
and horrors that possibly can occur in a beleaguered and famished
castle: fancy the Meetings of men who know that no more quarter will
be given them than they would get if they were peaceful Hungarian
citizens kidnapped and brought to trial by his Majesty the Emperor of
Austria; and then let us rush on to the breach and prepare once more
to meet the assault of dreadful King Richard and his men.
On the 29th of March in the year 1199, the good King, having
copiously partaken of breakfast, caused his trumpets to blow, and
advanced with his host upon the breach of the castle of Chalus.
Arthur de Pendennis bore his banner; Wilfrid of Ivanhoe fought on the
King's right hand. Molyneux, Bishop of Bullocksmithy, doffed crosier
and mitre for that day, and though fat and pursy, panted up the breach
with the most resoute spirit, roaring out war-cries and curses, and
wielding a prodigious mace of iron, with which he did good execution.
Roger de Backbite was forced to come in attendance upon the
sovereign, but took care to keep in the rear of his august master, and
to shelter behind his huge triangular shield as much as possible.
Many lords of note followed the King and bore the ladders; and as
they were placed against the wall, the air was perfectly dark with the
shower of arrows which the French archers poured out at the besiegers,
and the cataract of stones, kettles, bootjacks, chests of drawers,
crockery, umbrellas, congreve-rockets, bombshells, bolts and arrows
and other missiles which the desperate garrison flung out on the
storming-party. The King received a copper coal-scuttle right over
his eyes, and a mahogany wardrobe was discharged at his morion, which
would have felled an ox, and would have done for the King had not
Ivanhoe warded it off skilfully. Still they advanced, the warriors
falling around them like grass beneath the scythe of the mower.
The ladders were placed in spite of the hail of death raining
round: the King and Ivanhoe were, of course, the first to mount them.
Chalus stood in the breach, borrowing strength from despair; and
roaring out,—"Ha! Plantagenet, St. Barbacue for Chalus!" he dealt
the King a crack across the helmet with his battle-axe, which shore
off the gilt lion and crown that surmounted the steel cap. The King
bent and reeled back; the besiegers were dismayed; the garrison and
the Count of Chalus set up a shout of triumph: but it was premature.
As quick as thought Ivanhoe was into the Count with a thrust in
tierce, which took him just at the joint of the armor, and ran him
through as clean as a spit does a partridge. Uttering a horrid
shriek, he fell back writhing; the King recovering staggered up the
parapet; the rush of knights followed, and the union-jack was planted
triumphantly on the walls, just as Ivanhoe,—but we must leave him
for a moment.
"Ha, St. Richard!—ha, St. George!" the tremendous voice of the
Lion-king was heard over the loudest roar of the onset. At every
sweep of his blade a severed head flew over the parapet, a spouting
trunk tumbled, bleeding on the flags of the bartizan. The world hath
never seen a warrior equal to that Lion-hearted Plantagenet, as he
raged over the keep, his eyes flashing fire through the bars of his
morion, snorting and chafing with the hot lust of battle. One by one
__les enfans de _Chalus had fallen; there was only one left at last of
all the brave race that had fought round the gallant Count:—only
one, and but a boy, a fair-haired boy, a blue-eyed boy! he had been
gathering pansies in the fields but yesterday—it was but a few
years, and he was a baby in his mother's arms! What could his puny
sword do against the most redoubled blade in Christendom?—and yet
Bohemond faced the great champion of England, and met him foot to
foot! Turn away, turn away, my dear young friends and kind-hearted
ladies! Do not look at that ill-fated poor boy! his blade is crushed
into splinters under the axe of the conqueror, and the poor child is
beaten to his knee! ...
"Now, by St. Barbacue of Limoges," said Bertrand de Gourdon, "the
butcher will never strike down yonder lambling! Hold thy hand, Sir
King, or, by St. Barbacue -"
Swift as thought the veteran archer raised his arblast to his
shoulder, the whizzing bolt fled from the ringing string, and the next
moment crushed quivering into the corselet of Plantagenet.
Twas a luckless shot, Bertrand of Gourdon! Maddened by the pain of
the wound, the brute nature of Richard was aroused: his fiendish
appetite for blood rose to madness, and grinding his teeth, and with a
curse too horrible to mention, the flashing axe of the royal butcher
fell down on the blond ringlets of the child, and the children of
Chalus were no more! ...
I just throw this off by way of description, and to show what
might be done if I chose to indulge in this style of composition; but
as in the battles which are described by the kindly chronicler, of one
of whose works this present masterpiece is professedly a continuation,
everything passes off agreeably— the people are slain, but without
any unpleasant sensation to the reader; nay, some of the most savage
and bloodstained characters of history, such is the indomitable
good-humor of the great novelist, become amiable, jovial companions,
for whom one has a hearty sympathy—so, if you please, we will have
this fighting business at Chalus, and the garrison and honest Bertrand
of Gourdon, disposed of; the former, according to the usage of the
good old times, having been hung up or murdered to a man, and the
latter killed in the manner described by the late Dr. Goldsmith in
As for the Lion-hearted, we all very well know that the shaft of
Bertrand de Gourdon put an end to the royal hero and that from that
29th of March he never robbed nor murdered any more. And we have
legends in recondite books of the manner of the King's death.
"You must die, my son," said the venerable Walter of Rouen, as
Berengaria was carried shrieking from the King's tent. "Repent, Sir
King, and separate yourself from your children!"
"It is ill jesting with a dying man," replied the King. "Children
have I none, my good lord bishop, to inherit after me."
"Richard of England," said the archbishop, turning up his fine
eyes, "your vices are your children. Ambition is your eldest child,
Cruelty is your second child, Luxury is your third child; and you have
nourished them from your youth up. Separate yourself from these sinful
ones, and prepare your soul, for the hour of departure draweth nigh."
Violent, wicked, sinful, as he might have been, Richard of England
met his death like a Christian man. Peace be to the soul of the
brave! When the news came to King Philip of France, he sternly forbade
his courtiers to rejoice at the death of his enemy. "It is no matter
of joy but of dolor," he said, that the bulwark of Christendom and the
bravest king of Europe is no more."
Meanwhile what has become of Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe, whom we left
in the act of rescuing his sovereign by running the Count of Chalus
through the body?
As the good knight stooped down to pick his sword out of the
corpse of his fallen foe, some one coming behind him suddenly thrust
a dagger into his back at a place where his shirt-of-mail was open
(for Sir Wilfrid had armed that morning in a hurry, and it was his
breast, not his back, that he was accustomed ordinarily to protect);
and when poor Wamba came up on the rampart, which he did when the
fighting was over, being such a fool that he could not be got to
thrust his head into danger for glory's sake—he found his dear
knight with the dagger in his back lying without life upon the body of
the Count de Chalus whom he had anon slain.
Ah, what a howl poor Wamba set up when he found his master killed!
How he lamented over the corpse of that noble knight and friend! What
mattered it to him that Richard the King was borne wounded to his
tent, and that Bertrand de Gourdon was flayed alive? At another time
the sight of this spectacle might have amused the simple knave; but
now all his thoughts were of his lord: so good, so gentle, so kind, so
loyal, so frank with the great, so tender to the poor, so truthful of
speech, so modest regarding his own merit, so true a gentleman, in a
word, that anybody might, with reason, deplore him.
As Wamba opened the dear knight's corselet, he found a locket
round his neck, in which there was some hair; not flaxen like that of
my Lady Rowena, who was almost as fair as an Albino, but as black,
Wamba, thought, as the locks of the Jewish maiden whom the knight had
rescued in the lists of Templestowe. A bit of Rowena's hair was in Sir
Wilfrid's possession, too; but that was in his purse along with his
seal of arms, and a couple of groats: for the good knight never kept
any money, so generous was he of his largesses when money came in.
Wamba took the purse, and seal, and groats, but he left the locket
of hair, round his master's neck, and when he returned to England
never said a word about the circumstance. After all, how should he
know whose hair it was? It might have been the knight's grandmother's
hair for aught the fool knew; so he kept his counsel when he brought
back the sad news and tokens to the disconsolate widow at Rotherwood.
The poor fellow would never have left the body at all, and indeed
sat by it all night, and until the gray of the morning; when, seeing
two suspicious-looking characters advancing towards him, he fled in
dismay, supposing that they were marauders who were out searching for
booty among the dead bodies; and having not the least courage, he fled
from these, and tumbled down the breach, and never stopped running as
fast as his legs would carry him, until he reached the tent of his
late beloved master.
The news of the knight's demise, it appeared, had been known at
his quarters long before; for his servants were gone, and had ridden
off on his horses; his chests were plundered: there was not so much as
a shirt-collar left in his drawers, and the very bed and blankets had
been carried away by these faithful attendants. Who had slain
Ivanhoe? That remains a mystery to the present day; but Roger de
Backbite, whose nose he had pulled for defamation, and who was behind
him in the assault at Chalus, was seen two years afterwards at the
court of King John in an embroidered velvet waistcoat which Rowena
could have sworn she had worked for Ivanhoe, and about which the widow
would have made some little noise, but that—but that she was no
longer a widow.
That she truly deplored the death of her lord cannot be
questioned, for she ordered the deepest mourning which any milliner
in York could supply, and erected a monument to his memory as big as a
minster. But she was a lady of such fine principles, that she did not
allow her grief to overmaster her; and an opportunity speedily arising
for uniting the two best Saxon families in England, by an alliance
between herself and the gentleman who offered himself to her, Rowena
sacrificed her inclination to remain single, to her sense of duty; and
contracted a second matrimonial engagement.
That Athelstane was the man, I suppose no reader familiar with
life, and novels which are a rescript of life, and are all strictly
natural and edifying, can for a moment doubt. Cardinal Pandulfo tied
the knot for them: and lest there should be any doubt about Ivanhoe's
death (for his body was never sent home after all, nor seen after
Wamba ran away from it), his Eminence procured a Papal decree
annulling the former marriage, so that Rowena became Mrs. Athelstane
with a clear conscience. And who shall be surprised, if she was
happier with the stupid and boozy Thane than with the gentle and
melancholy Wilfrid? Did women never have a predilection for fools, I
should like to know; or fall in love with donkeys, before the time of
the amours of Bottom and Titania? Ah! Mary, had you not preferred an
ass to a man, would you have married Jack Bray, when a Michael Angelo
offered? Ah! Fanny, were you not a woman, would you persist in
adoring Tom Hiccups, who beats you, and comes home tipsy from the
Club? Yes, Rowena cared a hundred times more about tipsy Athelstane
than ever she had done for gentle Ivanhoe, and so great was her
infatuation about the former, that she would sit upon his knee in the
presence of all her maidens, and let him smoke his cigars in the very
This is the epitaph she caused to be written by Father Drono (who
piqued himself upon his Latinity) on the stone commemorating the death
of her late lord:
Dic est Guilfribus, belli dum dixit avidus:
Cum gladio et lancea, Normania et quoque Francia
Verbera dura dabat: per Turcos multum equitabat:
Guilbertum, occidit: atque Vicrosolvma bidit
Deu! nune sub fossa sunt tanti militis ossa,
Uxor Athelstani est conjux castissima Thani.
And this is the translation which the doggerel knave Wamba made of
the Latin lines: REQUIESCAT.
"Under the stone you behold,
Buried, and coffined, and cold,
Lieth Sir Wilfrid the Bold.
"Always he marched in advance,
Warring in Flanders and France,
Doughty with sword and with lance.
"Famous in Saracen fight,
Rode in his youth the good knight,
Scattering Paynims in flight.
"Brian the Templar untrue,
Fairly in tourney he slew,
Saw Hierusalem too.
"Now he is buried and gone,
Lying beneath the gray stone:
Where shall you find such a one?
"Long time his widow deplored,
Weeping the fate of her lord,
Sadly cut off by the sword.
"When she was eased of her pain,
Came the good Lord Athelstane,
When her ladyship married again."
Athelstane burst into a loud laugh, when he heard it, at the last
line, but Rowena would have had the fool whipped, had not the Thane
interceded; and to him, she said, she could refuse nothing.
CHAPTER IV. IVANHOE REDIVIVUS.
I TRUST nobody will suppose, from the events described in the last
chapter, that our friend Ivanhoe is really dead. Because we have given
him an epitaph or two and a monument, are these any reasons that he
should be really gone out of the world? No: as in the pantomime, when
we see Clown and Pantaloon lay out Harlequin and cry over him, we are
always sure that master Harlequin will be up at the next minute alert
and shining in his glistening coat; and, after giving a box on the
ears to the pair of them, will be taking a dance with Columbine, or
leaping gayly through the clock-face, or into the
three-pair-of-stairs' window: —so Sir Wilfrid, the Harlequin of our
Christmas piece, may be run through a little, or may make believe to
be dead, but will assuredly rise up again when he is wanted, and show
himself at the right moment.
The suspicious-looking characters from whom Wamba ran away were no
cut-throats and plunderers, as the poor knave imagined, but no other
than Ivanhoe's friend, the hermit, and a reverend brother of his, who
visited the scene of the late battle in order to see if any Christians
still survived there, whom they might shrive and get ready for heaven,
or to whom they might possibly offer the benefit of their skill as
leeches. Both were prodigiously learned in the healing art; and had
about them those precious elixirs which so often occur in romances,
and with which patients are so miraculously restored. Abruptly
dropping his master's head from his lap as he fled, poor Wamba caused
the knight's pate to fall with rather a heavy thump to the ground,
and if the knave had but stayed a minutes, longer, he would have
heard Sir Wilfrid utter a deep groan. But though the fool heard him
not, the holy hermits did; and to recognize the gallant Wilfrid, to
withdraw the enormous dagger still sticking out of his back, to wash
the wound with a portion of the precious elixir, and to pour a little
of it down his throat, was with the excellent hermits the work of an
instant: which remedies being applied, one of the good men took the
knight by the heels and the other by the head, and bore him daintily
from the castle to their hermitage in a neighboring rock. As for the
Count of Chalus, and the remainder of the slain, the hermits were too
much occupied with Ivanhoe's case to mind them, and did not, it
appears, give them any elixir: so that, if they are really dead, they
must stay on the rampart stark and cold; or if otherwise, when the
scene closes upon them as it does now, they may get up, shake
themselves, go to the slips and drink a pot of porter, or change
their stage-clothes and go home to supper. My dear readers, you may
settle the matter among yourselves as you like. If you wish to kill
the characters really off, let them be dead, and have done with them :
but, _entre _nous, I don't believe they are any more dead than you or
I are, and sometimes doubt whether there is a single syllable of truth
in this whole story.
Well, Ivanhoe was taken to the hermits' cell, and there doctored
by the holy fathers for his hurts; which were of such a severe and
dangerous order, that he was under medical treatment for a very
considerable time. When he woke up from his delirium, and asked how
long he had been ill, fancy his astonishment when he heard that he had
been in the fever for six years! He thought the reverend fathers were
joking at first, but their profession forbade them from that sort of
levity; and besides, he could not possibly have got well any sooner,
because the story would have been sadly put out had he appeared
earlier. And it proves how good the fathers were to him, and how very
nearly that scoundrel of a Roger de Backbite's dagger had finished
him, that he did not get well under this great length of time; during
the whole of which the fathers tended him without ever thinking of a
fee. I know of a kind physician in this town who does as much
sometimes; but I won't do him the ill service of mentioning his name
Ivanhoe, being now quickly pronounced well, trimmed his beard,
which by this time hung down considerably below his knees, and calling
for his suit of chain-armor, which before had fitted his elegant
person as tight as wax, now put it on, and it bagged and hung so
loosely about him, that even the good friars laughed at his absurd
appearance. It was impossible that he should go about the country in
such a garb as that: the very boys would laugh at him: so the friars
gave him one of their old gowns, in which he disguised himself, and
after taking an affectionate farewell of his friends, set forth on his
return to his native country. As he went along, he learned that
Richard was dead, that John reigned, that Prince Arthur had been
poisoned, and was of course made acquainted with various other facts
of public importance recorded in Pinnock's Catechism and the Historic
But these subjects did not interest him near so much as his own
private affairs; and I can fancy that his legs trembled under him, and
his pilgrim's staff shook with emotion, as at length, after many
perils, he came in sight of his paternal mansion of Rotherwood, and
saw once more the chimneys smoking, the shadows of the oaks over the
grass in the sunset, and the rooks winging over the trees. He heard
the supper gong sounding: he knew his way to the door well enough; he
entered the familiar hall with a benedicite, and without any more
words took his place.
You might, have thought for a moment that the gray friar trembled
and his shrunken check looked deadly pale; but he recovered himself
presently: nor could you see his pallor for the cowl which covered his
A little boy was playing on Athelstane's knee; Rowena smiling and
patting the Saxon Thane fondly on his broad bullhead, filled him a
huge cup of spiced wine from a golden jug. He drained a quart of the
liquor, and, turning round, addressed the friar:-
"And so, gray frere, thou sawest good King Richard fall at Chalus
by the bolt of that felon bowman?"
"We did, an it please you. The brothers of our house attended the
good King in his last moments: in truth, he made a Christian ending!
"And didst thou see the archer flayed alive? It must have been
rare sport," roared Athelstane, laughing hugely at the joke. "How the
fellow must have howled!"
"My love!" said Rowena, interposing tenderly, and putting a pretty
white finger on his lip.
"I would have liked to see it too," cried the boy.
"That's my own little Cedric, and so thou shalt. And, friar,
didst see my poor kinsman Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe? They say he fought
well at Chalus!"
"My sweet lord," again interposed Rowena, "mention him not."
"Why? Because thou and he were so tender in days of yore— when
you could not bear my plain face, being all in love with his pale
"Those times are past now, dear Athelstane," said his affectionate
wife, looking up to the ceiling.
"Marry, thou never couldst forgive him the Jewess, Rowena."
"The odious hussy! don't mention the name of the unbelieving
creature," exclaimed the lady.
"Well, well, poor Wil was a good lad—a thought melancholy and
milksop though. Why, a pint of sack fuddled his poor brains."
"Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe was a good lance," said the friar. "I have
heard there was none better in Christendom. He lay in our convent
after his wounds, and it was there we tended him till he died. He was
buried in our north cloister."
"And there's an end of him," said Athelstane. "But come, this is
dismal talk. Where's Wamba the Jester? Let us have a song. Stir up,
Wamba, and don't lie like a dog in the fire! Sing us a song, thou
crack-brained jester, and leave off whimpering for bygones. Tush,
man! There be many good fellows left in this world."
"There be buzzards in eagles' nests," Wamba said, who was lying
stretched before the fire, sharing the hearth with the Thane's dogs.
"There be dead men alive, and live men dead. There be merry songs and
dismal songs. Marry, and the merriest are the saddest sometimes. I
will leave off motley and wear black, gossip Athelstane. I will turn
howler at funerals, and then, perhaps, I shall be merry. Motley is
fit for mutes, and black for fools. Give me some drink, gossip, for
my voice is as cracked as my brain."
"Drink and sing, thou beast, and cease prating," the Thane said.
And Wamba, touching his rebeck wildly, sat up in the chimney-side
and curled his lean shanks together and began: LOVE AT TWO SCORE.
"Ho! pretty page, with dimpled chin,
That never has known the barber's shear,
All your aim is woman to win—
This is the way that boys begin—
Wait till you've come to forty year!
"Curly gold locks cover foolish brains,
Billing and cooing is all your cheer,
Sighing and singing of midnight strains
Under Bonnybells' window-panes.
Wait till you've come to forty year!
"Forty times over let Michaelmas pass,
Grizzling hair the brain doth clear;
Then you know a boy is an ass,
Then you know the worth of a lass,
Once you have come to forty year.
"Pledge me round, I bid ye declare,
All good fellows whose beards are gray:
Did not the fairest of the fair
Common grow, and wearisome, ere
Ever a month was passed away?
"The reddest lips that ever have kissed,
The brightest eyes that ever have shone,
May pray and whisper and we not list,
Or took away and never be missed,
Ere yet ever a month was gone.
"Gillian's dead, Heaven rest her bier,
How I loved her twenty years syne!
Marian's married, but I sit here,
Alive and merry at forty year,
Dipping my nose in the Gascon wine."
"Who taught thee that merry lay, Wamba, thou son of Witless?"
roared Athelstane, clattering his cup on the table and shouting the
"It was a good and holy hermit, sir, the pious clerk of
Copmanhurst, that you wot of, who played many a prank with us in the
days that we knew King Richard. Ah, noble sir, that was a jovial time
and a good priest."
"They say the holy priest is sure of the next bishopric, my love,"
said Rowena. "His Majesty hath taken him into much favor. My Lord of
Huntingdon looked very well at the last ball; but I never could see
any beauty in the Countess—a freckled, blowsy thing, whom they used
to call Maid Marian: though for the matter of that, what between her
flirtations with Major Littlejohn and Captain Scarlett, really-"
"Jealous again—haw! haw!" laughed Athelstane.
"I am above jealousy, and scorn it," Rowena answered, drawing
herself up very majestically.
"Well, well, Wamba's was a good song," Athelstane said.
"Nay, a wicked song," said Rowena, turning up her eyes as usual.
"What! rail at woman's love? Prefer a filthy wine-cup to a true wife?
Woman's love is eternal, my Athelstane. He who questions it would be
a blasphemer were he not a fool. The well-born and well-nurtured
gentlewoman loves once and once only.
"I pray you, madam, pardon me, I—I am not well," said the gray
friar, rising abruptly from his settle, and tottering down the steps
of the dais. Wamba sprung after him, his bells jingling as he rose,
and casting his arms around the apparently fainting man, he led him
away into the court. "There be dead men alive and live men dead,"
whispered he. "There be coffins to laugh at and marriages to cry over.
Said I not sooth, holy friar?" And when they had got out into the
solitary court, which was deserted by all the followers of the Thane,
who were mingling in the drunken revelry in the hall, Wamba, seeing
that none were by knelt down, and kissing the friar's garment, said,
"I knew thee, I knew thee, my lord and my liege!"
"Get up," said Wilfrid of Ivanhoe, scarcely able to articulate:
"only fools are faithful."
And he passed on, and into the little chapel where his father lay
buried. All night long the friar spent there: and Wamba the Jester
lay outside watching as mute as the saint over the porch.
When the morning came, Wamba was gone; and the knave being in the
habit of wandering hither and thither as he chose, little notice was
taken of his absence by a master and mistress who had not much sense
of humor. As for Sir Wilfrid, a gentleman of his delicacy or feelings
could not be expected to remain in a house where things so naturally
disagreeable to him were occurring, and he quitted Rotherwood
incontinently, after paying a dutiful visit to the tomb where his old
father, Cedric, was buried; and hastened on to York, at which city he
made himself renown to the family attorney, a most respectable man, in
whose hands his ready money was deposited, and took up a sum
sufficient to fit himself out with credit, and a handsome retinue, as
became a knight of consideration. But he changed his name, wore a wig
and spectacles, and disguised himself entirely, so that it was
impossible his friends or the public should know him, and thus
metamorphosed, went about whithersoever his fancy led him. He was
present at a public ball at York, which the lord mayor gave, danced
Sir Roger de Coverley in the very same set with Rowena (who was
disgusted that Maid Marian took precedence of her)—he saw little
Athelstane overeat himself at the supper and pledge his big father in
a cup of sack; he met the Reverend Mr. Tuck at a missionary meeting,
where he seconded a resolution proposed by that eminent divine;—in
fine, he saw a score of his old acquaintances, none of whom recognized
in him the warrior of Palestine and Templestowe. Having a large
fortune and nothing to do, he went about this country performing
charities, slaying robbers, rescuing the distressed, and achieving
noble feats of arms. Dragons and giants existed in his day no more,
or be sure he would have had a fling at them: for the truth is, Sir
Wilfrid of Ivanhoe was somewhat sick of the life which the hermits of
Chalus had restored to him, and felt himself so friendless and
solitary that he would not have been sorry to come to an end of it.
Ah, my dear friends and intelligent British public, are there not
others who are melancholy under a mask of gayety, and who, in the
midst of crowds, are lonely? Liston was a most melancholy man;
Grimaldi had feelings; and there are others I wot of:—but psha! let
us have the next chapter.
CHAPTER V. IVANHOE TO THE RESCUE.
THE rascally manner in which the chicken-livered successor of
Richard of the Lion-heart conducted himself to all parties, to his
relatives, his nobles, and his people, is a matter notorious, and set
forth clearly in the Historic Page: hence, although nothing, except
perhaps success, can, in my opinion, excuse disaffection to the
sovereign, or appearance in armed rebellion against him, the loyal
reader will make allowance for two of the principal personages of this
narrative, who will have to appear in the present chapter in the
odious character of rebels to their lord and king. It must be
remembered, in partial exculpation of the fault of Athelstane and
Rowena. (a fault for which they were bitterly punished, as you shall
presently hear,) that the monarch exasperated his subjects in a
variety, of ways,—that before he murdered his royal nephew, Prince
Arthur, there was a great question whether he was the rightful king of
England at all,— that his behavior as an uncle, and a family man, was
likely to wound the feelings of any lady and mother,—finally, that
there were palliations for the conduct of Rowena and Ivanhoe, which it
now becomes our duty to relate.
When his Majesty destroyed Prince Arthur, the Lady Rowena, who was
one of the ladies of honor to the Queen, gave up her place at court at
once, and retired to her castle of Rotherwood. Expressions made use of
by her, and derogatory to the character of the sovereign, were carried
to the monarch's ears, by some of those parasites, doubtless, by whom
it is the curse of kings to be attended; and John swore, by St.
Peter's teeth, that he would be revenged upon the haughty Saxon lady—
a kind of oath which, though he did not trouble himself about all
other oaths, he was never known to break. It was not for some years
after he had registered this vow, that he was enabled to keep it.
Had Ivanhoe been present at Rouen, when the King meditated his
horrid designs against his nephew, there is little doubt that Sir
Wilfrid would have prevented them, and rescued the boy: for Ivanhoe
was, as we need scarcely say, a hero of romance; and it is the custom
and duty of all gentlemen of that profession to be present on all
occasions of historic interest, to be engaged in all conspiracies,
royal interviews, and remarkable occurrences: and hence Sir Wilfrid
would certainly have rescued the young Prince, had he been anywhere in
the neighborhood of Rouen, where the foul tragedy occurred. But he
was a couple of hundred leagues off, at Chalus, when the circumstance
happened; tied down in his bed as crazy as a Bedlamite, and raving
ceaselessly in the Hebrew tongue (which he had caught up during a
previous illness in which he was tended by a maiden of that nation)
about a certain Rebecca Ben Isaacs, of whom, being a married man, he
never would have thought, had he been in his sound senses. During
this delirium, what were politics to him, or he to politics? King
John or King Arthur was entirely indifferent to a man who announced
to his nurse-tenders, the good hermits of Chalus before mentioned,
that he was the Marquis of Jericho, and about to marry Rebecca the
Queen of Sheba. In a word, he only heard of what had occurred when he
reached England, and his senses were restored to him. Whether was he
happier, sound of brain and entirely miserable, (as any man would be
who found so admirable a wife as Rowena married again,) or perfectly
crazy, the husband of the beautiful Rebecca? I don't know which he
Howbeit the conduct of King John inspired Sir Wilfrid with so
thorough a detestation of that sovereign, that he never could be
brought to take service under him; to get himself presented at St.
James's, or in any way to acknowledge, but by stern acquiescence, the
authority of the sanguinary successor of his beloved King Richard. It
was Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe, I need scarcely say, who got the Barons of
England to league together and extort from the king that famous
instrument and palladium of our liberties at present in the British
Museum, Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury—the Magna Charta. His name
does not naturally appear in the list of Barons, because he was only a
knight, and a knight in disguise too: nor does Athelstane's signature
figure on that document. Athelstane, in the first place, could not
write; nor did he care a pennypiece about politics, so long as he
could drink his wine at home undisturbed, and have his hunting and
shooting in quiet.
It was not until the King wanted to interfere with the sport of
every gentleman in England (as we know by reference to the Historic
Page that this odious monarch did), that Athelstane broke out into
open rebellion, along with several Yorkshire squires and noblemen. It
is recorded of the King, that he forbade every man to hunt his own
deer; and, in order to secure an obedience to his orders, this Herod
of a monarch wanted to secure the eldest sons of all the nobility and
gentry, as hostages for the good behavior of their parents.
Athelstane was anxious about his game—Rowena was anxious about
her son. The former swore that he would hunt his deer in spite of all
Norman tyrants—the latter asked, should she give up her boy to the
ruffian who had murdered his own nephew?—(* See Hume, Giraldus
Cambrensis, The Monk of Croyland, and Pinnock's Catechism.) The
speeches of both were brought to the King at York; and, furious, he
ordered an instant attack upon Rotherwood, and that the lord and lady
of that castle should be brought before him dead or alive.
Ah, where was Wilfrid of Ivanhoe, the unconquerable champion, to
defend the castle against the royal party? A few thrusts from his
lance would have spitted the leading warriors of the King's host: a
few cuts from his sword would have put John's forces to rout. But the
lance and sword of Ivanhoe were idle on this occasion. "No, be hanged
to me!" said the knight, bitterly, "this is a quarrel in which I can't
interfere. Common politeness forbids. Let yonder ale-swilling
Athelstane defend his—ha, ha —_wife; and my Lady Rowena guard her—
ha, ha, ha—_son." And he laughed wildly and madly; and the
sarcastic, way in which he choked and gurgled out the words "wife" and
"son" would have made you shudder to hear.
When he heard, however, that, on the fourth day of the siege,
Athelstane had been slain by a cannon-ball, (and this time for good,
and not to come to life again as he had done before,) and that the
widow (if so the innocent bigamist may be called) was conducting the
defence of Rotherwood herself with the greatest intrepidity, showing
herself upon the walls with her little son, (who bellowed like a bull,
and did not like the fighting at all,) pointing the guns and
encouraging the garrison in every way—better feelings returned to
the bosom of the Knight of Ivanhoe, and summoning his men, he armed
himself quickly and determined to go forth to the rescue.
He rode without stepping for two days and two nights in the
direction of Rotherwood, with such swiftness and disregard for
refreshment, indeed, that his men dropped one by one upon the road,
and he arrived alone at the lodge-gate of the park. The windows were
smashed; the door stove in; the lodge, a neat little Swiss cottage,
with a garden where the pinafores of Mrs. Gurth's children might have
been seen hanging on the gooseberry-bushes in more peaceful times, was
now a ghastly heap of smoking ruins: cottage, bushes, pinafores,
children lay mangled together, destroyed by the licentious soldiery of
a infuriate monarch! Far be it from me to excuse the disobedience of
Athelstane and Rowena to their sovereign; but surely, surely this
cruelty might have been spared.
Gurth, who was lodge-keeper, was lying dreadfully wounded and
expiring at the flaming and violated threshold of his lately
picturesque home. A catapult and a couple of mangonels had done his
business. The faithful fellow, recognizing his master, who had put up
his visor and forgotten his wig and spectacles in the agitation of the
moment, exclaimed, " Sir Wilfrid! my dear master—praised be St.
Waltheof—there may be yet time—my beloved mistr- master Athelst
..." He sank back, and never spoke again.
Ivanhoe spurred on his horse Bavieca madly up the chestnut avenue.
The castle was before him; the western tower was in flames; the
besiegers were pressing at the southern gate; Athelstane's banner, the
bull rampant, was still on the northern bartizan. "An Ivanhoe, an
Ivanhoe!" he bellowed out, with shout that overcame all the din of
battle" "Nostre Dame a la rescousse!" And to hurl his lance through
the midriff of Reginald de Bracy, who was commanding the assault—who
fell howling with anguish—to wave his battle-axe over his own head,
and cut off those of thirteen men-at-arms, was the work of an instant.
"An Ivanhoe, an Ivanhoe!" he still shouted, and down went a man as
sure as he said "hoe!"
"Ivanhoe! Ivanhoe" a shrill voice cried from the top of the
northern bartizan. Ivanhoe knew it.
"Rowena my love, I come!" he roared on his part. "Villains! touch
but a hair of her head, and I ..."
Here, with a sudden plunge and a squeal of agony, Bavieca sprang
forward wildly, and fell as wildly on her back, rolling over and over
upon the knight. All was dark before him; his brain reeled; it
whizzed; something came crashing down on his forehead. St. Waltheof
and all the saints of the Saxon calendar protect the knight! ...
When he came to himself, Wamba and the lieutenant of his lances
were leaning over him with a bottle of the hermit's elixir. "We
arrived here the day after the battle," said the fool; "marry, I have
a knack of that."
"Your worship rode so deucedly quick, there was no keeping up with
your worship," said the lieutenant.
"The day—after—the bat-" groaned Ivanhoe. "Where is the Lady
The castle has been taken and sacked," the lieutenant said, and
pointed to what once was Rotherwood, but was now only a heap of
smoking ruins. Not a tower was left, not a roof, not a floor, not a
single human being! Everything was flame and ruin, smash and murther!
Of course Ivanhoe fell back fainting again among the ninety- seven
men-at-arms whom he had slain; and it was not until Wamba had applied
a second, and uncommonly strong dose of the elixir that he came to
life again. The good knight was, however, from long practice, so
accustomed to the severest wounds, that he bore them far more easily
than common folk, and thus was enabled to reach York upon a litter,
which his men constructed for him, with tolerable ease.
Rumor had as usual advanced before him; and he heard at the hotel
where he stopped, what had been the issue of the affair at Rotherwood.
A minute or two after his horse was stabbed, and Ivanhoe knocked
down, the western bartizan was taken by the storming-party which
invested it, and every soul slain, except Rowena and her boy; who were
tied upon horses and carried away, under a secure guard, to one of the
King's castles—nobody knew whither: and Ivanhoe was recommended by
the hotel-keeper (whose house he had used in former times) to reassume
his wig and spectacles, and not call himself by his own name any more,
lest some of the King's people should lay hands on him. However, as he
had killed everybody round, about him, there was but little danger of
his discovery; and the Knight of the Spectacles, as he was called,
went about York quite unmolested, and at liberty to attend to his own
We wish to be brief in narrating this part of the gallant hero's
existence; for his life was one of feeling rather than affection, and
the description of mere sentiment is considered by many well-informed
persons to be tedious. What were his sentiments now, it may be asked,
under the peculiar position in which he found himself? He had done his
duty by Rowena, certainly: no man could say otherwise. But as for
being in love with her any more, after what had occurred, that was a
different question. Well, come what would, he was determined still to
continue doing his duty by her;—but as she was whisked away the
deuce knew whither, how could he do anything? So he resigned himself
to the fact that she was thus whisked away.
He, of course, sent emissaries about the country to endeavor to
find out where Rowena was: but these came back without any sort of
intelligence; and it was remarked, that he still remained in a perfect
state of resignation. He remained in this condition for a year, or
more; and it was said that he was becoming more cheerful, and he
certainly was growing rather fat. The Knight of the Spectacles was
voted an agreeable man in a grave way; and gave some very elegant,
though quiet, parties, and was received in the best society of York.
It was just at assize-time, the lawyers and barristers had
arrived, and the town was unusually gay; when, one morning, the
attorney, whom we have mentioned as Sir Wilfrid's man of business,
and a most respectable man, called upon his gallant client at his
lodgings, and said he had a communication of importance to make.
Having to communicate with a client of rank, who was condemned to be
hanged for forgery, Sir Roger de Backbite, the attorney said, he had
been to visit that party in the condemned cell; and on the way through
the Yard, and through the bars of another cell, had seen and
recognized an old acquaintance of Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe—and the
lawyer held him out, with a particular look, a note, written on a
piece of whity-brown paper.
What were Ivanhoe s sensations when he recognized the handwriting
of Rowena!—he tremblingly dashed open the billet, and read as
MY DEAREST IVANHOE,—For I am thine now as erst, and my first
love was ever—ever dear to me. Have I been near thee dying for a
whole year, and didst thou make no effort to rescue thy Rowena? Have
ye given to others—I mention not their name nor their odious creed—
the heart that ought to be mine? I send thee my forgiveness from my
dying pallet of straw.—I forgive thee the insults I have received,
the cold and hunger I have endured, the failing health of my boy, the
bitterness of my prison, thy infatuation about that Jewess, winch made
our married life miserable, and which caused thee, I am sure, to go
abroad to look after her. I forgive thee all my wrongs, and fain would
bid thee farewell. Mr. Smith hath gained over my gaoler—he will
tell thee how I may see thee. Come and console my last hour by
promising that thou wilt care for my boy—his boy who fell like a
hero (when thou wert absent) combating by the side of ROWENA."
The reader may consult his own feelings, and say whether Ivanhoe
was likely to be pleased or not by this letter: however, he inquired
of Mr. Smith, the solicitor, what was the plan which that gentleman
had devised for the introduction to Lady Rowena, and was informed that
he was to get a barrister's gown and wig, when the gaoler would
introduce him into the interior of the prison. These decorations,
knowing several gentlemen of the Northern Circuit, Sir Wilfrid of
Ivanhoe easily procured, and with feelings of no small trepidation,
reached the cell, where, for the space of a year, poor Rowena had been
If any person have a doubt of the correctness, of the historical
exactness of this narrative, I refer him to the "Biographie
Universelle" (article Jean sans Terre), which says, "La femme d'un
baron auquel on vint demander son fils, repondit, Le roi pense-t-il
que je conflerai mon fils a un homme qui a egorge son neveu de sa
propre main?' Jean fit enlever la mere et l'enfant, et la laissa
_mourir _de _faim dans les cachots."
I picture to myself, with a painful sympathy, Rowena undergoing
this disagreeable sentence. Alt her virtues, her resolution, her
chaste energy and perseverance, shine with redoubled lustre, and, for
the first time since the commencement of the history, I feel that I am
partially reconciled to her. The weary year passes—she grows weaker
and more languid, thinner and thinner! At length Ivanhoe, in the
disguise of a barrister of the Northern Circuit, is introduced to her
cell, and finds his lady in the last stage of exhaustion, on the straw
of her dungeon, with her little boy in her arms. She has preserved
his life at the expense of her own, giving him the whole of the
pittance which her gaolers allowed her, and perishing herself of
There is a scene! I feel as if I had made it up, as it were, with
this lady, and that we part in peace, in consequence of in providing
her with so sublime a death-bed. Fancy Ivanhoe's entrance—their
recognition—the faint blush upon her worn features—the pathetic
way in which she gives little Cedric in charge to him, and his
promises of protection.
"Wilfrid, my early loved," slowly gasped she, removing her gray
hair from her furrowed temples, and gazing on her boy fondly, as he
nestled on Ivanhoe's knee—"promise me, by St. Waltheof of
Templestowe—promise me one boon!"
"I do," said Ivanhoe, clasping the boy, and thinking it was to
that little innocent the promise was intended to apply.
"By St. Waltheof?"
"By St. Waltheof!"
"Promise me, then," gasped Rowena, staring wildly at him, that you
never will marry a Jewess?"
"By St. Waltheof," cried Ivanhoe, "this is too much, Rowena!"—
But he felt his hand grasped for a moment, the nerves then relaxed,
the pale lips ceased to quiver—she was no more!
CHAPTER VI. IVANHOE THE WIDOWER.
HAVING placed young Cedric at school at the Hall of Dotheboyes, in
Yorkshire, and arranged his family affairs, Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe
quitted a country which had no longer any charms for him, and in which
his stay was rendered the less agreeable by the notion that King John
would hang him, if ever he could lay hands on the faithful follower of
King Richard and Prince Arthur.
But there was always in those days a home and occupation for a
brave and pious knight. A saddle on a gallant war-horse, a pitched
field against the Moors, a lance wherewith to spit a turbaned infidel,
or a road to Paradise carved out by his scirmitar,—these were the
height of the ambition of good and religious warriors; and so renowned
a champion as Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe was sure to be well received
wherever blows were stricken for the cause of Christendom. Even among
the dark Templars, he who had twice overcome the most famous lance of
their Order was a respected though not a welcome guest: but among the
opposition company of the Knights of St. John, he was admired and
courted beyond measure; and always affectioning that Order, which
offered him, indeed, its first rank and comanderies, he did much good
service; fighting in their ranks for the glory of heaven and St.
Waltheof, and slaying many thousands of the heathen in Prussia,
Poland, and those savage Northern countries. The only fault that the
great and gallant, though severe and ascetic Folko of Heydenbraten,
the chief of the Order of St. John, found with the melancholy warrior,
whose lance did such good service to the cause, was, that he did not
persecute the Jews as so religious a knight should. He let off sundry
captives of that persuasion whom he had taken with his sword and his
spear, saved others from torture, and actually ransomed the two last
grinders of a venerable rabbi (that Roger de Cartright, an English
knight of the Order, was about to extort from the elderly Israelite,)
with a hundred crowns and a gimmal ring, which were all the property
he possessed. Whenever he so ransomed or benefited one of this
religion, he would moreover give them a little token or a message
(were the good knight out of money), saying, "Take this token, and
remember this deed was done by Wilfrid the Disinherited, for the
services whilome rendered to him by Rebecca, the daughter of Isaac of
York!" So among themselves, and in their meetings and synagogues, and
in their restless travels from land to land, when they of Jewry cursed
and reviled all Christians, as such abominable heathens will, they
nevertheless excepted the name of the Desdichado, or the
doubly-disinherited as he now was, the Desdichado-Doblado.
The account of all the battles, storms, and scaladoes in which Sir
Wilfrid took part, would only weary the reader; for the dropping off
one heathen's head with an axe must be very like the decapitation of
any other unbeliever. Suffice it to say, that wherever this kind of
work was to be done, and Sir Wilfrid was in the way, he was the man to
perform it. It would astonish you were you to see the account that
Wamba kept of his master's achievements, and of the Bulgarians,
Bohemians, Croatians, slain or maimed by his hand. And as, in those
days, a reputation for valor had an immense effect upon the soft
hearts of women, and even the ugliest man, were he a stout warrior,
was looked upon with favor by Beauty: so Ivanhoe, who was by no means
ill-favored, though now becoming rather elderly, made conquests over
female breasts as well as over Saracens, and had more than one direct
offer of marriage made to him by princesses, countesses, and noble
ladies possessing both charms and money, which they were anxious to
place at the disposal of a champion so renowned. It is related that
the Duchess Regent of Kartoffelberg offered him her hand, and the
ducal crown of Kartoffelberg, which he had rescued from the
unbelieving Prussians; but Ivanhoe evaded the Duchess's offer, by
riding away from her capital secretly at midnight and hiding himself
in a convent of Knights Hospitallers on the borders of Poland. And it
is a fact that tile Princess Rosalia Seraphina of Pumpernickel, the
most lovely woman of her time, became so frantically attached to him,
that she followed him on a campaign, and was discovered with his
baggage disguised as horse-boy. But no princess, no beauty, no female
blandishments had any charms for Ivanhoe: no hermit practised a more
austere celibacy. The severity of his morals contrasted so remarkably
with the lax and dissolute manner of the young lords and nobles in
the courts which he frequented, that these young springgalds would
sometimes sneer and call him Monk and Milksop; but his courage in the
day of battle was so terrible and admirable, that I promise you the
youthful libertines did not sneer then; and the most reckless of them
often turned pale when they couched their lances to follow Ivanhoe.
Holy Waltheof! it was an awful sight to see him with his pale calm
face, his shield upon his breast, his heavy lance before him, charging
a squadron of heathen Bohemians, or a regiment of Cossacks! Wherever
he saw the enemy, Ivanhoe assaulted him: and when and people
remonstrated with him, and said if he attacked such and such a post,
breach, castle, or army, he would be slain, "And suppose I be?" he
answered, giving them to understand that he would as lief the Battle
of Life were over altogether.
While he was thus making war against the Northern infidels news
was carried all over Christendom of a catastrophe which had befallen
the good cause in the South of Europe, where the Spanish Christians
had met with such a defeat and massacre at the hands of the Moors as
had never been known in the proudest day of Saladin.
Thursday, the 9th of Shaban, in the 605th year of the Hejira, is
known all over the West as the _amun-al-ark, the year of the battle of
Alarcos, gained over the Christians by the Moslems of Andaluz, on
which fatal day Christendom suffered a defeat so signal, that it was
feared the Spanish peninsula would be entirely wrested away from the
dominion of the Cross. On that day the Franks lost 150,000 men and
30,000 prisoners. A man-slave sold among the unbelievers for a
dirhem; a donkey for the same; a sword, half a dirhem; a horse, five
dirhems. Hundreds of thousands of these various sorts of booty were in
the possession of the triumphant followers of Yakoob-al-Mansoor.
Curses on his head! But he was a brave warrior, and the Christians
before him seemed to forget that they were the descendants of the
brave Cid, the _Kanbitoor, as the Moorish hounds (in their jargon)
denominated the famous Canpeador.
A general move for the rescue of the faithful in Spain— crusade
against the infidels triumphing there, was preached throughout Europe
by all the most eloquent clergy; and thousands and thousands of
valorous knights and nobles, accompanied by well-meaning varlets and
vassals of the lower sort, trooped from all sides to the rescue. The
Straits of Gibel-al-Tariff, at which spot the Moor, passing from
Barbary, first planted his accursed foot on the Christian soil, were
crowded with the galleys of the Templars and the Knights of St. John,
who flung succors into the menaced kingdoms of the peninsula; the
inland sea swarmed with their ships hasting from their forts and
islands, from Rhodes and Byzantium, from Jaffa and Ascalon. The
Pyrenean peaks beheld the pennons and glittered with the armor of the
knights marching out of France into Spain; and, finally in a ship that
set sail direct from Bohemia, where Sir Wilfrid happened to be
quartered at the time when the news of the defeat of Alarcos came and
alarmed all good Christians, Ivanhoe landed at Barcelona, and
proceeded to slaughter the Moors forthwith.
He brought letters of introduction from his friend Folko of
Heydenbraten, the Grand Master of the Knights of Saint John, to the
venerable Baldomero de Garbanzos, Grand Master of the renowned order
of Saint Jago. The chief of Saint Jago's knights paid the greatest
respect to a warrior whose fame was already so widely known in
Christendom; and Ivanhoe had the pleasure of being appointed to all
the posts of danger and forlorn hopes that could be devised in his
honor. He would be called up twice or thrice in a night to fight the
Moors: he led ambushes, scaled breaches, was blown up by mines; was
wounded many hundred times (recovering, thanks to the elixir, of which
Wamba always carried a supply); he was the terror of the Saracens, and
the admiration and wonder of the Christians.
To describe his deeds, would, I say, be tedious; one day's battle
was like that of another. I am not writing in ten volumes like
Monsieur Alexandre Dumas, or even in three like other great authors.
We have no room for the recounting of Sir Wilfrid's deeds of valor.
Whenever he took a Moorish town, it was remarked, that he went
anxiously into the Jewish quarters and inquired amongst the Hebrews,
who were in great numbers in Spain, for Rebecca, the daughter of
Isaac. Many Jews, according to his wont, he ransomed, and created so
much scandal by this proceedings and by the manifest favor which he
showed to the people of that nation, that the Master of Saint Jago
remonstrated with him, and it is probable he would have been cast into
the Inquisition and roasted, but that his prodigious valor and
success against the Moors counterbalanced his heretical partiality
for the children of Jacob.
It chanced that the good knight was present at the siege of Xixona
in Andalusia, entering the breach first, according to his wont, and
slaving, with his own hand, the Moorish lieutenant of the town, and
several hundred more of its unbelieving defenders. He had very nearly
done for the Alfaqui, or governor—a veteran warrior with a crooked
scimitar and a beard as white as snow— but a couple of hundred of the
Alfaqui's bodyguard flung themselves between Ivanhoe and their chief,
and the old fellow escaped with his life, leaving a handful of his
beard in the grasp of the English knight. The strictly military
business being done, and such of the garrison as did not escape put,
as by right, to the sword, the good knight, Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe,
took no further part in the proceedings of the conquerors of that
ill-fated place. A scene or horrible massacre and frightful
reprisals ensued, and the Christian warriors, hot with victory and
flushed with slaughter, were, it is to be feared, as savage in their
hour of triumph as ever their heathen enemies had been.
Among the most violent and least scrupulous was the ferocious
Knight of Saint Jago, Don Beltran de Cuchilla y Trabuco y Espada y
Espelon. Raging through the vanquished city like a demon, he
slaughtered indiscriminately all those infidels both sexes whose
wealth did not tempt him to a ransom, or whose beauty did not reserve
them for more frightful calamities than death. The slaughter over, Don
Beltran took up his quarters in the Albaycen, where the Alfaqui had
lived who had so narrowly escaped the sword of Ivanhoe; but the
wealth, the treasure, the slaves, and the family of the fugitive
chieftain, were left in possession of the conqueror of Xixona. Among
the treasures, Don Beltran recognized with a savage joy the
coat-armors and ornaments of many brave and unfortunate
companions-in-arms who had fallen in the fatal battle of Alarcos. The
sight of those bloody relics added fury to his cruel disposition, and
served to steel a heart already but little disposed to sentiments of
Three days after the sack and plunder of the place, Don Beltran
was seated in the hall-court lately occupied by the proud Alfaqui,
lying in his divan, dressed in his rich robes, the fountains playing
in the centre, the slaves of the Moor ministering to his scarred and
rugged Christian conqueror. Some fanned him with peacocks' pinions,
some danced before him, some sang Moor's melodies to the plaintive
notes of a guzla, one—it was the only daughter of the Moor's old
age, the young Zutulbe, a rosebud of beauty—sat weeping in a corner
of the gilded hall: weeping for her slain brethren, the pride of
Moslem chivalry, whose heads were blackening in the blazing sunshine
on the portals without, and for her father, whose home had been thus
He and his guest, the English knight Sir Wilfrid, were playing at
chess, a favorite arrangement with the chivalry of the period, when a
messenger was announced from Valencia, to treat, if possible, for the
ransom of the remaining part of the Alfaqui's family. A grim smile
lighted up Don Beltran's features as he bade the black slave admit the
messenger. He entered. By his costume it was at once seen that the
bearer of the flag of truce was a Jew—the people were employed
continually then as ambassadors between the two races at war in Spain.
"I come," said the old Jew (in a voice which made Sir Wilfrid
start), "from my lord the Alfaqui to my noble senor, for the ransom
the invincible Don Beltran de Cuchilla, to treat of the Moor's only
daughter, the child of his old age and the pearl of his affection."
"A pearl is a valuable jewel, Hebrew. What does the Moorish dog
bid for her?" asked Don Beltran, still smiling grimly.
The Alfaqui offers 100,000 dinars, twenty-four horses with their
caparisons, twenty-four suits of plate-armor, and diamonds and rubies
to the amount of 1,000,000 dinars."
"Ho, slaves!" roared Don Beltran, "show the Jew my treasury of
gold. How many hundred thousand pieces are there?" And ten enormous
chests were produced in which the accountant counted 1,000 bags of
1,000 dirhems each, and displayed several caskets of jewels containing
such a treasure of rubies, smaragds, diamonds, and jacinths, as made
the eyes of the aged ambassador twinkle with avarice.
"How many horses are there in my stable?" continued Don Beltran;
and Muley, the master of the horse, numbered three hundred fully
caparisoned; and there was, likewise, armor of the richest sort for as
many cavaliers, who followed the banner of this doughty captain.
"I want neither money nor armor," said the ferocious knight; "tell
this to the Alfaqui, Jew. And I will keep the child, his daughter, to
serve the messes for my dogs, and clean the platters for my
"Deprive not the old man of his child," here interposed the Knight
of Ivanhoe: "bethink thee, brave Don Beltran, she is but an infant in
"She is my captive, Sir Knight," replied the surly Don Beltran; "I
will do with my own as becomes me."
"Take 200,000 dirhems," cried the Jew; "more!—anything! The
Alfaqui will give his life for his child!"
"Come hither, Zutulbe!—come hither, thou Moorish pearl!" yelled
the ferocious warrior; "come closer, my pretty black-eyed hour of
heathenesse! Hast heard the name of Beltran de Espada y Trabuco?
"There were three brothers of that name at Alarcos, and my
brothers slew the Christian dogs!" said the proud young girl, looking
boldly at Don Beltran, who foamed with rage.
"The Moors butchered my mother and her little ones, at midnight,
in our castle of Murcia," Beltran said.
"Thy father fled like a craven, as thou didst, Don Beltran!" cried
the high-spirited girl.
"By Saint Jago, this is too much!" screamed the infuriated
nobleman; and the next moment there was a shriek, and the maiden fell
to the ground with Don Beltran's dagger in her side.
"Death is better than dishonor!" cried the child, rolling on the
blood-stained marble pavement. "I -I spit upon thee, dog of a
Christian!" and with this, and with a savage laugh, she fell back and
"Bear back this news, Jew, to the Alfaqui," howled the Don,
spurning the beauteous corpse with his foot. "I would not have
ransomed her for all the gold in Barbary!" And shuddering, the old
Jew left the apartment, which Ivanhoe quitted likewise.
When they were in the outer court, the knight said to the Jew,
"Isaac of York, dost thou not know me?" and threw back his hood, and
looked at the old man.
The old Jew stared wildly, rushed forward as if to seize his hand,
then started back, trembling convulsively, and clutching his withered
hands over his face, said, with a burst of grief, "Sir Wilfrid of
Ivanhoe! -no, no!—I do not know thee!"
"Holy mother! what has chanced?" said Ivanhoe, in his turn
becoming ghastly pale; "where is thy daughter—where is Rebecca?"
"Away from me!" said the old Jew, tottering. "Away! Rebecca is—
When the Disinherited Knight heard that fatal announcement, he
fell to the ground senseless, and was for some days as one perfectly
distraught with grief. He took no nourishment and uttered no word.
For weeks he did not relapse out of his moody silence, and when he
came partially to himself again, it was to bid his people to horse, in
a hollow voice, and to make a foray against the Moors. Day after day
he issued out against these infidels, and did nought but slay and
slay. He took no plunder as other knights did, but left that to his
followers; he uttered no war-cry, as was the manner of chivalry, and
he gave no quarter, insomuch that the "silent knight" became the dread
of all the Paynims of Granada and Andalusia, and more fell by his
lance than by that of any the most clamorous captains of the troops
in arms against them. Thus the tide of battle turned, and the Arab
historian, El Makary, recounts how, at the great battle of Al Akab,
called by the Spaniards Las Navas, the Christians retrieved their
defeat at Alarcos, and absolutely killed half a million of Mahometans.
Fifty thousand of these, of course, Don Wilfrid took to his own
lance; and it was remarked that the melancholy warrior seemed somewhat
more easy in spirits after that famous feat of arms.
CHAPTER VII. THE END OF THE
IN a short time the terrible Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe had killed off
so many of the Moors, that though those unbelieving miscreants poured
continual reinforcements into Spain from Barbary, they could make no
head against the Christian forces, and in fact came into battle quite
discouraged at the notion of meeting the dreadful silent knight. It
was commonly believed amongst them, that the famous Malek Ric, Richard
of England, the conqueror of Saladin, had come to life again, and was
battling in the Spanish hosts—that this, his second life, was, a
charmed one, and his body inaccessible to blow of scimitar or thrust
of spear—that after battle he ate the hearts and drank the blood of
many young Moors for his supper: a thousand wild legends were told of
Ivanhoe, indeed, so that the Morisco warriors came half vanquished
into the field, and fell an easy prey to the Spaniards, who cut away
among them without mercy. And although none of the Spanish historians
whom I have consulted make mention of Sir Wilfrid as the real author
of the numerous triumphs which now graced the arms of the good cause,
this is not in the least to be wondered at, in a nation that has
always been notorious for bragging, and for the non-payment of their
debts of gratitude as of their other obligations, and that writes
histories of the Peninsular war with the Emperor Napoleon, without
making the slightest mention of his Grace the Duke of Wellington, or
of the part taken by BRITISH VALOR in that transaction. Well, it must
be confessed, on the other hand, that we brag enough of our fathers'
feats in those campaigns: but this is not the subject at present under
To be brief, Ivanhoe made such short work with the unbelievers,
that the monarch of Aragon, King Don Jayme, saw himself speedily
enabled to besiege the city of Valencia, the last stronghold which the
Moors had in his dominions, and garrisoned by many thousands of those
infidels under the command of their King Aboo Abdallah Mahommed, son
of Yakoob-al-Mansoor. The Arabian historian El Makary gives a full
account of the military precautions taken by Aboo Abdallah to defend
his city; but as I do not wish to make a parade of my learning, or to
write a costume novel, I shall pretermit any description of the city
under its Moorish governors.
Besides the Turks who inhabited it, there dwelt within its walls
great store of those of the Hebrew nation, who were always protected
by the Moors during their unbelieving reign in Spain; and who were, as
we very well know, the chief physicians, the chief bankers, the chief
statesmen, the chief artists and musicians, the chief everything,
under the Moorish kings. Thus it is not surprising that the Hebrews,
having their money, their liberty, their teeth, their lives, secure
under the Mahometan domination, should infinitely prefer it to the
Christian sway; beneath which they were liable to be deprived of every
one of these benefits.
Among these Hebrews of Valencia, lived a very ancient Israelite—
no other than Isaac of York before mentioned, who came into Spain with
his daughter, soon after Ivanhoe's marriage, in the third volume of
the first part of this history. Isaac was respected by his people for
the money which he possessed, and his daughter for her admirable good
qualities, her beauty, her charities, and her remarkable medical
The young Emir Aboo Abdallah was so struck by her charms, that
though she was considerably older than his Highness, he offered to
marry her, and install her as Number 1 of his wives; and Isaac of York
would not have objected to the union, (for such mixed marriages were
not uncommon between the Hebrews and Moors in those days,) but Rebecca
firmly yet respectfully declined the proposals of the prince, saying
that it was impossible she should unite herself with a man of a creed
different to her own.
Although Isaac was, probably, not over-well pleased at losing this
chance of being father-in-law to a royal highness, yet as he passed
among his people for a very strict character, and there were in his
family several rabbis of great reputation and severity of conduct, the
old gentleman was silenced by this objection of Rebecca's, and the
young lady herself applauded by her relatives for her resolute
behavior. She took their congratulations in a very frigid manner, and
said that it was her wish not to marry at all, but to devote herself
to the practice of medicine altogether, and to helping the sick and
needy of her people. Indeed, although she did not go to any public
meetings, she was as benevolent a creature as the world ever saw: the
poor blessed her wherever they knew her, and many benefited by her who
guessed not whence her gentle bounty came.
But there are men in Jewry who admire beauty, and, as I have even
heard, appreciate money too, and Rebecca had such a quantity of both,
that all the most desirable bachelors of the people were ready to bid
for her. Ambassadors came from all quarters to propose for her. Her
own uncle, the venerable Ben Solomons, with a beard as long as a
cashmere goat's, and a reputation for learning and piety which still
lives in his nation, quarrelled with his son Moses, the red-haired
diamond-merchant of Trebizond, and his son Simeon, the bald
bill-broker of Bagdad, each putting in a claim for their cousin. Bell
Minories came from London and knelt at her feet; Bell Jochanan arrived
from Paris, and thought to dazzle her with the latest waistcoats from
the Palais Royal; and Ben Jonah brought her a present of Dutch
herrings, and besought her to come back and be Mrs. Ben Jonah at the
Rebecca temporized as best she might. She thought her uncle was
too old. She besought dear Moses and dear Simeon not to quarrel with
each other, and offend their father by pressing their suit. Bell
Minories from London, she said, was too young, and Jochanan from
Paris, she pointed out to Isaac of York, must be a spendthrift, or he
would not wear those absurd waistcoats. As for Ben Jonah, she said,
she could not bear the notion of tobacco and Dutch herrings: she
wished to stay with her papa, her dear papa. In fine, she invented a
thousand excuses for delay, and it was plain that marriage was odious
to her. The only man whom she received with anything like favor, was
young Bevis Marks of London, with whom she was very familiar. But
Bevis had come to her with a certain token trial had been given to
him by an English knight, who saved him from a fagot to which the
ferocious Hospitaller Folko of Heydenbraten was about to condemn him.
It was but a ring, with an emerald in it, that Bevis knew to be
sham, and not worth a groat. Rebecca knew about the value of jewels
too; but ah! she valued this one more than all the diamonds in Prester
John's turban. She kissed it, she cried over it; she wore it in her
bosom always; and when she knelt down at night and morning, she held
it between her folded hands on her neck.... Young Bevis Marks went
away no better off than the others the rascal sold to the King of
France a handsome ruby, the very size of the bit of glass in Rebecca's
ring; but he always said he would rather have had her than ten
thousand pounds: and very likely he would, for it was known she would
at once have a plum to her fortune.
These delays, however, could not continue for ever; and at a great
family meeting held at Passover-time, Rebecca was solemnly ordered to
choose a husband out of the gentlemen there present; her aunts
pointing out the great kindness which had been shown to her by her
father, in permitting her to choose for herself. One aunt was of the
Solomon faction, another aunt took Simeon's side, a third most
venerable old lady the head of the family, and a hundred and
forty-four years of age was ready to pronounce a curse upon her, and
cast her out, unless she married before the month was over. All the
jewelled heads of all the old ladies in council, all the beards of all
the family, wagged against her: it must have been all awful sight to
At last, then, Rebecca was forced to speak. "Kinsmen!" she said,
turning pale, "when the Prince Abou Abdil asked me in marriage, I told
you I would not wed but with one of my own faith."
"She has turned Turk," screamed out the ladies. "She wants to be a
princess, and has turned Turk," roared the rabbis.
"Well, well," said Isaac, in rather an appeased tone, "let us hear
what the poor girl has got to say. Do you want to marry his royal
highness, Rebecca? Say the word, yes or no."
Another groan burst from the rabbis—they cried, shrieked,
chattered, gesticulated, furious to lose such a prize; as were the
women, that she should reign over them a second Esther.
"Silence," cried out Isaac, "let the girl speak. Speak boldly,
Rebecca dear, there's a good girl."
Rebecca was as pale as a stone. She folded her arms on her
breast, and felt the ring there. She looked round all the assembly,
and then at Isaac. "Father," she said, in a thrilling low steady
voice, "I am not of your religion—I am not of the Prince Boabdil's
religion—I—I am of _his religion."
"His! whose, in the name of Moses, girl?" cried Isaac.
Rebecca clasped her hands on her beating chest and looked round
with dauntless eyes. "Of his," she said, "who saved my life and your
honor: of my dear, dear champion's. I never can be his, but I will be
no other's. Give my money to my kinsmen; it is that they long for.
Take the dross, Simeon and Solomon, Jonah and Jochanan, and divide it
among you, and leave me. I will never be yours, I tell you, never.
Do you think, after knowing him and hearing him speak,—after
watching him wounded on his pillow, and glorious in battle (her eyes
melted and kindled again as she spoke these words), I can mate with
such as you? Go. Leave me to myself. I am none of yours. I love him—
I love him. Fate divides us long, long miles separate us; and I know
we may never meet again. But I love and bless him always. Yes,
always. My prayers are his; my faith is his. Yes, my faith is your
faith, Wilfred—Wilfred! I have no kindred more,—I am a
At this last word there was such a row in the assembly, as my
feeble pen would in vain endeavor to depict. Old Isaac staggered back
in a fit, and nobody took the least notice of him. Groans, curses,
yells of men, shrieks of women, filled room with such a furious
jabbering, as might have appalled the any heart less stout than
Rebecca's; but that brave woman was prepared for all; expecting, and
perhaps hoping, that death would be her instant lot. There was but
one creature who pitied her, and that was her cousin and father's
clerk, little Ben Davids, who was but thirteen, and had only just
begun to carry a bag, and whose crying and boohooing, as she finished
speaking, was drowned in the screams and maledictions of the elder
Israelites. Ben Davids was madly in love with his cousin (as boys
often are with ladies of twice their age), and he had presence of mind
suddenly to knock over the large brazen lamp on the table, which
illuminated the angry conclave; then, whispering to Rebecca to go up
to her own room and lock herself in, or they would kill her else, he
took her hand and led her out.
From that day she disappeared from among her people. The poor and
the wretched missed her, and asked for her in vain. Had any violence
been done to her, the poorer Jews would have risen and put all Isaac's
family to death; and besides, her old flame, Prince Boabdil, would
have also been exceedingly wrathful. She was not killed then, but, so
to speak, buried alive, and locked up in Isaac's back-kitchen: an
apartment into which scarcely any light, entered, and where she was
fed upon scanty portions of the most mouldy bread and water. Little
Ben Davids was the only person who visited her, and her sole
consolation was to talk to him about Ivanhoe, and how good and how
gentle he was; how brave and how true; and how he slew the tremendous
knight of the Templars, and how he married a lady whom Rebecca
scarcely thought worthy of him, but with whom she prayed he might be
happy ; and of what color his eyes were, and what were the arms on his
shield —viz. a tree with the word "Desdichado" written underneath,
all which talk would not have interested little Davids, had it come
from anybody else's mouth, but to which he never tired of listening as
it fell from her sweet lips.
So, in fact, when old Isaac of York came to negotiate with Don
Beltran de Cuchilla for the ransom of the Alfaqui's daughter of
Xixona, our dearest Rebecca was no more dead than you and I; and it
was in his rage and fury against Ivanhoe that Isaac told that cavalier
the falsehood which caused the knight so much pain and such a
prodigious deal of bloodshed to the Moors: and who knows, trivial as
it may seem, whether it was not that very circumstance which caused
the destruction in Spain of the Moorish power?
Although Isaac, we may be sure, never told his daughter that
Ivanhoe had cast up again, yet Master Ben Davids did, who heard it
from his employer; and he saved Rebecca's life by communicating the
intelligence, for the poor thing would have infallibly perished but
for this good news. She had now been in prison four years three
months and twenty-four days, during which time she had partaken of
nothing but bread and water (except such occasional tid-bits as Davids
could bring her and these were few indeed; for old Isaac was always a
curmudgeon, and seldom had more than a pair of eggs for his own and
Davids' dinner) ; and she was languishing away, when the news came
suddenly to revive her. Then, though in the darkness you could not
see her cheeks, they began to bloom again: then her heart began to
beat and her blood to flow, and she kissed the ring on her neck a
thousand times a day at least; and her constant question was, "Ben
Davids! Ben Davids! when is he coming to besiege Valencia?" She knew
he would come: and, indeed, the Christians were encamped before the
town ere a month was over.
And now, my dear boys and girls, I think I perceive behind that
dark scene of the back-kitchen (which is just a simple flat, painted
stone-color, that shifts in a minute,) bright streaks of light
flashing out, as though they were preparing a most brilliant,
gorgeous, and altogether dazzling illumination, with effects never
before attempted on any stage. Yes, the fairy in the pretty pink
tights and spangled muslin is getting into the brilliant revolving
chariot of the realms of bliss.—Yes, most of the fiddlers and
trumpeters have gone round from the orchestra to join in the grand
triumphal procession, where the whole strength of the company is
already assembled, arrayed in costumes of Moorish and Christian
Chivalry, to celebrate the "Terrible Escalade," the "Rescue of
Virtuous Innocence—the "Grand Entry of the Christians into Valencia"
- "Appearance of the Fairy Day-Star," and "Unexampled displays of
pyrotechnic festivity." Do you not, I say, perceive that we are come
to the end of our history; and, after a quantity of rapid and terrific
fighting, brilliant change of scenery, and songs appropriate or
otherwise, are bringing our hero and heroine together? Who wants a
long scene at the last? Mammas are putting the girls' cloaks and boas
on; papas have gone out to look for the carriage, and left the
box-door swinging open, and letting in the cold air: if there were
any stage-conversation, you could not hear it, for the scuffling of
the people who are leaving the pit. See, the orange-women are
preparing to retire. To-morrow their play-bills will be as so much
waste-paper—so will some of our masterpieces, woe is me: but lo!
here we come to Scene the last, and Valencia is besieged and captured
by the Christians.
Who is the first on the wall, and who hurls down the green
standard of the Prophet? Who chops off the head of the Emir Aboo
What-d'ye-call'im, just as the latter has cut over the cruel Don
Beliran de Cuchillay Who, attracted to the Jewish quarter by the
shrieks of the inhabitants who are being slain by the Moorish
soldiery, and by a little boy by the name of Ben Davids, who
recognizes the knight by his shield, finds Isaac of York _egorge on a
threshold, and clasping a large kitchen key? Who but Ivanhoe —who but
Wilfrid? "An Ivanhoe to the rescue," he bellows out; he has heard that
news from little Ben Davids which makes him sing. And who is it that
comes out of the house—trembling—panting— with her arms out—in
a white dress—with her hair down—who is it but dear Rebecca? Look,
they rush together, and Master Wamba is waving an immense banner over
them, and knocks down a circumambient Jew with a ham, which he happens
to have in his pocket.... As for Rebecca, now her head is laid upon
Ivanhoe's heart, I shall not ask to hear what she is whispering, or
describe further that scene of meeting; though I declare I am quite
affected when I think of it. Indeed I have thought of it any time
these five-and-twenty years—ever since, as a boy at school, I
commenced the noble study of novels—ever since the day when, lying
on sunny slopes of half-holidays, the fair chivalrous figures and
beautiful shapes of knights and ladies were visible to me ever since I
grew to love Rebecca, that sweetest creature of the poet's fancy, and
longed to see her righted.
That she and Ivanhoe were married, follows of course; for Rowena's
promise extorted from him was, that he would never wed a Jewess, and a
better Christian than Rebecca now was never said her catechism.
Married I am sure they were, and adopted little Cedric; but I don't
think they had any other children, or were subsequently very
boisterously happy. Of some sort of happiness melancholy is a
characteristic, and I think these were a solemn pair, and died rather