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if ever I take service, it should be with your royal brother King Richard. These twenty nobles I leave to Hubert, who has this day drawn as brave a bow as his grandsire did at Hastings. Had his modesty not refused the trial, he would have hit the wand as well as I.”
Hubert shook his head as he received with reluctance the bounty of the stranger ; and Locksley, anxious to escape farther observation, mixed with the crowd, and was seen no more.
The victorious archer would not perhaps have escaped John's attention so easily, had not that Prince had other subjects of anxious and more important meditation pressing upon his mind at that instant. He called upon his chamberlain as he gave the signal for retiring from the lists, and commanded himn instantly to gallop to Ashby, and seek out Isaac the Jew. “ Tell the dog," he said, " to send me, before sun-down, two thousand
He knows the security ; but thou mayst shew him this ring for a token. The rest of the money must be paid at York within six days. If he neglects, I will have the unbelieving villain's head. Look that thou pass him not on the way ; for the circumcised slave was displaying his stolen finery amongst us.
So saying, the Prince resumed his horse, and returned to Ashby, the whole crowd breaking up and dispersing upon his retreat.
“In rough magnificence array'd,
When ancient Chivalry display'd
RINCE JOHN held his high festival in the Castle of Ashby. This
was not the same building of which the stately ruins still interest the traveller, and which was erected at a later period by the Lord
Hastings, High Chamberlain of England, one of the first victims of the tyranny of Richard the Third, and yet better known as one of Shakespeare's characters than by his historical fame. The castle and town of Ashby, at this time, belonged to Roger de Quincy, Earl of Winchester, who, during the period of our history, was absent in the Holy Land. Prince John, in the meanwhile, occupied his castle, and disposed of his domains without scruple ; and seeking at present to dazzle men's eyes by his hospitality and magnificence, had given orders for great preparations, in order to render the banquet as splendid as possible.
The purveyors of the Prince, who exercised on this and other occasions the full authority of royalty, had swept the country of all that could be collected which was esteemed fit for their master's table. Guests also were invited in great numbers ; and in the necessity in which he then found himself of courting popularity, Prince John had extended his invitation to a few distinguished Saxon and Danish families, as well as to the Norman nobility and gentry of the neighbourhood. However despised and degraded on ordinary occasions, the great numbers of the Anglo-Saxons must necessarily render them formidable in the civil commotions which seemed approaching, and it was an obvious point of policy to secure popularity with their leaders.
It was accordingly the Prince's intention, which he for some time main. tained, to treat these unwonted guests with a courtesy to which they had been little accustomed. But although no man with less scruple made his ordinary habits and feelings bend to his interest, it was the misfortune of this Prince, that his levity and petulance were perpetually breaking out, and undoing all that had been gained by his previous dissimulation.
Of this fickle temper he gave a memorable example in Ireland, when sent thither by his father, Henry the Second, with the purpose of buying golden opinions of the inhabitants of that now and important acquisition to the English crown. Upon this occasion the Irish chieftains contended which should first offer to the young Prince their loyal homage and the kiss of peace. But, instead of receiving their salutations with courtesy, John and his petulant attendants could not resist the temptation of pulling the long beards of the Irish chieftains ; a conduct which, as might have been expected, was highly resented by these insulted dignitaries, and produced fatal consequences to the English domination in Ireland. It is necessary to keep these inconsistencies of John's character in view, that the reader may understand his conduct during the present evening.
In execution of the resolution which he had formed during his cooler moments, Prince John received Cedric and Athelstane with distinguished courtesy, and expressed his disappointment, without resentment, when the indisposition of Rowena was alleged by the former as a reason for her not attending upon his gracious summons. Cedric and Athelstane were both dressed in the ancient Saxon garb, which, although not un handsome in itself, and in the present instance composed of costly materials, was sc remote in shape and appearance from that of the other guests, that Prince John took great credit to himself with Waldemar Fitzurse for refraining from laughter at a sight which the fashion of the day rendered ridiculous. Yet, in the eye of sober judgment, the short close tunic and long mantle of the Saxons was a more graceful, as well as a more convenient dress, than the garb of the Normans, whose under garment was a long doublet, so loose as to resemble a shirt or waggoner's frock, covered by a cloak of scanty dimensions, neither fit to defend the wearer from cold or from rain, and the only purpose of which appeared to be to display as much fur, embroidery, and jewellery work, as the ingenuity of the tailor could contrive to lay upon it. The Emperor Charlemagne, in whose reign they were first introduced, seems to have been very sensible of the incon. veniencies arising from the fashion of this garment. “In Heaven's name," said he, “to what purpose serve these abridged cloaks? If we are in bed they are no cover, on horseback they are no protection from the wind and rain, and when seated, they do not guard our legs from the damp or the frost."
Nevertheless, spite of this imperial objurgation, the short cloaks continued in fashion down to the time of which we treat, and particularly among the princes of the House of Anjou. They were, therefore, in aniversal use among Prince John's courtiers; and the long mantle, which formed the upper garment of the Saxons, was held in pro cional derision.
The guests were seated at a table which groaned under the quantity of good cheer. The numerous cooks who attended on the Prince's progress, having exerted all their art in varying the forms in which the ordinary provisions were served up, had succeeded almost as well as the modern professors of the culinary art in rendering them perfectly unlike their natural appearance. Besides these dishes of domestic origin, there were various delicacies brought from foreign parts, and a quantity of rich pastry, as well as of the simnel-bread and wastle cakes, which were only used at the tables of tho highest nobility. The banquet was crowned with the richest wines, both foreign and domestic.
But though luxurious, the Norman nobles were not, generally speaking, an intemperate race. While indulging themselves in the pleasures of the table, they aimed at delicacy, but avoided excess, and were apt to attribute gluttony and drunkenness to the vanquished Saxons, as vices peculiar to their inferior station. Prince John, indeed, and those who courted his pleasure by imitating his foibles, were apt to indulge to excess in the pleasures of the trencher and the goblet; and indeed it is well known that his death was occasioned by a surfeit upon peaches and new ale. His conduct, however, was an exception to the general manners of his countrymen.
With sly gravity, interrupted only by private signs to each other, the Norman knights and nobles beheld the ruder demeanour of Athelstane and Cedric at a banquet, to the form and fashion of which they were unaccustomed. And while their manners were thus the subject of sarcastic observation, the untaught Saxons unwittingly transgressed several of the arbitrary rules established for the regulation of society. Now, it is well known, that a man may with more impunity be guilty of an actual breach either of real good breeding or of good morals, than appear ignorant of the most minute point of fashionable etiquette. Thus Cedric, who dried his hands with a towel, instead of suffering the moisture to exhale by waving them gracefully in the air, incurred more ridicule than his companion Athelstane, when he swallowed to his own single share the whole of a large pasty, composed of the most exquisite foreign delicacies, and termed at that time a Karum-pie. When, however, it was discovered, by a serious cross-examination, that the Thane of Coningsburgh (or Franklin, as the Normans termed him) had no idea what he had been devouring, and that he had taken the contents of the Karum-pie for larks and pigeons, whereas they were in fact beccaficoes and nightingales, his ignorance brought him in for an ample share of the ridicule which would have been more justly bestowed on his gluttony.
The long feast had at length its end ; and while the goblet circulated freely, men talked of the feats of the preceding tournament of the unknown victor in the archery games of the Black Knight, whose selfdenial had induced him to withdraw from the honours he had won—and of the gallant Ivanhoe, who had so dearly bought the honours of the day. The topics were treated with military frankness, and the jest and laugh went round the hall. The brow of Prince John alone was overclouded during these discussions ; some overpowering care seemed agitating his mind, and it was only when he received occasional hints from his attendants that he seemed to take interest in what was passing around him. On such occasions he would start up, quaff a cup of wine, as if to raise his spirits, and then mingle in the conversation by some observation made abruptly or at random.
"We drink this beaker," said he, "to the health of Wilfred of Ivanhoe, champion of this Passage of Arms, and grieve that his wound renders him absent from our board — Let all fill to the pledge, and especially Cedric of Rotherwood, the worthy father of a son so promising.'
“No, my lord,” replied Cedric, standing up, and placing on the table his untasted cup, "Í yield not the name of son to the disobedient youth, who at once despises my commands, and relinquishes the manners and customs of his fathers."
“'Tis impossible,” cried Prince John, with well-feigned astonishment, “that so gallant a knight should be an unworthy or disobedient son !”
“Yet, my lord," answered Cedric, "so it is with this Wilfred. He left my homely dwelling to mingle with the gay nobility of your brother's court, where he learned to do those tricks of horsemanship which you prize so highly. He left it contrary to my wish and command; and in the days of Alfred that would have been termed disobedience-ay, and a crime severely punishable."
“Alas ?” replied Prince John, with a deep sigh of affected sympathy, "since your son was a follower of my unhappy brother, it need not be inquired where or from whom he learned the lesson of filial disobedience.” Thus spake Prince John, wilfully forgetting, that of all the sons of Henry the Second, though no one was free from the charge, he himself had been most distinguished for rebellion and ingratitude to his father. "I think," said he, after a moment's pause,
brother proposed to confer upon his favourite the rich manor of Ivanhoe.
“He did endow him with it," answered Cedric, “nor is it my least quarrel with my son that he stooped to hold, as a feudal vassal, the very domains which his fathers possessed in free and independent right.”.
“We shall then have your willing sanction, good Cedric,” said Prince John, “ to confer this fief upon a person whose dignity will not be dimin. ished by holding land of the British crown.—Sir Reginald Front-de-Beuf," he said, turning towards that Baron, " I trust you will so keep the goodly Barony of Ivanhoe, that Sir Wilfred shall not incur his father's displeasure by again entering upon that fief."
By St. Anthony !" answered the black-brow'd giant, “ I will consent that your highness shall hold me a Saxon, if either Cedric, or Wilfred, or the best that ever bore English blood, shall wrench from me the gift with which your highness has graced me.
“Whoever shall call thee Saxon, Sir Baron,” replied Cedric, offended at a mode of expression by which the Normans frequently expressed their habitual contempt of the English, "will do thee an honour as great as it is undeserved.”
Front-de-Bæuf would have replied, but Prince John's petulance and levity got the start.
“Assuredly,” said he, "my lords, the noble Cedric speaks truth; and his race may claim precedence over us as much in the length of their pedigrees as in the longitude of their cloaks."
“ They go before us indeed in the field--as deer before dogs," said Malvoisin.
“ And with good right may they go before us- --forget not,” said Prior Aymer, “the superior decency and decorum of their manners.
"" Their singular abstemiousness and temperance,” said De Bracy, forgetting the plan which promised him a Saxon bride.
- Together with the courage and conduct," said Brian de Bois-Guilbert, “by which they distinguished themselves at Hastings and elsewhere."
While, with smooth and smiling cheek, the courtiers, each in turn, followed their Prince's example, and aimed a shaft of ridicule at Cedric, the face of the Saxon became inflamed with passion, and he glanced his eyes fiercely from one to another, as if the quick succession of so many injuries had prevented his replying to them in turn; or, like a baited bull, who, surrounded by his tormentors, is at a loss to choose from among them the immediate object of his revenge. At length he spoke, in a voice halfchoked with passion; and addressing himself to Prince John, as the head and front of the offence which he had received, “Whatever," he said, “have been the follies and vices of our race, a Saxon would have been held nidering, (the most emphatic term for abject worthlessness), who should, in his own hall, and while his own wine-cup passed, have treated, or
* There was nothing accounted so ignominious among the Saxons as to merit this disgraceful epithet. Even William the Conqueror, hated as he was by them, continued to draw a considerable army of Anglo-Saxons to his standard, by threatening to stigmatise those who staid at home as nidering. Bartholinus, I think, mentions a similar phrase which had like influence on the Danes.-L. T.