صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

posed of the assailants, all of whom lay on the spot dead or more tally wounded. The Black Knight thanked his deliverers with a dignity they had not observed in his former bearing, which hitherto seemed rather that of a blunt bold soldier, than of a person of exalted rank. — “ It concerns me much,” he said, “ even before I express my full gratitude to my ready friends, to discover, if I may, who have been my unprovoked enemies.. Open the visor of that Blue Knight, Wamba, who seems the chief of these villains."

The Jester instantly made up to the leader of the assassins, wlio, bruised by his fall, and entangled under the wounded steed, lay incapable either of flight or resistance. - Come, valiant sir,” said Wamba, “ I must be your armourer as well as your equerry-I have dismounted you, and now I will unhelm you. ” - So saying, with no very gentle hand he undid the helmet of the Blue Knight, which, rolling to a distance on the grass, displayed to the Knight of thie Fetterlock grizzled locks, and a countenance he did not expect to have seen under such circumstances. ---" Waldemar Fitzurse!” he said in astonishment; 66 what could urge one of thy rank and sceming worth to so foul an undertaking ?-Stand back, my masters, I would speak to him alone. --And now, Waldemar Fitzurse, say me the truth-confess who set thee on this traitorous deed."“ Thy father's son,” answered Waldemar, “ who, in so doing, did but avenge on thee thy disobedience to thy father.” - Richard's eyes sparkled with indignation ; but his better nature overcame it. He pressed his hand against his brow, and remained an instant gazing on the face of the humbled baron, in whose features pride was contending with shame. — “ Thou dost not ask thy life, Waldemar," said the King. -" He that is in the lion's clutch,” answered Fitzurse, “ knows it were needless. " -- " Take it then unasked,” said Richard ; “ the lion preys not on prostrate carcasses." -- " Let this knight have a steed, Locksley, for I see your yeomen have caught those which were running loose, and let him depart unharmed. " -- " But that I judge I listen to a voice whose behests must not be disputed,” answered the yeoman, “ I would send a shaft af. ter the skulking villain, that should spare him the labour of a long journey."-" Thou bearest an English heart, Locksley,” said the Black Knight, “ and well dost judge thou art the more bound 19 obey my behest--I am Richard of England !”

• At these words, pronounced in a tone of majesty suited to the high rank, and no less distinguished character, of Cæur de Lion, the yeo. men at once kneeled down before him, and at the same time tendered their allegiance, and implored pardon for their offences. “ Rise, my friends,” said Richard, in a gracious tone, looking on them with a countenance in which his habitual good humour had already conquered the blaze of hasty resentment, and whose features retained no mark of the l'ate desperate conflict, excepting the flush arising from exertion, re" Arise," he said, “ my friends ! - Your misdemeanours, whether in forest or field, have been atoned by the loyal services you render

ed my distressed subjects before the walls of Torquilstone, and the rescue you have this day afforded to your sovereign. Arise, my liegemen, and be good subjects in future.-And thou, brave Locksley”-_" Call me no longer Locksley, my liege, but know me under the name, which, I fear, fame hath blown too widely not to have reached even your royal ears~I am Robin Hood, of Sherwood Forest."-" King of Outlaws, and Prince of good fellows !” said the King, “ who hath not heard a name that has been borne as far as Palestine ? But be assured, brave Outlaw, that no deed done in our absence, and in the turbulent times to which it hath given rise, shall be remembered to thy disadvantage.” III. 253-261.

We must hurry over the rest of the story.---Ivanhoe, though still suffering from his wounds, now joins the monarch, and repairs with him to the castle of Athelstane, whose whole vassalage are engaged in the festivities that constituted his funeral rites, -and, by the powerful intercession of his royal patron, is at last reconciled to his father, whose consent to his alliance with Rowena might now be reasonably expected, since his favoured rival is withdrawn: This hope, however, is somewhat strangely overcast, and the funeral preparations suddenly interrupted, by the very unexpected apparition of the worthy Athelstane himself, --attired indeed in the habiliments of the grave--but in perfect vigour of health and appetite, and clamouring lustily for a share of the viands so profusely prepared in honour of his memory. This is the most extravagant and foolish of all the incidents in the book, and seems introduced out of the very wantonness of merriment. It is very clumsily explained, by supposing that he had recovered from the stupor of the Templar's blow, after he was laid in his coffin ; and that the monks, in whose charge he was placed, had prevented his escape. This little dip into Tartarus, however, as well as some of the things he had seen recently before it, seems entirely to have extinguished the very feeble spark of love which had led him to solicit the alliance of the unwilling Rowena ; and he now formally abjures his pretensions. The hopes of Ivanhoe, of course, are revived; and he is again about to urge his suit, when, upon a billet being put into his hands by an unknown messenger, he instantly darts from the presence, throws himself on horseback, and, feeble and suffering as he still was from his wounds, rides furiously away.

To explain this sudden movement, it is necessary to go back to the concerns of the daring Templar and the lovely Rebecca. He lodges her safely in the precinct of the Preceptory of Templestowe; but is soon detected by the severe and bigotted eye of the venerable Grand Master of his order, who had come rather unseasonably over to England, to visit and reform the discipline of his insular establishments. To savę his friend the

Templar, and the credit of his own house, the Warden gives out that Rebecca had prevailed on her lover, by philters, sorceries and incantations; and that his apparently profligate conduct was owing to the spells with which her hellish art had bound him; and, under this impression, the heroic maiden is solemnly arraigned on the capital charge of sorcery and witchcraft. The trial is set forth learnedly, and with poetical effect; but we have been too lavish of our citations to be able now to afford any considerable report of it. The following short pas-' sage conveys a striking picture.

At this period of the trial, the Grand Master commanded Rebecca to unveil herself. Opening her lips for the first time, she replied patiently, but with dignity, -" That it was not the wont of the daughters of her people to uncover their faces when alone in an assembly of strangers." The sweet tones of her voice, and the softness of her reply, impressed on the audience a sentiment of pity and sympathy. But Beaumanoir, in whose inind the suppression of cach feeling of humanity which could interfere with his imagined duty, was a virtue of itself, repeated his commands that his victim should be unveiled. The guards were about to remove her veil accordingly, when she stood up before the Grand Master and said, “ Nay, but for the love of your own daughters--Alas,” she said, recollecting herself, “ ye have no daughters but for the remembrance of your mothers --for the love of your sisters, and of female decency, let me not be thus handled in your presence; it suits not a maiden to be disrobed by such rude grooms. I will obey you,” she added, with an expres. sion of patient sorrow in her voice, which had almost inelted the heart of Beaumanoir himself ; “ ye are elders among your people, and at your command I will show the features of an ill-fated maiden.”

-She withdrew her veil, and looked on them with a countenance in which bashfulness contended with dignity. Her exceeding beauty excited a murmur of surprise; and the younger knights told each other with their eyes, in silent correspondence, that Brian's best apology was in the power of her real charıns, rather than of her imaginary witchcraft.' III. 174, 175.

The evidence was sufficient to convince a superstitious auditory of her guilt; and she was asked if she had any thing to say against the sentence she had incurred.

• To invoke your pity," said the lovely Jewess, with a voice somewhat tremulous with emotion, “ would, I am aware, be as useless as I should hold it mean. To state that to relieve the sick and wounded of another religion, cannot be displeasing to the acknowledged Founder of both our faiths, were also unavailing ; to plead that many things which these men (whom may Heaven pardon !) have spoken against me are impossible, would avail me but little, since you believe in their possibility; and still less would it advantage me to explain, that the peculiarities of my dress, language, and manners,

are those of my people I had well nigh said of my country--but alas! we have no country. Nor will I even vindicate myself at the expense of my oppressor, who stands there listening to the fictions and surmises which seem to convert the tyrant into the victim...God be judge between him and me! but rather would I submit to ten such deaths as your pleasure may denounce, against me, than listen to the suit which that man of Belial has urged apon me-friendless, defenceless, and his prisoner. But he is of your own faith, and his lightest affirmance would weigh down the most solemn protestations of the distressed Jewess. I will not therefore return to himself the charge brought against me ;—but to himself-yes, Brian de BoisGuilbert, to thyself I appeal, whether these accusations are not false? as monstrous and calumnious as they are deadly ? ” — There was a pause ; all eyes turned to Brian de Bois-Guilbert. He was silent. « Speak,” she said, “ if thou art a man-if thou art a Christian, speak !-I conjure thee, by the habit which thou dost wear-by the name thou dost inherit—by the knighthood thou dost vaunt—by the honour of thy mother-by the tomb and the bones of thy father-I conjure thee to say, are these things true?” III. 180, 181.

The Templar, choked by contending passions, remains silent, and can with difficulty recal her attention to a scroll he had privately handed to her, suggesting that she should demand a champion to prove her innocence in battle. His silence is construed by the judicious brotherhood to be the effect of her continued sorcery; and the Grand Master resumes

66 Rebecca, thou canst derive no benefit from the evidence of this unhappy knight, for whoin, as we well perceive, the Enemy is yet too powerful. Hast thou aught else to say ? ”.

“ There is yet one chance of life left to me, said Rebecca, even by your own fierce laws. ' Life has been miserable-miserable, at least, of late-but I will not cast away the gift of God, while he affords me the means of defending it. I deny this charge-I maintain my innocence, and I declare the falsehood of this accusation-I challenge the privilege of trial by combat, and will appear by my champion.” — “And who, Rebecca," replied the Grand Master, “ will lay lance in rest for a sorceress ?-who will be the champion of a Jewess ? ” “ God will raise me up a champion,” said Rebecca—“ It cannot be that in merry England - the hospitable, the generous, the free, where so many are ready to peril their lives for honour, there shall not be found one to fight for justice. But it is enough that I challenge the trial by combat--there lies my gage.

She took her embroidered glove from her hand, and flung it down before the Grand Master with an air of mingled simplicity and dignity, which excited universal surprise and admiration.

• Even Lucas Beaumanoir himself was affected by the mien and and appearance of Rebecca. He was not originally a cruel or even a severe man; but with passions by nature cold, and with a high, though mistaken, sense of duty, his heart had been gradually hardena

ed by the ascetic life which he pursued, the supreme power which he enjoyed, and the supposed necessity of subduing infidelity and eradicating heresy, which he conceived peculiarly incumbent on him. His features relaxed in their usual severity as he gazed upon the beautiful creature before him, alone, unfriended, and defending herself with so much spirit and courage. He crossed himself twice, as doubting whence aroge the unwonted softening of a heart, which on such occasions used to resemble in hardness the steel of his sword. At length he spoke

“ Damsel,” he said, “ if the pity I feel for thee arise from any practice thine evil arts have made on me, great is thy guilt. But I rather judge it the kinder feelings of nature which grieves that so goodly a form should be a vessel of perdition. Repent, my daughterconfess thy witchcrafts--turn thee from thine evil faith--embrace this holy emblem, and all shall yet be well with thee here and hereafter. In some sisterhood of the strictest order, shalt thou have time for prayer and fitting penance, and that repentance not to be repented of. This do and live-- what has the law of Moses done for thee that thou shouldest die for it?" --" It was the law of my fathers,” said Rebecca ; " it was delivered in thunders and in storms upon the mountain of Sinai, in cloud and in fire. This, if ye are Christians, ye believe it is, you say, recalled, but so my teachers have not taught me.”-“ Let our chaplain,” said Beaumanoir, “ stand forth, and tell this obstinate infidel”- “ Forgive the interruption,” said Rebecca, meekly ; “ I am a maiden, unskilled to dispute for my religion--but I can die for it, if it be God's will. Let me pray your answer to my demand of a champion.”-“ Give me her glove,” said Beaumanoir. “ This is indeed,” he continued, as he looked at the fimsy texture and slender fingers, “ a slight and frail gage for a purpose so deadly-Seest thou, Rebecca, as this thin and light glove of thine is to one of our heavy steel gauntlets, so is thy cause to that of the Temple, for it is our Order which thou hast defied.” - “ Cast my innocence into the scale," answered Rebecca, " and the glove of silk shall outweigh the glove of iron.,' " Then thou doest persist in thy refusal to confess thy guilt, and in that bold challenge which thou hast made ?” “I do persist, noble sir,” answered Rebecca. " So be it then, in the name of Heaven," said the Grand Master ; “ and may God show the right!” “ Amen!” replied the Preceptors around him, and the word was . . deeply echoed by the whole assembly.' III. 182-187.

The gage of battle is now delivered to the Templar himself, as the proper avenger of his own wrongs and that of the Order; and the third day is appointed for the combat. Rebecca writes. to her father, whose agony, on learning her condition, is des scribed with great pathos; but it is less affecting than the letter of the damsel herself, which appears to us to be one of the finest imitations we have ever met with, of the simple and heart.. searching pathos of the Scriptures. It is of this tenor,

« السابقةمتابعة »