Walter Scott

Part 1 out of 12

Prepared by "John P Roberts, Jr"



by Walter Scott

Now fitted the halter, now traversed the cart,
And often took leave,----but seemed loath to depart!*

* The motto alludes to the Author returning to the stage
* repeatedly after having taken leave.





The Author of the Waverley Novels had hitherto proceeded in an
unabated course of popularity, and might, in his peculiar
district of literature, have been termed "L'Enfant Gate" of
success. It was plain, however, that frequent publication must
finally wear out the public favour, unless some mode could be
devised to give an appearance of novelty to subsequent
productions. Scottish manners, Scottish dialect, and Scottish
characters of note, being those with which the author was most
intimately, and familiarly acquainted, were the groundwork upon
which he had hitherto relied for giving effect to his narrative.
It was, however, obvious, that this kind of interest must in the
end occasion a degree of sameness and repetition, if exclusively
resorted to, and that the reader was likely at length to adopt
the language of Edwin, in Parnell's Tale:

"'Reverse the spell,' he cries, 'And let it fairly now
suffice. The gambol has been shown.'"

Nothing can be more dangerous for the fame of a professor of the
fine arts, than to permit (if he can possibly prevent it) the
character of a mannerist to be attached to him, or that he should
be supposed capable of success only in a particular and limited
style. The public are, in general, very ready to adopt the
opinion, that he who has pleased them in one peculiar mode of
composition, is, by means of that very talent, rendered incapable
of venturing upon other subjects. The effect of this
disinclination, on the part of the public, towards the artificers
of their pleasures, when they attempt to enlarge their means of
amusing, may be seen in the censures usually passed by vulgar
criticism upon actors or artists who venture to change the
character of their efforts, that, in so doing, they may enlarge
the scale of their art.

There is some justice in this opinion, as there always is in such
as attain general currency. It may often happen on the stage,
that an actor, by possessing in a preeminent degree the external
qualities necessary to give effect to comedy, may be deprived of
the right to aspire to tragic excellence; and in painting or
literary composition, an artist or poet may be master exclusively
of modes of thought, and powers of expression, which confine him
to a single course of subjects. But much more frequently the
same capacity which carries a man to popularity in one department
will obtain for him success in another, and that must be more
particularly the case in literary composition, than either in
acting or painting, because the adventurer in that department is
not impeded in his exertions by any peculiarity of features, or
conformation of person, proper for particular parts, or, by any
peculiar mechanical habits of using the pencil, limited to a
particular class of subjects.

Whether this reasoning be correct or otherwise, the present
author felt, that, in confining himself to subjects purely
Scottish, he was not only likely to weary out the indulgence of
his readers, but also greatly to limit his own power of
affording them pleasure. In a highly polished country, where so
much genius is monthly employed in catering for public amusement,
a fresh topic, such as he had himself had the happiness to light
upon, is the untasted spring of the desert;---

"Men bless their stars and call it luxury."

But when men and horses, cattle, camels, and dromedaries, have
poached the spring into mud, it becomes loathsome to those who at
first drank of it with rapture; and he who had the merit of
discovering it, if he would preserve his reputation with the
tribe, must display his talent by a fresh discovery of untasted

If the author, who finds himself limited to a particular class of
ubjects, endeavours to sustain his reputation by striving to add
a novelty of attraction to themes of the same character which
have been formerly successful under his management, there are
manifest reasons why, after a certain point, he is likely to
fail. If the mine be not wrought out, the strength and capacity
of the miner become necessarily exhausted. If he closely
imitates the narratives which he has before rendered successful,
he is doomed to "wonder that they please no more." If he
struggles to take a different view of the same class of subjects,
he speedily discovers that what is obvious, graceful, and
natural, has been exhausted; and, in order to obtain the
indispensable charm of novelty, he is forced upon caricature,
and, to avoid being trite, must become extravagant.

It is not, perhaps, necessary to enumerate so many reasons why
the author of the Scottish Novels, as they were then exclusively
termed, should be desirous to make an experiment on a subject
purely English. It was his purpose, at the same time, to have
rendered the experiment as complete as possible, by bringing the
intended work before the public as the effort of a new candidate
for their favour, in order that no degree of prejudice, whether
favourable or the reverse, might attach to it, as a new
production of the Author of Waverley; but this intention was
afterwards departed from, for reasons to be hereafter mentioned.

The period of the narrative adopted was the reign of Richard I.,
not only as abounding with characters whose very names were sure
to attract general attention, but as affording a striking
contrast betwixt the Saxons, by whom the soil was cultivated, and
the Normans, who still reigned in it as conquerors, reluctant to
mix with the vanquished, or acknowledge themselves of the same
stock. The idea of this contrast was taken from the ingenious
and unfortunate Logan's tragedy of Runnamede, in which, about the
same period of history, the author had seen the Saxon and Norman
barons opposed to each other on different sides of the stage. He
does not recollect that there was any attempt to contrast the two
races in their habits and sentiments; and indeed it was obvious,
that history was violated by introducing the Saxons still
existing as a high-minded and martial race of nobles.

They did, however, survive as a people, and some of the ancient
Saxon families possessed wealth and power, although they were
exceptions to the humble condition of the race in general. It
seemed to the author, that the existence of the two races in the
same country, the vanquished distinguished by their plain,
homely, blunt manners, and the free spirit infused by their
ancient institutions and laws; the victors, by the high spirit of
military fame, personal adventure, and whatever could distinguish
them as the Flower of Chivalry, might, intermixed with other
characters belonging to the same time and country, interest the
reader by the contrast, if the author should not fail on his

Scotland, however, had been of late used so exclusively as the
scene of what is called Historical Romance, that the preliminary
letter of Mr Laurence Templeton became in some measure necessary.
To this, as to an Introduction, the reader is referred, as
expressing author's purpose and opinions in undertaking this
species of composition, under the necessary reservation, that he
is far from thinking he has attained the point at which he aimed.

It is scarcely necessary to add, that there was no idea or wish
to pass off the supposed Mr Templeton as a real person. But a
kind of continuation of the Tales of my Landlord had been
recently attempted by a stranger, and it was supposed this
Dedicatory Epistle might pass for some imitation of the same
kind, and thus putting enquirers upon a false scent, induce them
to believe they had before them the work of some new candidate
for their favour.

After a considerable part of the work had been finished and
printed, the Publishers, who pretended to discern in it a germ of
popularity, remonstrated strenuously against its appearing as an
absolutely anonymous production, and contended that it should
have the advantage of being announced as by the Author of
Waverley. The author did not make any obstinate opposition, for
he began to be of opinion with Dr Wheeler, in Miss Edgeworth's
excellent tale of "Maneuvering," that "Trick upon Trick" might be
too much for the patience of an indulgent public, and might be
reasonably considered as trifling with their favour.

The book, therefore, appeared as an avowed continuation of the
Waverley Novels; and it would be ungrateful not to acknowledge,
that it met with the same favourable reception as its

Such annotations as may be useful to assist the reader in
comprehending the characters of the Jew, the Templar, the Captain
of the mercenaries, or Free Companions, as they were called, and
others proper to the period, are added, but with a sparing hand,
since sufficient information on these subjects is to be found in
general history.

An incident in the tale, which had the good fortune to find
favour in the eyes of many readers, is more directly borrowed
from the stores of old romance. I mean the meeting of the King
with Friar Tuck at the cell of that buxom hermit. The general
tone of the story belongs to all ranks and all countries, which
emulate each other in describing the rambles of a disguised
sovereign, who, going in search of information or amusement, into
the lower ranks of life, meets with adventures diverting to the
reader or hearer, from the contrast betwixt the monarch's outward
appearance, and his real character. The Eastern tale-teller has
for his theme the disguised expeditions of Haroun Alraschid with
his faithful attendants, Mesrour and Giafar, through the midnight
streets of Bagdad; and Scottish tradition dwells upon the similar
exploits of James V., distinguished during such excursions by the
travelling name of the Goodman of Ballengeigh, as the Commander
of the Faithful, when he desired to be incognito, was known by
that of Il Bondocani. The French minstrels are not silent on so
popular a theme. There must have been a Norman original of the
Scottish metrical romance of Rauf Colziar, in which Charlemagne
is introduced as the unknown guest of a charcoal-man.*

* This very curious poem, long a desideratum in Scottish
* literature, and given up as irrecoverably lost, was
* lately brought to light by the researches of Dr Irvine of
* the Advocates' Library, and has been reprinted by Mr David
* Laing, Edinburgh.

It seems to have been the original of other poems of the kind.

In merry England there is no end of popular ballads on this
theme. The poem of John the Reeve, or Steward, mentioned by
Bishop Percy, in the Reliques of English Poetry,* is said to

* Vol. ii. p. 167.

have turned on such an incident; and we have besides, the King
and the Tanner of Tamworth, the King and the Miller of Mansfield,
and others on the same topic. But the peculiar tale of this
nature to which the author of Ivanhoe has to acknowledge an
obligation, is more ancient by two centuries than any of these
last mentioned.

It was first communicated to the public in that curious record of
ancient literature, which has been accumulated by the combined
exertions of Sir Egerton Brydges. and Mr Hazlewood, in the
periodical work entitled the British Bibliographer. From thence
it has been transferred by the Reverend Charles Henry Hartsborne,
M.A., editor of a very curious volume, entitled "Ancient Metrical
Tales, printed chiefly from original sources, 1829." Mr
Hartshorne gives no other authority for the present fragment,
except the article in the Bibliographer, where it is entitled the
Kyng and the Hermite. A short abstract of its contents will show
its similarity to the meeting of King Richard and Friar Tuck.

King Edward (we are not told which among the monarchs of that
name, but, from his temper and habits, we may suppose Edward IV.)
sets forth with his court to a gallant hunting-match in Sherwood
Forest, in which, as is not unusual for princes in romance, he
falls in with a deer of extraordinary size and swiftness, and
pursues it closely, till he has outstripped his whole retinue,
tired out hounds and horse, and finds himself alone under the
gloom of an extensive forest, upon which night is descending.
Under the apprehensions natural to a situation so uncomfortable,
the king recollects that he has heard how poor men, when
apprehensive of a bad nights lodging, pray to Saint Julian, who,
in the Romish calendar, stands Quarter-Master-General to all
forlorn travellers that render him due homage. Edward puts up
his orisons accordingly, and by the guidance, doubtless, of the
good Saint, reaches a small path, conducting him to a chapel in
the forest, having a hermit's cell in its close vicinity. The
King hears the reverend man, with a companion of his solitude,
telling his beads within, and meekly requests of him quarters
for the night. "I have no accommodation for such a lord as ye
be," said the Hermit. "I live here in the wilderness upon roots
and rinds, and may not receive into my dwelling even the poorest
wretch that lives, unless it were to save his life." The King
enquires the way to the next town, and, understanding it is by a
road which he cannot find without difficulty, even if he had
daylight to befriend him, he declares, that with or without the
Hermit's consent, he is determined to be his guest that night.
He is admitted accordingly, not without a hint from the Recluse,
that were he himself out of his priestly weeds, he would care
little for his threats of using violence, and that he gives way
to him not out of intimidation, but simply to avoid scandal.

The King is admitted into the cell --- two bundles of straw are
shaken down for his accommodation, and he comforts himself that
he is now under shelter, and that

"A night will soon be gone."

Other wants, however, arise. The guest becomes clamorous for
supper, observing,

"For certainly, as I you say,
I ne had never so sorry a day,
That I ne had a merry night."

But this indication of his taste for good cheer, joined to the
annunciation of his being a follower of the Court, who had lost
himself at the great hunting-match, cannot induce the niggard
Hermit to produce better fare than bread and cheese, for which
his guest showed little appetite; and "thin drink," which was
even less acceptable. At length the King presses his host on a
point to which he had more than once alluded, without obtaining a
satisfactory reply:

"Then said the King, 'by God's grace,
Thou wert in a merry place,
To shoot should thou here
When the foresters go to rest,
Sometyme thou might have of the best,
All of the wild deer;
I wold hold it for no scathe,
Though thou hadst bow and arrows baith,
Althoff thou best a Frere.'"

The Hermit, in return, expresses his apprehension that his guest
means to drag him into some confession of offence against the
forest laws, which, being betrayed to the King, might cost him
his life. Edward answers by fresh assurances of secrecy, and
again urges on him the necessity of procuring some venison. The
Hermit replies, by once more insisting on the duties incumbent
upon him as a churchman, and continues to affirm himself free
from all such breaches of order:

"Many day I have here been,
And flesh-meat I eat never,
But milk of the kye;
Warm thee well, and go to sleep,
And I will lap thee with my cope,
Softly to lye."

It would seem that the manuscript is here imperfect, for we do
not find the reasons which finally induce the curtal Friar to
amend the King's cheer. But acknowledging his guest to be such a
"good fellow" as has seldom graced his board, the holy man at
length produces the best his cell affords. Two candles are
placed on a table, white bread and baked pasties are displayed by
the light, besides choice of venison, both salt and fresh, from
which they select collops. "I might have eaten my bread dry,"
said the King, "had I not pressed thee on the score of archery,
but now have I dined like a prince---if we had but drink enow."

This too is afforded by the hospitable anchorite, who dispatches
an assistant to fetch a pot of four gallons from a secret corner
near his bed, and the whole three set in to serious drinking.
This amusement is superintended by the Friar, according to the
recurrence of certain fustian words, to be repeated by every
compotator in turn before he drank---a species of High Jinks, as
it were, by which they regulated their potations, as toasts were
given in latter times. The one toper says "fusty bandias", to
which the other is obliged to reply, "strike pantnere", and the
Friar passes many jests on the King's want of memory, who
sometimes forgets the words of action. The night is spent in
this jolly pastime. Before his departure in the morning, the
King invites his reverend host to Court, promises, at least, to
requite his hospitality, and expresses himself much pleased with
his entertainment. The jolly Hermit at length agrees to venture
thither, and to enquire for Jack Fletcher, which is the name
assumed by the King. After the Hermit has shown Edward some
feats of archery, the joyous pair separate. The King rides home,
and rejoins his retinue. As the romance is imperfect, we are not
acquainted how the discovery takes place; but it is probably much
in the same manner as in other narratives turning on the same
subject, where the host, apprehensive of death for having
trespassed on the respect due to his Sovereign, while incognito,
is agreeably surprised by receiving honours and reward.

In Mr Hartshorne's collection, there is a romance on the same
foundation, called King Edward and the Shepherd,*

* Like the Hermit, the Shepherd makes havock amongst the
* King's game; but by means of a sling, not of a bow; like
* the Hermit, too, he has his peculiar phrases of
* compotation, the sign and countersign being Passelodion
* and Berafriend. One can scarce conceive what humour our
* ancestors found in this species of gibberish; but
* "I warrant it proved an excuse for the glass."

which, considered as illustrating manners, is still more curious
than the King and the Hermit; but it is foreign to the present
purpose. The reader has here the original legend from which the
incident in the romance is derived; and the identifying the
irregular Eremite with the Friar Tuck of Robin Hood's story, was
an obvious expedient.

The name of Ivanhoe was suggested by an old rhyme. All novelists
have had occasion at some time or other to wish with Falstaff,
that they knew where a commodity of good names was to be had. On
such an occasion the author chanced to call to memory a rhyme
recording three names of the manors forfeited by the ancestor of
the celebrated Hampden, for striking the Black Prince a blow with
his racket, when they quarrelled at tennis:

"Tring, Wing, and Ivanhoe,
For striking of a blow,
Hampden did forego,
And glad he could escape so."

The word suited the author's purpose in two material respects,
---for, first, it had an ancient English sound; and secondly, it
conveyed no indication whatever of the nature of the story. He
presumes to hold this last quality to be of no small importance.
What is called a taking title, serves the direct interest of the
bookseller or publisher, who by this means sometimes sells an
edition while it is yet passing the press. But if the author
permits an over degree of attention to be drawn to his work ere
it has appeared, he places himself in the embarrassing condition
of having excited a degree of expectation which, if he proves
unable to satisfy, is an error fatal to his literary reputation.
Besides, when we meet such a title as the Gunpowder Plot, or any
other connected with general history, each reader, before he has
seen the book, has formed to himself some particular idea of the
sort of manner in which the story is to be conducted, and the
nature of the amusement which he is to derive from it. In this
he is probably disappointed, and in that case may be naturally
disposed to visit upon the author or the work, the unpleasant
feelings thus excited. In such a case the literary adventurer
is censured, not for having missed the mark at which he himself
aimed, but for not having shot off his shaft in a direction he
never thought of.

On the footing of unreserved communication which the Author has
established with the reader, he may here add the trifling
circumstance, that a roll of Norman warriors, occurring in the
Auchinleck Manuscript, gave him the formidable name of

Ivanhoe was highly successful upon its appearance, and may be
said to have procured for its author the freedom of the Rules,
since he has ever since been permitted to exercise his powers of
fictitious composition in England, as well as Scotland.

The character of the fair Jewess found so much favour in the eyes
of some fair readers, that the writer was censured, because, when
arranging the fates of the characters of the drama, he had not
assigned the hand of Wilfred to Rebecca, rather than the less
interesting Rowena. But, not to mention that the prejudices of
the age rendered such an union almost impossible, the author may,
in passing, observe, that he thinks a character of a highly
virtuous and lofty stamp, is degraded rather than exalted by an
attempt to reward virtue with temporal prosperity. Such is not
the recompense which Providence has deemed worthy of suffering
merit, and it is a dangerous and fatal doctrine to teach young
persons, the most common readers of romance, that rectitude of
conduct and of principle are either naturally allied with, or
adequately rewarded by, the gratification of our passions, or
attainment of our wishes. In a word, if a virtuous and
self-denied character is dismissed with temporal wealth,
greatness, rank, or the indulgence of such a rashly formed or ill
assorted passion as that of Rebecca for Ivanhoe, the reader will
be apt to say, verily Virtue has had its reward. But a glance on
the great picture of life will show, that the duties of
self-denial, and the sacrifice of passion to principle, are
seldom thus remunerated; and that the internal consciousness of
their high-minded discharge of duty, produces on their own
reflections a more adequate recompense, in the form of that peace
which the world cannot give or take away.

1st September, 1830.




Residing in the Castle-Gate, York.

Much esteemed and dear Sir,

It is scarcely necessary to mention the various and concurring
reasons which induce me to place your name at the head of the
following work. Yet the chief of these reasons may perhaps be
refuted by the imperfections of the performance. Could I have
hoped to render it worthy of your patronage, the public would at
once have seen the propriety of inscribing a work designed to
illustrate the domestic antiquities of England, and particularly
of our Saxon forefathers, to the learned author of the Essays
upon the Horn of King Ulphus, and on the Lands bestowed by him
upon the patrimony of St Peter. I am conscious, however, that
the slight, unsatisfactory, and trivial manner, in which the
result of my antiquarian researches has been recorded in the
following pages, takes the work from under that class which bears
the proud motto, "Detur digniori". On the contrary, I fear I
shall incur the censure of presumption in placing the venerable
name of Dr Jonas Dryasdust at the head of a publication, which
the more grave antiquary will perhaps class with the idle novels
and romances of the day. I am anxious to vindicate myself from
such a charge; for although I might trust to your friendship for
an apology in your eyes, yet I would not willingly stand
conviction in those of the public of so grave a crime, as my
fears lead me to anticipate my being charged with.

I must therefore remind you, that when we first talked over
together that class of productions, in one of which the private
and family affairs of your learned northern friend, Mr Oldbuck of
Monkbarns, were so unjustifiably exposed to the public, some
discussion occurred between us concerning the cause of the
popularity these works have attained in this idle age, which,
whatever other merit they possess, must be admitted to be hastily
written, and in violation of every rule assigned to the epopeia.
It seemed then to be your opinion, that the charm lay entirely in
the art with which the unknown author had availed himself, like a
second M'Pherson, of the antiquarian stores which lay scattered
around him, supplying his own indolence or poverty of invention,
by the incidents which had actually taken place in his country at
no distant period, by introducing real characters, and scarcely
suppressing real names. It was not above sixty or seventy years,
you observed, since the whole north of Scotland was under a state
of government nearly as simple and as patriarchal as those of our
good allies the Mohawks and Iroquois. Admitting that the author
cannot himself be supposed to have witnessed those times, he must
have lived, you observed, among persons who had acted and
suffered in them; and even within these thirty years, such an
infinite change has taken place in the manners of Scotland, that
men look back upon the habits of society proper to their
immediate ancestors, as we do on those of the reign of Queen
Anne, or even the period of the Revolution. Having thus
materials of every kind lying strewed around him, there was
little, you observed, to embarrass the author, but the difficulty
of choice. It was no wonder, therefore, that, having begun to
work a mine so plentiful, he should have derived from his works
fully more credit and profit than the facility of his labours

Admitting (as I could not deny) the general truth of these
conclusions, I cannot but think it strange that no attempt has
been made to excite an interest for the traditions and manners of
Old England, similiar to that which has been obtained in behalf
of those of our poorer and less celebrated neighbours. The
Kendal green, though its date is more ancient, ought surely to be
as dear to our feelings, as the variegated tartans of the north.
The name of Robin Hood, if duly conjured with, should raise a
spirit as soon as that of Rob Roy; and the patriots of England
deserve no less their renown in our modern circles, than the
Bruces and Wallaces of Caledonia. If the scenery of the south be
less romantic and sublime than that of the northern mountains, it
must be allowed to possess in the same proportion superior
softness and beauty; and upon the whole, we feel ourselves
entitled to exclaim with the patriotic Syrian---"Are not Pharphar
and Abana, rivers of Damascus, better than all the rivers of

Your objections to such an attempt, my dear Doctor, were, you may
remember, two-fold. You insisted upon the advantages which the
Scotsman possessed, from the very recent existence of that state
of society in which his scene was to be laid. Many now alive,
you remarked, well remembered persons who had not only seen the
celebrated Roy M'Gregor, but had feasted, and even fought with
him. All those minute circumstances belonging to private life
and domestic character, all that gives verisimilitude to a
narrative, and individuality to the persons introduced, is still
known and remembered in Scotland; whereas in England,
civilisation has been so long complete, that our ideas of our
ancestors are only to be gleaned from musty records and
chronicles, the authors of which seem perversely to have
conspired to suppress in their narratives all interesting
details, in order to find room for flowers of monkish eloquence,
or trite reflections upon morals. To match an English and a
Scottish author in the rival task of embodying and reviving the
traditions of their respective countries, would be, you alleged,
in the highest degree unequal and unjust. The Scottish magician,
you said, was, like Lucan's witch, at liberty to walk over the
recent field of battle, and to select for the subject of
resuscitation by his sorceries, a body whose limbs had recently
quivered with existence, and whose throat had but just uttered
the last note of agony. Such a subject even the powerful Erictho
was compelled to select, as alone capable of being reanimated
even by "her" potent magic---

------gelidas leto scrutata medullas,
Pulmonis rigidi stantes sine vulnere fibras
Invenit, et vocem defuncto in corpore quaerit.

The English author, on the other hand, without supposing him less
of a conjuror than the Northern Warlock, can, you observed, only
have the liberty of selecting his subject amidst the dust of
antiquity, where nothing was to be found but dry, sapless,
mouldering, and disjointed bones, such as those which filled the
valley of Jehoshaphat. You expressed, besides, your
apprehension, that the unpatriotic prejudices of my countrymen
would not allow fair play to such a work as that of which I
endeavoured to demonstrate the probable success. And this, you
said, was not entirely owing to the more general prejudice in
favour of that which is foreign, but that it rested partly upon
improbabilities, arising out of the circumstances in which the
English reader is placed. If you describe to him a set of wild
manners, and a state of primitive society existing in the
Highlands of Scotland, he is much disposed to acquiesce in the
truth of what is asserted. And reason good. If he be of the
ordinary class of readers, he has either never seen those remote
districts at all, or he has wandered through those desolate
regions in the course of a summer tour, eating bad dinners,
sleeping on truckle beds, stalking from desolation to desolation,
and fully prepared to believe the strangest things that could be
told him of a people, wild and extravagant enough to be attached
to scenery so extraordinary. But the same worthy person, when
placed in his own snug parlour, and surrounded by all the
comforts of an Englishman's fireside, is not half so much
disposed to believe that his own ancestors led a very different
life from himself; that the shattered tower, which now forms a
vista from his window, once held a baron who would have hung him
up at his own door without any form of trial; that the hinds, by
whom his little pet-farm is managed, a few centuries ago would
have been his slaves; and that the complete influence of feudal
tyranny once extended over the neighbouring village, where the
attorney is now a man of more importance than the lord of the

While I own the force of these objections, I must confess, at the
same time, that they do not appear to me to be altogether
insurmountable. The scantiness of materials is indeed a
formidable difficulty; but no one knows better than Dr Dryasdust,
that to those deeply read in antiquity, hints concerning the
private life of our ancestors lie scattered through the pages of
our various historians, bearing, indeed, a slender proportion to
the other matters of which they treat, but still, when collected
together, sufficient to throw considerable light upon the "vie
prive" of our forefathers; indeed, I am convinced, that however I
myself may fail in the ensuing attempt, yet, with more labour in
collecting, or more skill in using, the materials within his
reach, illustrated as they have been by the labours of Dr Henry,
of the late Mr Strutt, and, above all, of Mr Sharon Turner, an
abler hand would have been successful; and therefore I protest,
beforehand, against any argument which may be founded on the
failure of the present experiment.

On the other hand, I have already said, that if any thing like a
true picture of old English manners could be drawn, I would trust
to the good-nature and good sense of my countrymen for insuring
its favourable reception.

Having thus replied, to the best of my power, to the first class
of your objections, or at least having shown my resolution to
overleap the barriers which your prudence has raised, I will be
brief in noticing that which is more peculiar to myself. It
seems to be your opinion, that the very office of an antiquary,
employed in grave, and, as the vulgar will sometimes allege, in
toilsome and minute research, must be considered as
incapacitating him from successfully compounding a tale of this
sort. But permit me to say, my dear Doctor, that this objection
is rather formal than substantial. It is true, that such slight
compositions might not suit the severer genius of our friend Mr
Oldbuck. Yet Horace Walpole wrote a goblin tale which has
thrilled through many a bosom; and George Ellis could transfer
all the playful fascination of a humour, as delightful as it was
uncommon, into his Abridgement of the Ancient Metrical Romances.
So that, however I may have occasion to rue my present audacity,
I have at least the most respectable precedents in my favour.

Still the severer antiquary may think, that, by thus
intermingling fiction with truth, I am polluting the well of
history with modern inventions, and impressing upon the rising
generation false ideas of the age which I describe. I cannot but
in some sense admit the force of this reasoning, which I yet hope
to traverse by the following considerations.

It is true, that I neither can, nor do pretend, to the
observation of complete accuracy, even in matters of outward
costume, much less in the more important points of language and
manners. But the same motive which prevents my writing the
dialogue of the piece in Anglo-Saxon or in Norman-French, and
which prohibits my sending forth to the public this essay printed
with the types of Caxton or Wynken de Worde, prevents my
attempting to confine myself within the limits of the period in
which my story is laid. It is necessary, for exciting interest
of any kind, that the subject assumed should be, as it were,
translated into the manners, as well as the language, of the age
we live in. No fascination has ever been attached to Oriental
literature, equal to that produced by Mr Galland's first
translation of the Arabian Tales; in which, retaining on the one
hand the splendour of Eastern costume, and on the other the
wildness of Eastern fiction, he mixed these with just so much
ordinary feeling and expression, as rendered them interesting and
intelligible, while he abridged the long-winded narratives,
curtailed the monotonous reflections, and rejected the endless
repetitions of the Arabian original. The tales, therefore,
though less purely Oriental than in their first concoction, were
eminently better fitted for the European market, and obtained an
unrivalled degree of public favour, which they certainly would
never have gained had not the manners and style been in some
degree familiarized to the feelings and habits of the western

In point of justice, therefore, to the multitudes who will, I
trust, devour this book with avidity, I have so far explained our
ancient manners in modern language, and so far detailed the
characters and sentiments of my persons, that the modern reader
will not find himself, I should hope, much trammelled by the
repulsive dryness of mere antiquity. In this, I respectfully
contend, I have in no respect exceeded the fair license due to
the author of a fictitious composition. The late ingenious Mr
Strutt, in his romance of Queen-Hoo-Hall,*

* The author had revised this posthumous work of Mr Strutt.
* See General Preface to the present edition, Vol I. p. 65.

acted upon another principle; and in distinguishing between what
was ancient and modern, forgot, as it appears to me, that
extensive neutral ground, the large proportion, that is, of
manners and sentiments which are common to us and to our
ancestors, having been handed down unaltered from them to us, or
which, arising out of the principles of our common nature, must
have existed alike in either state of society. In this manner, a
man of talent, and of great antiquarian erudition, limited the
popularity of his work, by excluding from it every thing which
was not sufficiently obsolete to be altogether forgotten and

The license which I would here vindicate, is so necessary to the
execution of my plan, that I will crave your patience while I
illustrate my argument a little farther.

He who first opens Chaucer, or any other ancient poet, is so much
struck with the obsolete spelling, multiplied consonants, and
antiquated appearance of the language, that he is apt to lay the
work down in despair, as encrusted too deep with the rust of
antiquity, to permit his judging of its merits or tasting its
beauties. But if some intelligent and accomplished friend points
out to him, that the difficulties by which he is startled are
more in appearance than reality, if, by reading aloud to him, or
by reducing the ordinary words to the modern orthography, he
satisfies his proselyte that only about one-tenth part of the
words employed are in fact obsolete, the novice may be easily
persuaded to approach the "well of English undefiled," with the
certainty that a slender degree of patience will enable him to
to enjoy both the humour and the pathos with which old Geoffrey
delighted the age of Cressy and of Poictiers.

To pursue this a little farther. If our neophyte, strong in the
new-born love of antiquity, were to undertake to imitate what he
had learnt to admire, it must be allowed he would act very
injudiciously, if he were to select from the Glossary the
obsolete words which it contains, and employ those exclusively of
all phrases and vocables retained in modern days. This was the
error of the unfortunate Chatterton. In order to give his
language the appearance of antiquity, he rejected every word that
was modern, and produced a dialect entirely different from any
that had ever been spoken in Great Britain. He who would imitate
an ancient language with success, must attend rather to its
grammatical character, turn of expression, and mode of
arrangement, than labour to collect extraordinary and antiquated
terms, which, as I have already averred, do not in ancient
authors approach the number of words still in use, though perhaps
somewhat altered in sense and spelling, in the proportion of one
to ten.

What I have applied to language, is still more justly applicable
to sentiments and manners. The passions, the sources from which
these must spring in all their modifications, are generally the
same in all ranks and conditions, all countries and ages; and it
follows, as a matter of course, that the opinions, habits of
thinking, and actions, however influenced by the peculiar state
of society, must still, upon the whole, bear a strong resemblance
to each other. Our ancestors were not more distinct from us,
surely, than Jews are from Christians; they had "eyes, hands,
organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions;" were "fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same
diseases, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer," as
ourselves. The tenor, therefore, of their affections and
feelings, must have borne the same general proportion to our own.

It follows, therefore, that of the materials which an author has
to use in a romance, or fictitious composition, such as I have
ventured to attempt, he will find that a great proportion, both
of language and manners, is as proper to the present time as to
those in which he has laid his time of action. The freedom of
choice which this allows him, is therefore much greater, and the
difficulty of his task much more diminished, than at first
appears. To take an illustration from a sister art, the
antiquarian details may be said to represent the peculiar
features of a landscape under delineation of the pencil. His
feudal tower must arise in due majesty; the figures which he
introduces must have the costume and character of their age; the
piece must represent the peculiar features of the scene which he
has chosen for his subject, with all its appropriate elevation of
rock, or precipitate descent of cataract. His general colouring,
too, must be copied from Nature: The sky must be clouded or
serene, according to the climate, and the general tints must be
those which prevail in a natural landscape. So far the painter
is bound down by the rules of his art, to a precise imitation of
the features of Nature; but it is not required that he should
descend to copy all her more minute features, or represent with
absolute exactness the very herbs, flowers, and trees, with which
the spot is decorated. These, as well as all the more minute
points of light and shadow, are attributes proper to scenery in
general, natural to each situation, and subject to the artist's
disposal, as his taste or pleasure may dictate.

It is true, that this license is confined in either case within
legitimate bounds. The painter must introduce no ornament
inconsistent with the climate or country of his landscape; he
must not plant cypress trees upon Inch-Merrin, or Scottish firs
among the ruins of Persepolis; and the author lies under a
corresponding restraint. However far he may venture in a more
full detail of passions and feelings, than is to be found in the
ancient compositions which he imitates, he must introduce nothing
inconsistent with the manners of the age; his knights, squires,
grooms, and yeomen, may be more fully drawn than in the hard, dry
delineations of an ancient illuminated manuscript, but the
character and costume of the age must remain inviolate; they must
be the same figures, drawn by a better pencil, or, to speak more
modestly, executed in an age when the principles of art were
better understood. His language must not be exclusively obsolete
and unintelligible; but he should admit, if possible, no word or
turn of phraseology betraying an origin directly modern. It is
one thing to make use of the language and sentiments which are
common to ourselves and our forefathers, and it is another to
invest them with the sentiments and dialect exclusively proper
to their descendants.

This, my dear friend, I have found the most difficult part of my
task; and, to speak frankly, I hardly expect to satisfy your less
partial judgment, and more extensive knowledge of such subjects,
since I have hardly been able to please my own.

I am conscious that I shall be found still more faulty in the
tone of keeping and costume, by those who may be disposed rigidly
to examine my Tale, with reference to the manners of the exact
period in which my actors flourished: It may be, that I have
introduced little which can positively be termed modern; but, on
the other hand, it is extremely probable that I may have confused
the manners of two or three centuries, and introduced, during the
reign of Richard the First, circumstances appropriated to a
period either considerably earlier, or a good deal later than
that era. It is my comfort, that errors of this kind will escape
the general class of readers, and that I may share in the
ill-deserved applause of those architects, who, in their modern
Gothic, do not hesitate to introduce, without rule or method,
ornaments proper to different styles and to different periods of
the art. Those whose extensive researches have given them the
means of judging my backslidings with more severity, will
probably be lenient in proportion to their knowledge of the
difficulty of my task. My honest and neglected friend,
Ingulphus, has furnished me with many a valuable hint; but the
light afforded by the Monk of Croydon, and Geoffrey de Vinsauff,
is dimmed by such a conglomeration of uninteresting and
unintelligible matter, that we gladly fly for relief to the
delightful pages of the gallant Froissart, although he flourished
at a period so much more remote from the date of my history. If,
therefore, my dear friend, you have generosity enough to pardon
the presumptuous attempt, to frame for myself a minstrel coronet,
partly out of the pearls of pure antiquity, and partly from the
Bristol stones and paste, with which I have endeavoured to
imitate them, I am convinced your opinion of the difficulty of
the task will reconcile you to the imperfect manner of its

Of my materials I have but little to say. They may be chiefly
found in the singular Anglo-Norman MS., which Sir Arthur Wardour
preserves with such jealous care in the third drawer of his oaken
cabinet, scarcely allowing any one to touch it, and being himself
not able to read one syllable of its contents. I should never
have got his consent, on my visit to Scotland, to read in those
precious pages for so many hours, had I not promised to designate
it by some emphatic mode of printing, as {The Wardour
Manuscript}; giving it, thereby, an individuality as important as
the Bannatyne MS., the Auchinleck MS., and any other monument of
the patience of a Gothic scrivener. I have sent, for your
private consideration, a list of the contents of this curious
piece, which I shall perhaps subjoin, with your approbation, to
the third volume of my Tale, in case the printer's devil should
continue impatient for copy, when the whole of my narrative has
been imposed.

Adieu, my dear friend; I have said enough to explain, if not to
vindicate, the attempt which I have made, and which, in spite of
your doubts, and my own incapacity, I am still willing to believe
has not been altogether made in vain.

I hope you are now well recovered from your spring fit of the
gout, and shall be happy if the advice of your learned
physician should recommend a tour to these parts. Several
curiosities have been lately dug up near the wall, as well as at
the ancient station of Habitancum. Talking of the latter, I
suppose you have long since heard the news, that a sulky churlish
boor has destroyed the ancient statue, or rather bas-relief,
popularly called Robin of Redesdale. It seems Robin's fame
attracted more visitants than was consistent with the growth of
the heather, upon a moor worth a shilling an acre. Reverend as
you write yourself, be revengeful for once, and pray with me that
he may be visited with such a fit of the stone, as if he had all
the fragments of poor Robin in that region of his viscera where
the disease holds its seat. Tell this not in Gath, lest the
Scots rejoice that they have at length found a parallel instance
among their neighbours, to that barbarous deed which demolished
Arthur's Oven. But there is no end to lamentation, when we
betake ourselves to such subjects. My respectful compliments
attend Miss Dryasdust; I endeavoured to match the spectacles
agreeable to her commission, during my late journey to London,
and hope she has received them safe, and found them satisfactory.
I send this by the blind carrier, so that probably it may be some
time upon its journey.*

* This anticipation proved but too true, as my learned
* correspondent did not receive my letter until a
* twelvemonth after it was written. I mention this
* circumstance, that a gentleman attached to the cause of
* learning, who now holds the principal control of the
* post-office, may consider whether by some mitigation of
* the present enormous rates, some favour might not be shown
* to the correspondents of the principal Literary and
* Antiquarian Societies. I understand, indeed, that this
* experiment was once tried, but that the mail-coach having
* broke down under the weight of packages addressed to
* members of the Society of Antiquaries, it was relinquished
* as a hazardous experiment. Surely, however it would be
* possible to build these vehicles in a form more
* substantial, stronger in the perch, and broader in the
* wheels, so as to support the weight of Antiquarian
* learning; when, if they should be found to travel more
* slowly, they would be not the less agreeable to quiet
* travellers like myself.---L. T.

The last news which I hear from Edinburgh is, that the gentleman
who fills the situation of Secretary to the Society of
Antiquaries of Scotland,*

* Mr Skene of Rubislaw is here intimated, to whose taste and
* skill the author is indebted for a series of etchings,
* exhibiting the various localities alluded to in these
* novels.

is the best amateur draftsman in that kingdom, and that much is
expected from his skill and zeal in delineating those specimens
of national antiquity, which are either mouldering under the slow
touch of time, or swept away by modern taste, with the same besom
of destruction which John Knox used at the Reformation. Once
more adieu; "vale tandem, non immemor mei". Believe me to be,

Reverend, and very dear Sir,

Your most faithful humble Servant.

Laurence Templeton.

Toppingwold, near Egremont,
Cumberland, Nov. 17, 1817.



Thus communed these; while to their lowly dome,
The full-fed swine return'd with evening home;
Compell'd, reluctant, to the several sties,
With din obstreperous, and ungrateful cries.
Pope's Odyssey

In that pleasant district of merry England which is watered by
the river Don, there extended in ancient times a large forest,
covering the greater part of the beautiful hills and valleys
which lie between Sheffield and the pleasant town of Doncaster.
The remains of this extensive wood are still to be seen at the
noble seats of Wentworth, of Warncliffe Park, and around
Rotherham. Here haunted of yore the fabulous Dragon of Wantley;
here were fought many of the most desperate battles during the
Civil Wars of the Roses; and here also flourished in ancient
times those bands of gallant outlaws, whose deeds have been
rendered so popular in English song.

Such being our chief scene, the date of our story refers to a
period towards the end of the reign of Richard I., when his
return from his long captivity had become an event rather wished
than hoped for by his despairing subjects, who were in the
meantime subjected to every species of subordinate oppression.
The nobles, whose power had become exorbitant during the reign of
Stephen, and whom the prudence of Henry the Second had scarce
reduced to some degree of subjection to the crown, had now
resumed their ancient license in its utmost extent; despising the
feeble interference of the English Council of State, fortifying
their castles, increasing the number of their dependants, reducing
all around them to a state of vassalage, and striving by every
means in their power, to place themselves each at the head of such
forces as might enable him to make a figure in the national
convulsions which appeared to be impending.

The situation of the inferior gentry, or Franklins, as they were
called, who, by the law and spirit of the English constitution,
were entitled to hold themselves independent of feudal tyranny,
became now unusually precarious. If, as was most generally the
case, they placed themselves under the protection of any of the
petty kings in their vicinity, accepted of feudal offices in
his household, or bound themselves by mutual treaties of alliance
and protection, to support him in his enterprises, they might
indeed purchase temporary repose; but it must be with the
sacrifice of that independence which was so dear to every English
bosom, and at the certain hazard of being involved as a party in
whatever rash expedition the ambition of their protector might
lead him to undertake. On the other hand, such and so multiplied
were the means of vexation and oppression possessed by the great
Barons, that they never wanted the pretext, and seldom the will,
to harass and pursue, even to the very edge of destruction, any
of their less powerful neighbours, who attempted to separate
themselves from their authority, and to trust for their
protection, during the dangers of the times, to their own
inoffensive conduct, and to the laws of the land.

A circumstance which greatly tended to enhance the tyranny of the
nobility, and the sufferings of the inferior classes, arose from
the consequences of the Conquest by Duke William of Normandy.
Four generations had not sufficed to blend the hostile blood of
the Normans and Anglo-Saxons, or to unite, by common language and
mutual interests, two hostile races, one of which still felt the
elation of triumph, while the other groaned under all the
consequences of defeat. The power had been completely placed in
the hands of the Norman nobility, by the event of the battle of
Hastings, and it had been used, as our histories assure us, with
no moderate hand. The whole race of Saxon princes and nobles had
been extirpated or disinherited, with few or no exceptions; nor
were the numbers great who possessed land in the country of their
fathers, even as proprietors of the second, or of yet inferior
classes. The royal policy had long been to weaken, by every
means, legal or illegal, the strength of a part of the population
which was justly considered as nourishing the most inveterate
antipathy to their victor. All the monarchs of the Norman race
had shown the most marked predilection for their Norman subjects;
the laws of the chase, and many others equally unknown to the
milder and more free spirit of the Saxon constitution, had been
fixed upon the necks of the subjugated inhabitants, to add
weight, as it were, to the feudal chains with which they were
loaded. At court, and in the castles of the great nobles, where
the pomp and state of a court was emulated, Norman-French was the
only language employed; in courts of law, the pleadings and
judgments were delivered in the same tongue. In short, French
was the language of honour, of chivalry, and even of justice,
while the far more manly and expressive Anglo-Saxon was abandoned
to the use of rustics and hinds, who knew no other. Still,
however, the necessary intercourse between the lords of the soil,
and those oppressed inferior beings by whom that soil was
cultivated, occasioned the gradual formation of a dialect,
compounded betwixt the French and the Anglo-Saxon, in which they
could render themselves mutually intelligible to each other; and
from this necessity arose by degrees the structure of our present
English language, in which the speech of the victors and the
vanquished have been so happily blended together; and which has
since been so richly improved by importations from the classical
languages, and from those spoken by the southern nations of

This state of things I have thought it necessary to premise for
the information of the general reader, who might be apt to
forget, that, although no great historical events, such as war or
insurrection, mark the existence of the Anglo-Saxons as a
separate people subsequent to the reign of William the Second;
yet the great national distinctions betwixt them and their
conquerors, the recollection of what they had formerly been, and
to what they were now reduced, continued down to the reign of
Edward the Third, to keep open the wounds which the Conquest had
inflicted, and to maintain a line of separation betwixt the
descendants of the victor Normans and the vanquished Saxons.

The sun was setting upon one of the rich grassy glades of that
forest, which we have mentioned in the beginning of the chapter.
Hundreds of broad-headed, short-stemmed, wide-branched oaks,
which had witnessed perhaps the stately march of the Roman
soldiery, flung their gnarled arms over a thick carpet of the
most delicious green sward; in some places they were intermingled
with beeches, hollies, and copsewood of various descriptions, so
closely as totally to intercept the level beams of the sinking
sun; in others they receded from each other, forming those long
sweeping vistas, in the intricacy of which the eye delights to
lose itself, while imagination considers them as the paths to yet
wilder scenes of silvan solitude. Here the red rays of the sun
shot a broken and discoloured light, that partially hung upon the
shattered boughs and mossy trunks of the trees, and there they
illuminated in brilliant patches the portions of turf to which
they made their way. A considerable open space, in the midst of
this glade, seemed formerly to have been dedicated to the rites
of Druidical superstition; for, on the summit of a hillock, so
regular as to seem artificial, there still remained part of a
circle of rough unhewn stones, of large dimensions. Seven stood
upright; the rest had been dislodged from their places, probably
by the zeal of some convert to Christianity, and lay, some
prostrate near their former site, and others on the side of the
hill. One large stone only had found its way to the bottom, and
in stopping the course of a small brook, which glided smoothly
round the foot of the eminence, gave, by its opposition, a feeble
voice of murmur to the placid and elsewhere silent streamlet.

The human figures which completed this landscape, were in number
two, partaking, in their dress and appearance, of that wild and
rustic character, which belonged to the woodlands of the
West-Riding of Yorkshire at that early period. The eldest of
these men had a stern, savage, and wild aspect. His garment was
of the simplest form imaginable, being a close jacket with
sleeves, composed of the tanned skin of some animal, on which the
hair had been originally left, but which had been worn of in so
many places, that it would have been difficult to distinguish
from the patches that remained, to what creature the fur had
belonged. This primeval vestment reached from the throat to the
knees, and served at once all the usual purposes of
body-clothing; there was no wider opening at the collar, than was
necessary to admit the passage of the head, from which it may be
inferred, that it was put on by slipping it over the head and
shoulders, in the manner of a modern shirt, or ancient hauberk.
Sandals, bound with thongs made of boars' hide, protected the
feet, and a roll of thin leather was twined artificially round
the legs, and, ascending above the calf, left the knees bare,
like those of a Scottish Highlander. To make the jacket sit yet
more close to the body, it was gathered at the middle by a broad
leathern belt, secured by a brass buckle; to one side of which
was attached a sort of scrip, and to the other a ram's horn,
accoutred with a mouthpiece, for the purpose of blowing. In the
same belt was stuck one of those long, broad, sharp-pointed, and
two-edged knives, with a buck's-horn handle, which were
fabricated in the neighbourhood, and bore even at this early
period the name of a Sheffield whittle. The man had no covering
upon his head, which was only defended by his own thick hair,
matted and twisted together, and scorched by the influence of the
sun into a rusty dark-red colour, forming a contrast with the
overgrown beard upon his cheeks, which was rather of a yellow or
amber hue. One part of his dress only remains, but it is too
remarkable to be suppressed; it was a brass ring, resembling a
dog's collar, but without any opening, and soldered fast round
his neck, so loose as to form no impediment to his breathing, yet
so tight as to be incapable of being removed, excepting by the
use of the file. On this singular gorget was engraved, in Saxon
characters, an inscription of the following purport:---"Gurth,
the son of Beowulph, is the born thrall of Cedric of Rotherwood."

Beside the swine-herd, for such was Gurth's occupation, was
seated, upon one of the fallen Druidical monuments, a person
about ten years younger in appearance, and whose dress, though
resembling his companion's in form, was of better materials, and
of a more fantastic appearance. His jacket had been stained of a
bright purple hue, upon which there had been some attempt to
paint grotesque ornaments in different colours. To the jacket he
added a short cloak, which scarcely reached half way down his
thigh; it was of crimson cloth, though a good deal soiled, lined
with bright yellow; and as he could transfer it from one shoulder
to the other, or at his pleasure draw it all around him, its
width, contrasted with its want of longitude, formed a fantastic
piece of drapery. He had thin silver bracelets upon his arms,
and on his neck a collar of the same metal bearing the
inscription, "Wamba, the son of Witless, is the thrall of Cedric
of Rotherwood." This personage had the same sort of sandals with
his companion, but instead of the roll of leather thong, his legs
were cased in a sort of gaiters, of which one was red and the
other yellow. He was provided also with a cap, having around it
more than one bell, about the size of those attached to hawks,
which jingled as he turned his head to one side or other; and as
he seldom remained a minute in the same posture, the sound might
be considered as incessant. Around the edge of this cap was a
stiff bandeau of leather, cut at the top into open work,
resembling a coronet, while a prolonged bag arose from within it,
and fell down on one shoulder like an old-fashioned nightcap, or
a jelly-bag, or the head-gear of a modern hussar. It was to this
part of the cap that the bells were attached; which circumstance,
as well as the shape of his head-dress, and his own half-crazed,
half-cunning expression of countenance, sufficiently pointed him
out as belonging to the race of domestic clowns or jesters,
maintained in the houses of the wealthy, to help away the tedium
of those lingering hours which they were obliged to spend within
doors. He bore, like his companion, a scrip, attached to his
belt, but had neither horn nor knife, being probably considered
as belonging to a class whom it is esteemed dangerous to intrust
with edge-tools. In place of these, he was equipped with a sword
of lath, resembling that with which Harlequin operates his
wonders upon the modern stage.

The outward appearance of these two men formed scarce a stronger
contrast than their look and demeanour. That of the serf, or
bondsman, was sad and sullen; his aspect was bent on the ground
with an appearance of deep dejection, which might be almost
construed into apathy, had not the fire which occasionally
sparkled in his red eye manifested that there slumbered, under
the appearance of sullen despondency, a sense of oppression, and
a disposition to resistance. The looks of Wamba, on the other
hand, indicated, as usual with his class, a sort of vacant
curiosity, and fidgetty impatience of any posture of repose,
together with the utmost self-satisfaction respecting his own
situation, and the appearance which he made. The dialogue which
they maintained between them, was carried on in Anglo-Saxon,
which, as we said before, was universally spoken by the inferior
classes, excepting the Norman soldiers, and the immediate
personal dependants of the great feudal nobles. But to give
their conversation in the original would convey but little
information to the modern reader, for whose benefit we beg to
offer the following translation:

"The curse of St Withold upon these infernal porkers!" said the
swine-herd, after blowing his horn obstreperously, to collect
together the scattered herd of swine, which, answering his call
with notes equally melodious, made, however, no haste to remove
themselves from the luxurious banquet of beech-mast and acorns on
which they had fattened, or to forsake the marshy banks of the
rivulet, where several of them, half plunged in mud, lay
stretched at their ease, altogether regardless of the voice of
their keeper. "The curse of St Withold upon them and upon me!"
said Gurth; "if the two-legged wolf snap not up some of them ere
nightfall, I am no true man. Here, Fangs! Fangs!" he ejaculated
at the top of his voice to a ragged wolfish-looking dog, a sort
of lurcher, half mastiff, half greyhound, which ran limping about
as if with the purpose of seconding his master in collecting the
refractory grunters; but which, in fact, from misapprehension of
the swine-herd's signals, ignorance of his own duty, or malice
prepense, only drove them hither and thither, and increased the
evil which he seemed to design to remedy. "A devil draw the
teeth of him," said Gurth, "and the mother of mischief confound
the Ranger of the forest, that cuts the foreclaws off our dogs,
and makes them unfit for their trade!*

* Note A. The Ranger of the Forest, that cuts the
* fore-claws off our dogs.

Wamba, up and help me an thou beest a man; take a turn round the
back o' the hill to gain the wind on them; and when thous't got
the weather-gage, thou mayst drive them before thee as gently as
so many innocent lambs."

"Truly," said Wamba, without stirring from the spot, "I have
consulted my legs upon this matter, and they are altogether of
opinion, that to carry my gay garments through these sloughs,
would be an act of unfriendship to my sovereign person and royal
wardrobe; wherefore, Gurth, I advise thee to call off Fangs, and
leave the herd to their destiny, which, whether they meet with
bands of travelling soldiers, or of outlaws, or of wandering
pilgrims, can be little else than to be converted into Normans
before morning, to thy no small ease and comfort."

"The swine turned Normans to my comfort!" quoth Gurth; "expound
that to me, Wamba, for my brain is too dull, and my mind too
vexed, to read riddles."

"Why, how call you those grunting brutes running about on their
four legs?" demanded Wamba.

"Swine, fool, swine," said the herd, "every fool knows that."

"And swine is good Saxon," said the Jester; "but how call you the
sow when she is flayed, and drawn, and quartered, and hung up by
the heels, like a traitor?"

"Pork," answered the swine-herd.

"I am very glad every fool knows that too," said Wamba, "and
pork, I think, is good Norman-French; and so when the brute
lives, and is in the charge of a Saxon slave, she goes by her
Saxon name; but becomes a Norman, and is called pork, when she is
carried to the Castle-hall to feast among the nobles; what dost
thou think of this, friend Gurth, ha?"

"It is but too true doctrine, friend Wamba, however it got into
thy fool's pate."

"Nay, I can tell you more," said Wamba, in the same tone; there
is old Alderman Ox continues to hold his Saxon epithet, while he
is under the charge of serfs and bondsmen such as thou, but
becomes Beef, a fiery French gallant, when he arrives before the
worshipful jaws that are destined to consume him. Mynheer Calf,
too, becomes Monsieur de Veau in the like manner; he is Saxon
when he requires tendance, and takes a Norman name when he
becomes matter of enjoyment."

"By St Dunstan," answered Gurth, "thou speakest but sad truths;
little is left to us but the air we breathe, and that appears to
have been reserved with much hesitation, solely for the purpose
of enabling us to endure the tasks they lay upon our shoulders.
The finest and the fattest is for their board; the loveliest is
for their couch; the best and bravest supply their foreign
masters with soldiers, and whiten distant lands with their bones,
leaving few here who have either will or the power to protect the
unfortunate Saxon. God's blessing on our master Cedric, he hath
done the work of a man in standing in the gap; but Reginald
Front-de-Boeuf is coming down to this country in person, and we
shall soon see how little Cedric's trouble will avail him.
---Here, here," he exclaimed again, raising his voice, "So ho! so
ho! well done, Fangs! thou hast them all before thee now, and
bring'st them on bravely, lad."

"Gurth," said the Jester, "I know thou thinkest me a fool, or
thou wouldst not be so rash in putting thy head into my mouth.
One word to Reginald Front-de-Boeuf, or Philip de Malvoisin, that
thou hast spoken treason against the Norman, ---and thou art but
a cast-away swineherd,---thou wouldst waver on one of these trees
as a terror to all evil speakers against dignities."

"Dog, thou wouldst not betray me," said Gurth, "after having led
me on to speak so much at disadvantage?"

"Betray thee!" answered the Jester; "no, that were the trick of a
wise man; a fool cannot half so well help himself---but soft,
whom have we here?" he said, listening to the trampling of
several horses which became then audible.

"Never mind whom," answered Gurth, who had now got his herd
before him, and, with the aid of Fangs, was driving them down one
of the long dim vistas which we have endeavoured to describe.

"Nay, but I must see the riders," answered Wamba; "perhaps they
are come from Fairy-land with a message from King Oberon."

"A murrain take thee," rejoined the swine-herd; "wilt thou talk
of such things, while a terrible storm of thunder and lightning
is raging within a few miles of us? Hark, how the thunder
rumbles! and for summer rain, I never saw such broad downright
flat drops fall out of the clouds; the oaks, too, notwithstanding
the calm weather, sob and creak with their great boughs as if
announcing a tempest. Thou canst play the rational if thou wilt;
credit me for once, and let us home ere the storm begins to rage,
for the night will be fearful."

Wamba seemed to feel the force of this appeal, and accompanied
his companion, who began his journey after catching up a long
quarter-staff which lay upon the grass beside him. This second
Eumaeus strode hastily down the forest glade, driving before him,
with the assistance of Fangs, the whole herd of his inharmonious


A Monk there was, a fayre for the maistrie,
An outrider that loved venerie;
A manly man, to be an Abbot able,
Full many a daintie horse had he in stable:
And whan he rode, men might his bridle hear
Gingeling in a whistling wind as clear,
And eke as loud, as doth the chapell bell,
There as this lord was keeper of the cell.

Notwithstanding the occasional exhortation and chiding of his
companion, the noise of the horsemen's feet continuing to
approach, Wamba could not be prevented from lingering
occasionally on the road, upon every pretence which occurred; now
catching from the hazel a cluster of half-ripe nuts, and now
turning his head to leer after a cottage maiden who crossed their
path. The horsemen, therefore, soon overtook them on the road.

Their numbers amounted to ten men, of whom the two who rode
foremost seemed to be persons of considerable importance, and the
others their attendants. It was not difficult to ascertain the
condition and character of one of these personages. He was
obviously an ecclesiastic of high rank; his dress was that of a
Cistercian Monk, but composed of materials much finer than those
which the rule of that order admitted. His mantle and hood were
of the best Flanders cloth, and fell in ample, and not ungraceful
folds, around a handsome, though somewhat corpulent person. His
countenance bore as little the marks of self-denial, as his habit
indicated contempt of worldly splendour. His features might have
been called good, had there not lurked under the pent-house of
his eye, that sly epicurean twinkle which indicates the cautious
voluptuary. In other respects, his profession and situation had
taught him a ready command over his countenance, which he could
contract at pleasure into solemnity, although its natural
expression was that of good-humoured social indulgence. In
defiance of conventual rules, and the edicts of popes and
councils, the sleeves of this dignitary were lined and turned up
with rich furs, his mantle secured at the throat with a golden
clasp, and the whole dress proper to his order as much refined
upon and ornamented, as that of a quaker beauty of the present
day, who, while she retains the garb and costume of her sect
continues to give to its simplicity, by the choice of materials
and the mode of disposing them, a certain air of coquettish
attraction, savouring but too much of the vanities of the world.

This worthy churchman rode upon a well-fed ambling mule, whose
furniture was highly decorated, and whose bridle, according to
the fashion of the day, was ornamented with silver bells. In his
seat he had nothing of the awkwardness of the convent, but
displayed the easy and habitual grace of a well-trained horseman.
Indeed, it seemed that so humble a conveyance as a mule, in
however good case, and however well broken to a pleasant and
accommodating amble, was only used by the gallant monk for
travelling on the road. A lay brother, one of those who followed
in the train, had, for his use on other occasions, one of the
most handsome Spanish jennets ever bred at Andalusia, which
merchants used at that time to import, with great trouble and
risk, for the use of persons of wealth and distinction. The
saddle and housings of this superb palfrey were covered by a long
foot-cloth, which reached nearly to the ground, and on which were
richly embroidered, mitres, crosses, and other ecclesiastical
emblems. Another lay brother led a sumpter mule, loaded probably
with his superior's baggage; and two monks of his own order, of
inferior station, rode together in the rear, laughing and
conversing with each other, without taking much notice of the
other members of the cavalcade.

The companion of the church dignitary was a man past forty, thin,
strong, tall, and muscular; an athletic figure, which long
fatigue and constant exercise seemed to have left none of the
softer part of the human form, having reduced the whole to brawn,
bones, and sinews, which had sustained a thousand toils, and were
ready to dare a thousand more. His head was covered with a
scarlet cap, faced with fur---of that kind which the French call
"mortier", from its resemblance to the shape of an inverted
mortar. His countenance was therefore fully displayed, and its
expression was calculated to impress a degree of awe, if not of
fear, upon strangers. High features, naturally strong and
powerfully expressive, had been burnt almost into Negro blackness
by constant exposure to the tropical sun, and might, in their
ordinary state, be said to slumber after the storm of passion had
passed away; but the projection of the veins of the forehead, the
readiness with which the upper lip and its thick black moustaches
quivered upon the slightest emotion, plainly intimated that the
tempest might be again and easily awakened. His keen, piercing,
dark eyes, told in every glance a history of difficulties
subdued, and dangers dared, and seemed to challenge opposition to
his wishes, for the pleasure of sweeping it from his road by a
determined exertion of courage and of will; a deep scar on his
brow gave additional sternness to his countenance, and a sinister
expression to one of his eyes, which had been slightly injured on
the same occasion, and of which the vision, though perfect, was
in a slight and partial degree distorted.

The upper dress of this personage resembled that of his companion
in shape, being a long monastic mantle; but the colour, being
scarlet, showed that he did not belong to any of the four regular
orders of monks. On the right shoulder of the mantle there was
cut, in white cloth, a cross of a peculiar form. This upper robe
concealed what at first view seemed rather inconsistent with its
form, a shirt, namely, of linked mail, with sleeves and gloves of
the same, curiously plaited and interwoven, as flexible to the
body as those which are now wrought in the stocking-loom, out of
less obdurate materials. The fore-part of his thighs, where the
folds of his mantle permitted them to be seen, were also covered
with linked mail; the knees and feet were defended by splints, or
thin plates of steel, ingeniously jointed upon each other; and
mail hose, reaching from the ankle to the knee, effectually
protected the legs, and completed the rider's defensive armour.
In his girdle he wore a long and double-edged dagger, which was
the only offensive weapon about his person.

He rode, not a mule, like his companion, but a strong hackney for
the road, to save his gallant war-horse, which a squire led
behind, fully accoutred for battle, with a chamfron or plaited
head-piece upon his bead, having a short spike projecting from
the front. On one side of the saddle hung a short battle-axe,
richly inlaid with Damascene carving; on the other the rider's
plumed head-piece and hood of mail, with a long two-handed sword,
used by the chivalry of the period. A second squire held aloft
his master's lance, from the extremity of which fluttered a small
banderole, or streamer, bearing a cross of the same form with
that embroidered upon his cloak. He also carried his small
triangular shield, broad enough at the top to protect the breast,
and from thence diminishing to a point. It was covered with a
scarlet cloth, which prevented the device from being seen.

These two squires were followed by two attendants, whose dark
visages, white turbans, and the Oriental form of their garments,
showed them to be natives of some distant Eastern country.*

* Note B. Negro Slaves.

The whole appearance of this warrior and his retinue was wild and
outlandish; the dress of his squires was gorgeous, and his
Eastern attendants wore silver collars round their throats, and
bracelets of the same metal upon their swarthy arms and legs, of
which the former were naked from the elbow, and the latter from
mid-leg to ankle. Silk and embroidery distinguished their
dresses, and marked the wealth and importance of their master;
forming, at the same time, a striking contrast with the martial
simplicity of his own attire. They were armed with crooked
sabres, having the hilt and baldric inlaid with gold, and matched
with Turkish daggers of yet more costly workmanship. Each of
them bore at his saddle-bow a bundle of darts or javelins, about
four feet in length, having sharp steel heads, a weapon much in
use among the Saracens, and of which the memory is yet preserved
in the martial exercise called "El Jerrid", still practised in
the Eastern countries.

The steeds of these attendants were in appearance as foreign as
their riders. They were of Saracen origin, and consequently of
Arabian descent; and their fine slender limbs, small fetlocks,
thin manes, and easy springy motion, formed a marked contrast
with the large-jointed heavy horsastic vows.

Yet so loose were the ideas of the times respecting the conduct
of the clergy, whether secular or regular, that the Prior Aymer
maintained a fair character in the neighbourhood of his abbey.
His free and jovial temper, and the readiness with which he
granted absolution from all ordinary delinquencies, rendered him
a favourite among the nobility and principal gentry, to several
of whom he was allied by birth, being of a distinguished Norman
family. The ladies, in particular, were not disposed to scan too
nicely the morals of a man who was a professed admirer of their
sex, and who possessed many means of dispelling the ennui which
was too apt to intrude upon the halls and bowers of an ancient
feudal castle. The Prior mingled in the sports of the field with
more than due eagerness, and was allowed to possess the
best-trained hawks, and the fleetest greyhounds in the North
Riding; circumstances which strongly recommended him to the
youthful gentry. With the old, be had another part to play,
which, when needful, he could sustain with great decorum. His
knowledge of books, however superficial, was sufficient to
impress upon their ignorance respect for his supposed learning;
and the gravity of his deportment and language, with the high
tone which he exerted in setting forth the authority of the
church and of the priesthood, impressed them no less with an
opinion of his sanctity. Even the common people, the severest
critics of the conduct of their betters, had commiseration with
the follies of Prior Aymer. He was generous; and charity, as it
is well known, covereth a multitude of sins, in another sense
than that in which it is said to do so in Scripture. The
revenues of the monastery, of which a large part was at his
disposal, while they gave him the means of supplying his own very
considerable expenses, afforded also those largesses which he
bestowed among the peasantry, and with which he frequently
relieved the distresses of the oppressed. If Prior Aymer rode
hard in the chase, or remained long at the banquet,---if Prior
Aymer was seen, at the early peep of dawn, to enter the postern
of the abbey, as he glided home from some rendezvous which had
occupied the hours of darkness, men only shrugged up their
shoulders, and reconciled themselves to his irregularities, by
recollecting that the same were practised by many of his brethren
who had no redeeming qualities whatsoever to atone for them.
Prior Aymer, therefore, and his character, were well known to our
Saxon serfs, who made their rude obeisance, and received his
"benedicite, mes filz_," in return.

But the singular appearance of his companion and his attendants,
arrested their attention and excited their wonder, and they could
scarcely attend to the Prior of Jorvaulx' question, when he
demanded if they knew of any place of harbourage in the vicinity;
so much were they surprised at the half monastic, half military
appearance of the swarthy stranger, and at the uncouth dress and
arms of his Eastern attendants. It is probable, too, that the
language in which the benediction was conferred, and the
information asked, sounded ungracious, though not probably
unintelligible, in the ears of the Saxon peasants.

"I asked you, my children," said the Prior, raising his voice,
and using the lingua Franca, or mixed language, in which the
Norman and Saxon races conversed with each other, "if there be in
this neighbourhood any good man, who, for the love of God, and
devotion to Mother Church, will give two of her humblest
servants, with their train, a night's hospitality and

This he spoke with a tone of conscious importance, which formed a
strong contrast to the modest terms which he thought it proper to

"Two of the humblest servants of Mother Church!" repeated Wamba
to himself,---but, fool as he was, taking care not to make his
observation audible; "I should like to see her seneschals, her
chief butlers, and other principal domestics!"

After this internal commentary on the Prior's speech, he raised
his eyes, and replied to the question which had been put.

"If the reverend fathers," he said, "loved good cheer and soft
lodging, few miles of riding would carry them to the Priory of
Brinxworth, where their quality could not but secure them the
most honourable reception; or if they preferred spending a
penitential evening, they might turn down yonder wild glade,
which would bring them to the hermitage of Copmanhurst, where a
pious anchoret would make them sharers for the night of the
shelter of his roof and the benefit of his prayers."

The Prior shook his head at both proposals.

"Mine honest friend," said he, "if the jangling of thy bells bad
not dizzied thine understanding, thou mightst know "Clericus
clericum non decimat"; that is to say, we churchmen do not
exhaust each other's hospitality, but rather require that of the
laity, giving them thus an opportunity to serve God in honouring
and relieving his appointed servants."

"It is true," replied Wamba, "that I, being but an ass, am,
nevertheless, honoured to hear the bells as well as your
reverence's mule; notwithstanding, I did conceive that the
charity of Mother Church and her servants might be said, with
other charity, to begin at home."

"A truce to thine insolence, fellow," said the armed rider,
breaking in on his prattle with a high and stern voice, "and tell
us, if thou canst, the road to---How call'd you your Franklin,
Prior Aymer?"

"Cedric," answered the Prior; "Cedric the Saxon.---Tell me, good
fellow, are we near his dwelling, and can you show us the road?"

"The road will be uneasy to find," answered Gurth, who broke
silence for the first time, "and the family of Cedric retire
early to rest."

"Tush, tell not me, fellow," said the military rider; "'tis easy
for them to arise and supply the wants of travellers such as we
are, who will not stoop to beg the hospitality which we have a
right to command."

"I know not," said Gurth, sullenly, "if I should show the way to
my master's house, to those who demand as a right, the shelter
which most are fain to ask as a favour."

"Do you dispute with me, slave! said the soldier; and, setting
spurs to his horse, he caused him make a demivolte across the
path, raising at the same time the riding rod which he held in
his hand, with a purpose of chastising what he considered as the
insolence of the peasant.

Gurth darted at him a savage and revengeful scowl, and with a
fierce, yet hesitating motion, laid his hand on the haft of his
knife; but the interference of Prior Aymer, who pushed his mule
betwixt his companion and the swineherd, prevented the meditated

"Nay, by St Mary, brother Brian, you must not think you are now
in Palestine, predominating over heathen Turks and infidel
Saracens; we islanders love not blows, save those of holy Church,
who chasteneth whom she loveth.---Tell me, good fellow," said he
to Wamba, and seconded his speech by a small piece of silver
coin, "the way to Cedric the Saxon's; you cannot be ignorant of
it, and it is your duty to direct the wanderer even when his
character is less sanctified than ours."

"In truth, venerable father," answered the Jester, "the Saracen
head of your right reverend companion has frightened out of mine
the way home---I am not sure I shall get there to-night myself."

"Tush," said the Abbot, "thou canst tell us if thou wilt. This
reverend brother has been all his life engaged in fighting among
the Saracens for the recovery of the Holy Sepulchre; he is of the
order of Knights Templars, whom you may have heard of; he is half
a monk, half a soldier."

"If he is but half a monk," said the Jester, "he should not be
wholly unreasonable with those whom he meets upon the road, even
if they should be in no hurry to answer questions that no way
concern them."

"I forgive thy wit," replied the Abbot, "on condition thou wilt
show me the way to Cedric's mansion."

"Well, then," answered Wamba, "your reverences must hold on this
path till you come to a sunken cross, of which scarce a cubit's
length remains above ground; then take the path to the left, for
there are four which meet at Sunken Cross, and I trust your
reverences will obtain shelter before the storm comes on."

The Abbot thanked his sage adviser; and the cavalcade, setting
spurs to their horses, rode on as men do who wish to reach their
inn before the bursting of a night-storm. As their horses' hoofs
died away, Gurth said to his companion, "If they follow thy wise
direction, the reverend fathers will hardly reach Rotherwood this

"No," said the Jester, grinning, "but they may reach Sheffield if
they have good luck, and that is as fit a place for them. I am
not so bad a woodsman as to show the dog where the deer lies, if
I have no mind he should chase him."

"Thou art right," said Gurth; "it were ill that Aymer saw the
Lady Rowena; and it were worse, it may be, for Cedric to quarrel,
as is most likely he would, with this military monk. But, like
good servants let us hear and see, and say nothing."

We return to the riders, who had soon left the bondsmen far
behind them, and who maintained the following conversation in the
Norman-French language, usually employed by the superior classes,
with the exception of the few who were still inclined to boast
their Saxon descent.

"What mean these fellows by their capricious insolence?" said the
Templar to the Benedictine, "and why did you prevent me from
chastising it?"

"Marry, brother Brian," replied the Prior, "touching the one of
them, it were hard for me to render a reason for a fool speaking
according to his folly; and the other churl is of that savage,
fierce, intractable race, some of whom, as I have often told you,
are still to be found among the descendants of the conquered
Saxons, and whose supreme pleasure it is to testify, by all means
in their power, their aversion to their conquerors."

"I would soon have beat him into courtesy," observed Brian; "I am
accustomed to deal with such spirits: Our Turkish you shall soon
be judge; and if the purity of her complexion, and the majestic,
yet soft expression of a mild blue eye, do not chase from your
memory the black-tressed girls of Palestine, ay, or the houris of
old Mahound's paradise, I am an infidel, and no true son of the

"Should your boasted beauty," said the Templar, "be weighed in
the balance and found wanting, you know our wager?"

"My gold collar," answered the Prior, "against ten buts of Chian
wine;---they are mine as securely as if they were already in the
convent vaults, under the key of old Dennis the cellarer."

"And I am myself to be judge," said the Templar, "and am only to
be convicted on my own admission, that I have seen no maiden so
beautiful since Pentecost was a twelvemonth. Ran it not so?
---Prior, your collar is in danger; I will wear it over my gorget
in the lists of Ashby-de-la-Zouche."

"Win it fairly," said the Prior, "and wear it as ye will; I will
trust your giving true response, on your word as a knight and as
a churchman. Yet, brother, take my advice, and file your tongue
to a little more courtesy than your habits of predominating over
infidel captives and Eastern bondsmen have accustomed you.
Cedric the Saxon, if offended,---and he is noway slack in taking
offence,---is a man who, without respect to your knighthood, my
high office, or the sanctity of either, would clear his house of
us, and send us to lodge with the larks, though the hour were
midnight. And be careful how you look on Rowena, whom he
cherishes with the most jealous care; an he take the least alarm
in that quarter we are but lost men. It is said he banished his
only son from his family for lifting his eyes in the way of
affection towards this beauty, who may be worshipped, it seems,
at a distance, but is not to be approached with other thoughts
than such as we bring to the shrine of the Blessed Virgin."

"Well, you have said enough," answered the Templar; "I will for a
night put on the needful restraint, and deport me as meekly as a
maiden; but as for the fear of his expelling us by violence,
myself and squires, with Hamet and Abdalla, will warrant you
against that disgrace. Doubt not that we shall be strong enough
to make good our quarters."

"We must not let it come so far," answered the Prior; "but here
is the clown's sunken cross, and the night is so dark that we can
hardly see which of the roads we are to follow. He bid us turn,
I think to the left."

"To the right," said Brian, "to the best of my remembrance."

"To the left, certainly, the left; I remember his pointing with
his wooden sword."

"Ay, but he held his sword in his left hand, and so pointed
across his body with it," said the Templar.

Each maintained his opinion with sufficient obstinacy, as is
usual in all such cases; the attendants were appealed to, but
they had not been near enough to hear Wamba's directions. At
length Brian remarked, what had at first escaped him in the
twilight; "Here is some one either asleep, or lying dead at the
foot of this cross---Hugo, stir him with the but-end of thy

This was no sooner done than the figure arose, exclaiming in good
French, "Whosoever thou art, it is discourteous in you to disturb
my thoughts."

"We did but wish to ask you," said the Prior, "the road to
Rotherwood, the abode of Cedric the Saxon."

"I myself am bound thither," replied the stranger; "and if I had
a horse, I would be your guide, for the way is somewhat
intricate, though perfectly well known to me."

"Thou shalt have both thanks and reward, my friend," said the
Prior, "if thou wilt bring us to Cedric's in safety."

And he caused one of his attendants to mount his own led horse,
and give that upon which he had hitherto ridden to the stranger,
who was to serve for a guide.

Their conductor pursued an opposite road from that which Wamba
had recommended, for the purpose of misleading them. The path
soon led deeper into the woodland, and crossed more than one
brook, the approach to which was rendered perilous by the marshes
through which it flowed; but the stranger seemed to know, as if
by instinct, the soundest ground and the safest points of
passage; and by dint of caution and attention, brought the party
safely into a wilder avenue than any they had yet seen; and,
pointing to a large low irregular building at the upper
extremity, he said to the Prior, "Yonder is Rotherwood, the
dwelling of Cedric the Saxon."

This was a joyful intimation to Aymer, whose nerves were none of
the strongest, and who had suffered such agitation and alarm in
the course of passing through the dangerous bogs, that he had not
yet had the curiosity to ask his guide a single question.
Finding himself now at his ease and near shelter, his curiosity
began to awake, and he demanded of the guide who and what he was.

"A Palmer, just returned from the Holy Land," was the answer.

"You had better have tarried there to fight for the recovery of
the Holy Sepulchre," said the Templar.

"True, Reverend Sir Knight," answered the Palmer, to whom the
appearance of the Templar seemed perfectly familiar; "but when
those who are under oath to recover the holy city, are found
travelling at such a distance from the scene of their duties, can
you wonder that a peaceful peasant like me should decline the
task which they have abandoned?"

The Templar would have made an angry reply, but was interrupted
by the Prior, who again expressed his astonishment, that their
guide, after such long absence, should be so perfectly acquainted
with the passes of the forest.

"I was born a native of these parts," answered their guide, and
as he made the reply they stood before the mansion of Cedric;---a
low irregular building, containing several court-yards or
enclosures, extending over a considerable space of ground, and
which, though its size argued the inhabitant to be a person of
wealth, differed entirely from the tall, turretted, and
castellated buildings in which the Norman nobility resided, and
which had become the universal style of architecture throughout

Rotherwood was not, however, without defences; no habitation, in
that disturbed period, could have been so, without the risk of
being plundered and burnt before the next morning. A deep fosse,
or ditch, was drawn round the whole building, and filled with
water from a neighbouring stream. A double stockade, or
palisade, composed of pointed beams, which the adjacent forest
supplied, defended the outer and inner bank of the trench. There
was an entrance from the west through the outer stockade, which
communicated by a drawbridge, with a similar opening in the
interior defences. Some precautions had been taken to place
those entrances under the protection of projecting angles, by
which they might be flanked in case of need by archers or

Before this entrance the Templar wound his horn loudly; for the
rain, which had long threatened, began now to descend with great


Then (sad relief!) from the bleak coast that hears
The German Ocean roar, deep-blooming, strong,
And yellow hair'd, the blue-eyed Saxon came.
Thomson's Liberty

In a hall, the height of which was greatly disproportioned to its
extreme length and width, a long oaken table, formed of planks
rough-hewn from the forest, and which had scarcely received anu
polish, stood ready prepared for the evening meal of Cedric the
Saxon. The roof, composed of beams and rafters, had nothing to
divide the apartment from the sky excepting the planking and
thatch; there was a huge fireplace at either end of the hall, but
as the chimneys were constructed in a very clumsy manner, at
least as much of the smoke found its way into the apartment as
escaped by the proper vent. The constant vapour which this
occasioned, had polished the rafters and beams of the low-browed
hall, by encrusting them with a black varnish of soot. On the
sides of the apartment hung implements of war and of the chase,
and there were at each corner folding doors, which gave access to
other parts of the extensive building.

The other appointments of the mansion partook of the rude
simplicity of the Saxon period, which Cedric piqued himself upon
maintaining. The floor was composed of earth mixed with lime,
trodden into a hard substance, such as is often employed in
flooring our modern barns. For about one quarter of the length
of the apartment, the floor was raised by a step, and this space,
which was called the dais, was occupied only by the principal
members of the family, and visitors of distinction. For this
purpose, a table richly covered with scarlet cloth was placed
transversely across the platform, from the middle of which ran
the longer and lower board, at which the domestics and inferior
persons fed, down towards the bottom of the hall. The whole
resembled the form of the letter T, or some of those ancient
dinner-tables, which, arranged on the same principles, may be
still seen in the antique Colleges of Oxford or Cambridge.
Massive chairs and settles of carved oak were placed upon the
dais, and over these seats and the more elevated table was
fastened a canopy of cloth, which served in some degree to
protect the dignitaries who occupied that distinguished station
from the weather, and especially from the rain, which in some
places found its way through the ill-constructed roof.

The walls of this upper end of the hall, as far as the dais
extended, were covered with hangings or curtains, and upon the
floor there was a carpet, both of which were adorned with some
attempts at tapestry, or embroidery, executed with brilliant or
rather gaudy colouring. Over the lower range of table, the roof,
as we have noticed, had no covering; the rough plastered walls
were left bare, and the rude earthen floor was uncarpeted; the
board was uncovered by a cloth, and rude massive benches supplied
the place of chairs.

In the centre of the upper table, were placed two chairs more
elevated than the rest, for the master and mistress of the
family, who presided over the scene of hospitality, and from
doing so derived their Saxon title of honour, which signifies
"the Dividers of Bread."

To each of these chairs was added a footstool, curiously carved
and inlaid with ivory, which mark of distinction was peculiar to
them. One of these seats was at present occupied by Cedric the
Saxon, who, though but in rank a thane, or, as the Normans called
him, a Franklin, felt, at the delay of his evening meal, an
irritable impatience, which might have become an alderman,
whether of ancient or of modern times.

It appeared, indeed, from the countenance of this proprietor,
that he was of a frank, but hasty and choleric temper. He was
not above the middle stature, but broad-shouldered, long-armed,
and powerfully made, like one accustomed to endure the fatigue of
war or of the chase; his face was broad, with large blue eyes,
open and frank features, fine teeth, and a well formed head,
altogether expressive of that sort of good-humour which often
lodges with a sudden and hasty temper. Pride and jealousy there
was in his eye, for his life had been spent in asserting rights
which were constantly liable to invasion; and the prompt, fiery,
and resolute disposition of the man, had been kept constantly
upon the alert by the circumstances of his situation. His long
yellow hair was equally divided on the top of his head and upon
his brow, and combed down on each side to the length of his
shoulders; it had but little tendency to grey, although Cedric
was approaching to his sixtieth year.

His dress was a tunic of forest green, furred at the throat and
cuffs with what was called minever; a kind of fur inferior in
quality to ermine, and formed, it is believed, of the skin of the
grey squirrel. This doublet hung unbuttoned over a close dress
of scarlet which sate tight to his body; he had breeches of the
same, but they did not reach below the lower part of the thigh,
leaving the knee exposed. His feet had sandals of the same
fashion with the peasants, but of finer materials, and secured in
the front with golden clasps. He had bracelets of gold upon his
arms, and a broad collar of the same precious metal around his
neck. About his waist he wore a richly-studded belt, in which
was stuck a short straight two-edged sword, with a sharp point,
so disposed as to hang almost perpendicularly by his side.
Behind his seat was hung a scarlet cloth cloak lined with fur,
and a cap of the same materials richly embroidered, which
completed the dress of the opulent landholder when he chose to go
forth. A short boar-spear, with a broad and bright steel head,
also reclined against the back of his chair, which served him,
when he walked abroad, for the purposes of a staff or of a
weapon, as chance might require.

Several domestics, whose dress held various proportions betwixt
the richness of their master's, and the coarse and simple attire
of Gurth the swine-herd, watched the looks and waited the
commands of the Saxon dignitary. Two or three servants of a
superior order stood behind their master upon the dais; the rest
occupied the lower part of the hall. Other attendants there were
of a different description; two or three large and shaggy
greyhounds, such as were then employed in hunting the stag and
wolf; as many slow-hounds of a large bony breed, with thick
necks, large heads, and long ears; and one or two of the smaller
dogs, now called terriers, which waited with impatience the
arrival of the supper; but, with the sagacious knowledge of
physiognomy peculiar to their race, forbore to intrude upon the
moody silence of their master, apprehensive probably of a small
white truncheon which lay by Cedric's trencher, for the purpose
of repelling the advances of his four-legged dependants. One
grisly old wolf-dog alone, with the liberty of an indulged
favourite, had planted himself close by the chair of state, and
occasionally ventured to solicit notice by putting his large
hairy head upon his master's knee, or pushing his nose into his
hand. Even he was repelled by the stern command, "Down, Balder,
down! I am not in the humour for foolery."

In fact, Cedric, as we have observed, was in no very placid state
of mind. The Lady Rowena, who had been absent to attend an
evening mass at a distant church, had but just returned, and was
changing her garments, which had been wetted by the storm. There
were as yet no tidings of Gurth and his charge, which should long
since have been driven home from the forest and such was the
insecurity of the period, as to render it probable that the delay
might be explained by some depreciation of the outlaws, with whom
the adjacent forest abounded, or by the violence of some
neighbouring baron, whose consciousness of strength made him
equally negligent of the laws of property. The matter was of
consequence, for great part of the domestic wealth of the Saxon
proprietors consisted in numerous herds of swine, especially in
forest-land, where those animals easily found their food.

Besides these subjects of anxiety, the Saxon thane was impatient
for the presence of his favourite clown Wamba, whose jests, such
as they were, served for a sort of seasoning to his evening meal,
and to the deep draughts of ale and wine with which he was in the
habit of accompanying it. Add to all this, Cedric had fasted
since noon, and his usual supper hour was long past, a cause of
irritation common to country squires, both in ancient and modern
times. His displeasure was expressed in broken sentences, partly
muttered to himself, partly addressed to the domestics who stood
around; and particularly to his cupbearer, who offered him from
time to time, as a sedative, a silver goblet filled with wine
---"Why tarries the Lady Rowena?"

"She is but changing her head-gear," replied a female attendant,
with as much confidence as the favourite lady's-maid usually


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