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rage to the valiant Locksley, whom they meet, with some of his followers, in their proper vocation of huntsmen and outlaws, and who
engages to make a bold push for their rescue, or even their deliverance from the castle of their oppressors, and proceeds to collect his associates for this generous enterprise. In this quest he is fortunate enough to fall on an unexpected and puissant auxiliary, to explain whose appearance some further details are necessary.
The Black Knight, whose prowess had so materially contributed to Wilfrid's victory, had glided from the lists the moment the contest had ceased, and paced along the woodlands till nightfall; when he lost his way, and found himself at last before a lonely hermitage, placed beside a fountain and a ruined chapel, in an open glade of the forest. Here he knocked long for admittance, and only obtained it at last by threats of force and compulsion.-A hermit of portentous bulk and vigour at last opened the door, and reluctantly allowed him to enter. We must indulge ourselves with a pretty long quotation for the result of this meeting, which is given in the very best manner of the author.
They sat down, and gazed with great gravity at each other ; eack thinking in his heart that he had seldom seen a stronger or more athletic figure than was placed opposite to him. - “ Reverend hermit, said the knight, after looking long and fixedly at his host, “ were it not to interrupt your devout meditations, I would pray to know three things of
holiness ; first, where I am to put my horse ?-secondly, what I can have for supper?-thirdly, where I am to take up my couch for the night?" " I will reply to you,” said the hermit, “ with my finger, it being against my rule to speak by words where signs can answer the purpose. So saying, he pointed successively to two corners of the hut. “ Your stable,” said he, “is thereyour bed there ; and,” reaching down a platter with two handfuls of parched peas upon it from the neighbouring shelf, and placing it upon the table, he added, “ your supper is there.
The knight shrugged his shoulders, and leaving the hut, brought in his horse, (which in the interim he had fastened to a tree), unsaddled him with much attention, and spread upon the steed's weary back his own mantle. The hermit was apparently somewhat moved to compassion by the anxiety as well as address which the stranger displayed in tending his horse; for, muttering something about provender left for the keeper's palfrey, he dragged out of a recess a bundle of forage, which he spread before the knight's charger, and immediately afterwards shook down a quantity of dried fern in the corner which he had assigned for the rider's couch. The knight returned him thanks for his courtesy; and, this duty done, both resumed their seats by the table, whereon stood the trencher of peas placed between them.
The hermit, after a long grace, which had once been Latin, but of which original language few traces remained, excepting here and there the long rolling termination of some word or phrase, set example to his guest, by modestly putting into a very large mouth, furnished with teeth which might have ranked with those of a boar both in sharpness and whiteness, some three or four dried peas,-a miserable grist as it seemed for so large and able a mill. — The knight, in order to follow so laudable an example, laid aside his helmet, his corslet, and the greater part of his armour, and showed to the hermit a head thick-curled with yellow hair, high features, blue eyes, remarkably bright and sparkling, a mouth well formed, having an upper lip clothed with mustachios darker than his hair, and bearing altogether the look of a bold, daring, and enterprising man, with which his strong form well corresponded. — The hermit, as if wishing to answer to the confidence of his guest, threw back his cowl, and shewed a round bullet-head belonging to a man in the prime of life. His close-shaven crown, surrounded by a circle of stiff curled black hair, had something the appearance of a parish pinfold begirt by its high hedge. The features expressed nothing of monastic austerity, or of ascetic privations ; on the contrary, it was a bold bluff countenance, with broad black eyebrows, a well turned forehead, and cheeks as round and vermilion as those of a trumpeter, from which descended a long and curly black beard. Such a visage, joined to the brawny form of the holy man, spoke rather of sirloins and haunches, than of peas and pulse. This incongruity did not escape the guest. After he had with great difficulty accomplished the mastication of a mouthful of the dried peas, he found it absolutely necessary to request his pious entertainer to furnish him with some liquor; who replied to his request by placing before him a large can of the purest water from the fountain. 66 It is from the well of St Dunstan, said he, “ in which, betwixt sun and sun, he baptized five hundred heathen Danes and Britons-blessed be his name!” And applying his black beard to the pitcher, he took a draft much more moderate in quantity than his encomium seemed to warrant.
“ It seems to me, reverend father,” said the Knight, " that the small morsels which you eat, together with this holy, but somewhat thin beverage, have thriven with you marvellously. You appear a man more fit to win the ram at a wrestling match, or the ring at a bout at quarter-staff, or the bucklers at a sword-play, than to linger
time in this desolate wilderness, saying masses and living upon parched peas and cold water.
“ Sir Knight,
answered the hermit, “your thoughts, like those of the ignorant laity, are accorda ing to the filesh. It has pleased our Lady and my patron saint to bless the pittance to which I restrain myself, even as the pulse and water was blessed to the children Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego, who drank the same rather than defile themselves with the wine and meats which were appointed them by the King of the Saracens. * Holy Father," said the Knight,“ upon whose countenance it
hath pleased Heaven to work such a miracle, permit á sinful layman to crave thy name?” -“ Thou may’st call me,” answered the her. mit, “ the Clerk of Copmanhurst, for so am I termed in these parts
- they add, it is true, the epithet holy, but I stand not upon that, as being unworthy of such addition. And now, valiant Knight, may I pray ye for the name of my honourable guest ? ” — “ Truly, said the Knight,“ Holy Clerk of Copmanhurst, men call me in these parts the Black Knight-many, Sir, add to it the epithet of Sluggard, whereby I am no way ambitious to be distinguished.” - The hermit could scarcely forbear from smiling at his guest’s reply. -"I see,” said he, “ Sir Sluggish Knight, that thou art a man of prudence and of counsel ; and moreover, I see that my poor monastic fare likes thee not, accustomed, perhaps, as thou hast been, to the license of courts and of camps, and the luxuries of cities; and now I bethink me, Sir Sluggard, that when the charitable keeper of this forest-walk left these dogs for my protection, and also those bundles of forage, he left me also some food, which, being unfit for my use, the very recollection of it had escaped me amid my more weighty meditations." -“ I dare be sworn he did so," said the Knight; 6. I was convinced that there was better food in the cell, Holy Clerk, since you first doffed your cowl :--your keeper is ever a jovial fellow: and none who beheld thy grinders contending with these peas, and thy throat flooded with this ungenial element, could see thee doomed to such horse-provender and horse-beverage,” (pointing to the provisions upon the table), “ and refrain from mending thy cheer.Let us see the keeper's bounty therefore without delay.
• The hermit cast a wistful look upon the knight, in which there was a sort of comic expression of hesitation, as it uncertain how far he should act prudently in trusting his guest. There was, however, as much of bold frankness in the knight's countenance as was possible to be expressed by features. His smile, too, had something in it irresistibly comic, and gave an assurance of faith and loyalty, with which his host could not refrain from sympathizing. - After exchanging a mute glance or two, the hermit went to the further side of the hut, and opened a hutch, which was concealed with great care and some ingenuity. Out of the recesses of a dark closet, into which this aperture gave admittance, he brought a large pasty, baked in a pewter platter of unusual dimensions. This mighty dish he placed before his guest, who, using his poniard to cut it open, lost no time in making himself acquainted with its contents. « I have been in Palestine, Sir Clerk," said the knight, stopping short of a sudden, “and I bethink me it is a custom there, that every host who entertains a guest shall assure him of the wholesomeness of his food, by partaking of it along with him. Far be it from me to suspect so holy a man of aught inhospitable ; nevertheless I will be highly bound to you would you comply with this eastern custom. “ To ease your unnecessary scruples, Sir Knight, I will for once depart from my rule, plied the hermit. And as there were no forks in these days, his
clutches were instantly in the bowels of the pasty.
The ice of ceremony being once broken, it seemed matter of rivalry between the guest and the entertainer which should display the best appetite ; and although the former had probably fasted longest, yet the hermit fairly surpassed him. — “ Holy Clerk,” said the knight, when his hunger was appeased, “ I would gage my good horse yonder against a zecchin, that that same honest keeper to whom we are obliged for the venison, has left thee a stoup of wine, or a runlet of canary, or some such trifle, by way of ally to this noble pasty. This would be a circumstance, doubtless, totally unworthy to dwell in the memory of so rigid an anchorite; yet, I think, were you to search yonder crypt once more, you would find that I am right in my conjecture.”
The hermit only replied by a grin; and, returning to the hutch, he produced a leathern bottle, which might contain about four quarts. He also brought forth two large drinking cups, made out of the horn of the urus, and hooped with silver. Having made this goodly provi- . sion for washing down the supper, he seemed to think no further ceremonious scruple necessary on his part; but, filling both cups, and saying, in the Saxon fashion, “ Waes hael, Sir Sluggish Knight !” he emptied his own at a draught. — “ Drink hael! Holy Clerk of Copmanhurst," answered the warrior, and did his host reason in a similar brimmer.' II. 26–36.
After this auspicious beginning, the scene goes on as might have been expected. The two boon companions carouse and carol till cockcrowing; and are in the midst of their obstreperous joviality, when Locksley and his woodmen arrive at the hermitage, to summon its brawny inmate to bear a part in their expedition. Though somewhat startled at the appearance of the Black Knight, they propound the adventure to him also; in which, after the merits of the case have been explained to him, he heartily engages; and the friar being donned the equipments of a forester over his frock and tunic, and taken a long composing draught of the blessed spring of St Dunstan, sets gaily forward at the head of them.
In the interior of the castle, in the mean time, a great variety of scenes are enacting. The worthy owner, with the Templar's two black slaves, are in the dungeon, threatening to broil the poce Jew on a gridiron, unless he instantly comes down with a mighty ransoın. Bracy is unsuccessfully striving with the scorn and the tears of the Lady Rowena in one turret, and the Templar menacing all manner of abominations to the fair Jewess in another; while the valiant Cedric is bursting with indignation in his prison hall--and the noble Athelstane beside him, grumbling violently at the delay of his noon-tide mcal. It is impossible for us to enter into each of these compartments; and we prefer that which exhibits the wooing of the lovely Rebecca. We have
hitherto said too little of this delightful personage; who is from the beginning the most angelic character in the story, and ends with engrossing its chief interest. The author, it may be observed, has generally one poetical or impossible character in each of his pieces—somebody too good and enchanting to be believed in-and yet so well humanized and identified with our lower nature as to pass for a reality;—and Rebecca is the goddess of the work before us. We know so little, indeed, what a Jewish damsel really was in the days of Richard the Ist, that the author may be allowed to have had some scope for his inventions; and certainly a being of more ó nynıph-like form, or goddess-like deport, 'never has been represented in the fictions of painting or poetry. We must pass over some very beautiful and touching scenes of her tendance on the wounded and thankJess Wilfriel, when feelings, rather more tender than those of pity, are represented as stealing unconsciously into the
pure and pitying heart of the Jewess-and come at once to her agonizing interview with the daring and unprincipled Templar.--He approaches her first in that disguise of an outlaw in which he had seized on her party; and when, misled by this garb, she offers him her jewels and wealth for her deliverance, he drops the mask, and says
“ I am not an outlaw, then, fair rose of Sharon. And I am one who will be more prompt to hang thy neck and arms with pearls and diamonds, which so well become them, than to deprive thee of these
" What would'st thou have of me, said Rebecca, * if not my wealth ?-We can have nought in common between us -you are a Christian-I am a Jewess. Our union were contrary to the laws, alike of the church, and the synagogue.
66 It were so indeed," replied the Templar, laughing; " wed with a Jewess ? Despardieur!-- not if she were the queen of Sheba. And know, besides, sweet daughter of Zion, that were the most Christian king to offer me his most Christian daughter with Languedoc for a dowry, I could not wed her. It is against my vow to love any maiden, otherwise than par amours, as I will love thee. I am a Templar. Behold the cross of my holy order.” -“ Darest thou appeal to it," said Rebecca, on an occasion like the present ? '
6. And if I do'so, said the Templar, “ it concerns not thee, who art no believer in the blessed sign of our salvation. 56 I believe as my fathers taught,' said Rebecca ; and may God forgive my belief if erroneous ! But you, Sir Knight, what is yours, when you appeal without scruple to that which you deem most holy, even while you are about to transgress the most solemn of your vows as a knight, and as a man of religion?” -“ It is gravely and well preached. O daughter of Si. rach!” answered the Templar ; " but, gentie Ecclesiastica. thy narLow Jewish prejudices inake thee blind to our high privilege. Marsiage were an enduring crime on the part of a Templar ; but what