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more careful in writing, we believe, though it is almost profanation to whisper our belief, that he might have made the Prince of Outlaws and Friar Tuck equal to the madcap Hal and Falstaff of Shakspeare. We think that there is no small resemblance between these characters. Certainly Robin Hood and his merry men are not deficient in jollity, humour, or in any marked outline of character, to the merry prince and his jovial crew; and in courage they have the advantage over all except the Prince of Wales. But it is useless to fancy what the author might have done: let us be thankful for what he has done, in describing the outlaw's life. As to Robin Hood, the untimely death to which he adverted was assassination. He was taken suddenly ill in a convent, and the friars bribed the physician who was employed to bleed him, to suffer him to bleed to death.
“ Thus ended the life of this good yemen;
"God send him eternal blysse;
" That of heaven they never mysse. Amen.”
The Normans, Saxons, and outlaws, were peculiar to England ; but there were orders and classes of society, who, though spread all over Christendom, had manners of their own, and entirely different from their countrymen's. Those great principles which had so disordered civil society, had created communities, whose members did not feel as Englishmen or Frenchmen, but as belonging to a particular order. These orders were formed by certain principles operating upon passions, which, though always existing, were never so highly excited before or since; and the actions of their various members displayed some points of the human character to great advantage in the eye of the poet and the philosopher.
The Christian religion had then obtained such a commanding influence over the passions, though not over the reason of men, that it induced many of its votaries to thwart and oppose the dictates of nature ; considering a self-denial as the most meritorious act of piety. Hence many enthusiasts took upon themselves vows of perpetual celibacy and poverty. If these vows had been obeyed, no great evil could have resulted from societies which frustrated the great command of nature, “ Increase and multiply.” The members would not have been very numerous while performance of their obligations was rigidly enacted ; but unfortunately for their morals, the power of dispensing with the obligations of oaths, and of pardoning sins, being vested in the priests, deprived the vows of their binding force. The monks, like the jovial Tuck, “confessed the sins of the green cloak to the gray friar's frock, and made all well again.” The vow of celibacy being thus dispensed with, many inducements were offered to the common people to enter monasteries. They found there food, clothing, influence; indolent dispositions were indulged, and their sacred station protected them from violence, which was, in those turbulent times, no mean privilege. The monasteries consequently became numerous and full ; for the lazy, the sensual, and the cowardly, all flocked thither, that they might safely gratisy their appetites under the cover of a friar's frock. But minds of a higher order could not be so easily contented; an ascetic piety, joined with a spirit of chivalry, prompted many of the nobility to enter into military associations of the monastic character, for the defence of the Holy Sepulchre ; and these knights displayed consummate prudence and romantic valour in prosecuting their holy designs, worthy of men who had sacrificed the pleasures and vanities of this world upon the altar of religion. The veneration paid by their more peaceful Christian brethren to these military monks, though perhaps deserved, was undoubtedly flattering to their self-love and pride, passions which were not a little nourished by those around them. The inhabitants of Palestine had been for many centuries the humble vassals of some imperious conqueror. Their spirit was broken and subdued ; their habits slavish and cowardly. Such a people must necessarily have disgusted the high-spirited Frank, who could not refrain from drawing conclusions favourable to his own character. Their foes were not more calculated to lower these flattering opinions. They were infidel dogs, whom it was meritorious to extirpate ; pagans, doomed to feel the warlike prowess of the Christians in this world, and to everlasting wrath in the next; and it is not surprising that the Templars should have been haughty and proud; neither is it matter of great wonder, that in a country whose cities were subject to continual siege and pillage, whose climate was favourable to the indulgence of the passions, and whose black eyed girls were not greatly averse to a suing lover, that sometimes the warlike monks were tempted to enrich the church with the plunder of infidels, or that, in an unguarded moment, they forgot their vows of celibacy. Such a breach of sacred obligation might then have excited universal indignation ; but now, when eight centuries have allowed prejudice and passion to subside, we must candidly confess, that we are not greatly surprised that these vows were repeated oftener than they were performed.
Brian De Bois Guilbert, one of the principal characters in this romance, is the representative of the Templars, possessing all their faults and virtues, strongly marked. To gratify his desires, he does not scruple to sacrifice the happiness and peace of any who may jostle him in his course. Like all the votaries of ambition, he looks upon men as mere tools for his use. But his coolness in danger, his scorn of duplicity, and his firmness of mind, which he well describes, when in the interview with the Jewess in her prison, he says, “ I am, Rebecca, as thou hast spoken me, untaught, untamed, and proud that, amidst a school of empty fools and crafty bigots, I have retained the pre-eminent fortitude that places me above them. I have been a child of battle from my youth upward, high in my views, steady and inflexible in pursuing them. Such must I remain-proud, inflexible and unchanging, and of this the world shall have proof." Such sentiments compel our respect. We bow with awe and veneration to the mind, that towers above the accidents of fortune, and seems the arbiter of its own fate. This haughty Templar is a character very similar to Marmion; so much resembling him, that we have no doubt that the same fancy portrayed both, This opinion is confirmed by several scenes and personages in Ivanhoe, which bear nearly the same relation to Bois Guilbert that their originals bear to Marmion. Rowena is a copy of Clare; Ivanhoe of De Wilton; and the manner in which the
latter are introduced are alike in both works. They come be. fore their rivals disguised as Palmers. If Wilton with his solemn augury intimidates
Marmion, whose steady heart and eye
Ne'er changed in worst extremity,” Ivanhoe cowers the Templar by intimating his disgrace at Acre; if Marmion fell before his rival on Gifford Moor, Bois Guilbert is defeated by Ivanhoe in the lists of Ashby. The resemblance is striking, and confirms our belief that Walter Scott is the author of these novels.
Another class of warriors little less interesting than the Templars, was the Free Lances. In those days, no trades or professions were honourable. There were no regularly educated politicians. War, religion, and love, were the occupations of all the high-born and ambitious, and unfortunately marriage had not then become a money-making business; consequently the church or the camp was the only alternative of an impoverished nobleman. If he had a peaceful disposition, and a love of learning, he sought promotion in the church; but if, like De Bracy, he formed “his letters like spear heads and sword blades," he was a military genius, and associating with himself others, who were as rich in family and as beggarly in pocket. he offered his services to any prince who could not raise troops among his own subjects. Men of this description must necessarily have been hardened by the many cruel scenes in which they were obliged to participate. Like all other mercenary soldiers, their manners were licentious, frank, even to rudeness, and their dispositions generous and fearless. As their object was plunder, they were rapacious; and as they were poor, they were uneducated and illiterate.
Of these men Maurice De Bracy is a favourable specimen. Illiterate, poor and rapacious, like his comrades, he has many good qualities to redeem him from reprobation—such as inviolable faith, great personal gallantry, and a tenderness of disposition, which, though not so great as to entitle him to the appellation of a humane man, was remarkable in a Free Lancer. His conduct towards Rowena and Ivanhoe, in Torquilstone ; his reckless courage in the defence of that place; his indignant refusal of John's proposal to waylay Richard, all prove a soldier, with much knightly pride, and some arbitrary notions of honour, though living in turbulent and licentious times.
We noted one fault in the author's description of De Bracy. He is made to tell John of the slaughter at Torquilstone, in the scriptural language of the messenger to Job--an intimacy with the Bible, which we should not have expected in one, who represents the Israelites as applying to the Pope for absolution from the vow, which they had made in Mizpeh, that they would not give a wife to any of the tribe of Benjamin. The author is guilty of the same fault, when he puts the words of Jacob's children in the mouth of Wamba, who, however shrewd, and even learned in jests, cannot be supposed to be well versed in Scripture, at a time when it was locked up in the dead languages.
But the most interesting personage in this romance is Rebecca. A Jewess, who, notwithstanding the contumely heaped upon her nation, preserved her character free from that meanness which the peculiar circumstances in which they were placed compelled them to practice. The security of the nobility themselves, in those turbulent times, was due to their own power, more than to the restraints of the law. It could not be expected then, that the humble, persecuted, and unprotected Jew should escape ; especially when the bigotry of the times commanded, and the interest of the rapacious nobility was promoted by, the oppression and plunder of this wealthy, but dispirited people. This reign was remarkable for the prejudice which existed against the Jews. Directly after Richard's coronation, though without his sanction, a terrible persecution was commenced against them at York; five hundred were massacred by the common people, who plundered their houses. But Rebecca, notwithstanding the insults and injuries to which she, in common with her people, is daily exposed, preserves her dignity of character. She appears sensible, that talents, like hers, entitle her to respect, and, in spite of the disadvantages of her situation, displays a strength of mind, and amiable disposition, which command our esteem and sympathy.