Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica,
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Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
Anonimo - BEOWULF
Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
Austen, Jane - EMMA
Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Authors, Various - LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
Autori Vari - THE WORLD ENGLISH BIBLE
Bacon, Francis - THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
Blake, William - SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE
Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
Brent, Linda - INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
Burckhardt, Jacob - THE CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
Chesterton, G. K. - THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
Chopin, Kate - THE AWAKENING AND SELECTED SHORT STORIES
Clark Hall, John R. - A CONCISE ANGLOSAXON DICTIONARY
Clarkson, Thomas - AN ESSAY ON THE SLAVERY AND COMMERCE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
Coleridge, Herbert - A DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST OR OLDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH
Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Coleridge, S. T. - HINTS TOWARDS THE FORMATION OF A MORE COMPREHENSIVE THEORY
Coleridge, S. T. - THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
Collodi - PINOCCHIO
Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: HELL
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PARADISE
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PURGATORY
Darwin, Charles - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN
Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
Defoe, Daniel - A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PYRATES
Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
Defoe, Daniel - THE COMPLETE ENGLISH TRADESMAN
Defoe, Daniel - THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
Engels, Frederick - THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING-CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844
Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Esopo - FABLES
Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
France, Anatole - THAIS
France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
Goethe - FAUST
Gogol - DEAD SOULS
Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
Harding, A. R. - GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
Hartley, Cecil B. - THE GENTLEMEN'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
Henry VIII - LOVE LETTERS TO ANNE BOLEYN
Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
Homer - THE ILIAD
Homer - THE ODYSSEY
Hornaday, William T. - THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON
Hume, David - A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE
Hume, David - AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
Hume, David - DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
Joyce, James - A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
Joyce, James - ULYSSES
Keats, John - ENDYMION
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
King James - THE BIBLE
Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
Leblanc, Maurice - ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES
Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
London, Jack - WHITE FANG
Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
Mill, John Stuart - PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
Mitra, S. M. - HINDU TALES FROM THE SANSKRIT
Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
More, Thomas - UTOPIA
Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
Nesbit, E. - THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET
Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
Plato - THE REPUBLIC
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
Ricardo, David - ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION
Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
Rousseau, J. J. - THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF INEQUALITY AMONG MANKIND
Ruskin, John - THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE
Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
Smollett, Tobias - TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY
Spencer, Herbert - ESSAYS ON EDUCATION AND KINDRED SUBJECTS
Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
Swift, Jonathan - THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AND OTHER SHORT PIECES
Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
Verne, Jules - A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
Voltaire - PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY
Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
Wells, H. G. - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU
Wells, H. G. - THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
Wilde, Oscar - THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES
Wilde, Oscar - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
Wordsworth, William - POEMS
Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN
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ISTRUZIONI D'USO DETTAGLIATE
by Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
The scene of this romance is laid in the fifteenth century, when the
feudal system, which had been the sinews and nerves of national defence,
and the spirit of chivalry, by which, as by a vivifying soul, that
system was animated, began to be innovated upon and abandoned by those
grosser characters who centred their sum of happiness in procuring the
personal objects on which they had fixed their own exclusive attachment.
The same egotism had indeed displayed itself even in more primitive
ages; but it was now for the first time openly avowed as a professed
principle of action. The spirit of chivalry had in it this point
of excellence, that, however overstrained and fantastic many of its
doctrines may appear to us, they were all founded on generosity and self
denial, of which, if the earth were deprived, it would be difficult to
conceive the existence of virtue among the human race.
Among those who were the first to ridicule and abandon the self denying
principles in which the young knight was instructed and to which he
was so carefully trained up, Louis XI of France was the chief. That
sovereign was of a character so purely selfish--so guiltless of
entertaining any purpose unconnected with his ambition, covetousness,
and desire of selfish enjoyment--that he almost seems an incarnation of
the devil himself, permitted to do his utmost to corrupt our ideas
of honour in its very source. Nor is it to be forgotten that Louis
possessed to a great extent that caustic wit which can turn into
ridicule all that a man does for any other person's advantage but his
own, and was, therefore, peculiarly qualified to play the part of a cold
hearted and sneering fiend.
The cruelties, the perjuries, the suspicions of this prince, were
rendered more detestable, rather than amended, by the gross and debasing
superstition which he constantly practised. The devotion to the heavenly
saints, of which he made such a parade, was upon the miserable principle
of some petty deputy in office, who endeavours to hide or atone for the
malversations of which he is conscious by liberal gifts to those whose
duty it is to observe his conduct, and endeavours to support a system of
fraud by an attempt to corrupt the incorruptible. In no other light can
we regard his creating the Virgin Mary a countess and colonel of his
guards, or the cunning that admitted to one or two peculiar forms of
oath the force of a binding obligation which he denied to all other,
strictly preserving the secret, which mode of swearing he really
accounted obligatory, as one of the most valuable of state mysteries.
To a total want of scruple, or, it would appear, of any sense whatever
of moral obligation, Louis XI added great natural firmness and sagacity
of character, with a system of policy so highly refined, considering the
times he lived in, that he sometimes overreached himself by giving way
to its dictates.
Probably there is no portrait so dark as to be without its softer
shades. He understood the interests of France, and faithfully pursued
them so long as he could identify them with his own. He carried the
country safe through the dangerous crisis of the war termed "for the
public good;" in thus disuniting and dispersing this grand and dangerous
alliance of the great crown vassals of France against the Sovereign, a
king of a less cautious and temporizing character, and of a more bold
and less crafty disposition than Louis XI, would, in all probability,
have failed. Louis had also some personal accomplishments not
inconsistent with his public character. He was cheerful and witty in
society; and none was better able to sustain and extol the superiority
of the coarse and selfish reasons by which he endeavoured to supply
those nobler motives for exertion which his predecessors had derived
from the high spirit of chivalry.
In fact, that system was now becoming ancient, and had, even while
in its perfection, something so overstrained and fantastic in its
principles, as rendered it peculiarly the object of ridicule, whenever,
like other old fashions, it began to fall out of repute; and the weapons
of raillery could be employed against it, without exciting the disgust
and horror with which they would have been rejected at an early period,
as a species of blasphemy. The principles of chivalry were cast aside,
and their aid supplied by baser stimulants. Instead of the high spirit
which pressed every man forward in the defence of his country, Louis
XI substituted the exertions of the ever ready mercenary soldier, and
persuaded his subjects, among whom the mercantile class began to make a
figure, that it was better to leave to mercenaries the risks and labours
of war, and to supply the Crown with the means of paying them, than to
peril themselves in defence of their own substance. The merchants were
easily persuaded by this reasoning. The hour did not arrive in the days
of Louis XI when the landed gentry and nobles could be in like manner
excluded from the ranks of war; but the wily monarch commenced that
system, which, acted upon by his successors, at length threw the whole
military defence of the state into the hands of the Crown.
He was equally forward in altering the principles which were wont to
regulate the intercourse of the sexes. The doctrines of chivalry had
established, in theory at least, a system in which Beauty was the
governing and remunerating divinity--Valour, her slave, who caught his
courage from her eye and gave his life for her slightest service. It is
true, the system here, as in other branches, was stretched to fantastic
extravagance, and cases of scandal not unfrequently arose. Still, they
were generally such as those mentioned by Burke, where frailty was
deprived of half its guilt, by being purified from all its grossness.
In Louis XI's practice, it was far otherwise. He was a low voluptuary,
seeking pleasure without sentiment, and despising the sex from whom he
desired to obtain it.... By selecting his favourites and ministers from
among the dregs of the people, Louis showed the slight regard which he
paid to eminent station and high birth; and although this might be
not only excusable but meritorious, where the monarch's fiat promoted
obscure talent, or called forth modest worth, it was very different when
the King made his favourite associates of such men as the chief of his
police, Tristan l'Hermite..
Nor were Louis's sayings and actions in private or public of a kind
which could redeem such gross offences against the character of a man
of honour. His word, generally accounted the most sacred test of a man's
character, and the least impeachment of which is a capital offence
by the code of honour, was forfeited without scruple on the slightest
occasion, and often accompanied by the perpetration of the most enormous
crimes... It is more than probable that, in thus renouncing almost
openly the ties of religion, honour, and morality, by which mankind
at large feel themselves influenced, Louis sought to obtain great
advantages in his negotiations with parties who might esteem themselves
bound, while he himself enjoyed liberty. He started from the goal, he
might suppose, like the racer who has got rid of the weights with which
his competitors are still encumbered, and expects to succeed of course.
But Providence seems always to unite the existence of peculiar danger
with some circumstance which may put those exposed to the peril upon
their guard. The constant suspicion attached to any public person who
becomes badly eminent for breach of faith is to him what the rattle is
to the poisonous serpent: and men come at last to calculate not so much
on what their antagonist says as upon that which he is likely to do;
a degree of mistrust which tends to counteract the intrigues of such a
character, more than his freedom from the scruples of conscientious men
can afford him advantage..
Indeed, although the reign of Louis had been as successful in a
political point of view as he himself could have desired, the spectacle
of his deathbed might of itself be a warning piece against the seduction
of his example. Jealous of every one, but chiefly of his own son,
he immured himself in his Castle of Plessis, intrusting his person
exclusively to the doubtful faith of his Scottish mercenaries. He never
stirred from his chamber; he admitted no one into it, and wearied heaven
and every saint with prayers, not for forgiveness of his sins, but
for the prolongation of his life. With a poverty of spirit totally
inconsistent with his shrewd worldly sagacity, he importuned his
physicians until they insulted as well as plundered him..
It was not the least singular circumstance of this course, that bodily
health and terrestrial felicity seemed to be his only object. Making
any mention of his sins when talking on the state of his health, was
strictly prohibited; and when at his command a priest recited a prayer
to Saint Eutropius in which he recommended the King's welfare both in
body and soul, Louis caused the two last words to be omitted, saying it
was not prudent to importune the blessed saint by too many requests at
once. Perhaps he thought by being silent on his crimes he might suffer
them to pass out of the recollection of the celestial patrons, whose aid
he invoked for his body.
So great were the well merited tortures of this tyrant's deathbed, that
Philip de Comines enters into a regular comparison between them and the
numerous cruelties inflicted on others by his order; and considering
both, comes to express an opinion that the worldly pangs and agony
suffered by Louis were such as might compensate the crimes he had
committed, and that, after a reasonable quarantine in purgatory, he
might in mercy he found duly qualified for the superior regions...
The instructive but appalling scene of this tyrant's sufferings was at
length closed by death, 30th August, 1483.
The selection of this remarkable person as the principal character in
the romance--for it will be easily comprehended that the little love
intrigue of Quentin is only employed as the means of bringing out the
story--afforded considerable facilities to the author. In Louis XI's
time, extraordinary commotions existed throughout all Europe. England's
Civil Wars were ended, rather in appearance than reality, by the short
lived ascendancy of the House of York. Switzerland was asserting that
freedom which was afterwards so bravely defended. In the Empire and in
France, the great vassals of the crown were endeavouring to emancipate
themselves from its control, while Charles of Burgundy by main force,
and Louis more artfully by indirect means, laboured to subject them to
subservience to their respective sovereignties. Louis, while with one
hand he circumvented and subdued his own rebellious vassals, laboured
secretly with the other to aid and encourage the large trading towns of
Flanders to rebel against the Duke of Burgundy, to which their wealth
and irritability naturally disposed them. In the more woodland districts
of Flanders, the Duke of Gueldres, and William de la Marck, called from
his ferocity the Wild Boar of Ardennes, were throwing off the habits
of knights and gentlemen to practise the violences and brutalities of
[Chapter I gives a further account of the conditions of the period which
Quentin Durward portrays.]
A hundred secret combinations existed in the different provinces of
France and Flanders; numerous private emissaries of the restless
Louis, Bohemians, pilgrims, beggars, or agents disguised as such, were
everywhere spreading the discontent which it was his policy to maintain
in the dominions of Burgundy.
Amidst so great an abundance of materials, it was difficult to select
such as should be most intelligible and interesting to the reader: and
the author had to regret, that though he made liberal use of the power
of departing from the reality of history, he felt by no means confident
of having brought his story into a pleasing, compact, and sufficiently
intelligible form. The mainspring of the plot is that which all who know
the least of the feudal system can easily understand, though the facts
are absolutely fictitious. The right of a feudal superior was in nothing
more universally acknowledged than in his power to interfere in the
marriage of a female vassal. This may appear to exist as a contradiction
both of the civil and canon laws, which declare that marriage shall be
free, while the feudal or municipal jurisprudence, in case of a fief
passing to a female, acknowledges an interest in the superior of
the fief to dictate the choice of her companion in marriage. This is
accounted for on the principle that the superior was, by his bounty, the
original granter of the fief, and is still interested that the marriage
of the vassal shall place no one there who may be inimical to his liege
lord. On the other hand, it might be reasonably pleaded that this
right of dictating to the vassal to a certain extent in the choice of
a husband, is only competent to the superior from whom the fief is
originally derived. There is therefore no violent improbability in a
vassal of Burgundy flying to the protection of the King of France, to
whom the Duke of Burgundy himself was vassal; not is it a great stretch
of probability to affirm that Louis, unscrupulous as he was, should have
formed the design of betraying the fugitive into some alliance which
might prove inconvenient, if not dangerous, to his formidable kinsman
and vassal of Burgundy.
[Some of these departures from historical accuracy, as when the death
of the Bishop of Liege is antedated, are duly set forth in the notes.
It should be mentioned that Mr. J. F. Kirk, in his elaborate History of
Charles the Bold, claims that in some points injustice has been done
to the Duke in this romance. He says: "The faults of Charles were
sufficiently glaring, and scarcely admitted of exaggeration; but his
breeding had been that of a prince, his education had been better than
that of other princes of his time, his tastes and habits were more, not
less, refined than theirs, and the restraint he imposed upon his sensual
appetites was as conspicuous a trait as his sternness and violence."]
Quentin Durward was published in June, 1823, and was Scott's first
venture on foreign ground. While well received at home, the sensation
it created in Paris was comparable to that caused by the appearance of
Waverley in Edinburgh and Ivanhoe in London. In Germany also, where the
author was already popular, the new novel had a specially enthusiastic
welcome. The scene of the romance was partly suggested by a journal
kept by Sir Walter's dear friend, Mr. James Skene of Rubislaw, during
a French tour, the diary being illustrated by a vast number of clever
drawings. The author, in telling this tale laid in unfamiliar scenes,
encountered difficulties of a kind quite new to him, as it necessitated
much study of maps, gazetteers, and books of travel. For the history,
he naturally found above all else the Memoirs of Philip de Comines "the
very key of the period," though it need not be said that the lesser
chroniclers received due attention. It is interesting to note that in
writing to his friend, Daniel Terry, the actor and manager, Scott says,
"I have no idea my present labours will be dramatic in situation; as to
character, that of Louis XI, the sagacious, perfidious, superstitious,
jocular, politic tyrant, would be, for a historical chronicle containing
his life and death, one of the most powerful ever brought on the stage."
So thought the poet, Casimir Delavigne--writing when Scott's influence
was marked upon French literature--whose powerful drama, Louis XI, was
a great Parisian success. Later Charles Kean and Henry Irving made an
English version of it well known in England and America.
CHAPTER I: THE CONTRAST
Look here upon this picture, and on this,
The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.
The latter part of the fifteenth century prepared a train of future
events that ended by raising France to that state of formidable power
which has ever since been from time to time the principal object of
jealousy to the other European nations. Before that period she had to
struggle for her very existence with the English already possessed of
her fairest provinces while the utmost exertions of her King, and the
gallantry of her people, could scarcely protect the remainder from a
foreign yoke. Nor was this her sole danger. The princes who possessed
the grand fiefs of the crown, and, in particular, the Dukes of Burgundy
and Bretagne, had come to wear their feudal bonds so lightly that they
had no scruple in lifting the standard against their liege and sovereign
lord, the King of France, on the slightest pretence. When at peace, they
reigned as absolute princes in their own provinces; and the House of
Burgundy, possessed of the district so called, together with the fairest
and richest part of Flanders, was itself so wealthy, and so powerful, as
to yield nothing to the crown, either in splendour or in strength.
In imitation of the grand feudatories, each inferior vassal of the crown
assumed as much independence as his distance from the sovereign power,
the extent of his fief, or the strength of his chateau enabled him to
maintain; and these petty tyrants, no longer amenable to the exercise
of the law, perpetrated with impunity the wildest excesses of fantastic
oppression and cruelty. In Auvergne alone, a report was made of more
than three hundred of these independent nobles, to whom incest, murder,
and rapine were the most ordinary and familiar actions.
Besides these evils, another, springing out of the long continued wars
betwixt the French and English, added no small misery to this distracted
kingdom. Numerous bodies of soldiers, collected into bands, under
officers chosen by themselves, from among the bravest and most
successful adventurers, had been formed in various parts of France out
of the refuse of all other countries. These hireling combatants sold
their swords for a time to the best bidder; and, when such service was
not to be had, they made war on their own account, seizing castles
and towers, which they used as the places of their retreat, making
prisoners, and ransoming them, exacting tribute from the open villages
and the country around them--and acquiring, by every species of rapine,
the appropriate epithets of Tondeurs and Ecorcheurs, that is, Clippers
In the midst of the horrors and miseries arising from so distracted a
state of public affairs, reckless and profuse expense distinguished the
courts of the lesser nobles, as well as of the superior princes; and
their dependents, in imitation, expended in rude but magnificent display
the wealth which they extorted from the people. A tone of romantic and
chivalrous gallantry (which, however, was often disgraced by unbounded
license) characterized the intercourse between the sexes; and the
language of knight errantry was yet used, and its observances followed,
though the pure spirit of honourable love and benevolent enterprise
which it inculcates had ceased to qualify and atone for its
extravagances. The jousts and tournaments, the entertainments and
revels, which each petty court displayed, invited to France every
wandering adventurer; and it was seldom that, when arrived there, he
failed to employ his rash courage, and headlong spirit of enterprise, in
actions for which his happier native country afforded no free stage.
At this period, and as if to save this fair realm from the various woes
with which it was menaced, the tottering throne was ascended by Louis
XI, whose character, evil as it was in itself, met, combated, and in
a great degree neutralized the mischiefs of the time--as poisons of
opposing qualities are said, in ancient books of medicine, to have the
power of counteracting each other.
Brave enough for every useful and political purpose, Louis had not a
spark of that romantic valour, or of the pride generally associated with
it, which fought on for the point of honour, when the point of utility
had been long gained. Calm, crafty, and profoundly attentive to his
own interest, he made every sacrifice, both of pride and passion,
which could interfere with it. He was careful in disguising his real
sentiments and purposes from all who approached him, and frequently used
the expressions, "that the king knew not how to reign, who knew not how
to dissemble; and that, for himself, if he thought his very cap knew his
secrets, he would throw it into the fire." No man of his own, or of any
other time, better understood how to avail himself of the frailties
of others, and when to avoid giving any advantage by the untimely
indulgence of his own.
He was by nature vindictive and cruel, even to the extent of finding
pleasure in the frequent executions which he commanded. But, as no touch
of mercy ever induced him to spare, when he could with safety condemn,
so no sentiment of vengeance ever stimulated him to a premature
violence. He seldom sprang on his prey till it was fairly within his
grasp, and till all hope of rescue was vain; and his movements were
so studiously disguised, that his success was generally what first
announced to the world the object he had been manoeuvring to attain.
In like manner, the avarice of Louis gave way to apparent profusion,
when it was necessary to bribe the favourite or minister of a rival
prince for averting any impending attack, or to break up any alliance
confederated against him. He was fond of license and pleasure; but
neither beauty nor the chase, though both were ruling passions, ever
withdrew him from the most regular attendance to public business and the
affairs of his kingdom. His knowledge of mankind was profound, and he
had sought it in the private walks of life, in which he often personally
mingled; and, though naturally proud and haughty, he hesitated not,
with an inattention to the arbitrary divisions of society which was then
thought something portentously unnatural, to raise from the lowest rank
men whom he employed on the most important duties, and knew so well how
to choose them, that he was rarely disappointed in their qualities.
Yet there were contradictions in the character of this artful and able
monarch; for human nature is rarely uniform. Himself the most false and
insincere of mankind, some of the greatest errors of his life arose from
too rash a confidence in the honour and integrity of others. When these
errors took place, they seem to have arisen from an over refined system
of policy, which induced Louis to assume the appearance of undoubting
confidence in those whom it was his object to overreach; for, in his
general conduct, he was as jealous and suspicious as any tyrant who ever
Two other points may be noticed to complete the sketch of this
formidable character, by which he rose among the rude, chivalrous
sovereigns of the period to the rank of a keeper among wild beasts,
who, by superior wisdom and policy, by distribution of food, and some
discipline by blows, comes finally to predominate over those who, if
unsubjected by his arts, would by main strength have torn him to pieces.
The first of these attributes was Louis's excessive superstition, a
plague with which Heaven often afflicts those who refuse to listen to
the dictates of religion. The remorse arising from his evil
actions Louis never endeavoured to appease by any relaxation in his
Machiavellian stratagems [on account of the alleged political immorality
of Machiavelli, an illustrious Italian of the sixteenth century, this
expression has come to mean "destitute of political morality; habitually
using duplicity and bad faith." Cent. Dict.], but laboured in vain to
soothe and silence that painful feeling by superstitious observances,
severe penance, and profuse gifts to the ecclesiastics. The second
property, with which the first is sometimes found strangely united, was
a disposition to low pleasures and obscure debauchery. The wisest, or
at least the most crafty sovereign of his time, he was fond of low life,
and, being himself a man of wit, enjoyed the jests and repartees of
social conversation more than could have been expected from other points
of his character. He even mingled in the comic adventures of obscure
intrigue, with a freedom little consistent with the habitual and guarded
jealousy of his character, and he was so fond of this species of humble
gallantry, that he caused a number of its gay and licentious anecdotes
to be enrolled in a collection well known to book collectors, in whose
eyes (and the work is unfit for any other) the right edition is very
[This editio princeps, which, when in good preservation, is much
sought after by connoisseurs, is entitled Les Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles,
contenant Cent Histoires Nouveaux, qui sont moult plaisans a raconter
en toutes bonnes compagnies par maniere de joyeuxete. Paris, Antoine
Verard. Sans date d'annee d'impression; en folio gotique. See De Bure.
By means of this monarch's powerful and prudent, though most unamiable
character, it pleased Heaven, who works by the tempest as well as by the
soft, small rain, to restore to the great French nation the benefits of
civil government, which, at the time of his accession, they had nearly
Ere he succeeded to the crown, Louis had given evidence of his vices
rather than of his talents. His first wife, Margaret of Scotland, was
"done to death by slanderous tongues" in her husband's court, where,
but for the encouragement of Louis himself, not a word would have been
breathed against that amiable and injured princess. He had been an
ungrateful and a rebellious son, at one time conspiring to seize his
father's person, and at another levying open war against him. For the
first offence, he was banished to his appanage of Dauphine, which he
governed with much sagacity; for the second he was driven into absolute
exile, and forced to throw himself on the mercy, and almost on
the charity, of the Duke of Burgundy and his son; where he enjoyed
hospitality, afterwards indifferently requited, until the death of his
father in 1461.
In the very outset of his reign, Louis was almost overpowered by a
league formed against him by the great vassals of France, with the Duke
of Burgundy, or rather his son, the Count de Charalois, at its head.
They levied a powerful army, blockaded Paris, fought a battle of
doubtful issue under its very walls, and placed the French monarchy on
the brink of actual destruction. It usually happens in such cases,
that the more sagacious general of the two gains the real fruit, though
perhaps not the martial fame, of the disputed field. Louis, who had
shown great personal bravery during the battle of Montl'hery, was able,
by his prudence, to avail himself of its undecided character, as if it
had been a victory on his side. He temporized until the enemy had broken
up their leaguer, and showed so much dexterity in sowing jealousies
among those great powers, that their alliance "for the public weal," as
they termed it, but in reality for the overthrow of all but the external
appearance of the French monarchy, dissolved itself, and was never again
renewed in a manner so formidable. From this period, Louis, relieved
of all danger from England by the Civil Wars of York and Lancaster,
was engaged for several years, like an unfeeling but able physician,
in curing the wounds of the body politic, or rather in stopping, now by
gentle remedies, now by the use of fire and steel, the progress of those
mortal gangrenes with which it was then infected. The brigandage of the
Free Companies [troops that acknowledged no authority except that of
their leaders, and who hired themselves out at will], and the unpunished
oppression of the nobility, he laboured to lessen, since he could not
actually stop them; and, by dint of unrelaxed attention, he gradually
gained some addition to his own regal authority, or effected some
diminution of those by whom it was counterbalanced.
Still the King of France was surrounded by doubt and danger. The members
of the league "for the public weal," though not in unison, were in
existence, and, like a scotched snake [see Macbeth. III, ii, 13, "We
have scotch'd the snake, not kill'd it."], might reunite and become
dangerous again. But a worse danger was the increasing power of the
Duke of Burgundy, then one of the greatest princes of Europe, and little
diminished in rank by the very slight dependence of his duchy upon the
crown of France.
Charles, surnamed the Bold, or rather, the Audacious, for his courage
was allied to rashness and frenzy, then wore the ducal coronet of
Burgundy, which he burned to convert into a royal and independent
regal crown. The character of this Duke was in every respect the direct
contrast to that of Louis XI.
The latter was calm, deliberate, and crafty, never prosecuting a
desperate enterprise, and never abandoning one likely to be successful,
however distant the prospect. The genius of the Duke was entirely
different. He rushed on danger because he loved it, and on difficulties
because he despised them. As Louis never sacrificed his interest to his
passion, so Charles, on the other hand, never sacrificed his passion,
or even his humour, to any other consideration. Notwithstanding the near
relationship that existed between them, and the support which the Duke
and his father had afforded to Louis in his exile when Dauphin, there
was mutual contempt and hatred betwixt them. The Duke of Burgundy
despised the cautious policy of the King, and imputed to the faintness
of his courage that he sought by leagues, purchases, and other indirect
means those advantages which, in his place, the Duke would have snatched
with an armed hand. He likewise hated the King, not only for the
ingratitude he had manifested for former kindnesses, and for personal
injuries and imputations which the ambassadors of Louis had cast upon
him, when his father was yet alive, but also, and especially, because of
the support which he afforded in secret to the discontented citizens of
Ghent, Liege, and other great towns in Flanders. These turbulent cities,
jealous of their privileges, and proud of their wealth, were frequently
in a state of insurrection against their liege lords, the Dukes of
Burgundy, and never failed to find underhand countenance at the court
of Louis, who embraced every opportunity of fomenting disturbance within
the dominions of his overgrown vassal.
The contempt and hatred of the Duke were retaliated by Louis with equal
energy, though he used a thicker veil to conceal his sentiments. It
was impossible for a man of his profound sagacity not to despise the
stubborn obstinacy which never resigned its purpose, however fatal
perseverance might prove, and the headlong impetuosity which commenced
its career without allowing a moment's consideration for the obstacles
to be encountered. Yet the King hated Charles even more than he
contemned him, and his scorn and hatred were the more intense, that they
were mingled with fear; for he know that the onset of the mad bull, to
whom he likened the Duke of Burgundy, must ever be formidable, though
the animal makes it with shut eyes. It was not alone the wealth of the
Burgundian provinces, the discipline of the warlike inhabitants, and
the mass of their crowded population, which the King dreaded, for
the personal qualities of their leader had also much in them that was
dangerous. The very soul of bravery, which he pushed to the verge of
rashness, and beyond it--profuse in expenditure--splendid in his court,
his person, and his retinue, in all which he displayed the hereditary
magnificence of the house of Burgundy, Charles the Bold drew into his
service almost all the fiery spirits of the age whose tempers were
congenial; and Louis saw too clearly what might be attempted and
executed by such a train of resolute adventurers, following a leader of
a character as ungovernable as their own.
There was yet another circumstance which increased the animosity of
Louis towards his overgrown vassal; he owed him favours which he never
meant to repay, and was under the frequent necessity of temporizing with
him, and even of enduring bursts of petulant insolence, injurious to
the regal dignity, without being able to treat him otherwise than as his
"fair cousin of Burgundy."
It was about the year 1468, when their feuds were at the highest, though
a dubious and hollow truce, as frequently happened, existed for the
time betwixt them, that the present narrative opens. The person first
introduced on the stage will be found indeed to be of a rank and
condition, the illustration of whose character scarcely called for a
dissertation on the relative position of two great princes; but the
passions of the great, their quarrels, and their reconciliations
involve the fortunes of all who approach them; and it will be found,
on proceeding farther in our story, that this preliminary chapter
is necessary for comprehending the history of the individual whose
adventures we are about to relate.
CHAPTER II: THE WANDERER
Why then the world's mine oyster, which I with sword will open.
It was upon a delicious summer morning, before the sun had assumed its
scorching power, and while the dews yet cooled and perfumed the air,
that a youth, coming from the northeastward approached the ford of a
small river, or rather a large brook, tributary to the Cher, near to the
royal Castle of Plessis les Tours, whose dark and multiplied battlements
rose in the background over the extensive forest with which they were
surrounded. These woodlands comprised a noble chase, or royal park,
fenced by an enclosure, termed, in the Latin of the middle ages,
Plexitium, which gives the name of Plessis to so many villages in
France. The castle and village of which we particularly speak, was
called Plessis les Tours, to distinguish it from others, and was built
about two miles to the southward of the fair town of that name, the
capital of ancient Touraine, whose rich plain has been termed the Garden
On the bank of the above mentioned brook, opposite to that which the
traveller was approaching, two men, who appeared in deep conversation,
seemed, from time to time, to watch his motions; for, as their station
was much more elevated, they could remark him at considerable distance.
The age of the young traveller might be about nineteen, or betwixt that
and twenty; and his face and person, which were very prepossessing, did
not, however, belong to the country in which he was now a sojourner. His
short gray cloak and hose were rather of Flemish than of French fashion,
while the smart blue bonnet, with a single sprig of holly and an eagle's
feather, was already recognized as the Scottish head gear. His dress
was very neat, and arranged with the precision of a youth conscious of
possessing a fine person. He had at his back a satchel, which seemed to
contain a few necessaries, a hawking gauntlet on his left hand, though
he carried no bird, and in his right a stout hunter's pole. Over his
left shoulder hung an embroidered scarf which sustained a small pouch of
scarlet velvet, such as was then used by fowlers of distinction to carry
their hawks' food, and other matters belonging to that much admired
sport. This was crossed by another shoulder belt, to which was hung a
hunting knife, or couteau de chasse. Instead of the boots of the period,
he wore buskins of half dressed deer's skin.
Although his form had not yet attained its full strength, he was tall
and active, and the lightness of the step with which he advanced, showed
that his pedestrian mode of travelling was pleasure rather than pain to
him. His complexion was fair, in spite of a general shade of darker
hue, with which the foreign sun, or perhaps constant exposure to the
atmosphere in his own country, had, in some degree, embrowned it.
His features, without being quite regular, were frank, open, and
pleasing. A half smile, which seemed to arise from a happy exuberance of
animal spirits, showed now and then that his teeth were well set, and as
pure as ivory; whilst his bright blue eye, with a corresponding gaiety,
had an appropriate glance for every object which it encountered,
expressing good humour, lightness of heart, and determined resolution.
He received and returned the salutation of the few travellers who
frequented the road in those dangerous times with the action which
suited each. The strolling spearman, half soldier, half brigand,
measured the youth with his eye, as if balancing the prospect of booty
with the chance of desperate resistance; and read such indications of
the latter in the fearless glance of the passenger, that he changed his
ruffian purpose for a surly "Good morrow, comrade," which the young
Scot answered with as martial, though a less sullen tone. The wandering
pilgrim, or the begging friar, answered his reverent greeting with
a paternal benedicite [equivalent to the English expression, "Bless
you."]; and the dark eyed peasant girl looked after him for many a
step after they had passed each other, and interchanged a laughing good
morrow. In short, there was an attraction about his whole appearance not
easily escaping attention, and which was derived from the combination of
fearless frankness and good humour, with sprightly looks and a handsome
face and person. It seemed, too, as if his whole demeanour bespoke one
who was entering on life with no apprehension of the evils with which
it is beset, and small means for struggling with its hardships, except a
lively spirit and a courageous disposition; and it is with such tempers
that youth most readily sympathizes, and for whom chiefly age and
experience feel affectionate and pitying interest.
The youth whom we have described had been long visible to the two
persons who loitered on the opposite side of the small river which
divided him from the park and the castle; but as he descended the rugged
bank to the water's edge, with the light step of a roe which visits the
fountain, the younger of the two said to the other, "It is our man--it
is the Bohemian! If he attempts to cross the ford, he is a lost man--the
water is up, and the ford impassable."
"Let him make that discovery himself, gossip [an intimate friend or
companion (obsolete)]," said the elder personage; "it may, perchance,
save a rope and break a proverb [refers to the old saw, 'Who is born to
be hanged will never be drowned.']."
"I judge him by the blue cap," said the other, "for I cannot see his
face. Hark, sir; he hallooes to know whether the water be deep."
"Nothing like experience in this world," answered the other, "let him
The young man, in the meanwhile, receiving no hint to the contrary, and
taking the silence of those to whom he applied as an encouragement to
proceed, entered the stream without farther hesitation than the delay
necessary to take off his buskins. The elder person, at the same moment,
hallooed to him to beware, adding, in a lower tone, to his companion,
"Mortdieu--gossip--you have made another mistake--this is not the
But the intimation to the youth came too late. He either did not hear
or could not profit by it, being already in the deep stream. To one less
alert and practised in the exercise of swimming, death had been certain,
for the brook was both deep and strong.
"By Saint Anne! but he is a proper youth," said the elder man. "Run,
gossip, and help your blunder, by giving him aid, if thou canst. He
belongs to thine own troop--if old saws speak truth, water will not
Indeed, the young traveller swam so strongly, and buffeted the waves so
well, that, notwithstanding the strength of the current, he was carried
but a little way down from the ordinary landing place.
By this time the younger of the two strangers was hurrying down to the
shore to render assistance, while the other followed him at a graver
pace, saying to himself as he approached, "I knew water would never
drown that young fellow.--By my halidome [originally something regarded
as sacred, as a relic; formerly much used in solemn oaths], he is
ashore, and grasps his pole!--If I make not the more haste, he will beat
my gossip for the only charitable action which I ever saw him perform,
or attempt to perform, in the whole course of his life."
There was some reason to augur such a conclusion of the adventure,
for the bonny Scot had already accosted the younger Samaritan, who was
hastening to his assistance, with these ireful words: "Discourteous dog!
why did you not answer when I called to know if the passage was fit
to be attempted? May the foul fiend catch me, but I will teach you the
respect due to strangers on the next occasion."
This was accompanied with that significant flourish with his pole which
is called le moulinet, because the artist, holding it in the middle,
brandishes the two ends in every direction like the sails of a windmill
in motion. His opponent, seeing himself thus menaced, laid hand upon his
sword, for he was one of those who on all occasions are more ready for
action than for speech; but his more considerate comrade, who came up,
commanded him to forbear, and, turning to the young man, accused him
in turn of precipitation in plunging into the swollen ford, and of
intemperate violence in quarrelling with a man who was hastening to his
The young man, on hearing himself thus reproved by a man of advanced age
and respectable appearance, immediately lowered his weapon, and said
he would be sorry if he had done them injustice; but, in reality, it
appeared to him as if they had suffered him to put his life in peril
for want of a word of timely warning, which could be the part neither
of honest men nor of good Christians, far less of respectable burgesses,
such as they seemed to be.
"Fair son," said the elder person, "you seem, from your accent and
complexion, a stranger; and you should recollect your dialect is not so
easily comprehended by us; as perhaps it may be uttered by you."
"Well, father," answered the youth, "I do not care much about the
ducking I have had, and I will readily forgive your being partly the
cause, provided you will direct me to some place where I can have my
clothes dried; for it is my only suit, and I must keep it somewhat
"For whom do you take us, fair son?" said the elder stranger, in answer
to this question.
"For substantial burgesses, unquestionably," said the youth; "or--hold;
you, master, may be a money broker, or a corn merchant; and this man a
butcher, or grazier."
"You have hit our capacities rarely," said the elder, smiling. "My
business is indeed to trade in as much money as I can and my gossip's
dealings are somewhat of kin to the butcher's. As to your accommodation
we will try to serve you; but I must first know who you are, and whither
you are going, for, in these times, the roads are filled with travellers
on foot and horseback, who have anything in their head but honesty and
the fear of God."
The young man cast another keen and penetrating glance on him who spoke,
and on his silent companion, as if doubtful whether they, on their part,
merited the confidence they demanded; and the result of his observation
was as follows.
The eldest and most remarkable of these men in dress and appearance,
resembled the merchant or shopkeeper of the period. His jerkin, hose,
and cloak were of a dark uniform colour, but worn so threadbare that the
acute young Scot conceived that the wearer must be either very rich or
very poor, probably the former. The fashion of the dress was close and
short, a kind of garment which was not then held decorous among gentry,
or even the superior class of citizens, who generally wore loose gowns
which descended below the middle of the leg.
The expression of this man's countenance was partly attractive and
partly forbidding. His strong features, sunk cheeks, and hollow eyes
had, nevertheless, an expression of shrewdness and humour congenial to
the character of the young adventurer. But then, those same sunken eyes,
from under the shroud of thick black eyebrows, had something in them
that was at once commanding and sinister. Perhaps this effect was
increased by the low fur cap, much depressed on the forehead, and adding
to the shade from under which those eyes peered out; but it is certain
that the young stranger had some difficulty to reconcile his looks
with the meanness of his appearance in other respects. His cap, in
particular, in which all men of any quality displayed either a brooch of
gold or of silver, was ornamented with a paltry image of the Virgin, in
lead, such as the poorer sort of pilgrims bring from Loretto [a city
in Italy, containing the sanctuary of the Virgin Mary called the Santa
Casa, reputed to have been brought there by angels.].
His comrade was a stout formed, middle sized man, more than ten years
younger than his companion, with a down looking visage and a very
ominous smile, when by chance he gave way to that impulse, which was
never, except in reply to certain secret signs that seemed to pass
between him and the elder stranger. This man was armed with a sword and
dagger; and underneath his plain habit the Scotsman observed that he
concealed a jazeran, or flexible shirt of linked mail, which, as being
often worn by those, even of peaceful professions, who were called upon
at that perilous period to be frequently abroad, confirmed the young man
in his conjecture that the wearer was by profession a butcher, grazier,
or something of that description, called upon to be much abroad.
The young stranger, comprehending in one glance the result of the
observation which has taken us some time to express, answered, after a
moment's pause, "I am ignorant whom I may have the honour to address,"
making a slight reverence at the same time, "but I am indifferent who
knows that I am a cadet of Scotland; and that I come to seek my fortune
in France, or elsewhere, after the custom of my countrymen."
"Pasques dieu! and a gallant custom it is," said the elder stranger.
"You seem a fine young springald, and at the right age to prosper,
whether among men or women. What say you? I am a merchant, and want a
lad to assist in my traffic; I suppose you are too much a gentleman to
assist in such mechanical drudgery?"
"Fair sir," said the youth, "if your offer be seriously made--of which
I have my doubts--I am bound to thank you for it, and I thank you
accordingly; but I fear I should be altogether unfit for your service."
"What!" said the senior, "I warrant thou knowest better how to draw
the bow, than how to draw a bill of charges--canst handle a broadsword
better than a pen--ha!"
"I am, master," answered the young Scot, "a braeman, and therefore, as
we say, a bowman. But besides that, I have been in a convent, where the
good fathers taught me to read and write, and even to cipher."
"Pasques dieu! that is too magnificent," said the merchant. "By our Lady
of Embrun [a town in France containing a cathedral in which was a wooden
statue of the Virgin Mary, said to have been sculptured by St. Luke],
thou art a prodigy, man!"
"Rest you merry, fair master," said the youth, who was not much pleased
with his new acquaintance's jocularity, "I must go dry myself, instead
of standing dripping here, answering questions."
The merchant only laughed louder as he spoke, and answered, "Pasques
dieu! the proverb never fails--fier comme un Ecossois [proud or haughty
as a Scotchman]--but come, youngster, you are of a country I have a
regard for, having traded in Scotland in my time--an honest poor set
of folks they are; and, if you will come with us to the village, I will
bestow on you a cup of burnt sack and a warm breakfast, to atone for
your drenching.--But tete bleau! what do you with a hunting glove on
your hand? Know you not there is no hawking permitted in a royal chase?"
"I was taught that lesson," answered the youth, "by a rascally forester
of the Duke of Burgundy. I did but fly the falcon I had brought with me
from Scotland, and that I reckoned on for bringing me into some note, at
a heron near Peronne, and the rascally schelm [rogue, rascal (obsolete
or Scotch)] shot my bird with an arrow."
"What did you do?" said the merchant.
"Beat him," said the youngster, brandishing his staff, "as near to death
as one Christian man should belabour another--I wanted not to have his
blood to answer for."
"Know you," said the burgess, "that had you fallen into the Duke of
Burgundy's hands, he would have hung you up like a chestnut?"
"Ay, I am told he is as prompt as the King of France for that sort
of work. But, as this happened near Peronne, I made a leap over the
frontiers, and laughed at him. If he had not been so hasty, I might,
perhaps, have taken service with him."
"He will have a heavy miss of such a paladin as you are, if the truce
should break off," said the merchant, and threw a look at his own
companion, who answered him with one of the downcast lowering smiles
which gleamed along his countenance, enlivening it as a passing meteor
enlivens a winter sky.
The young Scot suddenly stopped, pulled his bonnet over his right
eyebrow, as one that would not be ridiculed, and said firmly, "My
masters, and especially you, sir, the elder, and who should be the
wiser, you will find, I presume, no sound or safe jesting at my expense.
I do not altogether like the tone of your conversation. I can take a
jest with any man, and a rebuke, too, from my elder, and say thank you,
sir, if I know it to be deserved; but I do not like being borne in
hand as if I were a child, when, God wot, I find myself man enough to
belabour you both, if you provoke me too far."
The eldest man seemed like to choke with laughter at the lad's
demeanour--his companion's hand stole to his sword hilt, which the youth
observing, dealt him a blow across the wrist, which made him incapable
of grasping it, while his companion's mirth was only increased by the
"Hold, hold," he cried, "most doughty Scot, even for thine own
dear country's sake, and you, gossip, forbear your menacing look.
Pasques-dieu! let us be just traders, and set off the wetting against
the knock on the wrist, which was given with so much grace and
alacrity.--And hark ye, my young friend," he said to the young man, with
a grave sternness which, in spite of all the youth could do, damped
and overawed him, "no more violence. I am no fit object for it, and my
gossip, as you may see, has had enough of it. Let me know your name."
"I can answer a civil question civilly," said the youth; "and will
pay fitting respect to your age, if you do not urge my patience with
mockery. Since I have been here in France and Flanders, men have called
me, in their fantasy, the Varlet with the Velvet Pouch, because of this
hawk purse which I carry by my side; but my true name, when at home, is
"Durward!" said the querist; "is it a gentleman's name?"
"By fifteen descents in our family," said the young man; "and that makes
me reluctant to follow any other trade than arms."
"A true Scot! Plenty of blood, plenty of pride, and right great scarcity
of ducats, I warrant thee.--Well, gossip," he said to his companion,
"go before us, and tell them to have some breakfast ready yonder at the
Mulberry grove; for this youth will do as much honour to it as a starved
mouse to a housewife's cheese. And for the Bohemian--hark in thy ear."
His comrade answered by a gloomy but intelligent smile, and set forward
at a round pace, while the elder man continued, addressing young
Durward, "You and I will walk leisurely forward together, and we may
take a mass at Saint Hubert's Chapel in our way through the forest; for
it is not good to think of our fleshly before our spiritual wants."
[This silvan saint... was passionately fond of the chase, and used to
neglect attendance on divine worship for this amusement. While he was
once engaged in this pastime, a stag appeared before him, having a
crucifix bound betwixt his horns, and he heard a voice which menaced
him with eternal punishment if he did not repent of his sins. He retired
from the world and took orders... Hubert afterwards became Bishop of
Maestrecht and Liege. S.]
Durward, as a good Catholic, had nothing to object against this
proposal, although he might probably have been desirous, in the first
place; to have dried his clothes and refreshed himself. Meanwhile, they
soon lost sight of their downward looking companion, but continued to
follow the same path which he had taken, until it led them into a wood
of tall trees, mixed with thickets and brushwood, traversed by long
avenues, through which were seen, as through a vista, the deer
trotting in little herds with a degree of security which argued their
consciousness of being completely protected.
"You asked me if I were a good bowman," said the young Scot. "Give me
a bow and a brace of shafts, and you shall have a piece of venison in a
"Pasques dieu! my young friend," said his companion, "take care of that;
my gossip yonder hath a special eye to the deer; they are under his
charge, and he is a strict keeper."
"He hath more the air of a butcher than of a gay forester," answered
Durward. "I cannot think yon hang dog look of his belongs to any one who
knows the gentle rules of woodcraft."
"Ah, my young friend," answered his companion, "my gossip hath
somewhat an ugly favour to look upon at the first; but those who become
acquainted with him never are known to complain of him."
Quentin Durward found something singularly and disagreeably significant
in the tone with which this was spoken; and, looking suddenly at the
speaker, thought he saw in his countenance, in the slight smile that
curled his upper lip, and the accompanying twinkle of his keen dark eye,
something to justify his unpleasing surprise. "I have heard of robbers,"
he thought to himself, "and of wily cheats and cutthroats--what if
yonder fellow be a murderer, and this old rascal his decoy duck! I will
be on my guard--they will get little by me but good Scottish knocks."
While he was thus reflecting, they came to a glade, where the large
forest trees were more widely separated from each other, and where the
ground beneath, cleared of underwood and bushes, was clothed with a
carpet of the softest and most lovely verdure, which, screened from the
scorching heat of the sun, was here more beautifully tender than it
is usually to be seen in France. The trees in this secluded spot were
chiefly beeches and elms of huge magnitude, which rose like great hills
of leaves into the air. Amidst these magnificent sons of the earth there
peeped out, in the most open spot of the glade, a lowly chapel, near
which trickled a small rivulet. Its architecture was of the rudest and
most simple kind; and there was a very small lodge beside it, for the
accommodation of a hermit or solitary priest, who remained there for
regularly discharging the duty of the altar. In a small niche over the
arched doorway stood a stone image of Saint Hubert, with the bugle horn
around his neck, and a leash of greyhounds at his feet. The situation of
the chapel in the midst of a park or chase, so richly stocked with game,
made the dedication to the Sainted Huntsman peculiarly appropriate.
Towards this little devotional structure the old man directed his steps,
followed by young Durward; and, as they approached, the priest, dressed
in his sacerdotal garments, made his appearance in the act of proceeding
from his cell to the chapel, for the discharge, doubtless, of his holy
office. Durward bowed his body reverently to the priest, as the respect
due to his sacred office demanded; whilst his companion, with an
appearance of still more deep devotion, kneeled on one knee to receive
the holy man's blessing, and then followed him into church, with a step
and manner expressive of the most heartfelt contrition and humility.
The inside of the chapel was adorned in a manner adapted to the
occupation of the patron saint while on earth. The richest furs of such
animals as are made the objects of the chase in different countries
supplied the place of tapestry and hangings around the altar and
elsewhere, and the characteristic emblazonments of bugles, bows,
quivers, and other emblems of hunting, surrounded the walls, and were
mingled with the heads of deer, wolves, and other animals considered
beasts of sport. The whole adornments took an appropriate and silvan
character; and the mass itself, being considerably shortened, proved to
be of that sort which is called a hunting mass, because in use before
the noble and powerful, who, while assisting at the solemnity, are
usually impatient to commence their favourite sport.
Yet, during this brief ceremony, Durward's companion seemed to pay the
most rigid and scrupulous attention; while Durward, not quite so much
occupied with religious thoughts, could not forbear blaming himself
in his own mind for having entertained suspicions derogatory to the
character of so good and so humble a man. Far from now holding him as
a companion and accomplice of robbers, he had much to do to forbear
regarding him as a saint-like personage.
When mass was ended, they retired together from the chapel, and the
elder said to his young comrade, "It is but a short walk from hence
to the village--you may now break your fast with an unprejudiced
Turning to the right, and proceeding along a path which seemed gradually
to ascend, he recommended to his companion by no means to quit the
track, but, on the contrary, to keep the middle of it as nearly as he
could. Durward could not help asking the cause of this precaution.
"You are now near the Court, young man," answered his guide; "and,
Pasques-dieu! there is some difference betwixt walking in this region
and on your own heathy hills. Every yard of this ground, excepting
the path which we now occupy, is rendered dangerous, and well nigh
impracticable, by snares and traps, armed with scythe blades, which
shred off the unwary passenger's limb as sheerly as a hedge bill lops a
hawthorn sprig--and calthrops that would pierce your foot through,
and pitfalls deep enough to bury you in them for ever; for you are now
within the precincts of the royal demesne, and we shall presently see
the front of the Chateau."
"Were I the King of France," said the young man, "I would not take so
much trouble with traps and gins, but would try instead to govern so
well that no man should dare to come near my dwelling with a bad intent;
and for those who came there in peace and goodwill, why, the more of
them the merrier we should be."
His companion looked round affecting an alarmed gaze, and said, "Hush,
hush, Sir Varlet with the Velvet Pouch! for I forgot to tell you, that
one great danger of these precincts is, that the very leaves of the
trees are like so many ears, which carry all which is spoken to the
King's own cabinet."
"I care little for that," answered Quentin Durward; "I bear a Scottish
tongue in my head, bold enough to speak my mind to King Louis's face,
God bless him--and for the ears you talk of, if I could see them growing
on a human head, I would crop them out of it with my wood knife."
CHAPTER III: THE CASTLE
Full in the midst a mighty pile arose,
Where iron grated gates their strength oppose
To each invading step--and strong and steep,
The battled walls arose, the fosse sunk deep.
Slow round the fortress roll'd the sluggish stream,
And high in middle air the warder's turrets gleam.
While Durward and his acquaintance thus spoke, they came in sight of
the whole front of the Castle of Plessis les Tours, which, even in
those dangerous times, when the great found themselves obliged to reside
within places of fortified strength, was distinguished for the extreme
and jealous care with which it was watched and defended.
From the verge of the wood where young Durward halted with his
companion, in order to take a view of this royal residence, extended,
or rather arose, though by a very gentle elevation, an open esplanade,
devoid of trees and bushes of every description, excepting one gigantic
and half withered old oak. This space was left open, according to the
rules of fortification in all ages, in order that an enemy might not
approach the walls under cover, or unobserved from the battlements, and
beyond it arose the Castle itself.
There were three external walls, battlemented and turreted from space
to space and at each angle, the second enclosure rising higher than the
first, and being built so as to command the exterior defence in case
it was won by the enemy; and being again, in the same manner, itself
commanded by the third and innermost barrier.
Around the external wall, as the Frenchman informed his young companion
(for as they stood lower than the foundation of the wall, he could not
see it), was sunk a ditch of about twenty feet in depth, supplied with
water by a dam head on the river Cher; or rather on one of its tributary
branches. In front of the second enclosure, he said, there ran another
fosse, and a third, both of the same unusual dimensions, was led between
the second and the innermost inclosure. The verge, both of the outer and
inner circuit of this triple moat was strongly fenced with palisades of
iron, serving the purpose of what are called chevaux de frise in modern
fortification, the top of each pale being divided into a cluster of
sharp spikes, which seemed to render any attempt to climb over an act of
From within the innermost enclosure arose the Castle itself, containing
buildings of all periods, crowded around, and united with the ancient
and grim looking donjon keep, which was older than any of them, and
which rose, like a black Ethiopian giant, high into the air, while the
absence of any windows larger than shot holes, irregularly disposed
for defence, gave the spectator the same unpleasant feeling which
we experience on looking at a blind man. The other buildings seemed
scarcely better adapted for the purposes of comfort, for the windows
opened to an inner and enclosed courtyard; so that the whole external
front looked much more like that of a prison than a palace. The reigning
King had even increased this effect; for, desirous that the additions
which he himself had made to the fortifications should be of a character
not easily distinguished from the original building (for, like many
jealous persons, he loved not that his suspicions should be observed),
the darkest coloured brick and freestone were employed, and soot mingled
with the lime, so as to give the whole Castle the same uniform tinge of
extreme and rude antiquity.
This formidable place had but one entrance--at least Durward saw none
along the spacious front, except where, in the centre of the first
and outward boundary, arose two strong towers, the usual defences of a
gateway; and he could observe their ordinary accompaniments, portcullis
and drawbridge--of which the first was lowered, and the last raised.
Similar entrance towers were visible on the second and third bounding
wall, but not in the same line with those on the outward circuit;
because the passage did not cut right through the whole three enclosures
at the same point, but, on the contrary, those who entered had to
proceed nearly thirty yards betwixt the first and second wall, exposed,
if their purpose were hostile, to missiles from both; and again, when
the second boundary was passed, they must make a similar digression
from the straight line, in order to attain the portal of the third and
innermost enclosure; so that before gaining the outer court, which ran
along the front of the building, two narrow and dangerous defiles were
to be traversed under a flanking discharge of artillery, and three
gates, defended in the strongest manner known to the age, were to be
Coming from a country alike desolated by foreign war and internal
feuds--a country, too, whose unequal and mountainous surface, abounding
in precipices and torrents, affords so many situations of strength,
young Durward was sufficiently acquainted with all the various
contrivances by which men, in that stern age, endeavoured to secure
their dwellings; but he frankly owned to his companion, that he did not
think it had been in the power of art to do so much for defence, where
nature had done so little; for the situation, as we have hinted, was
merely the summit of a gentle elevation ascending upwards from the place
where they were standing.
To enhance his surprise, his companion told him that the environs of
the Castle, except the single winding path by which the portal might
be safely approached, were, like the thickets through which they had
passed, surrounded with every species of hidden pitfall, snare, and gin,
to entrap the wretch who should venture thither without a guide;
that upon the walls were constructed certain cradles of iron, called
swallows' nests, from which the sentinels, who were regularly posted
there, could without being exposed to any risk, take deliberate aim at
any who should attempt to enter without the proper signal or password of
the day; and that the Archers of the Royal Guard performed that duty
day and night, for which they received high pay, rich clothing, and much
honour and profit at the hands of King Louis. "And now tell me, young
man," he continued, "did you ever see so strong a fortress, and do you
think there are men bold enough to storm it?"
The young man looked long and fixedly on the place, the sight of which
interested him so much that he had forgotten, in the eagerness of
youthful curiosity, the wetness of his dress. His eye glanced, and his
colour mounted to his cheek like that of a daring man who meditates an
honourable action, as he replied, "It is a strong castle, and strongly
guarded; but there is no impossibility to brave men."
"Are there any in your country who could do such a feat?" said the
elder, rather scornfully.
"I will not affirm that," answered the youth; "but there are thousands
that, in a good cause, would attempt as bold a deed."
"Umph!" said the senior, "perhaps you are yourself such a gallant!"
"I should sin if I were to boast where there is no danger," answered
young Durward; "but my father has done as bold an act, and I trust I am
"Well," said his companion, smiling, "you might meet your match, and
your kindred withal in the attempt; for the Scottish Archers of King
Louis's Life Guards stand sentinels on yonder walls--three hundred
gentlemen of the best blood in your country."
"And were I King Louis," said the youth, in reply, "I would trust my
safety to the faith of the three hundred Scottish gentlemen, throw
down my bounding walls to fill up the moat; call in my noble peers and
paladins, and live as became me, amid breaking of lances in gallant
tournaments, and feasting of days with nobles, and dancing of nights
with ladies, and have no more fear of a foe than I have of a fly."
His companion again smiled, and turning his back on the Castle, which,
he observed, they had approached a little too nearly, he led the way
again into the wood by a more broad and beaten path than they had yet
trodden. "This," he said, "leads us to the village of Plessis, as it
is called, where you, as a stranger, will find reasonable and honest
accommodation. About two miles onward lies the fine city of Tours,
which gives name to this rich and beautiful earldom. But the village
of Plessis, or Plessis of the Park as it is sometimes called, from
its vicinity to the royal residence, and the chase with which it is
encircled, will yield you nearer and as convenient hospitality."
"I thank you, kind master, for your information," said the Scot; "but my
stay will be so short here, that, if I fail not in a morsel of meat, and
a drink of something better than water, my necessities in Plessis, be it
of the park or the pool, will be amply satisfied."
"Nay," answered his companion, "I thought you had some friend to see in
"And so I have--my mother's own brother," answered Durward; "and as
pretty a man, before he left the braes of Angus [hills and moors of
Angus in Forfarshire, Scotland.], as ever planted brogue on heather."
"What is his name?" said the senior. "We will inquire him out for you;
for it is not safe for you to go up to the Castle, where you might be
taken for a spy."
"Now, by my father's hand!" said the youth, "I taken for a spy!--By
Heaven, he shall brook cold iron that brands me with such a charge!--But
for my uncle's name, I care not who knows it--it is Lesly. Lesly--an
honest and noble name."
"And so it is, I doubt not," said the old man; "but there are three of
the name in the Scottish Guard."
"My uncle's name is Ludovic Lesly," said the young man.
"Of the three Leslys," answered the merchant, "two are called Ludovic."
"They call my kinsman Ludovic with the Scar," said Quentin. "Our family
names are so common in a Scottish house, that, where there is no land in
the case, we always give a to-name [surname]."
"A nom de guerre [the war name; formerly taken by French soldiers
on entering the service. Hence a fictitious name assumed for other
purposes.], I suppose you to mean," answered his companion; "and the
man you speak of, we, I think, call Le Balafre, from that scar on his
face--a proper man, and a good soldier. I wish I may be able to help
you to an interview with him, for he belongs to a set of gentlemen whose
duty is strict, and who do not often come out of garrison, unless in the
immediate attendance on the King's person.--And now, young man, answer
me one question. I will wager you are desirous to take service with your
uncle in the Scottish Guard. It is a great thing, if you propose
so; especially as you are very young, and some years' experience is
necessary for the high office which you aim at."
"Perhaps I may have thought on some such thing," said Durward,
carelessly; "but if I did, the fancy is off."
"How so, young man?" said the Frenchman, something sternly, "Do you
speak thus of a charge which the most noble of your countrymen feel
themselves emulous to be admitted to?"
"I wish them joy of it," said Quentin, composedly. "To speak plain, I
should have liked the service of the French King full well; only, dress
me as fine and feed me as high as you will, I love the open air better
than being shut up in a cage or a swallow's nest yonder, as you call
these same grated pepper boxes. Besides," he added, in a lower voice,
"to speak truth, I love not the Castle when the covin tree bears such
acorns as I see yonder."
[The large tree in front of a Scottish castle was sometimes called so.
It is difficult to trace the derivation; but at that distance from the
castle the laird received guests of rank, and thither he conveyed them
on their departure. S.]
"I guess what you mean," said the Frenchman; "but speak yet more
"To speak more plainly, then," said the youth, "there grows a fair oak
some flight shot or so from yonder Castle--and on that oak hangs a man
in a gray jerkin, such as this which I wear."
"Ay and indeed!" said the man of France--"Pasques dieu! see what it is
to have youthful eyes! Why, I did see something, but only took it for a
raven among the branches. But the sight is no ways strange, young man;
when the summer fades into autumn, and moonlight nights are long, and
roads become unsafe, you will see a cluster of ten, ay of twenty such
acorns, hanging on that old doddered oak.--But what then?--they are so
many banners displayed to scare knaves; and for each rogue that hangs
there, an honest man may reckon that there is a thief, a traitor, a
robber on the highway, a pilleur and oppressor of the people the fewer
in France. These, young man, are signs of our Sovereign's justice."
"I would have hung them farther from my palace, though, were I King
Louis," said the youth. "In my country, we hang up dead corbies where
living corbies haunt, but not in our gardens or pigeon houses. The very
scent of the carrion--faugh--reached my nostrils at the distance where
"If you live to be an honest and loyal servant of your Prince, my good
youth," answered the Frenchman, "you will know there is no perfume to
match the scent of a dead traitor."
"I shall never wish to live till I lose the scent of my nostrils or the
sight of my eyes," said the Scot. "Show me a living traitor, and here
are my hand and my weapon; but when life is out, hatred should not live
longer.--But here, I fancy, we come upon the village, where I hope to
show you that neither ducking nor disgust have spoiled mine appetite for
my breakfast. So my good friend, to the hostelrie, with all the speed
you may.--Yet, ere I accept of your hospitality, let me know by what
name to call you."
"Men call me Maitre Pierre," answered his companion. "I deal in
no titles. A plain man, that can live on mine own good--that is my
"So be it, Maitre Pierre," said Quentin, "and I am happy my good chance
has thrown us together; for I want a word of seasonable advice, and can
be thankful for it."
While they spoke thus, the tower of the church and a tall wooden
crucifix, rising above the trees, showed that they were at the entrance
of the village.
But Maitre Pierre, deflecting a little from the road, which had now
joined an open and public causeway, said to his companion that the
inn to which he intended to introduce him stood somewhat secluded, and
received only the better sort of travellers.
"If you mean those who travel with the better filled purses," answered
the Scot, "I am none of the number, and will rather stand my chance of
your flayers on the highway, than of your flayers in the hostelrie."
"Pasques dieu!" said his guide, "how cautious your countrymen of
Scotland are! An Englishman, now, throws himself headlong into a tavern,
eats and drinks of the best, and never thinks of the reckoning till his
belly is full. But you forget, Master Quentin, since Quentin is your
name, you forget I owe you a breakfast for the wetting which my mistake
procured you.--It is the penance of my offence towards you."
"In truth," said the light hearted young man, "I had forgot wetting,
offence, and penance, and all. I have walked my clothes dry, or
nearly so, but I will not refuse your offer in kindness; for my dinner
yesterday was a light one, and supper I had none. You seem an old and
respectable burgess, and I see no reason why I should not accept your
The Frenchman smiled aside, for he saw plainly that the youth, while he
was probably half famished, had yet some difficulty to reconcile himself
to the thoughts of feeding at a stranger's cost, and was endeavouring
to subdue his inward pride by the reflection, that, in such slight
obligations, the acceptor performed as complaisant a part as he by whom
the courtesy was offered.
In the meanwhile, they descended a narrow lane, overshadowed by tall
elms, at the bottom of which a gateway admitted them into the courtyard
of an inn of unusual magnitude, calculated for the accommodation of the
nobles and suitors who had business at the neighbouring Castle, where
very seldom, and only when such hospitality was altogether unavoidable,
did Louis XI permit any of his court to have apartments. A scutcheon,
bearing the fleur de lys, hung over the principal door of the large
irregular building; but there was about the yard and the offices
little or none of the bustle which in those days, when attendants were
maintained both in public and in private houses, marked that business
was alive, and custom plenty. It seemed as if the stern and unsocial
character of the royal mansion in the neighbourhood had communicated
a portion of its solemn and terrific gloom even to a place designed
according to universal custom elsewhere, for the temple of social
indulgence, merry society, and good cheer.
Maitre Pierre, without calling any one, and even without approaching
the principal entrance, lifted the latch of a side door, and led the
way into a large room, where a faggot was blazing on the hearth, and
arrangements made for a substantial breakfast.
"My gossip has been careful," said the Frenchman to the Scot. "You must
be cold, and I have commanded a fire; you must be hungry, and you shall
have breakfast presently."
He whistled and the landlord entered--answered Maitre Pierre's bon
jour with a reverence--but in no respect showed any part of the prating
humour properly belonging to a French publican of all ages.
"I expected a gentleman," said Maitre Pierre, "to order breakfast--hath
he done so?"
In answer the landlord only bowed; and while he continued to bring,
and arrange upon the table, the various articles of a comfortable meal,
omitted to extol their merits by a single word. And yet the breakfast
merited such eulogiums as French hosts are wont to confer upon their
regales, as the reader will be informed in the next chapter.
CHAPTER IV: THE DEJEUNER
Sacred heaven! what masticators! what bread!
We left our young stranger in France situated more comfortably than he
had found himself since entering the territories of the ancient Gauls.
The breakfast, as we hinted in the conclusion of the last chapter, was
admirable. There was a pate de Perigord, over which a gastronome would
have wished to live and die, like Homer's lotus eaters [see the Odyssey,
chap. ix, where Odysseus arrives at the land of the Lotus eaters:
"whosoever of them ate the lotus's honeyed fruit resolved to bring
tidings back no more and never to leave the place, but with the Lotus
eaters there desired to stay, to feed on lotus and forget his going
home." Palmer's Translation.], forgetful of kin, native country, and all
social obligations whatever. Its vast walls of magnificent crust seemed
raised like the bulwarks of some rich metropolitan city, an emblem of
the wealth which they are designed to protect. There was a delicate
ragout, with just that petit point de l'ail [a little flavor of garlic.
The French is ungrammatical.] which Gascons love, and Scottishmen do
not hate. There was, besides, a delicate ham, which had once supported a
noble wild boar in the neighbouring wood of Mountrichart. There was the
most exquisite white bread, made into little round loaves called boules
(whence the bakers took their French name of boulangers), of which the
crust was so inviting, that, even with water alone, it would have been a
delicacy. But the water was not alone, for there was a flask of leather
called bottrine, which contained about a quart of exquisite Vin de
Beaulne. So many good things might have created appetite under the ribs
of death. What effect, then, must they have produced upon a youngster of
scarce twenty, who (for the truth must be told) had eaten little for the
two last days, save the scarcely ripe fruit which chance afforded him an
opportunity of plucking, and a very moderate portion of barley bread?
He threw himself upon the ragout, and the plate was presently vacant--he
attacked the mighty pasty, marched deep into the bowels of the land, and
seasoning his enormous meal with an occasional cup of wine, returned to
the charge again and again, to the astonishment of mine host, and the
amusement of Maitre Pierre.
The latter indeed, probably because he found himself the author of a
kinder action than he had thought of, seemed delighted with the appetite
of the young Scot; and when, at length, he observed that his exertions
began to languish, endeavoured to stimulate him to new efforts by
ordering confections, darioles [cream cakes], and any other light
dainties he could think of, to entice the youth to continue his meal.
While thus engaged, Maitre Pierre's countenance expressed a kind of good
humour almost amounting to benevolence, which appeared remote from its
ordinary sharp, caustic, and severe character. The aged almost always
sympathize with the enjoyments of youth and with its exertions of every
kind, when the mind of the spectator rests on its natural poise and is
not disturbed by inward envy or idle emulation.
Quentin Durward also, while thus agreeably employed, could do no
otherwise than discover that the countenance of his entertainer, which
he had at first found so unprepossessing, mended when it was seen under
the influence of the Vin de Beaulne, and there was kindness in the tone
with which he reproached Maitre Pierre, that he amused himself with
laughing at his appetite, without eating anything himself.
"I am doing penance," said Maitre Pierre, "and may not eat anything
before noon, save some comfiture and a cup of water.--Bid yonder lady,"
he added, turning to the innkeeper, "bring them hither to me."
The innkeeper left the room, and Maitre Pierre proceeded, "Well, have I
kept faith with you concerning the breakfast I promised you?"
"The best meal I have eaten," said the youth, "since I left Glen
"Glen--what?" demanded Maitre Pierre. "Are you going to raise the devil,
that you use such long tailed words?"
"Glen Houlakin," answered Quentin good humouredly, "which is to say the
Glen of the Midges, is the name of our ancient patrimony, my good sir.
You have bought the right to laugh at the sound, if you please."
"I have not the least intention to offend," said the old man; "but I
was about to say, since you like your present meal so well, that the
Scottish Archers of the guard eat as good a one, or a better, every
"No wonder," said Durward; "for if they be shut up in the swallows'
nests all night, they must needs have a curious appetite in the
"And plenty to gratify it upon," said Maitre Pierre. "They need not,
like the Burgundians, choose a bare back, that they may have a full
belly--they dress like counts, and feast like abbots."
"It is well for them," said Durward.
"And wherefore will you not take service here, young man? Your uncle
might, I dare say, have you placed on the file when there should
a vacancy occur. And, hark in your ear, I myself have some little
interest, and might be of some use to you. You can ride, I presume, as
well as draw the bow?"
"Our race are as good horsemen as ever put a plated shoe into a steel
stirrup; and I know not but I might accept of your kind offer. Yet, look
you, food and raiment are needful things, but, in my case, men think of
honour, and advancement, and brave deeds of arms. Your King Louis--God
bless him, for he is a friend and ally of Scotland--but he lies here in
this castle, or only rides about from one fortified town to another;
and gains cities and provinces by politic embassies, and not in fair
fighting. Now, for me, I am of the Douglases' mind, who always kept the
fields, because they loved better to hear the lark sing than the mouse
"Young man," said Maitre Pierre, "do not judge too rashly of the actions
of sovereigns. Louis seeks to spare the blood of his subjects, and cares
not for his own. He showed himself a man of courage at Montl'hery."
"Ay, but that was some dozen years ago or more," answered the youth--"I
should like to follow a master that would keep his honour as bright
as his shield, and always venture foremost in the very throng of the
"Why did you not tarry at Brussels, then, with the Duke of Burgundy?
He would put you in the way to have your bones broken every day; and,
rather than fail, would do the job for you himself--especially if he
heard that you had beaten his forester."
"Very true," said Quentin; "my unhappy chance has shut that door against
"Nay, there are plenty of daredevils abroad, with whom mad youngsters
may find service," said his adviser. "What think you, for example, of
William de la Marck?"
"What!" exclaimed Durward, "serve Him with the Beard--serve the Wild
Boar of Ardennes--a captain of pillagers and murderers, who would take
a man's life for the value of his gaberdine, and who slays priests and
pilgrims as if they were so many lance knights and men at arms? It would
be a blot on my father's scutcheon for ever."
"Well, my young hot blood," replied Maitre Pierre, "if you hold the
Sanglier [Wild Boar] too unscrupulous, wherefore not follow the young
Duke of Gueldres?"
[Adolphus, son of Arnold and of Catherine de Bourbon.... He made war
against his father; in which unnatural strife he made the old man
prisoner, and used him with the most brutal violence, proceeding, it
is said, even to the length of striking him with his hand. Arnold, in
resentment of this usage, disinherited the unprincipled wretch, and sold
to Charles of Burgundy whatever rights he had over the duchy of Gueldres
and earldom of Zutphen.... S.]
"Follow the foul fiend as soon," said Quentin. "Hark in your ear--he is
a burden too heavy for earth to carry--hell gapes for him! Men say that
he keeps his own father imprisoned, and that he has even struck him--can
you believe it?"
Maitre Pierre seemed somewhat disconcerted with the naive horror with
which the young Scotsman spoke of filial ingratitude, and he answered,
"You know not, young man, how short a while the relations of blood
subsist amongst those of elevated rank;" then changed the tone of
feeling in which he had begun to speak, and added, gaily, "besides, if
the Duke has beaten his father, I warrant you his father hath beaten him
of old, so it is but a clearing of scores."
"I marvel to hear you speak thus," said the Scot, colouring with
indignation; "gray hairs such as yours ought to have fitter subjects for
jesting. If the old Duke did beat his son in childhood, he beat him not
enough; for better he had died under the rod, than have lived to make
the Christian world ashamed that such a monster had ever been baptized."
"At this rate," said Maitre Pierre, "as you weigh the characters of each
prince and leader, I think you had better become a captain yourself; for
where will one so wise find a chieftain fit to command him?"
"You laugh at me, Maitre Pierre," said the youth, good humouredly, "and
perhaps you are right; but you have not named a man who is a gallant
leader, and keeps a brave party up here, under whom a man might seek
service well enough."
"I cannot guess whom you mean."
"Why, he that hangs like Mahomet's coffin [there is a tradition that
Mahomet's coffin is suspended in mid air Without any support, the most
generally accepted explanation being that the coffin is of iron and is
placed between two magnets] (a curse be upon Mahomet!) between the two
loadstones--he that no man can call either French or Burgundian, but who
knows to hold the balance between them both, and makes both of them fear
and serve him, for as great princes as they be."
"I cannot guess whom you mean," said Maitre Pierre, thoughtfully.
"Why, whom should I mean but the noble Louis de Luxembourg, Count of
Saint Paul, the High Constable of France? Yonder he makes his place good
with his gallant little army, holding his head as high as either King
Louis or Duke Charles, and balancing between them like the boy who
stands on the midst of a plank, while two others are swinging on the
[This part of Louis XI's reign was much embarrassed by the intrigues
of the Constable Saint Paul, who affected independence, and carried on
intrigues with England, France, and Burgundy at the same time. According
to the usual fate of such variable politicians, the Constable ended by
drawing upon himself the animosity of all the powerful neighbours whom
he had in their turn amused and deceived. He was delivered up by the
Duke of Burgundy to the King of France, tried, and hastily executed for
treason, A. D. 1475. S.]
"He is in danger of the worst fall of the three," said Maitre Pierre.
"And hark ye, my young friend, you who hold pillaging such a crime, do
you know that your politic Count of Saint Paul was the first who set the
example of burning the country during the time of war? and that before
the shameful devastation which he committed, open towns and villages,
which made no resistance, were spared on all sides?"
"Nay, faith," said Durward, "if that be the case, I shall begin to think
no one of these great men is much better than another, and that a choice
among them is but like choosing a tree to be hung upon. But this
Count de Saint Paul, this Constable, hath possessed himself by clean
conveyance of the town which takes its name from my honoured saint and
patron, Saint Quentin" [it was by his possession of this town of
Saint Quentin that the Constable was able to carry on those political
intrigues which finally cost him so dear. S.] (here he crossed himself),
"and methinks were I dwelling there, my holy patron would keep some
look out for me--he has not so many named after him as your more popular
saints--and yet he must have forgotten me, poor Quentin Durward, his
spiritual godson, since he lets me go one day without food, and leaves
me the next morning to the harbourage of Saint Julian, and the chance
courtesy of a stranger, purchased by a ducking in the renowned river
Cher, or one of its tributaries."
"Blaspheme not the saints, my young friend," said Maitre Pierre. "Saint
Julian is the faithful patron of travellers; and, peradventure, the
blessed Saint Quentin hath done more and better for thee than thou art
As he spoke, the door opened, and a girl rather above than under fifteen
years old, entered with a platter, covered with damask, on which was
placed a small saucer of the dried plums which have always added to the
reputation of Tours, and a cup of the curiously chased plate which
the goldsmiths of that city were anciently famous for executing with a
delicacy of workmanship that distinguished them from the other cities of
France, and even excelled the skill of the metropolis. The form of the
goblet was so elegant that Durward thought not of observing closely
whether the material was of silver, or like what had been placed before
himself, of a baser metal, but so well burnished as to resemble the
But the sight of the young person by whom this service was executed
attracted Durward's attention far more than the petty minutiae of the
duty which she performed.
He speedily made the discovery that a quantity of long black tresses,
which, in the maiden fashion of his own country, were unadorned by
any ornament, except a single chaplet lightly woven out of ivy leaves,
formed a veil around a countenance which, in its regular features, dark
eyes, and pensive expression, resembled that of Melpomene [the Muse
of tragedy], though there was a faint glow on the cheek, and an
intelligence on the lips and in the eye, which made it seem that gaiety
was not foreign to a countenance so expressive, although it might not be
its most habitual expression. Quentin even thought he could discern that
depressing circumstances were the cause why a countenance so young and
so lovely was graver than belongs to early beauty; and as the romantic
imagination of youth is rapid in drawing conclusions from slight
premises, he was pleased to infer, from what follows, that the fate of
this beautiful vision was wrapped in silence and mystery.
"How now, Jacqueline?" said Maitre Pierre, when she entered the
apartment. "Wherefore this? Did I not desire that Dame Perette should
bring what I wanted?--Pasques dieu!--Is she, or does she think herself,
too good to serve me?"
"My kinswoman is ill at ease," answered Jacqueline, in a hurried yet a
humble tone,--"ill at ease, and keeps her chamber."
"She keeps it alone, I hope!" replied Maitre Pierre, with some emphasis;
"I am vieux routier [one who is experienced in the ways of the world],
and none of those upon whom feigned disorders pass for apologies."
Jacqueline turned pale, and even tottered at the answer of Maitre
Pierre; for it must be owned that his voice and looks, at all times
harsh, caustic, and unpleasing, had, when he expressed anger or
suspicion, an effect both sinister and alarming.
The mountain chivalry of Quentin Durward was instantly awakened, and he
hastened to approach Jacqueline and relieve her of the burden she bore,
and which she passively resigned to him, while, with a timid and anxious
look, she watched the countenance of the angry burgess. It was not in
nature to resist the piercing and pity craving expression of her looks,
and Maitre Pierre proceeded, not merely with an air of diminished
displeasure, but with as much gentleness as he could assume in
countenance and manner, "I blame not thee, Jacqueline, and thou art too
young to be, what it is pity to think thou must be one day--a false and
treacherous thing, like the rest of thy giddy sex. No man ever lived
to man's estate, but he had the opportunity to know you all [he (Louis)
entertained great contempt for the understanding, and not less for the
character, of the fair sex. S.]. Here is a Scottish cavalier will tell
you the same."
Jacqueline looked for an instant on the young stranger, as if to obey
Maitre Pierre, but the glance, momentary as it was, appeared to
Durward a pathetic appeal to him for support and sympathy; and with
the promptitude dictated by the feelings of youth, and the romantic
veneration for the female sex inspired by his education, he answered
hastily that he would throw down his gage to any antagonist, of equal
rank and equal age, who should presume to say such a countenance as that
which he now looked upon, could be animated by other than the purest and
the truest mind.
The young woman grew deadly pale, and cast an apprehensive glance upon
Maitre Pierre, in whom the bravado of the young gallant seemed only to
excite laughter, more scornful than applausive. Quentin, whose second
thoughts generally corrected the first, though sometimes after they
had found utterance, blushed deeply at having uttered what might be
construed into an empty boast in presence of an old man of a peaceful
profession; and as a sort of just and appropriate penance, resolved
patiently to submit to the ridicule which he had incurred. He offered
the cup and trencher to Maitre Pierre with a blush in his cheek, and a
humiliation of countenance which endeavoured to disguise itself under an
"You are a foolish young man," said Maitre Pierre, "and know as little
of women as of princes,--whose hearts," he said, crossing himself
devoutly, "God keeps in his right hand."
"And who keeps those of the women, then?" said Quentin, resolved, if he
could help it, not to be borne down by the assumed superiority of this
extraordinary old man, whose lofty and careless manner possessed an
influence over him of which he felt ashamed.
"I am afraid you must ask of them in another quarter," said Maitre
Quentin was again rebuffed, but not utterly disconcerted. "Surely,"
he said to himself, "I do not pay this same burgess of Tours all the
deference which I yield him, on account of the miserable obligation of
a breakfast, though it was a right good and substantial meal. Dogs and
hawks are attached by feeding only--man must have kindness, if you
would bind him with the cords of affection and obligation. But he is
an extraordinary person; and that beautiful emanation that is even
now vanishing--surely a thing so fair belongs not to this mean place,
belongs not even to the money gathering merchant himself, though he
seems to exert authority over her, as doubtless he does over all whom
chance brings within his little circle. It is wonderful what ideas of
consequence these Flemings and Frenchmen attach to wealth--so much
more than wealth deserves, that I suppose this old merchant thinks the
civility I pay to his age is given to his money. I a Scottish gentleman
of blood and coat armour, and he a mechanic of Tours!"
Such were the thoughts which hastily traversed the mind of young
Durward; while Maitre Pierre said with a smile, and at the same time
patting Jacqueline's heed, from which hung down her long tresses, "This
young man will serve me, Jacqueline, thou mayst withdraw. I will tell
thy negligent kinswoman she does ill to expose thee to be gazed on
"It was only to wait on you," said the maiden. "I trust you will not be
displeased with my kinswoman, since"--
"Pasques dieu!" said the merchant, interrupting her, but not harshly,
"do you bandy words with me, you brat, or stay you to gaze upon the
youngster here?--Begone--he is noble, and his services will suffice me."
Jacqueline vanished; and so much was Quentin Durward interested in her
sudden disappearance that it broke his previous thread of reflection,
and he complied mechanically when Maitre Pierre said, in the tone of
one accustomed to be obeyed, as he threw himself carelessly upon a large
easy chair, "Place that tray beside me."
The merchant then let his dark eyebrows sink over his keen eyes so that
the last became scarce visible, or but shot forth occasionally a quick
and vivid ray, like those of the sun setting behind a dark cloud,
through which its beams are occasionally darted, but singly and for an
"That is a beautiful creature," said the old man at last, raising
his head, and looking steadily and firmly at Quentin, when he put the
question,--"a lovely girl to be the servant of an auberge [an inn]? She
might grace the board of an honest burgess; but 'tis a vile education, a
It sometimes happens that a chance shot will demolish a noble castle in
the air, and the architect on such occasions entertains little goodwill
towards him who fires it, although the damage on the offender's part may
be wholly unintentional. Quentin was disconcerted, and was disposed to
be angry--he himself knew not why--with this old man, for acquainting
him that this beautiful creature was neither more nor less than what
her occupation announced; the servant of the auberge--an upper servant,
indeed, and probably a niece of the landlord, or such like; but still
a domestic, and obliged to comply with the humour of the customers, and
particularly of Maitre Pierre, who probably had sufficiency of whims,
and was rich enough to ensure their being attended to.
The thought, the lingering thought, again returned on him, that he
ought to make the old gentleman understand the difference betwixt their
conditions, and call on him to mark, that, how rich soever he might be,
his wealth put him on no level with a Durward of Glen Houlakin. Yet,
whenever he looked on Maitre Pierre's countenance with such a purpose,
there was, notwithstanding the downcast look, pinched features, and
mean and miserly dress, something which prevented the young man from
asserting the superiority over the merchant which he conceived himself
to possess. On the contrary, the oftener and more fixedly Quentin looked
at him, the stronger became his curiosity to know who or what this man
actually was; and he set him down internally for at least a Syndic or
high magistrate of Tours, or one who was, in some way or other, in the
full habit of exacting and receiving deference. Meantime, the merchant
seemed again sunk into a reverie, from which he raised himself only to
make the sign of the cross devoutly, and to eat some of the dried fruit,
with a morsel of biscuit. He then signed to Quentin to give him the cup,
adding, however, by way of question, as he presented it, "You are noble,
"I surely am," replied the Scot, "if fifteen descents can make me so--so
I told you before. But do not constrain yourself on that account, Maitre
Pierre--I have always been taught it is the duty of the young to assist
the more aged."
"An excellent maxim," said the merchant, availing himself of the youth's
assistance in handing the cup, and filling it from a ewer which seemed
of the same materials with the goblet, without any of those scruples in
point of propriety which, perhaps, Quentin had expected to excite.
"The devil take the ease and familiarity of this old mechanical
burgher!" said Durward once more to himself. "He uses the attendance of
a noble Scottish gentleman with as little ceremony as I would that of a
gillie from Glen Isla."
The merchant, in the meanwhile, having finished his cup of water, said
to his companion, "From the zeal with which you seem to relish the
Vin de Beaulne, I fancy you would not care much to pledge me in this
elemental liquor. But I have an elixir about me which can convert even
the rock water into the richest wines of France."
As he spoke, he took a large purse from his bosom, made of the fur of
the sea otter, and streamed a shower of small silver pieces into the
goblet, until the cup, which was but a small one, was more than half
"You have reason to be more thankful, young man," said Maitre Pierre,
"both to your patron Saint Quentin and to Saint Julian, than you seemed
to be but now. I would advise you to bestow alms in their name. Remain
in this hostelry until you see your kinsman, Le Balafre, who will be
relieved from guard in the afternoon. I will cause him to be acquainted
that he may find you here, for I have business in the Castle."
Quentin Durward would have said something to have excused himself from
accepting the profuse liberality of his new friend; but Maitre Pierre,
bending his dark brows, and erecting his stooping figure into an
attitude of more dignity than he had yet seen him assume, said in a tone
of authority, "No reply, young man, but do what you are commanded."
With these words he left the apartment, making a sign, as he departed,
that Quentin must not follow him.
The young Scotsman stood astounded, and knew not what to think of
the matter. His first most natural, though perhaps not most dignified
impulse, drove him to peer into the silver goblet, which assuredly was
more than half full of silver pieces to the number of several scores, of
which perhaps Quentin had never called twenty his own at one time during
the course of his whole life. But could he reconcile it to his dignity
as a gentleman, to accept the money of this wealthy plebeian?--This was
a trying question; for, though he had secured a good breakfast, it was
no great reserve upon which to travel either back to Dijon, in case he
chose to hazard the wrath and enter the service of the Duke of Burgundy,
or to Saint Quentin, if he fixed on that of the Constable Saint Paul;
for to one of those powers, if not to the king of France, he was
determined to offer his services. He perhaps took the wisest resolution
in the circumstances, in resolving to be guided by the advice of his
uncle; and, in the meantime, he put the money into his velvet hawking
pouch, and called for the landlord of the house, in order to restore the
silver cup--resolving, at the same time, to ask him some questions about
this liberal and authoritative merchant.
The man of the house appeared presently; and, if not more communicative,
was at least more loquacious, than he had been formerly. He positively
declined to take back the silver cup. It was none of his, he said, but
Maitre Pierre's, who had bestowed it on his guest. He had, indeed, four
silver hanaps of his own, which had been left him by his grandmother,
of happy memory, but no more like the beautiful carving of that in his
guest's hand, than a peach was like a turnip--that was one of the famous
cups of Tours, wrought by Martin Dominique, an artist who might brag all
"And, pray, who is this Maitre Pierre," said Durward, interrupting him,
"who confers such valuable gifts on strangers?"
"Who is Maitre Pierre?" said the host, dropping the words as slowly from
his mouth as if he had been distilling them.
"Ay," said Durward, hastily and peremptorily, "who is this Maitre
Pierre, and why does he throw about his bounties in this fashion?
And who is the butcherly looking fellow whom he sent forward to order
"Why, fair sir, as to who Maitre Pierre is, you should have asked the
question of himself; and for the gentleman who ordered breakfast to be
made ready, may God keep us from his closer acquaintance!"
"There is something mysterious in all this," said the young Scot. "This
Maitre Pierre tells me he is a merchant."
"And if he told you so," said the innkeeper, "surely he is a merchant."
"What commodities does he deal in?"
"Oh, many a fair matter of traffic," said the host; "and especially he
has set up silk manufactories here which match those rich bales that
the Venetians bring from India and Cathay. You might see the rows
of mulberry trees as you came hither, all planted by Maitre Pierre's
command, to feed the silk worms."
"And that young person who brought in the confections, who is she, my
good friend?" said the guest.
"My lodger, sir, with her guardian, some sort of aunt or kinswoman, as I
think," replied the innkeeper.
"And do you usually employ your guests in waiting on each other?" said
Durward; "for I observed that Maitre Pierre would take nothing from your
hand, or that of your attendant."
"Rich men may have their fancies, for they can pay for them," said the
landlord; "this is not the first time Maitre Pierre has found the true
way to make gentlefolks serve at his beck."
The young Scotsman felt somewhat offended at the insinuation; but,
disguising his resentment, he asked whether he could be accommodated
with an apartment at this place for a day, and perhaps longer.
"Certainly," the innkeeper replied; "for whatever time he was pleased to
"Could he be permitted," he asked, "to pay his respects to the ladies,
whose fellow lodger he was about to become?"
The innkeeper was uncertain. "They went not abroad," he said, "and
received no one at home."
"With the exception, I presume, of Maitre Pierre?" said Durward.
"I am not at liberty to name any exceptions," answered the man, firmly
Quentin, who carried the notions of his own importance pretty high,
considering how destitute he was of means to support them, being
somewhat mortified by the innkeeper's reply, did not hesitate to avail
himself of a practice common enough in that age. "Carry to the ladies,"
he said, "a flask of vernat, with my humble duty; and say that Quentin
Durward, of the house of Glen Houlakin, a Scottish cavalier of honour,
and now their fellow lodger, desires the permission to dedicate his
homage to them in a personal interview."
The messenger departed, and returned, almost instantly, with the thanks
of the ladies, who declined the proffered refreshment, and, with their
acknowledgments to the Scottish cavalier, regretted that, residing there
in privacy, they could not receive his visit.
Quentin bit his lip, took a cup of the rejected vernat, which the host
had placed on the table. "By the mass, but this is a strange country,"
said he to himself, "where merchants and mechanics exercise the manners
and munificence of nobles, and little travelling damsels, who hold their
court in a cabaret [a public house], keep their state like disguised
princesses! I will see that black browed maiden again, or it will go
hard, however;" and having formed this prudent resolution, he demanded
to be conducted to the apartment which he was to call his own.
The landlord presently ushered him up a turret staircase, and from
thence along a gallery, with many doors opening from it, like those of
cells in a convent; a resemblance which our young hero, who recollected,
with much ennui, an early specimen of a monastic life, was far from
admiring. The host paused at the very end of the gallery, selected a key
from the large bunch which he carried at his girdle, opened the door,
and showed his guest the interior of a turret chamber; small, indeed,
but which, being clean and solitary, and having the pallet bed and
the few articles of furniture, in unusually good order, seemed, on the
whole, a little palace.
"I hope you will find your dwelling agreeable here, fair sir," said the
landlord. "I am bound to pleasure every friend of Maitre Pierre."
"Oh, happy ducking!" exclaimed Quentin Durward, cutting a caper on
the floor, so soon as his host had retired: "Never came good luck in a
better or a wetter form. I have been fairly deluged by my good fortune."
As he spoke thus, he stepped towards the little window, which, as the
turret projected considerably from the principal line of the building,
not only commanded a very pretty garden of some extent, belonging to the
inn, but overlooked, beyond its boundary, a pleasant grove of those
very mulberry trees which Maitre Pierre was said to have planted for
the support of the silk worm. Besides, turning the eye from these more
remote objects, and looking straight along the wall, the turret of
Quentin was opposite to another turret, and the little window at which
he stood commanded a similar little window in a corresponding projection
of the building. Now, it would be difficult for a man twenty years older
than Quentin to say why this locality interested him more than either
the pleasant garden or the grove of mulberry trees; for, alas! eyes
which have been used for forty years and upwards, look with indifference
on little turret windows, though the lattice be half open to admit the
air, while the shutter is half closed to exclude the sun, or perhaps
a too curious eye--nay, even though there hang on the one side of the
casement a lute, partly mantled by a light veil of sea green silk. But,
at Durward's happy age, such accidents, as a painter would call them,
form sufficient foundation for a hundred airy visions and mysterious
conjectures, at recollection of which the full grown man smiles while he
sighs, and sighs while he smiles.
As it may be supposed that our friend Quentin wished to learn a little
more of his fair neighbour, the owner of the lute and veil--as it may be
supposed he was at least interested to know whether she might not prove
the same whom he had seen in humble attendance on Maitre Pierre, it must
of course be understood that he did not produce a broad staring visage
and person in full front of his own casement. Durward knew better the
art of bird catching; and it was to his keeping his person skilfully
withdrawn on one side of his window; while he peeped through the
lattice, that he owed the pleasure of seeing a white, round, beautiful
arm take down the instrument, and that his ears had presently after
their share in the reward of his dexterous management.
The maid of the little turret, of the veil, and of the lute sang exactly
such an air as we are accustomed to suppose flowed from the lips of the
high born dames of chivalry, when knights and troubadours listened and
languished. The words had neither so much sense, wit, or fancy as to
withdraw the attention from the music, nor the music so much of art as
to drown all feeling of the words. The one seemed fitted to the other;
and if the song had been recited without the notes, or the air played
without the words, neither would have been worth noting. It is;
therefore, scarcely fair to put upon record lines intended not to be
said or read, but only to be sung. But such scraps of old poetry have
always had a sort of fascination for us; and as the tune is lost for
ever unless Bishop [Sir Henry Rowley, an English composer and professor
of music at Oxford in 1848. Among his most popular operas are Guy
Mannering and The Kniqht of Snowdon] happens to find the notes, or some
lark teaches Stephens [Catherine (1794-1882): a vocalist and actress
who created Susanna in the Marriage of Figaro, and various parts in
adaptation of Scott.] to warble the air--we will risk our credit, and
the taste of the Lady of the Lute, by preserving the verses, simple and
even rude as they are:
Ah! County Guy, the hour is nigh,
The sun has left the lea,
The orange flower perfumes the bower,
The breeze is on the sea.
The lark, his lay who thrill'd all day,
Sits hush'd his partner nigh;
Breeze, bird, and flower confess the hour,
But where is County Guy?
The village maid steals through the shade,
Her shepherd's suit to hear;
To beauty shy, by lattice high,
Sings high born Cavalier.
The star of Love, all stars above,
Now reigns o'er earth and sky;
And high and low the influence know
--But where is County Guy?
Whatever the reader may think of this simple ditty, it had a powerful
effect on Quentin, when married to heavenly airs, and sung by a sweet
and melting voice, the notes mingling with the gentle breezes which
wafted perfumes from the garden, and the figure of the songstress
being so partially and obscurely visible as threw a veil of mysterious
fascination over the whole.
At the close of the air, the listener could not help showing himself
more boldly than he had yet done, in a rash attempt to see more than he
had yet been able to discover. The music instantly ceased--the casement
was closed, and a dark curtain, dropped on the inside, put a stop to all
farther observation on the part of the neighbour in the next turret.
Durward was mortified and surprised at the consequence of his
precipitance, but comforted himself with the hope that the Lady of the
Lute could neither easily forego the practice of an instrument which
seemed so familiar to her, nor cruelly resolve to renounce the pleasures
of fresh air and an open window for the churlish purpose of preserving
for her own exclusive ear the sweet sounds which she created. There
came, perhaps, a little feeling of personal vanity to mingle with these
consolatory reflections. If, as he shrewdly suspected, there was a
beautiful dark tressed damsel inhabitant of the one turret, he could not
but be conscious that a handsome, young, roving, bright locked gallant,
a cavalier of fortune, was the tenant of the other; and romances, those
prudent instructors, had taught his youth that if damsels were shy, they
were yet neither void of interest nor of curiosity in their neighbours'
Whilst Quentin was engaged in these sage reflections, a sort of
attendant or chamberlain of the inn informed him that a cavalier desired
to speak with him below.
CHAPTER V: THE MAN AT ARMS
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth.
AS YOU LIKE IT
The cavalier who awaited Quentin Durward's descent into the apartment
where he had breakfasted, was one of those of whom Louis XI had long
since said that they held in their hands the fortune of France, as
to them were intrusted the direct custody and protection of the royal
Charles the Sixth had instituted this celebrated body, the Archers, as
they were called, of the Scottish Bodyguard, with better reason than
can generally be alleged for establishing round the throne a guard of
foreign and mercenary troops. The divisions which tore from his side
more than half of France, together with the wavering and uncertain faith
of the nobility who yet acknowledged his cause, rendered it impolitic
and unsafe to commit his personal safety to their keeping. The Scottish
nation was the hereditary enemy of the English, and the ancient, and,
as it seemed, the natural allies of France. They were poor, courageous,
faithful; their ranks were sure to be supplied from the superabundant
population of their own country, than which none in Europe sent forth
more or bolder adventurers. Their high claims of descent, too, gave them
a good title to approach the person of a monarch more closely than other
troops, while the comparative smallness of their numbers prevented the
possibility of their mutinying, and becoming masters where they ought to
On the other hand, the French monarchs made it their policy to
conciliate the affections of this select band of foreigners, by allowing
them honorary privileges and ample pay, which last most of them disposed
of with military profusion in supporting their supposed rank. Each of
them ranked as a gentleman in place and honour; and their near approach
to the King's person gave them dignity in their own eyes, as well as
importance in those of the nation of France. They were sumptuously
armed, equipped, and mounted; and each was entitled to allowance for
a squire, a valet, a page; and two yeomen, one of whom was termed
coutelier, from the large knife which he wore to dispatch those whom in
the melee his master had thrown to the ground. With these followers, and
a corresponding equipage, an Archer of the Scottish Guard was a person
of quality and importance; and vacancies being generally filled up by
those who had been trained in the service as pages or valets, the cadets
of the best Scottish families were often sent to serve under some friend
and relation in those capacities, until a chance of preferment should
The coutelier and his companion, not being noble or capable of this
promotion, were recruited from persons of inferior quality; but as their
pay and appointments were excellent, their masters were easily able
to select from among their wandering countrymen the strongest and most
courageous to wait upon them in these capacities.
Ludovic Lesly, or as we shall more frequently call him, Le Balafre, by
which name he was generally known in France, was upwards of six feet
high, robust, strongly compacted in person, and hard favoured in
countenance, which latter attribute was much increased by a large and
ghastly scar, which, beginning on his forehead, and narrowly missing
his right eye, had laid bare the cheek bone, and descended from
thence almost to the tip of his ear, exhibiting a deep seam, which
was sometimes scarlet, sometimes purple, sometimes blue, and sometimes
approaching to black; but always hideous, because at variance with
the complexion of the face in whatever state it chanced to be, whether
agitated or still, flushed with unusual passion, or in its ordinary
state of weather-beaten and sunburnt swarthiness.
His dress and arms were splendid. He wore his national bonnet, crested
with a tuft of feathers, and with a Virgin Mary of massive silver for
a brooch. These brooches had been presented to the Scottish Guard, in
consequence of the King, in one of his fits of superstitions piety,
having devoted the swords of his guard to the service of the Holy
Virgin, and, as some say, carried the matter so far as to draw out a
commission to Our Lady as their Captain General. The Archer's gorget,
arm pieces, and gauntlets, were of the finest steel, curiously inlaid
with silver, and his hauberk, or shirt of mail, was as clear and bright
as the frostwork of a winter morning upon fern or brier. He wore a loose
surcoat or cassock of rich blue velvet, open at the sides like that of
a herald, with a large white St. Andrew's cross of embroidered silver
bisecting it both before and behind; his knees and legs were protected
by hose of mail and shoes of steel; a broad, strong poniard (called the
Mercy of God), hung by his right side; the baldric for his two handed
sword, richly embroidered, hung upon his left shoulder; but for
convenience he at present carried in his hand that unwieldy weapon which
the rules of his service forbade him to lay aside.
[St. Andrew was the first called to apostleship. He made many converts
to Christianity and was finally crucified on a cross of peculiar form,
which has since been called the St. Andrew's cross. Certain of his
relics were brought to Scotland in the fourth century, and he has since
that time been honoured as the patron saint of that country. He is also
the patron saint of the Burgundian Order, the Golden Fleece.]
Quentin Durward--though, like the Scottish youth of the period, he had
been early taught to look upon arms and war--thought he had never seen
a more martial looking, or more completely equipped and accomplished
man at arms than now saluted him in the person of his mother's brother,
called Ludovic with the Scar, or Le Balafre; yet he could not but shrink
a little from the grim expression of his countenance, while, with its
rough moustaches, he brushed first the one and then the other cheek of
his kinsman, welcomed his nephew to France, and, in the same breath,
asked what news from Scotland.
"Little good tidings, dear uncle," replied young Durward; "but I am glad
that you know me so readily."
"I would have known thee, boy, in the landes of Bourdeaux, had I met
thee marching there like a crane on a pair of stilts [the crutches or
stilts which in Scotland are used to pass rivers. They are employed by
the peasantry of the country near Bordeaux to traverse those deserts of
loose sand called Landes. S]. But sit thee down--sit thee down--if there
is sorrow to hear of, we will have wine to make us bear it.--Ho! old
Pinch Measure, our good host, bring us of thy best, and that in an
The well known sound of the Scottish French was as familiar in
the taverns near Plessis as that of the Swiss French in the modern
guinguettes [common inns] of Paris; and promptly--ay, with the
promptitude of fear and precipitation, was it heard and obeyed. A flagon
of champagne stood before them, of which the elder took a draught, while
the nephew helped himself only to a moderate sip to acknowledge his
uncle's courtesy, saying, in excuse, that he had already drunk wine that
"That had been a rare good apology in the mouth of thy sister, fair
nephew," said Le Balafre; "you must fear the wine pot less, if you
would wear beard on your face, and write yourself soldier. But,
come--come--unbuckle your Scottish mail bag--give us the news of Glen
Houlakin--How doth my sister?"
"Dead, fair uncle," answered Quentin, sorrowfully.
"Dead!" echoed his uncle, with a tone rather marked by wonder than
sympathy,--"why, she was five years younger than I, and I was never
better in my life. Dead! the thing is impossible. I have never had so
much as a headache, unless after revelling out of my two or three days'
furlough with the brethren of the joyous science--and my poor sister is
dead--And your father, fair nephew, hath he married again?"
And, ere the youth could reply, he read the answer in his surprise at
the question, and said, "What! no--I would have sworn that Allan
Durward was no man to live without a wife. He loved to have his house in
order--loved to look on a pretty woman too; and was somewhat strict in
life withal--matrimony did all this for him. Now, I care little about
these comforts, and I can look on a pretty woman without thinking on the
sacrament of wedlock--I am scarce holy enough for that."
"Alas! dear uncle, my mother was left a widow a year since, when Glen
Houlakin was harried by the Ogilvies. My father, and my two uncles, and
my two elder brothers, and seven of my kinsmen, and the harper, and the
tasker, and some six more of our people, were killed in defending the
castle, and there is not a burning hearth or a standing stone in all
"Cross of Saint Andrew!" said Le Balafre; "that is what I call an
onslaught! Ay, these Ogilvies were ever but sorry neighbours to Glen
Houlakin--an evil chance it was; but fate of war--fate of war.--When did
this mishap befall, fair nephew?" With that he took a deep draught of
wine, and shook his head with much solemnity, when his kinsman replied
that his family had been destroyed upon the festival of Saint Jude
[October 28] last bypast.
"Look ye there," said the soldier; "I said it was all chance--on that
very day I and twenty of my comrades carried the Castle of Roche Noir by
storm, from Amaury Bras de fer, a captain of free lances, whom you must
have heard of. I killed him on his own threshold, and gained as much
gold as made this fair chain, which was once twice as long as it now
is--and that minds me to send part of it on an holy errand.--Here,
Andrew, his yeoman, entered, dressed like the Archer himself in the
general equipment, but without the armour for the limbs--that of the
body more coarsely manufactured--his cap without a plume, and his
cassock made of serge, or ordinary cloth, instead of rich velvet.
Untwining his gold chain from his neck, Balafre twisted off, with his
firm and strong set teeth, about four inches from the one end of it,
and said to his attendant, "Here, Andrew, carry this to my gossip, jolly
Father Boniface, the monk of St. Martin's; greet him well from me, by
the same token that he could not say God save ye when we last parted at
midnight.--Tell my gossip that my brother and sister, and some others of
my house, are all dead and gone, and I pray him to say masses for their
souls as far as the value of these links will carry him, and to do on
trust what else may be necessary to free them from Purgatory. And hark
ye, as they were just living people, and free from all heresy, it may
be that they are well nigh out of limbo already, so that a little matter
may have them free of the fetlocks; and in that case, look ye, ye
will say I desire to take out the balance of the gold in curses upon a
generation called the Ogilvies of Angus Shire, in what way soever the
church may best come at them. You understand all this, Andrew?"
The coutelier nodded.
"Then look that none of the links find their way to the wine house ere
the monk touches them; for if it so chance, thou shalt taste of saddle
girth and stirrup leather till thou art as raw as Saint Bartholomew [he
was flayed alive. In Michael Angelo's Last Judgment he is represented as
holding his skin in his hand]--Yet hold, I see thy eye has fixed on the
wine measure, and thou shalt not go without tasting."
So saying, he filled him a brimful cup, which the coutelier drank off,
and retired to do his patron's commission.
"And now, fair nephew, let us hear what was your own fortune in this
"I fought it out among those who were older and stouter than I was, till
we were all brought down," said Durward, "and I received a cruel wound."
"Not a worse slash than I received ten years since myself," said Le
Balafre. "Look at this, now, my fair nephew," tracing the dark crimson
gash which was imprinted on his face.--"An Ogilvy's sword never ploughed
so deep a furrow."
"They ploughed deep enough," answered Quentin, sadly, "but they were
tired at last, and my mother's entreaties procured mercy for me, when I
was found to retain some spark of life; but although a learned monk of
Aberbrothik, who chanced to be our guest at the fatal time, and narrowly
escaped being killed in the fray, was permitted to bind my wounds, and
finally to remove me to a place of safety, it was only on promise, given
both by my mother and him, that I should become a monk."
"A monk!" exclaimed the uncle. "Holy Saint Andrew! that is what never
befell me. No one, from my childhood upwards, ever so much as dreamed
of making me a monk. And yet I wonder when I think of it; for you will
allow that, bating the reading and writing, which I could never learn,
and the psalmody, which I could never endure, and the dress, which is
that of a mad beggar--Our Lady forgive me! [here he crossed himself] and
their fasts, which do not suit my appetite, I would have made every whit
as good a monk as my little gossip at St. Martin's yonder. But I know
not why, none ever proposed the station to me.--Oh, so, fair nephew, you
were to be a monk, then--and wherefore, I pray you?"
"That my father's house might be ended, either in the cloister or in the
tomb," answered Quentin, with deep feeling.
"I see," answered his uncle--"I comprehend. Cunning rogues--very
cunning! They might have been cheated, though; for, look ye, fair
nephew, I myself remember the canon Robersart who had taken the vows
and afterwards broke out of cloister, and became a captain of Free
Companions. He had a mistress, the prettiest wench I ever saw, and three
as beautiful children.--There is no trusting monks, fair nephew--no
trusting them--they may become soldiers and fathers when you least
expect it--but on with your tale."
"I have little more to tell," said Durward, "except that, considering my
poor mother to be in some degree a pledge for me, I was induced to take
upon me the dress of a novice, and conformed to the cloister rules, and
even learned to read and write."
"To read and write!" exclaimed Le Balafre, who was one of that sort of
people who think all knowledge is miraculous which chances to exceed
their own. "To write, say'st thou, and to read! I cannot believe
it--never Durward could write his name that ever I heard of, nor Lesly
either. I can answer for one of them--I can no more write than I can
fly. Now, in Saint Louis's name, how did they teach it you?"
"It was troublesome at first," said Durward, "but became more easy by
use; and I was weak with my wounds, and loss of blood, and desirous to
gratify my preserver, Father Peter, and so I was the more easily kept
to my task. But after several months' languishing, my good, kind mother
died, and as my health was now fully restored, I communicated to my
benefactor, who was also Sub Prior of the convent, my reluctance to take
the vows; and it was agreed between us, since my vocation lay not to the
cloister, that I should be sent out into the world to seek my fortune,
and that to save the Sub Prior from the anger of the Ogilvies, my
departure should have the appearance of flight; and to colour it I
brought off the Abbot's hawk with me. But I was regularly dismissed, as
will appear from the hand and seal of the Abbot himself."
"That is right, that is well," said his uncle. "Our King cares little
what other theft thou mayst have made, but hath a horror at anything
like a breach of the cloister. And I warrant thee, thou hadst no great
treasure to bear thy charges?"
"Only a few pieces of silver," said the youth; "for to you, fair uncle,
I must make a free confession."
"Alas!" replied Le Balafre, "that is hard. Now, though I am never a
hoarder of my pay, because it doth ill to bear a charge about one in
these perilous times, yet I always have (and I would advise you to
follow my example) some odd gold chain, or bracelet, or carcanet,
that serves for the ornament of my person, and can at need spare a
superfluous link or two, or it may be a superfluous stone for sale, that
can answer any immediate purpose. But you may ask, fair kinsman, how you
are to come by such toys as this." (He shook his chain with complacent
triumph.) "They hang not on every bush--they grow not in the fields like
the daffodils, with whose stalks children make knights' collars. What
then?--you may get such where I got this, in the service of the good
King of France, where there is always wealth to be found, if a man has
but the heart to seek it at the risk of a little life or so."
"I understood," said Quentin, evading a decision to which he felt
himself as yet scarcely competent, "that the Duke of Burgundy keeps a
more noble state than the King of France, and that there is more honour
to be won under his banners--that good blows are struck there, and
deeds of arms done; while the most Christian King, they say, gains his
victories by his ambassadors' tongues."
"You speak like a foolish boy, fair nephew," answered he with the scar;
"and yet, I bethink me, when I came hither I was nearly as simple: I
could never think of a King but what I supposed him either sitting under
the high deas, and feasting amid his high vassals and Paladins, eating
blanc mange, with a great gold crown upon his head, or else charging at
the head of his troops like Charlemagne in the romaunts, or like Robert
Bruce or William Wallace in our own true histories, such as Barbour and
the Minstrel. Hark in thine ear, man--it is all moonshine in the water.
Policy--policy does it all. But what is policy, you will say? It is an
art this French King of ours has found out, to fight with other men's
swords, and to wage his soldiers out of other men's purses. Ah! it is
the wisest prince that ever put purple on his back--and yet he weareth
not much of that neither--I see him often go plainer than I would think
befitted me to do."
[Charlemagne (742?-814): King of the Franks and crowned Emperor of the
Holy Roman Empire in 800. His kingdom included Germany and France, the
greater part of Italy, and Spain as far as the Ebro. As Emperor of the
West he bore the title Caesar Augustus. He established churches and
monasteries, and encouraged arts and learning. He figures largely
in mediaeval minstrelsy, where the achievements of his knights, or
paladins, rival those of Arthur's court.]
[Robert Bruce: the grandson of Robert Bruce, the competitor with John
Baliol for the Scottish throne. He defeated the English forces at
Bannockburn in 1314, and thus secured the independence of Scotland, an
independence which lasted until the two kingdoms were united under one
crown in 1707.]
[William Wallace: another brave Scottish leader in the war for
independence against Edward I of England. Wallace was betrayed in 1305
and carried to London, where he was cruelly executed as a traitor.]
[Barbour: an eminent Scottish poet contemporary with Chaucer. His
principal work, The Bruce, records the life and deeds of Robert Bruce.]
[Harry the Minstrel or "Blind Harry" was the author of a poem on the
life and deeds of Wallace which was held in peculiar reverence by the
"But you meet not my exception, fair uncle," answered young Durward;
"I would serve, since serve I must in a foreign land, somewhere where a
brave deed, were it my hap to do one, might work me a name."
"I understand you, my fair nephew," said the royal man at arms, "I
understand you passing well; but you are unripe in these matters. The
Duke of Burgundy is a hot brained, impetuous, pudding headed, iron
ribbed dare all. He charges at the head of his nobles and native
knights, his liegemen of Artois and Hainault; think you, if you were
there, or if I were there myself, that we could be much farther forward
than the Duke and all his brave nobles of his own land? If we were not
up with them, we had a chance to be turned on the Provost Marshal's
hands for being slow in making to; if we were abreast of them, all would
be called well and we might be thought to have deserved our pay; and
grant that I was a spear's length or so in the front, which is both
difficult and dangerous in such a melee where all do their best, why, my
lord Duke says in his Flemish tongue, when he sees a good blow struck,
'Ha! gut getroffen [well struck]! a good lance--a brave Scot--give him a
florin to drink our health;' but neither rank, nor lands, nor treasures
come to the stranger in such a service--all goes to the children of the
"And where should it go, in Heaven's name, fair uncle?" demanded young
"To him that protects the children of the soil," said Balafre,
drawing up his gigantic height. "Thus says King Louis 'My good French
peasant--mine honest Jacques Bonhomme, get you to your tools, your
plough and your harrow, your pruning knife and your hoe--here is my
gallant Scot that will fight for you, and you shall only have the
trouble to pay him. And you, my most serene duke, my illustrious count,
and my most mighty marquis, e'en rein up your fiery courage till it
is wanted, for it is apt to start out of the course, and to hurt
its master; here are my companies of ordnance--here are my French
Guards--here are, above all, my Scottish Archers, and mine honest
Ludovic with the Scar, who will fight, as well or better than you, will
fight with all that undisciplined valour which, in your father's time,
lost Cressy and Azincour [two famous victories in the Hundred Years'
War gained over the French by the English, near the towns of Crecy and
Agincourt, in 1346 and 1415. See Shakespeare's Henry V for a description
of the latter.]. Now, see you not in which of these states a cavalier of
fortune holds the highest rank, and must come to the highest honour?"
"I think I understand you, fair uncle," answered the nephew; "but, in my
mind, honour cannot be won where there is no risk. Sure, this is--I pray
pardon me--an easy and almost slothful life, to mount guard round an
elderly man whom no one thinks of harming, to spend summer day and
winter night up in yonder battlements, and shut up all the while in iron
cages, for fear you should desert your posts--uncle, uncle, it is but a
hawk upon his perch, who is never carried out to the fields!"
"Now, by Saint Martin of Tours, the boy has some spirit! a right touch
of the Lesly in him; much like myself, though always with a little more
folly in it. Hark ye, youth--Long live the King of France!--scarce a day
but there is some commission in hand, by which some of his followers may
win both coin and credit. Think not that the bravest and most dangerous
deeds are done by daylight. I could tell you of some, as scaling
castles, making prisoners, and the like, where one who shall be nameless
hath run higher risk and gained greater favour than any desperado in the
train of desperate Charles of Burgundy. And if it please his Majesty to
remain behind, and in the background, while such things are doing, he
hath the more leisure of spirit to admire, and the more liberality of
hand to reward the adventurers, whose dangers, perhaps, and whose feats
of arms, he can better judge of than if he had personally shared them.
Oh, 't is a sagacious and most politic monarch!"
His nephew paused, and then said, in a low but impressive tone of voice,
"the good Father Peter used often to teach me there might be much danger
in deeds by which little glory was acquired. I need not say to you, fair
uncle, that I do in course suppose that these secret commissions must
needs be honourable."
"For whom or for what take you me, fair nephew," said Balafre, somewhat
sternly; "I have not been trained, indeed, in the cloister, neither can
I write or read. But I am your mother's brother; I am a loyal Lesly.
Think you that I am like to recommend to you anything unworthy? The best
knight in France, Du Guesclin himself, if he were alive again, might be
proud to number my deeds among his achievements."
"I cannot doubt your warranty, fair uncle," said the youth; "you are the
only adviser my mishap has left me. But is it true, as fame says, that
this King keeps a meagre Court here at his Castle of Plessis? No repair
of nobles or courtiers, none of his grand feudatories in attendance,
none of the high officers of the crown; half solitary sports, shared
only with the menials of his household; secret councils, to which only
low and obscure men are invited; rank and nobility depressed, and men
raised from the lowest origin to the kingly favour--all this seems
unregulated, resembles not the manners of his father, the noble
Charles, who tore from the fangs of the English lion this more than half
conquered kingdom of France."
"You speak like a giddy child," said Le Balafre, "and even as a child,
you harp over the same notes on a new string. Look you: if the King
employs Oliver Dain, his barber, to do what Oliver can do better than
any peer of them all, is not the kingdom the gainer? If he bids his
stout Provost Marshal, Tristan, arrest such or such a seditious burgher,
take off such or such a turbulent noble, the deed is done, and no more
of it; when, were the commission given to a duke or peer of France, he
might perchance send the King back a defiance in exchange. If, again,
the King pleases to give to plain Ludovic le Balafre a commission which
he will execute, instead of employing the High Constable, who would
perhaps betray it, doth it not show wisdom? Above all, doth not a
monarch of such conditions best suit cavaliers of fortune, who must
go where their services are most highly prized, and most frequently
in demand?--No, no, child, I tell thee Louis knows how to choose his
confidants, and what to charge them with; suiting, as they say, the
burden to each man's back. He is not like the King of Castile, who
choked with thirst, because the great butler was not beside to hand his
cup.--But hark to the bell of St. Martin's! I must hasten, back to the
Castle--Farewell--make much of yourself, and at eight tomorrow morning
present yourself before the drawbridge, and ask the sentinel for me.
Take heed you step not off the straight and beaten path in approaching
the portal! There are such traps and snap haunches as may cost you a
limb, which you will sorely miss. You shall see the King, and learn to
judge him for yourself--farewell."
So saying, Balafre hastily departed, forgetting, in his hurry, to pay
for the wine he had called for, a shortness of memory incidental to
persons of his description, and which his host, overawed perhaps by the
nodding bonnet and ponderous two handed sword, did not presume to use
any efforts for correcting. It might have been expected that, when left
alone, Durward would have again betaken himself to his turret, in order
to watch for the repetition of those delicious sounds which had soothed
his morning reverie. But that was a chapter of romance, and his uncle's
conversation had opened to him a page of the real history of life.
It was no pleasing one, and for the present the recollections and
reflections which it excited were qualified to overpower other thoughts,
and especially all of a light and soothing nature.
Quentin resorted to a solitary walk along the banks of the rapid Cher,
having previously inquired of his landlord for one which he might
traverse without fear of disagreeable interruption from snares and
pitfalls, and there endeavoured to compose his turmoiled and scattered
thoughts, and consider his future motions, upon which his meeting with
his uncle had thrown some dubiety.
CHAPTER VI: THE BOHEMIANS
Sae rantingly, sae wantingly,
Sae dantingly gaed he,
He play'd a spring and danced a round
Beneath the gallows tree!
[The Bohemians: In... Guy Mannering the reader will find some remarks
on the gipsies as they are found in Scotland. Their first appearance in
Europe took place in the beginning of the fifteenth century. The account
given by these singular people was, that it was appointed to them, as
a penance, to travel for a certain number of years. Their appearance,
however, and manners, strongly contradicted the allegation that they
travelled from any religious motive. Their dress and accoutrements were
at once showy and squalid; those who acted as captains and leaders of
any horde,... were arrayed in dresses of the most showy colours, such
as scarlet or light green; were well mounted; assumed the title of dukes
and counts, and affected considerable consequence. The rest of the tribe
were most miserable in their diet and apparel, fed without hesitation
on animals which had died of disease, and were clad in filthy and scanty
rags.... Their complexion was positively Eastern, approaching to that of
the Hindoos. Their manners were as depraved as their appearance was poor
and beggarly. The men were in general thieves, and the women of the most
abandoned character. The few arts which they studied with success were
of a slight and idle, though ingenious description. They practised
working in iron, but never upon any great scale. Many were good
sportsmen, good musicians.... But their ingenuity never ascended into
industry.... Their pretensions to read fortunes, by palmistry and by
astrology, acquired them sometimes respect, but oftener drew them under
suspicion as sorcerers; the universal accusation that they augmented
their horde by stealing children, subjected them to doubt and
execration.... The pretension set up by these wanderers, of being
pilgrims in the act of penance, although it... in many instances
obtained them protection from the governments of the countries through
which they travelled, was afterwards totally disbelieved, and they
were considered as incorrigible rogues and vagrants.... A curious and
accurate account of their arrival in France is quoted by Pasquier "On
August 27th, 1427, came to Paris twelve penitents,... viz. a duke,
an earl, and ten men, all on horseback, and calling themselves good
Christians. They were of Lower Egypt, and gave out that, not long
before, the Christians had subdued their country, and obliged them
to embrace Christianity on pain of being put to death. Those who were
baptized were great lords in their own country, and had a king and queen
there. Soon after their conversion, the Saracens overran the country,
and obliged them to renounce Christianity. When the Emperor of Germany,
the King of Poland, and other Christian princes heard of this, they fell
upon them, and obliged the whole of them, both great and small, to quit
the country, and go to the Pope at Rome, who enjoined them seven years'
penance to wander over the world, without lying in a bed. They had been
wandering five years when they came to Paris first.... Nearly all of
them had their ears bored, and wore two silver rings in each.... The men
were black, their hair curled; the women remarkably black, their only
clothes a large old duffle garment, tied over the shoulders with a
cloth or cord, and under it a miserable rocket;... notwithstanding
their poverty, there were among them women who, by looking into people's
hands, told their fortunes, and what was worse, they picked people's
pockets of their money, and got it into their own, by telling these
things through airy magic, et cetera." Pasquier remarks upon this
singular journal that however the story of a penance savours of a trick,
these people wandered up and down France, under the eye, and with the
knowledge, of the magistrates, for more than a hundred years; and it was
not till 1561, that a sentence of banishment was passed against them
in that kingdom. The arrival of the Egyptians (as these singular people
were called) in various parts of Europe, corresponds with the period in
which Timur or Tamerlane invaded Hindostan, affording its natives the
choice between the Koran and death. There can be little doubt that
these wanderers consisted originally of the Hindostanee tribes, who,
displaced, and flying from the sabres of the Mohammedans, undertook this
species of wandering life, without well knowing whither they were going.
When they are in closest contact with the ordinary peasants around
them, they still keep their language a mystery. There is little doubt,
however, that it is a dialect of the Hindostanee, from the specimens
produced by Grellman, Hoyland, and others, who have written on the
The manner in which Quentin Durward had been educated was not of a kind
to soften the heart, or perhaps to improve the moral feeling. He, with
the rest of his family, had been trained to the chase as an amusement,
and taught to consider war as their only serious occupation, and that it
was the great duty of their lives stubbornly to endure, and fiercely to
retaliate, the attacks of their feudal enemies, by whom their race had
been at last almost annihilated. And yet there mixed with these feuds a
spirit of rude chivalry, and even courtesy, which softened their rigour;
so that revenge, their only justice, was still prosecuted with some
regard to humanity and generosity. The lessons of the worthy old monk,
better attended to, perhaps, during a long illness and adversity, than
they might have been in health and success, had given young Durward
still farther insight into the duties of humanity towards others;
and considering the ignorance of the period, the general prejudices
entertained in favour of a military life, and the manner in which he
himself had been bred, the youth was disposed to feel more accurately
the moral duties incumbent on his station than was usual at the time.
He reflected on his interview with his uncle with a sense of
embarrassment and disappointment. His hopes had been high; for although
intercourse by letters was out of the question, yet a pilgrim, or an
adventurous trafficker, or a crippled soldier sometimes brought Lesly's
name to Glen Houlakin, and all united in praising his undaunted courage,
and his success in many petty enterprises which his master had intrusted
to him. Quentin's imagination had filled up the sketch in his own way,
and assimilated his successful and adventurous uncle (whose exploits
probably lost nothing in the telling) to some of the champions and
knights errant of whom minstrels sung and who won crowns and kings'
daughters by dint of sword and lance. He was now compelled to rank his
kinsman greatly lower in the scale of chivalry; but, blinded by the high
respect paid to parents and those who approach that character--moved
by every early prejudice in his favour--inexperienced besides, and
passionately attached to his mother's memory, he saw not, in the only
brother of that dear relation, the character he truly held, which was
that of an ordinary mercenary soldier, neither much worse nor greatly
better than many of the same profession whose presence added to the
distracted state of France.
Without being wantonly cruel, Le Balafre was, from habit, indifferent
to human life and human suffering; he was profoundly ignorant, greedy of
booty, unscrupulous how he acquired it, and profuse in expending it on
the gratification of his passions. The habit of attending exclusively
to his own wants and interests had converted him into one of the most
selfish animals in the world; so that he was seldom able, as the reader
may have remarked, to proceed far in any subject without considering
how it applied to himself, or, as it is called, making the case his own,
though not upon feelings connected with the golden rule, but such as
were very different. To this must be added that the narrow round of
his duties and his pleasures had gradually circumscribed his thoughts,
hopes, and wishes, and quenched in a great measure the wild spirit of
honour, and desire of distinction in arms, by which his youth had been
Balafre was, in short, a keen soldier, hardened, selfish, and narrow
minded; active and bold in the discharge of his duty, but acknowledging
few objects beyond it, except the formal observance of a careless
devotion, relieved by an occasional debauch with brother Boniface, his
comrade and confessor. Had his genius been of a more extended character,
he would probably have been promoted to some important command, for the
King, who knew every soldier of his bodyguard personally, reposed much
confidence in Balafre's courage and fidelity; and besides, the Scot had
either wisdom or cunning enough perfectly to understand, and ably
to humour, the peculiarities of that sovereign. Still, however, his
capacity was too much limited to admit of his rising to higher rank,
and though smiled on and favoured by Louis on many occasions, Balafre
continued a mere Life Guardsman, or Scottish Archer.
Without seeing the full scope of his uncle's character, Quentin felt
shocked at his indifference to the disastrous extirpation of his brother
in law's whole family, and could not help being surprised, moreover,
that so near a relative had not offered him the assistance of his purse,
which, but for the generosity of Maitre Pierre, he would have been
under the necessity of directly craving from him. He wronged his uncle,
however, in supposing that this want of attention to his probable
necessities was owing to avarice. Not precisely needing money himself at
that moment, it had not occurred to Balafre that his nephew might be in
exigencies; otherwise, he held a near kinsman so much a part of himself,
that he would have provided for the weal of the living nephew, as he
endeavoured to do for that of his deceased sister and her husband. But
whatever was the motive, the neglect was very unsatisfactory to young
Durward, and he wished more than once he had taken service with the Duke
of Burgundy before he quarrelled with his forester. "Whatever had then
become of me," he thought to himself, "I should always have been able to
keep up my spirits with the reflection that I had, in case of the worst,
a stout back friend in this uncle of mine. But now I have seen him, and,
woe worth him, there has been more help in a mere mechanical stranger,
than I have found in my own mother's brother, my countryman and a
cavalier! One would think the slash, that has carved all comeliness out
of his face, had let at the same time every drop of gentle blood out of
Durward now regretted he had not had an opportunity to mention Maitre
Pierre to Le Balafre, in the hope of obtaining some farther account
of that personage; but his uncle's questions had followed fast on each
other, and the summons of the great bell of Saint Martin of Tours had
broken off their conference rather suddenly. That old man, he thought
to himself, was crabbed and dogged in appearance, sharp and scornful in
language, but generous and liberal in his actions; and such a stranger
is worth a cold kinsman.
"What says our old Scottish proverb?--'Better kind fremit, than fremit
kindred.' ['Better kind strangers than estranged kindred.' The motto is
engraved on a dirk, belonging to a person who had but too much reason to
choose such a device. It was left by him to my father. The weapon is now
in my possession. S.] I will find out that man, which, methinks, should
be no difficult task, since he is so wealthy as mine host bespeaks him.
He will give me good advice for my governance, at least; and if he goes
to strange countries, as many such do, I know not but his may be as
adventurous a service as that of those Guards of Louis."
As Quentin framed this thought, a whisper from those recesses of the
heart in which lies much that the owner does not know of, or will
not acknowledge willingly, suggested that, perchance, the lady of the
turret, she of the veil and lute, might share that adventurous journey.
As the Scottish youth made these reflections, he met two grave looking
men, apparently citizens of Tours, whom, doffing his cap with the
reverence due from youth to age, he respectfully asked to direct him to
the house of Maitre Pierre.
"The house of whom, my fair son?" said one of the passengers.
"Of Maitre Pierre, the great silk merchant, who planted all the mulberry
trees in the park yonder," said Durward.
"Young man," said one of them who was nearest to him, "you have taken up
an idle trade a little too early."
"And have chosen wrong subjects to practise your fooleries upon,"
said the farther one, still more gruffly. "The Syndic of Tours is
not accustomed to be thus talked to by strolling jesters from foreign
Quentin was so much surprised at the causeless offence which these two
decent looking persons had taken at a very simple and civil question,
that he forgot to be angry at the rudeness of their reply, and stood
staring after them as they walked on with amended pace, often looking
back at him, as if they were desirous to get as soon as possible out of
He next met a party of vine dressers, and addressed to them the same
question; and in reply, they demanded to know whether he wanted Maitre
Pierre, the schoolmaster? or Maitre Pierre, the carpenter? or Maitre
Pierre, the beadle? or half a dozen of Maitre Pierres besides. When none
of these corresponded with the description of the person after whom he
inquired, the peasants accused him of jesting with them impertinently,
and threatened to fall upon him and beat him, in guerdon of his
raillery. The oldest amongst them, who had some influence over the rest,
prevailed on them to desist from violence.
"You see by his speech and his fool's cap," said he, "that he is one
of the foreign mountebanks who are come into the country, and whom some
call magicians and soothsayers, and some jugglers, and the like, and
there is no knowing what tricks they have amongst them. I have heard of
such a one's paying a liard [a small copper coin worth a quarter of a
cent, current in France in the fifteenth century.] to eat his bellyfull
of grapes in a poor man's vineyard; and he ate as many as would have
loaded a wain, and never undid a button of his jerkin--and so let him
pass quietly, and keep his way, as we will keep ours.--And you, friend,
if you would shun worse, walk quietly on, in the name of God, our Lady
of Marmoutier, and Saint Martin of Tours, and trouble us no more about
your Maitre Pierre, which may be another name for the devil, for aught
The Scot finding himself much the weaker party, judged it his Wisest
course to walk on without reply; but the peasants, who at first shrunk
from him in horror, at his supposed talents for sorcery and grape
devouring, took heart of grace as he got to a distance, and having
uttered a few cries and curses, finally gave them emphasis with a shower
of stones, although at such a distance as to do little or no harm to the
object of their displeasure. Quentin, as he pursued his walk, began to
think, in his turn, either that he himself lay under a spell, or that
the people of Touraine were the most stupid, brutal, and inhospitable of
the French peasants. The next incident which came under his observation
did not tend to diminish this opinion.
On a slight eminence, rising above the rapid and beautiful Cher, in
the direct line of his path, two or three large chestnut trees were
so happily placed as to form a distinguished and remarkable group; and
beside them stood three or four peasants, motionless, with their eyes
turned upwards, and fixed, apparently, upon some object amongst the
branches of the tree next to them. The meditations of youth are seldom
so profound as not to yield to the slightest, impulse of curiosity, as
easily as the lightest pebble, dropped casually from the hand, breaks
the surface of a limpid pool. Quentin hastened his pace, and ran lightly
up the rising ground, in time enough to witness the ghastly spectacle
which attracted the notice of these gazers--which was nothing less than
the body of a man, convulsed by the last agony, suspended on one of the
"Why do you not cut him down?" said the young Scot, whose hand was as
ready to assist affliction, as to maintain his own honour when he deemed
One of the peasants, turning on him an eye from which fear had banished
all expression but its own, and a face as pale as clay, pointed to a
mark cut upon the bark of the tree, having the same rude resemblance
to a fleur de lys which certain talismanic scratches, well known to
our revenue officers, bear to a broad arrow. Neither understanding nor
heeding the import of this symbol, young Durward sprung lightly as
the ounce up into the tree, drew from his pouch that most necessary
implement of a Highlander or woodsman, the trusty skene dhu [black
knife; a species of knife without clasp or hinge formerly much used
by the Highlanders, who seldom travelled without such an ugly weapon,
though it is now rarely used. S.], and, calling to those below to
receive the body on their hands, cut the rope asunder in less than a
minute after he had perceived the exigency.
But his humanity was ill seconded by the bystanders. So far from
rendering Durward any assistance, they seemed terrified at the audacity
of his action, and took to flight with one consent, as if they feared
their merely looking on might have been construed into accession to his
daring deed. The body, unsupported from beneath, fell heavily to earth
in such a manner that Quentin, who presently afterwards jumped down, had
the mortification to see that the last sparks of life were extinguished.
He gave not up his charitable purpose, however, without farther efforts.
He freed the wretched man's neck from the fatal noose, undid the
doublet, threw water on the face, and practised the other ordinary
remedies resorted to for recalling suspended animation.
While he was thus humanely engaged, a wild clamour of tongues, speaking
a language which he knew not, arose around him; and he had scarcely time
to observe that he was surrounded by several men and women of a singular
and foreign appearance, when he found himself roughly seized by both
arms, while a naked knife, at the same moment, was offered to his
"Pale slave of Eblis!" [in Mohammedan religion the name of the chief of
the fallen angels] said a man, in imperfect French, "are you robbing him
you have murdered?--But we have you--and you shall abuy it."
There were knives drawn on every side of him, as these words were
spoken, and the grim and distorted countenances which glared on him were
like those of wolves rushing on their prey.
Still the young Scot's courage and presence of mind bore him out. "What
mean ye, my masters?" he said; "if that be your friend's body, I have
just now cut him down, in pure charity, and you will do better to try
to recover his life, than to misuse an innocent stranger to whom he owes
his chance of escape."
The women had by this time taken possession of the dead body, and
continued the attempts to recover animation which Durward had been
making use of, though with the like bad success; so that, desisting from
their fruitless efforts, they seemed to abandon themselves to all the
Oriental expressions of grief; the women making a piteous wailing,
and tearing their long black hair, while the men seemed to rend their
garments, and to sprinkle dust upon their heads. They gradually became
so much engaged in their mourning rites, that they bestowed no longer
any attention on Durward, of whose innocence they were probably
satisfied from circumstances. It would certainly have been his wisest
plan to have left these wild people to their own courses, but he had
been bred in almost reckless contempt of danger, and felt all the
eagerness of youthful curiosity.
The singular assemblage, both male and female, wore turbans and caps,
more similar in general appearance to his own bonnet than to the hats
commonly worn in France. Several of the men had curled black beards, and
the complexion of all was nearly as dark as that of Africans. One or two
who seemed their chiefs, had some tawdry ornaments of silver about their
necks and in their ears, and wore showy scarfs of yellow, or scarlet,
or light green; but their legs and arms were bare, and the whole troop
seemed wretched and squalid in appearance. There were no weapons among
them that Durward saw, except the long knives with which they had lately
menaced him, and one short, crooked sabre, or Moorish sword, which was
worn by an active looking young man, who often laid his hand upon
the hill, while he surpassed the rest of the party in his extravagant
expressions of grief, and seemed to mingle with them threats of
The disordered and yelling group were so different in appearance from
any beings whom Quentin had yet seen, that he was on the point of
concluding them to be a party of Saracens, of those "heathen hounds,"
who were the opponents of gentle knights and Christian monarchs in
all the romances which he had heard or read, and was about to withdraw
himself from a neighbourhood so perilous, when a galloping of horse was
heard, and the supposed Saracens, who had raised by this time the body
of their comrade upon their shoulders, were at once charged by a party
of French soldiers.
This sudden apparition changed the measured wailing of the mourners into
irregular shrieks of terror. The body was thrown to the ground in
an instant, and those who were around it showed the utmost and most
dexterous activity in escaping under the bellies as it were of the
horses, from the point of the lances which were levelled at them,
with exclamations of "Down with the accursed heathen thieves--take and
kill--bind them like beasts--spear them like wolves!"
These cries were accompanied with corresponding acts of violence; but
such was the alertness of the fugitives, the ground being rendered
unfavourable to the horsemen by thickets and bushes, that only two were
struck down and made prisoners, one of whom was the young fellow with
the sword, who had previously offered some resistance. Quentin, whom
fortune seemed at this period to have chosen for the butt of her shafts,
was at the same time seized by the soldiers, and his arms, in spite of
his remonstrances, bound down with a cord; those who apprehended him
showing a readiness and dispatch in the operation, which proved them to
be no novices in matters of police.
Looking anxiously to the leader of the horsemen, from whom he hoped
to obtain liberty, Quentin knew not exactly whether to be pleased or
alarmed upon recognising in him the down looking and silent companion of
Maitre Pierre. True, whatever crime these strangers might be accused
of, this officer might know, from the history of the morning, that
he, Durward, had no connection with them whatever; but it was a more
difficult question, whether this sullen man would be either a favourable
judge or a willing witness in his behalf, and he felt doubtful whether
he would mend his condition by making any direct application to him.
But there was little leisure for hesitation. "Trois Eschelles and Petit
Andre," said the down looking officer to two of his band, "These same
trees stand here quite convenient. I will teach these misbelieving,
thieving sorcerers to interfere with the King's justice, when it has
visited any of their accursed race. Dismount, my children, and do your
Trois Eschelles and Petit Andre were in an instant on foot, and Quentin
observed that they had each, at the crupper and pommel of his saddle,
a coil or two of ropes, which they hastily undid, and showed that, in
fact, each coil formed a halter, with the fatal noose adjusted, ready
for execution. The blood ran cold in Quentin's veins, when he saw three
cords selected, and perceived that it was proposed to put one around his
own neck. He called on the officer loudly, reminded him of their meeting
that morning, claimed the right of a free born Scotsman in a friendly
and allied country, and denied any knowledge of the persons along with
whom he was seized, or of their misdeed.
The officer whom Durward thus addressed, scarce deigned to look at
him while he was speaking, and took no notice whatever of the claim he
preferred to prior acquaintance. He barely turned to one or two of the
peasants who were now come forward, either to volunteer their evidence
against the prisoners, or out of curiosity, and said gruffly, "Was
yonder young fellow with the vagabonds?"
"That he was, sir, and it please your noble Provostship," answered one
of the clowns; "he was the very first blasphemously to cut down the
rascal whom his Majesty's justice most deservedly hung up, as we told
"I'll swear by God, and Saint Martin of Tours, to have seen him with
their gang," said another, "when they pillaged our metairie [a small
"Nay, but," said a boy, "yonder heathen was black, and this youth is
fair; yonder one had short curled hair, and this hath long fair locks."
"Ay, child," said the peasant, "and perhaps you will say yonder one had
a green coat and this a gray jerkin. But his worship, the Provost, knows
that they can change their complexions as easily as their jerkins, so
that I am still minded he was the same."
"It is enough that you have seen him intermeddle with the course of the
King's justice, by attempting to recover an executed traitor," said the
officer.--"Trois Eschelles and Petit Andre, dispatch."
"Stay, signior officer!" exclaimed the youth in mortal agony; "hear me
speak--let me not die guiltlessly--my blood will be required of you by
my countrymen in this world, and by Heaven's justice in that which is to
"I will answer for my actions in both," said the Provost, coldly, and
made a sign with his left hand to the executioners; then, with a smile
of triumphant malice, touched with his forefinger his right arm, which
hung suspended in a scarf, disabled probably by the blow which Durward
had dealt him that morning.
"Miserable, vindictive wretch!" answered Quentin, persuaded by that
action that private revenge was the sole motive of this man's rigour,
and that no mercy whatever was to be expected from him.
"The poor youth raves," said the functionary: "speak a word of comfort
to him ere he make his transit, Trois Eschelles; thou art a comfortable
man in such cases when a confessor is not to be had. Give him one minute
of ghostly advice, and dispatch matters in the next. I must proceed on
the rounds.--Soldiers, follow me!"
The Provost rode on, followed by his guard, excepting two or three, who
were left to assist in the execution. The unhappy youth cast after him
an eye almost darkened by despair, and thought he heard in every tramp
of his horse's retreating hoofs the last slight chance of his safety
vanish. He looked around him in agony, and was surprised, even in that
moment, to see the stoical indifference of his fellow prisoners. They
had previously testified every sign of fear, and made every effort of
escape; but now, when secured and destined apparently to inevitable
death, they awaited its arrival with the utmost composure. The scene
of fate before them gave, perhaps, a more yellow tinge to their swarthy
cheeks; but it neither agitated their features, nor quenched the
stubborn haughtiness of their eye. They seemed like foxes, which, after
all their wiles and artful attempts at escape are exhausted, die with a
silent and sullen fortitude which wolves and bears, the fiercer objects
of the chase, do not exhibit. They were undaunted by the conduct of the
fatal executioners, who went about their work with more deliberation
than their master had recommended, and which probably arose from their
having acquired by habit a sort of pleasure in the discharge of their
horrid office. We pause an instant to describe them, because, under
a tyranny, whether despotic or popular, the character of the hangman
becomes a subject of grave importance.
These functionaries were essentially different in their appearance and
manners. Louis used to call them Democritus and Heraclitus, and their
master, the Provost, termed them Jean qui pleure and Jean qui rit.
[Democritus and Heraclitus: two Greek philosophers of the fifth century;
the former because of his propensity to laugh at the follies of men was
called the "laughing philosopher;" the latter, according to a current
notion, probably unfounded, habitually wept over the follies of mankind]
[Jean qui pleure, and Jean qui rit: John who weeps and John who laughs.
One of these two persons,.. might with more accuracy have been called
Petit Jean, than Petit Andre. This was actually the name of the son of
Henry de Cousin, master executioner of the High Court of Justice. S.]
Trois Eschelles was a tall, thin, ghastly man, with a peculiar gravity
of visage, and a large rosary round his neck, the use of which he was
accustomed piously to offer to those sufferers on whom he did his
duty. He had one or two Latin texts continually in his mouth on the
nothingness and vanity of human life; and, had it been regular to have
enjoyed such a plurality, he might have held the office of confessor
to the jail in commendam with that of executioner. Petit Andre, on the
contrary, was a joyous looking, round, active, little fellow, who
rolled about in execution of his duty as if it were the most diverting
occupation in the world. He seemed to have a sort of fond affection for
his victims, and always spoke of them in kindly and affectionate terms.
They were his poor honest fellows, his pretty dears, his gossips, his
good old fathers, as their age or sex might be; and as Trois Eschelles
endeavoured to inspire them with a philosophical or religious regard to
futurity, Petit Andre seldom failed to refresh them with a jest or two,
as if to induce them to pass from life as something that was ludicrous,
contemptible, and not worthy of serious consideration.
I cannot tell why or wherefore it was, but these two excellent persons,
notwithstanding the variety of their talents, and the rare occurrence of
such among persons of their profession, were both more utterly detested
than perhaps any creatures of their kind, whether before or since; and
the only doubt of those who knew aught of them was, whether the grave
and pathetic Trois Eschelles or the frisky, comic, alert Petit Andre
was the object of the greatest fear, or of the deepest execration. It
is certain they bore the palm in both particulars over every hangman
in France, unless it were perhaps their master Tristan l'Hermite, the
renowned Provost Marshal, or his master, Louis XI.
It must not be supposed that these reflections were of Quentin Durward's
making. Life, death, time, and eternity were swimming before his eyes--a
stunning and overwhelming prospect, from which human nature recoiled in
its weakness, though human pride would fain have borne up. He addressed
himself to the God of his fathers; and when he did so, the little rude
and unroofed chapel, which now held almost all his race but himself,
rushed on his recollection.
"Our feudal enemies gave my kindred graves in our own land," he thought,
"but I must feed the ravens and kites of a foreign land, like an
The tears gushed involuntarily from his eyes. Trois Eschelles, touching
one shoulder, gravely congratulated him on his heavenly disposition
for death, and pathetically exclaiming, Beati qui in Domino moriuntur
[blessed are they who die in the Lord], remarked, the soul was happy
that left the body while the tear was in the eye. Petit Andre, slapping
the other shoulder, called out, "Courage, my fair son! since you must
begin the dance, let the ball open gaily, for all the rebecs are in
tune," twitching the halter at the same time, to give point to his joke.
As the youth turned his dismayed looks, first on one and then on the
other, they made their meaning plainer by gently urging him forward to
the fatal tree, and bidding him be of good courage, for it would be over
in a moment.
In this fatal predicament, the youth cast a distracted look around him.
"Is there any good Christian who hears me," he said, "that will tell
Ludovic Lesly of the Scottish Guard, called in this country Le Balafre,
that his nephew is here basely murdered?" The words were spoken in good
time, for an Archer of the Scottish Guard, attracted by the preparations
for the execution, was standing by, with one or two other chance
passengers, to witness what was passing.
"Take heed what you do," he said to the executioners, "if this young man
be of Scottish birth, I will not permit him to have foul play."
"Heaven forbid, Sir Cavalier," said Trois Eschelles; "but we must obey
our orders," drawing Durward forward by one arm. "The shortest play is
ever the fairest," said Petit Andre, pulling him onward by the other.
But Quentin had heard words of comfort, and, exerting his strength, he
suddenly shook off both the finishers of the law, and, with his arms
still bound, ran to the Scottish Archer. "Stand by me, countryman," he
said, in his own language, "for the love of Scotland and Saint Andrew!
I am innocent--I am your own native landsman. Stand by me, as you shall
answer at the last day."
"By Saint Andrew! they shall make at you through me!" said the Archer,
and unsheathed his sword.
"Cut my bonds, countryman," said Quentin, "and I will do something for
This was done with a touch of the Archer's weapon, and the liberated
captive, springing suddenly on one of the Provost's guard, wrested from
him a halbert with which he was armed. "And now" he said, "come on, if
The two officers whispered together.
"Ride thou after the Provost Marshal," said Trois Eschelles, "and I will
detain them here, if I can. Soldiers of the Provost's guard, stand to
Petit Andre mounted his horse, and left the field, and the other
Marshals men in attendance drew together so hastily at the command of
Trois Eschelles, that they suffered the other two prisoners to make
their escape during the confusion. Perhaps they were not very anxious
to detain them; for they had of late been sated with the blood of
such wretches, and, like other ferocious animals, were, through long
slaughter, become tired of carnage. But the pretext was, that they
thought themselves immediately called upon to attend to the safety of
Trois Eschelles; for there was a jealousy, which occasionally led to
open quarrels, betwixt the Scottish Archers and the Marshal guards, who
executed the orders of their Provost.
"We are strong enough to beat the proud Scots twice over, if it be your
pleasure," said one of these soldiers to Trois Eschelles.
But that cautious official made a sign to him to remain quiet, and
addressed the Scottish Archer with great civility. "Surely, sir, this
is a great insult to the Provost Marshal, that you should presume to
interfere with the course of the King's justice, duly and lawfully
committed to his charge; and it is no act of justice to me, who am in
lawful possession of my criminal. Neither is it a well meant kindness
to the youth himself, seeing that fifty opportunities of hanging him may
occur, without his being found in so happy a state of preparation as he
was before your ill advised interference."
"If my young countryman," said the Scot, smiling, "be of opinion I have
done him an injury, I will return him to your charge without a word more
"No, no!--for the love of Heaven, no!" exclaimed Quentin. "I would
rather you swept my head off with your long sword--it would better
become my birth, than to die by the hands of such a foul churl."
"Hear how he revileth," said the finisher of the law. "Alas! how soon
our best resolutions pass away!--he was in a blessed frame for departure
but now, and in two minutes he has become a contemner of authorities."
"Tell me at once," said the Archer, "what has this young man done."
"Interfered," answered Trois Eschelles, with some earnestness, "to take
down the dead body of a criminal, when the fleur de lys was marked on
the tree where he was hung with my own proper hand."
"How is this, young man?" said the Archer; "how came you to have
committed such an offence?"
"As I desire your protection," answered Durward, "I will tell you the
truth as if I were at confession. I saw a man struggling on the tree,
and I went to cut him down out of mere humanity. I thought neither of
fleur de lys nor of clove gilliflower, and had no more idea of offending
the King of France than our Father the Pope."
"What a murrain had you to do with the dead body, then?" said the
Archer. "You 'll see them hanging, in the rear of this gentleman, like
grapes on every tree, and you will have enough to do in this country
if you go a-gleaning after the hangman. However, I will not quit a
countryman's cause if I can help it.--Hark ye, Master Marshals man, you
see this is entirely a mistake. You should have some compassion on so
young a traveller. In our country at home he has not been accustomed to
see such active proceedings as yours and your master's."
"Not for want of need of them, Signior Archer," said Petit Andre, who
returned at this moment. "Stand fast, Trois Eschelles, for here comes
the Provost Marshal; we shall presently see how he will relish having
his work taken out of his hand before it is finished."
"And in good time," said the Archer, "here come some of my comrades."
Accordingly, as the Provost Tristan rode up with his patrol on one side
of the little bill which was the scene of the altercation, four or five
Scottish Archers came as hastily up on the other, and at their head the
Upon this urgency, Lesly showed none of that indifference towards his
nephew of which Quentin had in his heart accused him; for he no sooner
saw his comrade and Durward standing upon their defence, than he
exclaimed, "Cunningham, I thank thee.--Gentlemen--comrades,
lend me your aid.--It is a young Scottish gentleman--my
nephew--Lindesay--Guthrie--Tyrie, draw, and strike in!"
There was now every prospect of a desperate scuffle between the parties,
who were not so disproportioned in numbers but that the better arms of
the Scottish cavaliers gave them an equal chance of victory. But the
Provost Marshal, either doubting the issue of the conflict, or aware
that it would be disagreeable to the King, made a sign to his followers
to forbear from violence, while he demanded of Balafre, who now put
himself forward as the head of the other party, what he, a cavalier of
the King's Bodyguard, purposed by opposing the execution of a criminal.
"I deny that I do so," answered the Balafre. "Saint Martin! [patron
saint of Tours, Lucca, and of penitent drunkards. He was greatly
honoured in the Middle Ages.] there is, I think, some difference between
the execution of a criminal and a slaughter of my own nephew!"
"Your nephew may be a criminal as well as another," said the Provost
Marshal; "and every stranger in France is amenable to the laws of
"Yes, but we have privileges, we Scottish Archers," said Balafre, "have
we not, comrades?"
"Yes, yes," they all exclaimed together. "Privileges--privileges! Long
live King Louis--long live the bold Balafre--long live the Scottish
Guard--and death to all who would infringe our privileges!"
"Take reason with you, gentlemen cavaliers," said the Provost Marshal;
"consider my commission."
"We will have no reason at your hand," said Cunningham; "our own
officers shall do us reason. We will be judged by the King's grace,
or by our own Captain, now that the Lord High Constable is not in
"And we will be hanged by none," said Lindesay, "but Sandie Wilson, the
auld Marshals man of our ain body."
"It would be a positive cheating of Sandie, who is as honest a man as
ever tied noose upon hemp, did we give way to any other proceeding,"
said the Balafre. "Were I to be hanged myself, no other should tie
tippet about my craig."
"But hear ye," said the Provost Marshal, "this young fellow belongs not
to you, and cannot share what you call your privileges."
"What we call our privileges, all shall admit to be such," said
"We will not hear them questioned!" was the universal cry of the
"Ye are mad, my masters," said Tristan l'Hermite. "No one disputes your
privileges; but this youth is not one of you."
"He is my nephew," said the Balafre, with a triumphant air.
"But no Archer of the Guard, I think," retorted Tristan l'Hermite.
The Archers looked on each other in some uncertainty.
"Stand to it yet, comrade," whispered Cunningham to Balafre. "Say he is
engaged with us."
"Saint Martin! you say well, fair countryman," answered Lesly; and
raising his voice, swore that he had that day enrolled his kinsman as
one of his own retinue. This declaration was a decisive argument.
"It is well, gentlemen," said the Provost Tristan, who was aware of
the King's nervous apprehension of disaffection creeping in among his
Guards. "You know, as you say, your privileges, and it is not my duty to
have brawls with the King's Guards, if it is to be avoided. But I will
report this matter for the King's own decision; and I would have you
to be aware, that, in doing so, I act more mildly than perhaps my duty
So saying, he put his troop into motion, while the Archers, remaining on
the spot, held a hasty consultation what was next to be done. "We must
report the matter to Lord Crawford, our Captain, in the first place, and
have the young fellow's name put on the roll."
"But, gentlemen, and my worthy friends and preservers," said Quentin,
with some hesitation, "I have not yet determined whether to take service
with you or no."
"Then settle in your own mind," said his uncle, "whether you choose to
do so, or be hanged--for I promise you, that, nephew of mine as you are,
I see no other chance of your 'scaping the gallows."
This was an unanswerable argument, and reduced Quentin at once to
acquiesce in what he might have otherwise considered as no very
agreeable proposal; but the recent escape from the halter, which had
been actually around his neck, would probably have reconciled him to a
worse alternative than was proposed.
"He must go home with us to our caserne," said Cunningham; "there is
no safety for him out of our bounds, whilst these man hunters are
"May I not then abide for this night at the hostelry where I
breakfasted, fair uncle?" said the youth--thinking, perhaps, like many a
new recruit, that even a single night of freedom was something gained.
"Yes, fair nephew," answered his uncle, ironically, "that we may have
the pleasure of fishing you out of some canal or moat, or perhaps out
of a loop of the Loire, knit up in a sack for the greater convenience
of swimming--for that is like to be the end on't. The Provost Marshal
smiled on us when we parted," continued he, addressing Cunningham, "and
that is a sign his thoughts were dangerous."
"I care not for his danger," said Cunningham; "such game as we are
beyond his bird bolts. But I would have thee tell the whole to the
Devil's Oliver [Oliver Dain: Oliver's name, or nickname, was Le Diable,
which was bestowed on him by public hatred, in exchange for Le Daim, or
Le Dain. He was originally the King's barber, but afterwards a favourite
counsellor. S.], who is always a good friend to the Scottish Guard, and
will see Father Louis before the Provost can, for he is to shave him
"But hark you," said Balafre, "it is ill going to Oliver empty handed,
and I am as bare as the birch in December."
"So are we all," said Cunningham. "Oliver must not scruple to take our
Scottish words for once. We will make up something handsome among us
against the next payday; and if he expects to share, let me tell you,
the payday will come about all the sooner."
"And now for the Chateau," said Balafre; "and my nephew shall tell us by
the way how he brought the Provost Marshal on his shoulders, that we may
know how to frame our report both to Crawford and Oliver."
CHAPTER VII: THE ENROLMENT
Justice of Peace.--
Here, hand me down the statute--read the articles--
Swear, kiss the book--subscribe, and be a hero;
Drawing a portion from the public stock
For deeds of valour to be done hereafter--
Sixpence per day, subsistence and arrears.
THE RECRUITING OFFICER
An attendant upon the Archers having been dismounted, Quentin Durward
was accommodated with his horse, and, in company of his martial
countrymen, rode at a round pace towards the Castle of Plessis, about
to become, although on his own part involuntarily, an inhabitant of that
gloomy fortress, the outside of which had, that morning, struck him with
so much surprise.
In the meanwhile, in answer to his uncle's repeated interrogations, he
gave him an exact account of the accident which had that morning
brought him into so much danger. Although he himself saw nothing in his
narrative save what was affecting, he found it was received with much
laughter by his escort.
"And yet it is no good jest either," said his uncle, "for what, in the
devil's name, could lead the senseless boy to meddle with the body of a
cursed misbelieving Jewish Moorish pagan?"
"Had he quarrelled with the Marshals men about a pretty wench,
as Michael of Moffat did, there had been more sense in it," said
"But I think it touches our honour that Tristan and his people pretend
to confound our Scottish bonnets with these pilfering vagabonds--torques
and turbands, as they call them," said Lindesay. "If they have not eyes
to see the difference they must be taught by rule of hand. But it 's my
belief, Tristan but pretends to mistake, that he may snap up the kindly
Scots that come over to see their kinsfolks."
"May I ask, kinsman," said Quentin, "what sort of people these are of
whom you speak?"
"In troth you may ask," said his uncle, "but I know not, fair nephew,
who is able to answer you. Not I, I am sure, although I know, it may be,
as much as other people; but they appeared in this land within a year or
two, just as a flight of locusts might do."
"Ay," said Lindesay, "and Jacques Bonhomme (that is our name for the
peasant, young man--you will learn our way of talk in time)--honest
Jacques, I say, cares little what wind either brings them or the
locusts, so he but knows any gale that would carry them away again."
"Do they do so much evil?" asked the young man.
"Evil? why, boy, they are heathens, or Jews, or Mahommedans at the
least, and neither worship Our Lady, nor the Saints" (crossing himself)
"and steal what they can lay hands on, and sing, and tell fortunes,"
"And they say there are some goodly wenches amongst these," said
Guthrie; "but Cunningham knows that best."
"How, brother!" said Cunningham. "I trust ye mean me no reproach?"
"I am sure I said ye none," answered Guthrie.
"I will be judged by the company," said Cunningham. "Ye said as much as
that I, a Scottish gentleman, and living within pale of holy church, had
a fair friend among these off scourings of Heathenesse."
"Nay, nay," said Balafre, "he did but jest. We will have no quarrels
"We must have no such jesting then," said Cunningham, murmuring, as if
he had been speaking to his own beard.
"Be there such vagabonds in other lands than France?" said Lindesay.
"Ay, in good sooth, are there--tribes of them have appeared in Germany,
and in Spain, and in England," answered Balafre. "By the blessing of
good Saint Andrew, Scotland is free of them yet."
"Scotland," said Cunningham, "is too cold, a country for locusts, and
too poor a country for thieves."
"Or perhaps John Highlander will suffer no thieves to thrive there but
his own," said Guthrie.
"I let you all know," said Balafre, "that I come from the Braes of
Angus, and have gentle Highland kin in Glen Isla and I will not have the
"You will not deny that they are cattle lifters?" said Guthrie.
"To drive a spreagh [to plunder] or so, is no thievery," said Balafre,
"and that I will maintain when and how you dare."
"For shame, comrade!" said Cunningham, "who quarrels now? The young
man should not see such mad misconstruction--Come, here we are at the
Chateau. I will bestow a runlet of wine to have a rouse in friendship,
and drink to Scotland, Highland and Lowland both, if you will meet me at
dinner at my quarters."
"Agreed--agreed," said Balafre; "and I will bestow another to wash away
unkindness, and to drink a health to my nephew on his first entrance to
At their approach, the wicket was opened, and the drawbridge fell. One
by one they entered; but when Quentin appeared, the sentinels crossed
their pikes, and commanded him to stand, while bows were bent, and
harquebusses aimed at him from the walls, a rigour of vigilance used,
notwithstanding that the young stranger came in company of a party of
the garrison, nay, of the very body which furnished the sentinels who
were then upon duty.
Le Balafre, who had remained by his nephew's side on purpose, gave the
necessary explanations, and, after some considerable hesitation
and delay, the youth was conveyed under a strong guard to the Lord
This Scottish nobleman was one of the last relics of the gallant band of
Scottish lords and knights who had so long and so truly served Charles
VI in those bloody wars which decided the independence of the French
crown, and the expulsion of the English. He had fought, when a boy,
abreast with Douglas and with Buchan, had ridden beneath the banner of
the Maid of Arc, and was perhaps one of the last of those associates of
Scottish chivalry who had so willingly drawn their swords for the fleur
de lys, against their "auld enemies of England." Changes which had taken
place in the Scottish kingdom, and perhaps his having become habituated
to French climate and manners, had induced the old Baron to resign all
thoughts of returning to his native country, the rather that the high
office which he held in the household of Louis and his own frank and
loyal character had gained a considerable ascendancy over the King, who,
though in general no ready believer in human virtue or honour, trusted
and confided in those of the Lord Crawford, and allowed him the greater
influence, because he was never known to interfere excepting in matters
which concerned his charge.
[Douglas: fourth earl of Douglas. He was created Duke of Touraine in
1423 by Charles VII of France.]
[Buchan: Regent of Scotland and grandson of Robert II. He entered the
service of Charles VII in 1420, and was appointed Constable of France.]
[Maid of Arc (1412-1431): Joan of Arc. She believed that God had called
her to liberate France from the curse of the English who were besieging
Orleans. In person she led the French troops from victory to victory
until she saw the Dauphin crowned as Charles VII at Rheims. She was
then betrayed by her people into the hands of the English, who, in 1431,
sentenced her to the flames.]
Balafre and Cunningham followed Durward and the guard to the apartment
of their officer, by whose dignified appearance, as well as with the
respect paid to him by these proud soldiers, who seemed to respect no
one else, the young man was much and strongly impressed.
Lord Crawford was tall, and through advanced age had become gaunt and
thin; yet retaining in his sinews the strength, at least, if not the
elasticity, of youth, he was able to endure the weight of his armour
during a march as well as the youngest man who rode in his band. He was
hard favoured, with a scarred and weather-beaten countenance, and an eye
that had looked upon death as his playfellow in thirty pitched battles,
but which nevertheless expressed a calm contempt of danger, rather than
the ferocious courage of a mercenary soldier. His tall, erect figure was
at present wrapped in a loose chamber gown, secured around him by his
buff belt, in which was suspended his richly hilted poniard. He had
round his neck the collar and badge of the order of Saint Michael [a
patron saint of France. In 1469, a military order was instituted in his
honour by Louis XI]. He sat upon a couch covered with deer's hide, and
with spectacles on his nose (then a recent invention) was labouring
to read a huge manuscript called the Rosier de la Guerre, a code of
military and civil policy which Louis had compiled for the benefit of
his son the Dauphin, and upon which he was desirous to have the opinion
of the experienced Scottish warrior.
Lord Crawford laid his book somewhat peevishly aside upon the entrance
of these unexpected visitors, and demanded, in his broad national
dialect, what, in the foul fiend's name, they lacked now.
Le Balafre, with more respect than perhaps he would have shown to Louis
himself, stated at full length the circumstances in which his nephew was
placed, and humbly requested his Lordship's protection. Lord Crawford
listened very attentively. He could not but smile at the simplicity with
which the youth had interfered in behalf of the hanged criminal, but he
shook his head at the account which he received of the ruffle betwixt
the Scottish Archers and the Provost Marshal's guard.
[Such disputes between the Scots Guards and the other constituted
authorities of the ordinary military corps often occurred. In 1474, two
Scotsmen had been concerned in robbing... a fishmonger of a large sum
of money. They were accordingly apprehended by Philip du Four, Provost,
with some of his followers. But ere they could lodge one of them,... in
the prison of the Chastellet, they were attacked by two Archers of the
King's Scottish Guard, who rescued the prisoner.... S.]
"How often," he said, "will you bring me such ill winded pirns to ravel
out? How often must I tell you, and especially both you, Ludovic Lesly,
and you, Archie Cunningham, that the foreign soldier should bear himself
modestly and decorously towards the people of the country if you would
not have the whole dogs of the town at your heels? However, if you must
have a bargain [a quarrel, videlicet. S.], I would rather it were with
that loon of a Provost than any one else; and I blame you less for this
onslaught than for other frays that you have made, Ludovic, for it was
but natural and kind-like to help your young kinsman. This simple bairn
must come to no skaith [same as scathe] neither; so give me the roll of
the company yonder down from the shelf, and we will even add his name to
the troop, that he may enjoy the privileges."
"May it please your Lordship" said Durward.
"Is the lad crazed?" exclaimed his uncle. "Would you speak to his
Lordship without a question asked?"
"Patience, Ludovic," said Lord Crawford, "and let us hear what the bairn
has to say."
"Only this, if it may please your Lordship," replied Quentin, "that I
told my uncle formerly I had some doubts about entering this service.
I have now to say that they are entirely removed, since I have seen the
noble and experienced commander under whom I am to serve; for there is
authority in your look."
"Weel said, my bairn," said the old Lord, not insensible to the
compliment; "we have had some experience, had God sent us grace to
improve by it, both in service and in command. There you stand, Quentin,
in our honourable corps of Scottish Bodyguards, as esquire to your
uncle, and serving under his lance. I trust you will do well, for you
should be a right man at arms, if all be good that is upcome [that is,
if your courage corresponds with your personal appearance. S.], and you
are come of a gentle kindred.--Ludovic, you will see that your kinsman
follow his exercise diligently, for we will have spears breaking one of
"By my hilts, and I am glad of it, my Lord--this peace makes cowards
of us all. I myself feel a sort of decay of spirit, closed up in this
cursed dungeon of a Castle."
"Well, a bird whistled in my ear," continued Lord Crawford, "that the
old banner will be soon dancing in the field again."
"I will drink a cup the deeper this evening to that very tune," said
"Thou wilt drink to any tune," said Lord Crawford; "and I fear me,
Ludovic, you will drink a bitter browst [as much liquor as is brewed at
one time] of your own brewing one day."
Lesly, a little abashed, replied that it had not been his wont for many
a day; but that his Lordship knew the use of the company, to have a
carouse to the health of a new comrade.
"True," said the old leader, "I had forgot the occasion. I will send a
few stoups of wine to assist your carouse; but let it be over by sunset.
And, hark ye--let the soldiers for duty he carefully pricked off; and
see that none of them be more or less partakers of your debauch."
"Your Lordship shall be lawfully obeyed," said Ludovic, "and your health
"Perhaps," said Lord Crawford, "I may look in myself upon your
mirth--just to see that all is carried decently."
"Your Lordship shall be most dearly welcome;" said Ludovic; and the
whole party retreated in high spirits to prepare for their military
banquet, to which Lesly invited about a score of his comrades, who were
pretty much in the habit of making their mess together.
A soldier's festival is generally a very extempore affair, providing
there is enough of meat and drink to be had; but on the present
occasion, Ludovic bustled about to procure some better wine than
ordinary; observing that the old Lord was the surest gear in their
aught, and that, while he preached sobriety to them, he himself, after
drinking at the royal table as much wine as he could honestly come by,
never omitted any creditable opportunity to fill up the evening over the
"So you must prepare, comrades," he said, "to hear the old histories of
the battles of Vernoil and Beauge [in both these battles the
Scottish auxiliaries of France, under Stewart, Earl of Buchan, were
The Gothic apartment in which they generally met was, therefore, hastily
put into the best order; their grooms were dispatched to collect green
rushes to spread upon the floor; and banners, under which the Scottish
Guard had marched to battle, or which they had taken from the enemies'
ranks, were displayed, by way of tapestry, over the table and around the
walls of the chamber.
The next point was, to invest the young recruit as hastily as possible
with the dress and appropriate arms of the Guard, that he might appear
in every respect the sharer of its important privileges, in virtue of
which, and by the support of his countrymen, he might freely brave the
power and the displeasure of the Provost Marshal--although the one was
known to be as formidable as the other was unrelenting.
The banquet was joyous in the highest degree; and the guests gave vent
to the whole current of their national partiality on receiving into
their ranks a recruit from their beloved fatherland. Old Scottish songs
were sung, old tales of Scottish heroes told--the achievements of their
fathers, and the scenes in which they were wrought, were recalled to
mind; and, for a time, the rich plains of Touraine seemed converted into
the mountainous and sterile regions of Caledonia.
When their enthusiasm was at high flood, and each was endeavouring to
say something to enhance the dear remembrance of Scotland, it received
a new impulse from the arrival of Lord Crawford, who, as Le Balafre had
well prophesied, sat as it were on thorns at the royal board, until
an opportunity occurred of making his escape to the revelry of his own
countrymen. A chair of state had been reserved for him at the upper
end of the table; for, according to the manners of the age and the
constitution of that body, although their leader and commander under the
King and High Constable, the members of the corps (as we should now say,
the privates) being all ranked as noble by birth, their captain sat with
them at the same table without impropriety, and might mingle when
he chose in their festivity, without derogation from his dignity as
At present, however, Lord Crawford declined occupying the seat prepared
for him, and bidding them "hold themselves merry," stood looking on the
revel with a countenance which seemed greatly to enjoy it.
"Let him alone," whispered Cunningham to Lindesay, as the latter
offered the wine to their noble captain, "let him alone--hurry no man's
cattle--let him take it of his own accord."
In fact, the old Lord, who at first smiled, shook his head, and placed
the untasted winecup before him, began presently, as if it were in
absence of mind, to sip a little of the contents, and in doing so,
fortunately recollected that it would be ill luck did he not drink a
draught to the health of the gallant lad who had joined them this day.
The pledge was filled, and answered, as may well be supposed, with many
a joyous shout, when the old leader proceeded to acquaint them that he
had possessed Master Oliver with an account of what had passed that day.
"And as," he said, "the scraper of chins hath no great love for the
stretcher of throats, he has joined me in obtaining from the King an
order, commanding the Provost to suspend all proceedings, under whatever
pretence, against Quentin Durward; and to respect, on all occasions, the
privileges of the Scottish guard."
Another shout broke forth, the cups were again filled till the wine
sparkled on the brim, and there was an acclaim to the health of the
noble Lord Crawford, the brave conservator of the privileges and rights
of his countrymen. The good old Lord could not but in courtesy do reason
to this pledge also, and gliding into the ready chair; as it were,
without reflecting what he was doing, he caused Quentin to come up
beside him, and assailed him with many more questions concerning the
state of Scotland, and the great families there, than he was well able
to answer, while ever and anon, in the course of his queries, the good
Lord kissed the wine cup by way of parenthesis, remarking that sociality
became Scottish gentlemen, but that young men, like Quentin, ought to
practise it cautiously, lest it might degenerate into excess; upon
which occasion he uttered many excellent things, until his own tongue,
although employed in the praises of temperance, began to articulate
something thicker than usual. It was now that, while the military ardour
of the company augmented with each flagon which they emptied, Cunningham
called on them to drink the speedy hoisting of the Oriflamme, the royal
banner of France.
"And a breeze of Burgundy to fan it!" echoed Lindesay.
"With all the soul that is left in this worn body do I accept the
pledge, bairns," echoed Lord Crawford; "and as old as I am, I trust
I may see it flutter yet. Hark ye, my mates," (for wine had made him
something communicative), "ye are all true servants to the French
crown, and wherefore should ye not know there is an envoy come from Duke
Charles of Burgundy, with a message of an angry favour?"
"I saw the Count of Crevecoeur's equipage, horses, and retinue," said
another of the guests, "down at the inn yonder at the Mulberry Grove.
They say the King will not admit him into the Castle."
"Now, Heaven send him an ungracious answer!" said Guthrie; "but what is
it he complains of?"
"A world of grievances upon the frontier," said Lord Crawford; "and
latterly, that the King hath received under his protection a lady of his
land, a young Countess, who hath fled from Dijon, because, being a ward
of the Duke, he would have her marry his favourite, Campobasso."
"And hath she actually come hither alone, my lord?" said Lindesay.
"Nay, not altogether alone, but with the old Countess, her kinswoman,
who hath yielded to her cousin's wishes in this matter."
"And will the King," said Cunningham, "he being the Duke's feudal
sovereign, interfere between the Duke and his ward, over whom Charles
hath the same right, which, were he himself dead, the King would have
over the heiress of Burgundy?"
"The King will be ruled as he is wont, by rules of policy, and you
know," continued Crawford, "that he hath not publicly received these
ladies, nor placed them under the protection of his daughters, the Lady
of Beaujeu, or the Princess Joan, so, doubtless, he will be guided by
circumstances. He is our Master--but it is no treason to say, he
will chase with the hounds, and run with the hare, with any prince in
"But the Duke of Burgundy understands no such doubling;" said
"No," answered the old Lord; "and, therefore, it is likely to make work
"Well--Saint Andrew further the fray!" said Le Balafre. "I had it
foretold me ten, ay, twenty years since, that I was to make the fortune
of my house by marriage. Who knows what may happen, if once we come to
fight for honour and ladies' love, as they do in the old romaunts."
"Thou name ladies' love, with such a trench in thy visage!" said
"As well not love at all, as love a Bohemian woman of Heathenesse,"
retorted Le Balafre.
"Hold there, comrades," said Lord Crawford; "no tilting with sharp
weapons, no jesting with keen scoffs--friends all. And for the lady, she
is too wealthy to fall to a poor Scottish lord, or I would put in my own
claim, fourscore years and all, or not very far from it. But here is her
health, nevertheless, for they say she is a lamp of beauty."
"I think I saw her," said another soldier, "when I was upon guard this
morning at the inner barrier; but she was more like a dark lantern
than a lamp, for she and another were brought into the Chateau in close
"Shame! shame! Arnot!" said Lord Crawford; "a soldier on duty should
say naught of what he sees. Besides," he added after a pause, his own
curiosity prevailing over the show of discipline which he had thought
it necessary to exert, "why should these litters contain this very same
Countess Isabelle de Croye?"
"Nay, my Lord," replied Arnot, "I know nothing of it save this, that my
coutelier was airing my horses in the road to the village, and fell in
with Doguin the muleteer, who brought back the litters to the inn, for
they belong to the fellow of the Mulberry Grove yonder--he of the Fleur
de Lys, I mean--and so Doguin asked Saunders Steed to take a cup of
wine, as they were acquainted, which he was no doubt willing enough to
"No doubt--no doubt," said the old Lord; "it is a thing I wish were
corrected among you, gentlemen; but all your grooms, and couteliers, and
jackmen as we should call them in Scotland, are but too ready to take
a cup of wine with any one.--It is a thing perilous in war, and must be
amended. But, Andrew Arnot, this is a long tale of yours, and we will
cut it with a drink; as the Highlander says, Skeoch doch nan skial ['Cut
a tale with a drink;' an expression used when a man preaches over
his liquor, as bons vivants say in England. S.]; and that 's good
Gaelic.--Here is to the Countess Isabelle of Croye, and a better husband
to her than Campobasso, who is a base Italian cullion!--And now, Andrew
Arnot, what said the muleteer to this yeoman of thine?"
"Why, he told him in secrecy, if it please your Lordship," continued
Arnot, "that these two ladies whom he had presently before convoyed
up to the Castle in the close litters, were great ladies, who had been
living in secret at his house for some days, and that the King had
visited them more than once very privately, and had done them great
honour; and that they had fled up to the Castle, as he believed, for
fear of the Count de Crevecoeur, the Duke of Burgundy's ambassador,
whose approach was just announced by an advanced courier."
"Ay, Andrew, come you there to me?" said Guthrie. "Then I will be sworn
it was the Countess whose voice I heard singing to the lute, as I came
even now through the inner court--the sound came from the bay windows
of the Dauphin's Tower; and such melody was there as no one ever heard
before in the Castle of Plessis of the Park. By my faith, I thought it
was the music of the Fairy Melusina's making. There I stood--though I
knew your board was covered, and that you were all impatient--there I
[The Fairy Melusina: a water fay who married a mortal on condition that
she should be allowed to spend her Saturdays in deep seclusion. This
promise, after many years, was broken, and Melusina, half serpent, half
woman, was discovered swimming in a bath. For this breach of faith on
the part of her husband, Melusina was compelled to leave her home. She
regularly returned, however, before the death of any of the lords of her
family, and by her wailings foretold that event. Her history is closely
interwoven with the legends of the Banshee and Mermaid.]
"--Like an ass, Johnny Guthrie," said his commander; "thy long nose
smelling the dinner, thy long ears hearing the music, and thy short
discretion not enabling thee to decide which of them thou didst
prefer.--Hark! is that not the Cathedral bell tolling to vespers?--Sure
it cannot be that time yet? The mad old sexton has toll'd evensong an
hour too soon."
"In faith, the bell rings but too justly the hour," said Cunningham;
"yonder the sun is sinking on the west side of the fair plain."
"Ay," said the Lord Crawford, "is it even so?--Well, lads, we must live
within compass.--Fair and soft goes far--slow fire makes sweet malt--to
be merry and wise is a sound proverb.--One other rouse to the weal of
old Scotland, and then each man to his duty."
The parting cup was emptied, and the guests dismissed--the stately
old Baron taking the Balafre's arm, under pretence of giving him some
instructions concerning his nephew, but, perhaps, in reality, lest his
own lofty pace should seem in the public eye less steady than became his
rank and high command. A serious countenance did he bear as he passed
through the two courts which separated his lodging from the festal
chamber, and solemn as the gravity of a hogshead was the farewell
caution with which he prayed Ludovic to attend his nephew's motions,
especially in the matters of wenches and wine cups.
Meanwhile, not a word that was spoken concerning the beautiful Countess
Isabelle had escaped the young Durward, who, conducted into a small
cabin, which he was to share with his uncle's page, made his new and
lowly abode the scene of much high musing. The reader will easily
imagine that the young soldier should build a fine romance on such a
foundation as the supposed, or rather the assumed, identification of
the Maiden of the Turret, to whose lay he had listened with so much
interest, and the fair cup bearer of Maitre Pierre, with a fugitive
Countess of rank and wealth, flying from the pursuit of a hated lover,
the favourite of an oppressive guardian, who abused his feudal power.
There was an interlude in Quentin's vision concerning Maitre Pierre, who
seemed to exercise such authority even over the formidable officer from
whose hands he had that day, with much difficulty, made his escape. At
length the youth's reveries, which had been respected by little Will
Harper, the companion of his cell, were broken in upon by the return of
his uncle, who commanded Quentin to bed, that he might arise betimes in
the morning, and attend him to his Majesty's antechamber, to which he
was called by his hour of duty, along with five of his comrades.
CHAPTER VIII: THE ENVOY
Be thou as lightning in the eyes of France;
For ere thou canst report I will be there.
The thunder of my cannon shall be heard--
So, hence! be thou the trumpet of our wrath.
Had sloth been a temptation by which Durward was easily beset, the noise
with which the caserne of the guards resounded after the first toll
of primes, had certainly banished the siren from his couch; but the
discipline of his father's tower, and of the convent of Aberbrothick,
had taught him to start with the dawn; and he did on his clothes gaily,
amid the sounding of bugles and the clash of armour, which announced the
change of the vigilant guards--some of whom were returning to barracks
after their nightly duty, whilst some were marching out to that of the
morning--and others, again, amongst whom was his uncle, were arming for
immediate attendance upon the person of Louis. Quentin Durward soon
put on, with the feelings of so young a man on such an occasion, the
splendid dress and arms appertaining to his new situation; and his
uncle, who looked with great accuracy and interest to see that he was
completely fitted out in every respect, did not conceal his satisfaction
at the improvement which had been thus made in his nephew's appearance.
"If thou dost prove as faithful and bold as thou art well favoured, I
shall have in thee one of the handsomest and best esquires in the Guard,
which cannot but be an honour to thy mother's family. Follow me to the
presence chamber; and see thou keep close at my shoulder."
So saying, he took up a partisan, large, weighty, and beautifully inlaid
and ornamented, and directing his nephew to assume a lighter weapon of
a similar description, they proceeded to the inner court of the palace,
where their comrades, who were to form the guard of the interior
apartments, were already drawn up and under arms--the squires each
standing behind their masters, to whom they thus formed a second rank.
Here were also in attendance many yeomen prickers, with gallant horses
and noble dogs, on which Quentin looked with such inquisitive delight
that his uncle was obliged more than once to remind him that the animals
were not there for his private amusement, but for the King's, who had
a strong passion for the chase, one of the few inclinations which he
indulged even when coming in competition with his course of policy;
being so strict a protector of the game in the royal forests that it was
currently said you might kill a man with greater impunity than a stag.
On a signal given, the Guards were put into motion by the command of
Le Balafre, who acted as officer upon the occasion; and, after some
minutiae of word and signal, which all served to show the extreme and
punctilious jealousy with which their duty was performed, they marched
into the hall of audience where the King was immediately expected.
New as Quentin was to scenes of splendour, the effect of that which was
now before him rather disappointed the expectations which he had formed
of the brilliancy of a court. There were household officers, indeed,
richly attired; there were guards gallantly armed, and there were
domestics of various degrees. But he saw none of the ancient counsellors
of the kingdom, none of the high officers of the crown, heard none of
the names which in those days sounded an alarum to chivalry; saw none
either of those generals or leaders, who, possessed of the full prime of
manhood, were the strength of France, or of the more youthful and fiery
nobles, those early aspirants after honour, who were her pride. The
jealous habits, the reserved manners, the deep and artful policy of the
King, had estranged this splendid circle from the throne, and they were
only called around it upon certain stated and formal occasions, when
they went reluctantly, and returned joyfully, as the animals in the
fable are supposed to have approached and left the den of the lion.
The very few persons who seemed to be there in the character of
counsellors were mean looking men, whose countenances sometimes
expressed sagacity, but whose manners showed they were called into a
sphere for which their previous education and habits had qualified them
but indifferently. One or two persons, however, did appear to Durward
to possess a more noble mien, and the strictness of the present duty was
not such as to prevent his uncle's communicating the names of those whom
he thus distinguished.
With the Lord Crawford, who was in attendance, dressed in the rich
habit of his office, and holding a leading staff of silver in his hand,
Quentin, as well as the reader, was already acquainted. Among others,
who seemed of quality, the most remarkable was the Count de Dunois,
the son of that celebrated Dunois, known by the name of the Bastard of
Orleans, who, fighting under the banner of Jeanne d'Arc, acted such a
distinguished part in liberating France from the English yoke. His son
well supported the high renown which had descended to him from such
an honoured source; and, notwithstanding his connexion with the royal
family, and his hereditary popularity both with the nobles and the
people, Dunois had, upon all occasions, manifested such an open, frank
loyalty of character that he seemed to have escaped all suspicion, even
on the part of the jealous Louis, who loved to see him near his person,
and sometimes even called him to his councils. Although accounted
complete in all the exercises of chivalry, and possessed of much of the
character of what was then termed a perfect knight, the person of the
Count was far from being a model of romantic beauty. He was under the
common size, though very strongly built, and his legs rather curved
outwards, into that make which is more convenient for horseback, than
elegant in a pedestrian. His shoulders were broad, his hair black, his
complexion swarthy, his arms remarkably long and nervous. The features
of his countenance were irregular, even to ugliness; yet, after all,
there was an air of conscious worth and nobility about the Count de
Dunois, which stamped, at the first glance, the character of the high
born nobleman and the undaunted soldier. His mien was bold and upright,
his step free and manly, and the harshness of his countenance was
dignified by a glance like an eagle, and a frown like a lion. His dress
was a hunting suit, rather sumptuous than gay, and he acted on most
occasions as Grand Huntsman, though we are not inclined to believe that
he actually held the office.
Upon the arm of his relation Dunois, walking with a step so slow and
melancholy that he seemed to rest on his kinsman and supporter, came
Louis Duke of Orleans, the first prince of the Blood Royal (afterwards
King, by the name of Louis XII), and to whom the guards and attendants
rendered their homage as such. The jealously watched object of Louis's
suspicions, this Prince, who, failing the King's offspring, was heir to
the kingdom, was not suffered to absent himself from Court, and,
while residing there, was alike denied employment and countenance.
The dejection which his degraded and almost captive state naturally
impressed on the deportment of this unfortunate Prince, was at this
moment greatly increased by his consciousness that the King meditated,
with respect to him, one of the most cruel and unjust actions which a
tyrant could commit, by compelling him to give his hand to the Princess
Joan of France, the younger daughter of Louis, to whom he had been
contracted in infancy, but whose deformed person rendered the insisting
upon such an agreement an act of abominable rigour.
The exterior of this unhappy Prince was in no respect distinguished
by personal advantages; and in mind, he was of a gentle, mild and
beneficent disposition, qualities which were visible even through
the veil of extreme dejection with which his natural character was at
present obscured. Quentin observed that the Duke studiously avoided even
looking at the Royal Guards, and when he returned their salute, that he
kept his eyes bent on the ground, as if he feared the King's jealousy
might have construed the gesture of ordinary courtesy as arising from
the purpose of establishing a separate and personal interest among them.
Very different was the conduct of the proud Cardinal and Prelate, John
of Balue, the favourite minister of Louis for the time, whose rise
and character bore as close a resemblance to that of Wolsey, as the
difference betwixt the crafty and politic Louis and the headlong and
rash Henry VIII of England would permit. The former had raised his
minister from the lowest rank, to the dignity, or at least to the
emoluments, of Grand Almoner of France, loaded him with benefices, and
obtained for him the hat of a cardinal; and although he was too cautious
to repose in the ambitious Balue the unbounded power and trust which
Henry placed in Wolsey, yet he was more influenced by him than by any
other of his avowed counsellors. The Cardinal, accordingly, had not
escaped the error incidental to those who are suddenly raised to power
from an obscure situation, for he entertained a strong persuasion,
dazzled doubtlessly by the suddenness of his elevation, that his
capacity was equal to intermeddling with affairs of every kind, even
those most foreign to his profession and studies. Tall and ungainly
in his person, he affected gallantry and admiration of the fair sex,
although his manners rendered his pretensions absurd, and his profession
marked them as indecorous. Some male or female flatterer had, in evil
hour, possessed him with the idea that there was much beauty of contour
in a pair of huge, substantial legs, which he had derived from his
father, a car man of Limoges--or, according to other authorities, a
miller of Verdun, and with this idea he had become so infatuated that he
always had his cardinal's robes a little looped up on one side, that the
sturdy proportion of his limbs might not escape observation. As he swept
through the stately apartment in his crimson dress and rich cope, he
stopped repeatedly to look at the arms and appointments of the cavaliers
on guard, asked them several questions in an authoritative tone, and
took upon him to censure some of them for what he termed irregularities
of discipline, in language to which these experienced soldiers dared
no reply, although it was plain they listened to it with impatience and
[Wolsey (1471-1530): at one time the chief favourite of Henry VIII. He
was raised from obscurity by that sovereign to be Archbishop of York,
Lord Chancellor of England, and Cardinal. As legate of the Pope, he
gained the ill will of Henry by his failure to secure that king's
divorce. He was deprived of his offices, his property was confiscated to
the crown, and in 1530 he was arrested for high treason, but died on his
way to trial.]
"Is the King aware," said Dunois to the Cardinal, "that the Burgundian
Envoy is peremptory in demanding an audience?"
"He is," answered the Cardinal; "and here, as I think, comes the all
sufficient Oliver Dain, to let us know the royal pleasure."
As he spoke, a remarkable person, who then divided the favour of Louis
with the proud Cardinal himself, entered from the inner apartment, but
without any of that important and consequential demeanour which marked
the full blown dignity of the churchman. On the contrary, this was a
little, pale, meagre man, whose black silk jerkin and hose, without
either coat, cloak, or cassock, formed a dress ill qualified to set off
to advantage a very ordinary person. He carried a silver basin in his
hand, and a napkin flung over his arm indicated his menial capacity. His
visage was penetrating and quick, although he endeavoured to banish such
expression from his features by keeping his eyes fixed on the ground,
while, with the stealthy and quiet pace of a cat, he seemed modestly
rather to glide than to walk through the apartment. But though modesty
may easily obscure worth, it cannot hide court favour; and all attempts
to steal unperceived through the presence chamber were vain, on the
part of one known to have such possession of the King's ear as had been
attained by his celebrated barber and groom of the chamber, Oliver
le Dain, called sometimes Oliver le Mauvais, and sometimes Oliver le
Diable, epithets derived from the unscrupulous cunning with which
he assisted in the execution of the schemes of his master's tortuous
policy. At present he spoke earnestly for a few moments with the Count
de Dunois, who instantly left the chamber, while the tonsor glided
quietly back towards the royal apartment whence he had issued, every
one giving place to him; which civility he only acknowledged by the most
humble inclination of the body, excepting in a very few instances,
where he made one or two persons the subject of envy to all the other
courtiers, by whispering a single word in their ear; and at the same
time muttering something of the duties of his place, he escaped from
their replies as well as from the eager solicitations of those who
wished to attract his notice. Ludovic Lesly had the good fortune to be
one of the individuals who, on the present occasion, was favoured by
Oliver with a single word, to assure him that his matter was fortunately
Presently afterwards he had another proof of the same agreeable tidings;
for Quentin's old acquaintance, Tristan l'Hermite, the Provost Marshal
of the royal household, entered the apartment, and came straight to the
place where Balafre was posted. This formidable officer's uniform, which
was very rich, had only the effect of making his sinister countenance
and bad mien more strikingly remarkable, and the tone, which he meant
for conciliatory, was like nothing so much as the growling of a bear.
The import of his words, however, was more amicable than the voice in
which they were pronounced. He regretted the mistake which had fallen
between them on the preceding day, and observed it was owing to the
Sieur Le Balafre's nephew's not wearing the uniform of his corps, or
announcing himself as belonging to it, which had led him into the error
for which he now asked forgiveness.
Ludovic Lesly made the necessary reply, and as soon as Tristan had
turned away, observed to his nephew that they had now the distinction
of having a mortal enemy from henceforward in the person of this dreaded
"But we are above his volee [brood, rank, class]--a soldier," said he,
"who does his duty, may laugh at the Provost Marshal."
Quentin could not help being of his uncle's opinion, for, as Tristan
parted from them, it was with the look of angry defiance which the bear
casts upon the hunter whose spear has wounded him. Indeed, even when
less strongly moved, the sullen eye of this official expressed a
malevolence of purpose which made men shudder to meet his glance; and
the thrill of the young Scot was the deeper and more abhorrent, that he
seemed to himself still to feel on his shoulders the grasp of the two
death doing functionaries of this fatal officer.
Meanwhile, Oliver, after he had prowled around the room in the stealthy
manner which we have endeavoured to describe--all, even the highest
officers making way for him, and loading him with their ceremonious
attentions, which his modesty seemed desirous to avoid--again entered
the inner apartment, the doors of which were presently thrown open, and
King Louis entered the presence chamber.
Quentin, like all others, turned his eyes upon him; and started so
suddenly that he almost dropped his weapon, when he recognised in the
King of France that silk merchant, Maitre Pierre, who had been the
companion of his morning walk. Singular suspicions respecting the real
rank of this person had at different times crossed his thoughts; but
this, the proved reality, was wilder than his wildest conjecture.
The stern look of his uncle, offended at this breach of the decorum of
his office, recalled him to himself; but not a little was he astonished
when the King, whose quick eye had at once discovered him, walked
straight to the place where he was posted, without taking notice of any
"So;" he said, "young man, I am told you have been brawling on your
first arrival in Touraine; but I pardon you, as it was chiefly the fault
of a foolish old merchant, who thought your Caledonian blood required to
be heated in the morning with Vin de Beaulne. If I can find him, I will
make him an example to those who debauch my Guards.--Balafre," he added,
speaking to Lesly, "your kinsman is a fair youth, though a fiery. We
love to cherish such spirits, and mean to make more than ever we did of
the brave men who are around us. Let the year, day, hour, and minute of
your nephew's birth be written down and given to Oliver Dain."
Le Balafre bowed to the ground, and re-assumed his erect military
position, as one who would show by his demeanour his promptitude to act
in the King's quarrel or defence. Quentin, in the meantime, recovered
from his first surprise, studied the King's appearance more attentively,
and was surprised to find how differently he now construed his
deportment and features than he had done at their first interview.
These were not much changed in exterior, for Louis, always a scorner of
outward show, wore, on the present occasion, an old dark blue hunting
dress, not much better than the plain burgher suit of the preceding day,
and garnished with a huge rosary of ebony which had been sent to him by
no less a personage than the Grand Seignior, with an attestation that
it had been used by a Coptic hermit on Mount Lebanon, a personage of
profound sanctity. And instead of his cap with a single image, he now
wore a hat, the band of which was garnished with at least a dozen of
little paltry figures of saints stamped in lead. But those eyes, which,
according to Quentin's former impression, only twinkled with the love
of gain, had, now that they were known to be the property of an able and
powerful monarch, a piercing and majestic glance; and those wrinkles
on the brow, which he had supposed were formed during a long series of
petty schemes of commerce, seemed now the furrows which sagacity had
worn while toiling in meditation upon the fate of nations.
Presently after the King's appearance, the Princesses of France, with
the ladies of their suite, entered the apartment. With the eldest,
afterwards married to Peter of Bourbon, and known in French history by
the name of the Lady of Beaujeu, our story has but little to do. She was
tall, and rather handsome, possessed eloquence, talent, and much of her
father's sagacity, who reposed great confidence in her, and loved her as
well perhaps as he loved any one.
The younger sister, the unfortunate Joan, the destined bride of the Duke
of Orleans, advanced timidly by the side of her sister, conscious of a
total want of those external qualities which women are most desirous of
possessing, or being thought to possess. She was pale, thin, and sickly
in her complexion; her shape visibly bent to one side, and her gait was
so unequal that she might be called lame. A fine set of teeth, and eyes
which were expressive of melancholy, softness, and resignation, with
a quantity of light brown locks, were the only redeeming points which
flattery itself could have dared to number, to counteract the general
homeliness of her face and figure. To complete the picture, it was easy
to remark, from the Princess's negligence in dress and the timidity of
her manner, that she had an unusual and distressing consciousness of
her own plainness of appearance, and did not dare to make any of those
attempts to mend by manners or by art what nature had left amiss, or in
any other way to exert a power of pleasing. The King (who loved her not)
stepped hastily to her as she entered.
"How now," he said, "our world contemning daughter--Are you robed for a
hunting party, or for the convent, this morning? Speak--answer."
"For which your highness pleases, sire," said the Princess, scarce
raising her voice above her breath.
"Ay, doubtless, you would persuade me it is your desire to quit the
Court, Joan, and renounce the world and its vanities.--Ha! maiden,
wouldst thou have it thought that we, the first born of Holy Church,
would refuse our daughter to Heaven?--Our Lady and Saint Martin forbid
we should refuse the offering, were it worthy of the altar, or were thy
vocation in truth thitherward!"
So saying, the King crossed himself devoutly, looking in the meantime,
as appeared to Quentin, very like a cunning vassal, who was depreciating
the merit of something which he was desirous to keep to himself, in
order that he might stand excused for not offering it to his chief or
"Dares he thus play the hypocrite with Heaven," thought Durward, "and
sport with God and the Saints, as he may safely do with men, who dare
not search his nature too closely?"
Louis meantime resumed, after a moment's mental devotion, "No, fair
daughter, I and another know your real mind better. Ha! fair cousin of
Orleans, do we not? Approach, fair sir, and lead this devoted vestal of
ours to her horse."
Orleans started when the King spoke and hastened to obey him; but with
such precipitation of step, and confusion, that Louis called out, "Nay,
cousin, rein your gallantry, and look before you. Why, what a headlong
matter a gallant's haste is on some occasions! You had well nigh taken
Anne's hand instead of her sister's.--Sir, must I give Joan's to you
The unhappy Prince looked up, and shuddered like a child, when forced
to touch something at which it has instinctive horror--then making an
effort, took the hand which the Princess neither gave nor yet withheld.
As they stood, her cold, damp fingers enclosed in his trembling hand,
with their eyes looking on the ground, it would have been difficult
to say which of these two youthful beings was rendered more utterly
miserable--the Duke, who felt himself fettered to the object of his
aversion by bonds which he durst not tear asunder, or the unfortunate
young woman, who too plainly saw that she was an object of abhorrence to
him, to gain whose kindness she would willingly have died.
"And now to horse, gentlemen and ladies--we will ourselves lead forth
our daughter of Beaujeu," said the King; "and God's blessing and Saint
Hubert's be on our morning's sport!"
"I am, I fear, doomed to interrupt it, Sire," said the Comte de Dunois;
"the Burgundian Envoy is before the gates of the Castle and demands an
"Demands an audience, Dunois?" replied the King. "Did you not answer
him, as we sent you word by Oliver, that we were not at leisure to see
him today,--and that tomorrow was the festival of Saint Martin, which,
please Heaven, we would disturb by no earthly thoughts--and that on the
succeeding day we were designed for Amboise--but that we would not fail
to appoint him as early an audience, when we returned, as our pressing
affairs would permit."
"All this I said," answered Dunois, "but yet, Sire--"
"Pasques dieu! man, what is it that thus sticks in thy throat?" said the
King. "This Burgundian's terms must have been hard of digestion."
"Had not my duty, your Grace's commands, and his character as an envoy,
restrained me," said Dunois, "he should have tried to digest them
himself; for, by our Lady of Orleans, I had more mind to have made him
eat his own words, than to have brought them to your Majesty."
"Body of me," said the King, "it is strange that thou, one of the most
impatient fellows alive, should have so little sympathy with the like
infirmity in our blunt and fiery cousin, Charles of Burgundy. Why, man,
I mind his blustering messages no more than the towers of this Castle
regard the whistling of the northeast wind, which comes from Flanders,
as well as this brawling Envoy."
"Know then, Sire," replied Dunois, "that the Count of Crevecoeur tarries
below, with his retinue of pursuivants and trumpets, and says, that
since your Majesty refuses him the audience which his master has
instructed him to demand, upon matters of most pressing concern, he will
remain there till midnight, and accost your Majesty at whatever hour you
are pleased to issue from your Castle, whether for business, exercise,
or devotion; and that no consideration, except the use of absolute
force, shall compel him to desist from this."
"He is a fool," said the King, with much composure. "Does the hot
headed Hainaulter think it any penance for a man of sense to remain for
twenty-four hours quiet within the walls of his Castle, when he hath the
affairs of a kingdom to occupy him? These impatient coxcombs think
that all men, like themselves, are miserable, save when in saddle and
stirrup. Let the dogs be put up, and well looked to, gentle Dunois.--We
will hold council today, instead of hunting."
"My Liege," answered Dunois, "you will not thus rid yourself of
Crevecoeur; for his master's instructions are, that if he hath not this
audience which he demands, he shall nail his gauntlet to the palisade
before the Castle in token of mortal defiance on the part of his master,
shall renounce the Duke's fealty to France, and declare instant war."
"Ay," said Louis without any perceptible alteration of voice, but
frowning until his piercing dark eyes became almost invisible under
his shaggy eyebrows, "is it even so? will our ancient vassal prove so
masterful--our dear cousin treat us thus unkindly?--Nay, then, Dunois,
we must unfold the Oriflamme, and cry Dennis Montjoye!"
[Montjoie St. Denis, a former war cry of the French soldiers. Saint
Denis was a patron saint of France who suffered martyrdom in the third
century. Montjoie (mont and joie) may be the name of the hill where the
saint met his death; or it may signify that any such place is a "hill of
"Marry and amen, and in a most happy hour!" said the martial Dunois; and
the guards in the hall, unable to resist the same impulse, stirred each
upon his post, so as to produce a low but distinct sound of clashing
arms. The King cast his eye proudly round, and, for a moment, thought
and looked like his heroic father.
But the excitement of the moment presently gave way to the host of
political considerations, which, at that conjuncture, rendered an open
breach with Burgundy so peculiarly perilous. Edward IV, a brave and
victorious king, who had in his own person fought thirty battles, was
now established on the throne of England, was brother to the Duchess of
Burgundy, and, it might well be supposed, waited but a rupture between
his near connexion and Louis, to carry into France, through the ever
open gate of Calais, those arms which had been triumphant in the English
civil wars, and to obliterate the recollection of internal dissensions
by that most popular of all occupations amongst the English, an invasion
of France. To this consideration was added the uncertain faith of the
Duke of Bretagne, and other weighty subjects of reflection. So that,
after a deep pause, when Louis again spoke, although in the same tone,
it was with an altered spirit. "But God forbid," he said, "that aught
less than necessity should make us, the Most Christian' King, give cause
to the effusion of Christian blood, if anything short of dishonour may
avert such a calamity. We tender our subjects' safety dearer than the
ruffle which our own dignity may receive from the rude breath of a
malapert ambassador, who hath perhaps exceeded the errand with which he
was charged.--Admit the Envoy of Burgundy to our presence."
"Beati pacifici, [blessed are the peace makers]" said the Cardinal
"True; and your Eminence knoweth that they who humble themselves shall
be exalted," added the King.
The Cardinal spoke an Amen, to which few assented, for even the pale
cheek of Orleans kindled with shame, and Balafre suppressed his feelings
so little, as to let the butt end of his partisan fall heavily on the
floor--a movement of impatience for which he underwent a bitter reproof
from the Cardinal, with a lecture on the mode of handling his arms
when in presence of the Sovereign. The King himself seemed unusually
embarrassed at the silence around him.
"You are pensive, Dunois," he said. "You disapprove of our giving way to
this hot headed Envoy."
"By no means,"' said Dunois; "I meddle not with matters beyond my
sphere. I was thinking of asking a boon of your Majesty."
"A boon, Dunois--what is it? You are an unfrequent suitor, and may count
on our favour."
"I would, then, your Majesty would send me to Evreux to regulate the
clergy," said Dunois, with military frankness.
"That were indeed beyond thy sphere," replied the King, smiling.
"I might order priests as well," replied the Count, "as my Lord Bishop
of Evreux, or my Lord Cardinal, if he likes the title better, can
exercise the soldiers of your Majesty's guard."
The King smiled again, and more mysteriously, while he whispered
Dunois, "The time may come when you and I will regulate the priests
together.--But this is for the present a good conceited animal of a
Bishop. Ah, Dunois! Rome, Rome puts him and other burdens upon us.--But
patience, cousin, and shuffle the cards, till our hand is a stronger
[Dr. Dryasdust here remarks that cards, said to have been invented in a
preceding reign, for the amusement of Charles V during the intervals
of his mental disorder, seem speedily to have become common among the
courtiers.... The alleged origin of the invention of cards produced one
of the shrewdest replies I have ever heard given in evidence. It was
made by the late Dr. Gregory of Edinburgh to a counsel of great eminence
at the Scottish bar. The Doctor's testimony went to prove the insanity
of the party whose mental capacity was the point at issue. On a cross
interrogation, he admitted that the person in question played admirably
at whist. "And do you seriously say, doctor," said the learned counsel,
"that a person having a superior capacity for a game so difficult,
and which requires in a preeminent degree, memory, judgment, and
combination, can be at the same time deranged in his understanding?"--"I
am no card player," said the doctor, with great address, "but I have
read in history that cards were invented for the amusement of an insane
king." The consequences of this reply were decisive. S.]
The flourish of trumpets in the courtyard now announced the arrival
of the Burgundian nobleman. All in the presence chamber made haste to
arrange themselves according to their proper places of precedence, the
King and his daughters remaining in the centre of the assembly.
The Count of Crevecoeur, a renowned and undaunted warrior, entered
the apartment; and, contrary to the usage among the envoys of friendly
powers, he appeared all armed, excepting his head, in a gorgeous suit
of the most superb Milan armour, made of steel, inlaid and embossed with
gold, which was wrought into the fantastic taste called the Arabesque.
Around his neck and over his polished cuirass, hung his master's order
of the Golden Fleece, one of the most honoured associations of chivalry
then known in Christendom. A handsome page bore his helmet behind him, a
herald preceded him, bearing his letters of credence which he offered on
his knee to the King; while the ambassador himself paused in the midst
of the hall, as if to give all present time to admire his lofty look,
commanding stature, and undaunted composure of countenance and manner.
The rest of his attendants waited in the antechamber, or courtyard.
[The military order of the Golden Fleece was instituted by Philip the
Good, Duke of Burgundy, in the year 1429, the King of Spain being grand
master of the order, as Duke of Burgundy.]
"Approach, Seignior Count de Crevecoeur," said Louis, after a moment's
glance at his commission; "we need not our cousin's letters of credence,
either to introduce to us a warrior so well known, or to assure us of
your highly deserved credit with your master. We trust that your fair
partner, who shares some of our ancestral blood, is in good health. Had
you brought her in your hand, Seignior Count, we might have thought you
wore your armour, on this unwonted occasion, to maintain the superiority
of her charms against the amorous chivalry of France. As it is, we
cannot guess the reason of this complete panoply."
"Sire," replied the ambassador, "the Count of Crevecoeur must lament
his misfortune, and entreat your forgiveness, that he cannot, on this
occasion, reply with such humble deference as is due to the royal
courtesy with which your Majesty has honoured him. But, although it is
only the voice of Philip Crevecoeur de Cordes which speaks, the words
which he utters must be those of his gracious Lord and Sovereign, the
Duke of Burgundy."
"And what has Crevecoeur to say in the words of Burgundy?" said Louis,
with an assumption of sufficient dignity. "Yet hold--remember, that
in this presence, Philip Crevecoeur de Cordes speaks to him who is his
Crevecoeur bowed, and then spoke aloud: "King of France, the mighty Duke
of Burgundy once more sends you a written schedule of the wrongs and
oppressions committed on his frontiers by your Majesty's garrisons
and officers; and the first point of inquiry is, whether it is your
Majesty's purpose to make him amends for these injuries?"
The King, looking slightly at the memorial which the herald delivered
to him upon his knee, said, "These matters have been already long before
our Council. Of the injuries complained of, some are in requital of
those sustained by my subjects, some are affirmed without any proof,
some have been retaliated by the Duke's garrisons and soldiers; and if
there remain any which fall under none of those predicaments, we are
not, as a Christian prince, averse to make satisfaction for wrongs
actually sustained by our neighbour, though committed not only without
our countenance, but against our express order."'
"I will convey your Majesty's answer," said the ambassador, "to my most
gracious master; yet, let me say, that, as it is in no degree different
from the evasive replies which have already been returned to his
just complaints, I cannot hope that it will afford the means of
re-establishing peace and friendship betwixt France and Burgundy."
"Be that at God's pleasure," said the King. "It is not for dread of
thy master's arms, but for the sake of peace only, that I return so
temperate an answer to his injurious reproaches. Proceed with thine
"My master's next demand," said the ambassador, "is that your Majesty
will cease your secret and underhand dealings with his towns of Ghent,
Liege, and Malines. He requests that your Majesty will recall the secret
agents by whose means the discontents of his good citizens of Flanders
are inflamed; and dismiss from your Majesty's dominions, or rather
deliver up to the condign punishment of their liege lord, those
traitorous fugitives, who, having fled from the scene of their
machinations, have found too ready a refuge in Paris, Orleans, Tours,
and other French cities."
"Say to the Duke of Burgundy," replied the King, "that I know of no such
indirect practices as those with which he injuriously charges me; that
many subjects of France have frequent intercourse with the good cities
of Flanders, for the purpose of mutual benefit by free traffic, which it
would be as much contrary to the Duke's interest as mine to interrupt;
and that many Flemings have residence in my kingdom, and enjoy the
protection of my laws, for the same purpose; but none, to our knowledge,
for those of treason or mutiny against the Duke. Proceed with your
message--you have heard my answer."
"As formerly, Sire, with pain," replied the Count of Crevecoeur; "it not
being of that direct or explicit nature which the Duke, my master, will
accept, in atonement for a long train of secret machinations, not the
less certain, though now disavowed by your Majesty. But I proceed with
my message. The Duke of Burgundy farther requires the King of France to
send back to his dominions without delay, and under a secure safeguard,
the persons of Isabelle Countess of Croye, and of her relation and
guardian the Countess Hameline, of the same family, in respect the
said Countess Isabelle, being, by the law of the country and the feudal
tenure of her estates, the ward of the said Duke of Burgundy, hath fled
from his dominions, and from the charge which he, as a careful guardian,
was willing to extend over her, and is here maintained in secret by the
King of France and by him fortified in her contumacy to the Duke, her
natural lord and guardian, contrary to the laws of God and man, as they
ever have been acknowledged in civilized Europe.--Once more I pause for
your Majesty's reply."
"You did well, Count de Crevecoeur," said Louis, scornfully, "to begin
your embassy at an early hour; for if it be your purpose to call on
me to account for the flight of every vassal whom your master's heady
passion may have driven from his dominions, the head roll may last till
sunset. Who can affirm that these ladies are in my dominions? who can
presume to say, if it be so, that I have either countenanced their
flight hither, or have received them with offers of protection? Nay,
who is it will assert, that, if they are in France, their place of
retirement is within my knowledge?"
"Sire," said Crevecoeur, "may it please your Majesty, I was provided
with a witness on this subject--one who beheld these fugitive ladies in
the inn called the Fleur de Lys, not far from this Castle--one who saw
your Majesty in their company, though under the unworthy disguise of a
burgess of Tours--one who received from them, in your royal presence,
messages and letters to their friends in Flanders--all which he conveyed
to the hand and ear of the Duke of Burgundy."
"Bring them forward," said the King; "place the man before my face who
dares maintain these palpable falsehoods."
"You speak in triumph, my lord, for you are well aware that this witness
no longer exists. When he lived, he was called Zamet Magraubin, by
birth one of those Bohemian wanderers. He was yesterday--as I have
learned--executed by a party of your Majesty's Provost Marshal, to
prevent, doubtless, his standing here to verify what he said of this
matter to the Duke of Burgundy, in presence of his Council, and of me,
Philip Crevecoeur de Cordes."
"Now, by Our Lady of Embrun," said the King, "so gross are these
accusations, and so free of consciousness am I of aught that approaches
them, that, by the honour of a King, I laugh, rather than am wroth at
them. My Provost guard daily put to death, as is their duty, thieves and
vagabonds; and is my crown to be slandered with whatever these thieves
and vagabonds may have said to our hot cousin of Burgundy and his
wise counsellors? I pray you, tell my kind cousin, if he loves such
companions, he had best keep them in his own estates; for here they are
like to meet short shrift and a tight cord."
"My master needs no such subjects, Sir King," answered the Count, in a
tone more disrespectful than he had yet permitted himself to make
use of; "for the noble Duke uses not to inquire of witches, wandering
Egyptians, or others, upon the destiny and fate of his neighbours and
"We have had patience enough, and to spare," said the King, interrupting
him; "and since thy sole errand here seems to be for the purpose
of insult, we will send some one in our name to the Duke of
Burgundy--convinced, in thus demeaning thyself towards us, thou hast
exceeded thy commission, whatever that may have been."
"On the contrary," said Crevecoeur, "I have not yet acquitted myself
of it--Hearken, Louis of Valois, King of France--Hearken, nobles and
gentlemen, who may be present.--Hearken, all good and true men.--And
thou, Toison d'Or," addressing the herald, "make proclamation after
me.--I, Philip Crevecoeur of Cordes, Count of the Empire, and Knight of
the honourable and princely Order of the Golden Fleece, in the name of
the most puissant Lord and Prince, Charles, by the grace of God, Duke of
Burgundy and Lotharingia, of Brabant and Limbourg, of Luxembourg and of
Gueldres; Earl of Flanders and of Artois; Count Palatine of Hainault, of
Holland, Zealand, Namur, and Zutphen; Marquis of the Holy Empire; Lord
of Friezeland, Salines, and Malines, do give you, Louis, King of France,
openly to know, that you, having refused to remedy the various griefs,
wrongs, and offences, done and wrought by you, or by and through your
aid, suggestion, and instigation, against the said Duke and his loving
subjects, he, by my mouth, renounces all allegiance and fealty towards
your crown and dignity--pronounces you false and faithless; and defies
you as a Prince, and as a man. There lies my gage, in evidence of what I
So saying, he plucked the gauntlet off his right hand, and flung it down
on the floor of the hall.
Until this last climax of audacity, there had been a deep silence in the
royal apartment during the extraordinary scene; but no sooner had the
clash of the gauntlet, when cast down, been echoed by the deep voice
of Toison d'Or, the Burgundian herald, with the ejaculation, "Vive
Bourgogne!" than there was a general tumult. While Dunois, Orleans,
old Lord Crawford, and one or two others, whose rank authorized their
interference, contended which should lift up the gauntlet, the others in
the hall exclaimed, "Strike him down! Cut him to pieces! Comes he here
to insult the King of France in his own palace?"
But the King appeased the tumult by exclaiming, in a voice like thunder,
which overawed and silenced every other sound, "Silence, my lieges, lay
not a hand on the man, not a finger on the gage!--And you, Sir Count, of
what is your life composed, or how is it warranted, that you thus place
it on the cast of a die so perilous? or is your Duke made of a different
metal from other princes, since he thus asserts his pretended quarrel in
a manner so unusual?"
"He is indeed framed of a different and more noble metal than the other
princes of Europe," said the undaunted Count of Crevecoeur; "for,
when not one of them dared to give shelter to you--to you, I say, King
Louis--when you were yet only Dauphin, an exile from France, and pursued
by the whole bitterness of your father's revenge, and all the power of
his kingdom, you were received and protected like a brother by my noble
master, whose generosity of disposition you have so grossly misused.
Farewell, Sire, my mission is discharged."
So saying, the Count de Crevecoeur left the apartment abruptly, and
without farther leave taking.
"After him--after him--take up the gauntlet and after him!" said the
King. "I mean not you, Dunois, nor you, my Lord of Crawford, who,
methinks, may be too old for such hot frays; nor you, cousin of Orleans,
who are too young for them.--My Lord Cardinal--my Lord Bishop of
Auxerre--it is your holy office to make peace among princes; do you lift
the gauntlet, and remonstrate with Count Crevecoeur on the sin he has
committed, in thus insulting a great monarch in his own Court, and
forcing us to bring the miseries of war upon his kingdom, and that of
Upon this direct personal appeal, the Cardinal Balue proceeded to lift
the gauntlet, with such precaution as one would touch an adder--so great
was apparently his aversion to this symbol of war--and presently left
the royal apartment to hasten after the challenger.
Louis paused and looked round the circle of his courtiers, most of whom,
except such as we have already distinguished, being men of low birth,
and raised to their rank in the King's household for other gifts than
courage or feats of arms, looked pale on each other, and had obviously
received an unpleasant impression from the scene which had been just
acted. Louis gazed on them with contempt, and then said aloud, "Although
the Count of Crevecoeur be presumptuous and overweening, it must be
confessed that in him the Duke of Burgundy hath as bold a servant as
ever bore message for a prince. I would I knew where to find as faithful
an Envoy to carry back my answer."
"You do your French nobles injustice, Sire," said Dunois; "not one of
them but would carry a defiance to Burgundy on the point of his sword."
"And, Sire," said old Crawford, "you wrong also the Scottish gentlemen
who serve you. I, or any of my followers, being of meet rank, would not
hesitate a moment to call yonder proud Count to a reckoning; my own
arm is yet strong enough for the purpose, if I have but your Majesty's
"But your Majesty," continued Dunois, "will employ us in no service
through which we may win honour to ourselves, to your Majesty, or to
"Say rather," said the King, "that I will not give way, Dunois, to the
headlong impetuosity, which, on some punctilio of chivalry, would wreck
yourselves, the throne, France, and all. There is not one of you who
knows not how precious every hour of peace is at this moment, when so
necessary to heal the wounds of a distracted country; yet there is
not one of you who would not rush into war on account of the tale of a
wandering gipsy, or of some errant damosel, whose reputation, perhaps,
is scarce higher.--Here comes the Cardinal, and we trust with more
pacific tidings.--How now, my Lord,--have you brought the Count to
reason and to temper?"
"Sire," said Balue, "my task hath been difficult. I put it to yonder
proud Count, how he dared to use towards your Majesty the presumptuous
reproach with which his audience had broken up, and which must be
understood as proceeding, not from his master, but from his own
insolence, and as placing him therefore in your Majesty's discretion for
what penalty you might think proper."
"You said right," replied the King; "and what was his answer?"
"The Count," continued the Cardinal, "had at that moment his foot in the
stirrup, ready to mount; and, on hearing my expostulation, he turned
his head without altering his position. 'Had I,' said he, 'been fifty
leagues distant, and had heard by report that a question vituperative
of my Prince had been asked by the King of France, I had, even at that
distance, instantly mounted, and returned to disburden my mind of the
answer which I gave him but now.'"
"I said, sirs," said the King, turning around, without any show of angry
emotion, "that in the Count Philip of Crevecoeur, our cousin the
Duke possesses as worthy a servant as ever rode at a prince's right
hand.--But you prevailed with him to stay?"
"To stay for twenty-four hours; and in the meanwhile to receive again
his gage of defiance," said the Cardinal; "he has dismounted at the
Fleur de Lys."
"See that he be nobly attended and cared for, at our charges," said
the King; "such a servant is a jewel in a prince's crown. Twenty-four
hours?" he added, muttering to himself, and looking as if he were
stretching his eyes to see into futurity; "twenty-four hours? It is of
the shortest. Yet twenty-four hours, ably and skilfully employed, may be
worth a year in the hand of indolent or incapable agents.--Well--to the
forest--to the forest, my gallant lords!--Orleans, my fair kinsman, lay
aside that modesty, though it becomes you; mind not my Joan's coyness.
The Loire may as soon avoid mingling with the Cher, as she from
favouring your suit, or you from preferring it," he added, as the
unhappy prince moved slowly on after his betrothed bride. "And now for
your boar spears, gentlemen--for Allegre, my pricker, hath harboured one
that will try both dog and man.--Dunois, lend me your spear--take mine,
it is too weighty for me; but when did you complain of such a fault in
your lance?--To horse--to horse, gentlemen."
And all the chase rode on.
CHAPTER IX: THE BOAR HUNT
I will converse with unrespective boys
And iron witted fools. None are for me
that look into me with suspicious eyes.
All the experience which the Cardinal had been able to collect of his
master's disposition, did not, upon the present occasion, prevent his
falling into a great error of policy. His vanity induced him to think
that he had been more successful in prevailing upon the Count of
Crevecoeur to remain at Tours, than any other moderator whom the King
might have employed, would, in all probability, have been. And as he was
well aware of the importance which Louis attached to the postponement
of a war with the Duke of Burgundy, he could not help showing that
he conceived himself to have rendered the King great and acceptable
service. He pressed nearer to the King's person than he was wont to
do, and endeavoured to engage him in conversation on the events of the
This was injudicious in more respects than one, for princes love not to
see their subjects approach them with an air conscious of deserving, and
thereby seeming desirous to extort, acknowledgment and recompense for
their services; and Louis, the most jealous monarch that ever lived,
was peculiarly averse and inaccessible to any one who seemed either to
presume upon service rendered or to pry into his secrets.
Yet, hurried away, as the most cautious sometimes are, by the self
satisfied humour of the moment, the Cardinal continued to ride on the
King's right hand, turning the discourse, whenever it was possible, upon
Crevecoeur and his embassy which, although it might be the matter at
that moment most in the King's thoughts, was nevertheless precisely
that which he was least willing to converse on. At length Louis, who had
listened to him with attention, yet without having returned any answer
which could tend to prolong the conversation, signed to Dunois, who rode
at no great distance, to come up on the other side of his horse.
"We came hither for sport and exercise," said he, "but the reverend
Father here would have us hold a council of state."
"I hope your Highness will excuse my assistance," said Dunois; "I am
born to fight the battles of France, and have heart and hand for that,
but I have no head for her councils."
"My Lord Cardinal hath a head turned for nothing else, Dunois," answered
Louis; "he hath confessed Crevecoeur at the Castle gate, and he hath
communicated to us his whole shrift.--Said you not the whole?" he
continued, with an emphasis on the word, and a glance at the Cardinal,
which shot from betwixt his long dark eyelashes as a dagger gleams when
it leaves the scabbard.
The Cardinal trembled, as, endeavouring to reply to the King's jest, he
said that though his order were obliged to conceal the secrets of
their penitents in general, there was no sigillum confessionis [seal of
confession] which could not be melted at his Majesty's breath.
"And as his Eminence," said the King, "is ready to communicate the
secrets of others to us, he naturally expects that we should be equally
communicative to him; and, in order to get upon this reciprocal footing,
he is very reasonably desirous to know if these two ladies of Croye
be actually in our territories. We are sorry we cannot indulge his
curiosity, not ourselves knowing in what precise place errant damsels,
disguised princesses, distressed countesses, may lie leaguer within our
dominions, which are, we thank God and our Lady of Embrun, rather
too extensive for us to answer easily his Eminence's most reasonable
inquiries. But supposing they were with us, what say you, Dunois, to our
cousin's peremptory demand?"
"I will answer you, my Liege, if you will tell me in sincerity, whether
you want war or peace," replied Dunois, with a frankness which, while it
arose out of his own native openness and intrepidity of character, made
him from time to time a considerable favourite with Louis, who, like all
astucious persons, was as desirous of looking into the hearts of others
as of concealing his own.
"By my halidome," said he, "I should be as well contented as thyself,
Dunois, to tell thee my purpose, did I myself but know it exactly. But
say I declared for war, what should I do with this beautiful and wealthy
young heiress, supposing her to be in my dominions?"
"Bestow her in marriage on one of your own gallant followers, who has a
heart to love, and an arm to protect her," said Dunois.
"Upon thyself, ha!" said the King. "Pasques dieu! thou art more politic
than I took thee for, with all thy bluntness."
"Nay," answered Dunois, "I am aught except politic. By our Lady of
Orleans, I come to the point at once, as I ride my horse at the ring.
Your Majesty owes the house of Orleans at least one happy marriage."
"And I will pay it, Count. Pasques dieu, I will pay it!--See you not
yonder fair couple?"
The King pointed to the unhappy Duke of Orleans and the Princess, who,
neither daring to remain at a greater distance from the King, nor in
his sight appear separate from each other, were riding side by side,
yet with an interval of two or three yards betwixt them, a space which
timidity on the one side, and aversion on the other, prevented them from
diminishing, while neither dared to increase it.
Dunois looked in the direction of the King's signal, and as the
situation of his unfortunate relative and the destined bride reminded
him of nothing so much as of two dogs, which, forcibly linked together,
remain nevertheless as widely separated as the length of their collars
will permit, he could not help shaking his head, though he ventured not
on any other reply to the hypocritical tyrant. Louis seemed to guess his
"It will be a peaceful and quiet household they will keep--not much
disturbed with children, I should augur. But these are not always a
[Here the King touches on the very purpose for which he pressed on the
match with such tyrannic severity, which was that as the Princess's
personal deformity admitted little chance of its being fruitful, the
branch of Orleans, which was next in succession to the crown, might be,
by the want of heirs, weakened or extinguished]
It was, perhaps, the recollection of his own filial ingratitude that
made the King pause as he uttered the last reflection, and which
converted the sneer that trembled on his lip into something resembling
an expression of contrition. But he instantly proceeded in another tone.
"Frankly, my Dunois, much as I revere the holy sacrament of matrimony"
(here he crossed himself), "I would rather the house of Orleans raised
for me such gallant soldiers as thy father and thyself, who share the
blood royal of France without claiming its rights, than that the country
should be torn to pieces, like to England, by wars arising from the
rivalry of legitimate candidates for the crown. The lion should never
have more than one cub."
Dunois sighed and was silent, conscious that contradicting his arbitrary
Sovereign might well hurt his kinsman's interests but could do him no
service; yet he could not forbear adding, in the next moment,
"Since your Majesty has alluded to the birth of my father, I must needs
own that, setting the frailty of his parents on one side, he might be
termed happier, and more fortunate, as the son of lawless love than of
"Thou art a scandalous fellow, Dunois, to speak thus of holy wedlock,"
answered Louis jestingly. "But to the devil with the discourse, for the
boar is unharboured.--Lay on the dogs, in the name of the holy Saint
Hubert!--Ha! ha! tra-la-la-lira-la"--And the King's horn rang merrily
through the woods as he pushed forward on the chase, followed by two or
three of his guards, amongst whom was our friend Quentin Durward.
And here it was remarkable that, even in the keen prosecution of his
favourite sport, the King in indulgence of his caustic disposition,
found leisure to amuse himself by tormenting Cardinal Balue.
It was one of that able statesman's weaknesses, as we have elsewhere
hinted, to suppose himself, though of low rank and limited education,
qualified to play the courtier and the man of gallantry. He did not,
indeed, actually enter the lists of chivalrous combat, like Becket,
or levy soldiers, like Wolsey. But gallantry, in which they also were
proficients, was his professed pursuit; and he likewise affected great
fondness for the martial amusement of the chase. Yet, however well he
might succeed with certain ladies, to whom his power, his wealth, and
his influence as a statesman might atone for deficiencies in appearance
and manners, the gallant horses, which he purchased at almost any price,
were totally insensible to the dignity of carrying a Cardinal, and paid
no more respect to him than they would have done to his father, the
carter, miller, or tailor, whom he rivalled in horsemanship. The King
knew this, and, by alternately exciting and checking his own horse, he
brought that of the Cardinal, whom he kept close by his side, into such
a state of mutiny against his rider, that it became apparent they must
soon part company; and then, in the midst of its starting, bolting,
rearing, and lashing out, alternately, the royal tormentor rendered the
rider miserable, by questioning him upon many affairs of importance,
and hinting his purpose to take that opportunity of communicating to him
some of those secrets of state which the Cardinal had but a little while
before seemed so anxious to learn.
[In imputing to the Cardinal a want of skill in horsemanship, I
recollected his adventure in Paris when attacked by assassins, on which
occasion his mule, being scared by the crowd, ran away with the rider,
and taking its course to a monastery, to the abbot of which he formerly
belonged; was the means of saving his master's life.... S.]
A more awkward situation could hardly be imagined than that of a privy
councillor forced to listen to and reply to his sovereign, while each
fresh gambade of his unmanageable horse placed him in a new and more
precarious attitude--his violet robe flying loose in every direction,
and nothing securing him from an instant and perilous fall save the
depth of the saddle, and its height before and behind. Dunois laughed
without restraint; while the King, who had a private mode of enjoying
his jest inwardly, without laughing aloud, mildly rebuked his minister
on his eager passion for the chase, which would not permit him to
dedicate a few moments to business.
"I will no longer be your hindrance to a course," continued he,
addressing the terrified Cardinal, and giving his own horse the rein at
the same time.
Before Balue could utter a word by way of answer or apology, his horse,
seizing the bit with his teeth, went forth at an uncontrollable
gallop, soon leaving behind the King and Dunois, who followed at a more
regulated pace, enjoying the statesman's distressed predicament. If
any of our readers has chanced to be run away with in his time (as we
ourselves have in ours), he will have a full sense at once of the
pain, peril, and absurdity of the situation. Those four limbs of the
quadruped, which, noway under the rider's control, nor sometimes under
that of the creature they more properly belong to, fly at such a rate as
if the hindermost meant to overtake the foremost; those clinging legs of
the biped which we so often wish safely planted on the greensward, but
which now only augment our distress by pressing the animal's sides--the
hands which have forsaken the bridle for the mane--the body, which,
instead of sitting upright on the centre of gravity, as old Angelo [a
celebrated riding and fencing master at the beginning of the nineteenth
century] used to recommend, or stooping forward like a jockey's at
Newmarket [the scene of the annual horse races has been at Newmarket
Heath since the time of James I], lies, rather than hangs, crouched upon
the back of the animal, with no better chance of saving itself than a
sack of corn--combine to make a picture more than sufficiently ludicrous
to spectators, however uncomfortable to the exhibiter. But add to this
some singularity of dress or appearance on the part of the unhappy
cavalier--a robe of office, a splendid uniform, or any other peculiarity
of costume--and let the scene of action be a race course, a review, a
procession, or any other place of concourse and public display, and
if the poor wight would escape being the object of a shout of
inextinguishable laughter, he must contrive to break a limb or two,
or, which will be more effectual, to be killed on the spot; for on no
slighter condition will his fall excite anything like serious sympathy.
On the present occasion, the short violet coloured gown of the Cardinal,
which he used as riding dress (having changed his long robes before he
left the Castle), his scarlet stockings, and scarlet hat, with the
long strings hanging down, together with his utter helplessness, gave
infinite zest to his exhibition of horsemanship.
The horse, having taken matters entirely into his own hand, flew rather
than galloped up a long green avenue; overtook the pack in hard pursuit
of the boar, and then, having overturned one or two yeomen prickers, who
little expected to be charged in the rear--having ridden down several
dogs, and greatly confused the chase--animated by the clamorous
expostulations and threats of the huntsman, carried the terrified
Cardinal past the formidable animal itself, which was rushing on at a
speedy trot, furious and embossed with the foam which he churned around
his tusks. Balue, on beholding himself so near the boar, set up a
dreadful cry for help, which, or perhaps the sight of the boar, produced
such an effect on his horse, that the animal interrupted its headlong
career by suddenly springing to one side; so that the Cardinal, who had
long kept his seat only because the motion was straight forward, now
fell heavily to the ground. The conclusion of Balue's chase took place
so near the boar that, had not the animal been at that moment too much
engaged about his own affairs, the vicinity might have proved as fatal
to the Cardinal, as it is said to have done to Favila, King of the
Visigoths of Spain [he was killed by a bear while hunting]. The powerful
churchman got off, however, for the fright, and, crawling as hastily
as he could out of the way of hounds and huntsmen, saw the whole chase
sweep by him without affording him assistance, for hunters in those days
were as little moved by sympathy for such misfortunes as they are in our
own. The King, as he passed, said to Dunois, "Yonder lies his Eminence
low enough--he is no great huntsman, though for a fisher (when a secret
is to be caught) he may match Saint Peter himself. He has, however, for
once, I think, met with his match."
The Cardinal did not hear the words, but the scornful look with which
they were spoken led him to suspect their general import. The devil is
said to seize such opportunities of temptation as were now afforded by
the passions of Balue, bitterly moved as they had been by the scorn
of the King. The momentary fright was over so soon as he had assured
himself that his fall was harmless; but mortified vanity, and resentment
against his Sovereign, had a much longer influence on his feelings.
After all the chase had passed him, a single cavalier, who seemed rather
to be a spectator than a partaker of the sport, rode up with one or two
attendants, and expressed no small surprise to find the Cardinal upon
the ground, without a horse or attendants, and in such a plight as
plainly showed the nature of the accident which had placed him there. To
dismount, and offer his assistance in this predicament--to cause one of
his attendants to resign a staid and quiet palfrey for the Cardinal's
use--to express his surprise at the customs of the French Court, which
thus permitted them to abandon to the dangers of the chase, and
forsake in his need, their wisest statesman, were the natural modes
of assistance and consolation which so strange a rencontre supplied
to Crevecoeur, for it was the Burgundian ambassador who came to the
assistance of the fallen Cardinal.
He found the minister in a lucky time and humour for essaying some of
those practices on his fidelity, to which it is well known that Balue
had the criminal weakness to listen. Already in the morning, as the
jealous temper of Louis had suggested, more had passed betwixt them
than the Cardinal durst have reported to his master. But although he had
listened with gratified ears to the high value, which, he was assured by
Crevecoeur, the Duke of Burgundy placed upon his person and talents,
and not without a feeling of temptation, when the Count hinted at the
munificence of his master's disposition, and the rich benefices of
Flanders, it was not until the accident, as we have related, had highly
irritated him that, stung with wounded vanity, he resolved, in a fatal
hour, to show Louis XI that no enemy can be so dangerous as an offended
friend and confidant. On the present occasions he hastily requested
Crevecoeur to separate from him lest they should be observed, but
appointed him a meeting for the evening in the Abbey of Saint Martin's
at Tours, after vesper service; and that in a tone which assured the
Burgundian that his master had obtained an advantage hardly to have been
hoped for except in such a moment of exasperation. In the meanwhile,
Louis, who, though the most politic Prince of his time, upon this, as
on other occasions, had suffered his passions to interfere with his
prudence, followed contentedly the chase of the wild boar, which was now
come to an interesting point. It had so happened that a sounder (i.e.,
in the language of the period, a boar of only two years old), had
crossed the track of the proper object of the chase, and withdrawn in
pursuit of him all the dogs (except two or three couples of old stanch
hounds) and the greater part of the huntsmen. The King saw, with
internal glee, Dunois, as well as others, follow upon this false scent,
and enjoyed in secret the thought of triumphing over that accomplished
knight in the art of venerie, which was then thought almost as glorious
as war. Louis was well mounted, and followed, close on the hounds; so
that, when the original boar turned to bay in a marshy piece of ground,
there was no one near him but the King himself. Louis showed all the
bravery and expertness of an experienced huntsman; for, unheeding the
danger, he rode up to the tremendous animal, which was defending itself
with fury against the dogs, and struck him with his boar spear; yet, as
the horse shied from the boar, the blow was not so effectual as either
to kill or disable him. No effort could prevail on the horse to charge a
second time; so that the King, dismounting, advanced on foot against
the furious animal, holding naked in his hand one of those short, sharp,
straight, and pointed swords, which huntsmen used for such encounters.
The boar instantly quitted the dogs to rush on his human enemy, while
the King, taking his station, and posting himself firmly, presented the
sword, with the purpose of aiming it at the boar's throat, or rather
chest, within the collarbone; in which case, the weight of the beast,
and the impetuosity of its career, would have served to accelerate its
own destruction. But, owing to the wetness of the ground, the King's
foot slipped, just as this delicate and perilous manoeuvre ought to
have been accomplished, so that the point of the sword encountering the
cuirass of bristles on the outside of the creature's shoulder, glanced
off without making any impression, and Louis fell flat on the ground.
This was so far fortunate for the Monarch, because the animal, owing to
the King's fall, missed his blow in his turn, and in passing only rent
with his tusk the King's short hunting cloak, instead of ripping up his
thigh. But when, after running a little ahead in the fury of his course,
the boar turned to repeat his attack on the King at the moment when he
was rising, the life of Louis was in imminent danger. At this critical
moment, Quentin Durward, who had been thrown out in the chase by the
slowness of his horse, but who, nevertheless, had luckily distinguished
and followed the blast of the King's horn, rode up, and transfixed the
animal with his spear.
The King, who had by this time recovered his feet, came in turn to
Durward's assistance, and cut the animal's throat with his sword. Before
speaking a word to Quentin, he measured the huge creature not only by
paces, but even by feet--then wiped the sweat from his brow, and the
blood from his hands--then took off his hunting cap, hung it on a bush,
and devoutly made his orisons to the little leaden images which it
contained--and at length, looking upon Durward, said to him, "Is it
thou, my young Scot?--Thou hast begun thy woodcraft well, and Maitre
Pierre owes thee as good entertainment as he gave thee at the Fleur de
Lys yonder.--Why dost thou not speak? Thou hast lost thy forwardness and
fire, methinks, at the Court, where others find both."
Quentin, as shrewd a youth as ever Scottish breeze breathed caution
into, had imbibed more awe than confidence towards his dangerous master,
and was far too wise to embrace the perilous permission of familiarity
which he seemed thus invited to use. He answered in very few and well
chosen words, that if he ventured to address his Majesty at all, it
could be but to crave pardon for the rustic boldness with which he had
conducted himself when ignorant of his high rank.
"Tush! man," said the King; "I forgive thy sauciness for thy spirit and
shrewdness. I admired how near thou didst hit upon my gossip Tristan's
occupation. You have nearly tasted of his handiwork since, as I am given
to understand. I bid thee beware of him; he is a merchant who deals in
rough bracelets and tight necklaces. Help me to my horse;--I like thee,
and will do thee good. Build on no man's favour but mine--not even on
thine uncle's or Lord Crawford's--and say nothing of thy timely aid in
this matter of the boar; for if a man makes boast that he has served
a King in such pinch, he must take the braggart humour for its own
The King then winded his horn, which brought up Dunois and several
attendants, whose compliments he received on the slaughter of such a
noble animal, without scrupling to appropriate a much greater share
of merit than actually belonged to him; for he mentioned Durward's
assistance as slightly as a sportsman of rank, who, in boasting of the
number of birds which he has bagged, does not always dilate upon the
presence and assistance of the gamekeeper. He then ordered Dunois to see
that the boar's carcass was sent to the brotherhood of Saint Martin, at
Tours, to mend their fare on holydays, and that they might remember the
King in their private devotions.
"And," said Louis, "who hath seen his Eminence my Lord Cardinal?
Methinks it were but poor courtesy, and cold regard to Holy Church to
leave him afoot here in the forest."
"May it please you," said Quentin, when he saw that all were silent,
"I saw his Lordship the Cardinal accommodated with a horse, on which he
left the forest."
"Heaven cares for its own," replied the King. "Set forward to the
Castle, my lords; we'll hunt no more this morning.--You, Sir Squire,"
addressing Quentin, "reach me my wood knife--it has dropt from the
sheath beside the quarry there. Ride on, Dunois--I follow instantly."
Louis, whose lightest motions were often conducted like stratagems, thus
gained an opportunity to ask Quentin privately, "My bonny Scot, thou
hast an eye, I see. Canst thou tell me who helped the Cardinal to a
palfrey?--Some stranger, I should suppose; for, as I passed without
stopping, the courtiers would likely be in no hurry to do him such a
timely good turn."
"I saw those who aided his Eminence but an instant, Sire," said Quentin;
"it was only a hasty glance, for I had been unluckily thrown out, and
was riding fast to be in my place; but I think it was the Ambassador of
Burgundy and his people."
"Ha," said Louis. "Well, be it so. France will match them yet."
There was nothing more remarkable happened, and the King, with his
retinue, returned to the Castle.
CHAPTER X: THE SENTINEL
Where should this music be? i' the air or the earth?
I was all ear,
And took in strains that might create a soul
Under the ribs of death.
Quentin had hardly reached his little cabin, in order to make some
necessary changes in his dress, when his worthy relation required to
know the full particulars of all that had befallen him at the hunt.
The youth, who could not help thinking that his uncle's hand was
probably more powerful than his understanding, took care, in his reply,
to leave the King in full possession of the victory which he had seemed
desirous to appropriate. Le Balafre's reply was a boast of how much
better he himself would have behaved in the like circumstances, and it
was mixed with a gentle censure of his nephew's slackness in not making
in to the King's assistance, when he might be in imminent peril. The
youth had prudence, in answer, to abstain from all farther indication
of his own conduct, except that, according to the rules of woodcraft, he
held it ungentle to interfere with the game attacked by another hunter,
unless he was specially called upon for his assistance. The discussion
was scarcely ended, when occasion was afforded Quentin to congratulate
himself for observing some reserve towards his kinsman. A low tap at the
door announced a visitor--it was presently opened, and Oliver Dain, or
Mauvais, or Diable, for by all these names he was known, entered the
This able but most unprincipled man has been already described in so far
as his exterior is concerned. The aptest resemblance of his motions
and manners might perhaps be to those of a domestic cat, which, while
couching in seeming slumber, or gliding through the apartment with slow,
stealthy, and timid steps, is now engaged in watching the hole of some
unfortunate mouse, now in rubbing herself with apparent confidence
and fondness against those by whom she desires to be caressed, and,
presently after, is flying upon her prey, or scratching, perhaps, the
very object of her former cajolements.
He entered with stooping shoulders, a humble and modest look, and threw
such a degree of civility into his address to the Seignior Balafre, that
no one who saw the interview could have avoided concluding that he came
to ask a boon of the Scottish Archer. He congratulated Lesly on the
excellent conduct of his young kinsman in the chase that day, which, he
observed, had attracted the King's particular attention. He here paused
for a reply; and, with his eyes fixed on the ground, save just when once
or twice they stole upwards to take a side glance at Quentin, he heard
Balafre observe that his Majesty had been unlucky in not having himself
by his side instead of his nephew, as he would questionless have made
in, and speared the brute, a matter which he understood Quentin had left
upon his Majesty's royal hands, so far as he could learn the story.
"But it will be a lesson to his Majesty," he said, "while he lives, to
mount a man of my inches on a better horse; for how could my great hill
of a Flemish dray horse keep up with his Majesty's Norman runner? I
am sure I spurred till his sides were furrowed. It is ill considered,
Master Oliver, and you must represent it to his Majesty."
Master Oliver only replied to this observation by turning towards
the bold, bluff speaker one of those slow, dubious glances which,
accompanied by a slight motion of the hand, and a gentle depression of
the head to one side, may be either interpreted as a mute assent to
what is said, or as a cautious deprecation of farther prosecution of the
subject. It was a keener, more scrutinizing glance, which he bent on the
youth, as he said, with an ambiguous smile, "So, young man, is it the
wont of Scotland to suffer your Princes to be endangered for the lack of
aid in such emergencies as this of today?"
"It is our custom," answered Quentin, determined to throw no farther
light on the subject, "not to encumber them with assistance in
honourable pastimes, when they can aid themselves without it. We hold
that a Prince in a hunting field must take his chance with others, and
that he comes there for the very purpose. What were woodcraft without
fatigue and without danger?"
"You hear the silly boy," said his uncle; "that is always the way with
him; he hath an answer or a reason ready to be rendered to every one. I
wonder whence he hath caught the gift; I never could give a reason
for anything I have ever done in my life, except for eating when I was
a-hungry, calling the muster roll, and such points of duty as the like."
"And pray, worthy Seignior," said the royal tonsor, looking at him from
under his eyelids, "what might your reason be for calling the muster
roll on such occasions?"
"Because the Captain commanded me," said Le Balafre. "By Saint Giles
[patron saint of lepers, beggars, and cripples. He has been especially
venerated in England and Scotland], I know no other reason! If he had
commanded Tyrie or Cunningham, they must have done the same."
"A most military final cause!" said Oliver. "But, Seignior Le Balafre,
you will be glad, doubtless, to learn that his Majesty is so far from
being displeased with your nephew's conduct, that he hath selected him
to execute a piece of duty this afternoon."
"Selected him?" said Balafre in great surprise--"selected me, I suppose
"I mean precisely as I speak," replied the barber, in a mild but decided
tone; "the King hath a commission with which to intrust your nephew."
"Why, wherefore, and for what reason?" said Balafre. "Why doth he choose
the boy, and not me?"
"I can go no farther back than your own ultimate cause, Seignior Le
Balafre, such are his Majesty's commands. But," said he, "if I might use
the presumption to form a conjecture, it may be his Majesty hath work to
do, fitter for a youth like your nephew, than for an experienced warrior
like yourself, Seignior Balafre.--Wherefore, young gentleman, get your
weapons and follow me. Bring with you a harquebuss, for you are to mount
"Sentinel!" said the uncle. "Are you sure you are right, Master Oliver?
The inner guards of the Castle have ever been mounted by those only who
have (like me) served twelve years in our honourable body."
"I am quite certain of his Majesty's pleasure," said Oliver, "and must
no longer delay executing it."
"But," said Le Balafre, "my nephew is not even a free Archer, being only
an Esquire, serving under my lance."
"Pardon me," answered Oliver; "the King sent for the register not half
an hour since, and enrolled him among the Guard. Have the goodness to
assist to put your nephew in order for the service."
Balafre, who had no ill nature, or even much jealousy in his
disposition, hastily set about adjusting his nephew's dress, and giving
him directions for his conduct under arms, but was unable to refrain
from larding them with interjections of surprise at such luck's chancing
to fall upon the young man so early.
It had never taken place before in the Scottish Guard, he said, not even
in his own instance. But doubtless his service must be to mount guard
over the popinjays and Indian peacocks, which the Venetian ambassador
had lately presented to the King--it could be nothing else; and such
duty being only fit for a beardless boy (here he twirled his own grim
mustaches), he was glad the lot had fallen on his fair nephew.
Quick and sharp of wit, as well as ardent in fancy, Quentin saw visions
of higher importance in this early summons to the royal presence,
and his heart beat high at the anticipation of rising into speedy
distinction. He determined carefully to watch the manners and language
of his conductor, which he suspected must, in some cases at least,
be interpreted by contraries, as soothsayers are said to discover
the interpretation of dreams. He could not but hug himself on having
observed strict secrecy on the events of the chase, and then formed a
resolution, which, for so young a person, had much prudence in it, that
while he breathed the air of this secluded and mysterious Court, he
would keep his thoughts locked in his bosom, and his tongue under the
most careful regulation.
His equipment was soon complete, and, with his harquebuss on his
shoulder (for though they retained the name of Archers, the Scottish
Guard very early substituted firearms for the long bow, in the use of
which their nation never excelled), he followed Master Oliver out of the
His uncle looked long after him, with a countenance in which wonder
was blended with curiosity; and though neither envy nor the malignant
feelings which it engenders entered into his honest meditations, there
was yet a sense of wounded or diminished self importance, which mingled
with the pleasure excited by his nephew's favourable commencement of
He shook his head gravely, opened a privy cupboard, took out a large
bottrine of stout old wine, shook it to examine how low the contents
had ebbed, filled and drank a hearty cup; then took his seat, half
reclining, on the great oaken settle; and having once again slowly
shaken his head, received so much apparent benefit from the oscillation,
that, like the toy called a mandarin, he continued the motion until he
dropped into a slumber, from which he was first roused by the signal to
When Quentin Durward left his uncle to these sublime meditations, he
followed his conductor, Master Oliver, who, without crossing any of the
principal courts, led him, partly through private passages exposed
to the open air, but chiefly through a maze of stairs, vaults, and
galleries, communicating with each other by secret doors and at
unexpected points, into a large and spacious latticed gallery, which,
from its breadth, might have been almost termed a hall, hung with
tapestry more ancient than beautiful, and with a very few of the hard,
cold, ghastly looking pictures, belonging to the first dawn of the arts
which preceded their splendid sunrise. These were designed to represent
the Paladins of Charlemagne, who made such a distinguished figure in the
romantic history of France; and as this gigantic form of the celebrated
Orlando constituted the most prominent figure, the apartment acquired
from him the title of Rolando's Hall, or Roland's Gallery.
[Charlemagne... was accounted a saint during the dark ages: and
Louis XI, as one of his successors, honoured his shrine with peculiar
[Orlando: also called Roland. His history may be read in the Chanson de
"You will keep watch here," said Oliver, in a low whisper, as if the
hard delineations of monarchs and warriors around could have been
offended at the elevation of his voice, or as if he had feared to awaken
the echoes that lurked among the groined vaults and Gothic drop work on
the ceiling of this huge and dreary apartment.
"What are the orders and signs of my watch?" answered Quentin, in the
same suppressed tone.
"Is your harquebuss loaded?" replied Oliver, without answering his
"That," answered Quentin, "is soon done;" and proceeded to charge his
weapon, and to light the slow match (by which when necessary it was
discharged) at the embers of a wood fire, which was expiring in the huge
hall chimney--a chimney itself so large that it might have been called a
Gothic closet or chapel appertaining to the hall.
When this was performed, Oliver told him that he was ignorant of one of
the high privileges of his own corps, which only received orders from
the King in person, or the High Constable of France, in lieu of their
own officers. "You are placed here by his Majesty's command, young man,"
added Oliver, "and you will not be long here without knowing wherefore
you are summoned. Meantime your walk extends along this gallery. You are
permitted to stand still while you list, but on no account to sit down,
or quit your weapon. You are not to sing aloud, or whistle, upon any
account; but you may, if you list, mutter some of the church's prayers,
or what else you list that has no offence in it, in a low voice.
Farewell, and keep good watch."
"Good watch!" thought the youthful soldier as his guide stole away from
him with that noiseless gliding step which was peculiar to him, and
vanished through a side door behind the arras.
"Good watch! but upon whom and against whom?--for what, save bats
or rats, are there here to contend with, unless these grim old
representatives of humanity should start into life for the disturbance
of my guard? Well, it is my duty, I suppose, and I must perform it."
With the vigorous purpose of discharging his duty, even to the very
rigour, he tried to while away the time with some of the pious hymns
which he had learned in the convent in which he had found shelter after
the death of his father--allowing in his own mind, that, but for the
change of a novice's frock for the rich military dress which he now
wore, his soldierly walk in the royal gallery of France resembled
greatly those of which he had tired excessively in the cloistered
seclusion of Aberbrothick.
Presently, as if to convince himself he now belonged not to the cell but
to the world, he chanted to himself, but in such tone as not to exceed
the license given to him, some of the ancient rude ballads which the old
family harper had taught him, of the defeat of the Danes at Aberlemno
and Forres, the murder of King Duffus at Forfar, and other pithy sonnets
and lays which appertained to the history of his distant native country,
and particularly of the district to which he belonged. This wore away a
considerable space of time, and it was now more than two hours past
noon when Quentin was reminded by his appetite that the good fathers of
Aberbrothick, however strict in demanding his attendance upon the
hours of devotion, were no less punctual in summoning him to those of
refection; whereas here, in the interior of a royal palace, after a
morning spent in exercise, and a noon exhausted in duty, no man seemed
to consider it as a natural consequence that he must be impatient for
There are, however, charms in sweet sounds which can lull to rest even
the natural feelings of impatience by which Quentin was now visited.
At the opposite extremities of the long hall or gallery were two
large doors, ornamented with heavy architraves, probably opening into
different suites of apartments, to which the gallery served as a medium
of mutual communication. As the sentinel directed his solitary walk
betwixt these two entrances, which formed the boundary of his duty, he
was startled by a strain of music which was suddenly waked near one of
those doors, and which, at least in his imagination, was a combination
of the same lute and voice by which he had been enchanted on the
preceding day. All the dreams of yesterday morning, so much weakened by
the agitating circumstances which he had since undergone, again arose
more vivid from their slumber, and, planted on the spot where his ear
could most conveniently, drink in the sounds, Quentin remained, with his
harquebuss shouldered, his mouth half open, ear, eye, and soul
directed to the spot, rather the picture of a sentinel than a living
form,--without any other idea than that of catching, if possible, each
passing sound of the dulcet melody.
These delightful sounds were but partially heard--they languished,
lingered, ceased entirely, and were from time to time renewed after
uncertain intervals. But, besides that music, like beauty, is often most
delightful, or at least most interesting, to the imagination when its
charms are but partially displayed and the imagination is left to fill
up what is from distance but imperfectly detailed, Quentin had matter
enough to fill up his reverie during the intervals of fascination. He
could not doubt, from the report of his uncle's comrades and the scene
which had passed in the presence chamber that morning, that the siren
who thus delighted his ears, was not, as he had profanely supposed, the
daughter or kinswoman of a base Cabaretier [inn keeper], but the same
disguised and distressed Countess for whose cause kings and princes were
now about to buckle on armour, and put lance in rest. A hundred wild
dreams, such as romantic and adventurous youth readily nourished in
a romantic and adventurous age, chased from his eyes the bodily
presentiment of the actual scene, and substituted their own bewildering
delusions, when at once, and rudely, they were banished by a rough grasp
laid upon his weapon, and a harsh voice which exclaimed, close to his
ear, "Ha! Pasques dieu, Sir Squire, methinks you keep sleepy ward."
The voice was the tuneless, yet impressive and ironical tone of Maitre
Pierre, and Quentin, suddenly recalled to himself, saw, with shame and
fear, that he had, in his reverie, permitted Louis himself--entering
probably by some secret door, and gliding along by the wall, or behind
the tapestry--to approach him so nearly as almost to master his weapon.
The first impulse of his surprise was to free his harquebuss by a
violent exertion, which made the King stagger backward into the hall.
His next apprehension was that, in obeying the animal instinct, as it
may be termed, which prompts a brave man to resist an attempt to disarm
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