« VorigeDoorgaan »
if any busy body reported to her the the “Iliad," and, mutatis mutandis, fit remarks made by her lord and master to take rank with any of Scott's favored anent the captive Chryseis:
characters. Indeed he almost seems to To me not less than Clytemnestra dear, realize the panegyric pronounced by My virgin-wedded wife; nor less adorned
Alice Lee on Charles I., “Temperate, In gifts of form, of feature, or of mind. wise, and frugal; . a worthy gentle
man-a kind master—the best friendIn Achilles Homer portrays “the very the best father,” etc., etc. His chivalmodel of a hero, such as heroes could rous conduct towards his doubtful sisbe accounted in times when the softer ter-in-law stamps him as a gentleman and nobler qualities of true heroism of the first water. He may not approve were unknown." Such a hero, with the of the relations existing between her addition of those softer and nobler and the wretched Paris, but the lady qualities, is the Ivanhoe of Walter has never heard from his lips “one Scott. But the same able writer, from scornful, one degrading word.” We can whom we have just borrowed the de picture Hector hastening, like Ivanhoe, scription, goes on to say that Homer to succor beauty in distress, caring little gives to Achilles precisely the epithet whether he is fit to bear arms and keep which was given to the English king his horse, or whether the girl whose who was held to be the flower of cause he champions is Jewess or Chrischivalry, "Lion-Heart.” To our mind tian. We can believe that with Quentin there is more of Richard about Achilles Durward he would have given up the than of Ivanhoe, in whose anger when all-important prize already in his grasp aroused we find no touch of the bar- to repay the sacred rights of hospitality, barity that stains the character of or with Markham Everard would resign either “Lion-Heart." He who would to his supposed rival his interest in the represent the Plantagenet on the stage girl he loved rather than be the means might study with advantage Horace's of giving her pain; or again, like summary of the character of Achilles. Damian de Lacy, would be true to the "Impiger, Iracundus, Inexorabilis, dictates of duty and honor through evil Acer," these are epithets which fitly de- report and good report, though assailed scribe the varying moods of the Richard by every conceivable form of temptaof Walter Scott and the Richard of more tion. serious history. We may remark that From the very beginning, and almost Richard as Le Noir Fainéant in the to the end of those weary ten years, Mêlée at Ashby plays very much the Hector is fighting on what he knows to part that is assigned to Achilles in the be a losing side, bucklering what in his Trojan war, that of a “spectator rather heart of hearts he must feel to be a than a party in the tournament,” yet of wrongful cause. But, like the Swiss one who proves himself competent to patriots in their death-struggle for change the fortune of the day so soon independence, he will not be found as he relinquishes his policy of masterly fainting by the way, and there are times inactivity. Like Le Noir Fainéant, when, owing to his desperate courage Achilles wins, though he does not wear, and indefatigable energy, the ultimate the honors of the day; and though the victors are within measurable distance career of neither warrior is traced to its of defeat. He is the spes unica Troje, last end in the poem or the novel, his- an Oriental Hannibal, a Caur-de-Lion tory records that the one, and tradition heading a rout of fickle friends and avers that the other, was killed in a wavering allies, threatening by the siege by an arrow.
prowess of his single arm to change the Hector, if not quite such fortune of the day. Or again he is a Admirable Crichton as Achilles, is Henry Morton, anxious at times for up to certain period in many peace, if it be a peace with honor, but ways to be regarded as the true setting a brilliant example in war to his as opposed to the model — hero of half-heartest and crumbling followers.
Like Charles Edward in “Waverley" he better plight to do battle; he would will carry the war into the enemies' have him “honorably met with.” Wilcamp and set fire to the Greek ships; liam of Deloraine would like Charles Edward, his reputation
Give the lands of Deloraine would have stood higher had he fallen
Dark Musgrave were alive again. as Claverhouse fell in the moment of victory. The one point in Homer's pic- Dandie Dinmont would dearly like to ture of Hector which can in no way have a rough-and-tumble with Jock o' commend itself to an English mind is Dawston Cleugh, or to meet him in the the tendency to utter vaunting speeches law courts; but the fight must be man and to triumph over his fallen enemies, to man and with both at their best; much, as the editor of "Ancient Classics and the lawsuit must be all square and for English Readers” points out, after above-board, and no advantage is to be the manner of an Indian brave. Habits taken of legal quibbles. Roderick Dhu, that we can pardon in the untutored aggrieved and laboring under a sense of savage seem totally out of keeping with injustice, guides Fitz-James in safety a character like that of the chivalrous to Coilantogle ford, and there stands Trojan; and though the “boastful before him vantageless tongue” and “merciless spirit” attrib
And armed with single brand, uted by Homer to his heroes were doubtless in accordance wito the spirit and the Scottish king, in due requiteof the age of which he wrote, we could ment of the courtesy, would give his have wished that he had assigned at fairest earldom to bid Clan-Alpine's any rate to a gentleman like Hector a chieftain live. Instances of the oppolittle measure of decorous modesty. site sentiment are few and far between. The prime boaster among Walter It is left for a coward like Lorn to atScott's knights is Brian de Bois-Guil- tempt to turn the "rugged halls of bert, who seldom misses an opportunity Artornish” into “slaughterhouse for of vaunting the prowess of the Tem- shipwrecked guest,” and to overmatch plars as a body, and of himself as the by odds his hereditary enemy; for a champion of the order. But Bois- desperate schemer like Waldemar Guilbert lacks so many of the instincts Fitzurse to indulge in what De Bracy of a gentleman that we hardly like to denounces as highway practice, and to bring him into comparison with Hector use a felon stroke in his assault on the of Troy. More especially do we feel out wandering Plantagenet. of charity with Hector when he in- In his last fight, where he encounters dulges in his most unnecessary and the avenger Achilles, Hector is boastful remarks over the body of the manifestly predoomed to defeat that we fallen Patroclus. Forin very sooth there can forgive him his temporary panic. was little to boast of in the victory. In Achilles is destined to triumph, not attacking a wounded and disarmed merely as a better man-at-arms, but as enemy he had doubtless played the the representative of a righteous cause, game of war as it was played in the And in this respect the combat reminds heroic ages, but the least he should have us of the last fatal encounter between done under the circumstances would Ivanhoe and Bois-Guilbert. The Eterhave been to hold his tongue. Even nal Father, so Homer tells us, had Bois-Guilbert, who has little beyond "hung his golden scales aloft and placed personal courage to recommend him, in each the lots of doom, for great suggests to his hated rival Ivanhoe Achilles one, for Hector one," and that he should "get his wounds healed," "down sank the scale, weighted with and “purvey him a better horse," be- Hector's death.” “Thus—thus as I am, fore they met in their death-struggle at and not otherwise,” was Ivanhoe conTemplestowe. The Grand Master of tent to fight, commending the justice of the Templars regrets that the constant his cause to Providence. And when the enemy of the order should not be in a unequal contest was over, "This is in
deed the judgment of God,' said the icism of honor," or of "dark and sullen Grand Master, looking upward. 'Fiat superstition," or of implacable venvolantas tua.' We would that we geance, will alike "shed blood without could carry the parallel further,—that mercy or remorse," and wax wanton in that exigeant power, the spirit of the the hour of victory. times, had permitted the Greek hero to Fitting retribution for his barbarity treat the dead body of his rival with is meted out to Achilles when he is some semblance of chivalrous forbear- eventually allowed to fall by the hand ance. The arms and body of the Tem- of Paris. Death in the siege of Troy plar were pronounced to be at the will of he knows to be his doom; but to be the conqueror. The Knight of Ivanhoe, killed by Paris gave death a double true champion of the Cross, will not sting. “I may not choose but yield," condemn the body of the dead to shame said Sir Halbert Glendinning to Roland but only stipulates that his obsequies Avenel, "since I can no longer fight; but shall be private, as became those of a it shames me to speak such a word to a man who had died in an unjust quarrel; coward like thee;" and it must have and Richard, who arrives on the scene shamed a man of Achilles' mould to be thirsting to shed the Templar's blood killed by a coward like Paris. If in fair fight, has nothing worse to
Achilles was to fall by an arrow at all, say over the cold body of his enemy we would have preferred a certain man tban "Peace be with him, if it may be to have drawn a bow at a venture and So,-he was a gallant knight, and has to have smitten him between the joints died in his steel harness full knightly." of the armor, or even in the vulnerable But Achilles' vengeance is implacable. heel, rather than that a despicable He had refused to enter upon any com- creature like Paris should have thus pact of honorable burial with Hector won the greatest glory in the war; and living; he assures Hector dying that his we think meanly of Apollo for having mother should never have his corpse chosen such an unworthy instrument of to lay out upon the couch, but that dogs his vengeance. For if out of Priam's and carrion vultures should feast on all many sons we find in one, Hector, the his limbs; he foully misuses the body of hero and blameless knight, we see in the dead hero, and even allows the other another, Paris, at once the gay Lothario Greeks who had never dared to face and the villain of the piece, who only Hector in the field to vent their petty finds no exact counterpart in the pages spite upon the senseless clay. We do of Walter Scott for the simple reason not know, be it remarked, that the ill- that most of Scott's villains, with all fated Patroclus would have fared much their faults, have the redeeming virtue otherwise at Hector's hand if his body of personal courage. So far as licenhad not been rescued by the united tiousness and rapacity go, Paris might efforts of the Greeks; but in any case indeed have qualified to enter the ranks the account of the proceedings is suffi- of the Knights Templar as the latter are ciently disgusting. Still doubt described by the novelist, with whom whether, had fate ordained that they are clearly no favorites; but even Claverhouse should have met his death Richard, who has due cause to dislike in the battle of Drumclog, the Scottish the order, is fain to admit that "it is Covenanters, who were little oppressed pity of their lives that these Templars by any feeling of chivalry, would have are not so trusty as they are disciplined shown themselves less barbarous than and valiant.” In point of foppery Paris Achilles; or again, to be equally fair to resembles De Bracy; unlike De Bracy, both parties, whether it would have he is far too cowardly to fight for his weighed heavily on Claverhouse's con- lady-love, and we are sufficiently atscience if his "blackguards” had muti- tracted by De Bracy to believe that, lated the bodies of the slain Covenant- though ready enough to abduct a Saxon
Passions allowed to run riot, heiress, fair prey in those rude times whether they take the form of fanat- for a Norman gallant, he might have
drawn the line at running off with his lady with the grace and dignity of the host's wife and filching his entertainer's hard-visaged Stuart. . His cool proposal property. Nor again can we quite pic- to keep the lady and restore the stolen ture De Bracy as either keeping out of goods savors of the principle "what's the way of hard knocks and dallying thine is mine, and what's mine is my with his mistress while fighting on his own,” and reminds us of the willingaccount was on foot, or shooting at his ness shown by the barons at Torquilfoes from a safe distance with a bow stone to give up their prey, on the and arrow. Rather, like Conachar or understanding that each member of the Eachin, Paris will perhaps strike a blow gang should keep that particular object, in an access of sudden passion; like whether pretty Jewess, Saxon heiress, Eachin again, he will be careful to or rich Jew, on which he had set his avoid the counter-buff, and like Eachin affections. too, he will see his foster-brothers lay But perhaps the character most redown their lives in his quarrel while sembling Paris is Dalgarno in the “Forhe himself remains in the background. tunes of Nigel.” Either
is But, unlike Eachin, he seems to lack the unscrupulous and palpably dishonest; grace to be ashamed of his own pusil- both are fair to see and foul to deal lanimity, and the reproaches of Hector, with; both run off with better men's and even of Helen, merely induce him to wives; both, recreant lovers, leave pose as an aggrieved party or an injured broken-hearted ladies to mourn their innocent:
defection; neither of them seems to re
gard either the good opinion of men or Wring not thus my soul
the honor of women. With keen reproaches; now with Pallas'
Before we finally take leave of Paris aid Hath Menelaus conquered.
we may remark that on those rare occa
sions when Hector's reproaches stir The unhappy Eacuin, be it noted, never him to action he goes to the fight, receives from the Fair Maid of Perth armed,
convinced, though the faintest encouragement which Homer omits to record it, with a permight serve to spur his ardor; and if she sonal assurance from his tutelary godsuspects the existence of the doe-heart dess that he shall come to no scathe in in her young admirer, she is too fully the matter, and that he shall be conoccupied in checking the pugnacious soled by Helen's caresses instincts of the Gow Chrom to spare a temporary inconvenience. When Scott's thought or a word on his rival's want of Hector, Hector MacTurk, has once man. courage. Catherine Seyton, by far the aged to screw Sir Bingo Binks's courage most piquant and attractive of all up to the sticking-point, the dull-witted Scott's heroines, absolutely disclaims baronet, in direct antithesis to Paris, is the idea of a lover who “could harbor rather aggrieved than otherwise that fear or faintness of heart" being in any the duel is not to come off after all, and way acceptable to a woman. But Helen quite ready to fight with somebody or chides, yet condones the fault, the Maid something. In short, no single charof Perth throws cold water on deeds of acter in the Waverley novels is, to bordaring, and so it comes to pass that row Hector's phrase, quite such Eachin and Paris remain cowards to the counterfeit of manhood as the "godlike end of the chapter.
Paris." If, like
fugitive prince in The Ajax of the “Iliad" may in many "Woodstock," Paris is no respecter respects be regarded as the prototype of of the laws of hospitality, and sees Athelstane of Coningsburgh. Both of in every pretty face fair game to them are, ordinarily speaking goodpursue, he would, we feel, neither tempered, unintellectual giants, ponhave faced Markham Everard in the derous and chary of speech, but really duello nor have made the amende good fighting men when thoroughly honorable to the lawful lover and the aroused. Not one step backwards will
Ajas budge when things are in ex- similarity of the accounts given by tremis and he is left to bear almost Homer and Walter Scott of the preparasingle-handed the brunt of the Trojan tions for the funeral banquets in the attack upon the Greek ships; the body halls of Coningsburgh and the tents of of Patroclus shall not fall into the hands Achilles. Both Greek and Saxon alike of the enemy so long as the son of considered the funeral banquet as an Telamon can wield his spear. So, too, occasion of general and profuse hospiunarmored and helmetless, Athelstane tality, a sort of Irish wake on a gigantic does not hesitate to plunge into the scale; and as we read of the good cheer middle of the fray and attempt to rescue provided to all comers, and remember the supposed Rowena from the grasp Athelstane's weakness in that line, we of the Templar. If it is not especially can partially forgive the novelist for recorded of Ajax tbat he was either his much-criticised resuscitation of the gourmand or epicure like the Saxon Saxon prince, who was enabled thereby prince, we are sufficiently initiated by to realize Wamba's wish, and “banquet Homer into the mysteries of the Greek at his own funeral.” banquet to be sure that the beroes one The Ajax of Sophocles, to follow the and all had monstrous fine appetites of hero to his latter end, with his mind their own. For if to an elderly bard a unhinged by real or imaginary wrongs, portion that reminds us of Benjamin's alternately reminds of Reginald mess was deemed a suitable offering in front de Bauf and of Charles of Burrecognition of a stirring lay, we may gundy as he is represented'in “Anne of reasonably infer that a lusty warrior Geierstein,” smarting under his defeat of the Ajax stamp might have swal- by the Swiss mountaineers; Ajax is a lowed to his own single share the whole match for either in ferocity when he of a Karam pie, or have made a mighty thinks of his rival Ulysses or the sons bole in the Clerk of Copmanhurst's of Atreus, who had awarded the prize venison pasty, even if he could not rival of valor to the wily Ithacan. Or again the Laird of Bucklaw's appetite and he recalls the picture of the Master of "eat a horse behind the saddle.” Even Ravenswood as we see him in the last Achilles, a far more refined personage chapter of the “Bride of Lammermoor" than Ajax, is careful to remind Priam when "his dark features, wasted by sorthat mental agony must not be allowed row and marked by the ghastly look comto interfere with the enjoyment of the municated by long illness, added to a evening meal, and cites the example of countenance naturally somewhat stern Niobe, who
and wild a fierce and even savage ex
pression.” We feel that Ajax, like Not abstained from food When in the house her children lay in
Ravenswood, might have hurled Craigdeath,
engelt down-stairs and bade him seek Sir beauteous daughters and six stalwart
his master in hell, and that the softer feeling and remnant of better nature
which prompted the Greek to speak So too, we may remark, the sturdy gently to his son constrain a tear from Cedric, infinitely
more abstemious the ill-fated lover as he takes the broken habitually than Athelstane, "showed gold from Lucy Ashton. Probably that if the distresses of his country neither Front de Bæuf nor Charles of could banish the recollection of food Burgundy has found many symiwhile the table was uncovered ,yet no pathizers among the students of Walter sooner were the victuals placed there Scott. But it is different with Edgar than he proved that the appetite of his Ravenswood, and for once in a way the Saxon ancestors had descended to him novelist has brought his hero to a bad along with their other qualities.” Har end, and refusing to allow the course ing entered into this digression on the of true love to run smooth, has plunged subject of eating and drinking, it may an apparently innocent pair of lovers not be out of place to note the striking into an abyss of misery and despair.