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Must we then sheathe our still victorious sword;
Turn back our forward step, which ever trod
O'er foemen's necks the onward path of glory;
Unclasp the mail, which with a solemn vow,
In God's own house, we hung upon our shoulders—
That vow, as unaccomplish'd as the promise
Which village nurses make to still their children,
And after think no more of?
THE CRUSADE, A TRAGEDY.
 THE Archbishop of Tyre was an emissary well chosen to communicate
to Richard tidings, which from another voice the lion-hearted
King would not have brooked to hear without the most unbounded
explosions of resentment. Even this sagacious and reverend
prelate found difficulty in inducing him to listen to news which
destroyed all his hopes of gaining back the Holy Sepulchre by
force of arms, and acquiring the renown which the universal all-hail
of Christendom was ready to confer upon him as the Champion of the Cross.
But, by the Archbishop's report, it appeared that Saladin was
assembling all the force of his hundred tribes, and that the
monarchs of Europe, already disgusted from various motives with
the expedition, which had proved so hazardous, and was daily
growing more so, had resolved to abandon their purpose. In this
they were countenanced by the example of Philip of France, who,
with many protestations of regard, and assurances that he would
first see his brother of England in safety, declared his
intention to return to Europe. His great vassal, the Earl of
Champagne, had adopted the same resolution; and it could not
excite surprise that Leopold of Austria, affronted as he had been
by Richard, was glad to embrace an opportunity of deserting a
cause in which his haughty opponent was to be considered as
chief. Others announced the same purpose; so that it was plain
that the King of England was to be left, if he chose to remain,
supported only by such volunteers as might, under such depressing
circumstances, join themselves to the English army, and by the
doubtful aid of Conrade of Montserrat and the military orders of
the Temple and of Saint John, who, though they were sworn to wage
battle against the Saracens, were at least equally jealous of any
European monarch achieving the conquest of Palestine, where, with
shortsighted and selfish policy, they proposed to establish
independent dominions of their own.
It needed not many arguments to show Richard the truth of his
situation; and indeed, after his first burst of passion, he sat
him calmly down, and with gloomy looks, head depressed, and arms
folded on his bosom, listened to the Archbishop's reasoning on
the impossibility of his carrying on the Crusade when deserted by
his companions. Nay, he forbore interruption, even when the
prelate ventured, in measured terms, to hint that Richard's own
impetuosity had been one main cause of disgusting the princes
with the expedition.
"CONFITEOR," answered Richard, with a dejected look, and
something of a melancholy smile—"I confess, reverend father,
that I ought on some accounts to sing CULPA MEA. But is it not
hard that my frailties of temper should be visited with such a
penance—that, for a burst or two of natural passion, I should be
doomed to see fade before me ungathered such a rich harvest of
glory to God and honour to chivalry? But it shall NOT fade. By
the soul of the Conqueror, I will plant the Cross on the towers
of Jerusalem, or it shall be planted over Richard's grave!"
"Thou mayest do it," said the prelate, "yet not another drop of
Christian blood be shed in the quarrel."
"Ah, you speak of compromise, Lord Prelate; but the blood of the
infidel hounds must also cease to flow," said Richard.
"There will be glory enough," replied the Archbishop, "in having
extorted from Saladin, by force of arms, and by the respect
inspired by your fame, such conditions as at once restore the
Holy Sepulchre, open the Holy Land to pilgrims, secure their
safety by strong fortresses, and, stronger than all, assure the
safety of the Holy City, by conferring on Richard the title of
King Guardian of Jerusalem."
"How!" said Richard, his eyes sparkling with unusual light. "I-
-I—I the King Guardian of the Holy City! Victory itself, but
that it is victory, could not gain more—scarce so much, when won
with unwilling and disunited forces. But Saladin still proposes
to retain his interest in the Holy Land?"
"As a joint sovereign, the sworn ally," replied the prelate, "of
the mighty Richard—his relative, if it may be permitted, by
"By marriage!" said Richard, surprised, yet less so than the
prelate had expected. "Ha!—ay—Edith Plantagenet. Did I dream
this? or did some one tell me? My head is still weak from this
fever, and has been agitated. Was it the Scot, or the Hakim, or
yonder holy hermit, that hinted such a wild bargain?"
"The hermit of Engaddi, most likely," said the Archbishop, "for
he hath toiled much in this matter; and since the discontent of
the princes has became apparent, and a separation of their forces
unavoidable, he hath had many consultations, both with Christian
and pagan, for arranging such a pacification as may give to
Christendom, at least in part, the objects of this holy warfare."
"My kinswoman to an infidel—ha!" exclaimed Richard, as his eyes
began to sparkle.
The prelate hastened to avert his wrath.
"The Pope's consent must doubtless be first attained, and the
holy hermit, who is well known at Rome, will treat with the holy
"How?—without our consent first given?" said the King.
"Surely no," said the Bishop, in a quieting and insinuating tone
of voice—"only with and under your especial sanction."
"My sanction to marry my kinswoman to an infidel!" said Richard;
yet he spoke rather in a tone of doubt than as distinctly
reprobating the measure proposed. "Could I have dreamed of such
a composition when I leaped upon the Syrian shore from the prow
of my galley, even as a lion springs on his prey! And now—But
proceed—I will hear with patience."
Equally delighted and surprised to find his task so much easier
than he had apprehended, the Archbishop hastened to pour forth
before Richard the instances of such alliances in Spain—not
without countenance from the Holy See; the incalculable
advantages which all Christendom would derive from the union of
Richard and Saladin by a bond so sacred; and, above all, he spoke
with great vehemence and unction on the probability that Saladin
would, in case of the proposed alliance, exchange his false faith
for the true one.
"Hath the Soldan shown any disposition to become Christian?"
said Richard. "If so, the king lives not on earth to whom I
would grant the hand of a kinswoman, ay, or sister, sooner than
to my noble Saladin—ay, though the one came to lay crown and
sceptre at her feet, and the other had nothing to offer but his
good sword and better heart!"
"Saladin hath heard our Christian teachers," said the Bishop,
somewhat evasively—"my unworthy self, and others—and as he
listens with patience, and replies with calmness, it can hardly
be but that he be snatched as a brand from the burning. MAGNA
EST VERITAS, ET PREVALEBIT! moreover, the hermit of Engaddi, few
of whose words have fallen fruitless to the ground, is possessed
fully with the belief that there is a calling of the Saracens and
the other heathen approaching, to which this marriage shall be
matter of induction. He readeth the course of the stars; and
dwelling, with maceration of the flesh, in those divine places
which the saints have trodden of old, the spirit of Elijah the
Tishbite, the founder of his blessed order, hath been with him as
it was with the prophet Elisha, the son of Shaphat, when he
spread his mantle over him."
King Richard listened to the Prelate's reasoning with a downcast
brow and a troubled look.
"I cannot tell," he said, "How, it is with me, but methinks these
cold counsels of the Princes of Christendom have infected me too
with a lethargy of spirit. The time hath been that, had a layman
proposed such alliance to me, I had struck him to earth—if a
churchman, I had spit at him as a renegade and priest of Baal;
yet now this counsel sounds not so strange in mine ear. For why
should I not seek for brotherhood and alliance with a Saracen,
brave, just, generous—who loves and honours a worthy foe, as if
he were a friend—whilst the Princes of Christendom shrink from
the side of their allies, and forsake the cause of Heaven and
good knighthood? But I will possess my patience, and will not
think of them. Only one attempt will I make to keep this gallant
brotherhood together, if it be possible; and if I fail, Lord
Archbishop, we will speak together of thy counsel, which, as now,
I neither accept nor altogether reject. Wend we to the Council,
my lord—the hour calls us. Thou sayest Richard is hasty and
proud—thou shalt see him humble himself like the lowly broom-plant
from which he derives his surname."
With the assistance of those of his privy chamber, the King then
hastily robed himself in a doublet and mantle of a dark and
uniform colour; and without any mark of regal dignity, excepting
a ring of gold upon his head, he hastened with the Archbishop of
Tyre to attend the Council, which waited but his presence to
commence its sitting.
The pavilion of the Council was an ample tent, having before it
the large Banner of the Cross displayed, and another, on which
was portrayed a female kneeling, with dishevelled hair and
disordered dress, meant to represent the desolate and distressed
Church of Jerusalem, and bearing the motto, AFFLICTAE SPONSAE NE
OBLIVISCARIS. Warders, carefully selected, kept every one at a
distance from the neighbourhood of this tent, lest the debates,
which were sometimes of a loud and stormy character, should reach
other ears than those they were designed for.
Here, therefore, the princes of the Crusade were assembled
awaiting Richard's arrival. And even the brief delay which was
thus interposed was turned to his disadvantage by his enemies,
various instances being circulated of his pride and undue
assumption of superiority, of which even the necessity of the
present short pause was quoted as an instance. Men strove to
fortify each other in their evil opinion of the King of England,
and vindicated the offence which each had taken, by putting the
most severe construction upon circumstances the most trifling;
and all this, perhaps, because they were conscious of an
instinctive reverence for the heroic monarch, which it would
require more than ordinary efforts to overcome.
They had settled, accordingly, that they should receive him on
his entrance with slight notice, and no more respect than was
exactly necessary to keep within the bounds of cold ceremonial.
But when they beheld that noble form, that princely countenance,
somewhat pale from his late illness— the eye which had been
called by minstrels the bright star of battle and victory—when
his feats, almost surpassing human strength and valour, rushed on
their recollection, the Council of Princes simultaneously arose
—even the jealous King of France and the sullen and offended
Duke of Austria—arose with one consent, and the assembled
princes burst forth with one voice in the acclamation, "God save
King Richard of England! Long life to the valiant Lion's-heart!"
With a countenance frank and open as the summer sun when it
rises, Richard distributed his thanks around, and congratulated
himself on being once more among his royal brethren of the
"Some brief words he desired to say," such was his address to the
assembly, "though on a subject so unworthy as himself, even at
the risk of delaying for a few minutes their consultations for
the weal of Christendom and the advancement of their holy
The assembled princes resumed their seats, and there was a
"This day," continued the King of England, "is a high festival of
the church, and it well becomes Christian men, at such a tide, to
reconcile themselves with their brethren, and confess their
faults to each other. Noble princes and fathers of this holy
expedition, Richard is a soldier—his hand is ever readier than
his tongue—and his tongue is but too much used to the rough
language of his trade. But do not, for Plantagenet's hasty
speeches and ill-considered actions, forsake the noble cause of
the redemption of Palestine—do not throw away earthly renown
and eternal salvation, to be won here if ever they can be won by
man, because the act of a soldier may have been hasty, and his
speech as hard as the iron which he has worn from childhood. Is
Richard in default to any of you, Richard will make compensation
both by word and action.—Noble brother of France, have I been so
unlucky as to offend you?"
"The Majesty of France has no atonement to seek from that of
England," answered Philip, with kingly dignity, accepting, at the
same time, the offered hand of Richard; "and whatever opinion I
may adopt concerning the prosecution of this enterprise will
depend on reasons arising out of the state of my own kingdom—
certainly on no jealousy or disgust at my royal and most
"Austria," said Richard, walking up to the Archduke, with a
mixture of frankness and dignity, while Leopold arose from his
seat, as if involuntarily, and with the action of an automaton,
whose motions depended upon some external impulse—"Austria
thinks he hath reason to be offended with England; England, that
he hath cause to complain of Austria. Let them exchange
forgiveness, that the peace of Europe and the concord of this
host may remain unbroken. We are now joint supporters of a more
glorious banner than ever blazed before an earthly prince, even
the Banner of Salvation. Let not, therefore, strife be betwixt
us for the symbol of our more worldly dignities; but let Leopold
restore the pennon of England, if he has it in his power, and
Richard will say, though from no motive save his love for Holy
Church, that he repents him of the hasty mood in which he did
insult the standard of Austria."
The Archduke stood still, sullen and discontented, with his eyes
fixed on the floor, and his countenance lowering with smothered
displeasure, which awe, mingled with awkwardness, prevented his
giving vent to in words.
The Patriarch of Jerusalem hastened to break the embarrassing
silence, and to bear witness for the Archduke of Austria that he
had exculpated himself, by a solemn oath, from all knowledge,
direct or indirect, of the aggression done to the Banner of
"Then we have done the noble Archduke the greater wrong," said
Richard; "and craving his pardon for imputing to him an outrage
so cowardly, we extend our hand to him in token of renewed peace
and amity. But how is this? Austria refuses our uncovered hand,
as he formerly refused our mailed glove? What! are we neither
to be his mate in peace nor his antagonist in war? Well, let it
be so. We will take the slight esteem in which he holds us as a
penance for aught which we may have done against him in heat of
blood, and will therefore hold the account between us cleared."
So saying, he turned from the Archduke with an air rather of
dignity than scorn, leaving the Austrian apparently as much
relieved by the removal of his eye as is a sullen and truant
schoolboy when the glance of his severe pedagogue is withdrawn.
"Noble Earl of Champagne—princely Marquis of Montserrat
—valiant Grand Master of the Templars—I am here a penitent in
the confessional. Do any of you bring a charge or claim amends
"I know not on what we could ground any," said the smooth-tongued
Conrade, "unless it were that the King of England carries off
from his poor brothers of the war all the fame which they might
have hoped to gain in the expedition."
"My charge, if I am called on to make one," said the Master of
the Templars, "is graver and deeper than that of the Marquis of
Montserrat. It may be thought ill to beseem a military monk such
as I to raise his voice where so many noble princes remain
silent; but it concerns our whole host, and not least this noble
King of England, that he should hear from some one to his face
those charges which there are enow to bring against him in his
absence. We laud and honour the courage and high achievements of
the King of England; but we feel aggrieved that he should on all
occasions seize and maintain a precedence and superiority over
us, which it becomes not independent princes to submit to. Much
we might yield of our free will to his bravery, his zeal, his
wealth, and his power; but he who snatches all as matter of
right, and leaves nothing to grant out of courtesy and favour,
degrades us from allies into retainers and vassals, and sullies
in the eyes of our soldiers and subjects the lustre of our
authority, which is no longer independently exercised. Since the
royal Richard has asked the truth from us, he must neither be
surprised nor angry when he hears one, to whom worldly pomp is
prohibited, and secular authority is nothing, saving so far as it
advances the prosperity of God's Temple, and the prostration of
the lion which goeth about seeking whom he may devour—when he
hears, I say, such a one as I tell him the truth in reply to his
question; which truth, even while I speak it, is, I know,
confirmed by the heart of every one who hears me, however respect
may stifle their voices."
Richard coloured very highly while the Grand Master was making
this direct and unvarnished attack upon his conduct, and the
murmur of assent which followed it showed plainly that almost all
who were present acquiesced in the justice of the accusation.
Incensed, and at the same time mortified, he yet foresaw that to
give way to his headlong resentment would be to give the cold and
wary accuser the advantage over him which it was the Templar's
principal object to obtain. He therefore, with a strong effort,
remained silent till he had repeated a pater noster, being the
course which his confessor had enjoined him to pursue when anger
was likely to obtain dominion over him. The King then spoke with
composure, though not without an embittered tone, especially at
"And is it even so? And are our brethren at such pains to note
the infirmities of our natural temper, and the rough precipitance
of our zeal, which may sometimes have urged us to issue commands
when there was little time to hold council? I could not have
thought that offences, casual and unpremeditated like mine, could
find such deep root in the hearts of my allies in this most holy
cause; that for my sake they should withdraw their hands from the
plough when the furrow was near the end—for my sake turn aside
from the direct path to Jerusalem, which their swords have
opened. I vainly thought that my small services might have
outweighed my rash errors—that if it were remembered that I
pressed to the van in an assault, it would not be forgotten that
I was ever the last in the retreat—that, if I elevated my banner
upon conquered fields of battle, it was all the advantage that I
sought, while others were dividing the spoil. I may have called
the conquered city by my name, but it was to others that I
yielded the dominion. If I have been headstrong in urging bold
counsels, I have not, methinks, spared my own blood or my
people's in carrying them into as bold execution; or if I have,
in the hurry of march or battle, assumed a command over the
soldiers of others, such have been ever treated as my own when my
wealth purchased the provisions and medicines which their own
sovereigns could not procure. But it shames me to remind you of
what all but myself seem to have forgotten. Let us rather look
forward to our future measures; and believe me, brethren," he
continued, his face kindling with eagerness, "you shall not find
the pride, or the wrath, or the ambition of Richard a stumbling-block
of offence in the path to which religion and glory summon
you as with the trumpet of an archangel. Oh, no, no! never would
I survive the thought that my frailties and infirmities had been
the means to sever this goodly fellowship of assembled princes.
I would cut off my left hand with my right, could my doing so
attest my sincerity. I will yield up, voluntarily, all right to
command in the host—even mine own liege subjects. They shall be
led by such sovereigns as you may nominate; and their King, ever
but too apt to exchange the leader's baton for the adventurer's
lance, will serve under the banner of Beau-Seant among the
Templars—ay, or under that of Austria, if Austria will name a
brave man to lead his forces. Or if ye are yourselves a-weary of
this war, and feel your armour chafe your tender bodies, leave
but with Richard some ten or fifteen thousand of your soldiers to
work out the accomplishment of your vow; and when Zion is won,"
he exclaimed, waving his hand aloft, as if displaying the
standard of the Cross over Jerusalem—"when Zion is won, we will
write upon her gates, NOT the name of Richard Plantagenet, but of
those generous princes who entrusted him with the means of
The rough eloquence and determined expression of the military
monarch at once roused the drooping spirits of the Crusaders,
reanimated their devotion, and, fixing their attention on the
principal object of the expedition, made most of them who were
present blush for having been moved by such petty subjects of
complaint as had before engrossed them. Eye caught fire from
eye, voice lent courage to voice. They resumed, as with one
accord, the war-cry with which the sermon of Peter the Hermit was
echoed back, and shouted aloud, "Lead us on, gallant Lion's-heart;
none so worthy to lead where brave men follow. Lead us on—to
Jerusalem—to Jerusalem! It is the will of God—it is the
will of God! Blessed is he who shall lend an arm to its
The shout, so suddenly and generally raised, was heard beyond the
ring of sentinels who guarded the pavilion of Council, and spread
among the soldiers of the host, who, inactive and dispirited by
disease and climate, had begun, like their leaders, to droop in
resolution; but the reappearance of Richard in renewed vigour,
and the well-known shout which echoed from the assembly of the
princes, at once rekindled their enthusiasm, and thousands and
tens of thousands answered with the same shout of "Zion, Zion!
War, war! Instant battle with the infidels! It is the will of
God—it is the will of God!"
The acclamations from without increased in their turn the
enthusiasm which prevailed within the pavilion. Those who did
not actually catch the flame were afraid—at least for the time
—to seem colder than others. There was no more speech except of
a proud advance towards Jerusalem upon the expiry of the truce,
and the measures to be taken in the meantime for supplying and
recruiting the army. The Council broke up, all apparently filled
with the same enthusiastic purpose—which, however, soon faded
in the bosom of most, and never had an existence in that of
Of the latter class were the Marquis Conrade and the Grand Master
of the Templars, who retired together to their quarters ill at
ease, and malcontent with the events of the day.
"I ever told it to thee," said the latter, with the cold,
sardonic expression peculiar to him, "that Richard would burst
through the flimsy wiles you spread for him, as would a lion
through a spider's web. Thou seest he has but to speak, and his
breath agitates these fickle fools as easily as the whirlwind
catcheth scattered straws, and sweeps them together, or disperses
them at its pleasure."
"When the blast has passed away," said Conrade, "the straws,
which it made dance to its pipe, will settle to earth again."
"But knowest thou not besides," said the Templar, "that it seems,
if this new purpose of conquest shall be abandoned and pass away,
and each mighty prince shall again be left to such guidance as
his own scanty brain can supply, Richard may yet probably become
King of Jerusalem by compact, and establish those terms of treaty
with the Soldan which thou thyself thought'st him so likely to
"Now, by Mahound and Termagaunt, for Christian oaths are out of
fashion," said Conrade, "sayest thou the proud King of England
would unite his blood with a heathen Soldan? My policy threw in
that ingredient to make the whole treaty an abomination to him.
As bad for us that he become our master by an agreement, as by
"Thy policy hath ill calculated Richard's digestion," answered
the Templar; "I know his mind by a whisper from the Archbishop.
And then thy master-stroke respecting yonder banner—it has
passed off with no more respect than two cubits of embroidered
silk merited. Marquis Conrade, thy wit begins to halt; I will
trust thy finespun measures no longer, but will try my own.
Knowest thou not the people whom the Saracens call Charegites?"
"Surely," answered the Marquis; "they are desperate and besotted
enthusiasts, who devote their lives to the advancement of
religion—-somewhat like Templars, only they are never known to
pause in the race of their calling."
"Jest not," answered the scowling monk. "Know that one of these
men has set down in his bloody vow the name of the Island Emperor
yonder, to be hewn down as the chief enemy of the Moslem faith."
"A most judicious paynim," said Conrade. "May Mohammed send him
his paradise for a reward!"
"He was taken in the camp by one of our squires, and in private
examination frankly avowed his fixed and determined purpose to
me," said the Grand Master.
"Now the heavens pardon them who prevented the purpose of this
most judicious Charegite!" answered Conrade.
"He is my prisoner," added the Templar, "and secluded from speech
with others, as thou mayest suppose; but prisons have been
"Chains left unlocked, and captives have escaped," answered the
Marquis. "It is an ancient saying, no sure dungeon but the
"When loose, he resumes his quest," continued the military
priest; "for it is the nature of this sort of blood hound never
to quit the suit of the prey he has once scented."
"Say no more of it," said the Marquis; "I see thy policy—it is
dreadful, but the emergency is imminent."
"I only told thee of it," said the Templar, "that thou mayest
keep thyself on thy guard; for the uproar will be dreadful, and
there is no knowing on whom the English may vent their rage. Ay,
and there is another risk. My page knows the counsels of this
Charegite," he continued; "and, moreover, he is a peevish, self-willed
fool, whom I would I were rid of, as he thwarts me by presuming
to see with his own eyes, not mine. But our holy order
gives me power to put a remedy to such inconvenience. Or stay—
the Saracen may find a good dagger in his cell, and I warrant you
he uses it as he breaks forth, which will be of a surety so soon
as the page enters with his food."
"It will give the affair a colour," said Conrade; "and yet—"
"YET and BUT," said the Templar, "are words for fools; wise men
neither hesitate nor retract—they resolve and they execute."