by Sir Walter Scott
Ivanhoe Duty Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"But your kingdom, my Liege," said Ivanhoe, "your kingdom is threatened with dissolution and civil war – your subjects menaced with every species of evil, if deprived of their sovereign in some of those dangers which it is your daily pleasure to incur, and from which you have but this moment narrowly escaped."
"Ho! ho! my kingdom and my subjects?" answered Richard, impatiently; "I tell thee, Sir Wilfred, the best of them are most willing to repay my follies in kind – For example, my very faithful servant, Wilfred of Ivanhoe, will not obey my positive commands, and yet reads his king a homily, because he does not walk exactly by his advice. Which of us has most reason to upbraid the other? – Yet forgive me, my faithful Wilfred. The time I have spent, and am yet to spend in concealment, is, as I explained to thee at Saint Botolph's, necessary to give my friends and faithful nobles time to assemble their forces, that when Richard's return is announced, he should be at the head of such a force as enemies shall tremble to face, and thus subdue the meditated treason, without even unsheathing a sword." (41.8-9)
When King Richard is hanging out with Robin Hood and his men in the forest of Sherwood, he doesn't seem at all eager to leave, even though his brother is even now plotting rebellion against him. This moment in Ivanhoe is one of the only times in the novel when the characters actually acknowledge King Richard's irresponsibleness. The historical King Richard I spent only about six months out of his ten years as king actually in England (source). The rest of the time he was off fighting expensive wars in France and the Palestine. The love of warfare that made him so famous as a king also meant that he spent next to no time worrying about how things were going back in the country he was supposed to be ruling.
In this scene, Richard has an explanation for why he has spent so long in disguise: he wanted to give his allies a chance to prepare a show of strength to scare Prince John into submission. But Ivanhoe quickly realizes that Richard just likes hanging around quaffing alcohol and joking with the Friar. He's a brave man, but he's not a dutiful king at all. If Richard had a strong sense of duty, he would be more eager to help correct the wrongs that the Norman lords have been committing in his absence.