by Sir Walter Scott
Ivanhoe Patriotism Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"Farewell, Front-de-Boeuf! – May Mista, Skogula, and Zernebock, gods of the ancient Saxons – fiends, as the priests now call them – supply the place of comforters at your dying bed, which Ulrica now relinquishes! (30.39)
Both Ulrica and Cedric frequently swear oaths to ancient gods. While Scott is not always correct about where these gods come from (Zernebock is not an ancient Saxon god), it's significant that these two figures from an older Saxon generation don't swear to the Christian saints Dunstan and George. Instead, they look further back, to a time before the Saxons were Christian. These older gods represent a Saxon heritage that Ulrica and Cedric value but that the younger Saxons – like Athelstane and Rowena – never even mention. Ulrica and Cedric's oaths to Zernebock, Skogula, Odin, and Thor draw attention to the shift away from their old-fashioned Saxon culture to a more mixed English culture that combines a broader range of influences.
"No, damsel!" said the proud Templar, springing up, "thou shalt not thus impose on me – if I renounce present fame and future ambition, I renounce it for thy sake, and we will escape in company. Listen to me, Rebecca," he said, again softening his tone; "England, – Europe, – is not the world. There are spheres in which we may act, ample enough even for my ambition. We will go to Palestine, where Conrade, Marquis of Montserrat, is my friend – a friend free as myself from the doting scruples which fetter our free-born reason – rather with Saladin will we league ourselves, than endure the scorn of the bigots whom we contemn. – I will form new paths to greatness," he continued, again traversing the room with hasty strides – "Europe shall hear the loud step of him she has driven from her sons! – Not the millions whom her crusaders send to slaughter, can do so much to defend Palestine – not the sabres of the thousands and ten thousands of Saracens can hew their way so deep into that land for which nations are striving, as the strength and policy of me and those brethren, who, in despite of yonder old bigot, will adhere to me in good and evil. Thou shalt be a queen, Rebecca – on Mount Carmel shall we pitch the throne which my valour will gain for you, and I will exchange my long-desired batoon for a sceptre!" (39.39)
It is hard to imagine that Bois-Guilbert could be successful in this insane plan to become king of Palestine by taking his loyal knights loyal away from the Knights Templar and joining Saladin, the leader of the Muslims in Jerusalem. In effect, he wants to switch sides in the Crusades and crown Rebecca queen of the Holy Land.
What we find interesting is that Rebecca is so horrified by his disloyalty. Beaumanoir, the leader of the Knights Templar, wants to burn her. The people of England regard her with scorn, fear, and suspicion. Yet even though she has been treated so poorly by the Normans and England, she still despises Bois-Guilbert for turning his back on them. She tells him she cannot "esteem" someone who is "willing to barter these ties [to country or religious faith]" (39.40). Rebecca admires patriotism as a virtue in and of itself.
As a lifelong victim of prejudice, Rebecca has learned to be proud but also to keep her head down around bigots. Here, however, she throws Bois-Guilbert's anti-Semitism right back in his face. He seems to think it's a compliment when he tells her that his love for her makes him wish he were a Jew. She replies that he should be so lucky: Bois-Guilbert may be proud of his noble Norman lineage, but the Jews can trace their heritage back to the creation of the world. Even though the Jewish people in Ivanhoe are victims of violence, they come from a long line of great kings and warriors described in the Bible. Rebecca's clear statement of Jewish patriotism and pride when she is about to be burned for her Jewish faith is one of her finest moments as a character.