| Quote #10
"It is Richard Plantagenet himself," said Cedric; "yet I need not remind thee that, coming hither a guest of free-will, he may neither be injured nor detained prisoner – thou well knowest thy duty to him as his host."
"Ay, by my faith!" said Athelstane; "and my duty as a subject besides, for I here tender him my allegiance, heart and hand."
"My son," said Edith, "think on thy royal rights!"
"Think on the freedom of England, degenerate Prince!" said Cedric.
"Mother and friend," said Athelstane, "a truce to your upbraidings – bread and water and a dungeon are marvellous mortifiers of ambition, and I rise from the tomb a wiser man than I descended into it. One half of those vain follies were puffed into mine ear by that perfidious Abbot Wolfram, and you may now judge if he is a counselor to be trusted. Since these plots were set in agitation, I have had nothing but hurried journeys, indigestions, blows and bruises, imprisonments and starvation; besides that they can only end in the murder of some thousands of quiet folk. I tell you, I will be king in my own domains, and nowhere else; and my first act of dominion shall be to hang the Abbot." (42.59-63)
Athelstane's brush with the money-grubbing monks gives him a new perspective on his claim to the English throne. He realizes that the cost of actually waging a war to get the kingdom back in Saxon hands would be too high. Athelstane is essentially a peace-loving man: all he wants is to stay home and eat. (Oh, and also to execute that abbot who tried to keep him locked in a basement.) He dismisses his earlier patriotism as impractical, vain, and arrogant. What do you think of Athelstane's change of heart? Is Scott trying to make some larger point about rebellion or nationalism? If so, what is it?