The Blessing of Disguise : A mysterious knight and an equally mysterious outlaw agree to preserve one another’s incognito.
The Blessing of Disguise

From ‘Ivanhoe’ (1820) by Sir Walter Scott.

The Black Knight has liberated the wounded Ivanhoe and his friends from Torquilstone, the castle of wicked Norman baron Reginald Front-de-Boeuf. Assistance came from an outlaw and his band of merry men, and though the two heroes each suspect they have penetrated the other’s disguise, they agree to drop the potentially embarrassing subject.

Note: This passage was written in deliberately archaic English.

“SIR Knight,” said the Outlaw, “we have each our secret. You are welcome to form your judgment of me, and I may use my conjectures touching you, though neither of our shafts may hit the mark they are shot at. But as I do not pray to be admitted into your mystery, be not offended that I preserve my own.”*

“I crave pardon, brave Outlaw,” said the Knight, “your reproof is just. But it may be we shall meet hereafter with less of concealment on either side. — Meanwhile we part friends, do we not?”

“There is my hand upon it,” said Locksley; “and I will call it the hand of a true Englishman, though an outlaw for the present.”

“And there is mine in return,” said the Knight, “and I hold it honoured by being clasped with yours. For he that does good, having the unlimited power to do evil, deserves praise not only for the good which he performs, but for the evil which he forbears. Fare thee well, gallant Outlaw!”

* The Black Knight is King Richard I ‘the Lionheart’ (r. 1189-1199), great-great-grandson of King William I (‘the Conqueror’), Duke of Normandy; the outlaw is the at least half legendary Robin Hood.

From ‘Ivanhoe’ (1820) by Sir Walter Scott.

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Sir Walter Scott (1) Extracts from Literature (94) Character and Conduct (33) Robin Hood (1) Fiction (84)

Picture: © Jonathan Cardy, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC-BY-SA 3.0. View original
Black Knight: Richard I of England, ‘the Lionheart’, as depicted outside the Palace of Westminster in London. Scott is largely responsible for creating the appealing but unfortunately completely fictional image of Richard as a gracious, lordly King who brought peace between Saxon and Norman, and put to rights the abuses of his brother John and his barons.
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By Sir Walter Scott
(1771-1832)
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