Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: Roderick and Rosalba
Author: DGR
Date of publication: 1840

The full Rossetti Archive record for this transcribed document is available.

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Roderick Eustaceand Rosalba .

A Story of the Round Table

The Free Com panions


A Tale of the Days of King Stephen.

Cha pter 1 .

Then cloak and cape of maintenance,

In haste aside they fling Rossetti

The Knight — The Messenger — The Departure —

The Holsterie — The Quarrel.
Note: DGR revises the name of his protagonist and other characters throughout the manuscript. Roderick changes alternately to Eustace, Joselyn, Lindsay, or Montmorency. In places DGR uses the names Eustace, Aymerie, Delaserse, or Lionel to rename the knight Sir Palinore. DGR replaces Rosalba's name with Christabel.

It was a dark and stormy night in the

month of December, when a figure, closely wrap=

-ped in the sable folds of his cloak, was seen

and mounted on a jaded steed, was seen hur=

-rying across a bleak common towards a state=

ly castle in the distance, whose lofty towers

and timeworn battlements frowned over

the wide expanse beneath. In this noble

site King Stephen at that time held his

Without the elements were at war

with one another; within there was feasting

and merriment, which the bursts of thunder

and the apalling [sic] sound mournful sound of the

wind, as it went moaning by the castle,

could not disturb. But there was one among

that joyous throng, whose lofty brow was

clouded and [?] & whose eyes wandered round the apartment

[?] with an anxious and uneasy look strangely at variance

[?] Lindsay with the noisy revelry of his companions. His be=

trothed had the night before, set out on a

pilgrimage to the shrine of our Lady, to

offer up thanks for the safety of her lover,

who had returned victorious from a re

=cent attack upon the [?] forces of Queen Matilda. He was an=

It was his anxiety for the safety of his beloved Ro=

[?] which cast a melancholy

[?]shade over his handsome coun=

-tenance. He was surrounded by the

noblest knights of his time and [?].
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Note: The top five lines of this page are so heavily revised by DGR that they are illegible.
So much so indeed that Amongst all these that throng of knights & nobles, he was the only one

who seemed not to rejoice at their re=

cent victory: the wassial-bowl passed

unheeded by, and his thoughts were

far away, when the page, kneeling

humbly at his feet, presented to him

the cup of gold, crowned with ruddy

wine. On a sudden he was roused from

his reverie by the blast of a bugle, and

the challenge of the warder from the tur=

-rets. The drawbridge was lowered and

after a few minutes suspense a figure man, bloody with sparring, fiery red with haste,

entered the apartment, and throwing aside the mantle

in which he was enveloped, discovered

to the astonished gaze of Sir Roderick Joselyn,

the features of the esquire who had accom=

panied his lady on her pilgrimage: the

perspiration ran down his face, and his

armour was stained with blood.
So Roderick Eustace started up, his hand wan=

-dered towards his rapier, rushing for=

-ward, he exclaimed wildly:

“Villain, where is thy lady? Tell me

quickly, hast thou left her to die?

Speak, wretch! Quick, or I strike thee


The man recoiled a few paces, and then

said, rather warmly, —

“Thou hast a worse opinion of me than

I thought; I am not a coward, Sir Ro=
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Note: The following manuscript page is out of order. The text on page three continues on page seven. The transcription follows the nonsequential pages of the manuscript.
After they had journeyed for the space

of two days, they put up for the night

at a hostelrie, where the soldiers, ha=

-ving ordered their horses to the stables,

seated themselves round a blazing

fire, and called for some refreshments.

After the [?] Having satisfied them=

=selves with the rude fare placed be=

-fore them, the men began to grow

talkative, and one of them informed

the host of the reason of their journey.
“An' thy master would win back his

lady,” said mine host, smiling, “I

would advise him to temper his ar=

=-mour and sharpen his sword, for

the free-lances are good archers, and

few breast plates can stand their

shots. Moreover, I would advise

him to be speedy, as the governour

of the fortress intends to espouse the

Lady at noon to morrow, and” —

“Fine news for our master,” exclaimed one

of the soldiers, starting to his feet.

“I shall go and inform Sir Roderick Eustace

of this new disaster.”
He was about to retire in order to put his

design in execution, when his steps

were arrested by the angry voice of one

of his companions.
“Hold, fool, knowest thou not the love

our master bears this lady? He

would cause us to arm at a mo=

=ment's notice, and issue forth

against these marauding dogs.”
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Having concluded this laudable speech,

he drew his sword, and placing himself

at the entrance of the chamber, de=

clared his determination of keeping

the pass against all opposition. His

companions, thinking he was in jest,

endeavoured to seize the hilt of his

sword, but the other, who was some=

=what inflamed by the wine which

he had drunk, made a hearty thrust

at the breast of his [?] com=

=rade, which had it not been for

his steel corslet would have proved

fatal. As it was, it sent him reeling

backwards, but soon recovering him=

=self, and findng that it was no joke,

he was about to draw his sword, when

a second blow from his adversary sent

him bleeding to the ground.
The unfortunate man now lay at the

mercy of his intoxicated comrade, whose

arm was raised to give the fatal blow,

when a third weapon interposing,

struck the sword from the hand of the

victor, who, raising his head perceived the

stalwart figure of [?] Aymerie standing

in a posture of defence, over the pros=

-strate trooper.
After a few minutes' silence, during

which the soldier, who was now per-

-fectly sobered, kept his eyes fixed upon

the ground, without once raising

them, Aymerie lifted his companion

from the floor, and after laying

him carefully upon a bench, and

staunching the blood that issued

from the wound, he ordered the crest=
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-fallen victor, who had retired to his

seat, to go himself to Sir Roderick, and

inform him of what they had just as=

certained from the host.
After sundry grumblings and murmur=

=ings the soldier departed but not

until [?] Aymerie had threatened to disclose

to Sir Roderick Eustace the circumstances &

effects of the quarrel: then he did de=

part and soon returned, bringing

with him Sir Roderick, his master,

who having well rewarded the host

for his information, continued his

journey together with Sir Palinore

and the troops. The wounded man

was delivered up by [?] Aymerie to the

care of the host, with money to provide

for his maintenance till their re=


Chapter 2

After a toilsome march, the two kni

The Attack — The Rescue.
Note: Most of the deletions at the bottom of this manuscript page are illegible. As a consequence, in this passage deletions of whole lines are represented by [?].
After a toilsome march the particulars of which being wholly uninteresting we passshall pass over, the two knights

and their retainers arrived at the borders

of a forest through which when they had

[?] forced their way with some difficulty

[?] they found themselves in front of a castle which

[?] the squire Lionel recognized as

[?] the same to which the marauders had

[?] retreated after having captured the lady.


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Note: The following page continues from page three. Again, due to their illegibility, whole lines deleted by DGR are designated by [?].
-derick.” Eustace

The knight put up his sword, and said

in a milder tone, “Pardon me, Aymerie,

I own that I was hasty but pray thee,

tell me, where is thy Lady?”
“How is this?” enquired the knight, withdrawing hastily

to the further end of the room.

“As we were travelling onward,” said

the esquire, “we were assaulted by a

party of borderers free-companions, two of whom seized

the lady Rosalba, while the rest attack=

ed me all in a body. Drawing my

sword, I cut a passage through my

assailants, and slew three of them,

but seeing another [?] advan-

cing to the aid of their companions,

and perceiving that it was [?]

I effected a hasty retreat after which

I rode hither at the top of my speed
to inform you of this un

fortunate event.”
Added TextEustace
Added TextSir Jocelyn was greatly disturbed by this news

[?]but as he could no longer prevent an

[?]evil which had already ocurred he

[?]determined at least to have ample

[?]vengeance on the agressor [sic]. He therefore

[?]lost no time in useless lamentations

[?]but having hastily assembled his retainers

[?]and hastily explained to [?]

[?]the cause of his abrupt departure,

[?]he set out accompanied by his friend

[?]brother in arms Sir Eustace [?] who was

[?]bound by his vows of chivalry to accompany assist

“My noble friend wilt thou assist mehim in every quest so long as it

in my endeavour to free my belovedwas just and honorable.

Rosalba from the injurious marauders?”

The knight assented, and they immedi-

ately set out as the head of their res=

spective followers.

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They soon arrived with [?] of

the castle, where Sir Roderick
Eustace then commanded

a halt in order that he might ascertain

what advantage might be taken in the most advantageous point of attack.

the attack. But scarcely had he begun

his rounds, when an arrow, whizzing

through the air, glanced against his

breastplate, but was, however, repelled

by the well-tempered steel. Looking up

he perceived an archer, dressed after

the fashion of the borderers free-lances of the

period, who was deliberately putting

another arrow to his bow.
Sir Roderick Eustace put set spurs to his noble

horse, and soon arrived at the place

where he had left his companions.

He hastily informed his friend of

what had happened, for there was

no time to lose, since the wall was

now lined with soldiers, who had

learnt from their companion the circum=

-stance s of our hero's arrival.
Sir Palinore Lionel Eustace sounded his bugle, and

his soldiers, throwing up scaling

ladders, with which they were well

provided, began to ascend, accompa=

-nied by their master, leaving Sir Ro=

-derick Eustace
Jocelyn and his men much against the will of the knight as a reserve in

case of need.
The marauders were soon overpowered,

and the knight and his followers were

consulting what course to pursue,

when they heard a loud shout, and

looking in the direction whence it

proceeded, perceived a large body of ruf=

fians armed from head to foot, ad=

=vancing hastily towards them.
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To draw their swords, and place them=

-selves on the defensive was the work

of a moment; the rest found them

engaged in a fearful struggle wtih

their assailants, who, being three times

their number, had a decided advan=

tage over Sir Palinore Lionel and his

Both sides parties fought desperately; the [?]

[?] knight performed [?] of va-
Sir Eustace was here and there and everywhere.

-lour. His voice was heard above the

din of battle, encouraging his soldiers,

and commanding them to give no

quarter. With his bloody sword upraised,

he cut a passage through the thickest of

his adversaries; death attended every

blow: the borderers free-lances fled before

him in astonishment: he followed,

shouting his war-cry.
The leader

of the troop stood in his path. Sir

Lionel's sword the sword of [?], passing through his body,

laid him lifeless on the ground.
In a moment the knight found him=

=self surrounded by [?] fifty a dozen men

men, with their lances pointed at his

breast. He saw that resistance was

vain, his followers having all been

either killed or wounded, but he

scorned to yield, so, grasping his bat=

-tle-axe, for his sword had been struck

from his hand, and recommending

himself to the protection of the Vir=

-gin, he placed his back against a

turret, and struck down the first

who approached to seize him.

A second followed, and shared the
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on his soldiers to assist him,

the knight made a furious rush at

the door, which, yielding to the shock,

he entered the chapel at the head of

his men, but it was only to per=

ceive the governor his rival issuing from a

back door, bearing in his arms the

fainting figure of a lady, whose the lady Christabel.

lovely feature, and auburn locks

proclaimed her to be Rosalba [?]

Sir Roderick Eustace Joselyn Montmorency bit his lip with sup=

=pressed rage, and his sword once

more gleamed in the air, as, bearing

down all before him, he rushed

franticly [sic] after the castellan.
He pressed him along dreary pas=

sages and deserted corridors till he

arrived once more in the great hall

of the castle, where, at length, he

overtook him.
“Turn, [?], & fight!” Cried Sir Pa= Villain! he cried when at length he overtook him

Eustace, “if thou wilt not instantly

render up that lady or my sword or take the

passes through thy breast.
consequences of a refusal.
The man turned round, and re=

=vealed to view, a face pale and

haggard but not altogether un=

=handsome. A quantity of dark

short brown curls fell over his

lofty forehead, almost concealing

his bushy eyebrows, from under

which darted two singularly bright
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Note: The top of the manuscript is torn off on this page. As a result, several words are missing from the first line. In addition, at the bottom of the page DGR wrote but then crossed out the phrase “To be Continued”. In place of it, he added the final eight lines of this page.
eyes, which [?]

[?] around with a suspicious & scrutinizing look

as if the blackness of his own soul prevented him

from imagining for a moment that any good thoughts

could dwell in the hearts of others.

A thick moustache graced his upper

lip, and his beard, long and grisly,

formed a striking contrast with to

the palid [sic] hue of his countenance.

He placed the lady gently on the

ground, and, casting a scornful and

indignant glance at Sir Roderick Eustace

he drew his sword, and threw him=

=self furiously upon the knight, [?]
the next moment saw him engaged in a fearful

[?] his life dearly. struggle with our hero Montmorency .
Our hero defended himself with great acted principally on the defensive

courage and stress, till he perceived

that the castellan was somewhat

spent with his exertions: then it

was that he attacked him with

redoubled vigour, compelling him

to give way as every step he took.

His antagonist retreated, defending

himself wtih the same determined

valour as before, until they came

to the grand entrance of the fort=

=ress. No sooner was he arrived here,

than, loosening the chain which sup=

ported the drawbridge, he sprang

upon it, and was soon lost to

sight, in the forest which surrounded

the castle. The lady Christabel who had watched

the progress of the combat (as the reader

may readily suppose) with

breathless interest—

now rushed enraptured (as ladies always do

in romances)

into the arms of her victorious lover who having brought

together to make use of Byron's words the remnant

of his gallant band and a very small remnant it was
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Note: Numerous sketches of ladies profiles and sparring knights surround the text on this page.
went forth out from the fortress somewhat

less gaily than he went in.

joyful in heart and more

jaded in appearance than he

went in.
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with redoubled vigour.
As it was, he rallied his soldiers to

the attack, and rushed upon the

enemy, who, had stretched themselves

out on both sides of the door.

They were all soon either killed or

dispersed, and the knight was

consulting with his followers what

expedient to try to gain admission,

when the sound of voices struck

upon his ear. He listened atten=

=tively, and perceived that the mar=

=riage service was being performed

within. And between whom?—

Could it be between his beloved Rosal=

=ba, and the suspicious marauder freelance master of the castle?

The thought was maddening: the

words of the host flashed like light=

=ning across his brain.— At noon

tomorrow! . . . And now it was noon!

He seized his battle-axe, and struck

at the door with the fury inspired by

despair, but the iron resisted all

his efforts.
The knight ground his teeth with rage,

his eyes seemed about to start from

their sockets.
He ard heard a con=

=fused sound within: he feared that

the master of the castle free-lance freelance would car=

ry off the lady in triumph, and

he standing there, unable to

strike a blow in her defence.

In a fit of desparation [sic], he & calling
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His eyes were closing; he felt that

he was in his last agonies, when

his ears were greeted by the sound

of “A De Malvon! A De Malvon!” Lindsay Montmorency Lindsay Montmorency and

Sir Roderick Eustace Jocelyn arriving with his retain=

-ers on the spot where Sir Palinore Lionel

had fallen, the ruffians free-lances (whose num=

=bers had been considerably thinned

in the recent encounter) fled, lea= in confusion

=ving the knight in quiet possession

of the body of his friend, Delaserse, who, having

recovered from his swoon,
was left in

the care of [L?] Aymerie, while conveyed on a litter to one of the neighboring cottages. Sir Rode=

Eustace, accompanied by his soldiers,

descended a flight of steps, and ar

-rived in the castle hall.

Chapter 3.

The Chapel — The Pursuit — The


The knight & his followers After this they passed

on without further opposition, till

they arrived at a strong iron door,

bolted on the inside. Before the door

was stationed a line of soldiers marauders,

armed from head to foot, and ready

for the attack. This door was the

entrance to the castle chapel, in

which the inhabitants of the

castle were assembled in order

to perform the marriage ceremony.

Sir Roderick Eustace knew not this; had

he known it, he would have fought
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same fate, a third met with no

better fortune, and the fourth, who

advanced with the intent of putting

the knight to death, had his head

severed from his body.
But this state of things

was not destined to continue


for at the very moment when he had surely reached the [ramparte?]

with the intent of descending one of the

ladders which had been thrown up

an arrow sped like lightning

through the air, and lodged in his

breast. He fell to the earth, with a

heavy groan, his battle-axe dropped

from his hand, and his armour rang

against the ground. His enemies

rushed forward with a savage

shout, whirling their swords around

their heads. Their countenances ex=

=pressed rage mingled with fear,

and the [?] advanced to

seize the knight.
Sir Palinore Lionel, who had only fainted

from loss of blood, soon raised his

head from the ground, and, reco=

=vering his battle-axe, lent the

ruffian such a blow, that it stretch=

ed him bleeding by the side of his

companions. But the knight felt

that this could not last long:

strength was fast declining, he

began to grow giddy, the objects before

him spun round as in a dream,

and his fingers convulsively grasped

the weapon the weapon again fell

from his hand,
and his fingers con=

-vulsively grasped the arrow, which

was planted in his breast, as he

[?] was sunkrolled over upon the ground.
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Manuscript Addition:

This tale, Roderick + Rosalba, was written by Gabriel in 1840 - He afterwards (must have been towards 1843) changed the title to The Free Companions, + made the alterations freely marked in the ms. / W.M.R. [William Rossetti] / 1905

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 1-1840.dukems.rad.xml
Copyright: Special Collections Library, Duke University