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from thence they passed into France, nity without compromising their reand took deepest root in Brittany. putation, Geoffrey of Monmouth's Chronicle, But whatever there may be in the the earliest form of these tales with romances of chivalry which is common which the learned of his day had to Skald, or Arab, or ancient Pagan, made acquaintance, he considers to there can be no reasonable doubt but consist entirely of Arabian fancies. that the true theory as to their oriEven if the giants and dragons of gin is that originally advanced by romance were introduced into south- Leyden, maintained by Douce, Sharon ern Europe more immediately by the Turner, and others, and lately reSkalds, still he would assert that duced to all but demonstration by the northern poets themselves owed Lady Charlotte Schreiber and the them in the first place to immigra- Count Villemarqué. They are Cymric tions from the East. Others, again, or Armorican, or both. With a selfhave seen in the tales of chivalry denying honesty which is too selonly a new development of the classic dom a characteristic of literary antilegends of Greece and Italy. As quarians, M. de la Villemarqué graceChristianity unquestionably borrow- fully concedes the honour of parened and modified to its own use many tage to the Britons of Wales, as the of the outward ceremonies of Pagan- elder branch of the great Cymric ism, so they held that the Christian race; while the fair champion, to trouveur only adopted and trans- whom the Welsh are so deeply inmuted the heroes of classical poetry. debted, appears willing to share the There certainly is some apparent claim on their behalf with their foundation for this theory. It is not brethren across the Channel. But hard to trace in the incidents of Ar- the claim thus made seems indisputthurian romance the same kind of able ; the only wonder is that it resemblance, real or fanciful, which should have been in abeyance so has been remarked by those who love long. The explanation lies in the to find in the legends of heathendom fact, that the wealth of the old types or foreshadowings of Christian Cymric literature in this particular truth. The knights errant have their respect was never even suspected, classic prototypes in Hercules, Bac- except perhaps by a few enthusiastic chus, and Theseus ; the sorceress is Welsh antiquaries; and they, with Circe or Calypso ; the giant is Poly- some honourable exceptions, were phemus; the rescued maiden, Andro- usually too busy in crowning each meda; monsters like the “Twrch other at Eisteddfodau, and writing Trwyth,” and the “questing beast,” Englynion in each other's praise are cognate genera to Scylla and the (when they were not quarrelling) Minotaur. Nay, even the personal underunpronounceable bardic names, characters of the Romaunt, viewed in to turn their attention to a question this light, seem only reproductions; which was of real interest to the Merlin is Proteus; the tale of Uther literature of Europe, and to the and Iguerne is the old story of the solution of which they really held loves of Jupiter and Alcmena; and the key. It was not until Lady Arthur's death and disappearance is Charlotte Schreiber, with the aid of but a modern copy of Sarpedon's. an eminent Welsh scholar,* brought There is also a marked resemblance to light in their original form, accomin the moral tone of these two great panied by an English version, the cycles of fiction. It is scarcely higher, collection of early Cymric tales, we are sorry to say, in the romance known as the Mabinogion, contained of Christendom than in the heathen chiefly in an ancient manuscript myths. Robbery is accounted ho- “the Red Book of Hergest” – benourable ; illegitimacy, instead of be- longing to the national College in ing a moral bar sinister, is rather an Oxford, that the true sources of augury of the hero's future fame; and the romances of the Round Table maidens, by the grace of supernatural were disclosed, and what had been lovers, enjoy the privileges of mater- heretofore one of many plausible

*

# The late Rev. Thomas Price.

conjectures became à certainty. grees over the old rude metal of Even now the evidence on this British fable; but there it lay still point is probably very incomplete. beneath, to be recognised hereafter Not to speak of unnoticed Welsh by those who had sufficient curiosity manuscripts which may exist else- and penetration to look deep enough. where, it is known that a collection The mysterious Arthur, the demiof earlier date, and probably equal god of the Cymric bards, thus bevalue with the Red Book” of Jesus came in the hands of his adopters College (which appears to be a copy the preux chevalier of the romanfrom it), exists in the library of the cier; while to form his court the Vaughans at Hengwrt,* to which the spirit of chivalry made knights of editor of the Mabinogion was unfor- the old Cymric robber-chieftainstunately unable to obtain access. Dr for we fear these early heroes were Owen is said to have seen an ancient little better. Assuredly none would Welsh manuscript containing the have been more startled to recognise story of Sir Tristram (who does not them under their new dress, than the appear in the published Mabinogion), old British or Armorican poet who but which he was unable to obtain; † had first made them the subjects of and a version of the “Quest of the song. San Graal,” in the same language, is The central figure, round whom all said to have been known to exist, the heroes of this cycle of romance and may probably exist still. M. de revolve, is Arthur, King or Penla Villemarqué, for his own side of dragon of Britain. His court it is the Channel, not only confirms Lady from which all the champions set C. Schreiber's evidence, which he out upon their adventures, or to seems, indeed, in some degree to which they finally repair; his dohave anticipated, but brings for- minions and his conquests are limitward additional items of proof, ed rather by the fancy of the narrator slight, but sufficiently convincing, than by any geographical probabilifrom fragments of Breton songs ties. Šo dazzling, indeed, is the halo and poems, that the roots of these which romance has shed round his renowned fictions lie deep in their name, that, by a not uncommon reliterature also. Their very form, sult, his actual personality has bethe eight-syllabled rhyme, in which come obscured. Historians, unable the French metrical version is writ- to distinguish satisfactorily the myth ten-he claims, and apparently with from the fact, have come to doubt justice, as Cymric.

whether there be any groundwork of It is true-it would be impossible fact at all. Arthur has been the to suppose that it could be other- hero of fable so generally, that he wise-that these original materials has become little

than a were greatly modified and amplified shadow in history. Bede seems to by the successive hands through deny his existence; Milton doubts which they passed. In the it; and these were ages in which place, the new faith, while it adopt- critical scepticism had not yet taken ed in this as in other cases the work rank as a fashionable science. Gildas of the heathen, moulded it as far as and Aneurin, who should have been possible to its own type. The re- his cotemporaries, make no mention sult in the Arthurian romances is, as of himn; and his earliest appearance we shall endeavour to show here- in the page of history is in Nennius, after, the strangest conceivable mix- A.D. 851), where his exploits and his ture of Pagan sentiment with the attributes are largely tinged with formal language of Christianity, and the marvellous, and are referred to as sometimes with some of its most atraditio veterum.” I Of his Welsh mystical doctrines. All the glitter compatriots, Dr Owen Pugh conof mediaevalism spread itself by de- siders him altogether mythological,

more

These MSS., on the death of Sir Robert Vaughan, passed into the possession of W. W. E. Wynne, Esq. of Peniarth.

+ VILLEMARQUÉ, Romans de la Table Ronde, p. 78. I Myryrian Archeology, i. 178.

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and to be identical with the con- The most circumstantial statement
stellation Ursa Major; for which, of his date and history, and perhaps
indeed, he appears to have some au- as little suspicious as any, is that
thority in the Welsh triads,—which, which will be found quoted in the
after good classical precedents, carry Appendix to the Liber Landavensis,
their hero as a star into the heavens as from an MS. Chronicon Ecclesice
after his disappearance from earth, Landavensis in the British Museum;
—and in the still popular name of where he is said to have been crowned
Arthur's Wain; others have consi- king at Cirencester, A.D. 506, in the
dered him to be identical with Nim- fifteenth year of his age, by Dubri-
rod, or, with more probability, Belus cius, Bishop of Caerleon, and to have
or Apollo ; the latter opinion being afterwards kept Whitsuntide with
also supported by a fact in astrono- great pomp at Caerleon.
mical nomenclature, the star Lyra He is said to have been the son of
being known to the Welsh as Ar- Uther or Uter, the Pendragon of Bri-
thur's Harp."* This theory of his tain, and to have defeated the Saxons
exclusively mythological existence, in thirteen pitched battles, the last
and his identity with Apollo Belenus, on Mount Badon. That zealous her-
has been supported by very ingen- ald Upton goes so far as to give us
ious arguments, and at the expense Uther Pendragon'sarmorial bearings:
of some considerable researches in Vert, a plain cross argent ; in the
the unpromising fields of bardic his- dexter quarter an image of the B. V.
tory by the author of Britannia Mary, holding the image of her bles-
after the Romans.t Mr Rees, sed Son in her right hand, proper.
though conceding him a place in Also he gave for his cognisance of
history, repudiates him as a country- Britain, d'or, deux dragons verds,
man;

he holds him to have been a couronnés de goules, contréles, or
native of Devon or Cornwall (which endorsed.”. Arthur himself, in testi-
is made the seat of his kingdom in mony of his thirteen victories, bore
the older Mabinogi), and his connec- · also, in a field azure, thirteen impe-
tion with the Cymry of Wales and of rial crowns; or, with the motto,
North Britain to have been wholly “ Moult de couronnes, plus de ver-
of an intrusive kind. I A great diffi. tus.".
culty in the attempt to separate the It is remarkable, however, that no-
mythic from the historic in the tra- where in the cycle of fiction does
ditions of the Great King arises from Arthur appear as the champion of
the fact that Welsh literature seems the Britons against the invading
to recognise, as M. de Villemarqué Saxons. We find him traversing
shows (and as has been before no- half Europe as a conqueror, rather
ticed), both a mythological and a real than defending his own shores. In
Arthur; and that in the triads of the Welsh legends of the Mabinogion,
later date the latter has been tricked his enemies, when they are not su-
out in some of the ornaments of the pernatural, have no very definite
former. This apparent plurality has national or geographical relations.
made some conjecture that the name If it be the Arthur of history, he
Arthur was an appellative oply, and preserves little besides the name.
that even in history there may have It is perhaps this very indistinctness
been more Arthurs than one. Pro- of the hero as a historical personage
bably Lord Bacon was as near the that explains the ready adoption of
truth on this point as we are now his name and reputed exploits by
likely to arrive—“There was truth the poets of another race. The
enough in his story to make him trouveurs of southern Christendom
famous, besides that which was might not have cared to hand on
fabulous.” If he lived at all, he was from generation to generation the
probably a prince of the Silures, who fame of the mere national champion
became king of Britain, and was of a defeated people. Arthur and
cotemporary with Clovis of France. his deeds might still have been sung

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* Telyn Arthur.

Rees's Welsh Saints, p. 185.

+ Attribute 1 to the Hon. Algernon Herbert.

in the mountain-fastnesses of Wales, serving this invariable limitation of on the hills and moors of Cumber- the Arthurian story in all its forms Jand, or on the kindred shores of to a few special localities all known Cornwall and Brittany; but the tale to be Celtic, to the conclusion which would scarcely have found favour in we now recognise as the truth. the eyes of a Frank or Norman king; The repute in which these romanstill less would the Celtic prince and ces were held throughout all Christhis court have become the centre endom, from 1150 to 1500, can hardly point of their national fiction. But be measured by our modern notions in the glories and triumphs of Arthur of popular poets, or popular writers there is no element of race; there is of fiction. If the trouveur found a no national vanity to be flattered, less profitable trade in those days or national jealousies to be stirred. than in ours, at least he could deThis alone can account for the fact, pend upon a less critical and far more that while the French romancers enthusiastic audience. Before what built all kinds of fancies of their own Mr Carlyle calls “the miraculous art on the foundations of these Celtic of reading and writing” bad ceased stories, they uniformly retained both to be a miracle, when as yet publishthe name and the nationality of the ers were not, and a printer ran an central hero. Always he is Arthur even chance of being burnt for a of Britain. Wherever he is said to wizard,- to be a favourite with the hold his court, it is always some- reading, or rather the listening, where within those limits where world, was fame indeed. To be read the Celtic race still predominated. in lady's bower, to be chanted at Whether he reigns, as in the ear- feast and watchfire, to be conned in lier Welsh legends, at “Kelliwig in studious chamber by churchman and Dyfnaint” (Devon),* or at Caerleon- philosopher,-such was the glorious on-Usk-far north as merry Carlisle, meed of those bards whose names or far south as Kerduel in Brittany and memories had perished, but who -- all these three last claiming to be lived still in those lays, which, howthe “Carduel" of the romances-he ever changed and modified, were still stands on ground occupied by still known as Tales of Arthur. They some of the branches of that great were most popular in France, but race, which, whether Cymric, Breton, their sound was in all lands. They or Gael, is still of common origin. were translated into nearly every Driven as they were by the northern language in Christendom. There is conquerors from the lordship of the said to be an MS. in Hebrew of soil, and only holding on by an un- " King Arthur's History,” out of the quenchable vitality to such corners Spanish version, existing to this day of the earth as Cambria, and Cum- in the Vatican. There is also a verbraland, and Little Britain across the sion in modern Greek.t “Norunt Channel, -in one sense, like Greece Arabes -- Bosphorus exclusa non in her decline, they took their con- tacet(“the Arabians and the Bosquerors captive; their songs and phorus bad heard of him "), saith their traditions were the material Alan de l'Isle. However that might out of which sprang what was for be, we have evidence enough of the nearly four centuries the literature of enthusiastic admiration in which Christian Europe. It seems strange they were held in our own island. that the writers who have shown so David, Abbot of Valle Crucis (1450), much interest in investigating the sends a poetical epistle to a friend, sources of this body of fiction, should to ask the loan of the book that he not have been led at once, by ob- “loved more than gold or gems,”–

*

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Myryrian Arch. i. 175. Gelli wic, or Kelliwig, has been supposel to le Callington, or Kellington, in Cornwall.

+ Warton quotes Crusius to the effect that at Padua there was a work in modern Greek called Aldazai Regis Arturi ; but he seems to have been misled by the title of a book of homilies, Aidaxa Rarturi.–See Quarterly Review, No. xxiii. p. 158, note. But there is in the Vatican a poem of the twelfth century in that language, apparently a translation from the Italian.-Price's Remains, i, 271. VOL LXXXVIII.—NO. DXXXIX.

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“the goodly Graal, the book of the Taking Wace's poem as the oriheroes." ' I know," says Roger As- ginal of the Anglo-Norman metrical cham, “when God's Bible was ban- versions of the central Romance, we ished the court, and Morte d'Arthur find there the main facts in the received into the prince's chamber.” history of Arthur; the strange story How much the modern poets have of his birth, his magic sword, his borrowed from them has been fre- conquests of Ireland, Denmark, Norquently remarked, and we may take way, and France, his invasion of occasion to point out some of the Italy at the head of 183,000 knights, chief instances hereafter.

the renown of his court, to which M. de la Villemarqué considers, every "good knight" of Christendom and certainly shows good ground for held himself bound to resort, the his opinion, that the original legends treason of Mordred, the falsehood of of Arthur found their way across the Guenever, the battle of Camlan, and channel to the Britons of Armorica. the mysterious transportation to the There they were collected with others Isle of Avalon. M. de la Villemarqué into the Brut y Brenhined (“Le- quotes from the Welsh bard Taliesin, gend of the Kings”), sometimes and from other remains of Welsh known as Brut Tysilio, from having literature of earlier date than the been erroneously attributed to the Brut y Brenhined, fragments which saint of that name. Of the original tell the same story with but little Armorican collection no copy is variation ; and though the Armorknown to exist ; but in the year ican ballads and legends which 1125 they were translated into he has collected afford a narrower Welch, and a few years later Robert, field for comparison, they bear witEarl of Gloucester, who claimed de- ness to the existence of the same scent by his mother's side from the traditions amongst this younger British kings, appears as the patron branch of the Cymric family. of a Latin translation, made by The form, however, in which these Geoffrey of Monmouth Gruffydd romances are far more accessible to ap Arthur

- under the title of general readers than Welsh MSS. or His Britonum. This purports Norman fabliaux, is that which stands to contain the history of the at the head of this article as “Mort Welsh kings from Brutus, great- d'Arthure," or "The Booke of King grandson of Æneas of Troy, down to Arthur," as Wynkyn de Worde more Cadwallader, the Saxon Ceadwalla, correctly entitles it—a compilation in 688. What is more to our present made in the year 1469 by a Sir purpose, it contained the history of Thomas Mallory "out of certayne Arthur and his knights, modified no bookes of Frensshe," as he tells us, doubt from the old British legends, and first printed by Caxton in 1485 and still more to be modified by the at the request of “noble and dyvers inventions of subsequent writers, gentlymen.” Who this Sir Thomas but still the same Arthur whó Mallory was is not known; the Welsh charmed the world in both. In its antiquaries of course claim him as a new form, the story acquired at once countryman. His work is but a piece the greatest interest and popularity of patchwork, not always very cleverand appears to have been imme- ly put together; but its terse idiomatic diately versified, under different language has been said to be the purforms, and with considerable licence, est English extant, next to the Bible. by cotemporary poets. Henry II. It appears to have been founded was enamoured of it, and it is chiefly on the great prose romances said to have been at his request of Merlin and the St Graal, written that Robert or Richard Wace, in by Robert de Borron aforesaid-the 1155, gave to the world his Brut “Mort Artus," “ Lancelot du Lac," d'Angleterre, in rhymed octo-syllabic and the “Queste de St Graal," all French, or rather romance verse, commonly ascribed to Walter Mapes which appears to be the earliest in -and the two romances of “Sir Trisdate of the French Romances of the tram,” by Lucas de Gast and Helie Round Table. From that time forth de Borron. These three last sources it took all shapes and languages. are said by Southey to have supplied

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