Imágenes de páginas

painting of mediæval chivalry. In speak of a magic bowl which confact, as will be seen, these romances tained the, mysteries of the world, of the Graal are of a totally different and, like the Graal of the romances, colouring from the genuine tales of had the power to heal mortal wounds, Arthur; the personages introduced and even to bring the dead to life. into the action are the same, but the Such a bowl formed one of the thirparts allotted to them are rather teen treasures of the isle of Britain, those of armed pilgrims than knights which Merlin bore away in his “ship adventurous.

of crystal” to the Isle of Avalon ; But the Holy Vessel and the thus disappearing, like the Graal, Bleeding Lance, though they fall from human view. The bloody lance into their places so easily and natur- appears also in a prophecy attributed ally amongst the regalia of a fanci- to Taliesin, in which it is foretold ful Christianity, are indisputably of that “the realm of Logres”, (the pagan origin. The first has long been Saxon England)

“shall fall by a claimed by Welsh antiquaries as a bleeding lance," + which became to Druidical symbol.* The author of the Britons from that time forth the Britannia after the Romans, whose symbol of liberty and deliverance. researches in bardic theology entitle Foremost amongst the knightshis opinion to considerable weight, companions who engage in the holy speaks very confidently on the sub- Quest is Sir Lancelot of the Lake. ject. “It is no romance,” he says, Son of King Ban of Benwicke (pro"but a blasphemous imposture, more bably Benoit in Brittany), he is car

, daring than any on record, in which ried away in his infancy by the fairy it is endeavoured to pass off the mys- Viviane, and brought up in her enteries of bardism for the inspirations chanted island. In him we have the of the Holy Ghost.” It is certain romanciers' ideal of chivalry; so that in the Welsh legend of Peredur, noble and so fascinating is his chathe undoubted original of Sir Per- racter in many points, that we can cival, a wondrous bowl and lance are scarcely wonder if we see it exerto be found, which make no claim cising even at this day a dangerous to Christian origin. The bowl has influence in the pages of modern litewithin it the fearful sight of a human rature. But for one thing, Lancelot head swimming in blood; the lance's had been indeed the knight " sans point distils three drops of gore. peur et sans reproche ;and unThere, too, we find the “Fisher- happily his one fault-coupled, too, King; a' white-haired old man, as it is in his case, with a certain lame, fishing with his attendants in truth and loyalty, though to an una lake; the whole of the properties worthy cause-is of that nature of the ecclesiastical legend in a ruder which wins pardon easiest from the form. M. de la Villemarqué also young and passionate. We need no speaks of a Breton legend, in which a more than to allude to his amour marvellous vessel of similar character with Queen Guenever, the blot on appears, which, like the Graal, has his escutcheon which the poets of the property of filling itself with all the “ Courts of Love” were not kinds of delicious meats according to ashamed to blazon into a virtue. In the taste of the partaker. Still ear- the eyes of the Norman gestours, lier than these, M. de la Villemarqué from whom Mallory draws in the quotes fragments from Taliesin which earlier portion of these volumes, he

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* Mr Peter Roberts (Collect. Camb., vol. i. p. 309) suggests that it was the diviningcup of the Druids. It was said to be kept at St David's, and to have been carried thence to Glastonbury (which, from that circumstance, took its name of Ynys Wytryn, island of the little glass), and to have been restored to its original locality by King Arthur. He holds it be the same as the Santo Catino (a cup of great beauty made of some composition of an emerald colour) carried offfrom Florence (?) by Napoleon ; but restored, and still to be seen for five francs in the cathedral at Genoa, according to a writer in Notes and Queries. The history of its travels seems rather obscure.

+ M. Villemarqué quotes the Lyfr Taliesin, an MS. in the Hengwrt library.


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“has not his peer of any earthly sin- sinned but once. Sir Galahad is the ful man.” At no time was he over- beautiful creation of the later fictions. come, but it were by treason or en- He belongs to the romance of the chantment.” Brave, gentle, and true, Graal, and would be quite out of he wins honour and love from knights place in the earlier Arthurian story. and ladies. To him alone the He is the son of Sir Lancelot and haughtiest champions of Arthur's King Pelles's daughter; his birth is court are content to yield the prize illegitimate, but it has been brought of the tournament without a mur- about by enchantment. He is intromur; defeat from such a hand con- duced suddenly by an old man amongst fers almost as much honour as vic- the assembled knights, and placed tory over others. Even Arthur, in the siege perilous." The knights whom he has so deeply wronged, all marvel that he " durst sit there, feels the spell upon him; he bursts that was so tender of age;" but his into tears, when Lancelot assists him name is found written there in letters to remount- thinking on the great of gold, and he is acknowledged as courtesie that was in Sir Lancelot the rightful occupant that more than in any other man.”, So win the Saint Graal.” It is hopeless successful was the portrait which to trace any connected allegory in the they had drawn of all that was noble long train of adventures which foland admirable—writing as they did low, in which the mystical sometimes for a licentious age and a corrupt descends to absurdity, and somecourt—that it was only left for the times rises to the sublime : we have later mythists of the Graal to point probably here, as in the other porout how one deadly sin disqualifies tions of Mallory's book, a rude atthe flower of chivalry from approach- tempt to combine portions of sepaing the church's mysteries. “Had rate romances into a connected story. he not been in his privy thoughts But Galahad is the type of a spiritual and in his mind set inwardly to the knighthood, and a member of a highqueen, as he was in outward seeming er companionship than King Arunto God, there had no knight pass

thur's. He wears no lady's favour, ed him in the Quest of the Saint or blazon of man's device ; a white Graal.” * “ It had been most con- shield, crossed with blood, which has venient for him of all earthly kvights, a marvellous history,ł the sword of but sin is so foul in him that he may King David,Ş with a scabbard made not achieve such noble deeds.” † in part out "the tree of life," a white Once, indeed, he wins his way to a steed brought to him “in the Lord's sight of the Holy Vessel ; before it a behalfe” by the White Knight, priest elevates the Host, with the "s whose name is for none earthly miraculous weight of which he seems man to know" these are the accouto stagger ; Lancelot puts forth a trements of the Champion of Heaven; sacrilegious hand, like Uzzah, to help and the crown he seeks is --Death, him ; and is struck down in a swoon and Life Eternal. “Sir Galahad fell which lasts for twenty-four days, in his prayers long time unto our in punishment, as he learns after- Lord, that at what time he asked he wards, for as many years of sin. might passe out of this world. And Weary and dispirited, he returns to so much he prayed, till at the last a Camelot, to find half the companions voice said unto him, "Galahad, thou of the Round Table slain. Knights shalt have thy request, and when " of evil faith and poor of belief,” thou askest the death of thy body their presumptuous quest has been thou shalt have it, and thou shalt fatal to them.

find the life of thy soul.'” Brief, Three there are, however, to whom but glorious is his career; no wonder success is foretold-Şir Percival, Sir that before him, not only evil and Bors de Ganis, and Sir Galahad. cruel knights, but even the noble The first and the last are pure and Percival, and Lancelot the peerless, maiden knights; Sir Bors has never when they encounter him in his




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* Vol. iii. p. 185.
§ Vol. iii. ch. Ixxxiv., &c.

+ Vol. iii. p. 14.
|| Vol. iii. ch. xxxvii.

I Vol. iii. ch. xxxvii., &c. | Vol, iii, ch, cii.

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disguise, go down, horse and man. Quest, to Arthur's court at CameThe strange allegory, indeed, scarcely lot. escapes the charge of irreverence; Thither, somewhat unwillingly, we for in some passages Galahad is plain- return too. The tangled web of adly the representation of One who is venture begins afresh (in fact, it is a man, and yet more than man. new romance), and Lancelot is again Solomon is said to have had pre- the hero. In vain for him have been vision of his coming; he is the his own resolve to lead henceforth child of prophecy, who is to find a pure life, and Galahad's parting again the immortal privileges which charge to him by Sir Bors's mouth, have been lost so long; he drives out “ to remember this unsteadfast the seven evil knights (“which be- world;" he “ began to resort unto token the seven deadly sins”) from Queen Guenever again, and forgat the Castle of Maidens, where were so the promise and the profession that many people “ that he might not he had made in the Quest." Their number them," who had long guilty love runs on its course, only abidden their deliverance ;" he ex- interrupted by the pathetic tale of orcises the fiend, who recognises him Elaine la Blaunche, the maid of Astoas the “Servant of God," and cries lat, of whose scarlet sleeve, worn by out in terror at his approach, “for Lancelot at the tournament, the queen thou shalt make me goe againe there, is jealous, and who floats down dead, where I have beene so long ;" he de- in her barge, “covered with black scends into a cave to deliver a spirit samite,” amongst all the gay company that has dwelt in fire “three hun- “at Westminster.” Twice the queen dred and four and fifty years."

:"* The is detected, and condemned to the source from whence these adventures stake; and twice Lancelot delivers are drawn cannot be mistaken. her ; the last time, at the expense of

With Sir Bors and Sir Percival, the lives of Sir Gareth and many of who have also gone through special his companions of the Round Table. trials and temptations of their own, Concealment from this time is hopeGalahad enters the ship of Faith, less; yet such is his renown and pomade by Solomon--“so perfect that pularity that his nephew Sir Bors, it will suffer no sinne in it ”-and with many other of the knightsafter adventures cast in the wildest companions, who “will take the woe type of religious allegory, he is blest with the wealth,” espouse his cause, with the sight, and fed with the and he carries off Guenever to his miraculous dainties, of the Graal. castle of Joyous Garde, I until the With the blood of the spear he heals king's wrath cool. On some strange the maimed king, and then departs principle, wholly repugnant to our with his mysterious trophies to the modern feelings, the Pope charges "holy city of Sarras. Here he is Arthur to receive his queen back made king; for a year he wears the again on pain of interditing all Eng

crown of gold;" and then his pray- land;" and she is restored to him in er is granted, and "a multitude of a sort of triumphal procession-"in angels bear up his soul to heaven.” white cloth of gold tissue”.

-a sentiA Hand out of the clouds—“ but mental display which is represented they saw not the body"-bears away by the trouveurs as affecting the bold Vessell and Lance; and “sithence knights who were there present even was no man so hardy as to say that to tears. But “King Arthur sate he had seen the Sancgreal.” Sir still, and spake not one word.” Percival takes a religious habit, and Sir Lancelot also has been claimed dies ; Sir Bors buries him " in the by M. de la Villemarqué and by Lady spiritualities,” and returns, with an C. Schreiber as a British hero. The account of the achievement of the latter sees in his name nothing more

* Vol. ii. ch. lxxxvi. xliii. xl. xcix.

+ Sarras appears in the romance to be somewhere “in the parts of Babylon." Mr Wright thinks it may be intended for Charræ (Haran). There seems an allegorical allusion to the “New Jerusalem."

# This has been said to be Berwick; but the Bretons show it near Brest.

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than a translation of Paladr-ddelt, his king is now past even the Church's “splintered spear”-a chief who is healing. The noble companionship celebrated in the Triads.* But this is of the Round Table is broken up for somewhat weak evidence, as no le- ever. Lancelot, with the knights who gends appear to identify him in any still cleave to him, goes over sea to way with Lancelot's story, and he is France in a half-voluntary exilesaid to be the son of the “King of “for Sir Lancelot and his nephews India." M. de la Villemarqué,t with were lordes of all the realme of more plausibility, remarks that the France”—and while Arthur carries true orthography of the name is the war there against him with three L'Ancelot--or simply Ancelot, as it thousand knights, the false Sir Morappears in the romance of Ogier the dred (his own son by an incestuous Dane; and that this is the dimin- connection formed in ignorance with utive of the word Ancel, which in the his half-sister), whom he has left in romance language signified“ vassal,” charge of the realm, spreads a report or "servant." This, he holds, is the of his death, gets himself crowned exact translation of the Welsh Mael, at Canterbury, and even endeavours a name borne by a Celtic chief (some- to force the queen to marry him. times called also Mael-was or Mael- Long ago, at Mordred's birth, Merlin gun) celebrated by the Welsh bards had foretold that the child of sin and in the Triads, who is said to have should be its avenger; and Arthur been a lover of Guenever, to have had sought to avert the coming evil laid wait for her in a wood, and to by a copy of Herod's policy-he had have carried her off into his kingdom all the children slain that were born (which, according to Caradoc, was on a certain May-day. But Mordred in Scotland), where he was long be- had escaped ; and now, with the sieged by Arthur. But we conceive shadow of his doom already dark that the Celtic hero Mael-gun is to upon him, Arthur moves to meet him be found in this very compilation on the fatal field of Camlan-the of Mallory's, not as Lancelot, but as Gilboa of Welsh bards—aud there, Melioganus, I or Meliograunce, who amidst piles of dead, when

but two is frequently mentioned as a lover of the king's knights are left alive, T of the queen's, who lays an ambus father and son fall by each other's cade for her in the wood, s as she hand.

a - Maying, clothed all in Arthur leaves the stage of his morgreene, and from whom Lancelot tal glory in right royal fashion. The himself delivers her. As yet, the passage which records his disappearWelsh or Briton claimants in this ance, and which has given the name case of Lancelot must rest content of Mort d'Arthure to the whole of with a verdict of “not proven.' this body of legend, may claim to But will they not claim Sir Gala- stand almost unrivalled, for the grand had as the "holy knight Iltud” of simplicity of its conception and lanthe Triads-one who guarded the guage, amongst the masterpieces of Graal”—Iltud Farchog, the knight,” English prose. It is too well known par excellence,“ devoted to the law to justify extraction here. How the of God and faith in Christ”? || brothers Sir Lucan and Sir Bedi

The breach between Lancelot and vere, sole survivors of that deadly

rides «

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Mabinogion, i. 91.

+ Romans de la Table Ronde, p. 58, &c. # Mort d'Arthure, i. 285, 289; iii. 242.

& From this circumstance, Dafydd ab Gwilym calls him Melwas yn glâs gôg—in the green cloak.”

|| See Rees's Welsh Saints, p. 179. The names of Launslot du Lac," and " Galath ab Llaunslot," appear in some of the Triads; but these are evidently of later date, and the names of French origin. It is difficult to fix the dates of the Triads with any certainty, as they were not collected until the twelfth century.

1 According to the Welsh legend, three warriors escape from the battle ; Morvran, son of Tegid, “whom none struck by reason of his ugliness-all thought he was a helping devil; Sandde Bryd Angel, who escaped untouched because of his beauty

-"all thought he was a ministering angel ;” and Kynwyl Sant, the last who parted from Arthur. (Mabin, Kilhwch, and Olwen.)

fight, left the king to carry him “ to Matthew Paris both relate that besome toune;" how, in the effort, Sir tween two pyramidal stones, sixteen Lucan, wounded as he is to the death, feet deep in the earth, the diggers swoons and falls—“and his noble came to a hollow oak which contained heart brast;" how Arthur, knowing the bones of the king ; his thigh-bone that “his time hieth fast,”. bids Sir of gigantic dimensions, with ten or Bedivere take Excalibur, his good more wounds on the head-one large sword, and cast it into the water,

one, supposed to be the cause of dea and bring him word of what he shall Beside him lay Queen Guenever, a see there; how Sir Bedivere, as he lock of whose hair was found still looks upon the "pummell and baft yellow and beautiful, plaited with all of precious stones,” thinks it wondrous art, “which a monk lifted “sinne and shame to throw away up, and it crumbled into dust."* that noble sword,” and twice hides Above lay a leaden cross (“nos it, and returns answer to the dying quoque vidimus et tractavimus.” king's inquiry, that he had done his

we ourselves have seen and handled bidding, but had seen nothing, but it,” says Giraldus) which bore the "water wap, and waves waune;" and following inscription :-“Hic jacet how at the last, after stern chiding inclytus rex Arturus [cum Weneveria for his faithlessness, he "threw the

uxore sua secunda+] in insula Ava-. sword into the water as far as he lonia." The monks removed both might, and there came an arme and a bodies into the church, and erected hand above the water and met it over them a noble mausoleum, with and caught it, and so shook it thrice this epitaphand brandished ; and then the hand vanished away with the sword in the

“Hic jacet Arturus, flos regum, gloria water” – is not all this written in

regni, the chronicles of a thousand memo

Quem mores, probitas, commendant

laude perenni ;" ries?

So Sir Bedivere carries his lord with which Leland being dissatisfied, down to the water-side, where there wrote a longer one himself, which we waits a barge with many fair ladies will spare the reader. Richard Cour -amongst them the royal sorceress, de Lion is said to have visited this Morgan la Fay-no longer, as it tomb at Glastonbury, and to have would seem, her brother's enemy- been presented by its guardians with the Queen of North Wales, the the actual sword Excalibur, which he queen of the waste-lands, and subsequently transferred to Tancred Nimue, “chief lady of the lake ;” of Sicily. After an intermediate and they bear him away to Glaston- translation (according to the Glasbury, where an aged hermit, “that tonbury story), Edward I. and his had some time been Archbishop of queen made a pilgrimage to the spot Canterbury,” buries him at midnight. in 1276, saw the bodies, which had

At Glastonbury, it was said and been deposited in two chests, with long believed, his tomb was found the pictures of both, and their arms in the year 1191; King Henry painted on the lids — “ the queen II. having obtained the clue to crowned ”—the king, “with the abthe locality (always preserved in scission of the left ear, and the marks bardic tradition) from a Welsh bard of his mortal wound”—and removed at Pembroke; and certainly, if the them to the front of the high altar, most minute circumstantial evidence with an inscription recording the even of some who professed to be eye- fact. Even so they were not to witnesses could be taken as sufficient rest; for in Edward III.'s time, in proof, it was not wanting in this 1368, they are said to have been instance. Giraldus Cambrensis and moved again. Leland himself appears


See LELAND's Collect., v. 51. He quotes for these particulars a monk of Glas. tonbury, whom he calls Sylvester. He remarks (Collect., ii. 12) that the words within brackets in the inscription were interpolated by him. + Arthur is said to have had three wives, all named Guenever.

Chron. Joh. Brompton, c. 1195. VOL LXXXVIII.-NO. DXXXIX.

2 A

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