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Tales of the Enchanted Islands of the Atlantic

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Author Topic: Tales of the Enchanted Islands of the Atlantic  (Read 1085 times)
Kabrina Teppe
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« Reply #15 on: November 29, 2008, 04:31:22 am »

p. 39

VI
THE CASTLE OF THE ACTIVE DOOR

Perfect is my chair in Caer Sidi;
Plague and age hurt not who's in it--
They know, Manawydan and Pryderi.
Three organs round a fire sing before it,
And about its points are ocean's streams
And the abundant well above it--
Sweeter than white wine the drink in it.

Peredur, the knight, rode through the wild woods of the Enchanted Island until he arrived on clear ground outside the forest. Then he beheld a castle on level ground in the middle of a meadow; and round the castle flowed a stream, and inside the castle there were large and spacious halls with great windows. Drawing nearer the castle, he saw it to be turning more rapidly than any wind blows. On the ramparts he saw archers shooting so vigorously that no armor would protect against them; there were also men blowing horns so loud that

p. 40

the earth appeared to tremble; and at the gates were lions, in iron chains, roaring so violently that one might fancy that the castle and the woods were ready to be uprooted. Neither the lions nor the warriors resisted Peredur, but he found a woman sitting by the gate, who offered to carry him on her back to the hall. This was the queen Rhiannon, who, having been accused of having caused the death of her child, was sentenced to remain seven years sitting by the gate, to tell her story to every one, and to offer to carry all strangers on her back into the castle.

But so soon as Peredur had entered it, the castle vanished away, and he found himself standing on the bare ground. The queen Rhiannon was left beside him, and she remained on the island with her son Pryderi and his wife. Queen Rhiannon married for her second husband a person named Manawydan. One day they ascended a mound called Arberth which was well known for its wonders, and as they sat there they heard a clap of thunder, followed by mist so thick that they could not see one another. When it grew light again, they looked around

p. 41

them and found that all dwellings and animals had vanished; there was no smoke or fire anywhere or work of human hands; all their household had disappeared, and there were left only Pryderi and Manawydan with their wives. Wandering from place to place, they found no human beings; but they lived by hunting, fishing, and gathering wild honey. After visiting foreign lands, they returned to their island home. One day when they were out hunting, a wild boar of pure white color sprang from a bush, and as they saw him they retreated, and they saw also the Turning Castle. The boar, watching his opportunity, sprang into it, and the dogs followed, and Pryderi said, "I will go into this castle and get tidings of the dogs." "Go not," said Manawydan; "whoever has cast a spell over this land and deprived us of our dwelling has placed this castle here." But Pryderi replied, "Of a truth I cannot give up my dogs." So he watched for the opportunity and went in. He saw neither boar nor dogs, neither man nor beast; but on the centre of the castle floor he saw a fountain with marble work around it, and on the margin

p. 42

of the fountain a golden bowl upon a marble slab, and in the air hung chains, of which he could see no end. He was much delighted with the beauty of the gold and the rich workmanship of the bowl and went up to lay hold of it. The moment he touched it, his fingers clung to the bowl, and his feet to the slab; and all his joyousness forsook him so that he could not utter a word. And thus he stood.

Manawydan waited for him until evening, but hearing nothing either of him or of the dogs, he returned home. When he entered, Rhiannon, who was his wife and who was also Pryderi's mother, looked at him. "Where," she said, "are Pryderi and the dogs?" "This is what has happened to me," he said; and he told her. "An evil companion hast thou been," she said, "and a good companion hast thou lost." With these words she went out and proceeded towards the Castle of the Active Door. Getting in, she saw Pryderi taking hold of the bowl, and she went towards him. "What dost thou here?" she said, and she took hold of the bowl for herself; and then her hands became fast to it, and

 



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''The hands of Pryderi and Rhiannon were held fast by the enchanted bowl, and their feet by the enchanted slab; and their joyousness forsook them, and they could not utter a word.''--p. 42



 

p. 43

her feet to the slab, and she could not speak a word. Then came thunder and a fall of mist; thereupon the Castle of the Active Door vanished and never was seen again. Rhiannon and Pryderi also vanished.

When Kigva, the wife of Pryderi, saw this, she sorrowed so that she cared not if she lived or died. No one was left on the island but Manawydan and herself. They wandered away to other lands and sought to earn their living; then they came back to their island, bringing with them one bag of wheat which they planted. It throve and grew, and when the time of harvest came it was most promising, so that Manawydan resolved to reap it on the morrow. At break of day he came back to begin; but found nothing left but straw. Every stalk had been cut close to the ground and carried away.

Going to another field, he found it ripe, but on coming in the morning he found but the straw. "Some one has contrived my ruin," he said; "I will watch the third field to see what happens. He who stole the first will come to steal this."

He remained through the evening to watch the

p. 44

grain, and at midnight he heard loud thunder. He looked and saw coming a host of mice such as no man could number; each mouse took a stalk of the wheat and climbed it, so that it bent to the ground; then each mouse cut off the ear and ran away with it. They all did this, leaving the stalk bare, and there was not a single straw for which there was not a mouse. He struck among them, but could no more fix his sight on any of them, the legend says, than on flies and birds in the air, except one which seemed heavier than the rest, and moved slowly. This one he pursued and caught, put it in his glove and tied it with a string. Taking it home, he showed it to Kigva, and told her that he was going to hang the mouse next day. She advised against it, but he persisted, and on the next morning took the animal to the top of the Mound of Arberth, where he placed two wooden forks in the ground, and set up a small gallows.

While doing this, he saw a clerk coming to him in old, threadbare clothes. It was now seven years since he had seen a human being

p. 45

there, except the friends he had lost and Kigva who survived them. The clerk bade him good day and said he was going back to his country from England, where he had been singing. Then the clerk asked Manawydan what he was doing. "Hanging a thief," said he; and when the clerk saw that it was a mouse, he offered a pound to release it, but Manawydan refused. Then a priest came riding up and offered him three pounds to release the mouse; but this offer was declined. Then he made a noose round the mouse's neck, and while he did this, a bishop's whole retinue came riding towards him. The bishop seemed, like everybody else, to be very desirous of rescuing the mouse; he offered first seven pounds, and then twenty-four, and then added all his horses and equipages; but Manawydan still refused. The bishop finally asked him to name any price he pleased. "The liberation of Rhiannon and Pryderi," he said. "Thou shalt have it," said the bishop. "And the removal of the enchantment," said Manawydan. "That also," said the bishop, "if you will only restore the

p. 46

mouse." "Why?" said the other. "Because," said the bishop, "she is my wife." "Why did she come to me?" asked Manawydan. "To steal," was the reply. "When it was known that you were inhabiting the island, my household came to me, begging me to transform them into mice. The first and second nights they came alone, but the third night my wife and the ladies of the court wished also to accompany them, and I transformed them also; and now you have promised to let her go." "Not so," said the other, "except with a promise that there shall be no more such enchantment practised, and no vengeance on Pryderi and Rhiannon, or on me." This being promised, the bishop said, "Now wilt thou release my wife?" "No, by my faith," said Manawydan, "not till I see Pryderi and Rhiannon free before my eyes." "Here they are coming," said the bishop; and when they had been embraced by Manawydan, he let go the mouse; the bishop touched it with a wand, and it became the most beautiful young woman that ever was seen. "Now look

p. 47

round upon the country," said the bishop, "and see the dwellings and the crops returned," and the enchantment was removed.

"The Land of Illusion and the Realm of Glamour" is the name given by the old romancers to the south-west part of Wales, and to all the islands off the coast. Indeed, it was believed, ever since the days of the Greek writer, Plutarch, that some peculiar magic belonged to these islands; and every great storm that happened among them was supposed to be caused by the death of one of the wondrous enchanters who dwelt in that region. When it was over, the islanders said, "Some one of the mighty has passed away."



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Kabrina Teppe
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« Reply #16 on: November 29, 2008, 04:31:56 am »

p. 48

VII
MERLIN THE ENCHANTER
In one of the old books called Welsh Triads, in which all things are classed by threes, there is a description of three men called "The Three Generous Heroes of the Isle of Britain." One of these--named Nud or Nodens, and later called Merlin--was first brought from the sea, it is stated, with a herd of cattle consisting of 21,000 milch cows, which are supposed to mean those waves of the sea that the poets often describe as White Horses. He grew up to be a king and warrior, a magician and prophet, and on the whole the most important figure in the Celtic traditions. He came from the sea and at last returned to it, but meanwhile he did great works on land, one of which is said to have been the building of Stonehenge.

This is the way, as the old legends tell, in which the vast stones of Stonehenge came to

p. 49

be placed on Salisbury Plain. It is a thing which has always been a puzzle to every one, inasmuch as their size and weight are enormous, and there is no stone of the same description to be found within hundreds of miles of Salisbury Plain, where they now stand.

The legend is that Pendragon, king of England, was led to fight a great battle by seeing a dragon in the air. The battle was won, but Pendragon was killed and was buried on Salisbury Plain, where the fight had taken place. When his brother Uther took his place, Merlin the enchanter advised him to paint a dragon on a flag and bear it always before him to bring good fortune, and this he always did. Then Merlin said to him, "Wilt thou do nothing more on the Plain of Salisbury, to honor thy brother?" The King said, "What shall be done?" Then Merlin said, "I will cause a thing to be done that will endure to the world's end." Then he bade Utherpendragon, as he called the new king, to send many ships and men to Ireland, and he showed him stones such as seemed far too large and heavy to

p. 50

bring, but he placed them by his magic art upon the boats and bore them to England; and he devised means to transport them and to set them on end, "for they shall seem fairer so than if they were lying." And there they are to this day.

This was the way in which Merlin would sometimes obtain the favor and admiration of young ladies. There was a maiden of twelve named Nimiane or Vivian, the daughter of King Dionas, and Merlin changed himself into the appearance of "a fair young squire," that he might talk with her beside a fountain, described in the legends as "a well, whereof the springs were fair and the water clear and the gravel so fair that it seemed of fine silver." By degrees he made acquaintance with the child, who told him who she was, adding, "And what are you, fair, sweet friend?" "Damsel," said Merlin, "I am a travelling squire, seeking for my master, who has taught me wonderful things." "And what master is that?" she asked. "It is one," he said, "who has taught me so much that I could here erect for you a castle,

 

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« Reply #17 on: November 29, 2008, 04:32:44 am »



''Merlin, changed into the appearance of a fair young squire, by degrees made acquaintance with Vivian, who told him who she was.''--p. 50
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« Reply #18 on: November 29, 2008, 04:34:00 am »

p. 51

and I could make many people outside to attack it and inside to defend it; nay, I could go upon this water and not wet my feet, and I could make a river where water had never been."

"These are strange feats," said the maiden, "and I wish that I could thus disport myself." "I can do yet greater things," said Merlin, "and no one can devise anything which I cannot do, and I can also make it to endure forever." "Indeed," said the girl, "I would always love you if you could show me some such wonders." "For your love," he answered, "I will show you some of these wondrous plays, and I will ask no more of you." Then Merlin turned and described a circle with a wand and then came and sat by her again at the fountain. At noon she saw coming out of the forest many ladies and knights and squires, holding each other by the hand and singing in the greatest joy; then came men with timbrels and tabours and dancing, so that one could not tell one-fourth part of the sports that went on. Then Merlin caused an orchard to grow, with all manner of fruit and

p. 52

flowers; and the maiden cared for nothing but to listen to their singing, "Truly love begins in joy, but ends in grief." The festival continued from mid-day to even-song; and King Dionas and his courtiers came out to see it, and marvelled whence these strange people came. Then when the carols were ended, the ladies and maidens sat down on the green grass and fresh flowers, and the squires set up a game of tilting called quintain upon the meadows and played till even-song; and then Merlin came to the damsel and asked if he had done what he promised for her. "Fair, sweet friend," said she, "you have done so much that I am all yours." "Let me teach you," he answered, "and I will show you many wonders that no woman ever learned so many."

Merlin and this young damsel always remained friends, and he taught her many wonderful arts, one of which was (this we must regret) a spell by which she might put her parents to sleep whenever he visited her; while another lesson was (this being more unexceptionable) in the use of three words, by saying which she

p. 53

might at any time keep at a distance any men who tried to molest her. He stayed eight days near her, and in those days taught her many of the most "wonderful things that any mortal heart could think of, things past and things that were done and said, and a part of what was to come; and she put them in writing, and then Merlin departed from her and came to Benoyk, where the king, Arthur, rested, so that glad were they when they saw Merlin."

The relations between Merlin and Arthur are unlike those ever held towards a king even by an enchanter in any legend. Even in Homer there is no one described, except the gods, as having such authority over a ruler. Merlin came and went as he pleased and under any form he might please. He foretold the result of a battle, ordered up troops, brought aid from a distance. He rebuked the bravest knights for cowardice; as when Ban, Bors, and Gawain had concealed themselves behind some bushes during a fight. "Is this," he said to King Arthur and Sir Bors, "the war and the help that you do to your friends who have put

p. 54

themselves in adventure of death in many a need, and ye come hither to hide for cowardice." Then the legend says, "When the king understood the words of Merlin, he bowed his head for shame," and the other knights acknowledged their fault. Then Merlin took the dragon banner which he had given them and said that he would bear it himself; "for the banner of a king," he said, "should not be hid in battle,--but borne in the foremost front." Then Merlin rode forth and cried with a loud voice, "Now shall be shown who is a knight." And the knights, seeing Merlin, exclaimed that he was "a full noble man"; and "without fail," says the legend, "he was full of marvellous powers and strength of body and great and long stature; but brown he was and lean and rough of hair." Then he rode in among the enemy on a great black horse; and the golden dragon which he had made and had attached to the banner gave out from its throat such a flaming fire that the air was black with its smoke; and all King Arthur's men began to fight again more stoutly, and Arthur himself held the bridle reins in his

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left hand, and so wielded his sword with his right as to slay two hundred men.

There was no end to Merlin's disguises--sometimes as an old man, sometimes as a boy or a dwarf, then as a woman, then as an ignorant clown;--but the legends always give him some object to accomplish, some work to do, and there was always a certain dignity about him, even when helping King Arthur, as he sometimes did, to do wrong things. His fame extended over all Britain, and also through Brittany, now a part of France, where the same poetic legends extended. This, for instance, is a very old Breton song about him:--


    MERLIN THE DIVINER

Merlin! Merlin! where art thou going
So early in the day, with thy black dog?
Oi! oi! oi! oi! oi! oi! oi! oi! oi! oi! oi!
Oi! oi! oi! oi! oi!

I have come here to search the way,
To find the red egg;
The red egg of the marine serpent,
By the seaside, in the hollow of the stone. p. 56

I am going to seek in the valley
The green water-cress, and the golden grass,
And the top branch of the oak,
In the wood by the side of the fountain.

Merlin! Merlin! retrace your steps;
Leave the branch on the oak,
And the green water-cress in the valley,
As well as the golden grass;
And leave the red egg of the marine serpent
In the foam by the hollow of the stone.
Merlin! Merlin! retrace thy steps;
There is no diviner but God.


Merlin was supposed to know the past, the present, and the future, and to be able to assume the form of any animal, and even that of a menhir, or huge standing stone. Before history began he ruled in Britain, then a delightful island of flowery meadows. His subjects were "small people" (fairies), and their lives were a continued festival of singing, playing, and enjoyment. The sage ruled them as a father, his familiar servant being a tame wolf. He also possessed a kingdom, beneath the waves, where everything was beautiful, the

p. 57

inhabitants being charming little beings, with waves of long, fair hair falling on their shoulders in curls. Fruits and milk composed the food of all, meat and fish being held in abhorrence. The only want felt was of the full light of the sun, which, coming to them through the water, was but faint, and cast no shadow.

Here was the famous workshop where Merlin forged the enchanted sword so celebrated by the bards, and where the stones were found by which alone the sword could be sharpened. Three British heroes were fated to wield this blade in turn; viz., Lemenisk the leaper (Leim, meaning leap), Utherpendragon, and his son King Arthur. By orders of this last hero, when mortally wounded, it was flung into the sea, where it will remain till he returns to restore the rule of his country to the faithful British race.

The bard once amused and puzzled the court by entering the hall as a blind boy led by a greyhound, playing on his harp, and demanding as recompense to be allowed to carry the king's banner in an approaching battle. Being

p. 58

refused on account of his blindness he vanished, and the king of Brittany mentioned his suspicions that this was one of Merlin's elfin tricks. Arthur was disturbed, for he had promised to give the child anything except his honor, his kingdom, his wife, and his sword. However, while he continued to fret, there entered the hall a poor child about eight years old, with shaved head, features of livid tint, eyes of light gray, barefooted, barelegged, and a whip knotted over his shoulders in the manner affected by horse-boys. Speaking and looking like an idiot, he asked the king's permission to bear the royal ensign in the approaching battle with the giant Rion. The courtiers laughed, but Arthur, suspecting a new joke on Merlin's part, granted the demand, and then Merlin stood in his own proper person before the company.

He also seems to have taught people many things in real science, especially the women, who were in those days more studious than the men, or at least had less leisure. For instance, the legend says of Morgan le fay (or la fée), King Arthur's sister, "she was a noble clergesse

p. 59

[paragraph continues] (meaning that she could read and write, like the clergy), and of astronomy could she enough, for Merlin had her taught, and she learned much of egromancy (magic or necromancy); and the best work-woman she was with her hands that any man knew in any land, and she had the fairest head and the fairest hands under heaven, and shoulders well-shapen; and she had fair eloquence and full debonair she was, as long as she was in her right wit; and when she was wroth with any man, she was evil to meet." This lady was one of Merlin's pupils, but the one whom he loved most and instructed the most was Nimiane or Vivian, already mentioned, who seems to have been to him rather a beloved younger sister than anything else, and he taught her so much that "at last he might hold himself a fool," the legend says, "and ever she inquired of his cunning and his mysteries, each thing by itself, and he let her know all, and she wrote all that he said, as she was well learned in clergie (reading and writing), and learned lightly all that Merlin taught her; and when they parted, each of them commended the other to God full tenderly."

p. 60

The form of the enchanter Merlin disappeared from view, at last--for the legends do not admit that his life ever ended--across the sea whence he came.

The poet Tennyson, to be sure, describes Nimiane or Vivian--the Lady of the Lake--as a wicked enchantress who persuaded Merlin to betray his secrets to her, and then shut him up in an oak tree forever. But other legends seem to show that Tennyson does great injustice to the Lady of the Lake, that she really loved Merlin even in his age, and therefore persuaded him to show her how to make a tower without walls,--that they might dwell there together in peace, and address each other only as Brother and Sister. When he had told her, he fell asleep with his head in her lap, and she wove a spell nine times around his head, and the tower became the strongest in the world. Some of the many legends place this tower in the forest of Broceliande; while others transport it afar to a magic island, where Merlin dwells with his nine bards, and where Vivian alone can come or go through the magic walls. Some legends describe

p. 61

it as an enclosure "neither of iron nor steel nor timber nor of stone, but of the air, without any other thing but enchantment, so strong that it may never be undone while the world endureth." Here dwells Merlin, it is said, with nine favorite bards who took with them the thirteen treasures of England. These treasures are said to have been:--

1. A sword; if any man drew it except the owner, it burst into a flame from the cross to the point. All who asked it received it; but because of this peculiarity all shunned it.

2. A basket; if food for one man were put into it, when opened it would be found to contain food for one hundred.

3. A horn; what liquor soever was desired was found therein.

4. A chariot; whoever sat in it would be immediately wheresoever he wished.

5. A halter, which was in a staple below the feet of a bed; and whatever horse one wished for in it, he would find it there.

6. A knife, which would serve four-and twenty men at meat all at once.

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7. A caldron; if meat were put into it to boil for a coward, it would never be boiled; but if meat were put in it for a brave man, it would be boiled forthwith.

8. A whetstone; if the sword of a brave man were sharpened thereon, and any one were wounded therewith, he would be sure to die; but if it were that of a coward that was sharpened on it, he would be none the worse.

9. A garment; if a man of gentle birth put it on, it suited him well; but if a churl, it would not fit him.

10, 11. A pan and a platter; whatever food was required was found therein.

12. A chessboard; when the men were placed upon it, they would play of themselves. The chessboard was of gold, and the men of silver.

13. The mantle of Arthur; whosoever was beneath it could see everything, while no one could see him.

It is towards this tower, some legends say, that Merlin was last seen by some Irish monks, sailing away westward, with a maiden, in a boat of crystal, beneath a sunset sky.



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« Reply #19 on: November 29, 2008, 04:34:46 am »

p. 63

VIII
SIR LANCELOT OF THE LAKE
SIR LANCELOT, the famous knight, was the son of a king and queen against whom their subjects rebelled; the king was killed, the queen taken captive, when a fairy rose in a cloud of mist and carried away the infant Lancelot from where he had been left beneath a tree. The queen, after weeping on the body of her husband, looked round and saw a lady standing by the water-side, holding the queen's child in her arms. "Fair, sweet friend," said the queen, "give me back my child." The fairy made no reply, but dived into the water; and the queen was taken to an abbey, where she was known as the Queen of Great Griefs. The Lady of the Lake took the child to her own home, which was an island in the middle of the sea and surrounded by impassable walls. From this the lady had her

p. 64

name of Dame du Lac, or the Lady of the Lake (or Sea), and her foster son was called Lancelot du Lac, while the realm was called Meidelant, or the Land of Maidens.

Lancelot dwelt thenceforward in the castle, on the island. When he was eight years old he received a tutor who was to instruct him in all knightly knowledge; he learned to use bow and spear and to ride on horseback, and some cousins of his were also brought thither by the Lady of the Lake to be his comrades. When he was eighteen he wished to go to King Arthur's court that he might be a knight.

On the eve of St. John, as King Arthur returned from the chase, and by the high road approached Camelot, he met a fair company. In the van went two youths, leading two white mules, one freighted with a silken pavilion, the other with robes proper for a newly made knight; the mules bore two chests, holding the hauberk and the iron boots. Next came two squires, clad in white robes and mounted on white horses, carrying a silver shield and a shining helmet; after these, two others, with a sword

p. 65

in a white sheath and a white charger. Behind followed squires and servants in white coats, three damsels dressed in white, the two sons of King Bors; and, last of all, the fairy with the youth she loved. Her robe was of white samite lined with ermine; her white palfrey had a silver bit, while her breastplate, stirrups, and saddle were of ivory, carved with figures of ladies and knights, and her white housings trailed on the ground.

When she perceived the king, she responded to his salutation, and said, after she had lowered her wimple and displayed her face: "Sir, may God bless the best of kings! I come to implore a boon, which it shall cost you nothing to grant." "Damsel, even it should cost me dear, you should not be refused; what is it you would have me do?" "Sir, dub this varlet a knight, and array him in the arms he bringeth, whenever he desireth." "Your mercy, damsel! to bring me such a youth! Assuredly, I will dub him whenever he will; but it shameth me to abandon my custom, for 'tis my wont to furnish with garments and

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arms such as come thither to receive chivalry." The lady replied that she desired the youth to carry the arms she had intended him to wear, and if she were refused, she would address herself elsewhere. Sir Ewain said that so fair a youth ought not to be denied, and the king yielded to her entreaty. She returned thanks, and bade the varlet retain the mules and the charger, with the two squires; and after that, she prepared to return as she had come, in spite of the urgency of the king, who had begged her to remain in his court. "At least," he cried, "tell us by what name are you known ?" "Sir," she answered, "I am called the Lady of the Lake."

For a long way, Lancelot escorted the fairy, who said to him as she took leave: "King's son, you are derived from lineage the most noble on earth; see to it that your worth be as great as your beauty. To-morrow you will ask the king to bestow on you knighthood; when you are armed, you will not tarry in his house a single night. Abide in one place no longer than you can help, and refrain from

p. 67

declaring your name until others proclaim it. Be prepared to accomplish every adventure, and never let another man complete a task which you yourself have undertaken." With that, she gave him a ring that had the property of dissolving enchantment, and commended him to God.

On the morrow, Lancelot arrayed himself in his fairest robes, and sued for knighthood, as he had been commanded to do. Sir Ewain attended him to court, where they dismounted in front of the palace; the king and queen advanced to meet them; each took Sir Ewain by a hand, and seated him on a couch, while the varlet stood in their presence on the rushes that strewed the floor. All gazed with pleasure, and the queen prayed that God might make him noble, for he possessed as much beauty as was possible for man to have.

After this he had many perilous adventures; he fought with giants and lions; he entered an enchanted castle and escaped; he went to a well in the forest, and, striking three times on a cymbal with a hammer hung there for the

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purpose, called forth a great giant, whom he slew, afterwards marrying his daughter. Then he went to rescue the queen of the realm, Gwenivere, from captivity. In order to reach the fortress where she was prisoner, he had to ride in a cart with a dwarf; to follow a wheel that rolled before him to show him the way, or a ball that took the place of the wheel; he had to walk on his hands and knees across a bridge made of a drawn sword; he suffered greatly. At last he rescued the queen, and later than this he married Elaine, the daughter of King Pelles, and her father gave to them the castle of Blyaunt in the Joyous Island, enclosed in iron, and with a deep water all around it. There Lancelot challenged all knights to come and contend with him, and he jousted with more than five hundred, overcoming them all, yet killing none, and at last he returned to Camelot, the place of King Arthur's court.

One day he was called from the court to an abbey, where three nuns brought to him a beautiful boy of fifteen, asking that he might be made a knight. This was Sir Lancelot's

p. 69

own son, Galahad, whom he had never seen, and did not yet know. That evening Sir Lancelot remained at the abbey with the boy, that he might keep his vigil there, and on the morrow's dawn he was made a knight. Sir Lancelot put on one of his spurs, and Bors, Lancelot's cousin, the other, and then Sir Lancelot said to the boy, "Fair son, attend me to the court of the king;" but the abbess said, "Sir, not now, but we will send him when it shall be time."

On Whitsunday, at the time called "underne," which was nine in the morning, King Arthur and his knights sat at the Round Table, where on every seat there was written, in letters of gold, the name of a knight with "here ought to sit he," or "he ought to sit here;" and thus went the inscriptions until they came to one seat (or siège in French) called the "Siege Perilous," where they found newly written letters of gold, saying that this seat could not be occupied until four hundred and fifty years after the death of Christ; and that was this very day. Then there came news

p. 70

of a marvellous stone which had been seen above the water, with a sword sticking in it bearing the letters, "Never shall man take me hence, but only he by whose side I ought to hang, and he shall be the best knight of the world." Then two of the knights tried to draw the sword and failed to draw it, and Sir Lancelot, who was thought the best knight in all the world, refused to attempt it. Then they went back to their seats around the table.

Then when all the seats but the "Siege Perilous" were full, the hall was suddenly darkened; and an old man clad in white, whom nobody knew, came in, with a young knight in red armor, wearing an empty scabbard at his side, who said, "Peace be with you, fair knights." The old man said, "I bring you here a young knight that is of kings' lineage," and the king said, "Sir, ye are right heartily welcome." Then the old man bade the young knight to remove his armor, and he wore a red garment, while the old man placed on his shoulders a mantle of fine ermine, and said, "Sir, follow after." Then the old man led him to the "Siege

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[paragraph continues] Perilous," next to Sir Lancelot, and lifted the cloth and read, "Here sits Sir Galahad," and the youth sat down. Upon this, all the knights of the Round Table marvelled greatly at Sir Galahad, that he dared to sit in that seat, and he so tender of age. Then King Arthur took him by the hand and led him down to the river to see the adventure of the stone. "Sir," said the king to Sir Galahad, "here is a great marvel, where right good knights have tried and failed." "Sir," said Sir Galahad, "that is no marvel, for the adventure was not theirs, but mine; I have brought no sword with me, for here by my side hangs the scabbard," and he laid his hand on the sword and lightly drew it from the stone.

It was not until long after, and when they both had had many adventures, that Sir Lancelot discovered Galahad to be his son. Sir Lancelot once came to the sea-strand and found a ship without sails or oars, and sailed away upon it. Once, when he touched at an island, a young knight came on board to whom Lancelot said, "Sir, you are welcome," and when the young

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knight asked his name, told him, "My name is Sir Lancelot du Lac." "Sir," he said, "then you are welcome, for you are my father." "Ah," said Lancelot, "are you Sir Galahad?" Then the young knight kneeled down and asked his blessing, and they embraced each other, and there was great joy between them, and they told each other all their deeds. So dwelt Sir Lancelot and Sir Galahad together within that ship for half a year, and often they arrived at islands far from men where there were but wild beasts, and they found many adventures strange and perilous which they brought to an end.

When Sir Lancelot at last died, his body was taken to Joyous-Gard, his home, and there it lay in state in the choir, with a hundred torches blazing above it; and while it was there, came his brother Sir Ector de Maris, who had long been seeking Lancelot. When he heard such noise and saw such lights in the choir, he alighted and came in; and Sir Bors went towards him and told him that his brother Lancelot was lying dead. Then Sir Ector threw his shield and sword and helm from him, and when he looked

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on Sir Lancelot's face he fell down in a swoon, and when he rose he spoke thus: "Ah, Sir Lancelot," said he, "thou wert dead of all Christen knights! And now I dare say, that, Sir Lancelot, there thou liest, thou wert never matched of none earthly knight's hands; and thou wert the curtiest knight that ever beare shield; and thou wert the truest friend to thy lover that ever bestrood horse, and thou wert the truest lover of a sinful man that ever loved woman; and thou wert the kindest man that ever strooke with sword; and thou wert the goodliest person that ever came among presse of knights; and thou wert the meekest man and the gentlest that ever eate in hall among ladies; and thou wert the sternest knight to thy mortall foe that ever put speare in the rest."



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« Reply #20 on: November 29, 2008, 04:35:04 am »

p. 63

VIII
SIR LANCELOT OF THE LAKE
SIR LANCELOT, the famous knight, was the son of a king and queen against whom their subjects rebelled; the king was killed, the queen taken captive, when a fairy rose in a cloud of mist and carried away the infant Lancelot from where he had been left beneath a tree. The queen, after weeping on the body of her husband, looked round and saw a lady standing by the water-side, holding the queen's child in her arms. "Fair, sweet friend," said the queen, "give me back my child." The fairy made no reply, but dived into the water; and the queen was taken to an abbey, where she was known as the Queen of Great Griefs. The Lady of the Lake took the child to her own home, which was an island in the middle of the sea and surrounded by impassable walls. From this the lady had her

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name of Dame du Lac, or the Lady of the Lake (or Sea), and her foster son was called Lancelot du Lac, while the realm was called Meidelant, or the Land of Maidens.

Lancelot dwelt thenceforward in the castle, on the island. When he was eight years old he received a tutor who was to instruct him in all knightly knowledge; he learned to use bow and spear and to ride on horseback, and some cousins of his were also brought thither by the Lady of the Lake to be his comrades. When he was eighteen he wished to go to King Arthur's court that he might be a knight.

On the eve of St. John, as King Arthur returned from the chase, and by the high road approached Camelot, he met a fair company. In the van went two youths, leading two white mules, one freighted with a silken pavilion, the other with robes proper for a newly made knight; the mules bore two chests, holding the hauberk and the iron boots. Next came two squires, clad in white robes and mounted on white horses, carrying a silver shield and a shining helmet; after these, two others, with a sword

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in a white sheath and a white charger. Behind followed squires and servants in white coats, three damsels dressed in white, the two sons of King Bors; and, last of all, the fairy with the youth she loved. Her robe was of white samite lined with ermine; her white palfrey had a silver bit, while her breastplate, stirrups, and saddle were of ivory, carved with figures of ladies and knights, and her white housings trailed on the ground.

When she perceived the king, she responded to his salutation, and said, after she had lowered her wimple and displayed her face: "Sir, may God bless the best of kings! I come to implore a boon, which it shall cost you nothing to grant." "Damsel, even it should cost me dear, you should not be refused; what is it you would have me do?" "Sir, dub this varlet a knight, and array him in the arms he bringeth, whenever he desireth." "Your mercy, damsel! to bring me such a youth! Assuredly, I will dub him whenever he will; but it shameth me to abandon my custom, for 'tis my wont to furnish with garments and

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arms such as come thither to receive chivalry." The lady replied that she desired the youth to carry the arms she had intended him to wear, and if she were refused, she would address herself elsewhere. Sir Ewain said that so fair a youth ought not to be denied, and the king yielded to her entreaty. She returned thanks, and bade the varlet retain the mules and the charger, with the two squires; and after that, she prepared to return as she had come, in spite of the urgency of the king, who had begged her to remain in his court. "At least," he cried, "tell us by what name are you known ?" "Sir," she answered, "I am called the Lady of the Lake."

For a long way, Lancelot escorted the fairy, who said to him as she took leave: "King's son, you are derived from lineage the most noble on earth; see to it that your worth be as great as your beauty. To-morrow you will ask the king to bestow on you knighthood; when you are armed, you will not tarry in his house a single night. Abide in one place no longer than you can help, and refrain from

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declaring your name until others proclaim it. Be prepared to accomplish every adventure, and never let another man complete a task which you yourself have undertaken." With that, she gave him a ring that had the property of dissolving enchantment, and commended him to God.

On the morrow, Lancelot arrayed himself in his fairest robes, and sued for knighthood, as he had been commanded to do. Sir Ewain attended him to court, where they dismounted in front of the palace; the king and queen advanced to meet them; each took Sir Ewain by a hand, and seated him on a couch, while the varlet stood in their presence on the rushes that strewed the floor. All gazed with pleasure, and the queen prayed that God might make him noble, for he possessed as much beauty as was possible for man to have.

After this he had many perilous adventures; he fought with giants and lions; he entered an enchanted castle and escaped; he went to a well in the forest, and, striking three times on a cymbal with a hammer hung there for the

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purpose, called forth a great giant, whom he slew, afterwards marrying his daughter. Then he went to rescue the queen of the realm, Gwenivere, from captivity. In order to reach the fortress where she was prisoner, he had to ride in a cart with a dwarf; to follow a wheel that rolled before him to show him the way, or a ball that took the place of the wheel; he had to walk on his hands and knees across a bridge made of a drawn sword; he suffered greatly. At last he rescued the queen, and later than this he married Elaine, the daughter of King Pelles, and her father gave to them the castle of Blyaunt in the Joyous Island, enclosed in iron, and with a deep water all around it. There Lancelot challenged all knights to come and contend with him, and he jousted with more than five hundred, overcoming them all, yet killing none, and at last he returned to Camelot, the place of King Arthur's court.

One day he was called from the court to an abbey, where three nuns brought to him a beautiful boy of fifteen, asking that he might be made a knight. This was Sir Lancelot's

p. 69

own son, Galahad, whom he had never seen, and did not yet know. That evening Sir Lancelot remained at the abbey with the boy, that he might keep his vigil there, and on the morrow's dawn he was made a knight. Sir Lancelot put on one of his spurs, and Bors, Lancelot's cousin, the other, and then Sir Lancelot said to the boy, "Fair son, attend me to the court of the king;" but the abbess said, "Sir, not now, but we will send him when it shall be time."

On Whitsunday, at the time called "underne," which was nine in the morning, King Arthur and his knights sat at the Round Table, where on every seat there was written, in letters of gold, the name of a knight with "here ought to sit he," or "he ought to sit here;" and thus went the inscriptions until they came to one seat (or siège in French) called the "Siege Perilous," where they found newly written letters of gold, saying that this seat could not be occupied until four hundred and fifty years after the death of Christ; and that was this very day. Then there came news

p. 70

of a marvellous stone which had been seen above the water, with a sword sticking in it bearing the letters, "Never shall man take me hence, but only he by whose side I ought to hang, and he shall be the best knight of the world." Then two of the knights tried to draw the sword and failed to draw it, and Sir Lancelot, who was thought the best knight in all the world, refused to attempt it. Then they went back to their seats around the table.

Then when all the seats but the "Siege Perilous" were full, the hall was suddenly darkened; and an old man clad in white, whom nobody knew, came in, with a young knight in red armor, wearing an empty scabbard at his side, who said, "Peace be with you, fair knights." The old man said, "I bring you here a young knight that is of kings' lineage," and the king said, "Sir, ye are right heartily welcome." Then the old man bade the young knight to remove his armor, and he wore a red garment, while the old man placed on his shoulders a mantle of fine ermine, and said, "Sir, follow after." Then the old man led him to the "Siege

p. 71

[paragraph continues] Perilous," next to Sir Lancelot, and lifted the cloth and read, "Here sits Sir Galahad," and the youth sat down. Upon this, all the knights of the Round Table marvelled greatly at Sir Galahad, that he dared to sit in that seat, and he so tender of age. Then King Arthur took him by the hand and led him down to the river to see the adventure of the stone. "Sir," said the king to Sir Galahad, "here is a great marvel, where right good knights have tried and failed." "Sir," said Sir Galahad, "that is no marvel, for the adventure was not theirs, but mine; I have brought no sword with me, for here by my side hangs the scabbard," and he laid his hand on the sword and lightly drew it from the stone.

It was not until long after, and when they both had had many adventures, that Sir Lancelot discovered Galahad to be his son. Sir Lancelot once came to the sea-strand and found a ship without sails or oars, and sailed away upon it. Once, when he touched at an island, a young knight came on board to whom Lancelot said, "Sir, you are welcome," and when the young

p. 72

knight asked his name, told him, "My name is Sir Lancelot du Lac." "Sir," he said, "then you are welcome, for you are my father." "Ah," said Lancelot, "are you Sir Galahad?" Then the young knight kneeled down and asked his blessing, and they embraced each other, and there was great joy between them, and they told each other all their deeds. So dwelt Sir Lancelot and Sir Galahad together within that ship for half a year, and often they arrived at islands far from men where there were but wild beasts, and they found many adventures strange and perilous which they brought to an end.

When Sir Lancelot at last died, his body was taken to Joyous-Gard, his home, and there it lay in state in the choir, with a hundred torches blazing above it; and while it was there, came his brother Sir Ector de Maris, who had long been seeking Lancelot. When he heard such noise and saw such lights in the choir, he alighted and came in; and Sir Bors went towards him and told him that his brother Lancelot was lying dead. Then Sir Ector threw his shield and sword and helm from him, and when he looked

p. 73

on Sir Lancelot's face he fell down in a swoon, and when he rose he spoke thus: "Ah, Sir Lancelot," said he, "thou wert dead of all Christen knights! And now I dare say, that, Sir Lancelot, there thou liest, thou wert never matched of none earthly knight's hands; and thou wert the curtiest knight that ever beare shield; and thou wert the truest friend to thy lover that ever bestrood horse, and thou wert the truest lover of a sinful man that ever loved woman; and thou wert the kindest man that ever strooke with sword; and thou wert the goodliest person that ever came among presse of knights; and thou wert the meekest man and the gentlest that ever eate in hall among ladies; and thou wert the sternest knight to thy mortall foe that ever put speare in the rest."



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« Reply #21 on: November 29, 2008, 04:37:01 am »

p. 74

IX
THE HALF-MAN
KING ARTHUR in his youth was fond of all manly exercises, especially of wrestling, an art in which he found few equals. The old men who had been the champions of earlier days, and who still sat, in summer evenings, watching the youths who tried their skill before them, at last told him that he had no rival in Cornwall, and that his only remaining competitor elsewhere was one who had tired out all others.

"Where is he?" said Arthur.

"He dwells," an old man said, "on an island whither you will have to go and find him. He is of all wrestlers the most formidable. You will think him at first so insignificant as to be hardly worth a contest; you will easily throw him at the first trial; but after a while you will find him growing stronger; he seeks out all

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your weak points as by magic; he never gives up; you may throw him again and again, but he will conquer you at last."

"His name! his name!" said Arthur.

"His name," they answered, "is Hanner Dyn; his home is everywhere, but on his own island you will be likely to find him sooner or later. Keep clear of him, or he will get the best of you in the end, and make you his slave as he makes slaves of others whom he has conquered."

Far and wide over the ocean the young Arthur sought; he touched at island after island; he saw many weak men who did not dare to wrestle with him, and many strong ones whom he could always throw, until at last when he was far out under the western sky, he came one day to an island which he had never before seen and which seemed uninhabited. Presently there came out from beneath an arbor of flowers a little miniature man, graceful and quick-moving as an elf. Arthur, eager in his quest, said to him, "In what island dwells Hanner Dyn?" "In this island," was the answer. "Where is

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he?" said Arthur. "I am he," said the laughing boy, taking hold of his hand.

"What did they mean by calling you a wrestler?" said Arthur.

"Oh," said the child coaxingly, "I am a wrestler. Try me."

The king took him and tossed him in the air with his strong arms, till the boy shouted with delight. He then took Arthur by the hand and led him about the island--showed him his house and where the gardens and fields were. He showed him the rows of men toiling in the meadows or felling trees. "They all work for me," he said carelessly. The king thought he had never seen a more stalwart set of laborers. Then the boy led him to the house, asked him what his favorite fruits were, or his favorite beverages, and seemed to have all at hand. He was an unaccountable little creature; in size and years he seemed a child; but in his activity and agility he seemed almost a man. When the king told him so, he smiled, as winningly as ever, and said, "That is what they call me--Hanner Dyn, The Half-Man." Laughing merrily, he

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helped Arthur into his boat and bade him farewell, urging him to come again. The King sailed away, looking back with something like affection on his winsome little playmate.

It was months before Arthur came that way again. Again the merry child met him, having grown a good deal since their earlier meeting. "How is my little wrestler?" said Arthur. "Try me," said the boy; and the king tossed him again in his arms, finding the delicate limbs firmer, and the slender body heavier than before, though easily manageable. The island was as green and more cultivated, there were more men working in the fields, and Arthur noticed that their look was not cheerful, but rather as of those who had been discouraged and oppressed.

It was, however, a charming sail to the island, and, as it became more familiar, the king often bade his steersman guide the pinnace that way. He was often startled with the rapid growth and increased strength of the laughing boy, Hanner Dyn, while at other times he seemed much as before and appeared to have made but little progress. The youth seemed never tired of wrestling;

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he always begged the king for a trial of skill, and the king rejoiced to see how readily the young wrestler caught at the tricks of the art; so that the time had long passed when even Arthur's strength could toss him lightly in the air, as at first. Hanner Dyn was growing with incredible rapidity into a tall young fellow, and instead of the weakness that often comes with rapid growth, his muscles grew ever harder and harder. Still merry and smiling, he began to wrestle in earnest, and one day, in a moment of carelessness, Arthur received a back fall, perhaps on moist ground, and measured his length. Rising with a quick motion, he laughed at the angry faces of his attendants and bade the boy farewell. The men at work in the fields glanced up, attracted by the sound of voices, and he saw them exchange looks with one another.

Yet he felt his kingly dignity a little impaired, and hastened ere long to revisit the island and teach the saucy boy another lesson. Months had passed, and the youth had expanded into a man of princely promise, but with the same sunny look. His shoulders

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were now broad, his limbs of the firmest mould, his eye clear, keen, penetrating. "Of all the wrestlers I have ever yet met," said the king, "this younker promises to be the most formidable. I can easily throw him now, but what will he be a few years hence?" The youth greeted him joyously, and they began their usual match. The sullen serfs in the fields stopped to watch them, and an aged Druid priest, whom Arthur had brought with him, to give the old man air and exercise in the boat, opened his weak eyes and closed them again.

As they began to wrestle, the king felt, by the very grasp of the youth's arms, by the firm set of his foot upon the turf, that this was to be unlike any previous effort. The wrestlers stood after the old Cornish fashion, breast to breast, each resting his chin on the other's shoulder. They grasped each other round the body, each setting his left hand above the other's right. Each tried to force the other to touch the ground with both shoulders and one hip, or with both hips and one shoulder;

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or else to compel the other to relinquish his hold for an instant--either of these successes giving the victory. Often as Arthur had tried the art, he never had been so matched before. The competitors swayed this way and that, writhed, struggled, half lost their footing and regained it, yet neither yielded. All the boatmen gathered breathlessly around, King Arthur's men refusing to believe their eyes, even when they knew their king was in danger. A stranger group was that of the sullen farm-laborers, who left their ploughs and spades, and, congregating on a rising ground, watched without any expression of sympathy the contest that was going on. An old wrestler from Cornwall, whom Arthur had brought with him, was the judge; and according to the habit of the time, the contest was for the best two bouts in three. By the utmost skill and strength, Arthur compelled Hanner Dyn to lose his hold for one instant in the first trial, and the King was pronounced the victor.

The second test was far more difficult; the boy, now grown to a man, and seeming to grow

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older and stronger before their very eyes, twice forced Arthur to the ground either with hip or shoulder, but never with both, while the crowd closed in breathlessly around; and the half-blind old Druid, who had himself been a wrestler in his youth, and who had been brought ashore to witness the contest, called warningly aloud, "Save thyself, O king!" At this Arthur roused his failing strength to one final effort, and, griping his rival round the waist with a mighty grasp, raised him bodily from the ground and threw him backward till he fell flat, like a log, on both shoulders and both hips; while Arthur himself fell fainting a moment later. Nor did he recover until he found himself in the boat, his head resting on the knees of the aged Druid, who said to him, "Never again, O king! must you encounter the danger you have barely escaped. Had you failed, you would have become subject to your opponent, whose strength has been maturing for years to overpower you. Had you yielded, you would, although a king, have become but as are those dark-browed men who till his

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fields and do his bidding. For know you not what the name Hanner Dyn means? It means--Habit; and the force of habit, at first weak, then growing constantly stronger, ends in conquering even kings!"



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« Reply #22 on: November 29, 2008, 04:38:07 am »

p. 83

X
KING ARTHUR AT AVALON
In the ruined castle at Winchester, England, built by William the Conqueror, there is a hall called "The Great Hall," where Richard Coeur de Lion was received by his nobles when rescued from captivity; where Henry III. was born; where all the Edwards held court; where Henry VIII. entertained the emperor Charles V.; where Queen Mary was married to Philip II.; where Parliament met for many years. It is now a public hall for the county; and at one end of it the visitor sees against the wall a vast wooden tablet on which the names of King Arthur's knights of the Round Table are inscribed in a circle. No one knows its date or origin, though it is known to be more than four hundred years old, but there appear upon it the names most familiar to those who have read the legends of

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[paragraph continues] King Arthur, whether in Tennyson's poems or elsewhere. There are Lancelot and Bedivere, Gawaine and Dagonet, Modred and Gareth, and the rest. Many books have been written of their deeds; but a time came when almost all those knights were to fall, according to the legend, in one great battle. Modred, the king's nephew, had been left in charge of the kingdom during Arthur's absence, and had betrayed him and tried to dethrone him, meaning to crown himself king. Many people joined with him, saying that under Arthur they had had only war and fighting, but under Modred they would have peace and bliss. Yet nothing was farther from Modred's purpose than bliss or peace, and it was agreed at last that a great battle should be fought for the kingdom.

On the night of Trinity Sunday, King Arthur had a dream. He thought he sat in a chair, upon a scaffold, and the chair was fastened to a wheel. He was dressed in the richest cloth of gold that could be made, but far beneath him he saw a pit, full of black

 

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« Reply #23 on: November 29, 2008, 04:38:45 am »



''And the chair was fastened to a wheel, and the wheel began to turn, and King Arthur went down, down among the floating things, and they wreathed themselves about him till he cried, 'Help! help!'''--p. 85

 
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« Reply #24 on: November 29, 2008, 04:39:17 am »

p. 85

water, in which were all manner of serpents and floating beasts. Then the wheel began to turn, and he went down, down among the floating things, and they wreathed themselves about him till he cried, "Help! help!"

Then his knights and squires and yeomen aroused him, but he slumbered again, not sleeping nor thoroughly waking. Then he thought he saw his nephew, Sir Gawaine, with a number of fair ladies, and when King Arthur saw him, he said, "O fair nephew, what are these ladies who come with you?" "Sir," said Sir Gawaine, "these are the ladies for whose protection I fought while I was a living man, and God has given them grace that they should bring me thither to you, to warn you of your death. If you fight with Sir Modred to-morrow, you must be slain, and most of your people on both sides." So Sir Gawaine and all the ladies vanished, and then the king called upon his knights and squires and yeomen, and summoned his lords and bishops. They agreed to propose to Sir Modred that they should have a month's delay, and meanwhile

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agreed to meet him with fourteen persons on each side, besides Arthur and Modred.

Each of these leaders warned his army, when they met, to watch the other, and not to draw their swords until they saw a drawn sword on the other side. In that case they were to come on fiercely. So the small party of chosen men on each side met and drank wine together, and agreed upon a month's delay before fighting; but while this was going on an adder came out of a bush and stung a knight on the foot, and he drew his sword to slay it and thought of nothing farther. At the sight of that sword the two armies were in motion, trumpets were blown instantly, and the men of each army thought that the other army had begun the fray. "Alas, this unhappy day!" cried King Arthur; and, as the old chronicle says, "nothing there was but rushing and riding, fencing and striking, and many a grim word was there spoken either to other, and many a deadly stroke."

The following is the oldest account of the battle, translated into quaint and literal English

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by Madden from the book called "Layamon's Brut"; "Innumerable folk it came toward the host, riding and on foot, as the rain down falleth! Arthur marched to Cornwall, with an immense army. Modred heard that, and advanced against him with innumerable folk,--there were many fated! Upon the Tambre they came together; the place hight Camelford, evermore lasted the same word. And at Camelford was assembled sixty thousand, and more thousands thereto; Modred was their chief. Then thitherward ’gan ride Arthur the mighty, with innumerable folk,--fated though it were! Upon the Tambre they encountered together; elevated their standards; advanced together; drew their long swords; smote on the helms; fire outsprang; spears splintered; shields ’gan shiver; shafts brake in pieces. There fought all together innumerable folk! Tambre was in flood with blood to excess; there might no man in the fight know any warrior, nor who did worse, nor who better, so was the conflict mingled! For each slew downright, were he swain, were he knight.

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[paragraph continues] There was Modred slain, and deprived of life-day, and all his knights slain in the fight. There were slain all the brave, Arthur's warriors, high and low, and all the Britons of Arthur's board, and all his dependents, of many kingdoms. And Arthur wounded with broad slaughter-spear; fifteen dreadful wounds he had; in the least one might thrust two gloves! Then was there no more remained in the fight, of two hundred thousand men that there lay hewed in pieces, except Arthur the king alone, and two of his knights. Arthur was wounded wondrously much. There came to him a lad, who was of his kindred; he was Cador's son, the earl of Cornwall; Constantine the lad hight, he was dear to the king. Arthur looked on him, where he lay on the ground, and said these words, with sorrowful heart: 'Constantine, thou art welcome; thou wert Cador's son. I give thee here my kingdom, and defend thou my Britons ever in thy life, and maintain them all the laws that have stood in my days, and all the good laws that in Uther's days stood. And I will fare to Avalon,

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to the fairest of all maidens, to Argante the queen, an elf most fair, and she shall make my wounds all sound, make me all whole with healing draughts. And afterwards I will come to my kingdom, and dwell with the Britons with mickle joy.' Even with the words there approached from the sea that was a short boat, floating with the waves; and two women therein, wondrously formed; and they took Arthur anon, and bare him quickly, and laid him softly down, and forth they ’gan depart. Then was it accomplished that Merlin whilom said, that mickle care should be of Arthur's departure. The Britons believe yet that he is alive, and dwelleth in Avalon with the fairest of all elves; and the Britons ever yet expect when Arthur shall return. Was never the man born, of any lady chosen, that knoweth, of the sooth, to say more of Arthur. But whilom was a sage hight Merlin; he said with words,--his sayings were sooth,--that an Arthur should yet come to help the English."

Another traditional account which Tennyson has mainly followed in a poem, is this: The king

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bade Sir Bedivere take his good sword Excalibur and go with it to the water-side and throw it into the water and return to tell what he saw. Then Sir Bedivere took the sword, and it was so richly and preciously adorned that he would not throw it, and came back without it. When the king asked what had happened, Sir Bedivere said, "I saw nothing but waves and wind," and when Arthur did not believe him, and sent him again, he made the same answer, and then, when sent a third time, he threw the sword into the water, as far as he could. Then an arm and a hand rose above the water and caught it, and shook and brandished it three times and vanished.

Then Sir Bedivere came back to the king; he told what he had seen. "Alas," said Arthur, "help me from hence, for I fear I have tarried over long." Then Sir Bedivere took King Arthur upon his back, and went with him to the water's side. And when they had reached there, a barge with many fair ladies was lying there, with many ladies in it, and among them three queens, and they all had

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black hoods, and they wept and shrieked when they saw King Arthur.

"Now put me in the barge," said Arthur, and the three queens received him with great tenderness, and King Arthur laid his head in the lap of one, and she said, "Ah, dear brother, why have ye tarried so long, until your wound was cold?" And then they rowed away, and King Arthur said to Sir Bedivere, "I will go unto the valley of Avalon to heal my grievous wound, and if I never return, pray for my soul." He was rowed away by the weeping queens, and one of them was Arthur's sister Morgan le Fay; another was the queen of Northgalis, and the third was the queen of Waste Lands; and it was the belief for years in many parts of England that Arthur was not dead, but would come again to reign in England, when he had been nursed long enough by Morgan le Fay in the island of Avalon.

The tradition was that King Arthur lived upon this island in an enchanted castle which had the power of a magnet, so that every one who came near it was drawn thither and could

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not get away. Morgan le Fay was its ruler (called more correctly Morgan la fée, or the fairy), and her name Morgan meant sea-born. By one tradition, the queens who bore away Arthur were accompanied in the boat by the bard and enchanter, Merlin, who had long been the king's adviser, and this is the description of the island said to have been given by Merlin to another bard, Taliessin:--

"'We came to that green and fertile island which each year is blessed with two autumns, two springs, two summers, two gatherings of fruit,--the land where pearls are found, where the flowers spring as you gather them--that isle of orchards called the "Isle of the Blessed." No tillage there, no coulter to tear the bosom of the earth. Without labor it affords wheat and the grape. There the lives extend beyond a century. There nine sisters, whose will is the only law, rule over those who go from us to them. The eldest excels in the art of healing, and exceeds her sisters in beauty. She is called Morgana, and knows the virtues of all the herbs of the meadow. She can change her

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form, and soar in the air like a bird; she can be where she pleases in a moment, and in a moment descend on our coasts from the clouds. Her sister Thiten is renowned for her skill on the harp.'

"'With the prince we arrived, and Morgana received us with fitting honour. And in her own chamber she placed the king on a bed of gold, and with delicate touch, she uncovered the wound. Long she considered it, and at length said to him that she could heal it if he stayed long with her, and willed her to attempt her cure. Rejoiced at this news, we intrusted the king to her care, and soon after set sail.'"

Sir Thomas Malory, who wrote the book called the "Historie of King Arthur," or more commonly the "Morte d’Arthur," utters these high thoughts concerning the memory of the great king:--

"Oh, yee mightie and pompeous lords, shining in the glory transitory of this unstable life, as in raigning over great realmes and mightie great countries, fortified with strong castles and toures, edified with many a rich citie; yee also,

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yee fierce and mightie knights, so valiant in adventurous deeds of armes; behold, behold, see how this mightie conquerour king Arthur, whom in his humaine life all the world doubted, see also the noble queene Guenever, which sometime sat in her chaire adorned with gold, pearles, and precious stones, now lye full low in obscure fosse or pit, covered with clods of earth and clay; behold also this mightie champion Sir Launcelot, pearelesse of all knighthood, see now how hee lyeth groveling upon the cold mould, now being so feeble and faint that sometime was so terrible. How and in what manner ought yee to bee so desirous of worldly honour so dangerous! Therefore mee thinketh this present booke is right necessary often to be read, for in it shall yee finde the most gracious, knightly, and vertuous war of the most noble knights of the world, whereby they gat praysing continually. Also mee seemeth, by the oft reading thereof, yee shall greatly desire to accustome your selfe in following of those gracious knightly deedes, that is to say, to dread God, and to love righteousnesse, faithfully

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and couragiously to serve your soveraigne prince; and the more that God hath given you the triumphall honour, the meeker yee ought to bee, ever feareing the unstablenesse of this deceitfull world."



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« Reply #25 on: November 29, 2008, 04:40:08 am »

p. 96

XI
MAELDUIN'S VOYAGE
AN Irish knight named Maelduin set forth early in the eighth century to seek round the seas for his father's murderers. By the advice of a wizard, he was to take with him seventeen companions, neither less nor more; but at the last moment his three foster brothers, whom he had not included, begged to go with him. He refused, and they cast themselves into the sea to swim after his vessel. Maelduin had pity on them and took them in, but his disregard of the wizard's advice brought punishment; and it was only after long wanderings, after visiting multitudes of unknown and often enchanted islands, and after the death or loss of the three foster brothers, that Maelduin was able to return to his native land.

One island which they visited was divided into four parts by four fences, one of gold, one

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of silver, one of brass, one of crystal. In the first division there dwelt kings, in the second queens, in the third warriors, and in the fourth maidens. The voyagers landed in the maidens' realm; one of these came out in a boat and gave them food, such that every one found in it the taste he liked best; then followed an enchanted drink, which made them sleep for three days and three nights. When they awakened they were in their boat on the sea, and nothing was to be seen either of island or maidens.

The next island had in it a fortress with a brazen door and a bridge of glass, on which every one who ascended it slipped and fell. A woman came from the fortress, pail in hand, drew water from the sea and returned, not answering them when they spoke. When they reached at last the brazen door and struck upon it, it made a sweet and soothing sound, and they went to sleep, for three days and nights, as before. On the fourth day a maiden came who was most beautiful; she wore garments of white silk, a white mantle with a

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brooch of silver with studs of gold, and a gold band round her hair. She greeted each man by his name, and said, "It is long that we have expected you." She took them into the castle and gave them every kind of food they had ever desired. Maelduin was filled with love for her and asked her for her love; but she told him that love was sin and she had no knowledge of sin; so she left him. On the morrow they found their boat, stranded on a crag, while lady and fortress and island had all vanished.

Another island on which they landed was large and bare, with another fortress and a palace. There they met a lady who was kinder. She wore an embroidered purple mantle, gold embroidered gloves, and ornamented sandals, and was just riding up to the palace door. Seventeen maidens waited there for her. She offered to keep the strangers as guests, and that each of them should have a wife, she herself wedding Maelduin. She was, it seems, the widow of the king of the island, and these were her seventeen daughters. She ruled the island and went every day to judge the people and direct

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« Reply #26 on: November 29, 2008, 04:40:52 am »



''The brazen door made a sweet and soothing sound, and they went to sleep for three days and nights. On the fourth day a maiden came who was most beautiful. She greeted each man and said, 'It is long that we have expected you.'''--p. 98


 

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« Reply #27 on: November 29, 2008, 04:41:28 am »

p. 99

their lives. If the strangers would stay, she said that they should never more know sorrow, or hardships, or old age; she herself, in spite of her large family, being young and beautiful as ever. They stayed three months, and it seemed to all but Maelduin that the three months were three years. When the queen was absent, one day, the men took the boat and compelled Maelduin to leave the island with them; but the queen rode after them and flung a rope, which Maelduin caught and which clung to his hand. She drew them back to the shore; this happened thrice, and the men accused Maelduin of catching the rope on purpose; he bade another man catch it, and his companions cut off his hand, and they escaped at last.

On one island the seafarers found three magic apples, and each apple gave sufficient food for forty nights; again, on another island, they found the same apples. In another place still, a great bird like a cloud arrived, with a tree larger than an oak in its claws. After a while two eagles came and cleaned the feathers of the

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larger bird. They also stripped off the red berries from the tree and threw them into the ocean until its foam grew red. The great bird then flew into the ocean and cleaned itself. This happened daily for three days, when the great bird flew away with stronger wings, its youth being thus renewed.

They came to another island where many people stood by the shore talking and joking. They were all looking at Maelduin and his comrades, and kept gaping and laughing, but would not exchange a word with them. Then Maelduin sent one of his foster brothers on the island; but he ranged himself with the others and did as they did. Maelduin and his men rowed round and round the island, and whenever they passed the point where this comrade was, they addressed him, but he never answered, and only gaped and laughed. They waited for him a long time and left him. This island they found to be called The Island of Joy.

On another island they found sheep grazing, of enormous size; on another, birds, whose eggs when eaten caused feathers to sprout all over the

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bodies of those who eat them. On another they found crimson flowers, whose mere perfume sufficed for food, and they encountered women whose only food was apples. Through the window flew three birds: a blue one with a crimson head; a crimson one with a green head; a green one with a golden head. These sang heavenly music, and were sent to accompany the wanderers on their departing; the queen of the island gave them an emerald cup, such that water poured into it became wine. She asked if they knew how long they had been there, and when they said "a day," she told them that it was a year, during which they had had no food. As they sailed away, the birds sang to them until both birds and island disappeared in the mist.

They saw another island standing on a single pedestal, as if on one foot, projecting from the water. Rowing round it to seek a way into it they found no passage, but they saw in the base of the pedestal, under water, a closed door with a lock--this being the only way in which the island could be entered. Around another island there was a fiery rampart, which constantly moved in a

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circle. In the side of that rampart was an open door, and as it came opposite them in its turning course, they beheld through it the island and all therein; and its occupants, even human beings, were many and beautiful, wearing rich garments, and feasting with gold vessels in their hands. The voyagers lingered long to gaze upon this marvel.

On another island they found many human beings, black in color and raiment, and always bewailing. Lots were cast, and another of Maelduin's foster brothers was sent on shore. He at once joined the weeping crowd, and did as they did. Two others were sent to bring him back, and both shared his fate, falling under some strange spell. Then Maelduin sent four others, and bade them look neither at the land nor at the sky; to wrap their mouths and noses with their garments, and not breathe the island air; and not to take off their eyes from their comrades. In this way the two who followed the foster brother on shore were rescued, but he remained behind.

Of another island they could see nothing but

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a fort, protected by a great white rampart, on which nothing living was to be seen but a small cat, leaping from one to another of four stone pillars. They found brooches and ornaments of gold and silver, they found white quilts and embroidered garments hanging up, flitches of bacon were suspended, a whole ox was roasting, and vessels stood filled with intoxicating drinks. Maelduin asked the cat if all this was for them; but the cat merely looked at him and went on playing. The seafarers dined and drank, then went to sleep. As they were about to depart, Maelduin's third foster brother proposed to carry off a tempting necklace, and in spite of his leader's warnings grasped it. Instantly the cat leaped through him like a fiery arrow, burned him so that he became ashes, and went back to its pillar. Thus all three of the foster brothers who had disregarded the wizard's warning, and forced themselves upon the party, were either killed or left behind upon the enchanted islands.

Around another island there was a demon horse-race going on; the riders were just riding in over the sea, and then the race began; the

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voyagers could only dimly perceive the forms of the horses, but could hear the cries of their riders, the strokes of the whips, and the words of the spectators, "See the gray horse!" "Watch the chestnut horse!" and the voyagers were so alarmed that they rowed away. The next island was covered with trees laden with golden apples, but these were being rapidly eaten by small, scarlet animals which they found, on coming nearer, to be all made of fire and thus brightened in hue. Then the animals vanished, and Maelduin with his men landed, and though the ground was still hot from the fiery creatures, they brought away a boat load of the apples. Another island was divided into two parts by a brass wall across the middle. There were two flocks of sheep, and those on one side of the wall were white, while the others were black. A large man was dividing and arranging the sheep, and threw them easily over the wall. When he threw a white sheep among the black ones it became black, and when he threw a black sheep among the white ones, it became white instantly. The voyagers thought

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of landing, but when Maelduin saw this, he said, "Let us throw something on shore to see if it will change color. If it does, we will avoid the island." So they took a black branch and threw it toward the white sheep. When it fell, it grew white; and the same with a white branch on the black side. "It is lucky for us," said Maelduin, "that we did not land on this island."

They came next to an island where there was but one man visible, very aged, and with long, white hair. Above him were trees, covered with great numbers of birds. The old man told them that he like them had come in a curragh, or coracle, and had placed many green sods beneath his feet, to steady the boat. Reaching this spot, the green sods had joined together and formed an island which at first gave him hardly room to stand; but every year one foot was added to its size, and one tree grew up. He had lived there for centuries, and those birds were the souls of his children and descendants, each of whom was sent there after death, and they were all fed from

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heaven each day. On the next island there was a great roaring as of bellows and a sound of smiths' hammers, as if striking all together on an anvil, every sound seeming to come from the strokes of a dozen men. "Are they near?" asked one big voice. "Silence!" said another; and they were evidently watching for the boat. When it rowed away, one of the smiths flung after them a vast mass of red-hot iron, which he had grasped with the tongs from the furnace. It fell just short, but made the whole sea to hiss and boil around them as they rowed away.

Another island had a wall of water round it, and Maelduin and his men saw multitudes of people driving away herds of cattle and sheep, and shouting, "There they are, they have come again;" and a woman pelted them from below with great nuts, which the crew gathered for eating. Then as they rowed away they heard one man say, "Where are they now?" and another cried, "They are going away." Still again they visited an island where a great stream of water shot up into the air and made an arch like a rainbow that spanned the land.

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[paragraph continues] They walked below it without getting wet, and hooked down from it many large salmon; besides that, many fell out above their heads, so that they had more than they could carry away with them. These are by no means all of the strange adventures of Maelduin and his men.

The last island to which they came was called Raven's Stream, and there one of the men, who had been very homesick, leaped out upon shore. As soon as he touched the land he became a heap of ashes, as if his body had lain in the earth a thousand years. This showed them for the first time during how vast a period they had been absent, and what a space they must have traversed. Instead of thirty enchanted islands they had visited thrice fifty, many of them twice or thrice as large as Ireland, whence the voyagers first came. In the wonderful experiences of their long lives they had apparently lost sight of the search which they had undertaken, for the murderers of Maelduin's father, since of them we hear no more. The island enchantment seems to have banished all other thoughts.



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« Reply #28 on: November 29, 2008, 04:42:27 am »

p. 108

XII
THE VOYAGE OF ST. BRANDAN
The young student Brandan was awakened in the morning by the crowing of the **** in the great Irish abbey where he dwelt; he rose, washed his face and hands and dressed himself, then passed into the chapel, where he prayed and sang until the dawn of the day. "With song comes courage" was the motto of the abbey. It was one of those institutions like great colonies,--church, library, farm, workshop, college, all in one,--of which Ireland in the sixth century was full, and which existed also elsewhere. Their extent is best seen by the modern traveller in the remains of the vast buildings at Tintern in England, scattered over a wide extent of country, where you keep coming upon walls and fragments of buildings which once formed a part of a single great institution, in which all the life

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of the community was organized, as was the case in the Spanish missions of California. At the abbey of Bangor in Wales, for instance, there were two thousand four hundred men,--all under the direction of a comparatively small body of monks, who were trained to an amount of organizing skill like that now needed for a great railway system. Some of these men were occupied, in various mechanic arts, some in mining, but most of them in agriculture, which they carried on with their own hands, without the aid of animals, and in total silence.

Having thus labored in the fields until noonday, Brandan then returned that he might work in the library, transcribing ancient manuscripts or illustrating books of prayer. Having to observe silence, he wrote the name of the book to give to the librarian, and if it were a Christian work, he stretched out his hand, making motions with his fingers as if turning over the leaves; but if it were by a pagan author, the monk who asked for it was required to scratch his ear as a dog does, to show his contempt, because, the regulations said, an unbeliever might well be compared to

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that animal 1. Taking the book, he copied it in the Scriptorium or library, or took it to his cell, where he wrote all winter without a fire. It is to such monks that we owe all our knowledge of the earliest history of England and Ireland; though doubtless the hand that wrote the histories of Gildas and Bede grew as tired as that of Brandan, or as that of the monk who wrote in the corner of a beautiful manuscript: "He who does not know how to write imagines it to be no labor; but though only three fingers hold the pen, the whole body grows weary." In the same way Brandan may have learned music and have had an organ in his monastery, or have had a school of art, painting beautiful miniatures for the holy missals. This was his early life in the convent.

Once a day they were called to food; this consisting for them of bread and vegetables with no seasoning but salt, although better fare was furnished for the sick and the aged, for


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travellers and the poor. These last numbered, at Easter time, some three or four hundred, who constantly came and went, and upon whom the monks and young disciples waited. After the meal the monks spent three hours in the chapel, on their knees, still silent; then they confessed in turn to the abbot and then sought their hard-earned rest. They held all things in common; no one even received a gift for himself. War never reached them; it was the rarest thing for an armed party to molest their composure; their domains were regarded as a haven for the stormy world. Because there were so many such places in Ireland, it was known as The Isle of Saints.

Brandan was sent after a time to other abbeys, where he could pursue especial studies, for they had six branches of learning,--grammar, rhetoric, dialectics, geometry, astronomy, and music. Thus he passed three years, and was then advised to go to an especial teacher in the mountains, who had particular modes of teaching certain branches. But this priest--he was an Italian--was suffering from poverty,

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and could receive his guest but for a few weeks. One day as Brandan sat studying, he saw, the legend says, a white mouse come from a crack in the wall, a visitor which climbed upon his table and left there a grain of wheat. Then the mouse paused, looked at the student, then ran about the table, went away and reappeared with another grain, and another, up to five. Brandan, who had at the very instant learned his lesson, rose from his seat, followed the mouse, and looking through a hole in the wall, saw a great pile of wheat, stored in a concealed apartment. On his showing this to the head of the convent, it was pronounced a miracle; the food was distributed to the poor, and "the people blessed his charity while the Lord blessed his studies."

In the course of years, Brandan became himself the head of one of the great abbeys, that of Clonfert, of the order of St. Benedict, where he had under him nearly three thousand monks. In this abbey, having one day given hospitality to a monk named Berinthus, who had just returned from an ocean voyage, Brandan learned

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from him the existence, far off in the ocean, of an island called The Delicious Isle, to which a priest named Mernoc had retired, with many companions of his order. Berinthus found Mernoc and the other monks living apart from one another for purposes of prayer, but when they came together, Mernoc said, they were like bees from different beehives. They met for their food and for church; their food included only apples, nuts, and various herbs. One day Mernoc said to Berinthus, "I will conduct you to the Promised Isle of the Saints." So they went on board a little ship and sailed westward through a thick fog until a great light shone and they found themselves near an island which was large and fruitful and bore many apples. There were no herbs without blossoms, he said, nor trees without fruits, and there were precious stones, and the island was traversed by a great river. Then they met a man of shining aspect who told them that they had without knowing it passed a year already in the island; that they had needed neither food nor sleep. Then they returned to the Delicious Island, and every one

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knew where they had been by the perfume of their garments. This was the story of Berinthus, and from this time forward nothing could keep Brandan from the purpose of beholding for himself these blessed islands.

Before carrying out his plans, however, he went, about the year 560, to visit an abbot named Enda, who lived at Arran, then called Isle of the Saints, a priest who was supposed to know more than any one concerning the farther lands of the western sea. He knew, for instance, of the enchanted island named Hy-Brasail, which could be seen from the coast of Ireland only once in seven years, and which the priests had vainly tried to disenchant. Some islands, it was believed, had been already disenchanted by throwing on them a few sparks of lighted turf; but as Hy-Brasail was too far for this, there were repeated efforts to disenchant it by shooting fiery arrows towards it, though this had not yet been successful. Then Enda could tell of wonderful ways to cross the sea without a boat, how his sister Fanchea had done it by spreading her own cloak upon the waves,

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and how she and three other nuns were borne upon it. She found, however, that one hem of the cloak sank below the water, because one of her companions had brought with her, against orders, a brazen vessel from the convent; but on her throwing it away, the sinking hem rose to the level of the rest and bore them safely. St. Enda himself had first crossed to Arran on a large stone which he had ordered his followers to place on the water and which floated before the wind; and he told of another priest who had walked on the sea as on a meadow and plucked flowers as he went. Hearing such tales, how could St. Brandan fear to enter on his voyage?

He caused a boat to be built of a fashion which one may still see in Welsh and Irish rivers, and known as a curragh or coracle; made of an osier frame covered with tanned and oiled skins. He took with him seventeen priests, among whom was St. Malo, then a mere boy, but afterwards celebrated. They sailed to the southwest, and after being forty days at sea they reached a rocky island furrowed with streams, where they received the kindest hospitality, and

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took in fresh provisions. They sailed again the next day, and found themselves entangled in contrary currents and perplexing winds, so that they were long in reaching another island, green and fertile, watered by rivers which were full of fish, and covered with vast herds of sheep as large as heifers. Here they renewed their stock of provisions, and chose a spotless lamb with which to celebrate Easter Sunday on another island, which they saw at a short distance.

This island was wholly bare, without sandy shores or wooded slopes, and they all landed upon it to cook their lamb; but when they had arranged their cooking-apparatus, and when their fire began to blaze, the island seemed to move beneath their feet, and they ran in terror to their boat, from which Brandan had not yet landed. Their supposed island was a whale, and they rowed hastily away from it toward the island they had left, while the whale glided away, still showing, at a distance of two miles, the fire blazing on his back.

The next island they visited was wooded and fertile, where they found a multitude of birds,

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which chanted with them the praises of the Lord, so that they called this the Paradise of Birds.

This was the description given of this island by an old writer named Wynkyn de Worde, in "The Golden Legend":--

"Soon after, as God would, they saw a fair island, full of flowers, herbs, and trees, whereof they thanked God of his good grace; and anon they went on land, and when they had gone long in this, they found a full fayre well, and thereby stood a fair tree full of boughs, and on every bough sat a fayre bird, and they sat so thick on the tree that uneath [scarcely] any leaf of the tree might be seen. The number of them was so great, and they sang so merrilie, that it was an heavenlie noise to hear. Whereupon St. Brandan kneeled down on his knees and wept for joy, and made his praise devoutlie to our Lord God, to know what these birds meant. And then anon one of the birds flew from the tree to St. Brandan, and he with the flickering of his wings made a full merrie noise like a fiddle, that him seemed he never heard so joyful a melodie. And then St. Brandan commanded

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the foule to tell him the cause why they sat so thick on the tree and sang so merrilie. And then the foule said, some time we were angels in heaven, but when our master, Lucifer, fell down into hell for his high pride, and we fell with him for our offences, some higher and some lower, after the quality of the trespasse. And because our trespasse is so little, therefore our Lord hath sent us here, out of all paine, in full great joy and mirthe, after his pleasing, here to serve him on this tree in the best manner we can. The Sundaie is a daie of rest from all worldly occupation, and therefore that day all we be made as white as any snow, for to praise our Lorde in the best wise we may. And then all the birds began to sing evensong so merrilie that it was an heavenlie noise to hear; and after supper St. Brandan and his fellows went to bed and slept well. And in the morn they arose by times, and then those foules began mattyns, prime, and hours, and all such service as Christian men used to sing; and St. Brandan, with his fellows, abode there seven weeks, until Trinity Sunday was passed."

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Having then embarked, they wandered for months on the ocean, before reaching another island. That on which they finally landed was inhabited by monks who had as their patrons St. Patrick and St. Ailbée, and they spent Christmas there. A year passed in these voyages, and the tradition is that for six other years they made just the same circuit, always spending Holy Week at the island where they found the sheep, alighting for Easter on the back of the same patient whale, visiting the Isle of Birds at Pentecost, and reaching the island of St. Patrick and St. Ailbée in time for Christmas.

But in the seventh year they met with wholly new perils. They were attacked, the legend says, first by a whale, then by a griffin, and then by a race of cyclops, or one-eyed giants. Then they came to an island where the whale which had attacked them was thrown on shore, so that they could cut him to pieces; then another island which had great fruits, and was called The Island of the Strong Man; and lastly one where the grapes filled the air with

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perfume. After this they saw an island, all cinders and flames, where the cyclops had their forges, and they sailed away in the light of an immense fire. The next day they saw, looking northward, a great and high mountain sending out flames at the top. Turning hastily from this dreadful sight, they saw a little round island, at the top of which a hermit dwelt, who gave them his benediction. Then they sailed southward once more, and stopped at their usual places of resort for Holy Week, Easter, and Whitsuntide.

It was on this trip that they had, so the legend says, that strange interview with Judas Iscariot, out of which Matthew Arnold has made a ballad. Sailing in the wintry northern seas at Christmas time, St. Brandan saw an iceberg floating by, on which a human form rested motionless; and when it moved at last, he saw by its resemblance to the painted pictures he had seen that it must be Judas Iscariot, who had died five centuries before. Then as the boat floated near the iceberg, Judas spoke and told him his tale. After he

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had betrayed Jesus Christ, after he had died, and had been consigned to the flames of hell,--which were believed in very literally in those days,--an angel came to him on Christmas night and said that he might go thence and cool himself for an hour. "Why this mercy?" asked Judas Iscariot. Then the angel said to him, "Remember the leper in Joppa," and poor Judas recalled how once when the hot wind, called the sirocco, swept through the streets of Joppa, and he saw a naked leper by the wayside, sitting in agony from the heat and the drifting sand, Judas had thrown his cloak over him for a shelter and received his thanks. In reward for this, the angel now told him, he was to have, once a year, an hour's respite from his pain; he was allowed in that hour to fling himself on an iceberg and cool his burning heat as he drifted through the northern seas. Then St. Brandan bent his head in prayer; and when he looked up, the hour was passed, and Judas had been hurried back into his torments.

It seems to have been only after seven years

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of this wandering that they at last penetrated within the obscure fogs which surrounded the Isle of the Saints, and came upon a shore which lay all bathed in sunny light. It was a vast island, sprinkled with precious stones, and covered with ripe fruits; they traversed it for forty days without arriving at the end, though they reached a great river which flowed through the midst of it from east to west. There an angel appeared to them, and told them that they could go no farther, but could return to their own abode, carrying from the island some of those fruits and precious stones which were reserved to be distributed among the saints when all the world should be brought to the true faith. In order to hasten that time, it appears that St. Malo, the youngest of the sea-faring monks, had wished, in his zeal, to baptize some one, and had therefore dug up a heathen giant who had been, for some reason, buried on the blessed isle. Not only had he dug the giant's body up, but St. Malo had brought him to life again sufficiently for the purpose of baptism and instruction in the true faith; after which he gave him the name

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of Mildus, and let him die once more and be reburied. Then, facing homeward and sailing beyond the fog, they touched once more at The Island of Delights, received the benediction of the abbot of the monastery, and sailed for Ireland to tell their brethren of the wonders they had seen.

He used to tell them especially to his nurse Ita, under whose care he had been placed until his fifth year. His monastery at Clonfert grew, as has been said, to include three thousand monks; and he spent his remaining years in peace and sanctity. The supposed islands which he visited are still believed by many to have formed a part of the American continent, and he is still thought by some Irish scholars to have been the first to discover this hemisphere, nearly a thousand years before Columbus, although this view has not yet made much impression on historians. The Paradise of Birds, in particular, has been placed by these scholars in Mexico, and an Irish poet has written a long poem describing the delights to be found there:--

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"Oft, in the sunny mornings, have I seen
  Bright yellow birds, of a rich lemon hue,
Meeting in crowds upon the branches green,
  And sweetly singing all the morning through;
And others, with their heads grayish and dark,
  Pressing their cinnamon cheeks to the old trees,
And striking on the hard, rough, shrivelled bark,
  Like conscience on a bosom ill at ease.

"And diamond-birds chirping their single notes,
  Now ’mid the trumpet-flower's deep blossoms seen,
Now floating brightly on with fiery throats--
  Small winged emeralds of golden green;
And other larger birds with orange cheeks,
  A many-color-painted, chattering crowd,
Prattling forever with their curved beaks,
  And through the silent woods screaming aloud."


 


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Footnotes
110:1 Adde ut aurem tangas digito sicut canis cum pede pruriens solet, quia nec immerito infideles tali animati comparantur.--MARTÈNE, De Antiq. Monach. ritibus, p. 289, qu. by Montalembert, Monks of the West (tr.) VI. 190.



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Kabrina Teppe
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« Reply #29 on: November 29, 2008, 04:42:55 am »

p. 125

XIII
KIRWAN'S SEARCH FOR HY-BRASAIL
The boy Kirwan lay on one of the steep cliffs of the Island of Innismane--one of the islands of Arran, formerly called Isles of the Saints. He was looking across the Atlantic for a glimpse of Hy-Brasail. This was what they called it; it was a mysterious island which Kirwan's grandfather had seen, or thought he had seen--and Kirwan's father also;--indeed, there was not one of the old people on the island who did not think he had seen it, and the older they were, the oftener it had been seen by them, and the larger it looked. But Kirwan had never seen it, and whenever he came to the top of the highest cliff, where he often went bird-nesting, he climbed the great mass of granite called The Gregory, and peered out into the west, especially at sunset, in hopes that he would at least catch a glimpse, some

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happy evening, of the cliffs and meadows of Hy-Brasail. But as yet he had never espied them. All this was more than two hundred years ago.

He naturally went up to The Gregory at this hour, because it was then that he met the other boys, and caught puffins by being lowered over the cliff. The agent of the island employed the boys, and paid them a sixpence for every dozen birds, that he might sell the feathers. The boys had a rope three hundred feet long, which could reach the bottom of the cliff. One of them tied this rope around his waist, and then held it fast with both hands, the rope being held above by four or five strong boys, who lowered the cragman, or "clifter," as he was called, over the precipice. Kirwan was thus lowered to the rocks near the sea, where the puffins bred; and, loosening the rope, he prepared to spend the night in catching them. He had a pole with a snare on the end, which he easily clapped on the heads of the heavy and stupid birds; then tied each on a string as he caught it, and so kept it to be hauled up

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in the morning. He took in this way twenty or thirty score of the birds, besides quantities of their large eggs, which were found in deep clefts in the rock; and these he carried with him when his friends came in the morning to haul him up. It was a good school of courage, for sometimes boys missed their footing and were dashed to pieces. At other times he fished in his father's boat, or drove calves for sale on the mainland, or cured salt after high tide in the caverns, or collected kelp for the farmers. But he was always looking forward to a time when he might get a glimpse of the island of Hy-Brasail, and make his way to it.

One day when all the fleet of fishing-boats was out for the herring fishery, and Kirwan among them, the fog came in closer and closer, and he was shut apart from all others. His companion in the boat--or dory-mate, as it would be called in New England--had gone to cut bait on board another boat, but Kirwan could manage the boat well enough alone. Long he toiled with his oars toward the west, where he fancied the rest of the fleet to be; and

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sometimes he spread his little sprit-sail, steering with an oar--a thing which was, in a heavy sea, almost as hard as rowing. At last the fog lifted, and he found himself alone upon the ocean. He had lost his bearings and could not tell the points of the compass. Presently out of a heavy bank of fog which rose against the horizon he saw what seemed land. It gave him new strength, and he worked hard to reach it; but it was long since he had eaten, his head was dizzy, and he lay down on the thwart of the boat, rather heedless of what might come. Growing weaker and weaker, he did not clearly know what he was doing. Suddenly he started up, for a voice hailed him from above his head. He saw above him the high stern of a small vessel, and with the aid of a sailor he was helped on board.

He found himself on the deck of a sloop of about seventy tons, John Nisbet, master, with a crew of seven men. They had sailed from Killebegs (County Donegal), in Ireland, for the coast of France, laden with butter, tallow, and hides, and were now returning from France with French

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wines, and were befogged as Kirwan had been. The boy was at once taken on board and rated as a seaman; and the later adventures of the trip are here given as he reported them on his return with the ship some months later.

The mist continued thicker and thicker for a time, and when it suddenly furled itself away, they found themselves on an unknown coast, with the wind driving them shoreward. There were men on board who were familiar with the whole coast of Ireland and Scotland, but they remembered nothing like this. Finding less than three fathoms of water, they came to anchor and sent four men ashore to find where they were; these being James Ross the carpenter and two sailors, with the boy Kirwan. They took swords and pistols. Landing at the edge of a little wood, they walked for a mile within a pleasant valley where cattle, horses, and sheep were feeding, and then came in sight of a castle, small but strong, where they went to the door and knocked. No one answered, and they walked on, up a green hill, where there were multitudes of black rabbits; but when they had reached the top and

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looked around they could see no inhabitants, nor any house; on which they returned to the sloop and told their tale. After this the whole ship's company went ashore, except one left in charge, and they wandered about for hours, yet saw nothing more. As night came on they made a fire at the base of a fallen oak, near the shore, and lay around it, talking, and smoking the lately discovered weed, tobacco; when suddenly they heard loud noises from the direction of the castle and then all over the island, which frightened them so that they went on board the sloop and stayed all night.

The next morning they saw a dignified, elderly gentleman with ten unarmed followers coming down towards the shore. Hailing the sloop, the older gentleman, speaking Gaelic, asked who and whence they were, and being told, invited them ashore as his guests. They went on shore, well armed; and he embraced them one by one, telling them that they were the happiest sight that island had seen for hundreds of years; that it was called Hy-Brasail or O-Brazile; that his ancestors had been princes

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of it, but For many years it had been taken possession of by enchanters, who kept it almost always invisible, so that no ship came there; and that for the same reason he and his friends were rendered unable to answer the sailors, even when they knocked at the door; and that the enchantment must remain until a fire was kindled on the island by good Christians. This had been done the night before, and the terrible noises which they had heard were from the powers of darkness, which had now left the island forever.

And indeed when the sailors were led to the castle, they saw that the chief tower had just been demolished by the powers of darkness, as they retreated; but there were sitting within the halls men and women of dignified appearance, who thanked them for the good service they had done. Then they were taken over the island, which proved to be some sixty miles long and thirty wide, abounding with horses, cattle, sheep, deer, rabbits, and birds, but without any swine; it had also rich mines of silver and gold, but few people, although there were ruins

p. 132

of old towns and cities. The sailors, after being richly rewarded, were sent on board their vessel and furnished with sailing directions to their port. On reaching home, they showed to the minister of their town the pieces of gold and silver that were given them at the island, these being of an ancient stamp, somewhat rusty yet of pure gold; and there was at once an eager desire on the part of certain of the townsmen to go with them. Within a week an expedition was fitted out, containing several godly ministers, who wished to visit and discover the inhabitants of the island; but through some mishap of the seas this expedition was never heard of again.

Partly for this reason and partly because none of Captain Nesbit's crew wished to return to the island, there came to be in time a feeling of distrust about all this rediscovery of Hy-Brasail or O-Brazile. There were not wanting those who held that the ancient gold pieces might have been gained by piracy, such as was beginning to be known upon the Spanish main; and as for the boy Kirwan, some of his playmates

p. 133

did not hesitate to express the opinion that he had always been, as they phrased it, the greatest liar that ever spoke. What is certain is that the island of Brazil or Hy-Brasail had appeared on maps ever since 1367 as being near the coast of Ireland; that many voyages were made from Bristol to find it, a hundred years later; that it was mentioned about 1636 as often seen from the shore; and that it appeared as Brazil Rock on the London Admiralty Charts until after 1850. If many people tried to find it and failed, why should not Kirwan have tried and succeeded? And as to his stretching his story a little by throwing in a few enchanters and magic castles, there was not a voyager of his period who was not tempted to do the same.



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