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hand. And so, Sir Launcelot, now I tell thee, that I have loved thee this seaven yeare; but there may no woman have thy love but Queene Guenever; but sithen I may not rejoyice thee to have thy body alive, I had kept no more joy in this world but to have had thy dead body; and I would have balmed it and served, and so have kept it in my lise daies, and daily I should have clipped thee, and kissed thee, in the despite of Queen Guenever.'-'Yee say well,' said Sir Launcelot; "Jesus preserve me from your subtill craft.' And therewith he took his horse, and departed from her.”
Sir Thomas Malory's Morte D'Arthure' was first printed by Caxton in 4to., 1485. A new issue of this belongs to 1634. The republication referred to by Scott is probably the edition published in 1816, in two vols. 18mo. The Roxburghe Club made a sumptuous reprint in 1819, and Thomas Wright, in 1858, edited the work in three handy 8vo. vols. from the text of 1634. This edition is furnished with a very useful introduction and notes.
11. 267–70. One day when Arthur was holding a high feast with his Knights of the Round Table, the Sangreal, or vessel out of wbich the last passover was eaten, (a precious relic, which had long remained concealed from human eyes, because of the sins of the land,) suddenly appeared to him and all his chivalry. The consequence of this vision was, that all the knights took on them a solemn vow to seek the Sangreal. But, alas! it could only be revealed to a knight at once accomplished in earthly chivalry, and pure and guiltless of evil conversation. All Sir Launcelot's noble accomplishments were therefore rendered vain by his guilty intrigue with Queen Guenever, or Ganore; and in this holy quest he encountered only such disgraceful disasters as that which follows:
• But Sir Launcelot rode overthwart and endlong in a wild forest, and held no path, but as wild adventure led him; and at the last, he came unto a stone crosse, which departed two wayes, in wast land; and, by the crosse, was a stone that was of marble; but it was so dark, that Sir Launcelot might not well know what it was. Then Sir Launcelot looked by him, and saw an old chappell, and there he wend to have found people. And so Sir Launcelot tied his horse to a tree, and there he put off his shield, and hung it upon a tree, and then hee went unto the chappell doore, and found it wasted and broken. And within he found a faire altar, full richly arrayed with cloth of silk, and there stood a faire candlestick, which beare six great candles, and the candlesticke was of silver. And when Sir Launcelot saw this light, hee had a great will for to enter into the chappell, but he could find no place where hee might enter. Then was he passing heavie and dismaied. Then he returned, and came again to his horse, and tooke off his saddle and his bridle, and let him pasture, and unlaced his helme, and ungirded his sword, and laid him downe to sleepe upon his shield, before the crosse.
And so hee fell on sleepe; and, halfe waking and halfe sleeping, hee saw come by him two palfreys, both faire and white, the which beare a litter, therein lying a sicke knight. And when he was nigh the crosse, he there abode still. All this Sir Launcelot saw and beheld, for hee slept not verily, and hee heard him say, “O sweete Lord, when shall this sorrow leave me, and when shall the holy vessell come by me, where through I shall be blessed, for I have endured thus long for little trespasse!” And thus a great while complained the knight, and allwaies Sir Launcelot heard it. With that Sir Launcelot saw the candlesticke, with the fire tapers, come before the crosse; but he could see no body that brought it. Also there came a table of silver, and the holy vessel of the Sancgreall, the which Sir Launcelot had seen before that time in King Petchour's house. And therewithall the sicke knight set him upright, and held up both his hands, and said, “Faire sweete Lord, which is here within the holy vessell, take heed to mee, that I may bee hole of this great malady!” And therewith upon his hands, and upon his knees, he went so nigh, that he touched the holy vessell, and kissed it : And anon he was hole, and then he said, “ Lord God, I thank thee, for I am healed of this malady.” Soo when the holy vessell had been there a great while, it went into the chappell againe, with the candlesticke and the light, so that Sir Launcelot wist not where it became, for he was overtaken with sinne, that he had no power to arise against the holy vessell, wherefore afterward many men said of him shame. But he tooke repentance afterward. Then the sicke knight dressed him upright, and kissed the crosse. Then anon his squire brought him his armes, and asked his lord how he did. • Certainly,” said hee, I thanke God right heartily, for through the holy vessell I am healed : But I have right great mervaile of this sleeping knight, which hath had neither grace nor power to awake during the time that this holy vessell hath beene here present.”—“I dare it right well say,” said the squire, “that this same knight is defouled with some manner of deadly sinne, whereof he has never confessed.”—“By my faith,” said the knight, “whatsoeer he be, he is unhappie ; for, as I deeme, hee is of the fellowship of the Round Table, the which is entered into the quest of the Sancgreall.”—“Sir," said the squire, “here I have brought you all your armes, save your helme and your sword; and, therefore, by mine assent, now may ye take this knight's helme and his sword ;' and so he did. And when he was cleane armed, he took Sir Launcelot's horse, for he was better than his owne, and so they departed from the crosse.
• Then anon Sir Launcelot awaked, and set himselfe upright, and he thought him what hee had there seene, and whether it were dreames or not; right so he heard a voice that said, “Sir Launcelot, more hardy than is the stone, and more bitter than is the wood, and more naked and bare than is the liefe of the fig-tree, therefore go thou from hence, and withdraw thee from this holy place ;” and when Sir Launcelot heard this, he was passing heavy, and wist not what to doe. And so he departed sore weeping, and cursed the time that he was borne ; for then he deemed never to have had more worship; for the words went unto his heart, till that he knew wherefore that hee was so called.'--Scott.
1. 273. Arthur is the hero of the 'Faery Queene.' In his ex planatory letter to Sir Walter Raleigh, Spenser says, “I chose the historye of King Arthure, as most fitte for the excellency of his person, being made famous by many mens former workes, and also furthest from the daunger of envy, and suspition of present time.'
1. 274. Milton is said to have meditated in his youth the composition of an epic poem on Arthur and the Round Table. In * Paradise Lost' ix. 26, he states that the subject of that poem pleased him long choosing and beginning late,' and references both in
Paradise Lost' and Paradise Regained' prove his familiarity with the Arthurian legend. Cp. Par. Lost, i. 580, and Par. Reg. ii. 358.
1. 275. Scott quotes from Dryden's Essay on Satire,' prefixed to the translation of Juvenal, regarding his projected Epic. Of two subjects,' says Dryden, ‘I was doubtful whether I should choose that of King Arthur conquering the Saxons, which, being further distant in time, gives the greater scope to my invention; or that of Edward the Black Prince, in subduing Spain, and restoring it to the lawful prince, though a great tyrant, Pedro the Cruel.... I might perhaps have done as well as some of my predecessors, or at least chalked out a way for others to amend my errors in a like design ; but being encouraged only with fair words by King Charles II, my little salary ill paid, and no prospect of a future subsistence, I was then discouraged in the beginning of my attempt; and now age has overtaken me, and want, a more insufferable evil, through the change of the times, has wholly disabled me.'
u. 281-3. Dryden's dramas, certain of his translations, and various minor pieces adapted to the prevalent taste of his time, are unworthy of his genius. Pope's reflections on the poet forgetful of the dignity of his office, with the allusion to Dryden as an illustration (• Satires and Epistles,' v. 209), may be compared with this passage :
* I scarce can think him such a worthless thing,
Roscommon only boasts unspotted bays.' 1. 283. Cp. Gray's 'Progress of Poesy,' 1034
• Behold, where Dryden's less presumptuous car
With necks in thunder cloth’d, and long-resounding pace'; and Pope's • Satires and Epistles,' v. 267–
Dryden taught to join
The long majestic march, and energy divine.' 1. 286. To break a lance is to enter the lists, to try one's strength. The concussion of two powerful knights would suffice to shiver the lances. Hence comes the figurative use. Cp. I Henry VI. iii. 2,
“What will you do, good greybeard? break a lance,
And run a tilt at death within a chair?' 11. 288-309. The Genius of Chivalry is to be resuscitated from the deep slumber under which baneful spells have long effectually held him. The appropriateness of this is apparent when the true meaning of Chivalry is considered. Scott opens his. Essay on Chivalry' thus :- The primitive sense of this well-known word, derived from the French Chevalier, signifies merely cavalry, or a body of soldiers serving on horseback; and it has been used in that general acceptation by the best of our poets, ancient and modern, from Milton to Thomas Campbell.' See Par. Lost, i. 307, and Rattle of Hohenlinden.
1. 294. To spur forward his horse on an expedition of adventures, like Spenser's Red Cross Knight. For the accoutrements and the duties of a knight see Scott's “Essay on Chivalry' (Miscellaneous Works, vol. vi.). Cp.‘Faery Queene,' Book I, and (especially
for the personified abstractions from 1. 300 onwards) Montgomerie's allegory, 'The Cherrie and the Slae.'
1. 312. Ytene's oaks. “The New Forest in Hampshire, anciently so called.—SCOTT. Gundimore, the residence of W. S. Rose, was in this neighbourhood, and in an unpublished piece entitled “Gundimore,' Rose thus alludes to a visit of Scott's :
• Here Walter Scott has woo'd the northern muse ;
King Rufus fell by Tyrrell's random shaft.' 1. 314. "The“ History of Bevis of Hampton ” is abridged by my friend Mr. George Ellis, with that liveliness which extracts amusement even out of the most rude and unpromising of our old tales of chivalry. Ascapart, a most important personage in the romance, is thus described in an extract :
“ This geaunt was mighty and strong,
And full thirty foot was long.
Specimens of Metrical Romances, vol. ii. p. 136. 'I am happy to say, that the memory of Sir Bevis is still fragrant in his town of Southampton; the gate of which is sentinelled by the effigies of that doughty knight errant and his gigantic associate.'SCOTT.
THE Introduction is written on a basis of regular four-beat couplets, each line being technically an iambic tetrameter ; 11. 96, 205, and 283 are Alexandrines, or iambic hexameters, each serving to give emphasis and resonance (like the ninth of the Spenserian stanza) to the passage which it closes. Intensity of expression is given by the