Tải bản đầy đủ

The legends of king arthur and his knights


TheProjectGutenbergEBookofTheLegendsOfKingArthurAndHisKnights
byJamesKnowles
ThiseBookisfortheuseofanyoneanywhereatnocostandwith
almostnorestrictionswhatsoever.Youmaycopyit,giveitawayor
re-useitunderthetermsoftheProjectGutenbergLicenseincluded
withthiseBookoronlineatwww.gutenberg.net

Title:TheLegendsOfKingArthurAndHisKnights
Author:JamesKnowles
ReleaseDate:June28,2004[EBook#12753]
Language:English

***STARTOFTHISPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKKINGARTHURANDHISKNIGHTS***

ProducedbyZoranStefanovic,GFUntermeyerandDistributed
ProofreadersEurope,http://dp.rastko.net.

ProducedbyProjectRastko,ZoranStefanovic,GFUntermeyer
andtheOnlineDistributedProofreadingTeam



TheLegendsof
KINGARTHUR


andhis
KNIGHTS
SirJamesKnowles
IllustratedbyLancelotSpeed
TO
ALFREDTENNYSON,D.C.L.
POETLAUREATE

THISATTEMPTATAPOPULARVERSIONOF
THEARTHURLEGENDS
ISBYHISPERMISSIONDEDICATED
ASATRIBUTE
OFTHESINCERESTANDWARMESTRESPECT
1862


TheMarriageofKingArthur
TheMarriageofKingArthur


PREFACETOTHEEIGHTHEDITION
DropCaseT
hePublishershaveaskedmetoauthoriseanewedition,inmyownname,ofthis
little book—now long out of print—which was written by me thirty-five years
agoundertheinitialsJ.T.K.
In acceding to their request I wish to say that the book as now published is
merely a word-for-word reprint of my early effort to help to popularise the
Arthurlegends.
It is little else than an abridgment of Sir Thomas Malory’s version of them as
printedbyCaxton—withafewadditionsfromGeoffreyofMonmouthandother
sources—and an endeavour to arrange the many tales into a more or less
consecutivestory.
Thechiefpleasurewhichcametomefromitwas,andis,thatitbeganformea
long and intimate acquaintance with Lord Tennyson, to whom, by his
permission,IDedicateditbeforeIwaspersonallyknowntohim.


JAMESKNOWLES.
AddendumbyLadyKnowles
Inresponsetoawidelyexpressedwishforafresheditionofthislittlebook—
nowforsomeyearsoutofprint—anewandnintheditionhasbeenprepared.
InhisprefacemyhusbandsaysthattheintimacywithLordTennysontowhichit
ledwasthechiefpleasurethebookbroughthim.Ihavebeenaskedtofurnisha
fewmoreparticularsonthispointthatmaybegenerallyinteresting,andfeelthat
Icannotdobetterthangivesomeextractsfromaletterwrittenbyhimselftoa
friendinJuly1896.
“DEAR——,
“I am so very glad you approve of my little effort to popularise the Arthur
Legends.Tennysonhadwrittenhisfirstfour‘IdyllsoftheKing’beforemybook


appeared, which was in 1861. Indeed, it was in consequence of the first four
IdyllsthatIsoughtandobtained,whileyetastrangertohim,leavetodedicate
my venture to him. He was extremely kind about it—declared ‘it ought to go
through forty editions’—and when I came to know him personally talked very
frequentlyaboutitandArthurwithme,andmadeconstantuseofitwhenheat
lengthyieldedtomyperpetualurgencyandtookupagainhisforsakenprojectof
treatingthewholesubjectofKingArthur.
“He discussed and rediscussed at any amount of length the way in which this
could now be done—and the Symbolism, which had from his earliest time
haunted him as the inner meaning to be given to it, brought him back to the
Poeminitschangedshapeofseparatepictures.
“Heusedoftentosaythatitwasentirelymydoingthatherevivedhisoldplan,
and added, ‘I know more about Arthur than any other man in England, and I
thinkyouknownextmost.’Itwouldamuseyoutoseeinwhatintimatedetailhe
usedtoconsultwithme—andoftenwithmylittlebookinfrontofus—overthe
various tales, and when I wrote an article (in the shape of a long letter) in the
Spectator of January 1870 he asked to reprint it, and published it with the
collectedIdylls.
“Foryears,whilehisboyswereatschoolandcollege,Iactedashisconfidential
friendinbusinessandmanyothermatters,andIsupposehetoldmemoreabout
himselfandhislifethananyothermannowlivingknows.”
ISABELKNOWLES.


CONTENTS
CHAPTERI
TheFindingofMerlin—TheFightofthe
Dragons—TheGiants’Dance—ThePropheciesof
MerlinandtheBirthofArthur—Utherattacksthe
Saxons—TheDeathofUther
CHAPTERII
Merlin’sAdvicetotheArchbishop—TheMiracleof
theSwordandStone—TheCoronationofKing
Arthur—TheOppositionoftheSixKings—The
SwordExcalibur—TheDefeatoftheSixKings—The
WarwiththeElevenKings
CHAPTERIII
TheAdventureoftheQuestingBeast—TheSiegeof
York—TheBattlesofCelidonForestandBadon
Hill—KingArthurdrivestheSaxonsfromthe
Realm—TheEmbassyfromRome—TheKingrescues
Merlin—TheKnightoftheFountain
CHAPTERIV
KingArthurconquersIrelandandNorway—Slaysthe
GiantofSt.Michael’sMountandconquers
Gaul—KingRyence’sInsolentMessage—The
DamselandtheSword—TheLadyoftheLake—The
AdventuresofSirBalin
CHAPTERV
SirBalinkillsSirLancear—TheSullenKnight—The
KnightInvisibleiskilled—SirBalinsmitesthe
DolorousStroke,andfightswithhisbrotherSirBalan
CHAPTERVI
TheMarriageofKingArthurandGuinevere—The


CoronationoftheQueen—TheFoundingoftheRound
Table—TheQuestoftheWhiteHart—The
AdventuresofSirGawain—TheQuestoftheWhite
Hound—SirTorkillsAbellius—TheAdventuresof
SirPellinore—TheDeathofSirHantzlake—Merlin
savesKingArthur
CHAPTERVII
KingArthurandSirAccolonofGaulareentrappedby
SirDamas—Theyfighteachotherthrough
EnchantmentofQueenMorganleFay—SirDamasis
compelledtosurrenderallhisLandstoSirOutzlakehis
BrothertheirRightfulOwner—QueenMorganessays
tokillKingArthurwithaMagicGarment—Her
Damseliscompelledtowearitandistherebyburnedto
Cinders
CHAPTERVIII
ASecondEmbassyfromRome—KingArthur’s
Answer—TheEmperorassembleshisArmies—King
ArthurslaystheEmperor—SirGawainandSir
Prianius—TheLombardsaredefeated—KingArthur
crownedatRome
CHAPTERIX
TheAdventuresofSirLancelot—HeandhisCousin
SirLionelsetforth—TheFourWitch-Queens—King
Bagdemagus—SirLancelotslaysSirTurquineand
delivershisCaptiveKnights—TheFoulKnight—Sir
GaunterattacksSirLancelot—TheFourKnights—Sir
LancelotcomestotheChapelPerilous—Ellawesthe
Sorceress—TheLadyandtheFalcon—SirBedivere
andtheDeadLady
CHAPTERX
BeaumainsismadeaKitchenPagebySirKey—He
claimstheAdventureoftheDamselLinet—Hefights
withSirLancelotandisknightedbyhiminhisTrue
NameofGareth—IsfloutedbytheDamsel


Linet—ButoverthrowsallKnightshemeetsandsends
themtoKingArthur’sCourt—HedeliverstheLady
LyonesfromtheKnightoftheRedlands—The
TournamentbeforeCastlePerilous—MarriageofSir
GarethandtheLadyLyones
CHAPTERXI
TheAdventuresofSirTristram—His
Stepmother—Heisknighted—FightswithSir
Marhaus—SirPalomedesandLaBelleIsault—Sir
BleoberisandSirSegwarides—SirTristram’s
Quest—HisReturn—TheCastlePluere—Sir
Brewnorisslain—SirKayHedius—LaBelleIsault’s
Hound—SirDinedanrefusestofight—SirPellinore
followsSirTristram—SirBrewse-without-pity—The
TournamentattheMaiden’sCastle—SirPalomedes
andSirTristram
CHAPTERXII
MerlinisbewitchedbyaDamseloftheLadyofthe
Lake—GalahadknightedbySirLancelot—The
PerilousSeat—TheMarvellousSword—SirGalahad
inthePerilousSeat—TheSangreal—TheKnights
vowthemselvestoitsQuest—TheShieldoftheWhite
Knight—TheFiendoftheTomb—SirGalahadatthe
Maiden’sCastle—TheSickKnightandthe
Sangreal—SirLancelotdeclaredunworthytofindthe
HolyVessel—SirPercivalseeksSirGalahad—The
BlackSteed—SirBorsandtheHermit—SirPridanle
Noir—SirLionel’sAnger—HemeetsSir
Percival—Theship“Faith”—SirGalahadandEarl
Hernox—TheLeprousLady—SirGalahaddiscloses
himselftoSirLancelot—Theypart—TheBlindKing
Evelake—SirGalahadfindstheSangreal—HisDeath
CHAPTERXIII
TheQueenquarrelswithSirLancelot—Sheisaccused
ofMurder—HerChampionprovesher
innocence—TheTourneyatCamelot—SirLancelotin


theTourney—SirBaldwintheKnightHermit—Elaine,theMaidofAstolat,seeksforSir
Lancelot—ShetendshisWounds—HerDeath—The
QueenandSirLancelotarereconciled
CHAPTERXIV
SirLancelotattackedbySirAgravaine,SirModred,and
thirteenotherKnights—HeslaysthemallbutSir
Modred—HeleavestheCourt—SirModredaccuses
himtotheKing—TheQueencondemnedtobe
burnt—HerrescuebySirLancelotandflightwith
him—TheWarbetweenSirLancelotandthe
King—TheEnmityofSirGawain—TheUsurpation
ofSirModred—TheQueenretirestoaNunnery—Sir
LancelotgoesonPilgrimage—TheBattleofBarham
Downs—SirBedivereandtheSwordExcalibur—The
DeathofKingArthur


ILLUSTRATOR’SNOTE
DropCaseO
f scenes from the Legends of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table
manylovelypictureshavebeenpainted,showingmuchdiversityoffiguresand
surroundings, some being definitely sixth-century British or Saxon, as in Blair
Leighton’s fine painting of the dead Elaine; others—for example, Watts’ Sir
Galahad—show knight and charger in fifteenth-century armour; while the
warriors of Burne Jones wear strangely impracticable armour of some mystic
period.Eachofthesepainterswasfreetofollowhisownconception,puttingthe
figures into whatever period most appealed to his imagination; for he was not
illustrating the actual tales written by Sir Thomas Malory, otherwise he would
havefoundhimselffacetofacewithadifficulty.
King Arthur and his knights fought, endured, and toiled in the sixth century,
when the Saxons were overrunning Britain; but their achievements were not
chronicledbySirThomasMaloryuntillateinthefifteenthcentury.
Sir Thomas, as Froissart has done before him, described the habits of life, the
dresses, weapons, and armour that his own eyes looked upon in the every-day
scenesabouthim,regardlessofthefactthatalmosteverydetailmentionedwas
somethinglikeathousandyearstoolate.
HadMaloryundertakenanaccountofthelandingofJuliusCaesarhewould,as
a matter of course, have protected the Roman legions with bascinet or salade,
breastplate, pauldron and palette, coudiére, taces and the rest, and have armed
themwithlanceandshield,jewel-hiltedswordandslimmisericorde;whilethe
Emperor himself might have been given the very suit of armour stripped from
theDukeofClarencebeforehisfatefulencounterwiththebuttofmalmsey.
DidnotevenShakespearecalmlygivecannontotheRomansandsupposeevery
continentalcitytoliemajesticallybesidethesea?Bytheoldwriters,accuracyin
thesematterswasdisregarded,andanachronismswerenotsomuchtoleratedas
unperceived.
Inillustratingthiseditionof“TheLegendsofKingArthurandhisKnights,”it
hasseemedbest,andindeedunavoidableifthetextandthepicturesaretotally,


todrawwhatMalorydescribes,toplacethefashionofthecostumesandarmour
somewhere about A.D. 1460, and to arm the knights in accordance with the
TabardPeriod.
LANCELOTSPEED.


LISTOFILLUSTRATIONS
TheMarriageofKingArthur
ThenfellSirEctordownuponhiskneesuponthe
groundbeforeyoungArthur,andSirKeyalsowithhim.
TheLadyoftheLake
Thegiantsatatsupper,gnawingonalimbofaman,and
bakinghishugeframebythefire
Thecastlerockedandrovethroughout,andallthewalls
fellcrashedandbreakingtotheearth
Cameforthtwelvefairdamsels,andsalutedKingArthur
byhisname
Prianiuswaschristened,andmadeadukeandknightof
theRoundTable
SirLancelotsmotedownwithonespearfiveknights,
andbrakethebacksoffour,andcastdowntheKingof
Northgales
Beyondthechapel,hemetafairdamsel,whosaid,“Sir
Lancelot,leavethatswordbehindthee,orthoudiest”
“Lady,”repliedSirBeaumains,“aknightislittleworth
whomaynotbearwithadamsel”
Soherodeintothehallandalighted
Thentheybeganthebattle,andtiltedattheirhardest
againsteachother


Andrunningtoherchamber,shesoughtinhercasketfor
thepieceofiron...andfitteditinTristram’ssword
Bythetimetheyhadfinisheddrinkingtheylovedeach
othersowellthattheirlovenevermoremightleave
them
Wavingherhandsandmutteringthecharm,and
presentlyenclosedhimfastwithinthetree
Galahad...quicklyliftedupthestone,andforthwith
cameoutafoulsmoke
“Thisgirdle,lords,”saidshe,“ismadeforthemostpart
ofmineownhair,which,whileIwasyetintheworld,I
lovedfullwell”
Atlastthestrangeknightsmotehimtotheearth,and
gavehimsuchabuffetonthehelmaswellnighkilled
him
ThenwasSirLancelotsentfor,andtheletterreadaloud
byaclerk
Butstilltheknightscriedmightilywithoutthedoor,
“Traitor,comeforth!”


THELEGENDSOFKINGARTHUR


CHAPTERI
ThePropheciesofMerlin,andtheBirthof
Arthur
DropCaseK
ingVortigerntheusurpersatuponhisthroneinLondon,when,suddenly,upona
certainday,raninabreathlessmessenger,andcriedaloud—
“Arise, Lord King, for the enemy is come; even Ambrosius and Uther, upon
whosethronethousittest—andfulltwentythousandwiththem—andtheyhave
swornbyagreatoath,Lord,toslaythee,erethisyearbedone;andevennow
theymarchtowardstheeasthenorthwindofwinterforbitternessandhaste.”
AtthosewordsVortigern’sfacegrewwhiteasashes,and,risinginconfusionand
disorder, he sent for all the best artificers and craftsmen and mechanics, and
commanded them vehemently to go and build him straightway in the furthest
west of his lands a great and strong castle, where he might fly for refuge and
escapethevengeanceofhismaster’ssons—“and,moreover,”criedhe,“letthe
work be done within a hundred days from now, or I will surely spare no life
amongstyouall.”
Then all the host of craftsmen, fearing for their lives, found out a proper site
whereontobuildthetower,andeagerlybegantolayinthefoundations.Butno
sooner were the walls raised up above the ground than all their work was
overwhelmedandbrokendownbynightinvisibly,nomanperceivinghow,orby
whom, or what. And the same thing happening again, and yet again, all the
workmen, full of terror, sought out the king, and threw themselves upon their
facesbeforehim,beseechinghimtointerfereandhelpthemortodeliverthem
fromtheirdreadfulwork.
Filledwithmixedrageandfear,thekingcalledfortheastrologersandwizards,
andtookcounsel withthemwhatthesethingsmightbe,andhowtoovercome
them.Thewizardsworkedtheirspellsandincantations,andintheenddeclared


thatnothingbutthebloodofayouthbornwithoutmortalfather,smearedonthe
foundations of the castle, could avail to make it stand. Messengers were
therefore sent forthwith through all the land to find, if it were possible, such a
child.And,assomeofthemwentdownacertainvillagestreet,theysawaband
of lads fighting and quarrelling, and heard them shout at one—“Avaunt, thou
imp!—avaunt!Sonofnomortalman!go,findthyfather,andleaveusinpeace.”
Atthatthemessengerslookedsteadfastlyonthelad,andaskedwhohewas.One
saidhisnamewasMerlin;another,thathisbirthandparentagewereknownby
noman;athird,thatthefoulfiendalonewashisfather.Hearingthethings,the
officersseizedMerlin,andcarriedhimbeforethekingbyforce.
But no sooner was he brought to him than he asked in a loud voice, for what
causehewasthusdraggedthere?
“My magicians,” answered Vortigern, “told me to seek out a man that had no
humanfather,andtosprinklemycastlewithhisblood,thatitmaystand.”
“Order those magicians,” said Merlin, “to come before me, and I will convict
themofalie.”
The king was astonished at his words, but commanded the magicians to come
andsitdownbeforeMerlin,whocriedtothem—
“Because ye know not what it is that hinders the foundation of the castle, ye
haveadvisedmybloodforacementtoit,asifthatwouldavail;buttellmenow
ratherwhatthereisbelowthatground,forsomethingthereissurelyunderneath
thatwillnotsufferthetowertostand?”
Thewizardsatthesewordsbegantofear,andmadenoanswer.ThensaidMerlin
totheking—
“Ipray,Lord,thatworkmenmaybeorderedtodigdeepdownintotheground
tilltheyshallcometoagreatpoolofwater.”
This then was done, and the pool discovered far beneath the surface of the
ground.
Then, turning again to the magicians, Merlin said, “Tell me now, false
sycophants, what there is underneath that pool?”—but they were silent. Then
saidhetotheking,“Commandthispooltobedrained,andatthebottomshallbe
foundtwodragons,greatandhuge,whichnowaresleeping,butwhichatnight


awakeandfightandteareachother.Attheirgreatstruggleallthegroundshakes
and trembles, and so casts down thy towers, which, therefore, never yet could
findsecurefoundations.”
Thekingwasamazedatthesewords,butcommandedthepooltobeforthwith
drained; and surely at the bottom of it did they presently discover the two
dragons,fastasleep,asMerlinhaddeclared.
But Vortigern sat upon the brink of the pool till night to see what else would
happen.
Then those two dragons, one of which was white, the other red, rose up and
came near one another, and began a sore fight, and cast forth fire with their
breath.Butthewhitedragonhadtheadvantage,andchasedtheothertotheend
ofthelake.Andhe,forgriefathisflight,turnedbackuponhisfoe,andrenewed
thecombat,andforcedhimtoretireinturn.Butintheendthereddragonwas
worsted,andthewhitedragondisappearednomanknewwhere.
Whentheir battlewasdone,theking desiredMerlintotellhim whatitmeant.
Whereathe,burstingintotears,criedoutthisprophecy,whichfirstforetoldthe
comingofKingArthur.
“Woe to the red dragon, which figureth the British nation, for his banishment
comethquickly;hislurkingholesshallbeseizedbythewhitedragon—theSaxon
whomthou,Oking,hastcalledtotheland.Themountainsshallbelevelledas
thevalleys,andtheriversofthevalleysshallrunblood;citiesshallbeburned,
andchurcheslaidinruins;tillatlengththeoppressedshallturnforaseasonand
prevailagainstthestrangers.ForaBoarofCornwallshallariseandrendthem,
andtrampletheirnecksbeneathhisfeet.Theislandshallbesubjecttohispower,
andheshalltaketheforestsofGaul.ThehouseofRomulusshalldreadhim—all
theworldshallfearhim—andhisendshallnomanknow;heshallbeimmortal
inthemouthsofthepeople,andhisworksshallbefoodtothosethattellthem.
“But as for thee, O Vortigern, flee thou the sons of Constantine, for they shall
burntheeinthytower.Forthineownruinwastthoutraitortotheirfather,and
didst bring the Saxon heathens to the land. Aurelius and Uther are even now
upon thee to revenge their father’s murder; and the brood of the white dragon
shallwastethycountry,andshalllickthyblood.Findoutsomerefuge,ifthou
wilt!butwhomayescapethedoomofGod?”
Thekingheardallthis,tremblinggreatly;and,convictedofhissins,saidnothing


inreply.Onlyhehastedthebuildersofhistowerbydayandnight,andrested
nottillhehadfledthereto.
Inthemeantime,Aurelius,therightfulking,washailedwithjoybytheBritons,
whoflockedtohisstandard,andprayedtobeledagainsttheSaxons.Buthe,till
hehadfirstkilledVortigern,wouldbeginnootherwar.Hemarchedthereforeto
Cambria,andcamebeforethetowerwhichtheusurperhadbuilt.Then,crying
outtoallhisknights,“AvengeyeonhimwhohathruinedBritainandslainmy
fatherandyourking!”herushedwithmanythousandsatthecastlewalls.But,
beingdrivenbackagainandyetagain,atlengthhethoughtoffire,andordered
blazingbrandstobecastintothebuildingfromallsides.Thesefindingsoona
proper fuel, ceased not to rage, till spreading to a mighty conflagration, they
burneddownthetowerandVortigernwithinit.
Then did Aurelius turn his strength against Hengist and the Saxons, and,
defeatingtheminmanyplaces,weakenedtheirpowerforalongseason,sothat
thelandhadpeace.
Anontheking,makingmanyjourneystoandfro,restoringruinedchurchesand,
creating order, came to the monastery near Salisbury, where all those British
knights lay buried who had been slain there by the treachery of Hengist. For
wheninformertimesHengisthadmadeasolemntrucewithVortigern,tomeet
inpeaceandsettleterms,wherebyhimselfandallhisSaxonsshoulddepartfrom
Britain,theSaxonsoldierscarriedeveryoneofthembeneathhisgarmentalong
dagger, and, at a given signal, fell upon the Britons, and slew them, to the
numberofnearlyfivehundred.
ThesightoftheplacewherethedeadlaymovedAureliustogreatsorrow,andhe
castaboutinhismindhowtomakeaworthytomboversomanynoblemartyrs,
whohaddiedtherefortheircountry.
When he had in vain consulted many craftsmen and builders, he sent, by the
adviceofthearchbishop,forMerlin,andaskedhimwhattodo.“Ifyouwould
honour the burying-place of these men,” said Merlin, “with an everlasting
monument, send for the Giants’ Dance which is in Killaraus, a mountain in
Ireland;forthereisastructureofstonetherewhichnoneofthisagecouldraise
without a perfect knowledge of the arts. They are stones of a vast size and
wondrousnature,andiftheycanbeplacedhereastheyarethere,roundthisspot
ofground,theywillstandforever.”
At these words of Merlin, Aurelius burst into laughter, and said, “How is it


possibletoremovesuchvaststonesfromsogreatadistance,asifBritain,also,
hadnostonesfitforthework?”
“Ipraytheking,”saidMerlin,“toforbearvainlaughter;whatIhavesaidistrue,
forthosestonesaremysticalandhavehealingvirtues.Thegiantsofoldbrought
them from the furthest coast of Africa, and placed them in Ireland while they
livedinthatcountry:andtheirdesignwastomakebathsinthem,foruseintime
ofgrievousillness.Foriftheywashedthestonesandputthesickintothewater,
it certainly healed them, as also it did them that were wounded in battle; and
thereisnostoneamongthembuthaththesamevirtuestill.”
WhentheBritonsheardthis,theyresolvedtosendforthestones,andtomake
waruponthepeopleofIrelandiftheyofferedtowithholdthem.So,whenthey
hadchosenUthertheking’sbrotherfortheirchief,theysetsail,tothenumberof
15,000men,andcametoIreland.ThereGillomanius,theking,withstoodthem
fiercely,andnottillafteragreatbattlecouldtheyapproachtheGiants’Dance,
thesightofwhichfilledthemwithjoyandadmiration.Butwhentheysoughtto
movethestones,thestrengthofallthearmywasinvain,untilMerlin,laughing
at their failures, contrived machines of wondrous cunning, which took them
downwithease,andplacedthemintheships.
Whenthey hadbrought thewholetoSalisbury,Aurelius,withthecrownupon
hishead,keptforfourdaysthefeastofPentecostwithroyalpomp;andinthe
midstofalltheclergyandthepeople,Merlinraisedupthestones,andsetthem
roundthesepulchreoftheknightsandbarons,astheystoodinthemountainsof
Ireland.
Then was the monument called “Stonehenge,” which stands, as all men know,
upontheplainofSalisburytothisveryday.
SoonthereafteritbefellthatAureliuswasslainbypoisonatWinchester,andwas
himselfburiedwithintheGiants’Dance.
Atthesametimecameforthacometofamazingsizeandbrightness,dartingout
abeam,attheendwhereofwasacloudoffireshapedlikeadragon,fromwhose
mouth went out two rays, one stretching over Gaul, the other ending in seven
lesserraysovertheIrishsea.
At the appearance of this star a great dread fell upon the people, and Uther,
marchingintoCambriaagainstthesonofVortigern,himselfwasverytroubledto
learn what it might mean. Then Merlin, being called before him, cried with a


loud voice: “O mighty loss! O stricken Britain! Alas! the great prince is gone
fromus.AureliusAmbrosiusisdead,whosedeathwillbeoursalso,unlessGod
helpus.Haste,therefore,nobleUther,todestroytheenemy;thevictoryshallbe
thine, and thou shalt be king of all Britain. For the star with the fiery dragon
signifiesthyself;andtherayoverGaulportendsthatthoushalthaveason,most
mighty,whomallthosekingdomsshallobeywhichtheraycovers.”
Thus,forthesecondtime,didMerlinforetellthecomingofKingArthur.And
Uther, when he was made king, remembered Merlin’s words, and caused two
dragonstobemadeingold,inlikenessofthedragonhehadseeninthestar.One
ofthesehegavetoWinchesterCathedral,andhadtheothercarriedintoallhis
wars before him, whence he was ever after called Uther Pendragon, or the
dragon’shead.
Now,whenUtherPendragonhadpassedthroughalltheland,andsettledit—and
evenvoyagedintoallthecountriesoftheScots,andtamedthefiercenessofthat
rebelpeople—hecametoLondon,andministeredjusticethere.Anditbefellata
certain great banquet and high feast which the king made at Easter-tide, there
came, with many other earls and barons, Gorloïs, Duke of Cornwall, and his
wifeIgerna,whowasthemostfamousbeautyinallBritain.Andsoonthereafter,
Gorloïsbeingslaininbattle,UtherdeterminedtomakeIgernahisownwife.But
inordertodothis,andenablehimtocometoher—forshewasshutupinthe
high castle of Tintagil, on the furthest coast of Cornwall—the king sent for
Merlin, to take counsel with him and to pray his help. This, therefore, Merlin
promisedhimononecondition—namely,thatthekingshouldgivehimupthe
firstsonbornofthemarriage.ForMerlinbyhisartsforeknewthatthisfirstborn
shouldbethelong-wishedprince,KingArthur.
WhenUther,therefore,wasatlengthhappilywedded,Merlincametothecastle
onacertainday,andsaid,“Sir,thoumustnowprovidetheeforthenourishingof
thychild.”
Andtheking,nothingdoubting,said,“Beitasthouwilt.”
“Iknowalordofthineinthisland,”saidMerlin,“whoisamanbothtrueand
faithful;lethimhavethenourishingofthechild.HisnameisSirEctor,andhe
hathfairpossessionsbothinEnglandandinWales.When,therefore,thechildis
born,lethimbedelivereduntome,unchristened,atyonderpostern-gate,andI
willbestowhiminthecareofthisgoodknight.”
Sowhenthechildwasborn,thekingbidtwoknightsandtwoladiestotakeit,


bound in rich cloth of gold, and deliver it to a poor man whom they should
discoveratthepostern-gate.AndthechildbeingdeliveredthustoMerlin,who
himself took the guise of a poor man, was carried by him to a holy priest and
christenedbythenameofArthur,andthenwastakentoSirEctor’shouse,and
nourishedatSirEctor’swife’sownbreasts.Andinthesamehouseheremained
privilyformanyyears,nomansoeverknowingwherehewas,saveMerlinand
theking.
Anonitbefellthatthekingwasseizedbyalingeringdistemper,andtheSaxon
heathens,takingtheiroccasion,camebackfromoversea,andswarmeduponthe
land, wasting it with fire and sword. When Uther heard thereof, he fell into a
greater rage than his weakness could bear, and commanded all his nobles to
comebeforehim,thathemightupbraidthemfortheircowardice.Andwhenhe
hadsharplyandhotlyrebukedthem,hesworethathehimself,nighuntodeath
althoughhelay,wouldleadthemforthagainsttheenemy.Thencausingahorselittertobemade,inwhichhemightbecarried—forhewastoofaintandweakto
ride—hewentupwithallhisarmyswiftlyagainsttheSaxons.
Butthey,whentheyheardthatUtherwascominginalitter,disdainedtofight
withhim,sayingitwouldbeshameforbravementofightwithonehalfdead.So
theyretiredintotheircity;and,asitwereinscornofdanger,leftthegateswide
open.ButUtherstraightwaycommandinghismentoassaultthetown,theydid
so without loss of time, and had already reached the gates, when the Saxons,
repentingtoolateoftheirhaughtypride,rushedforthtothedefence.Thebattle
ragedtillnight,andwasbegunagainnextday;butatlast,theirleaders,Octaand
Eosa,beingslain,theSaxonsturnedtheirbacksandfled,leavingtheBritonsa
fulltriumph.
The king at this felt so great joy, that, whereas before he could scarce raise
himselfwithouthelp,henowsatuprightinhislitterbyhimself,andsaid,witha
laughing and merry face, “They called me the half-dead king, and so indeed I
was;butvictorytomehalfdeadisbetterthandefeatandthebesthealth.Forto
diewithhonourisfarbetterthantolivedisgraced.”
But the Saxons, although thus defeated, were ready still for war. Uther would
have pursued them; but his illness had by now so grown, that his knights and
baronskepthimfromtheadventure.Whereattheenemytookcourage,andleft
nothingundonetodestroytheland;until,descendingtothevilesttreachery,they
resolvedtokillthekingbypoison.


Tothisend,ashelaysickatVerulam,theysentandpoisonedstealthilyaspring
ofclearwater,whencehewaswonttodrinkdaily;andso,ontheverynextday,
hewastakenwiththepainsof death,aswerealsoahundredothersafterhim,
beforethevillainywasdiscovered,andheapsofearththrownoverthewell.
Theknightsandbarons,fullofsorrow,nowtookcounseltogether,andcameto
Merlinforhishelptolearntheking’swillbeforehedied,forhewasbythistime
speechless. “Sirs, there is no remedy,” said Merlin, “and God’s will must be
done;butbeyeallto-morrowbeforehim,forGodwillmakehimspeakbefore
hedie.”
So on the morrow all the barons, with Merlin, stood round the bedside of the
king;andMerlinsaidaloudtoUther,“Lord,shallthysonArthurbethekingof
allthisrealmafterthydays?”
Then Uther Pendragon turned him about, and said, in the hearing of them all,
“God’sblessingandminebeuponhim.Ibidhimprayformysoul,andalsothat
heclaimmycrown,orforfeitallmyblessing;”andwiththosewordshedied.
Then came together all the bishops and the clergy, and great multitudes of
people,andbewailedtheking;andcarryinghisbodytotheconventofAmbrius,
theyburieditclosebyhisbrother’sgrave,withinthe“Giants’Dance.”


CHAPTERII
TheMiracleoftheSwordandStone,andthe
CoronationofKingArthur—TheSword
Excalilur—TheWarwiththeElevenKings
DropCaseN
owArthurtheprincehadallthistimebeennourishedinSirEctor’shouseashis
ownson,andwasfairandtallandcomely,beingoftheageoffifteenyears,great
in strength, gentle in manner, and accomplished in all exercises proper for the
trainingofaknight.
But as yet he knew not of his father; for Merlin had so dealt, that none save
Utherandhimselfknewaughtabouthim.Whereforeitbefell,thatmanyofthe
knights and barons who heard King Uther speak before his death, and call his
son Arthur his successor, were in great amazement; and some doubted, and
othersweredispleased.
Anon the chief lords and princes set forth each to his own land, and, raising
armedmenandmultitudesoffollowers,determinedeveryonetogainthecrown
forhimself;fortheysaidintheirhearts,“Iftherebeanysuchasonatallasheof
whom this wizard forced the king to speak, who are we that a beardless boy
shouldhaveruleoverus?”
Sothelandstoodlongingreatperil,foreverylordandbaronsoughtbuthisown
advantage;andtheSaxons,growingevermoreadventurous,wastedandoverran
thetownsandvillagesineverypart.
Then Merlin went to Brice, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and advised him to
require all the earls and barons of the realm and all knights and gentlemen-atarms to come to him at London, before Christmas, under pain of cursing, that
they might learn the will of Heaven who should be king. This, therefore, the
archbishop did, and upon Christmas Eve were met together in London all the
greatestprinces,lords,andbarons;andlongbeforedaytheyprayedinSt.Paul’s


Tài liệu bạn tìm kiếm đã sẵn sàng tải về

Tải bản đầy đủ ngay

×