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loyalty by the love of woman. The stories of Tristram and Gawayne, at first as independent as that of Lancelot, were drawn with it into the whirlpool of Arthurian romance; and when the Church, jealous of the popularity of the legends of chivalry, invented as a counteracting influence the poem of the Sacred Dish, the San Graal, which held the blood of the Cross, invisible to all eyes but those of the pure in heart, the genius of a court poet, Walter de Map, wove the rival legends together, sent Arthur and his knights wandering over sea and land in the quest of the San Graal, and crowned the work by the figure of Sir Galahad, the type of ideal knighthood, without fear and without reproach.”
The Mabinogeon of the Welsh is a repository of early British
The Chronicles of Holinshed (who wrote in the sixteenth century) have supplied to later writers much interesting material for semi-historical romances. The story of King Lear is found in these Chronicles, and is related by Spenser in The Faerie Queene, and appears also in a ballad in Percy's Reliques. Holinshed relates the suicide of Cordelia after the death of Lear, her father. Shakespeare omits this in order to bring his drama to a happy ending, and he takes liberties with the narrative in various details. Shakespeare's Cymbeline is likewise based lightly upon a fragment of history found in Holinshed, though the drama is of no historical value.
The Reliques of Ancient English Poetry was carefully compiled in the last century by Thomas Percy, an English bishop.
Thomas Bulfinch, an Am can writer, published in 1858 The Age of Chivalry, a fine collection of Arthurian legends in the quaint and beautiful English prose of old days. A few years later, Alfred Tennyson, the Laureate of England, wrote, as a tribute to the lamented Prince Consort, a cycle of artistic poems embodying these legends, and entitled Idylls of the King.
Robert Browning has developed into a powerful poem a brief and obscure reference to Childe Roland, which occurs in Shakespeare's King Lear.
1 The suggestion of this poem is a line from “ King Lear”--this, and nothing more: “Childe Roland to the dark tower came.” Who Childe Roland was, where the dark tower was, why he came to the dark tower, what he did when he got there, no commentator on Shakespeare has ever been able to tell. But this mysterious line has a certain fascination, as all mystery has. . . . This is a very mysterious poem, and I doubt not that any one who will read it once will find it so. Perhaps you who read it in the light of this interpretation may find a suggestion in it: I see a man who sets out on some great, noble errand. He
The story of Tristram and Iseult (Isoude) forms the subject of a poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne, entitled Tristram of Lyonesse.
A later revision of Bulfinch's Age of Chivalry, edited by Edward Everett Hale, includes some narratives taken from The Mabinogeon.
References to early British heroes are common in the literature of the United Kingdom and of the United States.
Among the most recent books relating to the subject is A Yankee in King Arthur's Court, by Samuel L. Clemens (“Mark Twain ”). This is a clever satire upon abuses in government and religion. It introduces à representative American of our own realistic age into the shadowy realm of Arthur's mystic court, and abounds in striking and significant contrasts.
A belief in such supernatural agencies as witches, warlocks, etc., has been characteristic of the Scotch, though by no means peculiar to that people. Shakespeare's Macbeth (which is based upon an account in Holinshed's Chronicle) abounds in witches and ghosts.
One of the most popular of all Scotch poems is Tam o' Shanter, by Robert Burns. This was composed but little more than a century ago, and describes a revel of warlocks and witches in “Alloway's auld haunted kirk,” which was witnessed by a drunkard, who unwittingly interrupted the revel, and was pursued by the demoniac crowd to the middle of a stream. Beyond this, according to popular belief, the supernatural beings dared not go, though one of them succeeded in snatching off the tail of Meg, the mare which carried the hero in his flight.
Prince Madoc, a Welsh hero of the twelfth century, who is said to have discovered America and to have founded a colony in the New World, is the subject of a poem by Robert Southey, which was published in 1805. It contains beautiful descriptions, and its subject is
has a noble ideal, to which he swears allegiance-certain principles of life to which he pledges his faith ; but he has been so long delayed in it, the way has been so long, the discouragements so many, the failures of his friends so disappointing, that broken, discouraged, weary, utterly out of heart, not lifted by anything which we think usually lifts the hero, he plods on, and at last comes to where his very ideal is seen, and he is disappointed even in that. A squat tower appears, where once he thought the City of God would lift him. Notwithstanding all this discouragement and weariness and protracted labor, notwithstanding his hopes have almost died away and his effort is relaxed, and even his enthusiasms are wasted at the last, still, true to his word, dauntless he sets to his lips the horn, and blows his blast of defiance and of victory.Oscar C. McCulloch.
one of deep interest. The narrative, however, possesses but little authentic basis.
OWAIN GWYNEDD was one of the greatest of the old Welsh monarchs. His capital was Aberfraw, and he is said to have reigned from 1137 to 1169. According to the story, he had nineteen children, seventeen being sons, of whom Madoc was one. HYWEL, whose mother was an Irish princess, succeeded to the Welsh throne; for, though he was not the oldest, his elder brother was incapacitated for reigning because of a physical injury. While Hywel was making a visit to his mother's estate in Ireland, his brother DavYDD (David) asserted a claim to the throne, in view of his unmixed Welsh blood (for Davydd's mother was a Briton), and Hywell was slain on his return. Davydd became a tyrant, like Macbeth in Shakespeare's play. He slew one of the remaining brothers, imprisoned another, and banished the rest—all except Madoc, who was commander of the fleet. The armament under Madoc's command appears to have been strong enough to oppose successfully the British fleet at the mouth of Menai Strait, in a somewhat important conflict which occurred in 1142. Prince Madoc did not wait to experience in his own person his brother's fury, but, leaving his embroiled country, he set sail for unknown regions to the west of the British Isles. To what shore he went no one can assert with any certainty; but it is said that he sailed over the broad Atlantic until he reached a vast unknown land on the other side. From the new-found world he subsequently returned to Wales, with glowing accounts of his discovery. These must have been highly encouraging, for he was able to fit out speedily a second expedition of ten ships and about three hundred people. His brother RIRYD, of Ireland, joined fortunes with him.
The ships set sail from the isle of Anglesea. A small port about five miles from Holyhead was the scene of the departure. The fate of this expedition is unknown.
THE FAERIE QUEENE.
BY EDMUND SPENSER.
BOOK II.-CANTO X.
A chronicle of Briton kings,
From Brute to Uther's reign.
The land which warlike Britons now possess,
Ne did it then deserve a name to have,
But far inland a savage nation dwelt
i The name is derived from Albus, meaning white.
And flying fast as roebuck through the fen,
But whence they sprang, or how they were begot,
abhor her broods' unkindly crime,
But ere he had established his throne,