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NOTES

TO

CANTO FIRST.

Note I.
As when the Champion of the Lake
Enters Morgana's fated house,
Or in the Chapel Perilous,
Despising spells and demons' force,

Holds converse with the unburied corse.-P. 20. The Romance of the Morte Arthur contains a sort of abridgment of the most celebrated adventures of the Round Table; and, being written in comparatively modern language, gives the general reader an excellent idea of what romances of chi. valry actually were. It has also the merit of being written in pure old English; and many of the wild adventures which it contains, are told with a simplicity bordering upon the sublime. Several of these are referred to in the text; and I would have illustrated them by more full extracts, but as this curious work is about to be republished, I confine myself to the tale of the Chapel Perilous, and of the quest of Sir Launcelot after the Sangreall.

· Right so Sir Launcelot departed; and when he came to the Chapell Perilous, he alighted downe, and tied his horse to a little gate. And as soon as he was within the church-yard, heç saw, on the front of the chapell, many faire rich shields turned upside downe, and many of the shields Sir Launcelot had seene knights bave before; with that hee saw stand by hin thirtie great knights, more, by a yard, than any man that ever hee had seene, and all those grinned and gnashed at Sir Launcelot; and when hee saw their countenance, bee dread them sore, and so put his shield afore him, and tooke his sword in his hand, ready to doe battaile; and they were all armed in black harneis, ready, with their shields and swords drawen. And when Sir Launcelot would have gone through them, they scattered on every side of him, and gave him the way, and therewith hee waxed all bold, and entered into the chapell, and then hee saw no light but a dimme lampe burning, and then was he ware of a corps covered with a cloath of silke ; then Sir Launcelot stooped downe, and cut a peece of that cloath away, and then it fared under him as the earth had quaked a little, whereof he was a feard, and then hee saw a faire sword lye by the dead knight, and that he gat in his hand, and hied him out of the chappell. As soon as he was in the chappell-yerd, all the knights spoke to him with a grimly voice, and said, "Knight Sir Launcelot, lay that sword from thee, or else thou shalt die.' Whether I live or die,' said Sir Launcelot, with no great words get yee it againe, therefore, fight for it and yee list.' Therewith he passed through them; and, beyond the chappell-yard, there meet him a faire damosell, and said, 'Sir Launcelot, leave that sword behind thee, or thou wilt die for it.' 'I will not leave it,' said Sir Launcelot, 'for no threats.' 'No;' said she, “and ye did leave that sword, Queene Guenever should ye never see.' "Then were I a foole and I would leave this sword,' said Sir Launcelot. Now, gentle kpight,' said the damosell, 'I require thee to kisse mee once. Nay,' said Sir Launcelot, that, God forbid ! "Well, sir,' said she, “and thou baddest kissed me, thy life dayes had been done; but now, alas” said she, “I have lost all my labour; for I ordeined this chappell for thy sake, and for Sir Gawaine: and once I had Sir Gawaine within it; and at that time he fought with that knight which there lieth dead in yonder chappell, Sir Gilbert the bastard, and at that time hee smote off Sir Gilbert the bastard's left 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 rejoyce 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 my life daies, and daily I should have clipped thee, and kissed thee in the despite of Queene Guenever,' 'Yee say well;' said Sir Launcelot, “Jesus preserve me from your subtill crafts! And therewith he took his horse and departed from her."

Note II.
A sinful man, and unconfessed,
He took the Sangreal's holy quest,
And, slumbering, saw the vision high,

He might not view with waking eye.-P. 20. One day, when Arthur was holding a high feast with his Knights of the Round Table, the Sangreall, or vessel out of which 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 Sangreall. 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 be 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 ston that was of marble; but it was so darke that Sir Launcelot might not well know what it was. Then Sir Launcelot looked by him, and saw an old chappell, and there be wend to have found people. And so Sir Launcelot tied his horse to a tree, and There hee put off his shield, and bung it upon a tree, and then hee went unto the chappell doore, and found it wasted and broken. And within he found a faire alter full richly arrayed with cloth of silk, and there stood a faire candelstick, which beare six great candels, 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 hee could find no place where hee might enter. Then was he passing heavie and dismaied. Then hee 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 laide 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 palfryes, 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 bim say, 'Oh sweete Lord, when shall this sorrow leave me, and when shall the holy vessel 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 vessell of the Sancgreall, the which Sir Launcelot had seene 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 heede to mee, that I may bee hole of this great malady.' And herewith 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 unto the chappell againe, with the candlesticke and the light, so that Sir Launcelot wist not where it became, for he vas overtaken with sinne, that hee had no power to arise against the holy vessell, wherefore afterward many men said

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