Sidor som bilder

For his robe of state is a rich scarlet mantle,
With eleven kings beards bordered2 about,
And there is room lefte yet in a kantle,
For thine to stande, to make the twelfth out.
This must be done, be thou never so stout;
This must be done, I tell thee no fable,
Maugre the teethe of all thy Round Table."

When this mortal message from his mouthe past,
Great was the noyse bothe in hall and in bower:

The king fum'd; the queene screecht; ladies were aghast; Princes puff'd; barons blustred; lords began lower; Knights stormed; squires startled, like steeds in a


Pages and yeomen yell'd out in the hall;
Then in came Sir Kay, the 'king's' seneschal.

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"Silence, my soveraignes," quoth this courteous knight, And in that stound the stowre began still:


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Then' the dwarfe's dinner full deerely was dight;
Of wine and wassel he had his wille,

And when he had eaten and drunken his fill,

An hundred pieces of fine coyned gold

Were given this dwarf for his message bold.


"But say to Sir Ryence, thou dwarf," quoth the king, "That for his bold message I do him defye,

And shortlye with basins and pans will him ring
Out of North-Gales; where he and I

With swords, and not razors, quickly shall trye, Whether he, or King Arthur, will prove the best barbor :" And therewith he shook his good sword Escalàbor.






*Strada, in his Prolusions, has ridiculed the story of the giant's mantle, made of the beards of kings.

2 i. e. set round the border, as furs are now round the gowns of magis.



King Arthur's Death.


The subject of this ballad is evidently taken from the old romance Morte Arthur, but with some variations, especially in the concluding stanzas; in which the author seems rather to follow the traditions of the old Welsh bards, who "believed that King Arthur was not dead, but conveied awaie by the Fairies into some pleasant place, where he should remaine for a time, and then returne againe and reign in as great authority as ever."-Holinshed, b. v. c. 14; or, as it is expressed in an old Chronicle printed at Antwerp 1493, by Ger. de Leew, "The Bretons supposen, that he [K. Arthur]-shall come yet and conquere all Bretaigne, for certes this is the prophicye of Merlyn: He sayd, that his deth shall be doubteous; and sayd soth, for men thereof yet have doubte, and shullen for ever more,-for men wyt not whether that he lyveth or is dede." See more ancient testimonies in Selden's Notes on Poly Olbion, Song iii.

This fragment, being very incorrect and imperfect in the original MS., hath received some conjectural emendations, and even a supplement of three or four stanzas composed from the romance of Morte Arthur.

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ON Trinitye Mondaye in the morne,
This sore battayle was doom'd to bee,
Where manye a knighte cry'd, Well-awaye!
Alacke, it was the more pittìe.


Ere the first crowinge of the cocke,
When as the kinge in his bed laye,


He thoughte Sir Gawaine to him came,1

And there to him these wordes did saye:

"Nowe, as you are mine unkle deare,
And as you prize your life, this daye
O meet not with your foe in fighte;

Putt off the battayle, if yee maye.

"For Sir Launcelot is nowe in Fraunce,


And with him many an hardye knighte:
Who will within this moneth be backe,
And will assiste yee in the fighte."


Sir Gawaine had been killed at Arthur's landing on his return from

abroad. See the next ballad, ver. 73.

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And make with him agreement faire.

The king he charged all his hoste,

In readinesse there for to bee;


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And a month's league betweene them sette,
Before the battayle sholde be foughte,

An addere crept forth of a bushe,

Stunge one o' th' king's knightes on the knee; 50 Alacke! it was a woefulle chance,

As ever was in Christentìe.

Ver. 41, 42, the folio MS. reads father.... sonne.

When the knighte found him wounded sore,
And sawe the wild-worm hanginge there,
His sworde he from his scabberde drewe;
A piteous case, as ye shall heare.

For when the two hostes sawe the sworde,
They joyned battayle instantlye;
Till of soe manye noble knightes,


On one side there were left but three.


For all were slain that durst abide,

And but some fewe that fled awaye :

Ay mee! it was a bloodye fielde,

As ere was foughte on a summer's daye.


Upon King Arthur's own partyè,

Onlye himselfe escaped there,

And Lukyn Duke of Gloster free,
And the king's butler Bedevere.

And when the king beheld his knightes
All dead and scattered on the molde,


The teares fast trickled downe his face;

That manlye face in fight so bolde.

"Nowe reste yee all, brave knights," he said,

"Soe true and faithful to your trust:

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Lo where hee stalkes among the deade! Nowe bitterlye he shall abye:

And vengeance fall upon his head."

"O staye, my liege," then sayd the duke; "O staye for love and charitìe;

Remember what the vision spake,

Nor meete your foe, if it may bee."


"O staye mee not, thou worthye wight, This debt my loyal knights I owe : Betide me life, betide me death,

I will avenge them of their foe."

Then straite he grasp'd his trustye speare,
And on his horse then mounted hee:
As his butler holpe him to his horse,
His bowels gushed to his knee.
"Alas!" then sayd the noble king,

"That I should live this sight to see! To see this good knight here be slaine, All for his love in helping mee!"

He put his speare into his reste,

And to Sir Mordred loud gan crye; "Nowe sette thyself upon thy guarde, For, traitor, nowe thy death is nye."

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Sir Mordred lifted up his sworde,


And fierce to meet the king ran hee:

The king his speare he through him thrust,
A fathom thorow his bodìe.

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Sir Lukyn then he thus bespake :

"Sir Knighte, thou hast been faithfulle tryde;

Nowe take my sword Excalibar,2

That hangs so freelye by my syde;


"O take my sword Excalibar,

And there into the river throwe:

For here, henceforth, benethe this tree,

All use of weapons I foregoe.

More commonly called Caliburn. In the folio MS. Escalberd

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