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For his robe of state is a rich scarlet mantle,

With eleven kings beards bordered a 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;

Princés puff'd; barons blustred; lords began lower;

Knights stormed; squires startled, like steeds in a stower: Pages and yeomen yell’d out in the hall, Then in came sir Kay, the ‘king's' seneschal. Silence, my soveraignes, quoth this courteous knight,

And in that stound the stowre began still: "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 1. e. set round the border, as furs are now round the gowns of magis

trates.

IV.
King Arthur's Death.

A FRAGMENT.

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 pittie.
Ere the first crowinge of the cocke,

5
When as the kinge in his bed laye,
He thoughte sir Gawaine to him camel,

And there to him these wordes did saye. 1 Sir Gawaine had been killed at Arthur's landing on his return from abroad. See the next ballad, ver. 73,

10

15

20

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.
The kinge then call’d his nobles all,

Before the breakinge of the daye;
And tolde them howe sir Gawaine came,

And there to him these wordes did saye.
His nobles all this counsayle gave,

That earlye in the morning, hee
Shold send awaye an herauld at armes,

To aske a parley faire and free.
Then twelve good knightes king Arthur chose,

The best of all that with him were:
To parley with the foe in field,

And make with him agreement faire.
The king he charged all his hoste,

In readinesse there for to bee:
But noe man sholde noe weapon sturre,

Unlesse a sword drawne they shold see.
And Mordred on the other parte,

Twelve of his knights did likewise bringe; The best of all his companye,

To hold the parley with the kinge.
Sir Mordred alsoe charged his hoste,

In readinesse there for to bee;
But noe man sholde noe weapon sturre,

But if a sworde drawne they shold see.

25

30

35

40 45

For he durste not his unkle truste,

Nor he his nephewe, sothe to tell:
Alacke! it was a woefulle case,

As ere in Christentye befelle.
But when they were together mette,

And both to faire accordance broughte;
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: Alacke! it was a woefulle chance,

As ever was in Christentie.

50

55

When the knighte found him wounded sore,

And sawe the wilde-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.

60

65

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:

70

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

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: And must yee then, ye valiant hearts,

Be lefte to moulder into dust?

75

Most loyal have yee been to mee,

Most true and faithful unto deathe: And, oh! to rayse yee up againe,

How freelye could I yield my breathe!

80

But see, the traitor's yet alive,

Lo where hee stalkes among the deade!
Nowe bitterlye he shall abye:
And vengeance fall upon

his head.

85

O staye, my liege, then sayd the duke;

O staye for love and charitie: Remember what the vision spake,

Nor meete your foe, if it may bee.

90

0, 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.

95

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!

100

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