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Sir Kay beheld that ladye againe,
And looked upon her snout; Whoever kisses that ladye, he sayes,
Of his kisse he stands in doubt.
Peace, brother Kay, sayde sir Gawaine,
And amend thee of thy life:
Must marry her to his wife.
l' the devil's name anone;
Iu sooth shee shall be none.
Then some tooke up their hawkes in haste,
And some took up their houndes; And sayd they wolde not marry her,
75 For cities, nor for townes. Then bespake him king Arthure,
And sware there by this daye;
80 Peace, lordings, peace; sir Gawaine sayd;
Nor make debate and strife; This lothlye ladye I will take,
And marry her to my wife.
And a blessinge be thy meede!
Thou never shalt rue this deede.
Then up they took that lothly dame,
And home anone they bringe: And there sir Gawaine he her wed,
And married her with a ringe. Percy. III.
And when they were in wed-bed laid,
And all were done awaye: “Come turne to mee, mine owne wed-lord,
Come turne to mee I praye.”
Sir Gawaine scant could lift his head,
For sorrowe and for care;
Hee sawe a young ladye faire.
Her eyen were blacke as sloe:
And all her necke was snowe.
Sir Gawaine kiss'd that lady faire,
Lying upon the sheete:
The spice was never so sweete.
Lying there by his side:
Thou never can’st bee my bride.”
The same whiche thou didst knowe,
Upon the wild more to goe:
And make thy choice with care;
Shall I be foule or faire ?
“To have thee foule still in the night,
When I with thee should playe! I had rather farre, my lady deare,
To have thee foule by daye."
What when gaye ladyes goe with their lordes
To drinke the ale and wine; Alas! then I must hide myself,
I must not goe with mine?
I yield me to thy skille;
Thou shalt have all thy wille.”
And the daye that I thee see;
Soe shall I ever bee.
My father was an aged knighte,
And yet it chanced soe,
Whiche broughte me to this woe.
In the greene forest to dwelle;
Most like a fiend of helle.
Midst mores and mosses; woods, and wilds;
To lead a lonesome life:
Wolde marrye me to his wife:
Such was her devilish skille;
And let mee have all my wille.
And made him stiffe and stronge;
But now the spelle is broken throughe,
King Ryence's Challenge.
THIS song is more modern than many of those which follow it, but is placed here for the sake of the subject. It was sung before Queen Elizabeth at the grand entertainment at Kenilworth Castle in 1575, and was probably composed for that occasion. In a letter describing those festivities it is thus mentioned: "A Minstral came forth with a sollem song, warranted for story out of K. Arthur's acts, whereof I gat a copy, and is this:
"So it fell out on a Pentecost," &c.
After the song the narrative proceeds: "At this the Minstrell made a pause and a curtezy for Primus Passus. More of the song is thear, but I gatt it not.”
The story in Morte Arthur, whence it is taken, runs as follows: "Came a messenger hastely from king Ryence of North Wales, saying, that king Ryence had discomfited and overcomen eleaven kings, and everiche of them did him homage, and that was this: they gave him their beards cleane flayne off, wherefore the messenger came for king Arthur's beard, for king Ryence had purfeled a mantell with kings beards, and there lacked for one a place of the mantell, wherefore he sent for his beard, or else he would enter into his lands, and brenn and slay, and never leave till he have thy head and thy beard. Well, said king Arthur, thou hast said thy message, which is the most villainous and lewdest message that ever man heard sent to a king. Also thou mayest see y beard is full young yet for to make a purfell of, but tell 1 the king that—or it be long he shall do to me homage
on both his knees, or else he shall leese his head." [B. i. c. 24. See also the same Romance, b. i. c. 92.]
The thought seems to be originally taken from Jeff. Monmouth's Hist. b. x. c. 3, which is alluded to by Drayton in his Poly-Olb. Song iv., and by Spenser in Faer. Queen, vi. 1 13, 15. See Warton's Observations on Spenser, vol.ii. page 223.
The following text is composed of the best readings selected from three different copies. The first in Enderbie's Cambria Triumphans, p. 197. The second in the Letter above mentioned. And the third inserted in MS. in a copy of Morte Arthur, 1632, in the Bodl. library.
Stow tells us, that king Arthur kept his round table at "diverse places, but especially at Carlion, Winchester, and Camalet, in Somersetshire." This Camalet, "sometimes a famous towne or castle, is situate on a very high tor or hill," &c. [See an exact description in Stow's Annals, ed. 1631, p.55.]
As it fell out on a Pentecost day,
King Arthur at Camelot kept his court royall,
A doughty dwarfe to the uppermost deas
Right pertlye gan pricke, kneeling on knee;
Sayd, Nowe sir king Arthur, God save thee, and see!
And bids thee thy beard anon to him send,
1 Largesse, Largesse. The heralds resounded these words as oft as they received the bounty of the knights. See Mémoires de la Chevalerie, tom. i. p. 99. The expression is still used in the form of installing knights of the garter.