Page images


GEOFFREY OF MONMOUTH In my opinion, whoever pretends to it, must

disguise her real sentiments under the veil of (c. 1100-1154)

flattery. I have always loved you as a father, THE STORY OF KING LEIR

nor do I yet depart from my purposed duty;

and if you insist to have something more ex. After this unhappy fate of Bladud, Leir, his torted from me, hear now the greatness of my son, was advanced to the throne, and nobly affection, which I always bear you, and take governed his country sixty years. He built this for a short answer to all your questions ; upon the river Sore a city, called in the British look how much you have, so much is your value, tongue, Kaerleir, in the Saxon, Leircestre. He and so much do I love you." The father, supwas without male issue, but had three daugh: posing that she spoke this out of the abundters, whose names were Gonorilla, Regau, and

ance of her heart, was highly provoked, and Cordeilla, of whom he was dotingly fond, but immediately replied, “Since you have so far especially of his youngest, Cordeilla. When he despised my old age as not to think me worthy began to grow old, he had thoughts of dividing the love that your sisters express for me, you his kingdom among them, and of bestowing shall have from me the like regard, and shall them on such husbands as were fit to be ad-be excluded from any share with your sisters vanced to the government with them. But to in my kingdom. Notwithstanding, I do not say make trial who was worthy to have the best but that since you are my daughter, I will part of his kingdom, he went to each of them marry you to some foreigner, if fortune offers to ask which of them loved him most. The

you any such husband; but will never, I do question being proposed, Gonorilla, the eldest, assure you, make it my business to procure so made answer, “That she called heaven to wit- honourable a match for you as for your sisness, she loved him more than her own soul.'

ters; because, though I have hitherto loved you The father replied, “Since you have preferred

more than them, you have in requital thought my declining age before your own life, I will me less worthy of your affection than they." marry you, my dearest daughter, to whomso- And, without further delay, after consultation ever you shall make choice of, and give with with his nobility, he bestowed his two other you the third part of my kingdom.”. Then daughters upon the dukes of Cornwall and AlRegau, the second daughter, willing, after the bania, with half the island at present, but after example of her sister, to prevail upon her his death, the inheritance of the whole mon. father's good nature, answered with an oath, archy of Britain. "That she could not otherwise express her

It happened after this, that Aganippus, king thoughts, but that she loved him above all of the Franks, having heard of the fame of creatures.'

The credulous father upon this Cordeilla's beauty, forthwith sent his ambassamade her the same promise that he did to her dors to the king to demand her in marriage. eldest sister, that is, the choice of a husband, The father, retaining yet his anger towards her, with the third part of his kingdom. But Cor- made answer, “That he was very willing to bedeilla, the youngest, understanding how easily stow his daughter, but without either money he was satisfied with the flattering expressions

or territories; because he had already given of her sisters, was desirous to make trial of his away his kingdom with all his treasure to his affection after different manner. “My eldest daughters, Gonorilla and Regau.” When father,” said she, “is there any daughter that this was told Aganippus, he, being very much can love her father more than duty requires?in love with the lady, sent again to king Leir,

to tell him, “That he had money and terriFrom the Historia Britonum Regum, Book II,

tories enough, as he possessed the third part of Chapters XI.-XIV. Translation

the Gaul, and desired no more than his daughter Latin edited by J. A. Giles. See Eng. Lit., p. only, that he might have heirs by her.” At 37.



last the match was concluded; Cordeilla was which, with deep sighs and tears, he burst forth sent to Gaul, and married to Aganippus. into the following complaint:

A long time after this, when Leir came to be “0 irreversible decrees of the Fates, that infirm through old age, the two dukes, on whom never swerve from your stated course! why did he had bestowed Britain with his two daughters, you ever advance me to an unstable felicity, fostered an insurrection against him, and de- since the punishment of lost happiness is prived him of his kingdom, and of all regal au- greater than the sense of present misery? The thority, which he had bitherto exercised with remembrance of the time when vast numbers great power and glory. At length, by mutual of men obsequiously attended me in the taking agreement, Maglaunus, duke of Albania, one of the cities and wasting the enemy's countries, his sons-in-law, was to allow him a mainte- more deeply pierces my heart than the view of nance at his own house, together with sixty sol- | my present calamity, which has exposed me to diers, who were to be kept for state. After the derision of those who were formerly prostwo years' stay with his son-in-law, his daugh- trate at my feet. Oh! the enmity of fortune! ter Gonorilla grudged the number of his men, Shall I cver again see the day when I may be who began to upbraid the ministers of the able to reward those according to their deserts court with their scanty allowance; and, having who have forsaken me in my distress? How spoken to her husband about it, she gave orders true was thy answer, Cordeilla, when I asked that the number of her father's followers should thee concerning thy love to me, “As much as be reduced to thirty, and the rest discharged. you have, so much is your value, and so much The father, resenting this treatment, left Mag. do I love you.' While I had anything to give, launus, and went to Henuinus, duke of Corn they valued me, being friends, not to me, but wall, to whom he had married his daughter to my gifts: they loved me then, but they loved Regau. Here he met with an honourable recep my gifts much more: when my gifts ceased, my tion, but before the year was at an end, a friends vanished. But with what face shall I quarrel happened between the two families presume to see you, my dearest daughter, since which raised Regau's indignation; so that she in my anger I married you upon worse terms commanded her father to discharge all his at than your sisters, who, after all the mighty tendants but five, and to be contented with their favours they have received from me, suffer me service. This second affliction was insupportable to be in banishment and poverty?" to him, and made him return again to his former As he was lamenting his condition in these daughter, with hopes that the misery of his and the like expressions, he arrived at Karitia,1 condition might move in her some sentiments of where his daughter was, and waited before the filial piety, and that he, with his family, might city while he sent a messenger to inform her find a subsistence with her. But she, not for- of the misery he was fallen into, and to desire getting her resentment, swore by the gods he her relief for a father who suffered both hunger should not stay with her, unless he would dis- and nakedness. Cordeilla was startled at the miss his retinue, and be contented with the at. news, and wept bitterly, and with tears asked tendance of one man; and with bitter re. how many men her father had with him. The proaches she told him how ill his desire of vain messenger answered, he had none but one man, glorious pomp suited his age and poverty. who had been his armour-bearer, and was stay. When he found that she was by no means to be ing with him without the town. Then she took prevailed upon, he was at last forced to com. what money she thought might be sufficient, ply, and, dismissing the rest, to take up with and gave it to the messenger, with orders to one man only. But by this time he began to carry her father to another city, and there give reflect more sensibly with himself upon the out that he was sick, and to provide for him grandeur from which he had fallen, and the bathing, clothes, and all other nourishment. She miserable state to which he was now reduced, likewise gave orders that he should take into and to enter upon thoughts of going beyond his service forty men, well clothed and acsea to his youngest daughter. Yet he doubted coutred, and that when all things were thus whether he should be able to move her commis- prepared he should notify his arrival to king seration, because (as was related above) he Aganippus and his daughter. The messenger had treated her so unworthily. However, dis- quickly returning, carried Leir to another city, daining to bear any longer such base usage, he and there kept him concealed, till he had done took ship for Gaul. In his passage he observed everything that Cordeilla had commanded. he had only the third place given him among the princes that were with him in the ship, at

1 Calais

As soon as he was provided with his royal wood, and continued three days in that place. apparel, ornaments, and retinue, he sent word The Saxons, having now no provisions to susto Aganippus and his daughter, that he was tain them, and being just ready to starve with driven out of his kingdom of Britain by his hunger, begged for leave to go out; in considsons-in-law, and was come to them to procure eration whereof they offered to leave all their their assistance for recovering his dominions. gold and silver behind them, and return back Upon which they, attended with their chief | to Germany with nothing but their empty ships. ministers of state and the nobility of the king. They promised also that they would pay him dom, went out to meet him, and received him tribute from Germany, and leave hostages with honourably, and gave into his management the him. Arthur, after consultation about it, whole power of Gaul, till such time as he should granted their petition; allowing them only leave be restored to his former dignity.

to depart, and retaining all their treasures, as In the meantime Aganippus sent officers over also hostages for payment of the tribute. But all Gaul to raise an army, to restore his father- as they were under sail on their return home, in-law to his kingdom of Britain. Which done, they repented of their bargain, and tacked Leir returned to Britain with his son and about again towards Britain, and went on shore daughter and the forces which they had raised, at Totness. No sooner were they landed, than where he fought with his sons-in-law and routed they made an utter devastation of the country them. Having thus reduced the whole kingdom as far as the Severn sea, and put all the peasto his power, he died the third year after. ants to the sword. From thence they pursued Aganippus also died; and Cordeilla, obtaining their furious march to the town of Bath, and the government of the kingdom, buried her laid siege to it. When the king had intellifather in a certain vault, which she ordered to gence of it, he was beyond measure surprised at be made for him under the river Sore, in Lei- their proceedings, and immediately gave orders eester, and which had been built originally for the execution of the hostages. And desistunder the ground to the honour of the goding from an attempt which he had entered Janus. And here all the workmen of the city, upon to reduce the Scots and Picts, he marched upon the anniversary solemnity of that festival, with the utmost expedition to raise the siege; used to begin their yearly labours.

but laboured under very great difficulties, be

cause he had left his nephew Hoel sick at ARTHUR MAKES THE Saxons His TRIBUTARIES Alclud.2 At length, having entered the province

After a few days they went to relieve the of Somerset, and beheld how the siege was carcity Kaerliudcoit, that was besieged by the ried on, he addressed himself to his followers pagans; which being situated upon a moun in these words: “Since these impious and detain, between two rivers in the province of testable Saxons have disdained to keep faith Lindisia, is called by another name Lindoco with me, I, to keep faith with God, will enlinum.1 As soon as they arrived there with all deavour to revenge the blood of my countrymen their forces, they fought with the Saxons, and this day upon them. To arms, soldiers, to arms, made a grievous slaughter of them, to the num- and courageously fall upon the perfidious ber of six thousand; part of whom vere wretches, over whom we shall, with Christ asdrowned in the rivers, part fell by the hands sisting us, undoubtedly obtain victory.of the Britons. The rest in a great consterna- When he had done speaking, St. Dubricius, tion quitted the siege and fled, but were closely archbishop of Legions,3 going to the top of a pursued by Arthur, till they came to the wood hill, cried out with a loud voice, “You that of Celidon, where they endeavoured to form have the honour to profess the Christian faith, themselves into a body again, and make a stand. keep fixed in your minds the love which you And here they again joined battle with the owe to your country and fellow subjects, whose Britons, and made a brave defence, whilst the sufferings hy the treachery of the pagans will trees that were in the place secured them be an everlasting reproach to you, if you do not against the enemies' arrows. Arthur, seeing courageously defend them. It is your country this, commanded the trees that were in that part which you fight for, and for which you should, of the wood to be cut down, and the trunks to when required, voluntarily suffer death; for be placed quite round them, so as to hinder that itself is victory and the cure of the soul. their getting out; resolving to keep them pent For he that shall die for his brethren, offers up here till he could reduce them by famine. himself a living sacrifice to God, and has Christ He then commanded his troops to besiege the

2 Dumbarton

3 The City of Legions (now Newport) in South 2 During the Roman occupation. i Lincoln

Wales, where the Roman legions wintered.


for his example, who condescended to lay down brother, and many thousands more fell before his life for his brethren. If therefore any of them. But Cheldric, in this imminent danger you shall be killed in this war, that death of his men, betook himself to fight.-From itself, which is suffered in so glorious a cause, the same; Book IX, Ch. III, IV. shall be to him for penance and absolution of all his sins." At these words, all of them encouraged with the benediction of the holy pre- FROM THE ANCREN RIWLE late, instantly armed themselves, and prepared

(ANCHORESSES' RULE.)* to obey his orders. Also Arthur himself, having put on a coat of mail suitable to the Do you now ask what rule you anchoresses grandeur of so powerful a king, placed a golden should observe? Ye should by all means, with helmet upon his head, on which was engraven all your might and all your strength, keep well the figure of a dragon; and on his shoulders his the inward rule, and for its sake the outward. shield called Priwen; upon which the picture of The inward rule is always alike. The outward the blessed Mary, mother of God, was painted, is various, because every one ought so to obin order to put him frequently in mind of her. serve the outward rule as that the body may Then girding on his Caliburn,4 which was an therewith best serve the inward. All may and excellent sword made in the isle of Avallon, he ought to observe one rule concerning purity of graced his right hand with his lance, namell heart, that is, a clean unstained conscience, Ron, which was hard, broad, and fit for slaugh without any reproach of sin that is not reme ter. After this, having placed his men in order, died by confession. This the body rule effects. he boldly attacked the Saxons, who were drawn This rule is framed not by man's contrivance, out in the shape of a wedge, as their manner but by the command of God. Wherefore, it

And they, notwithstanding that the Brit- ever is and shall be the same, without mixture ons fought with great eagerness, made a noble, and without change; and all men ought ever defence all that day; but at length, towards | invariably to observe it. But the external rule, sunsetting, climbed up the next mountain, which which I called the handmaid, is of man's conserved them for a camp: for they desired no trivance; nor is it instituted for any thing else larger extent of ground, since they confided but to serve the internal law. It ordains fastvery much in their numbers. The next morning ing, watching, enduring cold, wearing haircloth, Arthur, with his army, went up the mountain, and such other hardships as the flesh of many but lost many of his men in the ascent, by the can bear and many cannot. Wherefore, this advantage which the Saxons had in their station rule may be changed and varied according to on the top, from whence they could pour down every one's state and circumstances. For some upon him with much greater speed than he was are strong, some are weak, and may very well able to advance against them. Notwithstanding, be excused, and please God with less; some are after a very hard struggle, the Britons gained learned, and some are not, and must work the the summit of the hill and quickly came to a more, and say their prayers at the stated hours close engagement with the enemy, who again in a different manner; some are old and ill gave them a warm reception, and made a vig. favoured, of whom there is less fear; some are orous defence. In this manner was a great young and lively, and have need to be more part of that day also spent; whereupon Arthur, | on their guard. Every anchoress must, thereprovoked to see the little advantage he had yet fore, observe the outward rule according to the gained and that victory still continued in sus- advice of her confessor, and do obediently whatpense, drew out his Caliburn, and, calling upon ever he enjoins and commands her, who knows the name of the blessed Virgin, rushed forward

These “Rules and Duties of Monastic Life" were with great fury into the thickest of the enemy's prepared (c. 1210) for the guidance of a little ranks; of whom (such was the merit of his

society of three nuns who dwelt at Tarente,

in Dorsetshire--"gentlewomen, sisters, of one prayers) not one escaped alive that felt the father and of one mother, who had in the fury of his sword; neither did he give over the

bloom of their youth forsaken all the pleas

ures of the world and become anchoresses. fury of his assault until he had, with his Cali- The book consists of eight chapters, the first burn alone, killed four hundred and seventy

and last of which deal with the "outward

rule," the others with the inward rule." The Britons, seeing this, followed their

is possibly the work of Richard Poor leader in great multitudes, and made slaughter

1237), Bishop of Salisbury, who was bene


Very on all sides; so that Colgrin, and Baldulph his marked is the spirit of charity and tolerance

in which it written. Moreover,

It (d.









among the best examples of simple, eloquent 4 The famous Excalibur.

prose in English antedating the English Bible. Our translation is that of James Morton.

6 Leader of the Saxons.

her state and strength. He may modify the who loveth carnal pleasures, and seeketh her outward rule, as prudence may direct, and as ease, the heaviness of her flesh and its desires he sees that the inward rule may thus be best deprive her of her power of flying; and though kept.

she makes a pretense and much noise with her

wings; that is, makes it appear as if she flew, When you first arise in the morning bless and were a holy anchoress, whoever looks at yourselves with the sign of the cross and say, her narrowly, laughs her to scorn; for her feet, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, as doth the ostrich's, which are her lusts, draw and of the Holy Ghost, Amen,” and begin di- her to the earth. Such are not like the meagre rectly “Creator Spirit, Come,” with your eyes pelican, nor do they fly aloft, but are birds of and your hands raised up toward heaven, bend- the earth, and make their nests on the ground. ing forward on your knees upon the bed, and But God called the good anchoresses birds of thus say the whole hymn to the end, with the heaven, as I said before: Vulpes foveas versicle, “Send forth Thy Holy Spirit,” and habent et volucres culi nidos.' Foxes have the prayer, “God, who didst teach the hearts their holes, and birds of heaven their nests.' of thy faithful people,” etc. After this, put

True anchoresses are indeed birds of heaven, ting on your shoes and your clothes, say the that fly aloft, and sit on the green boughs sing. Paternosteri and the Creed,2 and then, “Jesus ing merrily; that is, they meditate, enraptured, Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on upon the blessedness of heaven that never fadus! Thou who didst condescend to be born eth, but is ever green; and sit on this green, of a virgin, have mercy on us!” Continue say- singing right merrily; that is, in such meditaing these words until you be quite dressed. tion they rest in peace and have gladness of Have these words much in use, and in your heart, as those who sing. A bird, however, mouth as often as ye may, sitting and standing. sometimes alighteth down on the earth to seek

his food for the need of the flesh; but while he True anchoresses are compared to birds; for sits on the ground he is never secure, and is they leave the earth; that is, the love of all often turning himself, and always looking cauearthly things; and through yearning of heart tiously around. Even so, the pious recluse, after heavenly things, fly upward toward though she fly ever so high, must at times alight heaven. And, although they fly high, with high down to the earth in respect of her body-and and holy life, yet they hold the head low, eat, drink, sleep, work, speak, and hear, when through meek humility, as a bird flying boweth it is necessary, of earthly things. But then, down its head, and accounteth all her good as the bird doth, she must look well to herself, deeds and good works nothing worth, and saith, and turn her eyes on every side, lest she be de

our Lord taught all his followers, Cum ceivel, and be caught in some of the devil's omnia bene feceritis, dicite quod servi inutiles snares, or hurt in any way, while she sits so estis;' When ye have done all well,” saith low. the Lord, “say that ye are unprofitable serv- “The birds,” saith our Lord, “have nests; ants." Fly high, and yet hold the head always" volucres crli habent nidos." A nest is hard low.

on the outside with pricking thorns, and is The wings that bear them upward are, good delicate and soft within; even so shall a reprinciples, which they must move unto good cluse endure hard and pricking thorns in the works, as a bird, when it would fly, moveth flesh; yet so prudently shall she subdue the its wings. Also the true anchoresses, whom we flesh by labour, that she may say with the compare to birds,-yet not we, but God-Psalmist: Fortitudinem meam ad te custospread their wings and make a cross of them diam ;” that is, "I will keep my strength, O selves, as a bird doth when it flieth; that is, in Lord, to thy behoof;" and therefore the pains the thoughts of the heart, and the mortification of the flesh are proportioned to every one's of the flesh, they bear the Lord's cross. Those case. The nest shall be hard without and soft birds fly well that have little flesh, as the pelican within; and the heart sweet. They who are of hath, and many feathers. The ostrich, having a bitter or hard heart, and indulgent towards much flesh, maketh a pretense to fly, and flaps their flesh, make their nest, on the contrary, his wings, but his feet always draw to the soft without and thorny within. These are the earth. In like manner, the carnal anchoress, discontented and fastidious anchoresses; bitter

within, when they ought to be sweet; and deli1 The Lord's Prayer.

cate without, when they ought to be hard. 2 The Confession of Faith, beginning, “Credo in | These, in such a nest, may have hard rest, when

unum Deum."


« PreviousContinue »