She, guiltless damsel, flying the mad pursuit
Of her enraged step-dame, Guendolen,
Commended her fair innocence to the flood,
That stayed her night with his cross-flowing course
The water-nymphs that in the bottom played,
Held up their pearled wrists and took her in,
Bearing her straight to aged Nereus’ hall,
Who, piteous of her woes, reared her lank head,
And gave her to his daughters to imbathe
In nectared lavers strewed with asphodel,
And through the porch and inlet of each sense
Dropped in ambrosial oils till she revived,
And underwent a quick, immortal change,
Made goddess of the river,” etc.
If our readers ask when all this took place, we must answer, in the first place, that mythology is not careful of dates; and next, that, as Brutus was the great-grandson of Aeneas, it must have been not far from a century subsequent to the Trojan war, or about eleven hundred years before the invasion of the island by Julius Caesar. This long interval is filled with the names of princes whose chief occupation was in warring with one another. Some few, whose names remain connected with places, or embalmed in literature, we will mention.
Bladud built the city of Bath, and dedicated the medicinal waters to Minerva. He was a man of great invention, and practised the arts of magic, till, having made him wings to fly, he fell down upon the temple of Apollo, in Trinovant, and so died, after twenty years’ reign.
Leir, who next reigned, built Leicester, and called it after his name. He had no male issue, but only three daughters. When grown old he determined to divide his kingdom among his daughters, and bestow them in marriage. But first, to try which of them loved him best, he determined to ask them solemnly in order, and judge of the warmth of their affection by their answers. Goneril, the eldest, knowing well her father’s weakness, made answer that she loved him “above her soul.” “Since thou so honorest my declining age,” said the old man, “to thee and to thy husband I give the third part of my realm.” Such good success for a few words soon uttered was ample instruction to Regan, the second daughter, what to say. She therefore to the same question replied that “she loved him more than all the world beside;” and so received an equal reward with her sister. But Cordelia, the youngest, and hitherto the best beloved, though having before her eyes the reward of a little easy soothing, and the loss likely to attend plain-dealing, yet was not moved from the solid purpose of a sincere and virtuous answer, and replied: “Father, my love towards you is as my duty bids. They who pretend beyond this flatter.” When the old man, sorry to hear this, and wishing her to