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Thomas Bulfinch
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 350 pages of information about The Age of Chivalry.

   “Yet in vain a paynim foe
    Armed with fate the mighty blow: 
    For when he fell, the Elfin queen,
    All in secret and unseen,
    O’er the fainting hero threw
    Her mantle of ambrosial blue,
    And bade her spirits bear him far,
    In Merlin’s agate-axled car,
    To her green isle’s enamelled steep,
    Far in the navel of the deep. 
    O’er his wounds she sprinkled dew
    From flowers that in Arabia grew.

    There he reigns a mighty king,
    Thence to Britain shall return,
    If right prophetic rolls I learn,
    Borne on victory’s spreading plume,
    His ancient sceptre to resume,
    His knightly table to restore,
    And brave the tournaments of yore.”

After this narration another bard came forward who recited a different story: 

   “When Arthur bowed his haughty crest,
    No princess veiled in azure vest
    Snatched him, by Merlin’s powerful spell,
    In groves of golden bliss to dwell;
    But when he fell, with winged speed,
    His champions, on a milk-white steed,
    From the battle’s hurricane,
    Bore him to Joseph’s towered fane,
    In the fair vale of Avalon;
    There, with chanted orison
    And the long blaze of tapers clear,
    The stoled fathers met the bier;
    Through the dim aisles, in order dread
    Of martial woe, the chief they led,
    And deep entombed in holy ground,
    Before the altar’s solemn bound.”

[Footnote:  Glastonbury Abbey, said to be founded by Joseph of Arimathea, in a spot anciently called the island or valley of Avalonia.

Tennyson, in his “Palace of Art,” alludes to the legend of Arthur’s rescue by the Faery queen, thus: 

   “Or mythic Uther’s deeply wounded son,
      In some fair space of sloping greens,
    Lay dozing in the vale of Avalon,
      And watched by weeping queens.”]

It must not be concealed that the very existence of Arthur has been denied by some.  Milton says of him:  “As to Arthur, more renowned in songs and romances than in true stories, who he was, and whether ever any such reigned in Britain, hath been doubted heretofore, and may again, with good reason.”  Modern critics, however, admit that there was a prince of this name, and find proof of it in the frequent mention of him in the writings of the Welsh bards.  But the Arthur of romance, according to Mr. Owen, a Welsh scholar and antiquarian, is a mythological person.  “Arthur,” he says, “is the Great Bear, as the name literally implies (Arctos, Arcturus), and perhaps this constellation, being so near the pole, and visibly describing a circle in a small space, is the origin of the famous Round Table.”

KING ARTHUR

Constans, king of Britain, had three sons, Moines, Ambrosius, otherwise called Uther, and Pendragon.  Moines, soon after his accession to the crown, was vanquished by the Saxons, in consequence of the treachery of his seneschal, Vortigern, and growing unpopular, through misfortune, he was killed by his subjects, and the traitor Vortigern chosen in his place.

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