The Age of Fable eBook

Thomas Bulfinch
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,207 pages of information about The Age of Fable.

and, having governed the isle twenty-four years, died, leaving three sons, Locrine, Albanact and Camber.  Locrine had the middle part, Camber the west, called Cambria from him, and Albanact Albania, now Scotland.  Locrine was married to Guendolen, the daughter of Corineus, but having seen a fair maid named Estrildis, who had been brought captive from Germany, he became enamoured of her, and had by her a daughter, whose name was Sabra.  This matter was kept secret while Corineus lived, but after his death Locrine divorced Guendolen, and made Estrildis his queen.  Guendolen, all in rage, departed to Cornwall, where Madan, her son, lived, who had been brought up by Corineus, his grandfather.  Gathering an army of her father’s friends and subjects, she gave battle to her husband’s forces and Locrine was slain.  Guendolen caused her rival, Estrildis, with her daughter Sabra, to be thrown into the river, from which cause the river thenceforth bore the maiden’s name, which by length of time is now changed into Sabrina or Severn.  Milton alludes to this in his address to the rivers,—­

    “Severn swift, guilty of maiden’s death";—­

and in his “Comus” tells the story with a slight variation, thus: 

    “There is a gentle nymph not far from hence,
    That with moist curb sways the smooth Severn stream;
    Sabrina is her name, a virgin pure: 
    Whilom she was the daughter of Locrine,
    That had the sceptre from his father, Brute,
    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.

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The Age of Fable from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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