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Every legend-hunter can find any amount of myths, legends and tales in every nook and corner of wild Wales. Many of them are original, while others are borrowed, for the mythology of the Vedic and Homeric poets contain the germs, and in most instances more than the germs of almost all the stories of Teutonic, Scandinavian, and Celtic folklore. Welsh legends and traditions are equal if not superior to those of the Scotch Highlands. The Scotch scenery is not more beautiful than that of many Welsh mountain and lake districts. But while Rob Roy and Roderick Ddu are household words, and Loch Lomond and Loch Katrine are visited in a sort of pilgrimage by strangers from all countries, who ever heard of the tragedy of Lake Idwal in North Wales, or visited the wild, stern valley, inaccessible except from the sea, hemmed in by black precipices and lofty mountains, where a tumulus was to be seen of

old, the grave of Vortigern, "the dishonored," called "one of the three arrant traitors of the Island of Britain," for inviting over Hengist and Horsa, and for giving up the Island of Thanet to gain the fair Rowena, daughter of one of the invaders!

The Legend of Arthur.

Every nation must have a hero or heroes, and the great legendary hero of Wales is King ArthurArthur of the Round Table. What the legends of Troy, of Thebes, of the Kalydonian boar, of Edipus, Theseus, &c., were to an early Greek, the tales of Arthur, of Charlemagne, of the Nibelungen were to Welshman, or Frenchman, or German, of the twelfth or thirteenth century.


Grote in his "History of Greece," says, "It is certain that Charlemagne is a great historical name, and it is possible, though not certain, that the name of Arthur may be historical also. But the Charlemagne of

history and the Charlemagne of romance have little except the name in common. * * * That illustrious name, as well as the more problematical Arthur, is taken up by the romancers, not with a view to celebrate realities previously verified, but for setting forth or amplifying an ideal of their own, in such manner as both to rouse the feelings and captivate the faith of their hearers."-Chap. xvii. p. 279.

Around Arthur we find a great number of knights, and above all others Merlin, the prophet, sage, magician. The birth and life of Arthur are made up of the miraculous. Uther Pendragon lay sick with love; for Igerne, the wife of Gorlois, the Duke of Cornwall, would not hearken to the words which he had spoken to her. She was placed for safety in the castle of Tintagil, while the Duke shut himself in the castle of Dimilioc. Merlin, the wise, cam, to King Uther, and told him that he should have his heart's desire. So he brought it about that Uther went to the castle of Tintagil in the likeness of Gorlois, who had just been slain behind the battlements of Dimilioc; and Igerne welcome Uther, thinking her husband stood before her. the following day news came to Igerne that her husband had been slain in battle three hours before Uther had entered the gates of Tintagil, and she marvelled who it might be that slept with her in the guise of her husband. But soon there came messengers from King


Uther to her, and Igerne became the Queen of the land. When the time drew near that that her child should be born, Merlin came to the king and asked that the babe should be brought to him at the postern gate unchristened. And when the child was born it was wrapped in cloth of gold, similar to the Greek Apollo, and given to Merlin, who placed it in the hands of Sir Ector, and his wife nourished the babe until the death of King Uther. But before he died he charged the nobles that they should make Arthur king in his stead. But soon after the king was dead and buried, many were anxious to sit on the throne, wear the crown, and wield the sceptre, and the Bishop of Canterbury ordered all the lords of the realm to come to London at Christmas on pain of cursing. And at Christmas the lords, nobles, and the great men of Prydain were gathered together in the great church; and when the mass was done, there was seen in the churchyard against the high altar a great stone, and in the midst was like an anvil of steel, and therein was stuck a sword naked by the point, and letters of gold were writ

ten about the sword that said thus. "Who so pulleth out this sword out of this stone and anvil is rightwise. born King of England." All the great men of the land tried, but in vain, for with all their strength they could not move the sword; and the good Bishop said, "God will make him known." Knights were named to guard the stone, but none came

who could pull out the sword. One day, Sir Ector and his son Kay were on their way to London, and Arthur went with them. Kay had left his sword at home, and begged of Arthur to return and fetch it; but the folks at home had gone to see the jousting. Arthur sorely disappointed, hastened to the churchyard, and found no knights there, he seized the sword that was fixed in the anvil, and it came out of the stone lightly at his touch. He carried it to his foster-brother Sir Kay, who took it to his father and said, “Father, here is the sword of the stone, and I must be crowned King of England." But he had to say how he came by the sword, and at the altar he said that Arthur took it from the stone; then Ector said, “If that be so, Arthur must be made king." Arthur had to put the sword back again in the anvil; and Ector, Kay and others tried to pull it out but could not, but when Arthur touched it, it came forth. Then Ector kneeled before his foster-child, and said, "I know now that thou art of an higher blood than I had thought, and therefore it was that Merlin brought thee to me." Arthur was not aware until then that Ector was not his father. But all the lords and the great men of the land said that Arthur should not be their king, and they strove their very best to pull the sword from the anvil, but could not. At the great feast of Pentecost the people said, "Arthur is our king, for he alone can pull the

sword from the stone." And Arthur was made king, and the people rejoiced.

The story of Arthur had its origin in the phenomena of cloudland. Stripped of its superfluous matter, the story assumes a form common to the traditions and folk-lore of all the Teutonic, or even all the Aryan nations. Not only is the wonderful sword of Roland who was slain in the valley of Roncesvalles-the sword Durendal "that God sent by his angel to King Charles, to be his captain's sword"-seen again in the first blade granted to King Arthur, but the story of the mode in which Arthur becomes master of it is precisely the story of the Teutonic Sigurd and the Greek Theseus. When Signy, daughter of Volsung, and Siggeir, King of Gothland, were married, the wedding feast was held in Volsung's great mead-hall, and in the midst of the hall stood the great oak tree Branstock. An old man, one-eyed and of great stature entered the hall. He was clad in a spotted cloak, and wore a slouched hat on his head, and went barefoot; in his hand was a sword. He went to the Branstock and smote the sword up to the hilt into the tree, and said, "Whoso plucketh out this sword from this stock shall have the same as a gift from me." The old man was Odin. All the nobles in the hall tried to pluck the sword from the tree, but could not. Last of all came Sigmund, Volsung's son, and no sooner did he set finger on the

pommel than it loosed itself lightly to his hand. Sigmund was Our Arthur.

There is not a single incident in the whole story with which we are not familiar in the earlier legends. The fortunes of Igerne, Arthur's mother, are precisely those of Alkmene, Uther Pendragon playing the part of the god Zeus, while Gorlois takes the place of Amphitryon. Arthur is a reproduction of Sigurd or Perseus. Arthur and his brave knight Balin answer respectively to Achilleus and Odysseus in the Achaian host. The sword taken from the stone is snapped in twain in the conflict with Pellinore, like the sword of Odin in the Volsung story; but it is brought back to him in the form of Excalibur, by a maiden who answers to the Greek Thetis or the Teutonic Hjordis, like the sword forged by Regin from the broken. bits of Odin's sword Gram brought by Sigurd's mother. Gwenhwyfar, Arthur's wife, was the Greek Helen. The Round Table, Gwenhwyfar's dowry was to Arthur as fatal as the treasures of Helen to Menelaos.


Helen was to be the ruin of cities, of men, and of ships, so Gwenhwyfar was to bring misery on herself and on all around her. Fay Morgan, the sister of Arthur, has the power of transformation possessed by all the fish and water-gods, Proteus, Ommes. Thetis, &c. Medrawd who married Gwenhwyfar, was Paris who stole Helen, the wife of Menelaos. At the hands of a maiden he narrowly escapes the doom which Medeia and Deianeira brought upon Glauke and on Herakles. Warned by the Lady of the Lake not to put on this vesture until he has first seen the bringer wear it, he makes the maiden put it on, "and forthwith she fell down, and was brent to coals." Arthur is responsible for most of the uncommon phenomena to be seen in the mountains of Wales. He played at quoits near Harlech, and in Pembrokeshire; his table is in Anglesea; his stone is in Glamorganshire; his chair is in Breconshire; and finally, "Arthur's harp"-the constellation Lyra-perpetuates his name in


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