« AnteriorContinuar »
GEOFFREY OF MONMOUTH
The Story Op Kino Leie*
After this unhappy fate of Bladud, Leir, his son, was advanced to the throne, and nobly governed his country sixty years. He built upon the river Sore a city, called in the British tongue, Kaerleir, in the Saxon, Lcircestre. He was without male issue, but had three daughters, whose names were Gonorilla, Regau, and Cordeilla, of whom he was dotingly fond, but especially of his youngest, Cordeilla. When he began to grow old, he had thoughts of dividing his kingdom among them, and of bestowing them on such husbands as were fit to be advanced to the government with them. But to make trial who was worthy to have the best part of his kingdom, he went to each of them to ask which of them loved him most. The question being proposed, Gonorilla, the eldest, made answer, '' That she called heaven to witness, she loved him more than her own soul." The father replied, "Since you have preferred my declining age before your own life, I will marry you, my dearest daughter, to whomsoever you shall make choice of, and give with you the third part of my kingdom.'' Then Begau, the second daughter, willing, after the example of her sister, to prevail upon her father's good nature, answered with an oath, '' That she could not otherwise express her thoughts, but that she loved him above all creatures." The credulous father upon this made her the same promise that he did to her eldest sister, that is, the choice of a husband, with the third part of his kingdom. But Cordeilla, the youngest, understanding how easily he was satisfied with the flattering expressions of her sisters, was desirous to make trial of his affection after a different manner. "My father," said she, "is there any daughter that can love her father more than duty requires?
In my opinion, whoever pretends to it, must disguise her real sentiments under the veil of flattery. I have always loved you as a father, nor do I yet depart from my purposed duty; and if you insist to have something more extorted from me, hear now the greatness of my affection, which I always bear you, and take this for a short answer to all your questions; look how much you have, so much is your value, and so much do I love you.'' The father, supposing that she spoke this out of the abundance of her heart, was highly provoked, and immediately replied, "Since you have so far despised my old age as not to think me worthy the love that your sisters express for me, you shall have from me the like regard, and shall be excluded from any share with your sisters in my kingdom. Notwithstanding, I do not say but that since you are my daughter, I will marry you to some foreigner, if fortune offers you any such husband; but will never, I do assure you, make it my business to procure so honourable a match for you as for your sisters; because, though I have hitherto loved you more than them, you have in requital thought me less worthy of your affection than they." And, without further delay, after consultation with his nobility, he bestowed his two other daughters upon the dukes of Cornwall and Albania, with half the island at present, but after his death, the inheritance of the whole monarchy of Britain.
It happened after this, that Aganippus, king of the Franks, having heard of the fame of Cordeilla's beauty, forthwith sent his ambassadors to the king to demand her in marriage. The father, retaining yet his anger towards her, made answer, "That he was very willing to bestow his daughter, but without either money or territories; because he had already given away his kingdom with all his treasure to his eldest daughters, Gonorilla and Begau.'' When this was told Aganippus, he, being very much in love with the lady, sent again to king Leir, to tell him, "That he had money and territories enough, as he possessed the third part of Gaul, and desired no more than his daughter only, that he might have heirs by her." At last tho match was concluded; Cordeilla was sent to Gaul, and married to Aganippus.
A long time after this, when Leir came to be infirm through old age, the two dukes, on whom he had bestowed Britain with his two daughters, fostered an insurrection against him, and deprived him of his kingdom, and of all regal authority, which he had hitherto exercised with great power and glory. At length, by mutual agreement, Maglaunus, duke of Albania, one of his sons-in-law, was to allow him a maintenance at his own house, together with sixty soldiers, who were to be kept for state. After two years' stay with his son-in-law, his daughter Gonorilla grudged the number of his men, who began to upbraid the ministers of the court with their scanty allowance; and, having spoken to her husband about it, she gave orders that the number of her father's followers should be reduced to thirty, and the rest discharged. The father, resenting this treatment, left Maglaunus, and went to Henuinus, duke of Cornwall, to whom he had married his daughter Regau. Here he met with an honourable reception, but before the year was at an end, a quarrel happened between the two families which raised Regau's indignation; so that she commanded her father to discharge all his attendants but five, and to be contented with their service. This second affliction was insupportable to him, and made him return again to his former daughter, with hopes that the misery of his condition might move in her some sentiments of filial piety, and that he, with his family, might find a subsistence with her. But she, not forgetting her resentment, swore by the gods he Bhould not stay with her, unless he would dismiss his retinue, and be contented with the attendance of one man; and with bitter reproaches she told him how ill his desire of vainglorious pomp suited his age and poverty. When he found that she was by no means to be prevailed upon, he was at last forced to comply, and, dismissing the rest, to take up with one man only. But by this time he began to reflect more sensibly with himself upon the grandeur from which he had fallen, and the miserable state to which he was now reduced, and to enter upon thoughts of going beyond sea to his youngest daughter. Yet ho doubted whether he should be able to move her commisseration, because (as was related above) he had treated her so unworthily. However, disdaining to bear any longer such base usage, he took ship for Gaul. In his passage he observed he had only the third place given him among the princes that were with him in the ship, at
which, with deep sighs and tears, he burst forth into the following complaint: —
"O irreversible decrees of the Fates, that never swerve from your stated course! why did you ever advance me to an unstable felicity, since the punishment of lost happiness is greater than the sense of present misery t The remembrance of the time when vast numbers of men obsequiously attended me in the taking the cities and wasting the enemy's countries, more deeply pierces my heart than the view of my present calamity, which has exposed me to the derision of those who were formerly prostrate at my feet. Oh! the enmity of fortune! Shall I ever again see the day when I may be able to reward those according to their deserts who have forsaken me in my distress? How true was thy answer, Cordeilla, when I asked thee concerning thy love to nie, 'As much as you have, so much is your value, and so much do I love you.' While I had anything to give, they valued me, being friends, not to me, but to my gifts: they loved me then, but they loved my gifts much more: when my gifts ceased, my friends vanished. But with what face shall I presume to see you, my dearest daughter, since in my anger I marrieil you upon worse terms than your sisterB, who, after all the mighty favours they have received from me, suffer me to be in banishment and poverty?"
As he was lamenting his condition in these and the like expressions, he arrived at Karitia,i where his daughter was, and waited before the city while he sent a messenger to inform her of the misery ho was fallen into, and to desire her relief for a father who suffered both hunger and nakedness. Cordeilla was startled at the news, and wept bitterly, and with tears asked how many men her father had with him. The messenger answered, he had none but one man, who had been his armour-bearer, and was staying with him without the town. Then she took what money she thought might be sufficient, and gave it to the messenger, with orders to carry her father to another city, and there give out that he was sick, and to provide for him bathing, clothes, and all other nourishment. She likewise gave orders that he should take into his service forty men, well clothed and accoutred, and that when all things were thus prepared he should notify his arrival to king Aganippus and his daughter. The messenger quickly returning, carried Leir to another city, and there kept him concealed, till he had done everything that Cordeilla had commanded.
As soon as he was provided with his royal apparel, ornaments, and retinue, he sent word to Aganippus and his daughter, that he was driven out of his kingdom of Britain by his sons-in-law, and was come to them to procure their assistance for recovering his dominions. Upon which they, attended with their chief ministers of state and the nobility of the kingdom, went out to meet him, and received him honourably, and gave into his management the whole power of Gaul, till such time as he should be restored to his former dignity.
In the menntime Aganippus sent officers over all Gaul to raise an army, to restore his fatherin-law to his kingdom of Britain. Which done, Leir returned to Britain with his son and daughter and the forces which they had raised, where he fought with his sons-in-law and routed them. Having thus reduced the whole kingdom to his power, he died the third year after. Aganippus also died; and Cordeilla, obtaining the government of the kingdom, buried her father in a certain vault, which she ordered to be made for him under the river Sore, in Leicester, and which had been built originally under the ground to the honour of the god Janus.2 And here all the workmen of the city, upon the anniversary solemnity of that festival, used to begin their yearly labours.
Arthur Makes The Saxons His Tributaries After a few days they went to relieve the city Kaerliudcoit, that was besieged by the pagans; which being situated upon a mountain, between two rivers in the province of Lindisia, is called by another name Lindocolinum.i As soon as they arrived there with all their forces, they fought with the Saxons, and made a grievous slaughter of them, to the number of six thousand; part of whom were drowned in the rivers, part fell by the hands of the Britons. The rest in a great consternation quitted the siege and fled, but were closely pursued by Arthur, till they came to the wood of Celidon, where they endeavoured to form themselves into a body again, and make a stand. And here they again joined battle with the Britons, and made a brave defence, whilst the trees that were in the place secured them against the enemies' arrows. Arthur, seeing this, commanded the trees that were in that part of the wood to be cut down, and the trunks to be placed quite round them, so as to hinder their getting out; resolving to keep them pent up here till he could reduce them by famine. He then commanded his troops to besiege the
z During the Roman occupation, l Lincoln
wood, and continued three days in that pluee. The Saxons, having now no provisions to sustain them, and being just ready to starve with hunger, begged for leave to go out; in consideration whereof they offered to leave all their gold and silver behind them, and return back to Germany with nothing but their empty ships. They promised also that they would pay him tribute from Germany, and leave hostages with him. Arthur, after consultation about it, granted their petition; allowing them only leave to depart, and retaining all their treasures, as also hostages for payment of the tribute. But as they were under sail on their return home, they repented of their bargain, and tacked about again towards Britain, and went on shore at Totness. No sooner were they landed, than they made an utter devastation of the country as far as the Severn sea, and put all the peasants to the sword. From thence they pursued their furious march to the town of Bath, and laid siege to it. When the king had intelligence of it, he was beyond measure surprised at their proceedings, and immetUately gave orders for the execution of the hostages. And desisting from an attempt which he had entered upon to reduce the Scots and Picts, he marched with the utmost expedition to raise the siege; but laboured under very great difficulties, because he had left his nephew Hoel sick at Alclud.2 At length, having entered the province of Somerset, and beheld how the siege was carried on, he addressed himself to his followers in these words: '' Since these impious and detestable Saxons have disdained to keep faith with me, I, to keep faith with God, will endeavour to revenge the blood of my countrymen this day upon them. To arms, soldiers, to arms, and courageously fall upon the perfidious wretches, over whom we shall, with Christ assisting us, undoubtedly obtain victory.''
When he had done speaking, St. Dubrieius, archbishop of Legions,9 going to the top of a hill, cried out with a loud voice, '' You that have the honour to profess the Christian faith, keep fixed in your minds the love which you owe to your country and fellow subjects, whose sufferings by the treachery of the pagans will be an everlasting reproach to you, if you do not courageously defend them. It is your country which you fight for, and for which you should, when required, voluntarily suffer death; for that itself is victory and the cure of the soul. For he that shall die for his brethren, offers himself a living sacrifice to God, and has Christ
3 The City of Legions (now Newport) In South
Wales, where the Roman legions wintered.
for his example, who condescended to lay down his life for his brethren. If therefore any of you shall be killed in this war, that death itself, which is suffered in so glorious a cause, 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 prelate, instantly armed themselves, and prepared to obey his orders. Also Arthur himself, having put on a coat of mail suitable to the grandeur of so powerful a king, placed a golden helmet upon his head, on which was engraven the figure of a dragon; and on his shoulders his shield called Priwen; upon which the picture of the blessed Mary, mother of God, was painted, in order to put him frequently in mind of her. Then girding on his Caliburn,4 which was an excellent sword made in the isle of Avallon, he graced his right hand with his lance, named Ron, which was hard, broad, and fit for slaughter. After this, having placed his men in order, he boldly attacked the Saxons, who were drawn out in the phape of a wedge, as their manner was. And they, notwithstanding that the Britons fought with great eagerness, made a noble defence all that day; but at length, towards sunsetting, climbed up the next mountain, which served them for a camp: for they desired no larger extent of ground, since they confided very much in their numbers. The next morning Arthur, with his army, went up the mountain, but lost many of his men in the aBcent, by the advantage which the Saxons had in their station on the top, from whence they could pour down upon him with much greater speed than he was able to advance against them. Notwithstanding, after a very hard struggle, the Britons gained the summit of the hill and quickly came to a close engagement with the enemy, who again gave them a warm reception, and made a vigorous defence. In this manner was a great part of that day also spent; whereupon Arthur, provoked to see the little advantage he had yet gained and that victory still continued in suspense, drew out his Caliburn, and, calling upon the name of the blessed Virgin, rushed forward with great fury into the thickest of the enemy's ranks; of whom (such was the merit of his prayers) not one escaped alive that felt the fury of his sword; neither did he give over the fury of his assault until he had, with his Caliburn alone, killed four hundred and seventy men. The Britons, seeing this, followed their leader in great multitudes, and made slaughter on all sides; so that Colgrin, and Baldulph his
4 The famous Excallbur. r. Leader of the Saxons.
brother, and many thousands more fell before them. But Cheldric,5 in this imminent danger of his men, betook himself to tight.—From the same; Book IX, Ch. Ill, IV.
FROM THE ANCREN RIWLE
Do you now ask what rule you anchoresses Bhould observe t Ye should by all means, with all your might and all your strength, keep well the inward rule, and for its sake the outward. The inward rule is always alike. The outward is various, because every one ought so to observe the outward rule as that the body may therewith best serve the inward. All may and ought to observe one rule concerning purity of heart, that is, a clean unstained conscience, without any reproach of sin that is not remedied by confession. This the body rule effects. This rule is framed not by man's contrivance, but by the command of God. Wherefore, it ever is and shall be the same, without mixture and without change; and all men ought ever invariably to observe it. But the external rule, which I called the handmaid, is of man's contrivance; nor is it instituted for any thing else but to serve the internal law. It ordains fasting, watching, enduring cold, wearing haircloth, and such other hardships as the flesh of many can bear and many cannot. Wherefore, this rule may be changed ami varied according to every one's state and circumstances. For some are strong, some are weak, and may very well be excused, and please God with less; some are learned, and some are not, and must work the more, and say their prayers at the stated hours in a different manner; some are old and ill favoured, of whom there is less fear; some axe young and lively, and have need to be more on their guard. Every anchoress must, therefore, observe the outward rule according to the advice of her confessor, and do obediently whatever he enjoins and commands her, who knows
* These "Rules and Duties of Monastic Life" were prepared (c. 1210) for the guidance of a little society of three nuns who dwelt at Tarente. In Dorsetshire—"gentlewomen, sisters, of one father and of one mother, who bad in the bloom of their youth forsaken all the pleasures of the world and become anchoresses." The book consists of eight chapters, the first and last of which deal with the "outward rule," the others with the "inward rule." It is possibly the work of Klcbard Poor (d. 1237), Bishop of Salisbury, who was bene factor of the nunnery at Tarente. Very marked is the spirit of charity and tolerance In which it is written. Moreover, It Is among the best examples of simple, eloquent prose in English antedating the English Bible. Our translation is that of James Morton.
her state and strength. He may modify the outward rule, as prudence may direct, and as he sees that the inward rule may thus be best kept.
When you first arise in the morning bless yourselves with the sign of the cross and say, '' In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen,'' and begin directly "Creator Spirit, Come," with your eyes and your hands raised up toward heaven, bending forward on your knees upon the bed, and thus say the whole hymn to the end, with the veraicle, "Send forth Thy Holy Spirit," and the prayer, "God, who didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people," etc. After this, putting on your shoes and your clothes, say the Paternosteri and the Creed,2 and then, "Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on us! Thou who didst condescend to be born of a virgin, have mercy on us!" Continue saying these words until you be quite dressed. Have these words much in use, and in your mouth as often as ye may, sitting and standing.
True anchoresses are compared to birds; for they leave the earth; that is, the love of all earthly things; and through yearning of heart after heavenly things, fly upward toward heaven. And, although they fly high, with high and holy life, yet they hold the head low, through meek humility, as a bird flying boweth down its head, and accounteth all her good deeds and good works nothing worth, and saith, as our Lord taught all his followers, "Cum omnia bene feceritis, dicite quod serri inutiles estis;" "When ye have done all well," saith the Lord, "say that ye are unprofitable servants. '' Fly high, and yet hold the head always low.
The wings that bear them upward are, good principles, which they must move unto good works, as a bird, when it would fly, moveth its wings. Also the true anchoresses, whom we compare to birds,—yet not we, but God— spread their wings and make a cross of themselves, as a bird doth when it flieth; that is, in the thoughts of the heart, and the mortification of the flesh, they bear the Lord's cross. Those birds fly well that have little flesh, as the pelican hath, and many feathers. The ostrich, having much flesh, maketh a pretense to fly, and flaps his wings, but his feet always draw to the earth. In like manner, the carnal anchoress,
1 The I,ord's Prayer.
2 The Confession of Faith, beginning, "Credo In
who loveth carnal pleasures, and seeketh her ease, the heaviness of her flesh and its desires deprive her of her power of flying; and though she makes a pretense and much noise with her wings; that is, makes it appear as if she flew, and were a holy anchoress, whoever looks at her narrowly, laughs her to scorn; for her feet, as doth the ostrich's, which are her lusts, draw her to the earth. Such are not like the meagre pelican, nor do they fly aloft, but are birds of the earth, and make their nests on the ground. But God called the good anchoresses birds of heaven, as I said before: "Vulpes foveas habent et volucres cuii nidos." "Foxes have their holes, and birds of heaven their nests."
True anchoresses are indeed birds of heaven, that fly aloft, and sit on the green boughs singing merrily; that is, they meditate, enraptured, upon the blessedness of heaven that never fadeth, but is ever green; and sit on this green, singing right merrily; that is, in such meditation they rest in peace and have gladness of heart, as those who -sing. A bird, however, sometimes alighteth down .on the earth to seek his food for the need of the flesh; but while he sits on the ground he is never secure, and is often turning himself, and always looking cautiously around. Even so, the pious recluse, though she fly ever so high, must at times alight down to the earth in respect of her body—and eat, drink, sleep, work, speak, and hear, when it is necessary, of earthly things. But then, as the bird doth, she must look well to herself, and turn her eyes on every side, lest sho be deceived, and be caught in somo of the devil's snares, or hurt in any way, while she sits so low.
"The birds," saith our Lord, "have nests;" "volucres eeli habent nidos." A nest is hard on the outside with pricking thorns, and is delicate and soft within; even so shall a recluse endure hard and pricking thorns in the flesh; yet so prudently shall she subdue the flesh by labour, that she may say with the Psalmist: "Fortitudinem meam ad tc cuslodiam;" that is, "I will keep my strength, O Lord, to thy behoof;'' and therefore the pains of the flesh are proportioned to every one's case. The nest shall be hard without and soft within; and the heart sweet. They who are of a bitter or hard heart, and indulgent towards their flesh, make their nest, on the contrary, soft without and thorny within. These are the discontented and fastidious anchoresses; bitter within, when they ought to be sweet; and delicate without, when they ought to be hard. These, in such a nest, may have hard rest, when