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from that island, and left the government and defence of the country to its native inhabitants. The northern parts of the island belonged to the Scots and Picts, and these barbarous tribes, soon after the departure of the Romans, invaded and ravaged the more southern territory.
The British were divided into small independent tribes, each governed by its own prince ; and these petty sovereigns, in their common danger, had not sufficient wisdom to unite in the common defence ; though, in seasons of imminent peril, they like the ancient Romans, appointed a Dictator invested with supreme power over the collective forces of the nation. The British Dictator was called the Pendragon. He, however could not prevent discordant counsels and civil warfare among the inferior chiefs, so that the Saxons, who had come over from Germany as helpers of the Britons, easily subjugated them. According to some historians, though in modern times there are others who deny the existence of such a hero, Arthur, the son of Uther, succeeded his father as Pendragon about the year 517. His history, as generally received, whether it be true or false, is the following.
Arthur, prince of the Silures, in conjunction with other chiefs, his countrymen, resisted the Saxons ; but, though his prowess has been celebrated by poets and romance-writers, he was not successful against the Saxons. Mordred, a powerful Pictish chief, went over to the enemy, and was victorious against Arthur in the battle of Camlan. Arthur, notwithstanding he was once defeated, renewed the war, and many feats of valour are imputed to him ; but he is said to have been mortally wounded in an engagement with Mordred, and to have died, and been buried at Avalon. The place of his interment is unknown, and Dr. Warton has founded a pretty poem upon this disputed fact. It is proper here to state, that among the fictions related of Prince Arthur is this, that he created a military order called the Knights of the Round Table. Of his and their achievments many marvellous stories are related.
Dr. Warton describes a festival of Henry II. king of England, as he was about embarking for Ireland. Ireland previous to the year 1172 had been divided into five independent kingdoms. Two kings of Ireland, Dermod and Roderick O'Connor, had a desperate war, and the former caine over to England to solicit the interference of Henry II. in his behalf. Henry availed himself of this strife to include Ireland in his dominions. He first obtained the gift of that island in a bull from the Pope, who in that age claimed the right to dispose of kingdoms, and when Henry
went over to Ireland with the Pope's bull, and an army to enforce it, the country was partially surrendered to him.
Henry's army was, as appears by the poem, attended by a company of bards, who entertained the king with their songs. Just before the embarkation for Ireland, one of the bards is represented as celebrating Prince Arthur, and declaring that the hero had been carried away by the enchanter Merlin, and was destined to re-appear at a future time in Britain; but another of the tuneful brethren asserts that no enchanter bore him off the field of battle, and demands of the king to repair to his tomb, and by some religious services in honour of him, pay homage to his departed glory.
“ It was," says Mr. Gray, “ the common belief of the Welsh nation, that king Arthur was still alive in Fairyland, and would return and reign again over Britain."
THE GRAVE OF PRINCE ARTHUR.
Stately the feast, and high the cheer :
Girt with many an armed peer,
And canopied with golden pall,
Amid Cilgarran's castle hall,
Sublime in formidable state,
And warlike splendour, Henry sate ;
Prepared to stain the briny flood,
Of Shannon's lakes with rebel blood.
Illumining the vaulted roof,
A thousand torches flamed aloof;
From massy cups, with golden gleam
Sparkled the red metheglin's stream;
To grace the gorgeous festival,
Along the lofty windowed hall
The storied tapestry was hung:
With minstrelsy the rafters rung
Of harps, that with reflected light
From the proud gallery glittered bright :
While gifted bards, a rival throng,
To crown the banquet's solemn close,
Themes of British glory chose ;
And to the strings of various chime
Attempered thus the fabling rhyme.
"O'er Cornwall's cliffs the tempest roared
High the screaming sea-mew soared;
On Tintagel's topmost tower
Darksome fell the sleety shower ;
Round the rough castle shrilly sung
The whirling blast, and wildly flung
On each tall rampart's thundering side
The surges of the tumbling tide ;
When Arthur ranged his red-cross ranks
On conscious Camlan's crimsoned banks :
By Mordred's faithless guile decreed
Beneath a Saxon spear to bleed!
Yet in vain a paynim foe
Armed with fate the mighty blow;
For when he fell, an 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 bosom of the deep.
O'er his wounds she sprinkled dew
From flowers that in Arabia grew ;
On a rich enchanted bed
She pillowed his majestic head;
O'er his brow, with whispers bland,
Thrice she waved an opiate wand;
And to soft music's airy sound,
Her magic curtains closed around.
There, renewed the vital spring,
Again he reigns a mighty king
And many a fair and fragrant clime,
Blooming in immortal prime,
By gales of Eden ever fann'd,
Owns the monarch's high command :
Thence to Britain shall return,
(If right prophetic rolls I learn)
Borne on victory's spreading plume,
His ancient sceptre to resume ;
Once more, in old heroic pride,
His barbed courser to bestride ;
His knightly table to restore,
And brave the tournaments of yore."
They ceased : when on the tuneful stage Advanced a bard of aspect sage ;
His silver tresses, thin besprent,
To age a graceful reverence lent;
His beard all white as spangles frore
That clothe Plinlimmow's forest hoar,
Down to his harp descending flowed ;
With Time's faint rose his features glowed :
His eyes diffused a softened fire,
And thus he waked the warbling wire.
"Listen, Henry, to my read!
Not from fairy realms I lead
Bright-robed tradition, to relate
In forged colours Arthur's fate;
Though much of old romantic lore
On the high theme I keep in store :
But boastful Fiction should be dumb,
When truth the strain might best become.
If thine ear may still be won
With songs of Uther's glorious son,
Henry, I a tale unfold,
Never yet in rhyme enrolled,
Nor sung nor harped in hall or bower;
Which in my youth's full early flower,
A minstrel sprung of Cornish line,
Who spoke of kings from old Locrine,
Taught me to chaunt, one vernal dawn,
Deep in a cliff-encircled lawn.
“ When Arthur bowed his haughty crest,
No princess, veiled in azure vest,
Snatched him, by Merlin's potent spell,
In groves of golden bliss to dwell;
Where crowned with wreaths of misletoe,
Slaughtered kings in glory go:
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 isles, in order dread
Of martial wo, the chief they led,
And deep entombed in holy ground,
Before the altar's solemn bound.
is Around no dusky banners wave,
No mouldering trophies mark the grave :
Away the ruthless Dane has torn
Each trace that Time's slow touch had worn;
And long, o'er the neglected stone,
Oblivion's veil its shade had thrown :
The faded tomb, with honour due,
'Tis thine, O Henry, to renew!
Thither, when conquest has restored
Yon recreant isle, and sheathed the sword,
When peace with palm has crowned thy brows -
Haste thee to pay thy pilgrim vows.
There observant of my lore,
The pavement's hallowed depth explore ;
And thrice a fathom underneath
Dive into the vaults of death.
“ 'There shall thine eye, with wild amaze,
On his gigantic stature gaze :
There shalt thou find the monarch laid,
All in warrior-weeds arrayed ;
Wearing in death his helmet-crown,
And weapons huge of old renown.
Martial prince, 'tis thine to save
From dark oblivion Arthur's grave !
So may thy ships securely stem
The western firth : thy diadem
Shine victorious in the van,
Nor heed the slings of Ulster's clan;
Thy Norman pikemen win their way
Up the dun rocks of Harrald's bay ;
And from the steeps of rough Kildare
Thy prancing hoofs the falcon scare :
So may thy bow's unerring yew
Its shafts in Roderick's heart imbrue."
Amid the pealing symphony
'The spiced goblets mantled high ;
With passions new the song impressed
The listening king's impatient breast ;
Flash the keen lightnings from his eyes ;
He scorns awhile his old emprise ;
E'en now he seems, with eager pace
The consecrated floor to trace,
And ope, from its tremendous gloom,
The treasure of the wondrous tomb :