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rits, was called the Country of the Greal. From thence the word Greal, and in Latin Gradalis, came to signify a vessel in which various messes might be mixed up." The Saint Greal, according to the common account in the British romances, which appears to be derived from the apocryphal gospel of Nicodemus, is the plate from which Christ ate his last supper, and which is said to have been appropriated by Joseph of Arimathea, and to have been afterwards used by him to collect the blood that flowed from the wounds of the Redeemer. It makes a great figure in the romantic history of Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, as may be seen in the eleventh and subsequent books of the popular compilation entitled 'Le Morte Darthur.' The author of 'Britannia after the Romans' maintains that the original Welsh Book of the Saint Greal was unquestionably the work of the bard Tysilio. De la Rue affirms that the original romances on the quest of the Saint Greal, or Saint Graal, are to be considered as forming quite a distinct body of fiction from those relating to the Round Table, and that much misapprehension has arisen from confounding the two. The account given by him is in substance as follows:-The oldest verse romance on the subject of the Saint Greal appears to have been composed by Chrétien de Troyes, about the year 1170; but of his work only some fragments remain, and the earliest entire romance now existing which treats of this subject is the prose Roman de Tristan,' written by Luc du Gast, who was a person of family and property; he calls himself "Chevalier” and "Sire du Chastel du Gast"-that is, according to M. de la Rue, Gast in Normandy, now situated in the canton of St. Sever, and the department of Calvados. Although
of Norman descent, however, he was a native and inhabitant of England: he resided, he tell us, near Salisbury; and, if his French should not always be correct, he begs his readers to excuse him on the score of his English birth and breeding. It was from this prose romance, the Abbé proceeds to state, and from a continuation of it by Walter Map, or Mapes, already mentioned, whose work is entitled 'Roman des Diverses Quêtes du Saint Graal,' and is dedicated to Henry II., that Chrétien de Troyes soon after drew the materials of his verse romance, which s called the Roman du Saint Graal,' or sometimes the 'Roman de Perceval.' But both Luc du Gast and Walter Map, and also Robert de Borron, who likewise wrote in this age a prose Roman du Saint Graal (which, however, is merely a life of Joseph of Arimathea), all declare that they translated from a Latin original, which they say had been drawn up by order of King Arthur himself, and deposited by him in the library of the cathedral of Salisbury. Another romance on the subject of the Saint Greal, which is now lost, is attributed to a writer named Gace le Blount, who is said to have been a relation of Henry II. Map, in addition to his Roman des Diverses Quêtes,' which is in two parts, continued the history of the knights who had engaged in the search for the Saint Greal in a third romance, also in prose, which he entitled 'La Mort d'Artur;' and he is also the author of another prose romance on the adventures of Lancelot du Lac.' Upon one of the incidents in this last Chrétien de Troyes founded his verse romance, also still extant, entitled 'Lancelot de la Charette.' From another prose romance oy Robert de Borron, on the subject of the enchanter
Merlin, an Anglo-Norman trouvère of the latter part of the thirteenth century composed a verse romance, which is still preserved, entitled 'Merlyn Ambroise.' Finally, in association with his relation Elie de Borron, and with another writer called Rusticien de Pise, Robert de Borron produced a prose translation of the Historia Britonum' of Geoffrey of Monmouth, and also the two romances of 'Meliadus de Leonois' and 'Giron le Courtois ;' and Elie de Borron wrote by himself the Roman de Palamedes.' Thus far the Abbé de la Rue. Since his work appeared, however, some parts of his statement have been corrected or controverted by M. Michel and other recent writers. In the elaborate Introduction to his edition of Tristan, to be presently mentioned (Paris, 1835), M. Michel, following the older authorities, describes Luc, or Luces, to whom he attributes either the invention, or at least the first translation from the Latin, of that romance, as lord of the château of Gat, Gast, Gant, or Gail, in the neighbourhood of Salisbury, in England; apparently ignorant that no such place is discoverable in that part of the world, and that M. de la Rue had expressly pointed out where the estate of Gast is still to be found in Normandy. Henry II., M. Michel proceeds to inform us, delighted with this prose work of Luces, engaged Walter Map to follow it up in the same style with the Romance of Lancelot; and Robert de Buron, Borron, or Bowron, to add that of the Saint Greal finally, Helye de Buron, a brother, or at least a relation, of Robert, revised the whole, and gave a unity and completeness to the cycle by finishing the story of
* De la Rue, Essais Historiques, ii. 206-248.
Tristram. Thus, observes M. Michel, Tristram was the first begun and the last finished of the four-of the three, we should rather say, according to this account. Subsequently, in the 'Notice' prefixed to his publication, from the MS. in the Bibliothèque du Roi, of the Roman du Saint Graal,' in old French verse (12mo. Bordeaux, 1841), M. Michel states that what Map did by order of Henry II. was to draw up the Romance of the Saint Graal in Latin from the songs and lays of the bards of Britany; and that his work was afterwards translated into French by Robert de Borron. The 'Roman de Perceval' of Chrestien de Troyes is not, he says, a romance of the Saint Graal at all; it only contains the last adventures of the Saint Graal. The poem which he publishes, and which is incomplete, extends to 4018 octosyllabic lines.
ROMAN DU ROI HORN.
It will be most convenient to notice here the French metrical Romance of King Horn (Roman du Roi Horn), of which there remain two fragments (one of 2386, the other of 2494 lines). This is the work of a poet who calls himself "Mestre Thomas," and is regarded by Ritson and M. de la Rue as a composition of the latter part of the twelfth century, and as the original of the English Horne Childe,' or 'Geste of Kyng Horn;' although, by other eminent authorities, such as Bishop. Percy and the late learned editor of Warton, the English poem has been held to be the earlier of the two. The Harleian MS. of the first of the two fragments, which Ritson held to be of the twelfth century, is now allowed to be of the latter part of the thirteenth. A few extracts from this French romance have been given by Ritson in the notes to his edition of the English ‘Geste'
('Ancient English Metrical Romances,' iii. 264-281), and others are printed by M. de la Rue.* It does not very distinctly appear upon what evidence the latter determines the age of the work, unless it be upon the form of the language; and it must be confessed that the manner seems to be more ornate and ambitious than that which is characteristic of the French romance poetry of the twelfth century. Bishop Percy ascribed the English 'Kyng Horn' to so early a date as "within a century after the Conquest;" but that poem is now, we believe, admitted on all hands to be not more ancient than the reign of Edward I. or Henry III.
TRISTAN, OR TRISTREM.
To this or to another Thomas the French metrical 'Roman de Tristan' is also attributed. All that remains of this romance is a fragment of 1811 verses.† There can hardly be a doubt that it is an earlier composition than the English 'Sir Tristrem,' published by Sir Walter Scott, from the Auchinleck MS., and attributed by him to Thomas of Ercildown, styled the Rhymer, who is admitted to have belonged to the latter part of the thirteenth century; but whether the author of the French romance be the Thomas of Britany referred to as his chief authority by
*De la Rue, Essais Historiques, ii. 251-260.
†There is another fragment, of 996 verses, of a romance of Tristan, which has been assumed to belong to the same work; but it appears now to be agreed that the two fragments are parts of two different poems written by different authors. Abstracts, in English, by the late Mr. George Ellis are given of both in the Appendix to Sir Walter Scott's edition of the English Romance of Sir Tristrem.' Both were among the MSS. of the late Mr. Douce, and are now in the Bodleian Library.