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Therewithal they went unto the Archbishop, and told him how the sword was achieved, and by whom; and on Twelfth Day all the barons came thither, and to assay to take the sword, who that 190
But there afore them all, there might none take it out but Arthur; wherefore there were many lords wroth, and said it was great shame unto them all and the realm, to be overgoverned with a boy of no high blood born. And 195 so they fell out at that time that it was put off till Candlemas, and then all the barons should meet there again; but always the ten knights were ordained to watch the sword day and night, and so they set a pavilion over the stone and the sword, 200 and five always watched.
So at Candlemas many more great lords came thither for to have won the sword, but there might none prevail. And right as Arthur did at Christmas, he did at Candlemas, and pulled out the sword 205 easily, whereof the barons were sore aggrieved and put it off in delay till the high feast of Easter. And as Arthur sped before, so did he at Easter; yet there were some of the great lords had indignation that Arthur should be king, and put it off in a 210 delay till the feast of Pentecost.
Then the Archbishop of Canterbury, by Merlin's providence, let 2 purvey then of the best knights that they might get, and such knights as Uther Pendragon
1 Providence, provision, instruction. 2 Let, ordered.
215 loved best and most trusted in his days. And such
knights were put about Arthur as Sir Baudwin of Britain, Sir Kay, Sir Ulfius, Sir Brastias. All these, with many others, were always about Arthur, day and night, till the feast of Pentecost.
How KING ARTHUR WAS CROWNED, AND HOW HE
And at the feast of Pentecost all manner of men assayed to pull at the sword that would assay; but none might prevail but Arthur, and he pulled it out afore all the lords and commons that were there.
Wherefore all the commons cried at once: “We will 225 have Arthur unto our King; we will put him no more
in delay, for we all see that it is God's will that he shall be our king, and who that holdeth against it, we will slay him.”
And therewithal they kneeled at once, both rich 230 and poor, and cried Arthur mercy because they
had delayed him so long, and Arthur forgave them, and took the sword between both his hands, and offered it upon the altar where the Archbishop
was, and so was he made knight of the best? man 235 that was there. And so anon? was the coronation made. And there was he sworn unto his lords and the commons for to be a true king, to stand with true justice from thenceforth the days of this life. Also then he made all lords that held of the crown to come in, and to do service as they ought to do. And 240 many complaints were made unto Sir Arthur of great wrongs that were done since the death of King Uther, of many lands that were bereaved 1 lords, knights, ladies, and gentlemen. Wherefore King Arthur made the lands to be given again unto them that 245 owned them.
1 Of, by.
2 Best, highest in rank. 3 Anon, at once, forthwith.
When this was done, that the king had established all the countries about London, then he let make Sir Kay seneschal of England; and Sir Baudwin of Britain was made constable; and Sir Ulfius was made 250 chamberlain; and Sir Brastias was made warden to wait uponthe north from Trent forwards, for it was,that time, for the most part, the king's enemies. But within few years after Arthur won all the north, Scotland, and all that were under their obeissance. 4 255 Also Wales, a part of it, held against Arthur, but he overcame them all, as he did the remnant, through the noble prowess of himself and his knights of the Round Table.
From Le Morte d'Arthur by THOMAS MALORY.
1 Bereaved, taken away from.
QUESTIONS FOR STUDY
Write in the best modern English you can the story of King Arthur's early days.
Make a list of words used by Malory for which you have substituted others.
Which do you like better?
Which convey the sense the more clearly? Which are the more rhythmical? Which the more poetical ?
Point out any unusual words in this story that you have found also in other books. In what other books did you find them?
Have you read of Merlin elsewhere?
What can you judge of Arthur's character from the incidents here given ?
When is it believed that Christianity was first introduced into Britain ?
ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON
Tennyson is the people's poet of England, unquestionably, after Shakespeare, the most popular of all English poets, and, in the judgment of competent
critics, a poet who is likely to survive all of his age with the possible exception of Browning, and most of the poets of distinction since the Elizabethan era.