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Ilis sepulchre is here, whose womb contains
It is said that Merlin intended to build a wall of brass round Varidunum; and so say: Diayton, Polyolbio!), song IV.
Ilow Merlin hy his skill and mazie's wondrous migit
........A little while,
His living soul must with his corse repose,
This lady of the lake appears to have been a fairy or nymph, with whom Merlin was enamoured: the story of her deceiving him is thus related in the romance called Morte Arthur, or the life and death of prince Arthur, printed by Caxton in 1485.
“ The lady of the lake and Merlin departed; and by the way, as they went, Merlin shewed to her many wonders, and came into Cornwaile: And alwaies laid about the lady for to have her favour; and she was ever passing weary of him, and fain would have been delivered of him; for she was afraid of him, because he was a divells sonne, and she could not put him away by no means. And so, upon a time it hapned that Merlin shewed to her a roche (rock) whereas a great wonder, and wroughi by inchantment, which went under a stone, so by her craft and working she made Merlin to go under that stone, to let him wit of the marvailes there. But she wronght so there for liim, that he never came out, for all the craft that he could doe.”
B. i. C. lx.
But in the life of Merlin, this adventure is related with circumstances nearer the account given by our author.
“ Merlin's mother having cecretly conceived by a demon, was, after her delivery, condemned to be put to death, for breach of chastity; but her son, an infant, defended, and set his mother at liberty. Merlin, being grown up, went to the court of Uther Pendragon, where he established the famous round table, wrought many wonderful works, and uttered a number of prophesies ; here he feil in love with the lady of the lake, whom he used to call the white serpent; before his death he erected a tomb, in the forest of Nortes, capable to hold him and his mistress; and having shewed it her, he taught her a charm that would close the stone, so that it could never be opened. The lary, who secretly hated him, began one day to caress him exceedingly, and at last made him go into the tomb, in order to try vihether it was large enough: Merlin, being entered, she closed the stone upon him, where he died : his spirit being likewise confined by the force of the spell, continued from time to time to speak, and to give answers to such questions as were put to him."
His voice survives, and oft is heard to come
We shall quote one more passage of Spenser, where he gives a noble description of the care, which was the scene of Merlin's incantations. Britomait, and her nurse old Glauce, go to consult this magician :
To Maridunum, that is now by change,
That of no living wight be mote be found,
And if thou ever happen that same way
Tv enter into that same baletul bower,
But standing high aloft, low lay thine ear,
And oitentimes loud strokes, and ringing sounds
B, iii, C.iii.
This description is not entirely the fiction of the poet, as there are sufficient vouchers to produce for the truth of the story. “ In a rock of the island of Barry, in Glamorganshire, there is a narrow chik or cleft, to which, if you put your ear, you shall perceive all Buch sort of noises, as you may fancy smiths at work under ground;
I many days have in this cave remain'd,
85 This hour for thy arrival prophesy'd.
She said, and Amon's daughter, while she spoke,
90 Alas! what praise has my unworthy name, That prophets my arrival should proclaim?
Then rapt with joy at such a blest event, Silent she follow'd where the matron went, Slow leading to the tomb, in which detain'd
95 The ghost of Merlin with his bones remain'd. Hard was the polish'd marble, smooth and bright, And like a ruddy flame dispell’d the night, Tho here the sun refus’d his cheering light. Whether some marble, by its nature, shows
100 A beam, that like a torch in darkness glows: Or else by verse, and fumigating powers, Or signs imprest in planetary hours,
strokes of hammers, blowing of bellows, grinding of tools, &c.” See Cambien's Britannia. Drayton, in the above lines, alludes to this story of the lady of the lake, and to this marvellous cave.
Ariosto, with the liberty of a romance-writer, places Merlin's grot in I'rance, and removes the scene of several of his actions to that place.”
See Upton and Warton's Observations on Sponser,
Not far from Caermarthen, is a hill called Merlin's h:}), near the brow of which is a rock, known by the name of Merlin's chair, in which it is said, that famous prophet used to sit, when he uttered his prophesies.
(As best may seem) this wonder was compos'd: The lustre many a pleasing sight disclos’d;
105 Pictures and statues, that with various grace, In order rang'd, adorn’d the sacred place.
Scarce o'er the threshold pass’d the warrior-dame, And to the cavern's deep recesses came, When from the breathless clay with pleasing strain, 110 T' accost the fair the spirit thus began.
May fortune all thy just endeavours aid, O ever chaste, and ever honour'il maid! From whose glad womb must spring the fruitful race That Italy, and all the world shall grace!
115 That ancient blood, which once in Ilium shin'd, By the two noblest streams in thee conjoin’d, The joy, the flower of every race shall yield, Between the Danube and the Nile reveal’d, The Tagus and the Ind, or all that lies
120 Between Calisto and th’ Antartic skies. Hence chiefs shall rise, and many a valiant knight, Who with their counsel, and their arms in fight, Shall on their Italy devolve their fame, And spread in war the glory of her name.
125 Then righteous monarchs shall the sceptre hold, Who, as the sage Augustus rul'd of old,
Ver. 116. That ancient blood,---] Rogero and Bradamant, both descended from Astyanax: Rogero, son to Rogero of Risa, and Bradamant, niece to Charlemain. See note on B, ii. Ver. 216.
Ver. 119.--- The Danube and the Nile---] The Danube, a river in Germany; the Nile, a river in Egypt; the Tagns, a river in Portugal; the Ind, or Indus, a river in India, whence the country. receives its name : By the Antartic skies, is meant the south pole; and by Calisto, the north, being a constellation in that part of the heavens.