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NOTES TO CANTO FIRST.
Holds converse with the unburied corse.-P. 17. The Romance of the Morte Arthur contains a sort of abridgment of the most celebrated adventures of the Round
Table; and, being written in comparatively modern language, gives the general reader an excellent idea of what romances of chivalry actually were. It has also the merit of being written in pure old English ; and many of the wild adventures which it contains, are told with a simplicity bordering upon the sublime. Several of these are referred to in the text; and I would have illustrated them by more full extracts, but as this curious work is about to be republished, I confine myself to the tale of the Chapel Perilous, and of the quest of Sir Launcelot after the Sangreall.
“ Right so Sir Launcelot departed; and when he came to The Chapell Perilous, he alighted downe, and tied his horse to
a little gate. And as soon as he was within the church-yard, he saw, on the front of the chapell, many faire rich shields turned upside downe, and many of the shields Sir Launcelot had seene knights have before; with that he saw stand by him thirtie great knights, more, by a yard, than any man that ever he had seene, and all those grinned and gnashed at Sir Launcelot; and when he saw their countenance, hee dread them sore, and so put his shield afore him, and tooke his sword in his hand, ready to doe battaile; and they were all armed in black harneis, ready, with their shields and swords drawen. And when Sir Launcelot would have gone through them, they scattered on every side of him, and gave him the way; and therewith hee waxed all bold, and entered into the chapell, and then he sawe no light but a dimme lampe burning, and then was hee ware of a corps covered with a cloath of silke; then Sir Launcelot stooped downe, and cut a piece of that cloath away, and then it fared under him as the earth had quaked a little, whereof hee was afeared, and then he saw a faire sword lye by the dead knight, and that he gat in his hand, and hied him out of the chappell. As soon as he was in the chappellyerd, all the knights spoke to him with a grimly voice, and said, ‘Knight Sir Launcelot, lay that sword from thee, or else thou shalt die.’ ‘Whether I live or die,” said Sir Launcelot, “with . no great words get yee it againe, therefore fight for it and yee list.’ Therewith he passed through them; and, beyond the chappell-yerd, there met him a faire damosel, and said, ‘Sir
Launcelot, leave that sword behind thee, or thou wilt die for