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with the topography of the spot. The stone was beneath at the river,' the damozel who comes to view the marvel 'came rydynge doune the ryver
.. on a whyte palfroy toward them,' and there is frequent mention of the river meads. It is hard to believe that Sir Thomas would definitely assert that Camelot “is in English Winchester,' and make it the chief scene of his romance, had he never visited the town.
The book was finished, Caxton tells us, “the ix yere of the reygne of king edward the fourth,' 1469; but was not ‘chapytred and emprynted and fynysshed in th’abbey Westmestre 'until the last day of July the yere of our lord M.CCCC.LXXXV.,' 1485. Three weeks later a fateful battle was fought—that of Bosworth, which placed the crown upon Harry Tudor's head. The facts that the new king was a great benefactor to Winchester that he held the castle to have been built by King Arthur, and that he brought hither his queen to be delivered of his first-born (whom he named Arthur), point to something more than a chance connection between the city and the book. .
Henry Tudor was also a Welshman, and possibly Malory was of the king's acquaintance, if not actually of his retinue. Bale asserts that Malory was occupied with affairs of state. But conclusions are dangerous things. The preface to the ‘ Morte d'Arthur'ascribes the ordering of the book to Edward the Fourth. '... I made
a book unto th’excellent prynce and kyng of noble memorye kyng Edward the fourth. The sayd noble lentylmen instantly requyred me t'emprynte thystorye of the sayd noble kyng and conquerour king Arthur and of his knyghtes, wyth thystorye of the saynt greal, and of the deth and endynge of the sayd Arthur; Affermyng that ... there ben in frensshe dyvers and many noble volumes of his actes and also of his knyghtes.'1 Which looks rather as if Edward the Fourth (who had no reason to love the Welsh -you will remember that he had beheaded Owen Tudor, Richmond's grandfather) had heard of or read Malory's work, and was anxious to possess it in print, though unwilling to credit it to a follower of the Lancastrian party. It is a pleasant field for surmise, and, however wrongly, it is good to picture old Sir Thomas strolling along those pleasant meads beside the river weaving his immortal cycle of tales.
There is a connection somewhere between Malory and Caxton too. In 1469 Malory finished his book, and in March of that year Caxton began to translate le Fevre's “Recueil des Histoires de Troyes.' Where and when did Malory meet Caxton, who lived for some years about that time at Bruges, discovering that they possessed the same literary tastes ? Did Malory hand the manuscript of his work to Caxton, in the service of the Duchess of Burgundy, sister of Edward the Fourth, and did the great printer (or the Duchess) show it to that king? We shall never know, and only imagination can fill the gap.
1 In the list of books at the Louvre belonging to Charles V. of France, drawn up by Gilles Malet, his librarian, in 1373, there is a volume. Du roy Artus, de la Table Ronde, et de la Mort dudit roy, tres bien escript et enlumine.' It would be interesting to compare this manuscript (if it is still in existence) with Malory's work, and to see whether the incident of the peron is described therein.
But to continue. It was Whitsunday, and as the last notes of the voluntary echoed away among those 'antick pillars massy proof' of the great church, our thoughts turned once more to King Arthur and his knights. For was it not upon this very day that the vision of the Holy Grail was vouchsafed to them as they sat at meat within the castle hall ?
* And thenne the kynge and al estates wente home unto Camelot, and soo wente to evensonge to the grete mynster. And soo after upon that to souper. . . . Thenne anone they herd crakynge and cryenge of thonder, that hem thought the place shold alle to dryve. . . . Not for thenne there was no knyght myghte speke one word a grete whyle. . . . Thenne ther entred in to the halle the holy graile coverd with whyte samyte, but ther was none myghte see hit, nor who bare
1 i.e. the golden vessel, because of the samite (satin) covering.