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gave him their beards cleane flayne off,—wherefore the messenger came for King Arthur's beard, for King Ryence had purfeled a mantell with king's beards, and there lacked for one a place of the mantell, wherefore he sent for his beard, or else he would enter into his lands, and brenn and slay, and never leave till he have thy head and thy beard. 'Well,' said King Arther, ' thou hast said thy message, which is the most villainous and lewdest message that ever man heard sent to a king. Also thou mayest see my beard is full young yet for to make a purfell of; but tell thou the king that—or it be long—he shall do to me homage on both his knees, or else he shall leese his head.'"

In Queen Elizabeth's day, when they were beginning to skim the cream of the ponderous tomes of former times into those elaborate ditties from which the more modern ballad takes its rise, this incident was put into rhyme, and was sung before her majesty at the grand entertainment at Kenilworth Castle, 1575, thus:—

"As it fell out on a Pentecost day,

King Arthur at Camelot kept his Court royall,
With his faire queene dame Guenever the gay,
And many bold barons sitting in hall;
With ladies attired in purple and pall;
And heraults in hewkes,* hooting on high,
Cryed, Largesse, largesse, Chevaliers tres Aardie.

i A doughty dwarfe to the uppermost deas

Right pertlye gan pricke, kneeling on knee; With stevenf 11 stoute amids all the preas,

* Hewke—herald's coat. f Steven—voice, sound


Sayd, Nowe sir King Arthur, God save thee, and see I
Sir Ryence of Northgales greeteth well thee,
And bids thee thy beard anon to him send,
Or else from thy jaws he will it off rend.

"For his robe of state is a rich scarlet mantle, With eleven kings beards bordered about, And there is room lefte yet in a kantle,* For thine to stande} to make the twelfth out: This must be done, be thou never so stout;This must be done, I tell thee no fable, Maugre the teethe of all thy rounde table.

"When this mortal message from his mouthe past, Great was the noyse bothe in hall and in bower,

The king fum'd; the queen screecht; ladies were aghast; Princes puff'd; barons blustered; lords began lower; Knights stormed; squires startled, like steeds in a stower

Pages and yeomen yell'd out in the hall;

Then in came Sir Kay, the king's seneschal.

"Silence, my soveraignes, quoth this courteous knight,
And in that stound the stowre began still:
Then the dwarfe's dinner full deevely was dight;
Of wine and wassel he had his wille:
And when he had eaten and drunken his fill,
An hundred pieces of fine coyned gold
Were given this dwarfe for his message bold.

"But say to Sir Ryence, thou dwarfe, quoth the king,
That for his bold message I do him defye;
And shortly with basins and pans will him ring
Out of North Gales; where he and I
With swords, and not razors, quickly shall trye
Whether he or King Arthur will prove the best barbor:
And therewith he shook his good sword Excalabor."

* Kantle—a corner.

Drayton thus alludes to the same circumstance:—

"Then told they, how himselfe great Arthur did advance,
To meet (with his Allies) that puissant force in France,
By Lucius thither led; those Armies that while ere
Affrighted all the world, by him strooke dead with feare:
Th' report of his great Acts that over Europe ran,
In that most famous field he with the Emperor wan:
As how great Rython's selfe hee slew in his repaire,
Who ravisht Howell's Neece, young Helena the faire;
And for a trophy brought the Giant's coat away,
Made of the beards of kings." *

And Spenser is too uncourteous in his adoption of the incident; for he not only levels tolls on the gentlemen's beards, but even on the flowing and golden locks of the gentle sex:—

"Not farre from hence, upon yond rocky hill,

Hard by a streight there stands a castle strong, Which doth observe a custom lewd and ill,

And it hath long mayntaind with mighty wrong:

For may no knight nor lady passe along
That way, (and yet they needs must passe that way,

By reason of the streight, and rocks among,)
But they that Ladies locks doe shave away,
And that knight's berd for toll, which they for passage pay.

"A shamefull use, as ever I did heare,

Said Calidore, and to be overthrowne.
But by what means did they at first it reare,

And for what cause, tell, if thou have it knowne.

Sayd then that Squire: The Lady which doth owne This Castle is by name Briana hight;

Then which a prouder Lady liveth none; She long time hath deare lov'd a doughty knight, And sought to win his love by all the meanes she might.

* Drayton's Polyolbion, Song 4.

"His name is Crudor, who through high disdaine
And proud despight of his selfe-pleasing mynd,

Refused hath to yeeld her love againe,
Untill a Mantle she for him doe fynd,
With beards of knights and locks of Ladies lynd,

Which to provide, she hath this Castle dight,
And therein hath a Seneschall assynd,

Cald Maleffort, a man of mickle might,

Who executes her wicked will, with worse despight.'? *

"To pluck the beard" of another has ever been held the highest possible sign of scorn and contumely; but it was certainly a refinement on the matter, for which we are indebted to the Morte Arthur, or rather probably, according to Bishop Percy, to Geoffrey of Monmouth's history originally, for the unique and ornamental purpose to which these despoiled locks were applied. So particularly anxious was Charlemagne to shew this despite to an enemy that, as we read in Huon de Bordeaux, he despatched no less than fifteen successive messengers from France to Babylon to pull the beard of Admiral Gaudisse. And this, by no means pleasant operation, was to be accompanied by one even still less inviting.

"Alors le due Naymes, & tres tous les Barons, sen retournerent au palais avec le Roy, lequel s'assist sur un banc dore de fin or, & les Barons tous autour de luy. Si commanda qu'on luy amenast Huon, lequel il vint, et se mist a genoux devant le roy, ou luy priant moult humblement que pitie & mercy voulsist avoir de luy. Alors le roy le voyant en sa presence luy dist: Huon puisque vers moy veux estre accorde, si convient que faciez ce que je vous or donneray. Sire, ce dist Huon, pour obeir a vous, il n'est aujourd'huy chose en ce monde mortal, que corps humain puisse porter, que hardiment n'osasse entreprendre, ne ia pour peur de mort ne le laisseray a faire, & fust a aller jusques a l'arbre sec, voire jusques aux portaux d'enfer combattre aux infernaux, comme fist le fort Hercule: avant qu' a vous ne fusse accorde. Huon, ce dist Charles, je cuide qu'en pire lieu vous envoyeray, car, de quinze messages qui de par moy y ont este envoyez, n'en est par revenu un seul homme. Si te diray ou tu iras, puis que tu veux qui de toy aye mercy, nVa volonte est, qu'il te convient aller en la cite de Babylonne, par devers diray, & gardes que sur ta vie ne face faute, quand la seras venu tu monteras en son palais, laou tu attendras Theure de son disner & que tu le verras assis a table. Si convient que tu sois arme de toutes armes, 1'espee nue au poing, par tel si que le premier & le plus grand baron que tu verras manger a sa table tu luy trencheras le chef quel qu'il soit, soit Roy, ou Admiral. Et apres ce te convient tant faire que la belle Esclarmonde fille a 1'Amiral Gaudisse tu fiances, & la baises trois fois en la presence de son pere, & de tous sous qui la seront presens, car je veux que tu scaches que c'est la plus belle pucelle qu'aujourd'huy soit en vie, puis apres diras de par moy a VAdmiral qu'il m'envoye mille espreuiers, mille ours, mille viautres, tous enchainez, & mille jeune valets, & mille des plus belles pucelles de son royaume, & avecques ce, convient que tu me rapportcs une poignee de sa barbe, et quatre de ses dents machoires. Ha! Sire, dirent les Barons, bien

* Faerie Queene. Buok vi.

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