History of the Kings of Britain: Historia Regum Britanniae By Geoffrey of Monmouth The Translator’s Epilogue

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In the first and last chapters of his work, Geoffrey of Monmouth tells his readers how deeply he is indebted to Walter, Archdeacon of Oxford, for the original material of his History, and in the preface to his eleventh book especially emphasises the value of the information given by Walter in reference to King Arthur. Strangely enough, the very first authentic record of Geoffrey’s existence brackets together the names of Archdeacon Walter and Geoffrey Arthur at a date many years earlier than the publication of the History of the British Kings in the form in which it has come down to us. When Osney Abbey, near Oxford, was founded in 1129, the list of witnesses to the foundation charter began with the name of the Archdeacon and ended with that of Geoffrey Arthur. At this time, therefore, the writer of the History did not sign himself Geoffrey of Monmouth as he did in later years, but Geoffrey Arthur, the name by which he is known to his contemporary historians, Henry of Huntingdon and Robert of Torigni. This second name, ‘Arthur,’ has very generally been supposed to indicate that Geoffrey’s father was named Arthur. No valid ground, however, has been assigned for the assumption, and it is, moreover, directly at variance with the assertion of William of Newburgh, which cannot lightly be set aside. At any rate, patronymic or no patronymic, it is incredible that a writer named Arthur should create a literary hero also named Arthur unless the two circumstances were in some way connected. What the precise connection may have been can only be guessed, but surely the simplest explanation of the facts as they stand is that as early as 1129 Geoffrey had already set hand to a work of which Arthur was or was to be the hero.

The next reference to Geoffrey and his book dates ten years later. The whole story will perhaps be best told in the words of Robert of Torigni, at that time a monk in the Abbey of Bec and afterwards Abbot of the great monastery on St. Michael’s Mount in Normandy. Robert, himself a chronicler of the highest order, prefixes to his own chronicle a number of additions collected from various sources, and among them a letter from Henry, Archdeacon of Huntingdon, to a friend, otherwise unknown, named Warin. Both Henry and Geoffrey enjoyed the patronage of Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln, and Henry, it will be remembered, is one of those warned by Geoffrey in his last chapter to hold his peace about the Kings of Britain because he has not the book in the British tongue which Walter of Oxford brought out of Britain. Whether or not this chapter formed part of the work at the time Henry made his excerpts does not appear, nor is there anything to show whether Geoffrey ever read Henry’s abstract of his work. As for Robert of Torigni, he is evidently embarrassed by Geoffrey’s book, and is glad to make use of Henry’s summary in order to relieve himself of the responsibility of having to piece out the chronicles of Eusebius and Jerome with extracts from Geoffrey Arthur. This is what he writes in his prologue:—

‘But, for that meseemeth it is unbecoming to make addition of aught extraneous unto the writings of men of so high authority, to wit, Eusebius and Jerome, yet natheless, for the satisfaction of the curious, will I add unto this prologue a letter of Archdeacon Henry, wherein he doth briefly enumerate all the Kings of the Britons from Brutus as far as Cadwallo, who was the last of the puissant Kings of the Britons and was father of Cadwallader whom Bede calleth Cedwalla. This epistle, as will be found therein, the said Henry did excerpt at Bec, where I offered him the use of a copy of the whole history of the Britons when he was on his way to Rome.’

After a paragraph explaining the scope of his own history from Julius Cæsar to the death of Henry I. in 1135, and acknowledging his indebtedness to the History of Henry of Huntingdon, Robert proceeds to quote Henry’s abstract in full. From the abstract it is clear that the original thus lent was none other than the History of Geoffrey of Monmouth, but it is also clear that it was a version differing in certain respects from the History as it has come down to us and as it has here been translated. The following extracts give all the passages of the abstract which afford any material evidence of its having been made from a version of the history differing from its later form.

‘Here beginneth the epistle of Henry the Archdeacon unto Warin as concerning the Kings of the Britons.

‘Thou dost ask of me, Warin the Briton, courteous man as thou art, and witty withal, wherefore, in telling the story of our country, I should have begun with the times of Julius Cæsar and omitted those most flourishing reigns that were betwixt Brute and the days of Julius? Mine answer is that albeit I have many a time and oft made enquiry as to those ages, yet never have I found none that could tell me, nor no book wherein was written aught about them. Even thus in the illimitable succession of years doth the destruction of oblivion overshadow and extinguish the glory of mortality! Howbeit, in this very year, which is the eleven hundred and thirty-ninth from the Incarnation of our Lord, when I was journeying to Rome with Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, at Bec, where the said Archbishop had formerly been Abbot, to my amazement I found the written record of these events. For there I met with Robert of Torigni, a monk of that place, a most studious searcher after and collector of books both sacred and profane. He, when be had questioned me as to the plan of the History of the Kings of the English issued by me, and had eagerly heard what I had to say in answer, offered unto me a book to read as concerning those Kings of the Britons who held our island before the English. These extracts therefrom, my best-beloved, I do therefore send unto thee, albeit they be of the briefest, as becometh a mere friendly letter.’

Then follows a very short summary of the earlier chapters, in which Henry quotes the two first lines of Brute’s prayer to Diana and the first four of her response, after which he proceeds thus:—

‘Brute, therefore, having affiance in this response, came unto this island whereof the name was Albion, and which was inhabited of none save only giants, and they full passing gross of wit, albeit of marvellous bigness and of strength beyond all telling. These, accordingly, came running together into the sea against the ships of Brute, and when they had come into such a depth as that they could get no nigher unto Brute nor yet lightly make their way back again, were slain by slings and arrows. After these were thus overwhelmed or driven off, he made away with the other giants who were not present by slings and other devices, catching them by snares of a night. He therefore inhabited the land, and divided it amongst his own men by allotment of the rope, and called the land Britain after his own name. He thereafter builded Trinovant as an everlasting memorial, that is, New Troy, which we now call London. The great city of Trinovantum was thus builded therefore in the time of Eli the priest and of Æneas Silvius. Howbeit Brute, happily reigning and gloriously departing, left his kingdom of Britain unto his eldest born Lucrine, whom after he had reigned most puissantly for ten years, his wife, Gondolovea, did slay with an arrow in a battle, for that he had put her away. On this wise did Gondolovea punish the advoutery of her husband with one of her own waiting-women, than whom was none fairer of form nor more comely to look upon, whence it came that she was exalted to be Queen and she that was her Lady was put away. Gondolovea, therefore, after the death of her husband, reigned fifteen years in the time of Samuel and Homer the poet.’

In the rest of the earlier books the narrative seems to have been abstracted from an original in all material respects the same as the later edition. The answers of Lear’s three daughters, however, seem to have varied slightly. Thus Goneril is made to say: ‘Beneath the moon that marketh the boundaries betwixt things mutable and things eternal, nought is there that can ever be so much unto me;’ and Regan: ‘My love for thee is more precious than all riches, and all things desirable are as nought in comparison therewithal.’ Cordelia, the only sister named, gives her answer: ‘So much as thou hast, so much art thou worth, and so much do I love thee,’ without any preface to soften the bluntness of her speech. The moral of the tale is thus rendered: ‘Accordingly, hence hath been derived the saying, “Things moderately said are ever the more to be appreciated,”‘—a platitude, perhaps, not altogether destitute of point in the mouth of Geoffrey of Monmouth. Other discrepancies are slight and few. The Allobroges of the later version are the Senones, Brennius is Brennus “the supreme of men, the glory of the brave, the eternal star of Britain,” Tenuantius is Themantius, and a few other names are differently spelt, but no significant variant occurs till we come to the time of Uther Pendragon, when we stumble on a remarkable omission. No word is written of Merlin. ‘Uter Pendragon, that is, “Dragon’s head,” a most excellent youth, the son of Aurelius, to wit, brought from Ireland the Dance of Giants which is now called Stanhenges.’ This is all that Henry writes in his abstract about the matter, and it is safe to say all that he found of any interest about it in the original before him. Geoffrey’s Merlin evidently, if he existed at all before 1139, had not yet found his way into Geoffrey’s Arthurian epic. Beyond this conspicuous absence of Merlin from the story, the most striking point in Henry’s summary is the account he gives of the passing of Arthur.

‘When he was about to cross over the Alps, an envoy said unto him, “Modred, thy nephew, hath set thy crown upon his own head with the assistance of Cheldric, King of the English, and hath taken thy wife unto himself.” Arthur, thereupon, seething over with wondrous wrath, returning into England, conquered Modred in battle, and after pursuing him as far as into Cornwall, with a few men fell upon him in the midst of many, and when he saw that he could not turn back said, “Comrades, let us sell our death dear. I, for my part, will smite off the head of my nephew and my betrayer, after which death will be a delight unto me.” Thus spake he, and hewing a way for himself with his sword through the press, dragged Modred by the helmet into the midst of his own men and cut through his mailed neck as through a straw. Natheless, as he went, and as he did the deed, so many wounds did he receive that he fell, albeit that his kinsmen the Britons deny that he is dead, and do even yet solemnly await his coming again. He was, indeed, the very first man of his time in warlike prowess, bounty and wit.’

In the brief remainder of his narrative Henry summarises the story in accordance with the later version, and winds up thus:—

‘These, then, my best-beloved Warin the Briton, are in brief that which I did promise thee, whereof if thou dost desire to read the whole length, make diligent enquiry after the great book of Geoffrey Arthur which I found at the Abbey of Bec, wherein thou mayst find the aforesaid treated with sufficient fulness and clearness. Fare thee well!’

Before leaving the chronicles of Robert of Torigni, it is worth while to quote the following entry under the year 1152:—

‘Geoffrey Arthur, who had translated the History of the Kings of the Britons out of the British into Latin, is made Bishop of St. Asaph in North Wales.’

Here, then, we have distinct and unimpeachable evidence that a version of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the British Kings was extant in the Abbey of Bec early in 1139, and neither Henry nor Robert speak of it as being at that time a novel acquisition. That this version was substantially the same as the later version which has come down to us, with the cardinal exception that it contained no notice of Merlin and his prophecies, is clear enough. The omission of the story about the giants in the later version is to be regretted, as it seems to embody a genuine folk-lore tradition; and the variation in the account of Arthur’s death is certainly significant, whatever its significance may be, but the main lines of the work are identical in both versions. One is an earlier, the other a later edition, that is all.

At this point, a difficulty presents itself in reference to the date of both versions. As far back as 1770 J. R. Sinner, the learned librarian of the city of Bern, in his catalogue of the MSS. then in his charge, called attention to one of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History dedicated to King Stephen of England. The value of Sinner’s catalogue was early recognised in England, but this particular entry remained practically unnoticed until 1858, when Sir Frederick Madden published an account of the MS. in the Journal of the Archæological Institute for that year, in which he gave the text of the dedication and his own conclusions thereupon. After the first paragraph, which is identical with that already translated at the beginning of this volume, the dedication runs in English thus:—

‘Unto this little work of mine, therefore, do thou, Stephen, King of England, show favour in such sort that with thee for teacher and adviser it may be held to have sprung not from the poor little fountain of Geoffrey of Monmouth, but from thine own sea of knowledge, and to savour of thy salt, so that it may be said to be thine offspring—thine, whose uncle was Henry the illustrious King of England, whom philosophy hath nurtured in the liberal arts, whom thine own inborn prowess of knighthood hath called unto the command of our armies, and whom the island of Britain doth now in these our days hail with heart-felt affection, as if in thee she had been vouchsafed a second Henry. Do thou, also, Robert, Earl of Gloucester, our other pillar of the realm, lend thine assistance that, under the combined direction of ye both, the issue of my book now made public may shine forth in an even fairer light. For thee, unto whom was sire that same most renowned King Henry, hath thy mother, Philosophy, taken unto her bosom and indoctrinated thee in the subtleties of her sciences and afterward directed thee unto the camps of kings that thou mightest achieve renown in knightly exercises, wherein, valiantly surpassing thy comrades-in-arms, thou hast learnt to stand forth as a terror unto thine enemies and under thy father’s auspices as a protection unto thine own people. Being, therefore, as thou art, the trusty protection of them that are thine own, receive myself, thy prophet-bard, and this my book, issued for thine own delectation, under thy protection, so that lying at mine ease beneath the guardianship of so far-spreading a tree, I may be able to pipe my lays upon the reed of mine own muse in safe security even in the face of the envious and the wicked.’

Such, as nearly as I can render its amazing periods, is Geoffrey’s double dedication. The mere pedestrian translator finds it somewhat difficult to keep pace with him when he gets on to his stilts, and both here and in the dedication to Robert alone I have inferred from the context that Geoffrey wished to contrast his own ‘poor little well-spring’ with ‘a sea of knowledge,’ attributed to his patron. Literally, the phrase runs: ‘Not from the little fountain of Geoffrey of Monmouth, but, flavoured by the salt of thy Minerva, may be said,’ etc. Fortunately here only a question of style is involved. The genuineness and the date of the dedication are of considerably greater importance. With regard to the first point, until some good reason for doubting its genuineness is forthcoming, the fair assumption is that it is what it professes to be, a dedication by Geoffrey to King Stephen and Robert of Gloucester at once. As far as style is any criterion, it is a case of aut Galfridus aut diabolus, and it is hard to surmise any motive that would induce a fraudulent editor at any time to fabricate so flatulent and apparently so contradictory an exordium to Geoffrey’s work. Sir Frederick Madden, assuming its genuineness, assumes further that it must have been written at a time when Stephen and Robert were on friendly terms. He therefore assigns the date at which it was written to the period between April 1136 and May 1138, when Robert was bound by the oath of allegiance he had taken to Stephen in the first year of Stephen’s reign. This conclusion, however, is based upon a fallacy. Robert came to England in 1136 and took a conditional oath of allegiance to Stephen, which he formally renounced in 1138, but the two were never on terms of friendship of a kind which would suggest to Geoffrey the idea of addressing them jointly as the two pillars of the realm. The very words of the dedication, in fact, refute Sir Frederick’s attempt to explain their existence. His method begins at the wrong end. The date of the dedication has to be determined first of all by the best evidence attainable before any profitable discussion can be entered into as to the best means of accounting for it. In this case, one limiting date at least has been ascertained with sufficient certainty to render it needless here to quote the authorities on which it rests. This is the death of Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln, in February 1148. Some authorities indeed appear to place it at 1147, but it is only in appearance, the chroniclers dating the years from Easter to Easter instead of from January 1 to January 1. Now the Bern MS. includes the prophecies of Merlin and the introductory chapter to Book VII. in which Geoffrey speaks of Alexander as dead at the time he writes. The date, then, of the original of the Bern MS. is certainly not earlier than February 1148. Here, however, we seem to have crossed the frontier of No-man’s-land, for it is equally certain that the dedication was addressed to Robert of Gloucester during his life, and Robert is generally believed to have died in 1147. Obviously no genuine work could have been dedicated to the living Robert of Gloucester if it was written after the death of a man who survived him. Yet the dedication of the Bern MS. is clearly addressed to Robert as still living, for he is spoken of as being one of the pillars of the realm and King Stephen as the other. The real date of Robert’s death, therefore, becomes crucial for determining the character and credit of the Bern MS. What evidence exists on the point at issue? Gervase of Canterbury places Robert’s death in 1146, and his high authority is corroborated by the Annals of Winchester. The Annals of Margan Abbey, which Robert himself founded, give October 31, 1147, as the date, and, as far as the year goes, are corroborated by those of Tewkesbury and Waverley. John of Hexham gives 1148 as the date. Which of the three years thus recorded is to be accepted as the true date of the event? The day of the month mentioned in the Margan Annals may safely be relied on as accurate, inasmuch as ‘Founder’s Day’ would doubtless be celebrated annually by a special service, and a mistake on such a point in the abbey chronicle is hardly a possible contingency. The presumption that the year as well as the day is correctly entered is also strong, though far from being so strong, for the day and not the year was the important point to the inmates of the abbey, and the entry in this case is far from being contemporary with the event. The form, moreover, in which monastic annals were habitually kept very frequently led to entries being made under a wrong year. The strongest argument in favour of the latest date is the fact that wherever, as in John of Hexham and the Waverley Annals, the deaths of Bishop Alexander and Earl Robert are placed in juxtaposition, the death of the former always precedes that of the latter. Thus the Waverley Annals, which place the death of Alexander in 1147, place the death of Robert in the same year but after the death of Alexander. The death of Alexander is certainly misplaced, and the inference is that the death of Robert is also misplaced as regards the year, although probably correctly entered as regards the true succession of events. The Waverley Annals may therefore be regarded as supporting John of Hexham, who places both events in 1148. Upon the whole evidence, the existence of this joint dedication by Geoffrey seems to turn the scale distinctly in favour of the year 1148 as the date of Robert’s death, and, in this case, the date of the original of the Bern MS. can only be some time between February and the end of October in that year. Within these very narrow limits we have next to search for some adequate reason which can have induced Geoffrey of Monmouth to dedicate his work at once to King Stephen and to Earl Robert, then still on hostile terms, and to address them as the two pillars of the kingdom of England.

The search is far from being so hopeless as it seems at first sight. The history of the time is obscure, and Geoffrey’s biography is obscurer still, but there are two well-established facts which seem to me to have a decisive bearing on this point, although both belong to a date some few years later than the deaths of the Bishop and the Earl. One of these is that in February 1152 Geoffrey was ordained priest by Archbishop Theobald at Lambeth, and a fortnight later consecrated Bishop of St. Asaph. The other is that in November 1153 his name appears as a witness to the memorable compact by which Stephen adopted Henry Fitz-Empress as his son and heir-apparent to the crown of England. The reflex light which these two circumstances throw upon the Geoffrey of 1148 enables us to form a fairly accurate estimate of his prospects and position in that year. He was then still a deacon, and possibly an archdeacon, for the title at that time had almost as many meanings as the word “dean” has still. That he was never Archdeacon of Monmouth is clearly established, but he may very well have been archdeacon in the school or college attached to the great monastery there, and it seems fairly certain that he subsequently held some official position of the same kind in the college at Llandaff. At any rate, in 1148, he was in deacon’s orders, and, it is only reasonable to infer from his later career, on the look-out for a bishopric. In the abstract his claims were strong. He was a man of good character and conditions as well as of wide learning and great industry, and had written a book which was not only the most popular and generally interesting secular work of the age, but was calculated to exert, and did exert, no inconsiderable political influence. In the concrete, however, there was a bar to his claims which in a less anarchic age might well have been insuperable. This was that his elevation to a bishopric would require the confirmation of King Stephen, and that an earlier edition of his book had been dedicated to King Stephen’s archenemy, Earl Robert. This, indeed, is only an inference, but it is a perfectly legitimate inference. Henry of Huntingdon, who, as we have seen, is our only authority with regard to this earlier edition, says nothing about its dedication for two very intelligible reasons, one that the dedication had nothing whatever to do with the subject on which he was writing, and the other that when he made his abstract at Bec he was travelling to Rome with Archbishop Theobald, whose election to the see of Canterbury had just been confirmed by King Stephen. But the dedication itself supports the inference. It was written at a time when Britain was hailing Robert with heartfelt affection as if in him Heaven had vouchsafed a second Henry, and also at a time when Robert’s inborn powers had raised him to be the commander of the army. The two conditions tally exactly with the state of affairs in the summer of 1138, when Robert had renounced his allegiance to Stephen and was heading the invasion of England in alliance with David of Scotland. The Battle of the Standard (August 22) had probably not yet been fought, and Robert was hailed as the coming saviour of England, the minister of Divine vengeance on the perjurer and usurper Stephen. Apart from these arguments, however, a comparison of the two dedications shows clearly enough which is the earlier. From a literary point of view, it is impossible that the one to Robert alone could have been written after the joint one to Stephen as well as Robert. How it came to pass that the dedication of the earlier edition came to be restored to the later one will be seen presently.

Geoffrey’s hopes of obtaining a bishopric would seem to have been fondly cherished for many years. I find it impossible to read his dithyrambic eulogy of the City of Legions, Caerleon upon Usk, without feeling that at the time he indited it he was haunted by archiepiscopal visions. He saw, if I read what is written between his lines aright, that fair and glorious city, the palaces whereof might seem to vie with those of Rome herself, transmuted into a metropolitan see by a beneficent King Henry, or haply by a gracious Augusta, his daughter, now Maud, Lady of the English; and a certain humble cleric and man of genius, Geoffrey Arthur by name, and celebrated throughout Christendom for his History of the British Kings, consecrated Metropolitan thereof and Primate of all Wales. If Geoffrey ever indulged in such illusions, surely not impossibly extravagant in the later years of Henry’s reign, they had vanished into thin air long before the year 1148. But if the archbishopric in posse had disappeared, there were still English and Welsh bishoprics in esse not altogether hopelessly beyond his reach. Here was Bishop Alexander of Lincoln just dead—why should not Geoffrey succeed him? At least, he would call attention to his claims. He had not been idle all these years. He had been busy, among other things, with the Prophecies of Merlin, which had already arrested popular interest and attention. Why not incorporate them in a new edition of his History? Then came the cruel difficulty. To whom could he dedicate the new edition? Clearly, King Stephen in some way or other must be so far propitiated as not to oppose his election if Lincoln or any other see was to be obtained at all. So much was imperative—the rest was a matter of taste and judgment. But it was practically impossible for Geoffrey to dedicate to Stephen alone a work which in an earlier form he had already dedicated to Robert alone. It would be nothing less than to proclaim himself a renegade from the cause of Robert, a traitor to all the principles he had so earnestly advocated, a sneaking, time-serving hypocrite ready to sacrifice all the convictions he had ever professed on the altar of his own personal advancement. Even had he been any of these things, which he certainly was not, he would have been the last to desire to publish the fact to the world at large. But that irksome necessity of obtaining the royal assent still lay between him and what he considered the just reward of his deserts. The case was urgent and the days were evil. The Empress Maud had retired into Normandy more than three years before. Robert was still in Bristol, quiescent, probably ill, but expectant. The anarchy in the State was reflected in the anarchy of the Church. If Stephen and Robert were the two pillars of the one, Stephen’s brother Henry, Bishop of Winchester and Papal Legate, and Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, were the two pillars of the other. Legate Henry’s darling ambition was to have the primacy translated from Canterbury to Winchester. Theobald’s less daring counter-scheme was to transfer the Legatine authority from Winchester to Canterbury in perpetuity. Only the year before, in 1147, Henry had been successful in ousting Theobald for a time from his see and from England. Theobald had retorted by returning to England a few months later and placing all that part of it which owned allegiance Stephen under an interdict. Under such malign influences in Church and State what could a poor aspirant to the vacant see of Lincoln do? What one such aspirant actually did, may, I think, be read in Geoffrey’s dedication of the Bern MS. He took his courage and his book into both hands and dedicated the new edition with his left hand to King Stephen and with his right to Robert of Gloucester, appending a post-mortem dedication of the newly incorporated Prophecies of Merlin to Bishop Alexander, by way of a hint that the writer of the prophecies would be an excellent and useful successor to the see of Lincoln. This is how I read the dedication. Sitting on a fence is seldom a dignified or graceful performance, but if Geoffrey meant to be bishop, he had no choice but to go through it. There is a dash of real pathos in the clumsiness of his efforts to flatter one patron without offending the other. We are looking on at the spectacle dear to the gods, the good man struggling with adversity.

If ever Geoffrey flattered himself with the prospect of succeeding Bishop Alexander, he was soon disillusioned. Two years passed away and the prophet was still without his reward. At long last, in 1152, there was a vacancy in the see of St. Asaph, ‘a poor little see with a poor little cathedral,’ as Gerald de Barri not long afterwards described it. The evil days had not mended, and half a loaf is better than no bread. The Archbishopric of Caerleon had long since been consigned to the limbo of unrealised aspirations. The real bishopric of Lincoln had been conferred upon another. Geoffrey and Geoffrey’s world were growing old. If he was to enter on any earthly reward at all he could no longer afford to be squeamish. The alternative presented to him was St. Asaph’s or nothing, and he naturally preferred St. Asaph’s, to which see he was consecrated in 1152. But there was no absolute obligation upon him to retire forthwith into the wilds of Wales, unfrequented as they were by the dispensers of ecclesiastical preferment. Earl Robert was dead, but his cause was rapidly rising into the ascendant. The “Empress” still lived, and Henry Fitz-Empress was growing up to manhood. His father, Geoffrey of Anjou, died in 1151, and at his death Henry became Earl of Anjou as well as Duke of Normandy. The same eventful year also saw the young Duke married to Eleanor of Aquitaine, the divorced wife of Louis VII. of France, and the stars in their courses were fighting for the boy that was born to be King. Stephen read the omens, and by way of setting up a rival to the favourite of Fortune, proposed that his own son Eustace should be crowned joint King of England with himself. Archbishop Theobald and the rest of the prelates refused to crown him. Henry Fitz-Empress himself, moreover, had landed in England but a short time after Theobald had consecrated Geoffrey bishop. Clearly it was no time for one who had deserved well of Henry’s mother and of all his kin to be piping his rustic reed on the banks of the Elwy or the Clwyd. There was but a single life, that of Prince Eustace, between Stephen and Henry Fitz-Empress in the succession to the crown, and if Henry should ever be King, even that other city upon Usk might yet hail Geoffrey as Primate of all Wales. On August 18, 1153, Eustace died, and Stephen was not unwillingly persuaded to adopt Henry as his son and heir to the crown of England. On November 7 in that year the solemn compact was duly signed, sealed and delivered, and fealty sworn to the future King Henry. To this momentous document Geoffrey signed his name as Bishop of St. Asaph. It now only remained for Stephen to depart in peace, and Merlin, the wizard of a new Arthur, might almost name his own reward. Meanwhile, it must not be said that lie had neglected his episcopal duties at St. Asaph. When the winter was over, he would go, first to Llandaff and make arrangements about his old house there and the college with which he had been so long connected, and then on to his little cathedral church on the Elwy, to wait for the better time. It was not to be. Geoffrey was never to enter on his earthly reward. He reached Llandaff, and there, in his own old house, he died in 1155, without having set foot within his own diocese. Stephen had died on October 25, 1154, and Henry II. had been crowned on December 19. Henry, Bishop of Winchester, Stephen’s brother, had fled the country. The long nineteen years of anarchy and weary waiting were over. Geoffrey’s hour had come at last and it was his own last hour.

With regard to the Prophecies of Merlin as a separate work from the History of the British Kings, much remains to be said which cannot be said here. One of the earliest, and certainly the most important of all early references to Merlin, is to be found in the History of Lewis the Fat, written by his great minister and counsellor, Suger, Abbot of St. Denis. Lewis died in 1137, and Suger in 1152, but at what precise period this particular passage was written can now only be a matter of conjecture. Probably, however, 1148-1149 is the real date. The passage in English runs thus:—

‘At that time it so befell that Henry, King of the English, had come into the parts of the Normans, a right valiant man renowned alike in peace and war, whose excellency, admired and famous throughout well-nigh the universal world, Merlin, that marvellous observer and recorder of the continuous course of events amongst the English, rustic prophet though he be, doth with no less elegance than truth extol with exceeding honour; for, bursting forth abruptly, as hath ever been the wont of seers, in his praise, he thus uplifteth his prophetic voice: “The Lion of Justice,” saith he, “shall succeed, at whose roaring shall tremble the towers of Gaul and the Dragons of the Island. In his days shall gold be wrung from the lily and the nettle, and silver shall flow from the hooves of them that low. They whose hair is crisped and curled shall array them in parti-coloured fleeces, and the garment without shall betoken that which is within. The feet of them that bark shall be cropped short. The wild deer shall have peace, but humanity shall suffer the dole. The shape of commerce shall be cloven in twain; the half shall become round. The ravening of kites shall perish, and the teeth of wolves be blunted. The Lion’s whelps shall be changed into fishes of the sea, and his Eagle shall build her nest upon the mountains of Eryri.”

‘The whole compass of this prediction, so weighty and so ancient, fits in so exactly with the strenuous character of the person indicated and his administration of the realm, that not one single iota, not one single word can be regarded as inconsistent with the precise applicability thereof. For even from this which is said at the end about the Lion’s whelps it is abundantly manifest that the prophecy hath proven true, seeing that his sons and daughters were shipwrecked, and being devoured of the fishes of the sea were physically transformed into them. The aforesaid King Henry, therefore, happily succeeding his brother William, as soon as he had by the counsel of experienced men and upright ordered the realm of England to their liking according to the rule of their ancient kings, and in order to secure their goodwill had confirmed by oath the ancient customs of the realm, made for the haven of his Norman duchy, and, relying on the help of the King of the French, bringeth back order to the land, restoreth the laws and imposeth peace upon compulsion, promising robbers nought less than the tearing out of their eyes or stark hanging, gallows-high. Presently, therefore, under the strokes and stress of these and the like promises, and stricken, moreover, by their frequent fulfilment, for any man can be profuse in promises, the land is dumb at sight of him, and the Normans, in whose fierce Dansker blood is no peace, keep peace against their will, thereby again verifying the words of the rustic prophet. For the ravening of kites doth perish, and the teeth of wolves are blunted when neither gentle nor simple durst presume to pillage or plunder save by stealth. And when he saith that at the roaring of the Lion of Justice the towers of Gaul and the Dragons of the Island shall tremble, he intimateth this, that well-nigh all the towers and whatsoever castles were strongest in Normandy, which is part of Gaul, he did cause to be either levelled with the ground, or otherwise subdued unto his will either by settling men of his own therein, or, if they were destroyed, by confiscating their revenues to his own treasury. The Island Dragons also did tremble when none of the nobles of England, whosoever they might be, durst even grumble during his whole administration. In his days was gold wrung by him out of the lily, that is, from the religious of good odour, and from the nettle, that is from the stinging seculars, his intent being that as he was a profit unto all, so also should all do service unto himself. For safer is it that all should have one to defend them against all, than for all to perish through one man for lack of such a defender. Silver flowed from the hooves of them that low when the strength of the castle safeguarded the plenty of the grange, and the plenty of the grange assured abundance of silver in the well-filled coffers.’

This passage is remarkable in several aspects. Written during Geoffrey’s own lifetime, it enables us to say with certainty that the prophecies quoted cannot have originated later than 1152, the date of Suger’s death. It is almost equally certain that they were in existence at least four or five years earlier, along with a number of others from which Suger selects these as bearing directly on the subject he has in hand. Among them is one which he leaves uninterpreted, relating to the ‘form of commerce,’ which Merlin prophesies shall be cloven in twain, and further, that the half shall become round. The reference, of course, is to the silver penny, the only currency of the time in England. At what date the practice of cutting the penny in two may have introduced itself for the purpose of creating a supply of halfpence seems exceedingly doubtful. That it was a novelty when the prophecy suggested itself to Merlin’s mind seems a fair inference, and in this case it would seem to have been first officially recognised in some of the middle years of Stephen’s anarchy. The further prophecy, however, referring to the halfpenny becoming round, is curious at this date, inasmuch as the earliest circular halfpence known to numismatists date at least fifty years later in the reign of John. Whether there were any actual issues of circular halfpence at an earlier date or whether the prophecy is merely s an instance of Merlin’s intelligent appreciation of probabilities is doubtful. The fact remains that the prophecy anticipates the issue of any round halfpence now known by more than half a century.

The tone in which Suger speaks of Merlin is also noteworthy. It is difficult to read the opening sentences of this passage without feeling that Suger intended to convey a compliment to Geoffrey, knowing perfectly well that ‘Merlin’ was only the alias of a living writer. It is true that he goes on to speak of the prophecies as ‘weighty and ancient’—decrepit is the actual word he uses—but the reference to the extraordinary exactitude of the prophecies certainly looks like a hint to the wary reader that the writer’s tongue is in his cheek, and that although he knows all about it he has no intention of spoiling Merlin’s game. But however this may be, the most significant point in the passage is that Suger should have written it. Suger was no ordinary ecclesiastic or man of letters. At the time he wrote he was probably the greatest practical statesman in Christendom; his knowledge of men and political affairs was unequalled, and his common sense and tact were equal to his genius and knowledge. Yet this man goes out of his way to quote the prophecies of Merlin with marked and significant approval, and to applaud their author as ‘that marvellous observer and recorder of the continuous course of events amongst the English.’ Suger evidently rates Merlin’s prophecies, and apparently Geoffrey’s work generally, very much higher than some of his younger contemporaries, such as Gerald de Barri or William of Newburgh, both of them far from contemptible judges. The difference in his estimate seems to me essentially one of kind rather than of degree. Gerald—perhaps even now better known by the Latin version of his name, Giraldus, and the Latin version of his adopted name “the Welshman,” Cambrensisis—always ready to quote Merlin as an authority whenever it suits him, but he treats Geoffrey himself with as much contempt as so polished an ecclesiastical wit will allow himself to show. William of Newburgh’s frank onslaught upon Geoffrey is well known. He is shocked at Geoffrey’s serene indifference to historic truth, and denounces the man as a liar without scruple. Merlin fares no better with him than Geoffrey. Merlin wrote a heap of lies and Geoffrey added to the heap. William is very angry. He himself is eminently sober, honest and judicious, earnestly jealous of the dignity of history. Why should this mountebank pretend to be a historian and publish this pack of lies as if they were eternal verities? Yet the fact that William places his denunciation of Geoffrey in the very forefront of his own history indicates that he is uneasily conscious of some quality in Geoffrey’s book which gives it a vitality and power of its own, independent of the falsehoods it contains. What is this quality? Suger, the statesman, I fancy, recognised it. If he did not, at least we of the latter day may recognise it. If ever tree was known by his fruit, the quality of this tree should be beyond all doubt or error, for never did tree bear more abundant fruit. It is the parent stock of Arthurian Romance. It is not a history although it is in the form of a history. No history, nor even, save accidentally and very partially, a historical romance, but a romance of a distinct and peculiar stamp, a romance in the sense in which the Iliad, the Odyssey and the Æneids are romances, a romance in the sense of a national epos. Grotesque as the juxtaposition of such names by the side of the Histories of the British Kings may seem at first sight, it is, nevertheless, a true analogy. They are all trees in the orchard of national epos. If the Iliad and the Odyssey are the peach and nectarine, and the Æneids; the melting pear, Geoffrey’s Histories may claim to be the quince of the fruit-garden, crude and uneatable as gathered from the tree, yet with a flavour and perfume distinctively its own, poignant and delicious.

A true national epos, I say, but of what nation? It is not English, not Norman, nor even Breton nor Welsh. Yet all have their heroes allotted to them, and if all at one time are vanquished, all are at another the victors. In simple fact, we can never read Geoffrey aright until we realise what nation it was of which he aspired to be the national writer of the national epic. In a word, it was the national empire of his time, and his ‘time’ was that of Henry I., Stephen, and the first year of Henry II. The actual empire of Henry I. consisted mainly in England, Normandy, Wales and Brittany. The actual empire of Henry II. extended, in Freeman’s historic phrase, from the Orkneys to the Pyrenees. The dominant idea of the two first Henries, the son and great-grandson of the Conqueror of England, was gradually to extend the frontiers of the Anglo-Welsh-Norman-Breton empire until, in the fulness of time, the descendants of the mighty William should be the emperors of Christendom. When Henry II. came to the throne, adding to the dominions so slackly held by Stephen, Normandy, Anjou and Aquitaine, it might well seem that the dynastic dream was in a fair way to be accomplished within a measurable time. It was the want of cohesion between the various constituent elements of the empire which was its greatest peril. If only Norman and Englishman, Welshman and Breton could be induced to work together in the common interest of the Empire there was no limit to the potentialities of its future greatness. The restoration of an empire mightier and broader than that of Charlemagne, nay, even than that of Augustus, was no impossibility, but a practical aim, towards the attainment of which all the resources known to the statecraft of the time should be directed. Among these resources was one which Henry I., the Beauclerc, the ‘fine scholar’ of a time when Latin literature was familiar to all scholars, could not overlook. Virgil was still unquestioned emperor of profane letters, and the publication of his Æneids had in old days been of incalculable advantage in consolidating and strengthening the empire of Augustus. He had made the empire glorious, and commended it to the intellect and imagination of the world. And how had he done this? By claiming for the founders of the Roman Empire the blood of the heroes of Troy, and transforming an exiled Trojan prince into a national hero of the Roman people. Why should not Henry do the same, or as nearly the same as the changed conditions would allow? That Virgil was ‘inspired,’ in the modern sense, by Augustus is obvious. That Geoffrey, in the same sense, was ‘inspired’ by Henry seems to me even yet more distinctly obvious. Henry, indeed, was no Augustus, and Geoffrey; was far enough from being a Virgil, but in this respect the relations between the Roman emperor and the Mantuan poet were strictly analogous to those existing between the Norman king and the Welsh romancer. I have been unwilling to publish this translation without indicating at least what seems to me necessary to understanding the true significance and bearing of Geoffrey’s book. It is an epic that failed, for it was to have been the national epic of an empire that failed. When John lost Normandy and much beside in the early years of the thirteenth century, that empire, never more than an inchoate empire, came to an end for ever. King Arthur, Geoffrey’s creation as Æneas was the creation of Virgil, the king who was to have been the traditional hero of the Anglo-Welsh-Norman-Breton nucleus of empire and all the dominions which that empire might thereafter annex to its own, was left without any empire to hail him as the founder of its glories. He became a national hero unattached, a literary wonder and enigma to ages which had forgotten the existence of the composite and short-lived empire which was the justification of his own existence.

Seen from this standpoint, it seems to me that it is possible to trace with some confidence the gradual evolution of Geoffrey’s great work and the general course of his own life. That the work was begun in some form as early as 1129 seems a not unreasonable inference from the fact that he witnesses the Osney charter under the otherwise unintelligible double name of Geoffrey Arthur. At this time he is in close contact with Walter, Archdeacon of Oxford, and it is at this period that he seems to have received from Walter the ‘exceeding ancient book in the British tongue’ which he professes to translate. This book has never been run to earth, and it seems most improbable that it ever will be. I am very doubtful, indeed, whether the word ‘British’ here really connotes either Welsh or Breton. Taking into account the prophecy of Merlin that the words ‘England’ and ‘English’ shall be superseded by the words ‘Britain’ and ‘British,’ it seems by no means certain that when Geoffrey writes ‘British tongue,’ he does not by a prolapsus, in his case natural enough, mean simply ‘English.’ However this may be, what seems the likeliest course of events is that Robert of Gloucester, or possibly enough his father Henry I., himself, or both, desirous of having a work written after the general model of the Æneids, which should tend to familiarise the various peoples of Henry’s dominions with the idea of a united nationality in a common empire, took counsel with Archdeacon Walter on the matter, and that Walter recommended Geoffrey as the most capable man of letters he knew to undertake the task. Walter accordingly drew up a rough sketch of what was required, with suggestions of his own, and handed his notes to Geoffrey. I cannot help thinking, too, that the work at first proposed was a poem, and that the two short poems at the beginning of the book were trial samples of the work. If such a project was ever entertained, it was early abandoned, and it was decided that the work should be in prose, and that Livy, perhaps, was a somewhat easier and safer model than Virgil to follow. Henry I. died December 1, 1135. At that time the work in its first form seems to have been nearly complete. As far as internal evidence goes, however, I think that the conclusion of the life of Arthur was altered and added to after the death of Henry. That the portrait of Arthur is drawn in great part from the living Henry is clear, and no less clearly, it seems to me, is the treachery of Mordred suggested by the treachery of Stephen. In the version of the Histories seen by Henry of Huntingdon it is evident that the ‘passing of Arthur’ was treated in a more hopeful spirit than in the later version.

The phrase in which Geoffrey speaks of Britain hailing Robert with joy, as if in him she had been vouchsafed a second Henry, reads like an echo of the belief that Arthur should come again. I incline, therefore, to assign the date of 1138 to this dedication in its first form, the time when Robert projected the invasion of England in the interests of the Empress, and received promises of support from the Scots king and a number of the English barons.

The ordinary text of the Histories, that here translated, differs from the original, which was condensed by Henry of Huntingdon in one momentous respect. It omits the reference to the return of Arthur and several other details of minor interest, but it adds the Prophecies of Merlin. These prophecies, in spite of the vaticinal jargon in which they are written, are most of them easy enough to read and interpret by any one familiar with the class of literature of which Old Moore’s Almanac may be instanced as a still extant example. By far the greater part of them are of course mere ex post facto prophecies, and in not a few cases it is easy enough to date them as having been written after the fulfilment of the prediction. There is, however, a considerable residue consisting of predictions written in anticipation of things to be. Some of these it is also possible to date, inasmuch as they were obviously written before the non-fulfilment of the prediction. In the natural course of events the number of prophecies which did not come off as the prophet intended they should began to multiply, and it became necessary to multiply Merlins in order to maintain the credit of one Merlin by shouldering off the responsibility of the falsified predictions on to another. The appearance, therefore, of two, three or more Merlins is a phenomenon, the occurrence of which any Merlin of ordinary intelligence might safely have ventured to predict. These ‘extra’ Merlins of course do not necessarily imply the existence of more than one living Merlin, any more than the cast sloughs of a snake imply the existence of more than one living snake. But apart from this consideration, there is an even more potent cause for the multiplication of Merlins to be found in the tendency of many minds to indulge in political prediction, and to support the credit of their predictions by attributing them to oracles of higher authority than themselves. ‘Merlin’ was a most desirable alias of the kind. It was a name to conjure with, second only in authority to Holy Writ, equal to ‘the Sibyl’ or Virgil himself. Now in studying the ‘Book of Merlin,’ I think it is possible to detect the work of at least two, and probably more than three different hands. The bulk of the work, no doubt, is Geoffrey’s own. This, indeed, he himself intimates not obscurely in the dedication to Bishop Alexander. I think, however, it may be shown that some of the prophecies were simply collected and edited, not originally written, by Geoffrey, and here and there I recognise a note suspiciously like that of a certain Merlin who was still gaily chirping some quarter of a century after Geoffrey’s death.

As a political weapon, prophecy has been found effective in all recorded ages of history. We, to whom in our own time it has proved of signal service in North-West India, need neither dispute nor disparage its efficiency. Both as statesman and Latin scholar, Henry I. was well acquainted with the act of ‘disseminating prophetic words’ among the people, and there is no reason to doubt that Geoffrey Merlin was as duly ‘inspired’ as Geoffrey the historian of Arthur. Many of the prophecies, however, are of demonstrably later date than the death of Henry, and it seems likely that at that time, although some of them may have been in existence, they were too few to be thought worthy of publication in the History itself. By way of illustration it may be well here to quote one prediction which dates itself as of the reign of Stephen: ‘Thereafter,’ i.e., after the reigns of the Saxon kings, ‘from the first unto the fourth, from the fourth unto the third, from the third unto the second, shall the thumb be rolled in oil.’ This last phrase shows that Merlin was acquainted with the ceremony employed in the anointing of kings, in which the officiating archbishop rolls his thumb in the unguent in order to apply it to the person of the king. The ‘first,’ then, here signifies William the Conqueror. From him the succession passes to the ‘fourth.’ William Rufus answers to the designation, seeing that his elder brother, Duke Robert of Normandy, and his two sons were still alive, all of whom, according to usual feudal custom, would have inherited before William. From the ‘fourth’ it passes to the ‘third,’ Henry I., to wit, at whose accession Robert and one son of Robert were still alive. From the ‘third’ it passes to the ‘second,’ to wit, Stephen, whose own elder brother was alive when he usurped the crown. The special point of this prophecy is that it could not have been written before the days of Stephen, inasmuch as Stephen had solemnly sworn fealty to the ‘Empress’ Maud, who was expected to succeed her father, and could not be described in any sense as ‘second.’

Others of the predictions date themselves as clearly, and Geoffrey seems to have issued more than one edition of them as a separate work during the early years of Stephen’s reign. The original of the Bern MS., which I have already assigned to the central months of 1148, seems to me to represent the earliest form in which the entire work as known to us was issued. The dedication of it to Stephen and Robert jointly seems naturally accounted for by the fact that, if Geoffrey was desirous of obtaining a bishopric, he was practically compelled to propitiate Stephen at least to the extent of inducing him not to withhold the royal assent to his promotion. After Stephen’s adoption of Henry, and Geoffrey’s elevation to the see of St. Asaph, the joint dedication became useless, and possibly mischievous as well as incongruous, and Geoffrey would be glad to restore the dedication as it stood in the first edition of the work before the Merlin additions were made, for two reasons. Robert was then dead, but Robert’s cause had triumphed, and the dedication to Robert would at least seem to add some years to the antiquity of Merlin’s prophecies. The text I have followed—the Vulgate text—I therefore take to be founded on MSS. of about the year 1153, but some few of the Merlin prophecies, which obviously, in their present form at least, relate to events as late as the time of John, can only have crept into the text at a later date.

Such then are, I believe, all the facts in relation to Geoffrey and his work that rest on trustworthy authority, and such the interpretation which seems to me to explain and co-ordinate the facts in the simplest manner. But more light is sadly needed before the enigma presented by the Histories can be fully and satisfactorily solved. Prof. W. Lewis Jones, to whose courtesy I am indebted for much information in reference to the Bern MS., and Mr G. B. Mathews have for some years had in contemplation an edition of that unique document for the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, and in the interests of literature it is greatly to be desired that such an edition should be published at an early day. The date assigned to it by Sir Frederic Madden is, as far as I can judge from internal evidence, about ten years too early, but if the true date is 1148, it is not improbably a direct transcript of the author’s own MS. and represents the last recension but one of the entire work. In any case, the spelling of proper names is distinctly more satisfactory than in any of the extant printed editions. Of these that edited by San Marte in 1854 still remains the last and best, but the half century that has since elapsed has wrought many revolutions, literary and other, and a new critical edition of Geoffrey’s History by Welsh scholars would be nothing less than an invaluable boon to all interested in Arthurian lore.

Of previous translations I know only one: ‘The British History, translated into English from the Latin of Jeffrey of Monmouth. With a large Preface concerning the Authority of the History. By Aaron Thompson, late of Queen’s College, Oxon. Datur hæc venia antiquitati, ut miscendo humana divinis, primordia urbium augustiora faciat. Liv. Printed by J. Bowyer at the Rose in Ludgate Street, H. Clements at the Half-Moon, and W. and J. Innys at the Princes Arms in St. Paul’s Churchyard, MDCCXVIII.’ This was republished by J. A. Giles, LL.D., late Fellow of Christ Church College, Oxford, in 1842. James Bohn, 12 King William Street, Strand. In this edition, says Dr. Giles in his preface, ‘the translation of Thompson has been followed, revised and corrected wherever the phraseology appeared to be unsuited to the more accurate ears of the present day.’ As I have been under no obligation to either edition, it is perhaps better not to speak further about them.

This translation has been made from San Marte’s (Albert Schulz’s) edition of the original. Two passages in different parts of the work, amounting to some six or eight lines in all, I have omitted, and two or three others I have slightly modified for reasons which seem to me sufficient. In the matter of proper names it seemed to me absurd to he fastidious where no fixed standard exists. Walgan and Leir, Cordeilla and Guenhumara are strangers to many who know and love to read of Gawain and Lear, Cordelia and Guenevere. In cases of this kind, therefore, I have preferred the form of the name consecrated by the usage of our great national poets to that in which it appears in the printed text of Geoffrey. The rest, for the most part, I leave as I find. Sometimes I have struck off a Latin termination and sometimes I have not. Sometimes I have written Ireland or York where Geoffrey has written Hibernia or Kaer-Ebrauc, and the like. When a critical edition of the original text appears, it will be perhaps worth while to be more particular. In some few instances I have been troubled with scruples. It is quite open to question whether it is better to write Brutus or Brute as the name of the eponymous hero of Britain, and more than once or twice it is doubtful whether Anglus is better rendered by ‘Angle’ or ‘Englishman,’ and Francus by ‘Frank’ or ‘Frenchman.’ A scruple of another kind came in my way when fealty to Geoffrey seemed to clash with fealty to Milton. I had at first intended to make use of Milton’s version of the lines in which Brute addresses the oracle of Diana and Diana gives her response. I found, however, that Milton had deliberately shrunk from translating the main point of the goddess’s reply, the promise of universal empire to the descendants of Brute. I was therefore compelled to substitute a translation of my own. These are the words of Milton from the first edition of his History of Britain (1670):—

‘Consultation had, Brutus taking with him Gerion his Diviner, and twelve of the ancientest, with wonted Ceremonies before the inward shrine of the Goddess, in Verse, as it seems the manner was, utters his request, Diva potens nemorum, etc.


‘Goddess of Shades, and Huntress, who at will

Walk’st on the rowling Sphear, and through the deep,

On thy third Reigne the Earth look now, and tell

What Land, what Seat of rest thou bidst me seek,

What certain Seat, where I may worship thee

For aye, with Temples vow’d and Virgin quires.


‘To whom, sleeping before the Altar, Diana in a Vision that night thus answer’d, Brute sub occasum Solis, etc.


Brutus far to the West, in th’ Ocean wide

Beyond the Realm of Gaul, a Land there lies,

Sea-girt it lies, where Giants dwelt of old,

Now void, it fitts thy people; thether bend

Thy course, there shalt thou find a lasting seat,

There to thy Sons another Troy shall rise,

And Kings be born of thee, whose dredded might

Shall aw the World, and Conquer Nations bold.


‘These Verses, Originally Greek, were put in Latin, saith Virunnius, by Gildas, a British Poet, and him to have liv’d under Claudius. Which granted true, adds much to the Antiquitie of this Fable; and indeed the Latin Verses are much better, then for the Age of Geoffrey ap-Arthur, unless perhaps Joseph of Exeter, the only smooth Poet of those times, befriended him; in thisDiana overshot her Oracle thus ending, Ipsis totius terræ subditus orbis erit—That to the race of Brute Kings of this hand, the whole Earth shall be subject.’


Abbot’s Barton, Canterbury

September 1903.