Le Morte Darthur
Syr Thomas Malory
William Caxton, H. Oskar Sommer

Book Fifteen: syre launcelot

Page  656 [leaf 328v]

¶ Capitulum primum

WHanne the Heremyte had kepte syr Launcelot thre dayes / the heremyte gate hym an hors / an helme / and a suerd /

¶ And thenne he departed about the houre of none And thenne he sawe a lytel hows / And whanne he came nere / he sawe a Chappel / and there besyde he sawe an old man that was clothed al in white ful rychely / and thenne sire launcelot saide god saue yow / god kepe yow sayd the good man / and make yow a good knyghte / Thenne syr Launcelot alyghte and entred in to the Chappel / and there he sawe an old man dede in a whyte shert of passyng fyne clothe /

¶ Sir said the good man this man that is dede oughte not to be in suche clothynge as ye see hym in / for in that he brake the othe of hys ordre // For he hath ben more than an C wynter a man of a relygyon / And thenne the good man and sire Launcelot wente in to the Chappel / and the good man tooke a stole aboute hys neck and a book / and thenne be coniured on that book / & with that they sawe in an hydous fygure & horryble / that there was no man soo hard herted nor soo hard but he shold haue ben aferd / Thenne saide the fende thow hast trauaylled me gretely / Now telle me what thou wilt with me / I wille saide the good man that thow telle me how my felawe became dede / & whether he be saued or dampned / Thenne he said with an horryble voys / he is not lost but saued / how may that be sayd the good man / It semed to me that he lyued not wel / for he brake his ordre for to were a sherte / where he oughte to were none / And who that trespaceth ageynst our ordre dothe not wel / Not soo sayd the fende this man that lyeth here dede was come of a grete lygnage / and there was a lord that hyghte the erle de Vale that helde grete werre ageynste this mans neuewe the whiche hyghte Aguarus And soo this Aguarus sawe the Erle was byggar than he / Thenne he wente for to take counceylle of his vnkel the which lyeth here dede as ye maye see /

¶ And thenne he asked leue & wente oute of his heremytage Page  657 [leaf 329r] for to mayntene his neuewe ageynst the myghty Erle / and so hit happed that this man that lyeth here dede dyd so moche by his wysedome and hardynes that the Erle was take and thre of his lordes by force of this dede man /

¶ Capitulum ij

THenne was there pees betwyxe the Erle and this Aguarus / & grete seurte that the erle shold neuer werre ageynst hym / Thenne this dede man that here lyeth came to this heremytage ageyne / And thenne the erle made two of his neuewes for to be auenged vpon this man / Soo they came on a day / and fonde this dede man at the sacryng of his masse / and they abode hym tyl he had sayd masse / And thenne they set vpon hym and drewe oute swerdes to haue slayne hym / But there wold no suerd byte on hym more than vpon a gad of stele for the hyghe lord whiche he serued / he hym preserued /

¶ Thenne made they a grete fyre and dyd of alle his clothes and the hayre of his bak / And thenne this dede man heremyte sayd vnto them / wene ye to brenne me / it shalle not lye in your power nor to perysshe me as moche as a threde & there were ony on my body / Noo sayd one of them / hit shalle be assayed / & thenne they dispoylled hym / and putte vpon hym this sherte / and cast hym in a fyre / and there he laye all that nyȝt tyl hit was daye in that fyre and was not dede / and soo in the morn I came and fond hym dede / but I fond neyther threde nor skynne tamyd / & soo tooke hym oute of the fyre with grete fere and leyd hym here as ye may see / And now may ye suffer me to goo my way / for I haue sayd yow the sothe / And thenne he departed with a grete tempest / Thenne was the good man and syr launcelot more gladder than they were to fore / And thenne syr launcelot dwelled with that good man that nyght Sire said the good man be ye not sir launcelot du lake / ye sire said he / what seke ye in this countrey / syr sayd syr launcelot I goo to seke the aduentures of the Sancgreal / wel sayd he seke it ye may wel / But though it were here ye shalle haue noo power to see hit no more than a blynd man shold see a bryȝte suerd / and that is longe on your synne / and els ye were morePage  658 [leaf 329v] abeler than ony man lyuynge / And thenne sir launcelot began to wepe / Thenne sayd the good man were ye confessid syth ye entryd in to the quest of the Sancgreal / ye sir sayd syr launcelot / Thenne vpon the morne whanne the good man had songe his masse / thenne they buryed the dede man / Thenne syr launcelot sayd / fader what shalle I do / Now sayd the good man / I requyre yow take this hayre that was this holy mans and putte it nexte thy skynne / and it shalle preuaylle the gretely / syr and I wille doo hit sayd sir launcelot / Also I charge you that ye ete no flesshe as longe as ye be in the quest of the sancgreal / nor ye shalle drynke noo wyne / and that ye here masse dayly and ye may doo hit / Soo he took the hayre and putte it vpon hym and soo departed at euensonge tyme / And soo rode he in to a foreste / and there he mette with a gentylwoman rydynge vpon a whyte palfrey / and thenne she asked hym syre knyght whyder ryde ye / Certes damoysel sayd launcelot I wote not whyder I ryde but as fortune ledeth me / A syre launcelot said she / I wote what aduenture ye seke / for ye were afore tyme nerer than ye be now / and yet shalle ye see hit more openly than euer ye dyd / and that shalle ye vnderstande in shorte tyme / Thenne syr launcelot asked her where he myghte be herberowed that nyghte / ye shalle not fynde this day nor nyghte but to morne ye shal fynde herberowe good and ease of that ye be in doubte of / And thenne he commaunded her vnto god / Thenne he rode tyl that he cam to a crosse and took that for his hoost as for that nyghte

¶ Capitulum Tercium

ANd soo he putte his hors to pasture / and dyd of hys helme and his shelde and made his prayers vnto the Crosse that he neuer falle in dedely synne ageyne / And soo he leyd hym doune to slepe / And anone as he was on slepe / hit befelle hym there an aduysyon / that there came a man afore hym alle by compas of sterres / and that man had a crowne of gold on his hede / and that man ledde in his felaushyp seuen kynges and two knyghtes / And alle these worshipped the Crosse knelyng vpon their knees / holdyng vp their handes Page  659 [leaf 330r] toward the heuen / And alle they sayd fair swete fader of heuen come and vysyte vs and yelde vnto vs eueryche as we haue deserued / Thenne loked launcelot vp to the heuen / and hym semed the cloudes dyd open / and an old man came doun with a company of angels / and alyghte amonge them / & gafe vnto eueryche his blessynge and called them his seruauntes / and good and true knyghtes / And whanne this old man had sayd thus he came to one of tho knyghtes and sayd I haue lost alle that I haue sette in the / For thou hast rulyd the ageynste me as a warryour and vsed wrong werres with vayne glory more for the pleasyr of the world than to please me / therfor thow shalt be confounded withoute thow yelde me my tresour / Alle this aduysyon sawe sir Launcelot at the Crosse / And on the morne he took his hors and rode tyl mydday / and there by aduenture he mette with the same knyght that took his hors / helme and his suerd whan he slepte whan the Sancgreal appiered afore the crosse / whanne sire launcelot sawe hym / he salewed hym not fayre but cryed on hyghe / knyghte kepe the / for thow hast done to me grete vnkyndenes / And thenne they put afore them their speres / and sir launcelot came soo fyersly vpon hym / that he smote hym and his hors doune to the erthe / that he had nyghe broken his neck / Thenne sir Launcelot tooke the knyghtes hors that was his owne afore hand / and descended from the hors he sat vpon and mounted vpon his own hors and teyed the knyghtes owne hors to a tree that he myght fynde that hors whanne that he was arysen

¶ Thenne sir launcelot rode tyl nyghte / and by aduentur he met an heremyte / and eche of hem salewed other / and there he rested with that good man alle nyght / and gaf his hors suche as he myghte gete / Thenne sayde the good man vnto Launcelot / of whens be ye / syr sayd he I am of Arthurs courte / and my name is sir launcelot du lake / that am in the Quest of the Sancgreal / And therfor I pray yow to counceylle me of a vysyon the whiche I hadde et the Crosse / And soo he tolde hym alle /

¶Capitulum quartum

Page  660 [leaf 330v]

¶ Capitulum Quartum

LOo sir launcelot said the good man / there thou myȝtest vnderstande the hyghe lygnage that thou art comen of / And thyne aduysyon betokeneth after the passion of Ihesu Criste fourty yere Ioseph of Armathye preched the vyctory of kynge Euelake / that he had in the batails the better of his enemyes of the seuen kynges and the two knyghtes / the fyrst of hem is called Nappus an holy man / and the second hyghte Nacyen in remembraunce of his graunte syre / and in hym dwelled oure lord Ihesu Cryst / And the thyrd was called Hellyas le grose / and the fourth hyght Lysays / and the fyfthe hyghte Ionas / he departed out of his countrey and went in to walys / and toke there the doughter of Manuel / where by he had the lond of Gaule / and he came to dwelle in this countrey / And of hym came kynge launcelot thy graūte syre / the whiche there wedded the kynges doughter of Irland and he was as worthy a man as thow art / and of hym cam kynge Ban thy fader the which was the last of the seuen kynges / and by the sir launcelot hit sygnefyeth that the Angels sayd thou were none of the seuen felauships / and the laste was the ix knyght / he was sygnefyed to a lyon / for he shold passe all maner of erthely knyghtes / that is syre Galahad / the whiche thow gate on kynge Pelles doughter / and thou ought to thanke god more than ony other man lyuynge / for of a synner erthely thow hast no piere as in knyghthode nor neuer shalle be / But lytyl thanke hast thou gyuen to god for al the grete vertues that god hath lent the /

¶ Syr said Launcelot ye saye that that good knyȝt is my sone That ouȝtest thow to knowe and no man better said the good man / For thow knewest the doughter of kyng Pelles flesshely / and on her thow begattest Galahad / And that was he that at the feest of Pentecost satte in the sege peryllous / And therfor make thow hit knowen openly that he is one of thy begetynge on kynge Pelles doughter / for that wyl be youre worship and honour and to alle thy kynred / And I coūceyle yow in no place prece not vpon hym to haue Page  661 [leaf 331r] adoo with hym / wel sayd launcelot / me semeth that good knyghte shold praye for me vnto the hyghe fader / that I falle not to synne ageyne / Trust thow wel sayd the good man thou faryst mykel the better for his prayer / but the sone shall not bere the wyckednes of the fader / Nor the fader shalle not bere the wyckednes of the sone / but eueryche shalle bere his owne burthen / And therfor beseke thow only god / and he wylle helpe the in alle thy nedes / And thenne syr launcelot and he wente to souper / and soo leyd hym to rest / and the hayre prycked so syr launcelots skynne whiche greued hym ful sore / but he toke hit mekely / and suffred the payne / and soo on the morne / he herd his masse and took his armes / and soo toke his leue /

¶ Capitulum Quintum

ANd thenne mounted vpon his hors / and rode in to a forest / and helde no hyhe waye / And as he loked afore hym / he sawe a fayre playne / and besyde that a fayre Castel / & afore the Castel were many pauelions of sylke & of dyuerse hewe / And hym semed that he sawe there fyue honderd knyȝtes rydynge on horsbak / and there were two partyes / they that were of the Castel were all in blak horses and their trappours blak / and they that were withoute were al on whyte horses & trappours / and eueryche hurteled to other that it merueylled syr launcelot / And at the laste hym thoughte they of the castel were putte to the werse / Thenne thoughte sir launcelot for to helpe there the weyker party in encrecynge of his chyualry And soo syr launcelot threst in among the party of the Castel and smote doune a knyghte hors and man to the erthe / And thenne he rasshed here and there and dyd merueyllous dedes of armes / And thenne he drewe oute his suerd / and strake many knyghtes to the erthe / so that alle tho that sawe hym merueylled that euer one knyghte myghte doo soo grete dedes of armes / But alweyes the whyte knyghtes helde them nyghe aboute syr launcelot for to tyere hym and wynde hym / But att the laste as a man may not euer endure syre Launcelot waxed so faynt of fyȝtyng & trauaillyng & was so wery Page  662 [leaf 331v] of his grete dedes / but he myghte not lyfte vp his armes for to gyue one stroke so that he wende neuer to haue borne armes / & thenne they alle took and ledde hym awey in to a forest / and there made hym to alyghte & to reste hym / And thenne all the felaushyp of the castel were ouercome for the defaute of hym / Thenne they sayd alle vnto syr launcelot blessid be god / that ye be now of oure felaushyp / for we shalle holde yow in oure pryson / and soo they lefte hym with fewe wordes / And thenne syr launcelot made grete sorowe / for neuer or now was I neuer at turnement nor Iustes but I had the best / and now I am shamed / and thenne he sayd now I am sure that I am more synfuller than euer I was / thus he rode sorowynge / and half a day he was oute of despayre / tyl that he came in to a depe valey / And whanne syr launcelot sawe he myghte not ryde vp in to the montayne / he there alyghte vnder an Appel tree / and there he lefte his helme and his shelde / and put his hors vnto pasture / And then he leid hym doune to slepe / And thenne hym thoughte there came an old man afore hym / the whiche sayd A launcelot of euylle feythe and poure byleue / wherfor is thy wille tourned soo lyghtely toward thy dedely synne / And whanne he had sayd thus / he vanysshed away / & launcelot wyst not where he was become / Thenne he tooke his hors and armed hym / And as he rode by the way he sawe a chappel where was a recluse whiche hadde a wyndowe that she myghte see vp to the Aulter / And alle aloude she called launcelot / for that he semed a knyghte erraunt / And thenne he came and she asked hym what he was / and of what place / & where aboute he wente to seke

¶ Capitulum Sextum

ANd thenne he told her alle to gyder word by word and the trouthe how it befelle hym at the turnement / And after told her his aduysyon that he had had that nyghte in his slepe / and prayd her to telle hym what hit myght mene / for he was not wel contente with hit /

Page  663 [leaf 332r] ¶ A Launcelot sayd she as longe as ye were knyghte of erthely knyghthode / ye were the moost merueillous man of the world and moost aduenturous /

¶ Now said the lady sythen ye be sette amonge the knyghtes of heuenly aduentures / yf aduenture felle the contrary at that turnement / haue thou no merueille / for that turnement yesterdaye was but a tokenynge of oure lord / And not for thenne there was none enchauntement for they at the turnement were erthely knyghtes / The turnemēt was a token to see who shold haue most knyghtes outher Clyazar the sone of kynge Pelles or Argustus the sone of kynge Harlon / But Clyazar was alle clothed in whyte / and Argustus was couered in blak the whiche were comen / Alle what this betokeneth I shalle telle yow /

¶ the daye of Pentecost whan kynge Arthur helde his court / it befelle that erthely kynges and knyghtes toke a turnement to gyders / that is to say the quest of the Sancgreal / The erthely knyghtes were they / the whiche were clothed al in black / and the couerynge betokeneth the synnes wherof they be not confessid / And they with the couerynge of whyte betokeneth vyrgynyte / and they that chosen chastyte / And thus was the quest begonne in them / Thenne thow behelde the synners and the good men / and when thow sawest the synners ouercomē / thow enclynest to that party for bobaunce and pryde of the world / and alle that must be lefte in that quest /

¶ For in this quest thow shalte haue many felawes and thy betters / For thow arte soo feble of euylle truste and good byleue / this made hit whan thou were there where they took the / and ledde the in to the forest / And anone there appiered the Sancgreal vnto the whyte knyghtes / but thow was soo feble of good byleue and feyth that thou myghtest not abyde hit for alle the techynge of the good man / but anone thou tornest to the synners / and that caused thy mysauenture that thow sholdest knowe good from euylle / and vayne glory of the world / the whiche is not worth a pere And for grete pryde thou madest grete sorow that thou haddest not ouercome alle the whyte knyghtes with the keueryng of whyte by whome was betokeneth vyrgynyte & chastyte / & therfor god was wroth with yow / for god loueth no suche dedes in this quest / & this aduision signefyeth þt thou were of euil Page  664 [leaf 332v] feythe and of poure byleue / the whiche wille make the to falle in to the depe pytte of helle yf thow kepe the not

¶ Now haue I warned the of thy vayne glory / and of thy pryde / that thow hast many tymes erryd ageynst thy maker beware of euerlastynge payne / for of alle erthely knyghtes I haue moost pyte of the / for I knowe wel thow hast not thy pyere of ony erthely synful man / And soo she commaunded syr launcelot to dyner / And after dyner he toke his hors and commaunded her to god / and soo rode in to a depe valeye / and there he sawe a ryuer and an hyhe montayn / And thorou the water he must nedes passe / the whiche was hydous / and thenne in the name of god he took hit with good herte / and when he came ouer / he sawe an armed knyghte hors and man black as ony beare without ony word he smote syr launcelots hors to the erthe / and soo he passed on he wyst not where he was become / And thenne he took his helme and his shelde / & thanked god of his aduenture

¶ here leueth of the story of syr launcelot

¶ And speke we of sir Gawayne the whiche is the xvj book