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Lucan fyl in a sowne1 wyth the lyfte, that the parte of his guttes fyl oute of his bodye. And therwyth the noble knyghtes herte braste.2 And whan the kyng awake, he behelde Syr Lucan how he laye foomyng at the mowth, and parte of his guttes laye at his feet. "Alas!" sayd the kyng, "thys is to me a ful hevy syght to see thys noble duke so deye for my sake, for he wold have holpen me that had more nede of helpe than I. Alas! he wold not complayne hym, hys herte was so sette to helpe me. Now Jhesu have mercy upon hys soule." Than Syr Bedwere wepte for the deth of his brother. "Leve thys mornyng and wepyng," sayd the kyng, "for al this wyl not avaylle me; for wyte 3 thou wel, and I myght lyve my self, the deth of Syr Lucan wolde greve me ever more, but my tyme hyeth fast," sayd the kyng. "Therfore," sayd Arthur unto Syr Bedwere, "take thou Excalybur, my good swerde, and goo with it to yonder water syde, and whan thou comest there, I charge the 6 throwe my swerde in that water, and come ageyn and telle me what thou there seest." "My lord," sayd Bedwere, "your commaundement shal be doon, and lyghtly brynge you worde ageyn."
So Syr Bedwere departed, and by the waye he behelde that noble swerde, that the pomel and the hafte was al of precyous stones; and thenne he sayd to hym self, "Yf I throwe this ryche swerde in the water, therof shal never come good, but harme and losse." And thenne Syr Bedwere hydde Excalybur under a tree. And so as sone as he myght he came ageyn unto the kyng, and sayd he had ben at the water, and had throwen the swerde in to the water. "What sawe thou there?" sayd the kyng. "Syr," he sayd, "I sawe no thynge but wawes and wyndes." "That is untrewly sayd of the," sayd the kynge. "Therfore goo thou lyghtelye ageyn, and do my commaundemente; as thou arte to me leef and dere, spare not but throwe it in." Than Syr Bedwere retorned ageyn, and took the swerde in hys hande, and than hym thought synne and shame to throwe awaye that nobyl swerde; and so efte 10 he hydde the swerde, and retorned ageyn and tolde to the kyng that he had ben at the water, and done his commaundemente. "What sawe thou there?" sayd the kyng. "Syr," he sayd, “I
saw no thynge but the waters wappe1 and wawes wanne. "A, traytour, untrewe," sayd kyng Arthur, "now hast thou betrayed me twyse. Who wold have wente 3 that thou that hast been to me so leef and dere, and thou arte named a noble knyghte, and wold betraye me for the richesse of the swerde? But now goo ageyn lyghtly, for thy longe taryeng putteth me in grete jeopardye of my lyf, for I have taken colde; and but-yf 5 thou do now as I byd the, yf ever I may see the I shal slee the myn owne handes, for thou woldest for my ryche swerde see me dede." s Thenne Syr Bedwere departed, and wente to the swerde, and lyghtly took hit up, and wente to the water syde, and there he bounde the gyrdyl aboute the hyltes, and thenne he threwe the swerde as farre in to the water as he myght. And there cam an arme and an hande above the water and mette it, and caught it, and so shoke it thryse and braundysshed; and than vanysshed awaye the hande wyth the swerde in the water. So Syr Bedwere came ageyn to the kyng and tolde hym what he sawe.
"Alas!" sayd the kyng, "helpe me hens," for I drede 10 me I have taryed over longe.' Than Syr Bedwere toke the kyng upon his backe, and so wente wyth hym to that water syde, and whan they were at the water syde, evyn fast "by the banke hoved 12 a lytyl barge wyth many fayr ladyes in hit, and emonge hem al was a quene, and al they had blacke hoodes, and al they wepte and shryked 13 whan they sawe kyng Arthur. "Now put me in to the barge," sayd the kyng; and so he dyd softelye. And there receyved hym thre quenes wyth grete mornyng, and soo they sette hem doun, and in one of their lappes kyng Arthur layed hys heed, and than that quene sayd, "A, dere broder, why have ye taryed so longe from me? Alas! this wounde on your heed hath caught overmoche colde." And soo than they rowed from the londe, and Syr Bedwere behelde all tho 14 ladyes goo from hym.15 Than Syr Bedwere cryed, "A, my lord Arthur, what shal become of me, now ye goo from me and leve me here allone emonge myn enemyes? "Comfort thy self," sayd the kyng, "and doo as wel as thou mayst, for in me is no truste for to truste in. For I wyl
1 lap, beat 2 grow dark 3 thought beloved unless 6 slay thee dead hence 10 fear 11 close 12 hovered, floated 13 shrieked 14 those 15 i.e. Bedwere
in to the vale of Avylyon, to hele me of my grevous wounde. And yf thou here never more of me, praye for my soule." But ever the quenes and ladyes wepte and shryched,' that hit was pyte 2 to here. And assone as Syr Bedwere had loste the syght of the baarge, he wepte and waylled, and so took the foreste; 3 and so he wente al that nyght, and in the mornyng he was ware betwyxte two holtes hore of a chapel and an, ermytage.
WILLIAM CAXTON (1422?-1491)
PREFACE TO THE BOOKE OF
And whan I had advysed me in this sayd boke, I delybered and concluded to translate it in to Englysshe, and forthwyth toke a penne and ynke and wrote a leef or tweyne, whyche I oversawe agayn to corecte it; and whan I sawe the fayr and straunge termes therein, I doubted that it sholde not please some gentylmen whiche late blamed me, sayeng that in my translacyons I had over curyous termes, which coude not be understande 10 of comyn peple, and desired me to use olde and homely termes in my translacyons. And fayn wolde I satysfye every man; and, so to doo, toke an olde boke and redde therin; and certaynly the Englysshe was so rude and brood " that I coude not wele understande it; and also my lorde abbot of Westmynster ded so shewe to me late certayn evydences 12 wryton in olde Englysshe for to reduce it in to our Englysshe now used, and certaynly it was wreton in suche wyse that it was more lyke to Dutche than Englysshe; I coude not reduce ne brynge it to be understonden. And certaynly our langage now used varyeth ferre 13 from that whiche was used and spoken whan I was borne. For we Englysshe men ben borne under the domynacyon of the mone, whiche is never stedfaste but ever waverynge, wexynge one season and waneth and dyscreaseth 14 another season. And that comyn Englysshe that is spoken in one shyre varyeth from a-nother, in so moche that in my dayes happened that certayn marchauntes were in a ship in Tamyse for to
1 shrieked 2 pity forest he perceived 5 hoary forests hermitage 7 deliberated feared curious, ornate 10 understood 11 broad 12 legal documents 13 far 14 decreases 15 common
have sayled over the see into Zelande, and for lacke of wynde, thei taryed atte1 Forlond, and wente to lande for to refreshe them. And one of theym named Sheffelde, a mercer, cam in to an hows and axed for mete and specyaly he axyed after eggys, and the goode wyf answerde that she could speke no Frenshe. And the marchaunt was angry, for he also coude speke no Frenshe, but wolde have hadde egges; and she understode hym not. And thenne at laste a-nother sayd that he wolde have eyren. Then the good wyf sayd that she understod hym wel. Loo,3 what sholde a man in thyse dayes now wryte, egges, or eyren? Certaynly it is hard to playse every man, by-cause of dyversite and chaunge of langage; for in these dayes every man that is in ony reputacyon in his countre wyll utter his commynycacyon and maters in suche maners and termes that fewe men shall understonde theym. And som honest and grete clerkes have ben wyth me and desired me to wryte the moste curyous termes that I coude fynde. And thus, betwene playn, rude, and curyous, I stande abasshed. But in my judgemente the comyn termes that be dayly used ben lyghter to be understonde than the olde and auncyent Englysshe. And, foras-moche as this present booke is not for a rude uplondyssh man to laboure therein ne rede it, but onely for a clerke and a noble gentylman that feleth and understondeth in faytes of armes, in love, and in noble chyvalrye, therfor in a meane bytwene bothe I have reduced and translated this sayd booke in our Englysshe, not over rude ne curyous, but in suche termes as shall be understanden, by Goddys grace, accordynge to my copye.
STEPHEN HAWES (d. 1523)
THE PASTIME OF PLEASURE OF THE GREAT MARIAGE BETWENE GRAUNDE AMOUR AND LABELL PUCELL
FROM CAPIT. XXXIX
Then Perceveraunce in all goodly haste Unto the stewarde called Liberalitie Gave warnyng for to make ready fast Agaynst this tyme of great solemnitie
1 at the eggs 3 lo 4 ornate, artificial 5 country 6 deeds