Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/216

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1 94 Reviews.

does not seem to me impossible that such a legend should have appropriated traits and conceptions derived from the very cults of which it celebrates the overthrow. Nor should I be disposed to question the possibility of a legend such as this, heterodox alike from the doctrinal and the ecclesiastical standpoint, being caught up by some adherent of the Temple and fashioned anew in more or less conscious opposition to canonical orthodoxy as embodied in and interpreted by the Church. In so far I recognise that Professor Wesselofsky has illumined an important section of the Grail legend, once that legend had definitely assimilated its Christian elements and assumed its Christian form. But that such a Harran Joseph-legend as is here postulated could originate the Grail cycle as we have it, that it can in any sense be regarded as aught but a secondary element belonging to an already advanced stage of development, are propositions which I deny, and which cannot, I think, be maintained by anyone who surveys and strives to account for the cycle as a whole.

Dr. Staerk's pamphlet, which only came into my hands after I had finished my notice of Wesselofsky's article, raises questions of the utmost delicacy and importance, affecting, as they do, not the Grail legend alone, but the nature of those portions of doc- trinal Christianity with which that legend is associated. A survey of the points of agreement and disagreement between Dr. Staerk and myself will best show this. We both regard the existing Grail cycle as formed by the fusion of two originally independent strands of story, one derived from Christian writings, canonical and apocryphal, one from Celtic romance. We further distin- guish two elements in the conception and presentment of the Grail itself : one, material, mythical, or pre-Christian, as it may be termed according to the stress laid upon this or that aspect ; the other, spiritual, or Christian. So far we agree ; here is where we differ. I trace the material or mythical element largely, if not chiefly, to that portion of the completed legend derived proxi- mately from Celtic romance, ultimately from Celtic myth ; this pre-Christian factor, so I hold, affected, modified, transformed almost the Christian factor. Not so, says Dr. Staerk, the material, mythical aspect under which the Grail, the Vessel of the Last Supper, is presented in the romances requires for its explanation no hypothetical contamination of Christian legend and Celtic pre- Christian myth ; it is essentially inherent in the sacramental con-