Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/480

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438 Reviews.

assumed. Miss Paton herself seems to have some misgivings. To begin with she is evidently a little doubtful of the pure fairy origin of her heroine. She would incline rather to equate her with the Irish war-goddess, the Morrigan. But the records of that personage are scanty, and do not offer the material necessary for transition to the conventional fay, so the v/ell-known story of The Sick-bed of Cuchidlin, which has no connection with the Morrigan, is pressed into the service, and we are asked by the aid of this uncertain foothold to leap into a veritable Irish bog of pure hypothesis — a liaison between Arthur and Morgain, a con- sequent fairy abduction, the desertion of the fairy mistress for Guinevere, and the resultant enmity of Morgain, first for Arthur, then for his wife. Even the weaver of this ingenious web is com- pelled to admit that the traces of such a story are extremely faint, but she evades the difficulty by implying, if not explicitly stating (cf. pp. 29, 165, et seq.) that, given the origin assumed, if there was not such a story told of Morgain there ought to have been, and we may therefore safely argue that there was.

But the only text Miss Paton can bring to her aid is the very late, and much contaminated Huth Merlin (which indeed through- out the study is quoted with a freedom entirely disproportionate to its real value as an argument for origins) ; therefore the account of Arthur and Urien's abduction by Morgain and the fight of the former with Accolon of Gaul, is taken as the starting point for investigation.

Now this is surely wrong. The Huth Merlin belongs to a very late stage of evolution, being in all probability posterior even to the prose Tristan. There is no trace in any early text of the love between Arthur and Morgain (unless of course Morgain be considered to be identical with Mordred's mother, which the writer does not suggest), nor of any resulting enmity. When this comes in it is as the result of rivalry with Guinevere, and no attentive reader of the prose Lancelot can fail to see that it is the queen and not the king to whom Morgain is opposed, and that her desire is to make mischief between them.

Did it not occur to Miss Paton that if the ill-will of Morgain to Arthur were an integral part of the tradition, as she supposes, the final denouement of the story would have undergone a corre- sponding modification, and Arthur would have been carried off to the Otherworld, not by his enemy Morgain, but by his friend