# Studies on the legend of the Holy Grail/Chapter V

Studies on the legend of the Holy Grail  (1888)  by Alfred Nutt
Chapter V

CHAPTER V.

Relationship of the Didot-Perceval to the Conte du Graal—The former not the source of the latter—Relationship of the Conte du Graal and the Mabinogi—Instances in which the Mabinogi has copied Chrestien—Examples of its independence—The incident of the blood drops in the snow—Differences between the two works—The machinery of the Mabinogi and the traces of it in the Conte du Graal—The stag-hunt—The Mabinogi and Manessier—The sources of the Conte du Graal and the relation of the various parts to a common original—Sir Perceval—Steinbach's theory—Objections to it—The counsels in the Conte du Graal—Wolfram and the Mabinogi—Absence of the Grail from the apparently oldest Celtic form.

In examining the relationship of the Didot-Perceval to the Conte du Graal, the sequence of the incidents is of importance. This is shown in the subjoined table (where the numbers given are those of the incidents as summarized, chapter II), in which the Didot-Perceval sequence is taken as the standard.

 Didot-Perceval. Chrestien Gautier de Doulens. Inc. Inc. Inc. 2. Perceval sets forth in quest of the rich fisher. 11. Only after the reproaches of the loathly damsel does Perceval first set forth in quest of the Grail. 3. Finds a damsel weeping over a knight. Adventure with dwarf and the Orgellos Delande. 8. In so far as finding a damsel weeping over a dead knight, and (9) for overcoming the Orgellous de la Lande. 9. In so far as a damsel is found lamenting over a knight. 4. Arrival at the Chessboard Castle. Adventure of the stag hunt and loss of the hound. 7 and 8. 5. Meeting with sister; instruction concerning the Grail; vow to seek it. 12. 6. Meeting with, confession to, and exhortation from hermit uncle. 15. After the Good Friday incident. 12. ​ 7. Disregard of uncle's exhortations (slaying a knight), through thinking of damsel of the Chessboard. 12. In so far as a knight is slain, but before the meeting with the hermit. 8. Meeting with Rosette and Le Beau Mauvais (the loathly damsel). 11. 9. Adventure at the Ford with Urbains. 9. Ford Amorous; entirely different adventure. 10. The two children in the tree. 20. One child. 11. First arrival at Grail Castle. 7. 12. Reproaches of the wayside damsel. 8. In so far as in both the hero is reproached by a wayside damsel. 13. Meeting with the damsel who had carried off the stag's head and hound, and second visit to Castle of the Chessboard. 13 and 18. Many adventures being intercalated. 14. Period (7 years) of despair ended by the Good Friday incident. 15. 15. Tournament at Melianz de Lia. Merlin's reproaches. 13. But told of Gawain not of Perceval. 16. Second arrival at Grail Castle. Achievement of Quest. 22.

The different sequence in the Didot-Perceval and Chrestien may be explained, as Birch-Hirschfeld explains it, by the freedom which Chrestien allowed himself in re-casting the work; but why should Gautier, who, ex hypothesi, simply took up from Chrestien's model such adventures as his predecessor had omitted, have acted in precisely the same way? If the theory were correct we should expect to find the non-Chrestien incidents of the Didot-Perceval brought together in at least fairly the same order in Gautier. A glance at the table shows that this is not the case. In one incident, moreover, the Didot-Perceval is obviously right and Gautier obviously wrong, namely, in his incident 12, where the slaying of the knight before the hero's meeting the hermit takes away all point from the incident. An absolutely decisive proof that that portion of the Conte du Graal which goes under Gautier's name (though it is by no means clear that all of it is of the same age or due to one man), cannot be based upon the Didot-Perceval as we now possess it, is afforded by the adventure of the Ford Amorous or Perillous, which in the two versions is quite dissimilar. This incident stands out pre-eminent in the Didot-Perceval for its wild and fantastic character. It is a genuine Celtic märchen, with much of the weird charm still clinging to it that is the birthright of the Celtic folk-tale. It is inadmissible that Gautier could have substituted for this fine incident the commonplace one which he gives.

If, then, it is out of the question that Gautier borrowed directly from the Didot-Perceval, how are the strong resemblances which exist in part between the two versions to be accounted for? Some of these resemblances have already been quoted (supra, p. 75), the remainder may be usefully brought together here.[1]

First arrival at the Castle of the Chessboard—

 Didot-Perceval. Gautier .mw-parser-output .wst-rule{background-color:black;color:black;width:auto;margin:2px auto 2px auto;height:1px} Li plus biaux chasteaux del monde et vit le pont abeissié et la porte deffermé (p. 439). Le bel castiel que je vos dis ........ Et vit si bièles les entrées Et les grans portes desfremées (22,395, etc.);

The damsel exhorts him not to throw the chessman into the water—

 Votre cors est esmeuz à grant vilainie faire (p. 440). Car çou serait grans vilonie (22,503).

Perceval having slain the stag, sees its head carried off—

 Si vint une veille sor un palestoi grant aléure et prist le brachet et s'en ala or tot (p. 442). Une pucièle de malaire Vint cevauçant parmi la lande Voit le braket, plus ne demande Par le coler d'orfrois le prist ........ Si s'en aloit grant aléure (22,604, etc.).

On Perceval threatening to take it away from her by force she answers—

 Sire Chevalier, force n'est mie droit et force me poez bien faire (p. 443). Force à faire n'est mie drois Et force me poes vos faire (22,640).

In the subsequent fight with the Knight of the Tomb, he, overcome—

 Se torna vers le tonbel grant aléure et li tombeaux s'enleva contre moult et chevalier s'en feri enz (p. 444). Que fuiant vait grant aléure Vers l'arket et la sepouture Si est entrés plus tost qu'il pot (22,723, etc.).

In the description of Rosette (the loathly damsel)—

 Didot-Perceval. Gautier Ele avoit le col et les mains plus noires et le vier, que fer.mw-parser-output .nowrap,.mw-parser-output .nowrap a:before,.mw-parser-output .nowrap .selflink:before{white-space:nowrap}. . . (p. 453). Le col avoit plus noir que fer (25,409).

When the loathly damsel and her knight come to Arthur's court, Kay jests as follows:—

 Lors pria (i.e., Kay) le chevalier par la foi que il devoit, le roi, qui li déist où il l'avoit prise et si en porroit une autre tele avoir, si il l'aloit querre (p. 457). ⁠Biaus sire, Dites moi, si Dex le vos mire, Si plus en a en vostre terre, si il line autèle en iroie querre Si jou le quidoie trover (25,691 etc.).

Relationship of the Conte du Graal and the Mabinogi.—As was seen in Chapter IV, opinion began with Monsieur de Villemarqué by accepting the Mabinogi as the direct source of the Conte du Graal, and has ended with Zarncke and Birch-Hirschfeld in looking upon it as a more or less direct copy. The most competent of living scholars in this matter, M. Gaston Paris, has expressed himself in favour of this opinion in his recent article on the Lancelot story (Romania, 1886).[2] Before dealing with the question as presented in this form, Simrock's view, differing as it does from that of all other investigators, deserves notice. He, too, looks upon the Mabinogi as derived from Chrestien, and yet bases his interpretation of the myth underlying the romance upon a feature, the bleeding head in the dish, found only in it. But if the Mabinogi have really preserved here the genuine form of the myth, it must represent an older version than Chrestien's, and if, on the other hand, Chrestien be its only source, the feature in question cannot belong to the earliest form of the story. Simrock's theory stands then or falls in this respect by the view taken of the relationship between the two versions, and need not be discussed until that view has been stated.

To facilitate comparison, the incidents common to the two stories are tabulated as under, those of the Mabinogi being taken as the standard:—

 Mabinogi Conte du GraalChrestien Inc. Inc. 1. Encounter with the knights. 1. 2. Adventure with the damsel of the tent. 2. 3. Avenging of the insult to Guinevere; incident of the dwarves; departure from Court. 3 and 4. 5. Arrival at house of first uncle (found fishing); instruction in arms. 5. Gonemans 6. Arrival at house of second uncle (Grail Castle). First sight of the talismans (head in basin and lance). 7. Uncle found fishing; talismans, Grail and lance. ​ 7. Reproaches of foster-sister whom he finds lamenting over a dead knight. 8. Reproached by his cousin; also instructed by her about the magic sword. 8. Adventure with the damsel of the besieged castle who offers herself to hero. 6. Blanchefleur, Gonemant's niece. 9. Second meeting with the lady of the tent. 9. 10. First encounter with the sorceresses of Gloucester, who are forced to desist from assailing hero's hostess. 11. Adventure of the drops of blood in the snow. 10. 20. Reproaching of Peredur before the Court by the loathly damsel. 11. 21. Gwalchmai's adventure with the lady whose father he had slain. 14. 22. Peredur's meeting the knight on Good Friday, and confession to priest. 15. Hermit, hero's uncle. Gautier 24. Arrival at the Castle of Wonders (Chessboard Castle); stag hunt; loss of dog; fight with the black man of the cromlech. Inc. 7, 8, and partly 13 and 18. 25. Second arrival at the (Grail) castle; achievement of the Quest by destruction of sorceresses of Gloucester. "Thus it is related concerning the Castle of Wonders." 22. In so far as Gautier ends his part of the story here with the hero's second arrival at the Grail Castle, but no similarity in the incidents.

The sequence is thus exactly the same in the Mabinogi and in Chrestien, with the single exception of the Blanchefleur incident, which, in the French poem precedes, in the Welsh tale follows, the first visit to the Grail Castle. The similarity of order is sufficient of itself to warrant the surmise of a relation such as that of copy to original. If the Mabinogi be examined closely, much will be found to strengthen this surmise. Thus, Birch-Hirschfeld has pointed out that when Peredur first sees the knights, and on asking his mother what they may be, receives the answer, "Angels, my son"; this can only be a distorted reminiscence of Perceval's own exclamation,

. . . Ha! sire Dex, Merchi!
Ce sont angle que je voi ci! (1,349-50).

as the hero's mother would be the last person to describe thus the knights whom she has done her best to guard her son from knowledge of. Again, Simrock has criticised, and with reason, the incident of Peredur's being acclaimed by the dwarf on his arrival at Arthur's court as the chief of warriors and flower of knighthood. In the corresponding incident in Chrestien, the hero is told laughingly by a damsel that he should become the best knight in the world, and she had not laughed for ten years, as a fool had been wont to declare. This is an earlier form than that of the Mabinogi, and closer to the folk-tale account. Thus, to take one instance only, in Mr. Kennedy's Giolla na Chroicean Gobhar (Fellow with the Goat-skin) [Fictions of the Irish Celts, p. 23], the hero comes to the King of Dublin, as Peredur to Arthur, clad in skins and armed with a club. "Now, the King's daughter was so melancholy that she didn't laugh for seven years, but when she saw Tom of the Goat-skin knock over all her father's best champions, then she let a great sweet laugh out of her," and of course Tom marries her, but not until he has been through all sorts of trials, aye, even to Hell itself and back. In Chrestien, the primitive form is already overlaid; we hear nothing further of the damsel moved to laughter nor of the prophetic fool; and in the Mabinogi it seems obvious that the hailing of the hero, added in Chrestien to the older laughter, has alone subsisted. Birch-Hirschfeld takes exception likewise to the way in which Peredur's two uncles are brought upon the scene, the first one, corresponding to Gonemans in Chrestien, being found fishing instead of the real Fisher King, the lord of the Castle of the Magic Talismans, whilst at the latter's, Peredur has to undergo trials of his strength belonging properly to his stay at the first uncle's. Evidently, says Birch-Hirschfeld, there has been a confusion of the two personages. Again, when Peredur leaves his second uncle on the morrow of seeing the bleeding head and spear, it is said, "he rode forth with his uncle's permission." Can these words be a reminiscence of Chrestien's?

Et trueve le pont abaiscié,
C'on li avoit ensi laissié
Por ce que rien nel detenist,
De quele eure qu'il venist
Que il ne passat sans arriest (4,565-69).

We shall see later on that in the most primitive form of the unsuccessful visit to the Castle of the Talismans the hero finds himself on the morrow on the bare earth, the castle itself having vanished utterly. The idea of permission being given to leave is diametrically opposed to this earliest conception, and its presence in the Mabinogi seems only capable of explanation by some misunderstanding of the story-teller's model.

The Blanchefleur incident shows some verbal parallels, "The maiden welcomed Peredur and put her arms around his neck."

Et la damosele le prent
Par le main débonnairement (3,025-26)
Et voit celi ajenouillie
Devant son lit qui le tenoit
Par le col embraciet estroit (3,166-68).

Can, too, the "two nuns," who bring in bread and wine, be due to the "II Abéies," which Perceval sees on entering Blanchefleur's town? It may be noticed that in this scene the Welsh story-teller is not only more chaste, but shows much greater delicacy of feeling than the French poet. Peredur's conduct is that of a gentleman according to nineteenth century standards. Chrestien, however, is probably nearer the historical reality, and the conduct of his pair—

S'il l'a sor le covertoir mise
****
Ensi giurent tote la nuit.

is so singularly like that of a Welsh bundling couple, that it seems admissible to refer the colouring given to this incident to Welsh sources. Another scene presenting marked similarities in the two works is that in which the hero is upbraided before the court by the loathly damsel. In the Mabinogi she enters riding upon a yellow mule with jagged thongs: in Chrestien—

Sor une fauve mule et tint
En sa main destre une escorgie (5,991-2).

"Blacker were her face and her two hands than the blackest iron covered with pitch."

Ains ne véistes si noir fer
Come ele ot les mains et le cor (5,998-99).

"And she greeted Arthur and all his household except Peredur."

Le roi et ses barons salue
Tout ensamble comunalment
Fors ke Perceval seulement (6,020-3).

In the Mabinogi, Peredur is reproached for not having asked about the streaming spear; in Chrestien "la lance qui saine" is mentioned first although the Grail is added. Had Peredur asked the meaning and cause of the wonders, the "King would have been restored to health, and his dominions to peace."

Li rices rois qui moult s'esmaie
Fust or tos garis de sa plaie
Et si tenist sa tière en pais (6,049-51).

Whereas now "his knights will perish, and wives will be widowed, and maidens will be left portionless"—

Dames en perdront lor maris,
Tières en seront essilies,
Et pucièles desconsellies;
Orfenes, veves en remanront
Et maint chevalier en morront (6,056, etc.).

In the "Stately Castle" where dwells the loathly damsel, are five hundred and sixty-six knights, and "the lady whom he loves best with each," in "Castle Orguellos" five hundred and seventy, and not one "qui n'ait s'amie avoeques lui." "And whoever would acquire fame in arms and encounters and conflicts, he will gain it there if he desire it."

Que la ne faut nus ki i alle,
Qui la ne truist joste u batalle;
Qui viout faire chevalerie,
Si là le quiert, n'i faura mie (6,075, etc.).

"And whoso would reach the summit of fame and honour, I know where he may find it. There is a castle on a lofty mountain, and there is a maiden therein, and she is detained a prisoner there, and whoever shall set her free will attain the summit of the fame of the world."

Mais ki vorroit le pris avoir
De tout le mont, je quic savoir
Le liu et la pièce de terre
U on le porroit mius conquerre;
***** A une damoisièle assise;
Moult grant honor aroit conquise,
Qui le siège en poroit oster
Et la pucièle délivrer (6,080, etc.).

In this last case certainly, in the other cases probably, a direct influence, to the extent at least of the passages quoted, must be admitted. But before concluding hastily that the Welsh story-teller is the copyist, some facts must be mentioned on the other side. Thus the incident of the blood drops in the snow, which Birch-Hirschfeld sets down as one of those taken over by the Mabinogi, with the remark that the Welsh story contains no trace of a passion as strong as Perceval's for Blanchefleur, has been dealt with by Professor H. Zimmer in his "Keltische Studien," vol. ii, pp. 200. He refers to the awakening of Deirdre's love to Noisi by similar means, as found in the Irish saga of the Sons of Usnech (oldest MS. authority, Book of Leinster, copied before 1164 from older MSS.) as evidence of the early importance of this motif in Celtic tradition. The passage runs thus in English: "As her foster-father was busy in winter time skinning a calf out in the snow, she beheld a raven which drank up the blood in the snow; and she exclaimed, 'Such a man could I love, and him only, having the three colours, his hair like the raven, his cheeks like the blood, his body like the snow.'"

Now the Mabinogi says, almost in the same words—the blackness of the raven and the whiteness of the snow, and the redness of the blood he compared to the hair and the skin and the two red spots upon the cheek of the lady that best he loved. In Chrestien there is no raven, and the whole stress is laid upon the three drops of blood on the snow, which put the hero in mind of the red and white of his lady's face. As Zimmer justly points out, the version of the Mabinogi is decidedly the more primitive of the two; and that, moreover, as the incident does not figure at all in what Birch-Hirschfeld presumes to be Chrestien's source, the Didot-Perceval, the following development of this incident must, ex hypothesi, have taken place. In the Didot-Perceval the hero is once upon a time lost in thought. To explain this, Chrestien invents the incident of the three drops of blood in the snow; the Mabinogi, copying Chrestien, presents the incident in almost as primitive a form as the oldest known one! Here, then, the Mabinogi has preserved an older form than Chrestien, alleged to have been its source in all those parts common to both. Nor is it certain that the fact of Peredur's undergoing the sword-test in the Talisman Castle does show, as Birch-Hirschfeld maintains, that the Welsh story-teller confused the two personages whom he took over from Chrestien, Gonemans and the Fisher King. The sword incident will be examined later on; suffice here to say that no explanation is given in the Conte du Graal of the broken weapon; whereas the Mabinogi does give a simple and natural one. But these two instances cannot weaken the force of the parallels adduced above. In determining, however, whether these may not be due to Chrestien's being the borrower, the differences between the two versions are of even more importance than the similarities.

. . . biaus frère ceste espée
Vous fu jugie et destineé (4,345-6).

It may be urged in explanation of the similarities between Gautier and the Mabinogi, that the author of the latter used Gautier in the same free way that he did Chrestien, but that getting tired towards the close of his work he abridged in a much more summary fashion than at first. If the comparison of the versions of the stag hunt found in either work be not sufficient to refute this theory, the following consideration may be advanced against it: if the Mabinogi derives entirely from the Conte du Graal, how can the different form given to the Grail episode be accounted for?—if it only knew Chrestien, where did it get the chessboard adventure from, and if it knew Gautier as well as Chrestien why did it not finish the Grail adventure upon the same lines as it began, i.e., partly in conformity with its alleged model?

The facts thus dealt with may be recapitulated as follows:—There is marked similarity in general outline between the Mabinogi and the Conte du Graal in the adventures common to both; in that portion of the Conte du Graal due to Chrestien there occur, moreover, many and close verbal parallels, and the corresponding part of the Mabinogi is told at greater length than the remainder of the incidents common to both works. That which answers in the Mabinogi to the Grail Quest forms a clear and straightforward whole, the main features of which may be recovered from the Conte du Graal, but in varying proportions from the various sections of that work. Thus the indications of this Mabinogi talisman quest, the central intrigue, as it may be called, of the tale, are in Chrestien of the slightest nature, being confined to passing hints; in Gautier they are fuller and more precise, though pointing to a version of the central intrigue different, not only in details but in conception, from that of the Mabinogi; in Manessier alone is there agreement of conception, although the details still vary. Finally, those portions of the Mabinogi which are in closest verbal agreement with Chrestien contain statements which cannot easily be reconciled with this central intrigue.

Light is also thrown by this investigation upon the question of Chrestien's relationship to his continuators. Birch-Hirschfeld's theory that the Didot-Perceval was the source of Chrestien and Gautier has already been set aside. Apart from the reasons already adduced, the fact that it does not explain from whence Manessier got his ending of the story would alone condemn it. It must now be evident that Chrestien and two of his continuators drew from one source, and this a poem of no great length probably, the main outlines of which were nearly the same as those of the Welsh proto-Mabinogi given above, with this difference, that the story turned upon the healing of the uncle and not the avenging the cousin's death. This poem, which seems also to have served, directly or indirectly, as one of the sources of the Didot-Perceval, had probably departed from popular lines in many respects, and may, though this would be an exceedingly difficult question to determine, have begun the incorporation of the Joseph of Arimathea legend with its consequent wresting to purposes of Christian symbolisms of the objects and incidents of the old folk-tale.

Such an incorporation had almost certainly begun before Chrestien's time, and was continued by him. There can be little doubt that he dealt with his model in a free and daring spirit, altering and adding as seemed best to him. This alone explains how Manessier, slavishly following the common original, tells differently the cause of the lame king's wound. Gautier, who lacked Chrestien's creative power, though he often equals him in the grace and vivacity of his narrative, seems to have had no conception of a plan; the section of Conte du Graal which goes under his name is a mere disorderly heap of disconnected adventures brought together without care for consistency. But for this very reason he is of more value in restoring the original form of the story than Chrestien, who, striving after consistency, harmony, and artistic development of his tale, alters, adds to, or retrenches from the older version. Gautier had doubtless other sources besides the one made use of by Chrestien. This does not seem to be the case with Manessier, who, for this portion of the story, confined himself to Chrestien's original, without taking note of the differences in motif introduced by his predecessor. What is foreign to it he drew from sources familiar to us, the Queste and Grand S. Graal, from which more than two-thirds of his section are derived.

In working back to the earliest form of the Perceval-sage, Mabinogi and Conte du Graal are thus of equal value and mutually complementary. Both are second-hand sources, and their testimony is at times sadly corrupt, but it is from them chiefly that information must be sought as to the earlier stages of development of this legendary cycle. They do not by themselves give any satisfactory explanation of the more mysterious features of the full-blown legend, but they do present the facts in such a way as to put out of court the hypothesis of a solely Christian legendary origin. Before proceeding further it will be well to see if the English Sir Perceval has likewise claims to be considered one of the versions which yield trustworthy indications as to the older form of the story.

This poem, described by Halliwell as simply an abridged English version of the Conte du Graal, has, as may be seen by reference to Ch. IV, been treated with more respect by other investigators, several of whom, struck by its archaic look, have pronounced it one of the earliest versions of the Perceval sage. It has quite lately been the object of elaborate study by Paul Steinbach in his dissertation: "Uber dem Einfluss des Crestien de Troies auf die altenglische literatur," Leipzig, 1885. The results of his researches may be stated somewhat as follows: the two works correspond incident for incident down to the death of the Red Knight, the chief differences being that Perceval is made a nephew of King Arthur, that the death of his father at the hands of the Red Knight is explained as an act of revenge on the part of the latter, that Arthur recognizes his nephew at once, and tells him concerning the Red Knight, and that the burning of the Red Knight, only hinted at in Chrestien's lines—

Ains auroie par carbonees.
Trestout escarbellié le mort, etc. (2,328-9).

is fully told in the English poem. After the Red Knight incident the parallelism is much less close. The English poem has incidents to itself: the slaying of the witch, the meeting with the uncle and nine cousins, the fight with the giant for the ring, the meeting with and restoring to health the mother. Of the remaining incidents, those connected with Lufamour are more or less parallel to what Chrestien relates of his hero's adventure with Blanchefleur, and that of the Black Knight, with that of the Orgellous de la Lande in Chrestien. Of the 2,288 verses of the English poem the greater part may be paralleled from Chrestien, thus:—

 P. of G. Cr. 1-160 .. .. .. 485-940 161-188 .. .. .. 941-1,206 169-256 .. .. .. 1,207-82 257-320 .. .. .. 1,283-1,554 321-432 .. .. .. 1,555-1828 433-80 .. .. .. 1,829-1970 481-600 .. .. .. 2,091-2,170 601-56 .. .. ${\displaystyle \scriptstyle {\left\{{\begin{matrix}\ \\\\\ \ \end{matrix}}\right.}}$ 2,055-90 2,135-59 2,171-2,225 ​ 657-740 .. .. .. 2,268-2,312 741-820 .. .. .. 2,313-2,398 1,061-1,108 .. .. .. 4,000-4,060 1,109-1,124 .. .. .. 5,511-553 1,381-1,540 .. .. .. 5,600-5,891 953-1012 ${\displaystyle \scriptstyle {\left.{\begin{matrix}\ \\\\\ \ \end{matrix}}\right\}\,}}$ .. 1,125-1380 ${\displaystyle \scriptstyle {\left\{{\begin{matrix}\ \\\ \end{matrix}}\right.}}$ 2,900-3,960 1,541-1,760 4,088-94 1761-1,808 .. .. .. 4,095-4,150 1,761-1,808 .. .. . 4,095—4,150 1,809-1,951 .. .. .. 4,865-5,375

Against this view of Steinbach's it might be urged that a writer as skilful as the author of Sir Perceval is assumed to be could easily have worked Chrestien's Grail episode into his traditional framework. A more plausible explanation, assuming the theory to be in the main correct, might be found in the great popularity in this country of the Galahad form of the Quest, and the consequent unwillingness on the author's part to bring in what may have seemed to him like a rival version. Steinbach has not noticed one curious bit of testimony to the poem's being an abridgment of an older work, more archaic in some respects than Chrestien. When the hero has slain the Red Knight he knows not how to rid him of his armour, but he bethinks him—

. . . "My moder bad me
Whenne my dart solde brokene be,
Owte of the irene brenne the tree,
Now es me fyre gnede" (749-52).

Now the mother's counsel, given in verses xxv-vi are solely that he should be "of mesure," and be courteous to knights; nothing is said about burning the tree out of the iron, nor does any such counsel figure either in Chrestien or in the Mabinogi, which in this passage has copied, with misunderstandings, the French poet.[5] The use of Chrestien by the author of Sir Perceval seems, however, uncontestable; and, such being the case, Steinbach's views meet the difficulties of the case fairly well. It will be shown farther on, however, that several of the points in which the German critic detects a post-Chrestien development, are, on the contrary, remains of as old and popular a form of the story as we can work back to. Accepting, then, the hypothesis that Sir Perceval, like the Mabinogi, has been influenced by Chrestien, what is the apparent conclusion to be drawn from the fact that the former omits the Grail episode altogether, whilst the latter joins Chrestien's version to its own, presumably older one, so clumsily as to betray the join at once? May it not be urged that Chrestien's account is obviously at variance with the older story as he found it? may not the fact be accounted for by the introduction of a strange element into the thread of the romance? This element would, according to Birch-Hirschfeld, be the Christian holy-vessel legend, and it would thus appear that the Grail is really foreign to the Celtic tradition. Let me recapitulate briefly the reasons already urged against such a view. The early history of the Grail, that part in which the Christian element prevails, must certainly be regarded as later than the Quest, to which it could not have given rise without assuming such a development of the romance as is well nigh incredible—the Quest versions, moreover, all hang together in certain respects, and point unmistakably to Celtic traditions as their source. These traditions must then be examined further to see if they contain such traces of the mystic vessel as are wanting in the Mabinogi and the English poem, and as may have given rise to the episode as found in the French romances. As Perceval is the oldest hero of the Quest, and as the boyhood of Perceval, forming an integral part of all the oldest Quest versions presents the strongest analogies with the folk-tale of the Great Fool, it is this tale which must now be examined.

1. They are brought together by Hucher, vol. i, p. 383, etc.
2. In the preface to the second volume of his edition of Chrestien's works (Halle, 1887), W. Förster distinguishes Peredur from the Lady of the Fountain and from Geraint, which he looks upon as simple copies of Chrestien's poems dealing with the same subjects. Peredur has, he thinks, some Welsh features.
3. It is perhaps only a coincidence that in Gautier the "pucelle de malaire" is named Riseut la Bloie, and that Rosette la Blonde is the name of the loathly damsel whom Perceval meets in company of the Beau Mauvais, and whom Birch-Hirschfeld supposes to have suggested to Chrestien his loathly damsel, the Grail messenger. But from the three versions one gets the following:—Riseut (Gautier), loathly damsel (Didot-Perceval), Grail messenger (Chrestien), = Peredur's cousin, who in the Mabinogi is the loathly Grail messenger, and the protagonist in the stag-hunt.
4. I have not thought it necessary to discuss seriously the hypothesis that Chrestien may have used the Mabinogi as we now have it. The foregoing statement of the facts is sufficient to negative it.