"AMADIS DE GAUL
There stands a castle on a magic height
The damascene of armour in the dusk,
MANY a casement in the grey castle of Spanish Romance opens upon vistas of fantastic loveliness or gloomy grandeur, but none commands a prospect so brilliant, so infinitely varied, or so rich in the colours of fantasy as that aery embrasure overlooking the region of marvel and high chivalry where is enacted the gallant and glorious history of Amadis de Gaul. The window of which I speak is perched high in a turret of the venerable fortalice, and displays such a landscape as was dear to the weavers of ancient tapestries or the legend-loving painters of old Florence. Beneath is spread a princely domain of noble meadow-land, crossed and interlaced by the serpent-silver of narrow rivers and rising northward to dim, castellated hills Far beyond these, remote and seeming more of sky than of earth, soar the blue and jagged peaks of dragon-haunted mountains. This scene of almost supernatural beauty presents, at the first glance, an unbroken richness of colour and radiance. The meadow-land is populous
with pavilions and the air is painted with pennons and gilded with the blazonry of banners. The glitter of armour thrills the blood like the challenge of martial music. Strange palaces of marble, white as sculptured ice, rise at the verges of magic forests, or glitter on the edges of the promontories, their gardens and terraces sloping to silent and forlorn beaches. The scene is indeed "Beautiful as a wreck of Paradise."
Such seems the book of Amadis when first we glance through its rainbow-coloured pages. But when we gain a nearer view by the aid of the romancer's magical glass we find that the radiant scene is deeply shadowed in places. Ravines profound as night lie near the castled hills, in which all manner of noxious things swarm and multiply. The princely fortresses, the gay palaces, are often the haunts of desperate outlaws or malignant sorcerers. Hideous giants dwell in the mountains, or in the shadowy islands which rise from the pale sea, and dragons have their lairs in fell and forest. But whether it breed light or gloom, the atmosphere of Amadis is suffused with such a glamour that we come to love the darker places; we feel that the horror they hold is but the stronger wine of romance, a vintage which intoxicates.
And if we remain at our point of vantage until nightfall and watch the illumination of this wondrous region by the necromancy of moonshine we shall be granted an even more inspiring draught from the strange chalice of romance. In the mystery of moonlight armour is silvered to an unearthly whiteness, blood-red lights gleam from the turrets of the magicians, and the sylph-like shapes of sorceresses flit from sea to forest like living moonbeams. From the deserts between the hills and the distant
mountains come the cries of ravening monsters, and all the fantastic world of Faery is vivid with life.
What marvel then that when this surpassing picture was unveiled to the eyes of a nation of knights it aroused such a fervour of applause and appreciation as has been granted to few works in the history of literary effort? The author of Amadis displayed to the chivalry of Spain such a world as it had dreamed of. Every knight felt himself a possible Amadis and every damsel deemed herself an Oriana. The philosophy and atmosphere of the book took complete possession of the soul of Spain, banishing grosser ideals and introducing a new code of manners and sentiment. The main plot and the manifold incidents which arise from it were coherently and skilfully arranged, and were not made up of isolated and disconnected accounts of combats, or tedious descriptions of apparel, appointments, or architecture, interspersed with the boastful bellowings of rude paladins or vociferous kings, as the 'plots' of the cantares de gesta had been. Moreover, the whole was powerfully infused with the love-philosophy of chivalry, in which woman, instead of being the chattel and plaything of man, found herself exalted to heights of worship, and even of omnipotence, undreamed of by the ruder singers of the cantares.
Origin of the Amadis Romances
The first Peninsular version of Amadis appeared in a Portuguese dress, and was the work of a Lusitanian knight, Joham de Lobeira (I26I~J325), who was born at Porto, fought at Aljubarrota, where he was knighted upon the field by King Joham of happy memory, and died at Elvas. But Southey's protestations notwithstanding, everything points to France as being the
original home of the romance, and there is even a reference in Portuguese literature to the circumstance that a certain Pedro de Lobeira translated Amadis from the French by order of the Infante Dom Pedro, son of Joham I. The original French tale has vanished without leaving a trace that it ever existed, save in the Peninsular versions to which it gave birth, and we are no more fortunate as regards the Portuguese rendering. A manuscript copy of Lobeira's romance was known to exist at the close of the sixteenth century in the archives of the Dukes of Arveiro at Lisbon, and appears to have been extant as late as 1750. After that period, however, it disappears from the sight of the bibliophile, and all the evidence points to its having been destroyed at the earthquake at Lisbon in 1755, along with the ducal palace in which it was housed.
Its fame, as well as its matter, was, however, kept alive by the Spanish version, and if we must regard Portugal as the original home of Amadis in the Peninsula, it is to the genius of Castile that we owe not only its preservation, but its possible improvement. At some time between 1492 and i508 Garcia Ordoflez de Montalvo, governor of the city of Medina del Campo, addressed himself to the task of its translation and adaptation. At what precise date it was first printed is obscure. Early copies are lacking, but we learn that the Spanish conquerors of Mexico remarked upon the resemblance of that city to the places of enchantment spoken of in Amadis. This occurred in 1519, not 1549, as stated by Southey. They may, perhaps, have referred to the Portuguese version, but in any case an edition of Amadis is known to have been published in that year, and another at Seville in 1547. Reference has already
been made to the numerous translations of the romance in all languages, and to the equally manifold continuations of it by several hands, but it is necessary to remark that only the first four books of Amadisthat is, those which constitute the Amadis properwere written by Montalvo, the remainder being the independent and original work of imitators. 1
Elisena and Perion
The action of the romance begins at an obscure and indefinite period, described as following almost immediately upon the death of our Redeemer, at which time, we are told, there flourished in Brittany a Christian king named Garinter, who was blessed with two lovely daughters. The elder, known as 'the Lady of the Garland,' because of her fondness for wearing a coronel of flowers, had some years before the period of the story's commencement been wed to King Languines (Angus) of Scotland, and had two beautiful children, Agrayes and Mabilia. Elisena, the younger daughter, was famed for her beauty throughout the lands of Christendom, but though many powerful monarchs and princes had asked her hand in marriage, she would wed with none, but gave herself up to a life of holiness and good works. In the opinion of all the knights and ladies of her father's realm, one so fair grievously transgressed the laws of love by remaining
single, and it came to pass that the beautiful and saintly Elisena earned from the more worldly of her gay critics the name of 'the Lost Devotee.
If Elisena was devoted to a life of austerity her royal father was equally partial to the pleasures of the chase, and spent much of his time in the green forest-land which occupied the greater part of Lesser Britain in those remote days. On one of those occasions, as he rode unattended in the greenwood, as was his wont, he chanced to hear the clash of arms, and, riding to a clearing whence came the sounds of combat, he saw two knights of Brittany attacking an armed stranger, whom he guessed by his armour and bearing to be a person of rank and distinction, and who bore himself with such courage and address that he succeeded in slaying both his opponents. As the stranger was in the act of sheathing his weapon he observed Garinter, and rode forward to meet him, saluting him with a courteous mien. He complained that in a Christian country an errant knight did not expect such treatment from its inhabitants as had been meted out to him, to which the King sagely replied that in all countries evilly disposed people were to be found as well as good folk, and that the slain knights had been traitors to their liege lord and well deserved their fate.
The stranger then proffered the information that he sought the King of Brittany with tidings of a friend, and on learning this Garinter revealed his identity. The knight then informed him that he was King Perion of Gaul, who had long desired his friendship. Garinter insisted that his brother monarch should accompany him to his palace, and Perion consenting, they turned their horses' heads toward the city.
Arrived at the palace, they sat down to a rich banquet,
which was graced by the Queen and the Princess Elisena. No sooner did Elisena and Perion behold one another than they knew that a great and deathless love had sprung up between them. When the Queen and Princess had risen from the banquet Elisena divulged her love for Perion to her damsel and confidante, Darioleta, and asked her to discover whether the King of Gaul had pledged his troth to any other lady. Darioleta, who was not easily abashed, went straight to Perion, who avowed his love for Elisena in passionate terms and promised to take her to wife. He begged the damsel to bring him to where Elisena was, that he might have the happiness of expressing his love in person, and she returned to the Princess with his message. So impatient was Elisena to hear from Perion's own lips that he loved her, that, recking not of time or tide, she sought the apartment in which he was lodged, where she remained until dawn, detained by his protestations of affection and her own devotion to the noble and knightly monarch who had so suddenly made her regard her former mode of life as savourless and melancholy.
Ten days did Perion sojourn at the Court of Garinter. At the end of that time it became necessary that he should depart, but before he took his leave he plighted his troth to Elisena, and left her one of two duplicate rings he wore, as a pledge of his faith. Search as he might, however, he failed to find his good sword, a tried and trusty weapon, and at last was forced to abandon the search for it.
The Birth and Casting Away of Amadis
When her lover had gone Elisena was plunged in the deepest grief, and all the comfort which Darioleta could
bestow upon her failed to rouse her from the lethargy of sorrow into which she had fallen. In her father's kingdom, as in modern Scotland, an old law existed which provided that if two persons solemnly took each other in marriage by oath no further ceremony was necessary to render the union legal although it was usual to have it ratified later by both Church and law. Perion and Elisena had taken these vows upon themselves, but the Princess dreaded the wrath of her father, whom the lovers had not consulted, and when a little son was born to her she was in great fear of the consequences, for she knew her father to be both proud and hasty and prone to act before he learned the truth of a matter. The worldly and quick-witted Darioleta bad, however, no scruples regarding the manner in which she resolved to save her mistress and herself from the King's wrath, and despite the protestations of Elisena, who in her weakness was unable to restrain her, she built a little ark of wood, made it water-tight with pitch, and, regardless of the tears and lamentations of her mistress, placed the new-born baby boy therein with Perion's sword, which she had abstracted from his sleeping chamber. Then she wrote upon a piece of parchment, "This is Amadis, son of a king," covered the writing with wax so that it might be preserved from obliteration, and, securing it to the betrothal ring which Perion had given to Elisena, fastened it by a silken cord round the infant's neck. Then with the utmost caution, lest any one should observe her action, she carried the tiny vessel to the river which ran at the foot of the palace garden and launched it upon the swift, deep waters.
The little ark was rapidly carried out to sea, which was not more than half a league distant, and it had scarcely
emerged upon the tossing billows when it was sighted by the mariners of a Scottish vessel which bore a Caledonian knight, Gandales, back from Gaul to his home in the North. At his orders the sailors launched a boat, and having secured the tiny vessel, brought it to the ship, when the wife of Gandales, delighted with the beauty of the infant it held, decided to adopt him as her own. In a few days the vessel put into the Scottish port of Antalia, 2 and Gandales carried the little Amadis to his castle, where he brought him up with his own son, Gandalin.
Some years afterward, when Amadis was about five years old, Languines, the King of Scotland, and his Queen, 'the Lady of the Garland,' and sister to Elisena, paid a visit to the castle of Gandales, and were so greatly attracted by the child's grace and beauty that they expressed a desire to adopt him as their own. Gandales acquainted them with what he knew of Amadis's history, and the royal pair promised to regard him as their own son. Amadis, because of the circumstances of his strange discovery, was known to every one as 'the Child of the Sea,' and indeed this mysterious and poetic name cleaved to him until his identity had been proven beyond cavil. He showed no reluctance to accompany his new guardians, although he was grieved at having to part with his first foster-parents, but the little Gandalin would in no wise be separated from him, and begged so hard to be permitted to share his fortunes that at last King Languines took both the boys under his protection.
Let us return to King Perion. Occupied once more with the affairs of his kingdom, he still knew great heaviness of spirit because of a dream that he had had while at the Court of Garinter. It seemed to him in his dream that some one entered his sleeping-apartment, thrust a hand through his side, and, taking out his heart, cast it into the river that flowed through King Garinter's garden. Crying out in his anguish, he was answered by a voice that another heart was still left to him. Troubled by memory of the dream, which he could not unriddle, he called together all the wise men of his realm and requested them to attempt its solution. Only one of them could unravel the mystery, and the sage who did so assured him that the heart which had been abstracted represented a son which a noble lady had borne him, while the remaining heart symbolized another son who would in some manner be taken away against the will of her who had cast away the first.
As the King left the wise man's presence he encountered a mysterious damsel, who saluted him and said: "Know, King Perion, that when thou recoverest thy loss the kingdom of Ireland shall lose its flower"; and ere the King could detain or question her she had gone.
In course of time King Garinter died, and Perion and Elisena were formally wedded. But when Perion asked his wife if she had borne him a son, so bitterly ashamed was she of the part she had been forced to play in the matter of the child's disappearance that she denied everything. Later, two beautiful children were born to them, a son and a daughter, called Galaor and Melicia.
When Galaor was hut two and a half years old, the King and Queen, at that time sojourning at a town called Banzil, near the sea, were walking in the gardens of the palace there, when suddenly a monstrous giant rose out of the waves and, catching up the little Galaor, made off with him before anyone could prevent him.
The monster, dashing into the water, clambered on board a ship and put out to sea, crying out joyfully, as he did so "The damsel told me true !" The parents were deeply afflicted at the loss of their son, and in her grief Elisena admitted the casting away of Amadis. Then Perion knew that what the wise man had told him regarding the loss of the two hearts was the truth indeed.
Now the giant who had stolen the little Galaor was not of the race of evil monsters, but was generous in disposition and gentle in demeanour. Indeed, he took as much care of the child as if he had been one of his own gigantic brood. He was a native of Lyonesse, was known as Gandalue, and was the master of two castles in an island of the sea. He had peopled this island with Christian folk, and gave the little Galaor into the keeping of a holy hermit, with strict orders to educate him as a brave and loyal knight. He told the hermit that a damselthe same who had addressed King Perion so strangely, and who was a powerful sorceresshad assured him that only a son of Perion could conquer his lifelong and ruthless enemy, the giant Albadan, 3
who had slain his father, and had taken from him the rock Galtares. And so Galaor was left in the care of the hermit.
About this time King Lisuarte of Britain chanced to put into a port of Scotland, where he was honourably received by King Languines. With Lisuarte was his wife Brisena, and his beautiful little daughter Oriana, the fairest creature in the world. And because she suffered so much at sea, her parents decided to leave her for a space at the Court of Scotland. Amadis was now twelve years old, but seemed fifteen, so tall and hardy was he, and the Queen bestowed him upon Oriana for her service. Oriana said that, 'it pleased her,' and Amadis cherished those words in his heart, so that they never faded from his memory. But he knew not that Oriana loved him, and was greatly in awe of the lovely and serious little maiden of ten, for whom he conceived a high and noble affection. Very beautiful was the silent love of these children for one another. But silent it remained, for Amadis was fearful of presumption and Oriana the most modest of little damsels.
High thoughts of chivalry now began to stir in the heart of Amadis, so that at last he requested King Languines to grant him the boon of knighthood. Languines was greatly surprised that a mere boy should crave such a heavy burden of honour, but approved his desire, and gave orders that arms should be made for
him. He sent to Gandales, the knight who had found Amadis in the sea, acquainting him with the lad's purpose, and Gandales dispatched a messenger to Court with the sword, ring, and parchment which he had found in the ark along with the sea-borne baby. 4
These things were delivered to Amadis as belonging to him, and when he showed them to Oriana she begged for the wax that contained the parchment, not knowing it held anything of moment, and accordingly he gave it to her. Shortly after this King Perion arrived on a visit to Languines, to ask his help against King Abies of Ireland, who had invaded Gaul with all the force of his kingdom. Amadis, knowing Perion's great reputation as a warrior, much desired to be knighted by his hand, and asked the Queen to crave the boon on his behalf. But she seemed sad and distraught, and heeded him not. He inquired of Oriana the cause of the Queen's sadness, and she replied: "Child of the Sea, this is the first thing ye ever asked of me."
"Ah, lady," replied Amadis, "I am not worthy to ask anything from such as you."
"What?" she exclaimed. "Is then your heart so feeble?"
"Aye, lady," he replied, "in all things toward you, save that it would serve you like one who is not his own, but yours."
"Mine !" said Oriana, mystified; "since when?"
"Since it pleased you,'" replied Amadis, with a smile. "Do you not remember your words when the Queen offered me for your service?"
"I am well pleased that it should be so," said Oriana shyly, and beholding Amadis much overcome at her gracious answer, she slipped away to ask the Queen the cause of her sorrow.
The Queen told her that she was deeply distressed because of her sister Elisena, whose kingdom had been invaded, and, returning to Amadis, Oriana explained to him why his royal mistress had left his appeals unanswered. Amadis at once expressed a desire to proceed to Gaul to fight against the Irish invaders, and Oriana applauded his intention. "You shall go to the wars as my knight,'' she said, simply but graciously. Amadis kissed her hand, and requested her to ask the Princess Mabilia, Perion's daughter (and Amadis's sister) to bring it about that her father should confer the honour of knighthood upon him. The little damsel readily consented to do so, and King Perion joyfully acquiesced in the young man's eager desire to embrace the profession of arms. So, asking him to kneel, he bestowed upon him the accolade, fastened the knightly spurs upon his heels, and girded the sword to his side.
Amadis Goes on Adventure
Now Amadis resolved to set out for Gaul at once, so, taking a tender leave of Oriana and accompanied by Gandalin, his foster-brother, he rode off from the palace at nightfall. They had not gone far when they encountered the mysterious sorceress who, as we have seen, took such an interest in the fate of our hero, and whose name was Urganda. 5
The fay greeted Amadis in a most gracious manner, and presented him with a lance, which she told him would, within three days, "preserve the house from which he was descended from death." With her was another damsel, and when Urganda had departed her companion remained and announced to Amadis that she would journey with him for three days, and that she was not a familiar of the sorceress, but had encountered her by chance. They had not ridden far when they came to a castle, where they heard a squire lamenting loudly that his master was beset therein by its inmates. Amadis spurred his horse into the court yard, and beheld King Perion fiercely attacked by two knights and a number of men-at-arms. With a cry of defiance he fell upon the attackers, striking left and right and dealing such terrific blows that the caitiff knights who had assailed the King were slain and their retainers put to flight.
Perion at once recognized Amadis as the youth he had knighted not long since. Leaving the castle, they came to a fork in the road, where they parted, with mutual promises to meet in Gaul. The damsel who had so far accompanied him now told Amadis that she was in reality a messenger from Oriana, whereat Amadis trembled so with joy at hearing his lady's name that had not Gandalin supported him he had fallen from the saddle. The damsel then took her leave, saying that she would acquaint her mistress of his welfare.
After several other adventures which it would be tedious to recount, Amadis arrived with Gandalin at the Court of King Perion, in Gaul. They had scarcely rested themselves when they heard the clarions of King Abies of Ireland sound for an attack upon the city, and, mounting
their destriers, sallied forth, with Agrayes and other knights, to give the men of Ireland battle. A stubborn contest ensued, in which Amadis performed prodigies of valour. Perion came up with his men, but they found themselves greatly outnumbered by the host of King Abies, and were forced to give ground. However, the day was retrieved by Amadis, who charged with such fury that neither horse nor man might withstand him, and in the press he slew, among others, Daugavel, a favourite of Abies. Hearing this, Abies grieved full sorely, and, encountering Amadis, challenged him to a mortal combat on the following day. They met, and after a fierce duel, which lasted several hours, Abies was slain, and the war was thus ended at a blow.
Now Melicia, Perion's daughter, lost a ring which had been given her by her father, the same indeed as that which the King had worn when first he met Elisena, and the exact counterpart of the ring he had bestowed upon her, and which she had tied to the neck of Amadis when be was cast adrift. Rather than that her father should know of this loss, Amadis gave Melicia his own ring. But the King himself recovered the lost jewel, and made inquiries regarding the resemblance between the rings, asking his daughter where she had procured its counterpart. Through her explanation, and his recognition of the sword which Amadis wore, Perion felt certain that Amadis could be no other than his long-lost son, and when the young knight recounted the circumstances of his history, how that he had been found in the sea, the last doubts of his parents regarding his identity were quite dissipated, and they were overjoyed at recovering him, publicly acknowledging him as prince of the realm.
We must now follow the fortunes of Galaor, brother of Amadis, who had been so suddenly snatched away in his infancy by the giant. In due time he grew to be a youth of courage and address, and as he had heard that at no Court did chivalry flourish so gallantly as at that of King Lisuarte of Britain, he resolved to journey thither in the hope of receiving the honour of knighthood. His giant foster-father accompanied him, and they had travelled but two days when they came to the castle of a felon knight, whom, with his retainers, they saw attacking a single champion. Galaor spurred to the rescue, and by his aid the caitiff crew were slain or routed. Galaor conceived such an affection for the stranger that he requested knighthood at his hands. This was cheerfully granted, and after Amadisfor the stranger knight was none otherhad taken his departure, Galaor, beholding a damsel close at hand, asked her if she was aware of the name of the knight he had assisted. The damsel, who was the sorceress Urganda, replied that his name was Amadis, and that he was own brother to Galaor. On hearing this Galaor was overjoyed, but his satisfaction was mingled with a deep regret that he had not discovered their relationship ere they had taken leave of one another.
Not content with having enlightened Galaor, Urganda hastened after Amadis, who was on his way to the Court of King Lisuarte at Windsor. She told him that his rescuer was his brother Galaor, who had been stolen in youth, whereat he was both overjoyed and sorrowful.
Greatly heartened by the strange encounter, Galaor still pressed on to the goal of his adventure, the rock Galtares, which he hoped to free for ever from the tyrannous rule of the monster who usurped it. A few
days' journey brought him to the fortalice, and at his defiance the giant issued from his castle, armed at all points, mounted upon a gigantic charger, and mouthing the most terrible threats imaginable. He rode fiercely at the young knight, hoping to end the combat at a blow. But, striking out wildly with his club, he smote down his own horse, came thundering to the ground, and Galaor spurred his courser over his prostrate body. In doing so, however, he fell from his charger, and received a terrible buffet from the giant. Recovering himself, he drew his sword and severed the monster's arm at the shoulder. This blow practically ended the combat, for Galaor with another sweep of his good blade beheaded his gigantic adversary.
Amadis, arriving at the Court of King Lisuarte, mingled with its chivalry, and partook of its adventures with such zest that he came to be known as one of the most illustrious knights in Christendom. His adventures at the Court of Lisuarte would fill a goodly volume, and included a war of extermination against the giants, the defeat of the usurper Barsinan and the enchanter Archelaus, as well as a score of other exploits, even a meagre account of which would overflow the pages set apart for the description of this romance. His adventures are intertwined with those of his brother Galaor, whom he even once meets in fierce combat, neither recognizing the other because of his armour.
Now, while Lisuarte held court in London an aged knight entered and displayed such a marvellously wrought crown and mantle that the King eagerly offered him any price he might ask for them. The
knight declared that he would return on a certain day and claim his reward, and the King agreed to keep the crown and mantle with all care, upon pain of losing that which he loved best. The knight was an emissary of the false enchanter Archelaus, and the gauds he had shown Lisuarte were made by magic art, so that when the King desired to wear them and unlocked the coffer in which they were kept he found they had vanished. The aged knight returned, and demanded his recompense. Lisuarte was forced to admit the loss of the crown and mantle, and the creature of the cunning magician demanded the Princess Oriana in pledge of the King's vow. In true romantic compliance with his promise, Lisuarte weakly acquiesced, and the knight rode off with Oriana, whom he at once placed in the power of Archelaus, and Lisuarte himself fell into a trap set by the artful enchanter.
Learning of this treason while at some distance from the Court, Amadis and Galaor hurried to Windsor, resolved to frustrate the necromancer's wicked intention, which was to wed Oriana to the pretender to the British throne, the false Barsinan, whom Amadis had already worsted. Galaor speedily delivered Lisuarte from his enemies, and Amadis, searching high and low for his lady, at last encountered her in a forest, through which she was being carried by Archelaus. On beholding the doughty champion, whose reputation was only too well known to him, the enchanter hastily made off, leaving Oriana with her lover, who conducted her back to Court.
The Firm Island
With the commencement of the Second Book we enter a strange and mystic atmosphere. Indeed the book
may be called the cor cordium of romance, its mirror, its quintessence. It introduces us to Apolidon, son of a King of Greece, who is described as a valiant knight and powerful necromancer. Abandoning his inheritance to a younger brother, he sailed from Greece into the Great Sea, where he discovered an island inhabited by peasants only, and ruled by a frightful giant, which was known as the Firm Island, fated to be celebrated in the pages of romance along with many another insular paradise.
Slaying the monstrous tyrant, Apolidon dwelt in the isle until, on the death of his brother, he returned to sit upon the Grecian throne. But ere he left the place he laid a potent enchantment upon it to the purpose that no knight or lady might dwell there save such as were equal in valour to himself or in beauty to his lady Grymenysa.
The wonders of this magical island well merit description, and as much of the action of our romance centres there let us embark upon the fairy galley which lies ever ready in the harbours of legend, sail thither, and set foot upon its enchanted beaches. Perhaps it is only through the rainbow lenses of poesy that we can view this wondrous region aright, so I have essayed a description of the isle in verse.
THE FIRM ISLAND
Prince Apolidon the Mage
White terraces o'erhung the black abyss,
Still deeper in those labyrinths of pleasure
Before he had quitted this marvellous island Prince Apolidon had placed a governor over it, and had commanded that any who failed to pass the Arch of Honour and still survived the dread blast of the trumpet should without ceremony be cast out of the island, but that such as sustained the ordeal were to be entertained and served with all honour. And he willed that when the island should have another lord the enchantment should cease.[paragraph continues]
Now the spell had been laid upon the island for about a hundred years when Amadis, who had taken a fond farewell of Oriana, and was on adventure bound, encountered a damsel who told him of the wonders of the Firm Island, which, she said, was scarcely two days' sail from where he then sojourned. Amadis replied that he could desire nothing better than to essay such an adventure, and the damsel's father, a knight of large estate, agreed to guide him there so that he might essay the perilous adventure. When at last they came to the Firm Island they beheld the pavilion, the walls of which were hung with the shields of those who had tried the adventure but failed, for though several had passed the arch none had penetrated to the pavilion. And when Amadis saw that so many good knights had been undone his heart misgave him.
Amadis Passes the Archway
Amadis was accompanied by Agrayes, son of King Languines of Scotland, who decided to attempt the passage of the arch at once. As he passed through it the trumpet held by the image emitted sweet music, and he entered the pavilion. Then Amadis approached the archway, and the trumpet blew louder and more melodiously than it had ever done before. Both knights approached the forbidden chamber. They saw the jasper slab, on which they read: "This is Amadis of Gaul, the true lover, son of King Perion." As they looked upon it Amadis's dwarf, Ardian, ran to his master and told him that Galaor and Florestan, his brothers, who had also accompanied him on the adventure, had attempted the passage of the arch, but had been attacked on all sides by unseen hands, and
were left for dead. Amadis and Agrayes at once retraced their steps, and found the young knights lying as in a deep swoon. While Amadis was giving his brothers such assistance as he could, Agrayes tried to enter the forbidden chamber, but he too was struck senseless.
When Galaor and Florestan had somewhat recovered from the effects of the blows they had received from invisible assailants, Amadis felt that for the honour of his lady, Oriana, he must attempt the great adventure of entering the forbidden chamber, into which no knight had yet penetrated. Summoning all his courage to his aid, he crossed the line of the spell between the pillars, and immediately felt himself assaulted by the unseen warriors who had defeated his comrades. A terrific uproar of voices arose, as if all the knights in the world were assailing him, and the blows were doubled in force and violence. But, nothing daunted, and strong in memory of his lady, he fought on. Sometimes he was beaten to his knees, and once his sword fell from his hand, yet he struggled on until he reached the door of the chamber, which opened as if to admit him. A hand came forth and, seizing his, drew him in, and a voice exclaimed: "Welcome is the knight who shall be lord here, because he surpasses in prowess him who made the enchantment and who had no peer in his time." The hand that led him was large and hard, like that of an old man, and the arm was sleeved with green satin. As soon as he was in the chamber it vanished, and Amadis felt his strength return to him.
When Florestan and Galaor and the people of the island heard that the adventure had at last been achieved, they crowded into the now disenchanted palace and gazed upon its wonders. It was full of the most marvellous treasures
and works of art, but nothing more excellent was there than the statues of Apolidon and Grymenysa.
At the time Amadis had left Britain and had said farewell to Oriana he dispatched his dwarf, Ardian, back to the palace for the pieces of a sword which a lady had given him in all good faith, asking him to avenge her father's death on a cowardly murderer. Amadis, like a good knight, had promised to keep the broken blade until he had avenged the dead man. Oriana, seeing the dwarf return, asked him the reason, and Ardian told her that Amadis had promised a lady ever to keep a certain sword, for which he had been sent back. Then he fetched the blade and galloped off. Oriana, putting a wrong construction upon the dwarf's words, and suspecting Amadis of unfaithfulness to her, wrote him a cruel letter, which she entrusted to a page with instructions to find him at all costs. After much journeying he traced Amadis to the Firm Island, and delivered the letter into his hands.
When Amadis had perused the cold and bitter words of his lady he seemed to the messenger as a man distraught. The page told him that he was forbidden to carry any reply to Oriana. Amadis in terrible grief called for Ysanjo, the governor of the island, and requested him as a loyal knight to keep secret all that he might see till after his brothers had heard Mass on the morrow. Then he commanded Ysanjo to open the gate of the palace privily so that he might withdraw his horse and arms therefrom without being observed by anyone. Accompanied by the honest Ysanjo, for whom he had formed a high esteem, he betook himself to a chapel of
the Virgin hard by. He prayed fervently that she would intercede with her Divine Son to have mercy upon him, as he felt that his days would be few. Then he rose and, taking an affectionate leave of the Governor, mounted his horse and, without shield, spear, or helmet, rode off.
Now Gandalin, squire to Amadis, and son of the Scottish knight Gandales, who throughout all these adventures had never left his master, took counsel with Dunn, the messenger who had brought Oriana's cruel letter to the Firm Island, and resolved to follow the distraught knight, lest he should come to harm. They soon found him sleeping beside a fountain, worn out with the violence of his sorrow, and mercifully allowed him to slumber on. But when night had fallen Amadis awoke and, remembering his wretchedness, broke into pitiful lamentations for his evil fate. The youths concealed themselves, for they did not wish him to know of their presence. But Amadis, catching sight of Gandalin, was angry with him for having followed him. To arouse him from his lethargy Gandalin told him that a knight, like himself abandoned by his lady, was in the neighbourhood, threatening vengeance upon any whom he might encounter. Amadis, minded to throw away his life, leapt on his horse at hearing this, and accompanied Gandalin in search of the crazy challenger. They soon came up with the unknown, and Amadis hurled a fierce defiance at him. A stubborn combat ensued, and Amadis, by a desperate blow, struck his opponent senseless. Leaving the wounded knight with Dunn, Amadis rode on, still followed by the faithful Gandalin.
Galaor, Florestan, and Agrayes, hearing of Amadis's plight and his hurried departure, resolved to follow him.[paragraph continues]
Meanwhile the object of their search rode onward, allowing his horse to choose its own path, and given over to weeping and lamentation. While the anxious Gandalin slept, the crazed lover eluded him, and traversed the wildest parts of the savage country which they had penetrated. Ere long he came to a plain at the foot of a mountain, where he encountered a hermit, and begged the holy man for leave to remain with him. The hermit greeted him kindly and Amadis confided his history to the good old man, who told him that he dwelt on a high rock full seven leagues out at sea. And the hermit gave him the name Beltenebros, or the Fair Forlorn,' as he was at once so comely and so sore distracted.
The Poor Rock
In due time they reached the sea-shore, and, giving his horse to the mariners, Amadis accompanied the hermit on board a vessel and sailed to the Poor Rock, as the holy man had named his place of hermitage. And here Amadis partook of the austerities of the hermit, "not for devotion but for despair, forgetting his great renown in arms and hoping and expecting deathall for the anger of a woman!"
Dunn, Oriana's messenger, journeyed back to the British Court and told his mistress how Amadis had received her letter, and of the manner in which her knight had achieved the adventure of the Firm Island. Then Oriana knew that Amadis must have remained true to her. When she learned that he had gone into the desert to die, her shame and anguish knew no bounds, and she wrote a letter of deep contrition to her lover, and dispatched it to him by one of her
women called 'the Damsel of Denmark,' a sister of Dunn.
After they had set out, the knight whom Amadis had vanquished on the evening of the day on which he learned of Oriana's cruelty arrived at the British Court, bringing with him the armour of Amadis, which he had found, some time after his encounter with him, at the edge of a deep fountain. And when she heard his story Oriana believed her lover to be dead, and in great grief shut herself in her apartments, refusing all comfort.
Meanwhile, calling to mind the great misery he had endured, Amadis made this song in his passion:
Farewell to victory,
With kindly death my wretchedness shall cease,
At this time the lady Corisanda, who loved Florestan, chanced to visit the Poor Rock, and her damsels heard the story of Amadis, who told them that his name was Beltenebros, but that the song had been made by one Amadis, whom he had known. On her return to the
British Court, Corisanda's maidens sang the song to Oriana as the composition of Amadis. And she knew that Amadis and Beltenebros were one and the same.
Now the Damsel of Denmark, who had been sent to search for Amadis, was driven by tempest to the foot of the Poor Rock. 7 Landing with Dunn and an attendant Enil, she found Amadis praying in the chapel, and when he beheld the Damsel's face he fainted away.
This extreme sensitiveness to love is characteristic of the late Middle Ages, however absurd and overdrawn it may appear to us. That Amadis fainted at the mere sight of one who had served his lady seems to us ridiculous, and that he should imprison himself upon a barren rock for the remainder of his life because she had been unkind to him is to the modern reader more than a little grotesque.
Shall I, wasting in despair,
But we must deal gently with the ideas of the past, as with one of those faded samplers of our greatgrandmothers, which, if we handle it carelessly, is apt to fall to pieces. When we think of the manner in which Dante and Petrarch had established the worship of woman, and how the Courts of Love had completed the work they had begun, can we wonder that men bred in this creed, and regarding the worship of womankind as second to that of God alone, were apt to become
disconsolate and despairing if the object of their devotion condemned or deserted them? Again, exalted and sensitive minds in all ages have been peculiarly amenable to feminine criticism, as we can see in perusing the biographies of such men as Goethe. Genius, too, which itself nearly always abundantly partakes of the nature of the feminine, is prone to adopt this ultrareverent attitude, as the sonnets of Shakespeare and the poems of Lovelace and many another singer show. The rough, manly common sense of the average male is too often denied it, and, man and woman in itself, it must suffer the emotions of both sexes.
But, if maintained within rational bounds, this reverence for women in general and for the best type of woman in particular must be regarded as one of the great binding forces of humanity, a thing which has accomplished perhaps more than aught else for the world's refinement and advance. And here, even in a work of romance, which perhaps, after all, is the fitting place for such an exhortation, I would appeal to the younger generation of to-day to look backward with eyes of kindness upon the tender beauty and infinite charm of a creed which, if it is not entirely dead, is in a manner moribund. I do not ask our youths and maidens to imitate its fantastic features or its extravagances. But I do entreat them to regard its fine spirit, its considerate chivalry, and, above all, the modest reserve and lofty intention which were its chief characteristics. It is a good sign of the times that the sexes are growing to know each other better. But we must be wary of the familiarity that breeds contempt. Let us retain a little more of the serious beauty of the old intercourse between man and woman, and learn to beware of a flippancy of attitude and laxity of demeanour which in
later years we shall certainly look back upon with a good deal of vexation and self-reproach.
When he had regained consciousness, the Damsel of Denmark gave Amadis Oriana's letter, beseeching him to return to her and receive her atonement for the wrong she had done him. He took leave of the good hermit, and, embarking upon the ship in which the Damsel had arrived, set sail for the Firm Island, where he rested, as he was yet too weak to make the long journey to England. But at the end of ten days he took Enil for his squire and, accompanied by Dunn and the Damsel, set out for the English Court.
Meanwhile Galaor, Florestan, and Agrayes, having searched in vain for Amadis, arrived at London in a most disconsolate frame of mind. Oriana, hearing of their want of success, betook her to the castle of Miraflores, some leagues from the city. In its ancient garden she came to feel that Amadis was still alive, and, full of remorse for the manner in which she had dealt with him, she resolved that no further shadow should fall upon their love. The description of Miraflores in the romance is very beautiful, and the impression we receive of Oriana walking in its quiet and umbrageous alleys may perhaps best be rendered in verse.
Miraflores, name of beauty
Now a herald came to King Lisuarte at Windsor giving him defiance in the name of Famongomadan, the giant, Cartadaque, his nephew, giant of the Defended Mountain, and Madanfaboul, giant of the Vermilion Tower; from Quadragante, brother of King Abies of Ireland, and Archelaus the Enchanter, all of whom were to join against Britain on behalf of King Cildadan 8 of Ireland, who had quarrelled with Lisuarte. The knight, however, made one condition which he said would ensure peace, and that degrading enough. For he announced that, should Lisuarte give his daughter Oriana as damsel and servant to Madasima, the daughter of Famongomadan, or in marriage to Basagante, his son, the allied giants and kings would not advance against him, but would remain in their own lands. Lisuarte rejected the proffered terms with quiet dignity.
Now Amadis had slain King Abies long before, and it was revenge against him the ill-assorted allies desired, and Florestan, who was present, hearing this, challenged the ambassador to battle. This the knight, whose name was Landin, promised him on the completion of the war, and they exchanged gages of battle.
When the knight had departed, Lisuarte called for his little daughter Leonora to come with her damsels and
dance before him, a thing he had not done since the news that Amadis was lost. And he asked her to sing a song which Amadis, in sport, had made for her. So the child and her companions made music and chanted this little lay:
White rosebud, Leonore,
Or, if thou mayst not be,
Gandalin journeyed to Miraflores to acquaint Oriana with the news that Corisanda had arrived at Court and had been reunited to Florestan. Delighted as she was at this intelligence, she could not help comparing the happy condition of the lovers with her own, and burst into tears. But even as she wept the Damsel of Denmark was announced. Oriana listened to her tidings with a beating heart, and when the Damsel gave her a letter from Amadis, in which she found his ring enclosed, she all but swooned with excess of joy.
Amadis lay in a distant nunnery, recovering from the wasting sorrow from which he had suffered so long.[paragraph continues]
When he felt stronger, he donned green armour, so that he might not be known, and travelled toward London. On the eighth day of his journey he encountered the giant knight Quadragante, he who among others had defied King Lisuarte. Amadis unhorsed the gigantic warrior, who yielded himself vanquished and promised to deliver himself up to Lisuarte.
Amadis Slays Famongomadan
Proceeding on his way, Amadis passed some tents pitched in a meadow which were occupied by a party of knights and damsels in the service of the Princess Leonora. The knights insisted upon his breaking a lance with them. He unhorsed them all and rode on. While he was in the act of drinking from a well not many miles farther on, he espied a wagon full of captive knights and damsels in chains. Before it, on a huge black horse, rode a giant so immense that he was terrible to behold, and Amadis knew him for Famongomadan, who had sent his challenge to Lisuarte. Amadis, who was much wearied by his recent encounter with the knights, did not then desire to meet him, but when he saw that Leonora was in the wagon along with the other damsels he leapt on his destrier and, looking toward Miraflores, where Oriana was, awaited the giant's onset.
Seeing him, Famongomadan thundered down upon him like a human avalanche. His great boar-spear transfixed Amadis's horse, but the lance of the paladin ran its way clean through the monster's carcass and broke off short in his body. At this his son Basagante ran to the rescue, but Amadis, disengaging himself from his fallen steed, drew his sword and severed one of Basagante's
legs from the trunk. But his falchion snapped in twain with the violence of the blow, and a fierce struggle for Basagante's axe ended in Amadis wrenching it from his opponent's grasp and smiting off his head. Then he slew Famongomadan with his own spear, and, releasing the knights in the wagon, requested them to carry the bodies of the dead giants to King Lisuarte and say that they were sent by a strange knight, Beltenebros. And mounting the great black horse of Famongomadan, he galloped off.
At long last Amadis came to Miraflores and met with Oriana, and great was the love between them. Eight days he sojourned in the castle with his lady; then he rode away to assist Lisuarte in his war against Cildadan of Ireland, who, as we have seen, had challenged the King's supremacy in Britain. Cildadan and his giant allies were vanquished and the Irish king sorely wounded by Amadis.
Now Briolania, the lady from whom Amadis had received the broken sword, visited Oriana, and told her in confidence that she was enamoured of Amadis, who on his part had told her that he loved her not, whereat Oriana was both relieved and not a little amused. And now the whole Court knew that Beltenebros and Amadis were one and the same, and great was the wonder at the puissance of his single arm.
But Amadis, who knew that adventure was the duty and lot of a knight, desired once more to go in quest of it, and with him went ten knights, his friends and kinsmen, greatly to the discontent of Lisuarte, whom mischief-makers tried to incense against Amadis, for removing the best and bravest of his Court.
Meanwhile Briolania had betaken herself to the Firm
Island, where she was much disturbed by signs and portents of a very terrible nature. She passed between the Arch of True Lovers. But when she attempted to penetrate to the Forbidden Chamber she was violently cast out. So, sad at heart, she returned to her own country. Shortly after this Amadis arrived at the island, greatly to the joy of all therein.
Here we learn something further regarding the topography and natural history of the Firm Island, which was nine leagues long and seven wide, full of villages and rich dwelling~houses. Apolidon had built himself four wonderful palaces in the isle. One was that of the Serpent and the Lions, another that of the Hart and the Dogs. The third was called the Whirling Palace, for three times a day, and as often in the night, it whirled round, so that they who were in it thought it would be dashed to pieces. The fourth was that of the Bull, because every day a wild bull issued out of an old covered way and ran among the people as though he would destroy them. Then he entered a tower, from which he emerged ridden by an aged ape, which flogged him back to the place whence he had come. 10
News reached the island that Gromadaza of the Boiling Lake, the wife of Famongomadan, had sent her defiance to Lisuarte, who in consequence had resolved to behead her daughter Madasima and other damsels of the race of giants unless she gave up her castles and yielded her kingdom to him. Amadis and his knights thought it
ill in Lisuarte to take such measures against women, and dispatched twelve of their number to act as champions to the distressed giantesses. This action naturally gave colour to the stories of the mischief makers at Lisuarte's Court, who desired to put Amadis to shame. But Lisuarte was of too noble a mind to listen to them, and on the arrival of the knights he set the damsels free.
Amadis Quarrels with Lisuarte
But Fate and the counsels of wicked men are often stronger than the nobility of kings. His advisers urged Lisuarte to attempt the siege of the island of Mongaza, the last stronghold of the giants, and held only by their womenkind. Amadis and his company conceived this proposal as unchivalrous, and when Lisuarte heard of their opinion he grew wroth and sent his defiance to Amadis in the Firm Island. Amadis replied that Madasima, the daughter of Famongomadan having wed with Galvanes, a friend of both Lisuarte and himself, the island could not be held as sheltering the enemies of Lisuarte any longer, and that he would defend it with his whole force. And he set sail for the island with a large and well-equipped army. There they found a garrison which had taken possession in the name of Lisuarte, and which they dispossessed.
Leaving a suitable force in the island, Amadis, who was becoming anxious regarding Oriana, set sail for his own land of Gaul, and, putting in at an island for supplies, chanced then to rescue his brother Galaor and King Cildadan from the clutches of a tyrannous giant, who had entrapped them. Arrived in Gaul, Amadis greeted his parents, whom he had not seen for some years. In
the meantime Lisuarte had himself landed in the Isle of Mongaza, and had defeated the troops of Galvanes, its rightful lord, but he dealt reasonably and kindly with his vanquished foes and contented himself with making Galvanes, and Madasima, his wife, do homage to him.
For some time Amadis led a life of ease, hunting and feasting, and contenting himself with such news of his lady as he could obtain. We are told that by these means his great renown became obscured, although the unbiased reader might think that he had already achieved sufficient fame to last a lifetime. "Damsels who went to him to seek revenge for their wrongs cursed him for forsaking arms in the best of his life."
But Amadis had strong reasons for acting as he did, for a letter from Oriana had informed him that she had borne him a little son, and she beseeched him not to leave Gaul until such time as he heard further from her. She did not acquaint him with the circumstance that the infant had been lost, but of this we shall hear more anon. Later Oriana wrote desiring Amadis not to take arms against her father, and not to quit Gaul, unless it were to take his part. So Amadis resolved to assist Lisuarte against the Kings of the Isles, with whom he was about to do battle, and who had invaded his kingdom.
Now the Damsel of Denmark had taken the little son of Amadis and Oriana and had carried him by night through a gloomy forest, in order that her mistress might not be disgraced. Left alone for a moment, the child had been carried off by a lioness, from which it had been rescued by a hermit, Nasciano, who had called him Esplandian, and educated him along with his own
nephew. The good man brought the lads up as hunters, and not the least strange thing about this remarkable child was the circumstance that a lioness had affectionately attached herself to him, refusing to leave him, either when at home or in the chase.
Meanwhile Amadis, calling himself ' Knight of the Green Sword,' had resolved to do away with the ill reports of his unchivalrous sloth. Taking only Ardian the dwarf with him, he entered Germany, where he passed four years in adventure without word or message From Oriana. Passing into Bohemia, he remained at its Court for a space.
One day Lisuarte, going to the chase with the Queen and his daughters, came to the mountain where the hermit Nasciano dwelt, and encountering Esplandian, resolved to adopt him, and the hermit showed him a letter, written by Urganda, which had been tied to Esplandian's neck when Nasciano found him. The letter was addressed to King Lisuarte himself, and advised him to cherish the boy, who one day would deliver him from the greatest danger. So Lisuarte resolved to attach Esplandian, and Sargil, his foster-brother, to his service. And when the hermit told how he had rescued Esplandian from the lioness Oriana knew him to be none other than her own son, for she had heard that the infant left on the threshold of the nunnery had been seized by a wild beast and carried off.
In the course of his adventures, which were numerous and stirring, Amadis was sorely wounded by a monster which he had slain, and was cured of his hurt by a certain lady called Grasinda, to whom he was grateful. For her kindness and assistance, and he promised to do her will in any adventure she might choose for him.[paragraph continues]
About the same time El Patin, Emperor of Rome, resolved to ask King Lisuarte for the hand of Oriana. Hearing this, Queen Sardamira of Sardinia, who loved El Patin, came to Britain along with the ambassadors of the Roman Emperor, and, meeting Oriana, gave her some account of Amadis, telling her how on one occasion he had conquered El Patin in battle and how that emperor owed him a mortal grudge.
Galaor, who suspected the love of Amadis and Oriana, went to Lisuarte, strongly advising him not to give Oriana in marriage to the Emperor, and set out for Gaul, hoping to receive some news of Amadis. At the same time Florestan betook himself to the Firm Island, to acquaint Agrayes of the troubles besetting Oriana, and to carry him news of his lady Mabilia, who longed to see him once more.
'[he Greek Knight'
But, as fortune would have it, Amadis, now calling himself 'the Greek Knight,' accompanied by the lady Grasinda, arrived in Britain. Amadis, desiring to remain incognito,, gave explicit orders to all in his train not to divulge his name. He learned that Oriana was about to be given to the Emperor, and resolved to take his measures accordingly. Grasinda, however, mindful of his vow to her to embark in any adventure she might choose for him, sent a letter to King Lisuarte stating that she held herself fairer than any lady at his Court, and that did any knight deny this he must do battle with her champion, the Greek Knight. The Roman ambassadors requested of Lisuarte that they might be permitted to take up the challenge, and to this he acceded.
The combat duly took place between Amadis and the knights of Rome, to the entire discomfiture of the latter. But the day came on which Lisuarte had promised the Emperor to send Oriana to him, and although she swooned at the thought of being taken to Rome, her stubborn father had her carried on board ship, said farewell to her, not unkindly, and watched the Roman galley as it bore his daughter from the white shores of Britain.
Amadis, hearing of the King's intention, went on board his own ship, and lay in wait for the Roman vessel which was carrying off his adored lady. Attacking the Italian craft with impetuosity, he quickly overcame those on board, rescued Oriana, and at once set sail with her for the golden shores of the Firm Island.
After a voyage of seven days the vessel of Amadis anchored in the haven of the Firm Island. The lady Grasinda had by this time arrived there, and now came out to welcome Oriana, whom of all ladies in the world she most desired to see, because of her great renown, which was everywhere spread abroad. And when she beheld Oriana "she could not believe that such beauty was possible in any mortal creature."
Oriana and the other ladies were lodged in a tower of the palace wrought by the magic skill of Apolidon, and by her request no knight was permitted to enter this tower till some terms might be made with the King, her father. Amadis was well aware that the defiance he had thrown in the teeth of Lisuarte and the Emperor of Rome by his abduction of Oriana must lead to serious consequences, so he dispatched messengers to his many friends throughout the world asking that they would send succour to him in his necessity.
The enmity which had arisen betwixt his two ancient enemies, Amadis and King Lisuarte, presented an opportunity to the wily enchanter Archelaus which he had no intention of letting slip. He therefore approached several other spirits of discord and proposed to them that if strife commenced between Amadis and the British King they with their forces should conceal themselves in the neighbourhood of the engagement, and when one side or the other had achieved victory, they should fall upon the remnants of both armies and overwhelm them in a common ruin. This dastardly plan commended itself to the malcontent lords and petty kings to whom the wizard proposed it, and they resolved to carry it into effect.
War with Lisuarte
Meanwhile Amadis had dispatched an embassy to the Court of Lisuarte, requesting the hand of Oriana, but the stubborn old monarch gave a stern refusal and sent him his defiance. El Patin, Emperor of Rome, had by this time arrived in Britain, and was busy concerting measures against Amadis. Soon a mighty host was gathered together, and marched to seek the army of Amadis, who, taking time by the forelock, had invaded Britain, and now advanced to meet the forces of Lisuarte and the Emperor.
The friends of Amadis had not failed him. In the first place his father, King Perion, was behind him with the whole force of Gaul. Ireland had sent a large contingent, and his old friends, the King of Bohemia and the Emperor of Constantinople, had furnished him with well-equipped legions, all of which were under the skilled leadership of King Perion. Moreover, the army
was accompanied by Oriana, Grasinda, and the other dames and princesses who had come to the Firm Island, and their presence heartened the champions to deeds of high emprise. Meanwhile Archelaus the enchanter and his allies dogged the progress of Lisuarte's forces in the hope of taking them at a disadvantage.
Presently the armies came within sight of one another. Their meeting-place was a great plain, and for miles nothing was to be seen but the blaze of armour and gay surcoats, the waving of plumes and banners, and all the proud circumstance of chivalry. For two days the armies lay in sight of one another. Then they advanced to the charge with such a tumult of drums and cymbals, trumpets and clarions that it could be heard many a league away. They met with a crash like thunder, and the noise which arose from the clash of swords upon armour was like that of a thousand hammers upon as many anvils.
Amadis led the van. Challenged by Gasquilan, the haughty King of Sweden, he charged him, and dashed him from the saddle with such force that he lay as dead. But in the encounter Amadis fell from his horse. Quadragante, who was close to him, unhorsed a Roman knight and gave his destrier to the steedless hero, who, followed by Gandalin and other paladins, attacked the flank of the Romans with great fierceness. Meanwhile Quadragante did fearful execution on their front, few of the enemy being able to withstand his giant might for long.
The Roman army now showed signs of falling into confusion, but at that moment the Emperor came up with a reinforcement of five thousand men. He headed the charge in person, crying, " Rome! Rome!" and brandishing a great sword in his hand. Encountering [paragraph continues]
Quadragante, he received such a buffet from the giant knight as made him give back and seek shelter among his own men.
Now Amadis, surrounded by his bravest paladins, performed deeds of valour which were a wonder in the eyes of both friends and enemies. The Romans began to give ground before the terrific blows he dealt on all sides, and at last broke and fled. So greatly had his forces suffered, however, that he refrained from pursuing his beaten enemies, and as yet the army of Lisuarte had taken no part in the fighting, so that he thought it better to spare his own men, who must meet Lisuarte's force anon.
On the following day King Lisuarte marshalled his army, and now King Perion came up with his forces, which had been held in reserve. The battle had not been long in progress, however, when Amadis encountered the Roman Emperor, and with such a blow as even he had seldom delivered ended his career. When the Romans and Britons saw that their leader was slain they began to give way, and Lisuarte, observing this, sought to withdraw his men in good order. Seeing that he retreated, and fearing for Lisuarte's personal safety, Amadis took advantage of the darkness which was now falling to withdraw his troops rather than pursue, so that the King was able to effect an orderly retiral.
When the holy hermit Nasciano heard of the great discord between the kings he resolved to make an endeavour to prevent further slaughter, and although he was old and infirm he succeeded in making his way to the camp of King Lisuarte. He did not arrive, however, until the two battles which have just been described had been fought. Making himself known to the King, he
revealed to him that Oriana had promised marriage to Amadis and that Esplandian was their son. On hearing this the King was greatly troubled, and blamed the lovers for their secrecy, remarking, with justice, that many valuable lives would have been spared had they seen fit to trust him. He requested the hermit to approach Amadis with a view to the conclusion of peace between them, and this the good man was only too pleased to do. Accompanied by Esplandian, he betook himself to the camp of Amadis, where he was courteously received. The hermit first revealed Esplandian's identity to the boy's father, and Amadis cordially embraced his son. But he did not forget his pacific mission. Before he left Amadis he had smoothed over all the differences between him and the proud old King Lisuarte, and it was arranged that their ambassadors should meet, with the object of cementing a generous and lasting peace.
The Treachery of Archelaus
Meanwhile the vindictive enchanter Archelaus, with his malcontent associates, had been anxiously watching the trend of affairs, and when their spies informed them that hostilities were at an end between Lisuarte and Amadis they resolved to attack the old King's forces without delay. But the sight of their army on the march was witnessed by Esplandian as he was returning to Lisuarte's headquarters, and he hastily retraced his steps to the camp of Amadis to warn him that treachery was on foot. On learning his tidings Amadis and King Perion at once set out to rescue Lisuarte's exhausted forces from the danger which menaced them. But before Amadis and his knights could come up with
the army of Archelaus, Lisuarte and his remaining squadrons had been attacked by the troops of the wizard and his allies, who had inflicted upon them a crushing defeat. The aged monarch was compelled to escape as best he could from the stricken field, and, seeking refuge in a neighbouring town, prepared for a last desperate defence against his implacable enemies. The place was fiercely attacked by Archelaus, and as fiercely defended by Lisuarte and such knights as remained to him. But as the sorcerer was on the point of taking the town by storm Amadis and his paladins appeared, and routed him after a sanguinary struggle. Archelaus and his associates were bound in chains, and were rather foolishly released upon giving security for their future good behaviour.
The meeting of Lisuarte and Amadis was cordial in the extreme, and it was apparent that their old friendship would speedily be renewed. Lisuarte summoned his barons and nobles together, and when they had all assembled publicly announced the espousal of Amadis and Oriana.
Now the whole company, including Lisuarte, Perion, and their queens, Florestan, Galaor, Agrayes, and many others, journeyed to the Firm Island, where it was unanimously considered that the nuptials of Amadis and Oriana might most appropriately take place. On their arrival at that enchanted spot princely preparations were made to mark the event in a manner befitting such an occasion, for not only were Amadis and Oriana at last to be united, but numbers of their friends were to take upon them the vows of marriage at the same time. In the midst of the preparations the beneficent sorceress Urganda made her appearance, riding
upon a great dragon, and was affectionately welcomed by those over whose fortunes she had so diligently presided.
The Wedding of Amadis and Oriana
When all was ready and the day of the wedding had at last arrived, a brilliant assembly mounted their palfreys and proceeded to the church, where the hermit Nasciano 11 celebrated Mass. When the ceremony had duly been performed, Amadis asked of Lisuarte that ere the revels began Oriana might be permitted to make test of the adventure of the Arch of True Lovers, as the enchantment still held good so far as ladies were concerned. To this the King gave his consent. As Oriana approached the image raised its trumpet and blew such a strain of sweetness as had never yet been heard in the island, and from the mouth of the trumpet fell flowers and roses in such abundance that they covered the ground. Without any hesitation Oriana passed on to the adventure of the Forbidden Chamber. As she passed between the pillars she felt hands invisible violently pushing her backward, and three times did they thrust her past the pillars. But by reason of her surpassing faithfulness and beauty she won, despite opposition, to the enchanted portal, where the hand which had admitted Amadis was thrust out, and she entered the chamber, while the voices of viewless singers softly chanted the praises of her beauty and constancy. Now all the assembled company who had beheld this last marvel entered the chamber, and the marriage feast
was spread therein. The long endurance of Amadis and Oriana was over, and at length united to each other and to their son Esplandian they looked forward to an existence of such happiness as is only vouchsafed to mortals in the unclouded pages of old romance.
So ends this brave old tale, in which we read of manners and modes of thought so widely removed from those of our own time as almost to appear like those of the people of another planet. The conduct of knight and damsel is, perhaps, a little strained. No matter how absurd a promise or fantastic the circumstances in which it was extracted, it is still regarded as binding, and if we admire the romantic nature of such a code we are tempted to smile at the seriousness with which bearded knights and all-powerful monarchs give way before the quibble of magicians whose lures and devices would be laughed at by a modern schoolboy. Nevertheless, in perusing the story we experience a strong conviction of its author's purity of soul and integrity of purpose.
From the reader who has followed me through the mazes of this enchanting romance I must ask pardon for having omitted in my rendering of it many passages of rare beauty and touching humanity. My business in this volume, however, is to present the thread of the story, to describe its main incidents, and, keeping as closely as possible to the adventures and doings of its principal characters, to supply an outline of the whole. I might readily have enhanced the brilliancy and readableness of my account if I had chosen to narrate isolated adventures and the incidents of more surpassing excellence with which it teems. But my purpose, as I have said, is to provide readers who have little time to
peruse an original text with the story in brief. At the same time I have attempted to conserve the true spirit of the romance, and if I have failed to do so that must in some measure be attributed to the difficult task of compression with which I was confronted. In the words of one who 'set' Amadis to verse, I may say, with justice:
To tell as meet the costly feast's array,
94:1 See the work of Rivadeneyra, Biblioteca de Autores españoles, vol. xl (1846-48), where the romance is prefaced in a brilliant and scholarly manner by Gayangos. Its origins are ably discussed by Eugene Baret, Études sur la Relacion Espagnole d l Amadis de Gaule (1853); T. Braga, Historia dos Novellas Portuguezas de Cavalleria (1873); and L. Braunfels, Kritischer Versuch über den Rom an Amadis von Gallien (1876).
98:2 Anstruther, in Fife? The Spaniards would know the place througb their intercourse with the Flemings, who traded considerably with it. A Spanish vessel put into Anstruther during the flight of the Armada round the coasts of Scotland.
100:3 I think I can see in this giant Albadan the giant Albiona, one of the two monsters, sons of Neptune, who, according to Pomponius Mela, attacked Hercules in Liguria. The name Albion was once given to the whole of Britain, and later, as Alba and Albany, to Scotland, whose people were known as Albannach. This is said to mean 'the White,' in
allusion to the cliffs of Dover! It is much more probable that it signified 'the place or region of the god Alba,' 'the country of the white god.' All the Scottish gods were giants, like the Fomorians of Ireland.
102:4 Strange that a sword and a ring should so often be the test of identity in such tales! So it was, as regards the first of these tokens at least, with Theseus, Arthur, and many another hero. On this head see Hartland, The Legend of Perseus (1894-96).
103:5 Urganda, as Southey remarks, is a true fairy, resembling Morgan le Fay in her attributes, but, as Scott says, she has no connexion with the more classic nymphidae. But is not this dea phantastica identical with Morgan, and her name merely a Hispanic rendering of the Celtic fairy's?
117:6 Scott girds fiercely against Southey's interpolation of Anthony Munday's translation of these verses in his Amadis, and with justice. The above translation is only slightly more tolerable, but it is at least sense. Poor Tony was bitten by the absurdities of euphuism, and his lines are mere nonsense. But there is even less excuse for a modern translation to backslide into the style of the eighteenth century.
118:7 She had previously visited Scotland and embarked there "for Great Britain," and while on this voyage was driven on the Poor Rock, which would seem to have been 'somewhere' in the Mediterranean! Strange that geography should have been so shaky at such a period and among a people who had done so much for discovery and navigation.
121:8 'Cildadan' I take to be Cuchullin (pron. Coohoolin, or Coolin), the hero of the well-known Irish epic.
122:9 It was Munday's translation of these verses from the French which chiefly aroused the scorn of Scott, and it is in dread of the memory of that scorn that I offer these lines, which partake much more of the nature of an adaptation than a translation, the original Spanish being much too stiff and artificial for rendition in English.
125:10 I take this incident to be a reminiscence of the Minotaur story. Indeed the Firm Island appears to me, both from its geographical proximities and its whole phenomena, as a borrowing of Cretan or Minoan story. The "old covered way" from which the bull emerges is surely the Labyrinth. Is the wise old ape Daedalus?
136:11 It is scarcely necessary to indicate to the reader that the name Nasciano is borrowed from that of Nasciens, the hermit king of Grail romance.
138:13 William Stewart Rose, Amadis de Gaul: A Poem in Three Books (London, 1803).