The Hallows of the Graal legend are the beginning of its wonders and of its meanings only; but, as I have intimated already, the greater includes the lesser, and that which is of all the highest has assumed from the beginning in its symbolism the things by which it is surrounded. As it is in the light of man's higher part that we are able to interpret the lower, as the body is explained by the soul, so even the Castle of the Graal and the great Temple, with all their allusions and all their sacred things, are resolved into the mystery of the Cup, because there is a cloud of witnesses but one true voice which is the spokesman of all. There is obviously no need in this place--as we are concerned with the greater subjects--to lay stress upon the subsidiary Hallows as if they were an integral portion of the Holy Graal regarded symbolically. They are of the accidents only, and as such they are not vital. The Lance is important to the legends, but not otherwise than from the legendary standpoint; the Sword is also important, but not in a sacramental sense; the Dish signifies nothing, or next to nothing. The explanation is that the French literature of the Holy Graal, in its form as now extant, has on the external side its roots in traditions and memorials connected with the Passion of Christ. The different cycles of the literature develop their account of these memorials with motives that vary, but they combine therewith certain sacred objects derived from other sources and not belonging logically to the scheme. They worked, for example, upon pre-existent materials which were not assimilated wholly into the matter of the romances, and
it is largely these portions for which, in any scheme of interpretation, we shall be scarcely able to account unless upon divergent lines.
Speaking generally of the Lesser Hallows, the following points are clear. The German cycle, as represented by Wolfram, derived its idea of the Lance from a source in folk-lore apart from the Graal legend as we know it in Northern French. The Northern French literature is clear as to those Hallows connecting with the Passion of Christ; these are the Cup, otherwise the Paschal Dish, and the Lance. It is dubious and variable about the Sword and Dish or Platter, for which there are no antecedents in the Passion. Several texts have carried over some of the Hallows without modification from folk-lore, even when great Christian relics were ready to their hands. For example, the sword used by Peter at Gethsemane did not occur to them, though it would have been more to their purpose, the reason being that there was no official tradition concerning it in the external life of the Church. The Dish is in the same position of unmodified folk-lore; the platter on which the head of St. John the Baptist was served to Herodias is a chance missed even by the Longer Prose Perceval, despite its allocation of the Sword to the instrument of the Precursor's martyrdom. Other subsidiary Hallows, mentioned therein, which are by way of after-thought, increase without exhausting the possible relics of the Passion--one of them tells of the Crown of Thorns; another of the cloth with which Christ was covered when He was laid on the sepulchre; and yet another of the sacred nails used at the Crucifixion. I do not remember that the scourge has occurred to any maker of texts. The Crown of Thorns was called the Golden Circle, having been set in precious metal and jewels by the Queen of the Castle where it was preserved. We have also the pincers wherewith the nails were drawn from the limbs of Christ when He was taken down from the Cross. Finally, the shield of Judas Maccabæus is met with in one romance, where it is won
in battle by Gawain. The Sword has been also referred. to the same prince in Israel.
I suppose that the legend of the face-cloth, which is part of the Veronica legend, is the earliest of the Passion relics, and among the evangelisation traditions, that of Lazarus and his companions coming to the South of France, carrying the face-cloth with them, has the palm of antiquity in the West. But this relic, though it occupies an important position in the early history of the Graal, is not included among the Hallows of the Graal Castle.
The metrical romance of De Borron has one Hallow only, and this is the first extant Graal history. The first extant Quest is that portion of the Conte del Graal which we owe to Chrétien; so far as his work is concerned there are four Hallows--the Vessel called Graal, the Lance, the Sword and the Dish. The Lance has been called his particular introduction. The Didot Perceval, which is thought to owe something to Chrétien, introduces the Lance without any explanation concerning it. The Chrétien sequels, the Longer Prose Perceval and the Galahad Quest, lay stress upon the Sacred Sword, which is usually broken, and the task of the elect hero is to re-solder the weapon. In all texts the Lance ranks next to the Cup in importance, and when the one is removed to heaven at the close of the Galahad Quest, it is accompanied by the other. The Longer Prose Perceval is a very late Quest, and it has Hallows innumerable. The Book of the Holy Graal, at least in its present form, is a very late history, and it introduces the Nails of the Passion; it gives also an invented and artificial allegory to account for the Sword.
It being obvious, as I have said, that the Sword and the Dish are but little to the purpose of the Graal, it will not be difficult to understand that those who took over these objects from antecedent legends were not of one mind concerning them, more especially in respect
of the Dish, which remains a superfluity in the pageant and a hindrance in the symbolism as it stands. The Sword in several instances is important especially, as I have said, to the plot of the story, but it has no reason in the symbolism.