It will be seen that in his wonderful kingdom Perceval had entirely neglected Blanchefleur, who is no longer even mentioned: he went into his own, and his own seem to have received him with no interrogation of the past. Had his sins been scarlet, the fulfilment of the vengeance mission and the consequent healing of the King would have made them white as snow, so far as we can follow Manessier; and yet in some obscure manner the poet knew that the things which
he dealt in were sealed with holiness and that the office of the Warden, if it did not begin with priesthood, and all its sanctity, must end therein. The sense of poetical justice might have suggested another conclusion, and so did, but this was not to the mind of Manessier. There is, as we are aware, a long and long sequel by another writer which interpenetrates the last lines of Gautier, and it is a romance truly which is full of entrancements and hints of spiritual meaning. It has been summarised very fully indeed by the one editor of the Conte del Graal, but it has never been printed in full, as it demands and deserves. I do not know what Gerbert thought of the chessboard episode and that which followed thereafter as the term of the whole adventure. He seems to have isolated it from his mind and thus contrived to ignore it. Certainly a subsequent action, or a denial, as I should say rather, which he attributes to his hero, seems to assume tacitly the previous continence of his life. Putting aside this question of an implicit, there are three express preoccupations to which the poem confesses: (a) that the desertion of Perceval's mother was an offence which called for expiation; (b) that the neglect of his sister must be overglossed by proper care in the future; and (c) that the rest of his life must atone for all his previous deficiences in respect of Blanchefleur, who--as I do not doubt that he determined in his secret mind--must be united through him with the Graal. Of such was his programme, and after what manner he fulfilled it can be told shortly. Perceval had reason to say in his heart: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa--for three offences and of these one was the greatest. I have indicated that in the midst of the editor's confusion, or at least as the allocation is found in the printed text, it is difficult to understand whether it is assumed by Gerbert that the Broken Sword had been resoldered partially before he begins his narrative, but even in this case it was clear to Gautier. that the task of his
hero was unfinished. That which he intended to do with him subsequently, there is, of course, no means of knowing; what he ought to have done, Gerbert has designed to illustrate. Perceval was to be treated, in the first instance, precisely as we shall find that Gautier presents the treatment of Gawain over his particular failure--he was not to know the truth concerning the Graal--the mystery, that is to say, of all secrecy. A state more approaching perfection was to deserve so high a prize. The King, who pronounced the judgment, consoled him, and him counselled, after which the knight was left to his repose in the holy and glorious Castle. The night of sleep was a night also which was intended to recall him to the sense of his first duty. The clear strokes of a clock, proclaiming the hour of midnight, awoke him; he saw a great light and he heard sweet singing, after which came the voice of one who was unseen, warning him concerning his sister, who was encompassed by great danger in the manorial house of their mother. He passed again into deep wells of slumber, and again--but now in the morning--he awoke, as others had awakened previously, to find himself lying on greensward, since the Castle had passed for the time being beyond the witness of the senses. He mounted his horse, which stood caparisoned and ready; he went forward, and soon--as it might seem, suddenly--a wonder of great wonders awaited him. It took the form of crystal walls, within which he heard all manner of instruments making a joyful music. The door in the hither wall being fastened, he smote it three times with increasing vehemence, using his sword for the purpose. It should be noted that this weapon neither was nor could have been the Graal Hallow, but on the third occasion it broke with a great clatter. Thereupon the door moved back, and one who was in white shining appeared and challenged. For Perceval it was a rebuff in more senses than he could understand at the moment,
and though he entreated earnestly, not only was he denied entrance, but he was told by one who knew all his failure and success at the Graal Castle, that this his business with the sword must cost him another seven years of quest and exile. Apparently for the King's sake and the relief of him, he had striven in the first place, though the measure of his intention was small; now it was his own purification that was the chief work in hand. So he knocked and he did not enter, even as in the youth and inexperience of his brave spirit he saw the Pageant and the Hallows, but asked nothing concerning them. On both occasions, it was accounted to him as if he had sinned with knowledge. The truth is that the counsels of prudence do not obtain in the presence of the Mysteries, nor do the high conventions of good conduct, at least utterly. This was in the earlier case, and in the present one, while it is true that the Kingdom of Heaven is taken by violence, no one can enter unwarranted into the secret sanctuaries that have been instituted on earth to guard the memorials of the Kingdom which as yet is not upon earth, though with harp and viol and lute, and with all manner of music and psaltery, we pray that it may come quickly.
What, it will be asked, was this enclosure--within walls as the luminous shadow of the Jerusalem which is above? What manner of castle was this which resounded with the hallowings and enchantments of melody? Was it not, indeed, the Graal Castle, to which he had returned unwittingly by a devious way? According to the answer which the text furnishes, it was the Earthly Paradise, but another text tells us that among the added names of the Graal Shrine there was to be included the Castle of Eden, that it was the Castle of Joy also--as of music for ever sounding--and that behind it there was the Earthly Paradise, one of the rivers of which encircled the sacred enclosure. Therefore I leave those who will to draw the conclusion which pleases them, knowing, as at least I do,
that places of this unquestionable order may be now on the crown of a causeway which the sea lashes, and again
[paragraph continues] Perceval retired discounselled, but had he been advanced further in the knowledge of secret things, he would have recognised perhaps that there was encouragement and high hope which he could put to his heart because he had not been met by swords of fire, keeping the way of the Tree of Life, but by one in his own likeness, exalted gloriously, who had said to him: Not yet! Moreover, at the end of the terse interlocutory discourse, he was given what is termed in the poem a Brief, Charter or Warranty, which--so long as he bore it--would ensure that through all his subsequent exile he should suffer no grievous harm, for thereby was he rendered invincible. We see in this manner that all kinds of miracle in medicine and every form of palladium were available there and here for knights of quest and pilgrimage; that they seemed to be reflections or radiations from the central star of the Holy Graal; and hence that when he who was served thereby and maintained thereof could find not even a palliative in its vision and mystery, the explanation can only be that his sickness was not of this world.
Thus equipped, Perceval resumed his pilgrimage, much as the novice in some temple of the Instituted Mysteries circumambulates the Hall of Reception under the guidance of its Wardens, having only a vague notion of what is the intention and the term, but still progressing thereto. Again the road was strewn with wonders before him, but to his exaltation on this occasion. The world itself had assumed an aspect of May-time on a morning of Fairyland, and hold and keep and city poured out their garlanded trains, as with bells and banners and thuribles, to honour and acclaim him. Of the reason no one knew less than Perceval, or divined as little, but he had asked the question at the Castle, and although it had not been answered, although he had learned nothing of Graal and
[paragraph continues] Lance, and was therefore less instructed than Gawain, the interdict had been lifted from Nature, the winter was over and done, and all the cushats and turtles in all green places of the land--and all the ballad voices--broke into joy and melody, as if the Rite of Marriage had been celebrated between Heaven and Earth. He was clothed at castles in rich vestments, and from high-born maiden to simple peasant all hearts were his and all welcome.
It must be said at this point that we know little, and so little, of Gerbert that it may be reasonably a matter for speculation whether the place at which his sequel is introduced by the scribes of certain codices corresponds or not to his intention. There are some respects in which it could be allocated better if it were possible to suppose that it was part only of a Graal poem which was meant to follow immediately from the section of Chrétien; a very pertinent case in favour of this view is the palmary fact that Gerbert seems to assume almost certainly the virginity of Perceval up to, and, as we shall see, after his marriage night, which supposition is doubly impossible in view of the Gautier section. It must further be noted that in one remarkable reference to Crestiens de Troie, he speaks of himself as the poet who resumed the task, following the true history:--
[paragraph continues] I feel that in making this suggestion I am exceeding my proper province, which is not that of textual criticism, and I recognise that it has its difficulties, assuming, as it does, that the Gerbert sequel must have existed in a much more extended form, because at the opening Perceval is at the Graal Castle for a second time, which is either pursuant to the account of Gautier or to some unknown portion of his own narrative. If, however, he followed Gautier, then he chose to forget or ignore him at several crucial moments. Sometimes he seems to forget Chrétien himself, for except on this hypothesis it is difficult to
understand his introduction of another Broken Sword, being that which was shattered on the door of the Earthly Paradise. Now we have, in all respects, to remember that the putative Hallow which causes this confusion is in the position that we should expect it to occupy, seeing that it has no true place in the Legend of the Holy Graal. Not only does its history differ in every quest, but within the limits of the Conte del Graal it is contradictory under circumstances which exclude one another. At the poem's very inception the weapon is adjudged to Perceval and he carries it away. In certain codices the only further reference made to the Hallow by Chrétien is found iii the warning which the questing knight receives from his cousin-german immediately after his departure from the Castle; in others we hear how the Sword splinters in the hands of Perceval, and thereafter how it is restored to the Castle. It is there, in any case, not only on the hero's revisit but long previously--in connection with the arrival of Gawain. Manessier tells a story concerning it from which it follows that in breaking it occasioned the wounding of the King at a period which was antecedent to all the quests. Therefore it could not have been at any time offered to Perceval, but must have remained in the Castle, with its resoldering always as the test of success in the case of each questing knight. Now, either Chrétien had conceived a different history of the Hallow or he told the wrong story, for the cousin-german of Perceval testifies in his poem that the Rich King Fisher was wounded in the thigh with a spear. When Gerbert intervened he left Chrétien's intention dubious, and substituted another sword, which was not a Hallow, though, like that of his predecessor, it was one that had been forged specially--would break in one peril only and must be re-soldered where it was made. After the triumph of his welcome, as related already, Perceval came to a castle in which the smithy was set up under the guard of serpents, for there were reasons why the craftsman who forged the weapon did not wish it to be mended,
and the duty of the serpents was to destroy any one who brought the pieces to the smithy. These reasons are not explained by Gerbert, but--as we have seen--in certain codices of Chrétien the life of the smith is somehow dependent on the sword, and its reforging foreshadows his death approaching. If we can suppose that Gerbert's continuation began at a much earlier point than is now established, some explanation might be possible, though his own evidence seems to be against this view. Perceval conquered the serpents, and the weapon was therefore re-forged. It does not appear to serve him in any special event subsequently, and as thus nothing follows from the episode we must conclude that its introduction is idle, that in this respect Gerbert did not know what to do with the materials which had come into his hands; and this is perhaps the conclusion that we should desire in respect of the Sword.
The next episode in Gerbert is a kind of addendum to that of Mount Dolorous in Manessier, and to this again no consequence attaches, except that it is an accident by which the hero is brought to Caerleon and to the court of King Arthur, when the poet gives us a new and revolutionary explanation concerning the Siege Perilous of Arthurian romance. The Siege is a decorative chair of jewelled gold sent from Fairyland--possibly that of Avalon--for occupation by the best knight in the world, and by him only with safety. For others who sit therein, the earth opens and swallows them. This chair is taken by Perceval, as at a great Rite of Exaltation, and the earth does open; but the Siege remains suspended in middle air, and the result of this achievement is that the previous ill-starred heroes, who have been engulphed but not destroyed, are restored to light and air. Perceval's next adventure is intended to illustrate his continence when tempted by a demon in the guise of a very fair woman. He emerged unsullied, and reached the abode of his sister, to her unspeakable joy and comfort. They visited the
tomb of their mother, and then set forth together. Some time after they arrived at the Castle of Maidens, where Perceval in fine left her in hands of safety. Here `there was another office of healing, which is of medicine rather than of anodyne; but though all the ways of wonder lead to and from the Castle of the Holy Graal, the King of that Castle knew too well, the fatality by which he was encompassed to seek, for he would have sought vainly, his relief thereat. Within the merciful precincts of her new asylum Perceval's sister was enrolled henceforth as a ministering spirit, and thereat the questing knight learned something more concerning the antecedents of his Quest and also of his own family. The Castle of Maidens received wanderers, but sheltered in its ordinary course women only, and a reverend dame--under whose rule the whole company abode--declared herself a kinswoman of Perceval, being his mother's cousin. The name of his mother was Philosofine, and they two had entered Logres together, carrying the Sacred Hallow; but this event of the past was evidently a part of the historical mystery, and was not to be declared even to the knight of Quest until he had proved himself. He knew now that even from his very beginning he was a scion of the Sacred House, and he might have rested content in his heart that the house would at length receive him. He knew also that it was the sinful state of the land which had caused the Holy Graal to be placed in a concealed sanctuary under the ward of the good King Fisher.
Meanwhile the closing had been taken in the degree of his duty towards his sister, and, in the next place he was called to a subsidiary work in the region of filial duty. With whatever offence he could be charged in respect of his mother, she was past the reach of his atonement; but his father in chivalry, now in the distress of sorcery--as at the hands of the sorceresses of Gloucester in the Welsh romance--demanded his vengeance. This incident is one of many which would
make the investigation of Gerbert's materials a quest of high enchantment if only the road were open. Of the duty which was thus imposed and accepted in all the honour of his knighthood, Perceval acquitted himself with credit, his brief from the Earthly Paradise coming to his aid, and the providence attached thereto; though--differing from the putative archaic romance--the event did not lead to the utter destruction of the people of the witch-craft, but of their military hirelings only. The episode, however, has a second object, more important to Perceval than itself, which is to aid in recalling a relationship between Blanchefleur and his father in Chivalry--as the same is recorded by Chrétien--and so forward to the root-matter of the poem, which is the marriage of Perceval. As regards this marriage there are two noticeable points, outside the fact that the union itself was the head and crown of exile ordeal. There is (a) the ideal set before the poet, which was to preserve the virginity of Perceval till he had accomplished the Quest of the Graal; and (b) the promise that at some time subsequently--when that was removed which hindered the consummation of the marriage in chastity--there should arise, as issue from those high nuptials, the mystic genealogy of the Swan Knight, whereby the Holy Sepulchre would be delivered. It is for this reason that--by a covenant which was made between them--Blanchefleur remained a maid on the night of her bridal. Of such was the marriage of Perceval, and thereafter he who was lord henceforth of all her lands, holding the sworn fealty of many princes and barons, went forth again into the world to prosecute the Great Quest. Of the virgin bride we hear nothing further, but there can be no doubt that if he had finished with her, as he seems to have planned, Gerbert would have recounted, and did perhaps, the re-union of Blanchefleur and Perceval.
I do not conceive that there is any object in prolonging this summary of a narrative which is protracted
in various ways, but has reached its proper term. Some of its later, and, as one would say, redundant episodes occur or recur in the Longer Prose Perceval, but we have no criterion of judgment by which to decide whether one drew from another or both from that common source to which they appeal both. At the end of his probation Perceval is again at the Graal Castle, ostensibly for the third time, and the last lines of Gerbert repeat, as they stand in my text, those which are last of Gautier. I have stated my opinion already, under the necessary reserves, that Gerbert carried his sequel further and produced a conclusion which did not impose upon Perceval--under the genius of Manessier--two other pilgrimages outwards, but, as in the Parsifal of Wolfram, reconciled his own institution in the Graal Castle with the healing and concurrent prolongation of the old king's life. As regards the sources of the Conte del Graal in what is termed early historical matter, it is only at a late period that we reach accounts which are not interpolated obviously, and then they connect with the Book of the Holy Graal and not with the simpler history of De Bolton. This is true of Manessier and true in part of Gerbert, but on the understanding that the story of Perceval's mother--in the latter case--does not represent any other extant narrative, more especially in respect of the circumstances under which the Fisher King became the guardian of the Graal. On the other hand, Gautier gives a few indications which are of the matter of the putative Walter Map.