The things which remain over from the last section for consideration at the term of this inquest are chiefly derivatives from the metrical romance of De Borron, including those further adventures and histories which he promised to provide if he could. It was not sufficient for the putative Walter Map that England was the spiritual patrimony guaranteed to the eldest son of the new Church of Christ and the first Bishop of Christendom, but that he might exalt it further he transferred thereto several palmary episodes which in the work of his precursor had been allocated to the regions on the hither side of Syria, or wherever he brought the company of Joseph to its first prolonged halt. The most important of these postponements is the doom which befell Moses; it is also told differently, and is connected with a collateral story concerning one who was fated to suffer a similar punishment, of which the Lesser Chronicles know nothing. This personage is Simeon, who is sometimes said to be the father of Moses, and he is first referred to when the company are crossing the channel on their way to Britain. Simeon and his son sink then into the water because they have broken their vows of purity, and they have to be saved by the others. Long after the arrival of the whole fellowship at the term of their voyaging we hear first of the Graal table, at which Joseph II. and Brons sit together with a wide space between them; but the explanation of the empty seat differs from that of De Borron, signifying the place occupied by Christ of the Last Supper. It can be so occupied only by one of greater sanctity than are those at the Second Table. It follows that for the purposes of this romance the consecration of Galahad was greater than that of the first Bishop of
[paragraph continues] Christendom, who held the warrant of his ordination from Christ Himself. When the information was made public, Simeon and Moses speculated as to its truth and reason. Being sinners, they regarded it as false, and Moses undertook to occupy the seat if permission could be obtained from Joseph II. The latter was told by those who were parties to the conspiracy that a man counted among the sinners was worthy to take his seat at the Graal. Joseph was much astonished, knowing under what circumstances he had crossed over to Britain, but his informants persisted, and though he could not believe in the goodness of Moses, he gave him leave to try. This was without reference to the voice of the Graal, which was consulted on the occasion according to Robert de Borron, and it illustrates my previous statement that in the later romance the Sacred Vessel does not pronounce oracles or act as a touchstone. Joseph, however, warned Moses himself, when the time came for the trial, not to make the attempt, unless he knew that he was worthy, as he would repent thereof, seeing that it was the place of the Son of God. Moses was struck with terror but still persisted, and, before he had sat long, seven burning hands came from Heaven, set him on fire like a dry bush, and carried him off through the air. Shame fell upon his sinful companions, who inquired whether he was lost or saved; they were told that they should see him again, and that then they would know his fate.
At a later period, when the company were approaching the forest of Darnantes, they were directed that they must enter therein, and were told that they should see Moses. In a valley they came presently upon a great house and, passing through open gates, they entered a great hall, wherein burned a great fire. Out of the fire came a voice, which begged Joseph to pray for the speaker, that his sufferings might be alleviated by the mercy of God. This was the voice of Moses. Joseph II., who was present, demanded whether he was saved or lost,
and the answer was that still he had hope of grace. He had been transported by devils, who meant certainly to plunge him in hell; but a hermit compelled them to release him, as in spite of his sin he had not deserved endless torment. The fire was destined to encompass him till he was delivered by that good knight who would end the adventures of the Graal. Alain, who was also present, asked more specifically who he was, and was told that it was his cousin Moses. Simeon also spoke to him, when he was advised, and Canaan--another of the evil fellowship--that they should seek to be better than they were, and to be cleansed from sin by the Bishop. Joseph II. and Alain prayed for Moses, that his suffering might be lessened. A beneficent rain then came down into the fire, softening its fervour by extinguishing half thereof, so that the poor sufferer was eased greatly. Simeon inquired how long such flames might endure, and was told by Moses that it would not be so long as he deserved, because he would be released by Galahad, who would not alone end the adventures of the Graal but all those of Britain.
In spite of the warning which came to them from a source that illustrated so bitterly the neglect of warnings, Simeon and Canaan not only remained without grace but made haste to complete with that which remained for them to do in the order of heinous offence. Joseph of Arimathæa and some part of the Christian cohort had now entered Scotland, where we have seen long ago that they were sustained by the Holy Graal. In this benefit of refection Simeon and Canaan were precluded by their condition from sharing, with the result that they had nothing to eat for two days and nights. Simeon claimed that he had done more for God than either Joseph or Petrus, and that he was suffering for their sins; on the other hand, Canaan declared that he was punished for the deficiencies of his own immediate kindred. Simeon covenanted to take vengeance on Petrus and Canaan on his brethren. The issue was that, grievously and almost incurably,
[paragraph continues] Petrus was wounded in the neck with a poisoned knife, and the twelve brothers of Canaan were despatched with a sword. The visitation of these crimes is varied strangely in respect of severity, and it illustrates, I think, some vague and undeclared sanctity in the mission of Petrus. If so, it is a reflection from Robert de Borron, though in the later story there is no brief from Heaven, or other warrant, as the evident seal of mission. In any case, he who only wounded Petrus was transported, like Moses, by spirits of fire, while he who was a twelve-fold fratricide was, by the comparative mercy of earthly judgment, only buried alive, with time to repent before death overtook him almost in the ordinary course. Long and long afterwards, when Galahad le Fort, who had become King of Wales, was riding through that country, he saw a great fire burning in a dry ditch. A voice came therefrom which proved to be that of Simeon, who was expiating in this manner his outrage on Petrus. At the same time--and again like Moses--he was not beyond redemption, and he entreated his auditor to found a place of religion, wherein monks could pray for his soul. Galahad le Fort promised to erect an abbey and to be buried himself therein. Simeon said further that his torment would cease when a pure and worthy knight should come and extinguish the flames. This would be he by whom the adventures of the Holy Graal should be brought at last to their term.
It is towards the close of the story that Petrus is first mentioned in the Book of the Holy Graal, and the reference is at that point which corresponds rather thinly to the institution of the Second Table. It is he who inquires why there is a vacant seat left thereat, and who is told that it is the place of Christ. After the assault of Simeon, the wound of Petrus was examined and a healing by herbs was attempted, but this did more harm than good. He was at length left in the charge of a single priest, while the company proceeded on their way; but, seeing that he expected to die, he asked to be carried to the seashore
and to be placed in a ship which was found lying thereby, with its sails set. The priest was not allowed to go further, and the vessel put out presently with its solitary occupant. He was taken to the Isle of Orkney, where ruled the pagan King Orcaut, whose daughter witnessed his arrival. She went on board the ship and so contrived that Petrus was healed in the end by a Christian prisoner who was in the hands of her father. As the issue of the whole adventure the heathen King was converted; Petrus married the daughter; he lived a long and worthy life as the successor of Orcaut; and he had a valiant knight for his own heir. He died in fulness of years and was buried at Orkney, in the church dedicated to St. Philip.
It will be seen that if the author of the Book of the Holy Graal designed in this account to supply the missing branch of Robert de Borron concerning Petrus, he again--and quite manifestly--told the wrong story, for setting aside all question of the written warrant, the true destination of Petrus was not Orkney but Avalon, and there is no correspondence otherwise.
In nearly all those incidents which, from other points of view, are similar to some of Robert de Borron, the part assigned by the poem to Joseph of Arimathæa is transferred to the son in that prose romance which is its wresting rather than its extension. A notable instance is the demand for advice by Brons concerning his twelve boys. It is late in the story and long after the arrival of the pilgrims in Britain that the question arises which appears pregnant with consequence in the metrical romance. Brons has been himself so insignificant throughout that his name appears scarcely, though he is entitled to sit with Joseph II., each on one side of the vacant seat at the Second Table. As in the earlier text, eleven of the sons expressed a desire to marry, while the twelfth elected to lead a life of virginity. Joseph II. manifested great joy at the choice thus made and foreshadowed the reward which was to follow. It is indicated further by the fact that the son, and not Brons, was directed to fish in the
lake and obtain that slender catch which gave him thenceforward the title of the Rich Fisher. In this case, however, it was used by a miracle to feed those whose desert did not allow them to share in the graces and favours of the Holy Table. When Joseph II. was dying there stood Alain by his bedside, and, being asked why he was weeping, he answered that it was because he was to be left like a sheep that has lost its shepherd. He was then told that he should be the shepherd after Joseph, having the lordship of the Sacred Vessel, with power to deliver subsequently to another inheritor full of grace and goodness, on condition only that the Hallow remained in the land.
We come in this manner to speak of the successions and genealogies, and in the first place concerning the Keepers of the Graal. Alain, by a curious disposition, died on the same day as Alphasan, the builder of Corbenic, and they were both buried in the church of that city dedicated to Our Lady. The text at this point is a little vague in expression and has been interpreted wrongly, but the succeeding warden was evidently Joshua--that brother of Alain who was most loved by him. He was succeeded in due course by his son Eminadap, who married the daughter of a King of Great Britain and had Carceloys as issue. He in turn begot Manuiel, and from him sprang Lambor, whose death and that which followed I have mentioned previously. This was the first Maimed King of the Graal, and on him followed immediately one who was the Maimed King par excellence of suffering and miracle of final healing--that is to say, Pellehan. But the Book of the Holy Graal says that his wounding was in the battle of Rome, and it knows nothing therefore of the Dolorous Stroke inflicted by Balyn. Seeing, however, that both texts testify that Galahad will heal, and he only, I think it must be inferred that the two accounts refer to the same person, who must be distinguished from King Pelles, though there is an inclination in some criticism to conclude otherwise, and I have shared it tentatively. The genealogy is quite clear that King Pelles was son of
[paragraph continues] Pellehan, and there is not any real difficulty about the son succeeding in the life of the father, as this occurs in the case of Joseph II. and is the rule rather than the exception in the counter-succession of the Perceval Quests. It follows from the Book of the Holy Graal that four of the Kings whom I have enumerated were termed Rich Fishers in succession and that all of them reigned in Terre Forayne, which the Vulgate Merlin terms--or for which it substitutes--Lytenoys.
The other genealogies are useful only in so far as they show the descent of the persons-in-chief who appear in the Greater Chronicles. The most important is that of Nasciens, which leads up through many names--but they are names only--to King Ban of Benoic, the father of Lancelot, and hence to Lancelot himself, as well as Galahad. The haut prince was therefore descended on the male side from the royal line of Sarras, over which he reigned himself after the Quest was finished; on the female side he was descended from Joseph of Arimathæa, through Galahad le Fort, as the Romance of Lancelot shows. Sir Gawain is also represented as coming from this root, which was that of King David, but his descent was through Petrus, the genealogy of whom is clouded rather deeply in the text, as it is indeed in the romance of De Borron.
At the conclusion of the Book of the Holy Graal the story professes to turn to the life of Merlin. Two of its codices contain a long interspersed digression concerning the two countries belonging to Mordrains and Nasciens after they had departed therefrom. Their power and influence were much increased under Grimaud, the son of Mordrains. When Sarras was destroyed, with the exception of the Spiritual Palace, it was rebuilt more splendidly than ever. These things do not concern us, for in dealing with the great prolix romance I think that my summary has been confined, in accordance with my design, to those matters which belong to the Mystery of the Graal as it is manifested in the Greater Chronicles, and where it has been possible to the Eucharistic side of
that Mystery as the most holy motive of all my long research. On this subject there is one thing further to say. The doctrine of transubstantiation, as it is presented in the Book of the Holy Graal, and its continual transition into the notion of physical sustenance, are things which scandalise rather than discounsel the soul; but as we saw in the poem of De Borron that Eucharist and Reliquary were alike understood spiritually, so here it will be found in the last sifting that the spiritual side also emerges and becomes at times prominent. When Joseph II., in obedience to the heavenly voice, departed from Sarras and its King, that he might preach the new faith to the Gentiles, it came about in the course of the journey that provisions were wanting. In this extremity he knelt before the Ark, wherein. was the Holy Vessel, and implored the help of God. Following the directions which he received, cloths were laid on the greensward, and the people took their places. The elder Joseph, pursuing his care of the physical bodies, ordained that his son should take the Graal in his hands and follow him round the cloths while he circumambulated three times, when--this being accomplished--all who were pure of heart would be filled with the rare sweetness of the world. This office took place at the hour of prime; the father and son sat down with a vacant place between them--as if something were lacking which at a fitting time subsequently would make perfect all holy ministry; the Vessel was covered with paten and corporal; and the result was that those who were privileged to take part were filled with Divine Grace, "so that they could neither conceive nor desire anything beyond it." That was a refection in which material nourishment shared not at all, and though the episode does not occur in all the codices, there is something that corresponds to its equivalent. An instance in point is found in Mordrains, the King, who, after he has attained all earthly knowledge, and has received as the price of attainment the orbicular wound of Plato, is maintained through the centuries by the
[paragraph continues] Eucharist, as Amfortas in the German cycle and the alter ego of both in the Conte del Graal. There are otherwise indications, and they obtain through the Greater Chronicles, that the proximity of the Holy Graal transformed the earthly festival into an experience in extasis and the good things here below become the bona Domini in terra viventium.