The quest undertaken in our work of high research is long enough, and it is also toilsome enough, to spare us from the consideration in full of any extraneous issues, though these are yet of our kinship; but I am speaking of a great literature to those who are unversed therein, albeit they are not otherwise unacquainted with the mysterious
ways in which God declares Himself. I am called upon therefore to say something of all the branches, but must touch lightly where we are not concerned deeply. The Dutch Lancelot is a compilation which is known only by a single text, and this is incomplete, unfortunately, the first part out of four original parts being now wanting. The authorship is unknown and so is the date of composition; but, by those who are competent to speak, the extant manuscript has been assigned to the early part of the fourteenth century. Were it otherwise, it might be said with greater certainty than is now possible that it had taken the chief field of Graal romance for its province. The missing first volume must have contained indubitably the earlier life of Lancelot, and it may have included by inference some part of the quest and initial failure of Perceval at the Graal Castle. The second book contains the adventures of Agravain, the brother of Gawain, a knight of pride and violence; but this is already late in the history of the hero-in-chief, and it is in the so-called Agravain section that Lancelot pays his first visit to Castle Corbenic and that the conception of Galahad is encompassed. The poem reverts thereafter to dealings with Perceval, and has traces of a tradition which is not extant in the romances of Northern France. There are variations, for example, in the development of the tasks proposed by the messenger of the Holy Graal to the knights of King Arthur's Court. Correspondences are traced: (a) with the variations in the Montpellier MS. of the Conte del Graal; (b) with the Vatican German Perceval; and (c) at a distance, with Wolfram's Parsifal. The Quest of Galahad occupies the third book, and the fourth brings all to its term in the Morte d’Arthur. The Dutch romance is a poem, and even in this, its present dismembered form, it is a work of vast extent. As in respect of my own province I have not assumed all languages, I know the original only by the collation of available channels of research. That which has impressed me concerning it is the important, though
fluidic, analogy which it offers to the poem of Heinrich in its judgment on Perceval. Therein the Lord of the Hallows and those by whom he was engirded had great hopes of the latter, but because he had entered the Castle and did not ask the question he was discarded once and for all. Now, the Dutch Lancelot, at the conclusion of the second book, has a text of unknown origin which I have held over in my previous enumeration to speak of more adequately here. This is the episodic or biographical romance of Morien, the son of Agloval and the nephew of Perceval, a black knight, corresponding to Feirfeis, who is Perceval's half-brother in the romance of Wolfram. Morien is, however, a Christian when he arrives in the realms of the West, and he is in search of his father, to whom he is in fine united. It is in the course of his story, which is otherwise unimportant to our purpose, that we learn as follows concerning the Holy and Sacramental Mystery:--
(1) King Arthur--who here, as otherwhere, manifests his unfailing love and anxiety for Perceval--is represented lamenting his loss because he had gone in search of the Graal and the Sacred Lance, but there were no news concerning him. Now, the text states--and this is on the part of the King, by the way of foreknowledge or prophecy--that he will never find them--that is to say, upon earth. (2) The same conviction may have entered into the proper heart of the Son of the Widow Lady; but Sir Gareth, the brother of Gawain, is he who announces the reason, which is not on account of his failure but because Perceval sinned in leaving his mother to die of grief at his absence. On this account he might search till the Kingdom which is above descends on the Kingdom which is below but his pains would be his only meed. We see here that a responsibility which is of right made transient only becomes permanent and insuperable for a moment--but this is in appearance solely. (3) Perceval, on his part, has been convinced of his sin and has embraced the life of a hermit as the proper path of
atonement. (4) But Arthur and Gareth notwithstanding, the intention of the tale is to restore Perceval forgiven to the higher life of chivalry, and we have accordingly (5) the vision of Sir Agloval, the brother of Perceval, who speaks of a Golden Staircase seen therein, which, by interpretation, is more than the sunbeam whereon the Graal enters in the Great Quest, for it symbolises the Sacred Vessel as another ladder of Jacob leading to the Throne and the Kingdom, and this is also for Perceval as the days of the life of him. It followed that he should yet have his place in the Quest, and it was foretold that in such high service he should pass to his reward on high. That which is here foretold is of course fulfilled to the letter in the part which follows thereafter--that is to say, in the Quest of Galahad.
The Dutch Lancelot is in some respects that which I indicated at the beginning, an attempt to harmonise all the cycles by dealing (a) with the Quest of Perceval and its initial failure; (b) with that of Gawain, corresponding to the Montpellier intercalation of the Conte del Graal; and (c) finally with the union of Galahad, Perceval and Bors, according to the plenary inspiration of the Great Quest. I recur now to the point which I made at the close of the third section. The Dutch Lancelot offers the position of a text which had every opportunity to profit in universals and not in particulars only by the poem of Wolfram; but, though it is under the obedience of the prototype created by the Parsifal and the Conte del Graal for the early history of Perceval, it redeems him only at the close, by a kind of tour de force, in its adaptation of the story of stories.
The conclusion of all this inquiry into the German cycle of the Holy Graal is that the hand of Guiot is traceable, at whatever distance, through all its length; at times it is the ruling hand, at others it intervenes for a moment. He seems also reflected into the Greater Chronicles in Northern French; for, setting aside those almost accidental connections which are found in
the Book of the Holy Graal, there are the similitudes, which I have termed haunting, in the Longer Prose Perceval. The King of Castle Mortal is drawn in much darker colours than Klingsor, the magician of Wolfram, but they derive from the same root.
It is obvious that in such a summary account of the German cycle there are points, and they are indeed manifold, which have been omitted from the foregoing sections. Those who have preceded me in England with valuable and extended monographs on individual texts and with studies of particular groups will be the first to dispense generosity towards a work which embraces the whole literature in a single volume, more especially if they are able to realise that I am not addressing their audience, but rather a school set apart and among whom no knowledge of the subject can be presupposed safely. It is for this reason that I have had to recover the same ground on several occasions, increasing the difficulty of my task, as it was not less important to avoid verbal repetition in devotion to the high canons of literature than to spare my readers the weariness of continual reference to anterior sections or books. Before leaving the German cycle, I will embrace in a brief schedule certain accessory matters, belonging to its several parts, which--without being essential thereto--are of sufficient interest to demand inclusion.
The Parsifal of Wolfram.--It should be noted (1) that there is no passage of Hallows from East to West; there is no enchantment of Britain; and there are no times which are termed specially adventurous; (2) that Parsifal's uncle, Trevrezent, confessed to having tampered, with the truth in respect of his Graal history, so as to dissuade the hero from the Quest, and that this is possibly the root-reason of the uncle's misdirections in all the romances.
The Lost Quest of Guiot.--(1) There was a great movement of literature from Southern to Northern France and through Northern France to England at the period
of Henry II. He married Eleanor of Guienne, who is said to have brought Provençal poets in her train. If therefore we can suppose that Guiot de Provence and his poem antedated all other Graal literature, they may have become known in this manner, and it will then seem at first sight that we have accounted for the appearance subsequently of Graal literature in Northern French. But this is an explanation with the disadvantage of a fatal facility, because Guiot, as we can divine concerning him, is incapable of accounting for Graal romance outside the one text that we know him to have influenced in Germany. (2) It was on an illusory assumption of this kind that the Perceval legend was classed as Celtic by Schulze, but the Graal, on the other hand, as Provençal. The first statement is true obviously, but the Graal of Guiot is not the Graal of Northern France. The marriage of Schulze's two classes is said to have been contracted about 1150; but I do not believe that any sacramental mystery was incorporated by southern romance; only the shadow of the Eucharist is found in Wolfram. (3) The test of such a possibility is the affirmed traditional hostility to the Church of Rome on the part of most troubadours. Northern French romance had no such implicit: it is a literature written round the great heart of Christian catholicity. (4) The analogy of troubadour poetry with Graal literature is slight after all. If we set aside the Conte del Graal, love, for example, is only an accident of the cycle, and it is totally absent from two of the highest texts. The mystic side of human love in poetry and its Provençal reflections are a light of Moslem ecstasy. (5) Scholarship holds that Wolfram and Chrétien drew from the same source, more especially as regards the adventures of Gawain. This raises a question respecting the identity, language and real locality of Guiot. It is acknowledged on all sides that if he had written in the langue d’oc, he would not have been understood by Wolfram. One speculation identifies him with the author of the Bible Guiot, but this
person was of Provins in the Alsace-Lorraine district. The suggestion, I suppose, is that Provins was mistaken for Provence by Wolfram. Had Guiot promulgated in the South so wonderful a legend as that of the Graal, it is incredible that his name should never have transpired among his contemporaries; though his poem is now lost, his memory should at least have lingered.
The Spanish Cycle.--(1) We have seen that Spain has no indigenous literature of the Holy Graal; it has only accidental reflections by way of translation, and with all deference to the curious implicits connected with the Jew of Toledo, I think that this is final as to anything of prototypical matter of the Graal having come out of the Peninsula. (2) This notwithstanding, if ever the missing Guiot should be discovered in fine, it will be probably in a Spanish monastery. Whatever language he wrote in, the poet had evidently Provençal sympathies, interests and erudition, and we know that in 1820, on the evidence of Fr. Jay me de Villanueva, there were large collections of unedited Provençal poets in the archives of Spanish churches. This is readily explained (a) by the intimate union between the court of Provence and that of Barcelona; (b) by the union of the crown of Provence and the crown of Aragon in the person of Alphonso the Second, and it is Aragon that once at least was especially rich in such manuscripts; (c) by the popularity of Provençal poetry in Catalonia during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. A poem breathing the Provençal atmosphere and inspired by the Provençal spirit, though not actually in the langue d’oc, may well have drifted into Spain from Provence without leaving traces behind it at either point.