« PreviousContinue »
bound as if by a higher power, and new visions of light and glory open before him as Mary's narrative unfolds, while a sense of comfort and bliss and a radiance of affection unquenchable fills all surrounding space with the very presence of truth itself. It is not the walls of Jerusalem that rise in the distance across the deepening silver of the lake. It is miles upon miles of impenetrable English oak and beech and elm, the vast forests, marshes, hills and dales of the land whose kings will be called in the ages to come “Defenders of the Faith.”
Beautiful even now are the rivers and waters of England and Wales. There is purity and freshness in their streams, there is a spirit that whispers in the winds blowing softly through ancient willow trees. There is a bloom on the hills, a glory of the morning over the valleys, a dazzle of sunshine on the rippling water, peace and goodness expressed in colour and sound-a sincerity and yet a mystery of the river that only those who have lived near it can fully understand. However much we may discredit the embroidery of later bards and troubadours, the stories cannot be wholly without foundation that tell of a good King who ruled in Cornwall and Wales subduing the petty chieftains and making of many one nation, and who was actuated by such a high moral purpose that he seemed linked by incomprehensible means to the divine Life itself. His friend and advisor was The Lady of the Lake, to whom the secret of immortal life was revealed. Tennyson describes how at the Coronation of Arthur there were by him
... three fair queens
of Arthur gazing on him, tall with bright Sweet faces who will help him at his need."
And he also refers to the mystic presence of the Lady of the Lake.
.. there was heard among the holy hymns
May shake the world, and when the surface rolls
At the passing of Arthur, after he is desperately wounded in his last great battle when mental confusion seemed to have devastated his order of knighthood, a barge is seen slowly moving over the lake. Three Queens come to his aid and bear him away to the isle of Avalon where Arthur says
“I will heal me of my grievous wound.”
Tennyson who, as all true poets are, was a seer as well as a maker of rhymes, (for he saw many events which came true in Europe after his generation) gained a spiritual insight into these early British legends as he studied them at their source, which caused him to write these lines to Queen Victoria on the completion of poems addressed her.
“... accept this old imperfect tale, new-old, and shadowing sense at war with soul ideal manhood closed in real man
Rather than that gray king, whose name, a ghost
It is a joy to think that the original Lady of the Lake
may have been no other than the Mary of the Gospels, for a while Mary of Glastonbury. Healing, moral strength, and immortality comes from no other source than from Jesus Christ himself, and from which of his disciples more fittingly or more necessarily than from the woman's mind who of all those who followed him, most readily and spiritually understood “the resurrection and the life.”
Even in its misty uncertain legendary form, her teaching comes down in singular purity and impersonality. Her own person is reverenced but not worshipped. She is loved more for her aloofness from mortal stress and strain, her ability to demonstrate divine life than as a saint. She leaves no shrine nor any human organisation, but the name of Christ, a higher order of manhood, an application of Principle to life and national affairs hover around the place of her dwelling, as clouds tipped with amber and rose remain in the sky long after the sun has vanished from sight.
ROM a spiritual Sanctuary on an island in quiet waters, the scene changes to terrible battlefields.
It is but little realized how vehemently the early British resisted the Roman invader. They never gained access to the isles in a single invasion, with one decisive battle, as the Normans (The Benjamites) won the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Early Britain kept the greatest generals of the famed Roman legions at bay year after year. From A.D. 43 to A.D. 86 no less than sixty pitched battles were fought, and never can it be said that the enemy ever subdued the whole land; the greater part of Wales remained inviolate and no Roman ever succeeded in crossing the Tweed. After eighteen years of conflict the Roman province was still limited by the Exe and Severn westward and the Humber on the North. Even within these lines its bounds fluctuated, the Britons engaging the Romans in a series of revolts.
But the most desperate conflict of all took place after the Massacre by the Romans of the innermost sanctuary of the Druids at Ynys Tywyāll on the margin of the Menai which roused the whole nation into frenzy. It was then that Boadicea—the widowed and outraged wife of Prasutagus, chief of the Iceni, robbed of honour, lands, and rights, rose up, Queen of herself and her tribe, and led the whole British people into battle against the Roman despot.
There has been nothing like it in history. Nothing like these British Chariot-Charges thundering down upon