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B A L L A D XVIII.

SIR LANCELOT DU LA K E. *

W

HEN Arthur first in court began,

And was approved king;
By force of arms great

victories

won;, And conquest home did bring :

Then into Britain straight he came,

Where fifty good and able
Knights then repaired unto him,

Which were of the Round Table.

And many jufts and tournaments

Before him there were prest,
Wherein these knights did then excell,

And far surmount the rest.

But one Sir Lancelot du Lake,

Who was approved well,
He, in his fights and deeds of arms,

All others did excell.

When he had rested him a while,

To play, and game, and sport;
He thought he would approve himself

In some advent'rous fort :

* The title of the old copies is, but very improperly, “ The noble atchievements of king Artbur, and his knights of the round tables. To the tune of Flying Fame."

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Why should not I? quoth Lancelot tho,

For that cause came I hither.
Thou seem'ft, quoth the, a knight right good,

And I will bring thee thither,

Whereas the mightiest knight doth dwell,

That now is of great fame :
Wherefor tell me what knight thou art ;

And then what is thy name.

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My name is Lancelot du Lake."

Quoth the, It likes me, then ; Here dwells a kright that never was

O’ermatch'd of any man;

Who hath in prison threescore knights

And four, that he hath bound; Knights of King Arthurs court they be,

And of the Table Round.

She brought him to a river then,

And also to a tree,
Whereas a copper bafon hung,

His fellows fhields to see.

He

He struck so hard, the bason broke :

When Tarquin heard the sound,
He drove a horse before him straight,

Whereon a knight was bound.

Sir knight, then said Sir Lancelot,

Bring me that horse load hither,
And lay him down, and let him rest;

We'll try our force together:

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That's over much, quoth Lancelot tho;

Defend thee by and by.
They put their spurs unto their steeds,

And each at other fly.

They couch'd their spears, and horses run,

As though they had been thunder ; And each ftruck then

upon

the shield, Wherewith they brake afunder.

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Their horses backs brake under them ;

The knights they were astound: To avoid their horses they made hafte

To light upon the ground.

They took them to their fields full fast,

Their swords they dặew out then ; With mighty strokes moft eagerly

Each one at other run.

They wounded were, and bled full sore,

For breath they both did stand ; And leaning on their swords a while,

Quoth Tarquin, Hold thy hand;

And tell to me what I shall ak.

Say on, quoth Lancelot tho. Thou art, quoth Tarquin, the best knight

That ever I did know ;

And like a knight that I did hate :

So that thou be not he, I will deliver all the rest,

And eke accord with thee.

That is well faid, quoth Lancelot then ;

But fith it so must be,
What is the knight thou hateft thus,

I pray thee fhow to me?

His name is Lancelot du Lake ;

He few my brother dear ;
Him I suspect of all the rest :

I would I had him here.

Thy wilh thou hast, but now unknown ;

I am Lancelot du Lake,
Now knight of Arthurs table round,

King Hands son of Benwake :

And I defy thee, do thy worst.”

Ha, ha, quoth Tarquin tho,
One of us two shall end our lives,

Before that we do go.

If thou be Lancelot du Lake,

Then welcome shalt thou be;
Wherefor see thou thyself defend,

For now I dèfy thee.

They hurled then together fast,

Like two wild boars so rashing,
And with their swords and hields they ran

At one another flashing :

The ground besprinkled was with blood,

Tarquìn began to faint ;
For he had back'd, and bore his shield

So low, he did repent.

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