The book of romance

(Redirected from The Book of Romance)
The book of romance  (1902) 
by Mrs. Lang

illustrator: H. J. Ford

The book of romance - illustration at binding.jpg





Crown 8vo, gilt edges.

THE BLUE FAIRY BOOK. With 138 Illustrations. $2.00.

THE RED FAIRY BOOK. With 100 Illustrations. $2.00.

THE GREEN FAIRY BOOK. With 99 Illustrations. $2.00.

THE GREY FAIRY BOOK. With 65 Illustrations. $2.00.

THE YELLOW FAIRY BOOK. With 104 Illustrations. $2.00.

THE PINK FAIRY BOOK. With 67 Illustrations. $2.00.

THE VIOLET FAIRY BOOK. With 8 Coloured Plates and 54 other Illustrations. Net, $1.60. By mail, $1.75.

THE CRIMSON FAIRY BOOK. With 8 Coloured Plates and 43 other Illustrations. Net, $1.60. By mail, $1.75.

THE BLUE POETRY BOOK. With 100 Illustrations. $2.00.

THE TRUE STORY BOOK. With 66 Illustrations. $2.00.

THE RED TRUE STORY BOOK. With 100 Illustrations. $2.00.

THE ANIMAL STORY BOOK. With 67 Illustrations. $2.00.

THE RED BOOK OF ANIMAL STORIES. With 65 Illustrations. $2.00.

THE ARABIAN NIGHTS ENTERTAINMENTS. With 66 Illustrations. $2.00.

THE BOOK OF ROMANCE. With 8 Coloured Plates and 44 other Illustrations. Net, $1.60. By mail, $1.75.


New YorkLondonBombay

The book of romance - illustration for frontispiece.jpg




The book of romance - illustration for title page.jpg




All rights reserved

Copyright, 1902,

First Edition, September, 1902.
Reprinted, October, 1903.

Norwood Press
J. S. Gushing & Co. — Berwick & Smith Co.
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.


It is to be supposed that children do not read Prefaces; these are Bluebeard's rooms, which they are not curious to unlock. A few words may therefore be said about the Romances contained in this book. In the editor's opinion, romances are only fairy tales grown up. The whole mass of the plot and incident of romance was invented by nobody knows who, nobody knows when, nobody knows where. Almost every people has the Cinderella story, with all sorts of variations: a boy hero in place of a girl heroine, a beast in place of a fairy godmother, and so on. The Zuñis, an agricultural tribe of New Mexico, have a version in which the moral turns out to be against poor Cinderella, who comes to an ill end. The Red Indians have the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, told in a very touching shape, but without the music. On the other hand, the negroes in the States have the Orpheus tale, adapted to plantation life, in a form which is certainly borrowed from Europeans. This version was sent to me some years ago by Mr. Barnet Phillips, Brooklyn, New York, and I give it here for its curiosity. If the proper names, Jim Orpus and Dicey, had not been given, we might not feel absolutely certain that the story was borrowed. It is a good example of adaptation from the heroic age of Greece to the servile age of Africans.

Dicey and Orpus

Dat war eber so long ago, 'cause me granmammy tell me so. It h'aint no white-folks yarn—no Sah. Gall she war call Dicey, an' she war borned on de plantation. Whar Jim Orpus kum from, granmammy she disremember. He war a boss-fiddler, he war, an' jus' that powerful, dat when de mules in de cotton field listen to um, dey no budge in de furrer. Orpus he neber want no mess of fish, ketched wid a angle. He just take him fiddle an' fool along de branch, an' play a tune, an' up dey comes, an' he cotch 'em in he hans. He war mighty sot on Dicey, an' dey war married all proper an' reg'lar. Hit war so long ago, dat de railroad war a bran-new spick an' span ting in dose days. Dicey once she lounge 'round de track, 'cause she tink she hear Orpus a fiddlin' in de fur-fur-away. Onyways de hengine smash her. Den Jim Orpus he took on turrible, an' when she war buried, he sot him down on de grave, an' he fiddle an' he fiddle till most yo' heart was bruk.

An' he play so long dat de groun' crummle (crumble) an' sink, an' nex' day, when de peoples look for Jim Orpus, dey no find um; oney big-hole in de lot, an' nobody never see Jim Orpus no mo'. An' dey do say, dat ef yo' go inter a darky's burial-groun', providin' no white man been planted thar, an' yo' clap yo' ear to de groun', yo' can hear Jim's fiddle way down deep belo', a folloin' Dicey fru' de Ian' of de Golden Slippah.[1]

The original touch, the sound of Orpus's fiddle heard only in the graveyards of the negroes (like the fairy music under the fairy hill at Ballachulish), is very remarkable. Now the Red Indian story has no harper, and no visit by the hero to the land of the dead. His grief brings his wife back to him, and he loses her again by breaking a taboo, as Orpheus did by looking back, a thing always forbidden. Thus we do not know whether or not the Red Indian version is borrowed from the European myth, probably enough it is not. But in no case—not even when the same plot and incidents occur among Egyptians and the Central Australian tribes, or among the frosty Samoyeds and Eskimo, the Samoans, the Andamanese, the Zulus, and the Japanese, as well as among Celts and ancient Greeks—can we be absolutely certain that the story has not been diffused and borrowed, in the backward of time. Thus the date and place of origin of these eternal stories, the groundwork of ballads and popular tales, can never be ascertained. The oldest known version may be found in the literature of Egypt or Chaldæa, but it is an obvious fallacy to argue that the place of origin must be the place where the tale was first written down in hieroglyph or cuneiform characters.

There the stories are: they are as common among the remotest savages as among the peasants of Hungary, France, or Assynt. They bear all the birth-marks of an early society, with the usual customs and superstitions of man in such a stage of existence. Their oldest and least corrupted forms exist among savages, and people who do not read and write. But when reading and writing and a class of professional minstrels and tellers of tales arose, these men invented no new plots, but borrowed the plots and incidents of the world-old popular stories. They adapted these to their own condition of society, just as the plantation negroes adapted Orpheus and Eurydice. They elevated the nameless heroes and heroines into Kings, Queens, and Knights, Odysseus, Arthur, Charlemagne, Diarmid, and the rest. They took an ancient popular tale, known all over the earth, and attributed the adventures of the characters to historical persons, like Charlemagne and his family, or to Saints, for the legends of early Celtic Saints are full of fairy-tale materials. Characters half historic, half fabulous, like Arthur, were endowed with fairy gifts, and inherited the feats of nameless imaginary heroes.

The results of this uncritical literary handling of elements really popular were the national romances of Arthur, of Charlemagne, of Sigurd, or of Etzel. The pagan legends were Christianised, like that of Beowulf; they were expanded into measureless length, whole cycles were invented about the heroic families; poets altered the materials each in his own way and to serve his own purpose, and often to glorify his own country. If the Saracens told their story of Roland at Roncevalles, it would be very different from that of the old Frankish chansons de geste. Thus the romances are a mixture of popular tales, of literary invention, and of history as transmitted in legend. To the charm of fairy tale they add the fascination of the age of chivalry, yet I am not sure but that children will prefer the fairy tale pure and simple, nor am I sure that their taste would be wrong, if they did.

In the versions here offered, the story of Arthur is taken mainly from Malory's compilation, from sources chiefly French, but the opening of the Graal story is adapted from Mr. Sebastian Evans's 'High History of the Holy Graal,' a masterpiece of the translator's art. For permission to adapt this chapter I have to thank the kindness of Mr. Evans.

The story of Roland is from the French Epic, probably of the eleventh century, but resting on earlier materials, legend and ballad. William Short Nose is also from the chanson de geste of that hero.

The story of Diarmid, ancient Irish and also current among the Dalriadic invaders of Argyle, is taken from the translations in the Transactions of the Ossianic Society.

The story of Robin Hood is from the old English ballads of the courteous outlaw, whose feast, in Scotland, fell in the early days of May. His alleged date varies between the ages of Richard I. and Edward II., but all the labours of the learned have thrown no light on this popular hero.

A child can see how English Robin is, how human, and possible and good-humoured are his character and feats, while Arthur is half Celtic, half French and chivalrous, and while the deeds of the French Roland, and of the Celtic Diarmid are exaggerated beyond the possible. There is nothing of the fairylike in Robin, and he has no thirst for the Ideal. Had we given the adventures of Sir William Wallace, from Blind Harry, it would have appeared that the Lowland Scots could exaggerate like other people.

The story of Wayland the Smith is very ancient. An ivory in the British Museum, apparently of the eighth century, represents Wayland making the cups out of the skulls. As told here the legend is adapted from the amplified version by Oehlenschläger. Scott's use of the story in 'Kenilworth' will be remembered.

All the romances are written by Mrs. Lang, except the story of Grettir the Strong, done by Mr. H. S. C. Everard from the saga translated by Mr. William Morris.


The Drawing of the Sword 3
The Questing Beast 9
The Sword Excalibur 14
The Story of Sir Balin 16
How the Round Table began 25
The Passing of Merlin 31
How Morgan Le Fay tried to kill King Arthur 33
What Beaumains asked of the King 38
The Quest of the Holy Graal 64
The Fight for the Queen 102
The Fair Maid of Astolat 113
Lancelot and Guenevere 132
The End of it All 160
The Battle of Roncevalles 177
The Pursuit of Diarmid 215
Some Adventures of William Short Nose 253
Wayland the Smith 293
The Story of Robin Hood 323
The Story of Grettir the Strong 359



Lancelot bears off Guenevere (p. 153) Frontispiece
Arthur meets the Lady of the Lake to face p.14
Lancelot at the Chapel 77
Guenevere and Sir Bors. 106
Lancelot brings Guenevere to Arthur. 132
Alix kisses Rainouart 275
Slagfid pursues the Wraith over the Mountains 301
The Chariot of Freya 318


How Arthur drew the Sword to face p.4
Arthur and the Questing Beast 10
The Death of Balin and Balan 20
Merlin and Vivien 31
Morgan Le Fay casts away the Scabbard 34
Gareth and Linet 42
Linet and the Black Knight 46
The Lady of Lyonesse sees Sir Gareth 54
Sir Galahad opens the Tomb 72
Sir Percivale slays the Serpent 82
Lancelot and the Dwarf 96
Arthur and Guenevere kiss before all the People 108
Elaine ties her Sleeve round Sir Lancelot’s Helmet 116
The Black Barget 128
The Archers threaten Lancelot 138

Sir Mordred

Excalibur returns to the Mere 168
Charlemagne 178
Marsile threatens Ganelon with a javelin 184
Roland winds his Horn in the Valley of Roncevalles 202
Grania questions the Druid 216
Diarmid seizes the Giant’s Club 230
Diarmid and Grania in the Quicken Tree 236
The Death of Diarmid 242
Vivian's Last Confession 256
The Lady Alix stays the Wrath of William Short Nose 270
The Lady Giboure with Rainouart in the Kitchen 278
Rainouart stops the Cowards 282
The Three Women by the Stream 204
Wayland mocked by the Queen and Banvilda 310
The Merman warns Banvilda in vain 314
'There is pith in your arm,' said Robin Hood 346
Robin Hood shoots his Last Arrow 354
Grettir feels Karr’s Grip 362
Grettir overthrows Thorie Redbeard 372


The Damsel warns Sir Balin 19
How Sir Bors was saved from killing his Brother 89
Sir Mador accuses Guenevere 104
Guenevere sends her Page to Lancelot for Help 136
Lancelot comes out of Guenevere’s Room 148
The Dream of Charlemagne 193
The Captives: William Short Nose rides to the Rescue 263
The Witch Thurid cuts a Charm on the Log 381

  1. Mr. Phillips, writing in 1896, says that the tale was told him by a plantation hand, thirty years ago, 'long before the Uncle Remus period,'