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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
The Death of Sir Launcelot
By Sir Thomas Malory (d. c. 1470)
From ‘Morte d’Arthur’

THEN 1 Sir Launcelot, ever after, eat but little meat, nor drank, but continually mourned until he was dead; and then he sickened more and more, and dried and dwindled away. For the bishop, nor none of his fellows, might not make him to eat, and little he drank, that he was soon waxed shorter by a cubit than he was, that the people could not know him. For evermore day and night he prayed, but needfully, as nature required; sometimes he slumbered a broken sleep, and always he was lying groveling upon King Arthur’s and Queen Guenever’s tomb: and there was no comfort that the bishop, nor Sir Bors, nor none of all his fellows could make him; it availed nothing.  1
  O ye mighty and pompous lords, shining in the glory transitory of this unstable life, as in reigning over great realms and mighty great countries, fortified with strong castles and towers, edified with many a rich city; yea also, ye fierce and mighty knights, so valiant in adventurous deeds of arms,—behold! behold! see how this mighty conqueror, King Arthur, whom in his human life all the world doubted; see also, the noble Queen Guenever, which sometime sat in her chair, adorned with gold, pearls, and precious stones, now lie full low in obscure foss, or pit, covered with clods of earth and clay. Behold also this mighty champion, Sir Launcelot, peerless of all knighthood; see now how he lieth groveling upon the cold mold; now being so feeble and faint, that sometime was so terrible. How, and in what manner, ought ye to be so desirous of worldly honor, so dangerous. Therefore, methinketh this present book is right necessary often to be read; for in it shall ye find the most gracious, knightly, and virtuous war of the most noble knights of the world, whereby they gat a praising continually. Also me seemeth, by the oft reading thereof, ye shall greatly desire to accustom yourself in following of those gracious knightly deeds; that is to say, to dread God and to love righteousness,—faithfully and courageously to serve your sovereign prince; and the more that God hath given you triumphal honor, the meeker ought ye to be, ever fearing the unstableness of this deceitful world.  2
Note 1. The second paragraph of this eloquent passage is not to be found in the first edition of the ‘Morte d’Arthur,’ and is probably by some other writer than Malory. This, however, does not affect its eloquence. [back]

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