the more elevated principles and spirit of chivalry which the high-minded knight was supposed to labour to imitate. The tone of the morality of this code is certainly not very high; but—it was the morality of feudalism.
Unsigned review of Wright’s edition, Christian Examiner
67 (November 1859), 391-408.
The Christian Examiner was established under Unitarian auspices (later becoming transcendentalist) as an American religious and literary periodical; it is considered of special importance for distinctive work through the second half of the nineteenth century in literary criticism and book reviews. The anonymous reviewer also discusses Bulfinch’s Age of Chivalry (1859), Bulwer-Lytton’s King Arthur (1851), and the early Idylls of the King (1859). This article and other reviews of Wright, Bulwer, and Tennyson (see, for example, Nos 19 and 20 below) show a developing interest in Arthurian topics in the periodical press.
The article begins by discussing Sharon Turner’s picture of the historic Arthur and Geoffrey’s ‘lying chronicle’, and then proceeds as follows:
But the real Arthur is the Arthur of romance. More real he than the actual historic king…. And it is in ballads, Volkslieder, and fables, songs of minstrelsy and the annals of story-tellers, that the life and fame of the real Arthur are set forth. They are the royal archives from whose records his chivalric glory and goodness draw the popular interest and liking, throughout a boundless realm of pleasant imaginings and day-dreams. Here, among the mind’s marvels and the heart’s delights, he holds a sovereignty beside which the remote and dim state of that petty British chief makes no show. The prophecy of his epitaph is fulfilled, — ‘Rex quondam,