couplets as compose its Preface, instead of in the admirable prose which, with his other gifts, has given him a place amongst English classics. The prose of Malory too is admirable. It is spoilt by no tricks or affectations; it is not always thinking of itself, so to speak, or wishing to be thought about. It aims merely at doing its duty as a rendering of its master’s thought. What particularly distinguishes it is its thoroughly idiomatic character. Malory displays a fine instinct in his use of his mother-tongue. It is wonderful to see how this subtle sense led him to the choice of phrases that were to remain always part of the vernacular, his choice, no doubt, improving their chance of remaining so; for there was no more popular book in the sixteenth century than the Morte d’Arthur. Above all, Malory’s language and style exactly suit his subject. In no work is there a perfecter harmony—a more sympathetic marriage—of this kind. This chronicler of knighthood is himself a knight. His heart is devoted to the chivalry he portrays, and his tongue is the faithful spokesmen of his heart.
Mungo W. MacCallum (1854-1942), who held the chair of Modern Literature for some thirty years and was then Chancellor at the University of Sydney, published Tennyson’s Idylls of the King and Arthurian Story from the XVIth Century in 1894. As the title suggests, the emphasis is upon Arthurian-based literature from the Renaissance through Tennyson, and the last four chapters are devoted exclusively to the Idylls. However, a section of the introductory chapter is entitled ‘Malory’s Compilation and the English Ballads’, and it is from this section that the extract is drawn. (Glasgow, 1894; reprinted New York: Books for Libraries Press, 1971), pp. 85-101,