MALORY'S main source in the first four books is the Merlin romance known as the Suite de Merlin, and found in the Huth MS. only. In the chronicle tradition which this Merlin amplifies, interesting things are told about Arthur's predecessors, -- Pendragon his uncle and Uther his father, Vortigern the usurper, Hengist and Horsa. All this Malory omits. He plunges swiftly into the middle of things, and his story opens with the begetting of Arthur, told with all possible brevity. By the fifth chapter, Uther is dead, and Arthur, a grown lad, is chosen king by virtue of the magic sword stuck in the perron or stone; by the seventh he is properly crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the action can begin.
On the whole, the reader may be grateful to miss the delays of the conventional romantic opening. Malory anticipates the modern trick of suddenness; the abrupt beginning gives an impression of haste, of important affairs on hand, not be deferred. The characters are all the more effective because they appear unexplained. One hesitates a little over the advantage of the method in the case of one personage, Merlin. His mysterious