BY ROBERT SOUTHEY 1872.
ing Lisuarte remaining with his chiefs thus bespake them: Friends! since God hath made me more rich in dominion and in subjects than any of the kings my neighbours, reason it is that for his service I should perform more praiseworthy things than they: tell me then how I may best promote my honour and advancement together with your own, and what shall seem best that will I do. Then Barsinan, Lord of Sansuena, arose and said, Ye have heard, sirs, the king's charge: I should hold it good that if he pleased he would leave ye, that ye might the more freely deliver each his opinion; and, afterwards, he may follow that which most accords with his own. The king replied that he said well, and therewith departed into another tent.
Then Serolys the Fleming, who was Count of Clara, began in this manner: Sirs, it is manifest that men in this world can only become powerful by strengthening themselves with men and money; but the money should be employed in procuring men, for by men must kingdoms be defended and won. Other counsel than this, sirs, the king will not take; to seek good knights from all parts, and love and cherish and honour and reward them with his bounty, so that strangers shall seek him for the fame thereof. They alone have been fortunate and mighty who have thus strengthened themselves with the aid of famous knights, distributing treasures to them, and acquiring by their aid greater treasures, the spoils of others. This advice was well liked of by all, except Barsinan, whom it troubled, because if that were followed he should hardly effect the purpose for which he came. Certes, said he, I never saw many so good men yield so foolishly at a word! If your lord were to do as the Count of Clara hath proposed, before two years were at an end, the king would have given to strangers what else would have been given among you, and you would be neglected and of no account, while his favours would naturally be bestowed upon them, being newly come: look ye well to this! it concerns not me; only that I shall rejoice if my advice should be found profitable. Some there were, envious and greedy men, who were of this mind, so that there arose a contention, and it was agreed that the king should come and decide. But he seeing the thing clearly before his eyes, said thus: Kings are powerful not for the much, but for the many at their: command. With his own person what can he do? less perhaps than another man. Can he govern his estates with that? you can answer me. Can his treasures lighten him of that care? not unless they are well expended : it is plain then that human wisdom and human strength are the real treasures. By this liberality have the noblest chiefs been made famous, the great Alexander, the mighty Julius Caesar, the haughty Hannibal. Good friends, therefore, not only do I think it best to seek the service of good knights, but I beseech ye all to assist me in the search, and bring them to my court, that I being the more honoured in foreign parts, your honour may also be the greater: and be ye sure that I never shall forget old friends for new; and let me know the best who are come to my court, that we may have them in our company before they depart. This accordingly was done, and the king having the list, summoned them all before him after his meal, and besought them to enter loyally into his service, and not to quit his court without his permission, and he on his part promised to honour and reward them.
To this all who were present agreed, excepting Amadis, for he was the queen's knight. This done, the queen requested them to hear her, for if it pleased them she would speak. They all drew near her in silence, and she said to the king, Since you, my lord, have so favoured and honoured your knights, reasonable it is that I should do the like to my dames and damsels, and for their sake to all others wheresoever they be; therefore, I beg a boon of you and of these good men, for in festivals like these good boons ought to be asked and granted. Lisuarte looked round his company,Friends, what answer shall we make the queen? They all answered, Grant her what she may demand. What else, quoth Galaor, but to obey so excellent a lady? Then said the king, seeing you are all content, let the boon be granted, how weighty soever it may be to perform. And they all answered, so be it! The boon I ask is this, said Brisena, that ye always defend dames and damsels from all wrong; and if by chance you have made promise of two suits, one to a man, the other to a woman, you shall accomplish the woman's request first, as being the weakest person, and who hath most need to be holpen. Thus shall women travel more safely along the highways, and discourteous and cruel men shall fear to offer them force or injury. Greatly were Lisuarte and all his knights contented with that request, and the king commanded that it should be observed, as it long was in Great Britain, never knight breaking it; but how it was at last broken, is not to the purpose here to say.