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I will arise, and slay thee with my hands!"
Then quickly rose Sir Bedivere and ran,
And leaping down the ridges lightly, plunged
Among the bulrush beds, and clutched the sword
And strongly wheel'd and threw it. The great brand
Made lightnings in the splendour of the moon,
And flashing round and round, whirl'd in an arch,
Shot like a streamer of the northern morn
Seen where the moving isles of winter shock
By night, with noises of the northern sea.
So flashed and fell the brand Excalibur:
But ere he dipt the surface, rose an arm
Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful,
And caught him by the hilt, and brandished him
Three times, and drew him under in the meer.

Yes, it is close enough to the old chronicle.
And yet how very far from it!—a
good three hundred years and more of
human intellectual advance. So close, that
one feels as one reads, that the old writer
would have said just what the new one has
said, if he had known how to do so; so far
off, that a whole world of moral conception
and ideal beauty separates them.


THAT waking up, about five o'clock on a
summer morning, that lifting the human
head, grown limp and almost pulpy with
snatching uneasy sleep from cushions, and
then seeing the outposts of Paris growing
more and more crowded, is always the most
welcome of impressions. The tall white
houses, the factories, the bright smiling air
of the whole, the rich solidity, all seem to
proclaim that you are entering the finest
city in Europe; very different from the
huddled, dingy red and black brick purlieus
which are our gentlemen ushers for a great
English city. But one bright morning,
not many days ago, when the panic of the
enemy being at its gate was strong on the
great city, it was curious to notice the
change that has come over the approach to
Paris, and to find ourselves flying by a
great white chalk trench that trailed off
serpent-like far as the eye could see, and
whose sides swarmed with what seemed
little blue and white insects crawling
thickly over itthe citizen blouses at
work on the fortifications. Further on
come the familiar grass-covered mounds;
but we see the new slices cut clean and
neatly to make embrasures, and every
embrasure has its clean new gun ready mounted
and pointed.

Visit Paris as often as we will, and after
driving down some mysterious back streets,
emerge suddenly on the Boulevards, the
gay and entrancing sight never loses its
novelty. The trees, the glittering current
always moving on, as if it were perpetually
going round and round the rich background
of house and palace, and gilt balconies; the
kiosks, the colours of different costumes,
the carriages that shine even to stickiness
there is nothing like it in any city. The
Frenchmen and Frenchwomen, too, seem to
strut by with pride, as if they knew they
were on a stage, and the whole world were
audience, and come to that theatre expressly
to see them. But in these days of panic
and mortification, the most stupid observer
would see an utter change. The great
crowd was gone, and those who walked
had a sad air. They seemed like people in
a dream, and who could not yet believe
and it was hard to expect them to do so
that Paris, the queen of the world, should
be brought to this indignity.

Every one stops to look at something
military, and something military and
significant turns up for every one, every
moment. Here go by, slowly, six great
waggons, each drawn by what seem four
cart-horses, whose traces are ropes, and
who are ridden by very dilapidated soldiers.
But this is the fashion of the French artillery,
always in a rude dishabille. On these
platforms recline, like nothing so much as
huge seals, and looking as helpless, enormous
unmounted cannon, all swollen at the
breech, and very awkward customers
indeed. We all stop to stare after these
monsters, and the men in blouses with
trays on their heads, and loads on their
backs, begin to talk vehemently, and
gesticulate wildly. Then a mounted dragoon
spurs past as hard as he can gallop. Then
three or four of the Free Shooters lounge by
in their neat uniforms, surrounded by
admiring friends, and a perspiring French
gentleman in a white waistcoat, and carrying
a most inconvenient amount of human
figure within his white waistcoat, provides
them with cigars all round. This
somehow seems to give fresh confidence,
and the blouses again gesticulate, and laugh
the distant Germans to scorn. Everywhere
are men of the Garde Mobile in
every stage of imperfect dress and
accoutrement. Some have merely the
redbound képi, yet saunter along, their hands
in their pockets under their blouses, as if
they were already trained. Here are more,
who have not even the képi, but who carry
their tin can, and the sticks of the portable
tent on their backs. Why they do this it
would be hard to say. Now we hear the
far-off roll of a drum, and see the glitter of
half a regiment crossing past the