Such was the Abode of the Halloo, s; and those who dwelt therein, the succession of Graal Keepers, belong to that Order which we should expect in such precincts. It should be noted that in the poem of Chrétien the Keeper is called the Fisher King, but his other name and his lineage are not disclosed. It is, however, the beginning only of a very long story, and though it is difficult to say how the poet would have carried it to its term, personally I do not question that he would have borne no different witness to the rest of the Graal cycle in Northern French. By this, without exception, Joseph of Arimathæa is the first guardian of the Sacred Vessel, but either he passes from the scene before it has found a sanctuary or he assumes a secondary position in his son's favour. According to the metrical romance of De Borron and the Lesser Chronicles generally, he was succeeded by his son-in-law, Brons; but according to the Greater Chronicles, as I have termed them, he was succeeded by his own son, the second Joseph, who is unknown to the other cycle. The Lesser Chronicles bridge the centuries between that generation which saw the Ascension of Christ and that which was to behold the Flower of Chivalry in Arthur, by means of a single keeper, who was to remain on earth until he had seen his grandson, Perceval, and had remitted into his hands the secrets and Hallows of which he had been in charge so long. Perceval is the third who counts in the line of election to complete the human trinity of Graal guardians, reflecting, after their own mystic manner, those Three who bear witness in heaven, namely, the Divine Trinity. To accomplish the hero's geniture, Alain, the son of Brons, although he had accepted celibacy, married in some undeclared manner, and it was as his issue that
[paragraph continues] Perceval was born in the fulness of the adventurous times. For the Early History of Merlin the Keepers are those who have the Holy Vessel, and the reticence in this case may seem like that of Chrétien, but it is not so exactly, because the prose romance of Merlin follows directly from the metrical romance of Joseph. We infer further that the promise of union with the Keepers is like la joie perdurable.
Gautier's continuation of the Conte del Graal offers no materials for the identification of the Fisher King, but the variants or interpolated passages in the Montpellier MS. follow the Lesser Chronicles, representing him as the father of Alain le Gros who married Enigea, the sister of Joseph. Manessier and Gerbert, on the other hand, reflect the Greater Chronicles, and apparently some early draft of the Book of the Holy Graal, for they know nothing concerning the younger Joseph.
From one point of view, the succession, in respect of the Greater Chronicles, involves fewer difficulties, because it exhibits a rudimentary sense of chronology and develops in consequence a long line of successive custodians. They are, however, quite shadowy, and exist only to bridge the gulf of time in the order following: (1) Joseph of Arimathæa and Joseph II.; (2) Alain, the son of Brons; (3) Eminadap, the son of Joshua, who was himself a brother of Alain; (4) Carceloys; (5) Manuiel; (6) Lambor: the last four were kings, holding from Calafas of Terre Foraine, called Alphasan in baptism; (7) the King Pelles.
So far as regards the Book of the Holy Graal, and it is difficult to say what version or prototype of this text was before the authors of the Vulgate and Huth Merlin, but whatever it was they seem to have drawn from the same source. The Graal Castle, as we have seen, is Corbenic; it is situated in the realm of Listenoys, and the Keeper is King Pelles. As much and no more may be said concerning the prose Lancelot. Enumerations of this kind serve very little purpose, and I will
speak, therefore, only of the alternative keepers who were in evidence during the days of quest. On the one side, there is Brons, to whom succeeded Perceval at the close of a life of search; on the other, there is King Pelles, of the Castle Corbenic, whose daughter, Helayne, gave Galahad as issue to Lancelot, himself the lineal descendant of the king reigning at Sarras in the days of Joseph of Arimathæa and the first flight of the Graal. Galahad was the last Keeper recognised by this cycle, except in the Longer Prose Perceval, and he seems to have been appointed only for the purpose of removing the Vessel. It was: Ite, missa est, and est consummatum, when he died and rose to the stars. As the Longer Prose Perceval is extra-lineal and thus stands by itself, though its antecedents and certain characteristics have involved its inclusion among the Greater Chronicles, I will say of it only in the present place that the King's title is that adopted by Chrétien, or the Rich King Fisherman, and that his name is not otherwise declared. His successor is Perceval, but he enters into the secret royalty after an interregnum only, and his stewardship also is with a view to the withdrawal of the mystery. As regards the German cycle, which will be dealt with elsewhere, the succession of Graal Keepers are Titurel, Frimutel and Amfortas, to whom succeeds Perceval. Titurel at the beginning was a holy hero of earthly chivalry, to whom a divine voice brought the strange tidings that he had been elected to guard the Holy Graal on Mont Salvatch. His progenitor was a man of Cappadocia who was attached to the Emperor Vespasian, and received for his services a grant of land in southern France.
The hereditary stewardship of the Holy Graal was the most secret of all mysteries, and never initiated any one outside the predestined family. There is seclusion in all cases, but that of the Brons keepership is greater beyond comparison than that of Alain and his successors. One explanation of this may be sought in
the simple fact that, as regards the first case, several intermediate texts are or may be wanting, and that transparently. This is true so far as it goes, but in the most proximate pre-Arthurian period, and in the time of the king, we find still the same concealment, though it is not quite so unvaried in the records of the Conte del Graal as it is in the Early History of Merlin and in the Didot Perceval. The comparative position seems as another line of demarcation between the Lesser and Greater Chronicles, but always on the understanding that the allocation of the Longer Prose Perceval to the second series, though it cannot be placed otherwise, and apart especially, is not fully satisfactory in the nature of things. Speaking generally, the distinctions between the two branches will be appreciated most clearly by a comparison between the Early History of Merlin and the later Vulgate and Huth texts. The sanctuary is shrouded in the first, and we know only that those who have the Sacred Vessel are somewhere in Northumbria. In the second, the keeper, King Pelles, is in continual evidence. He is also a king in warfare, and it is by no means certain that he is always on the side of the over-lord Arthur.
It would be easy to extend this section very much further than I purpose doing, in view of all that is to follow; my intention here is a schedule, or this mainly; and the specific summary is as follows. There are two prototypes of the Early History versions, and they are represented, firstly, by the original draft of De Borron's metrical romance, which is much earlier than any other historical account; they are represented, secondly, by the speculative prototype of the Book of the Holy Graal. About this book there are two things certain: (a) that it is very much later--or at least that it is later certainly--than the first recension or transcript of the book which in some undeclared manner had come into the hands of Robert de Borron; (b) that it is a good deal earlier than the Quest of Galahad as we
know it, which involves also an antecedence in some form of the prose Lancelot and the Later Histories of Merlin. We are left therefore with two claims which appear to be at the root of the Mystery of the Holy Graal, as it is manifested in the French literature of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries: these are the claim of an Eucharistic formula, the validity and efficacy of which transcended the words of institution known by the official Church, and the claim of a priesthood which did not draw from the official apostolate, though it did not question its authority. These two are one probably in their essence, and it is out of these respectively that we come to understand why Perceval is withdrawn into the innermost seclusion by the Lesser Chronicles, and why in the Greater Chronicles Galahad is assumed into heaven--both carrying their warrants.