TENNYSON, Alfred, 1st Baron (1809-1892). Autograph manuscript verse, a fragment of a draft for the Idylls of the King, including 8 variant lines, n.p., n.d., 14 lines written on one leaf, 120 x 130 mm. Provenance: purchased from Goodspeeds, Boston, 14 November 1958, $87.50.
The dramatic episode from Guinevere, in which Modred climbs to the window of Guinevere's tower and is hurled down by Lancelot. The fragment opens as the latter is sitting with the Queen:
'Stammering & staring: it was their last hour,
A madness of farewells: and Modred brought
His creatures to the basement of the tower;
Then up a gnarled vine, that ladderlike
Clung to the hoary wall, clamber'd ...'
The passage concludes after Modred's fall, with Guinevere's and Lancelot's farewell exchange:
'... then she; "the end has come,
And I am shamed for ever" and he said:
"Nay, dear liege-lady, rise and fly with me".
She answer'd: we have taken our farewell'.
The manuscript corresponds to lines 101-116 in the published text (C. Ricks. The Poems of Tennyson, 1987, vol. III, 533), in which the description of Modred's arrival is considerably altered, and Lancelot is aroused not (as in the manuscript) by Guinevere's shriek but by Modred's crying out his challenge to him. The passage is based on Malory, although Tennyson changed the place of discovery from the Queen's bedchamber to a tower. Tennyson presented the first two lines of Guinevere to his wife in July 1857, and recorded its completion on 15 March 1858. The present excerpt apparently represents an early stage in the composition.