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tution which we are acquainted with is, that to avoid all dispute" about precedency, he caused a round table to be made for the celebration of their public feasts, from whence the order had its appellation. To this fociety he admitted not only Britons but Foreigners, if they were persons of nobility, and renowned for their virtue and valour; these were indispensable qualifications. The place where this order was instituted was Windsor, and the time of their convening Whitsuntide. In Winchester Castle there was a large round table, called and affirmed to be King Arthur's; or at least set up in the room of one more ancient which had been destroyed. It is not recorded that this order survived its founder: it is more probable that it expired with him ; most of those Knights who had been honoured with a place at his table perishing by his fide in the battle of Kamblan, now Camelsford, in Cornwall, where, though he killed his enemy Mordred, yet he fell himself.
) King Edward, to whom the heroic virtues and military spirit of Arthur feems to have defcended, being engaged in continual wars with France, made use of the same method his warlike predecessor had done, to bring to his court all the valiant Knights of the age : to this purpose, as early as the year 1344, the eighteenth of his reign, he formed the design af restoring King Arthur's round table; he accordingly issued out orders for the safe conduct of foreign Knights, to try their skill at folemn justs to be held near Windfor. At the time appointed great numbers of accomplished Cavaliers came to his court, whom the King entertained with great hospitality, and endeavoured to attach to his interest by every act of courtefy; but perceiving that after their departure, being unconstrained and at liberty, fome of them entered into the service, of his adversary in the ensuing wars, he resolved to project fome means to secure those whom he thought fit to make his associates, by more select and lasting bonds. To this
purpose purpose he instituted the order of the Garter, which, if we consider its antiquity, and the dignity, of the personages who have þeen enrolled therein, greatly excells every other honorary institution,
From whence it derives its denomination of the Garter is at this time uncertain : the vulgar and general opinion is, that the Countess of Salisbury dropping accidently her garter as she danced at a ball, King Edward stooping, took it from the ground; whereupon, seeing some of his Nobles smile, he turned it off with this reply in French, “ Hani foit qui mal y pense--Shame be to
him that evil thinks of it:" but in retort for their laughter he further added, “ That “ shortly they should see that garter ad“vanced to so high an honour, as to ac, “ count themselves happy in wearing it.”.
Upon examination of this tradition there appears very little reason to give it credit; for Sir John Froisfart, the only cotem
porary, writer that treats of this institution, áffigris it no such origin ; nor is there any thing mentioned to that purpose by any of the English Historians for two hundred years after. Polydore Virgil was the first who took occasion to say something of it, but without ascertaining to whom the garter belonged ; cautiously declining to pronounce whether it was the King's Mistress's or the Queen's. Besides, in the original statutes of the order, there is not the least conjecture to countenance such a conceit; and the ingenious Doctor Heylin treats this incident as a mere fable: these are his words ;* “ I “ take it to be a vain and idle romance, “ derogatory both to the founder and the “ order, first published by Polydore Virgil, “ a stranger to the affairs of England, and “ by him taken on 'no better ground than ( the tradition of the common people ; “ too trifling a foundation for fo great å - building."
Of the fame contexture as the former is another tradition in Andrew du Chesne; “ That the Queen departing from the “ King to her own apartments, and he fol< lowing soon after, chanced to espy a blue s garter lying on the ground; whilst some “ of his attendants carelessly passed it by, “ as disdaining to stoop for such a trifle : “ the King knowing the owner, com“ manded it to be given him ;. at the re• ceipt of which he said, You make but “ small account of this garter; but within " a few months I will cause the best of you “ to reverence it.” Some suppose that the motto was the Queen's answer, when the King asked her what men would conjec, ture upon her losing her garter in such a
Both relations are probably far distant from the fact, and an amorous instead of an honourable account has been falsely rendered of this institution. It has thus fared with other' orders of sovereign foundation ;