Howard Pyle's King
Arthur and his Knights
Here beginneth the Second Book of the History of King Arthur, called The Book of Three
Worthies, because it has to do with three very excellent, honorable Lords of the Court of
Of these three, the first is Merlin the Wise, the second is Sir Pellias, surnamed the
Gentle Knight, and the third is Sir Gawaine, the son of King Lot of Orkney and the Isles.
So now presently follows the story of the passing of Merlin the Wise; in the which you
shall see how the very wisdom that Merlin possessed in such great measure was the cause of
his own undoing. Wherefore I do hope that you yourselves may take that story unto heart so
that you shall see that those gifts of mind or person which God assigns unto you may not
be so misused by you or others that they shall become the means of compassing your own
For it shall not excuse you in any wise that, as you journey forward in your life, you
shall find many men who, like Merlin, have been endowed by the grace of God with very
great gifts of talent which they might very easily use to the great benefit of mankind,
but which they so misuse as to bring the greater ruin upon themselves and the greater harm
unto other men. For, if you shall prove so weak or so wicked as to misuse your talents in
that manner unto the harm of others and of yourself, it shall not make your fault the less
that others shall have done greater evil than yourself.
Wherefore, let this story of Merlin be a warning unto you, I pray you all. For, though
I do not believe that Merlin intended that his talents of magic should do harm unto
others, yet, because of his folly, they did as great harm as though he himself had
designed to do evil by means of them. Yea; it is hard to tell whether the wickedness or
the follies of men do the greater harm in the world; therefore seek to guard yourself
well, not only against sin, but against folly and weakness likewise.