14 G. K. CHESTERTON to be recited by a narrator—as, for instance, the Reynard the Fox of John MasefielcL Such a ballad needs move- ment and excitement and a high theme, and all these Ches- terton brought to his Ballad of the White Horse. It is cer- tainly one of the first and the most widely quoted of all such English ballads of this century. On a number of hill-sides in the West Country are to be seen effigies of White Horses. Of these some are indeed modern and uninteresting imitations, but two, one at Eding- ton in Wiltshire and one at Uffington in Berkshire, are of immemorial antiquity. Chesterton in his Ballad tells the story of the fight for the defence of England between the Christian King, Alfred, and the invading heathen Danes, of the battle of Ethandune, or Edington, Alfred's final victory, and of the acceptance of Christian baptism by Guthrum, the Danish King. In the early stages of the war the prospects of victory are all on the Danish side. Our Lady appears to Alfred in a vision and says to him, I tell you naught for your comfort, Yea, naught for your desire, Save that the sky grows darker yet And tie sea rises higher. Alfred accepts this as good news. For now at least he can know that he follows the Christian cause for its own sake and not for any worldly advantage that he may hope to get out of it Disguised as a harper, he goes to the Danish camp. On his way there he passes the White Horse and sees that the Danes have neglected to keep it scoured. In the Danish camp he finds the Danes, singing and telling stories to one another. Harold, one of the young chieftains, is boasting frantically of the loveliness of a life of victorious violence. For Rome was given to rule the world And got of it little joy— But we, but we shall enjoy the world The whole huge world a toy.