Imatges de pÓgina

1 Twigs.

Was all the place, and hawthorn hedges knet,
That lyf was none walking there forbye,
That might within scarce any wight espy.

So thick the boughis and the leavis green
Beshaded all the alleys that there were,
And mids of every arbour might be seen
The sharpe greene sweete juniper,
Growing so fair with branches here and there,
That as it seemed to a lyf without,

The boughis spread the arbour all about.
And on the smalle greene twistis1 sat,
The little sweete nightingale, and sung
So loud and clear, the hymnis consecrat
Of lovis use, now soft, now loud among,
That all the gardens and the wallis rung
Right of their song. *


Cast I down mine eyes again,

Where as I saw, walking under the tower,
Full secretly, new comen here to plain,
The fairest or the freshest younge flower
That ever I saw, methought, before that hour,
For which sudden abate, anon astart,2
The blood of all my body to my heart.

And though I stood abasit tho a lite 3

No wonder was; for why? my wittis all
Were so overcome with pleasance and delight,

Only through letting of my eyen fall,

That suddenly my heart became her thrall,

Forever of free will,-for of menace

There was no token in her sweete face.

And in my head I drew right hastily,
And eftesoons I leant it out again,
And saw her walk that very womanly,
With no wight mo', but only women twain.
Then gan I study in myself, and sayn,4
'Ah, sweet! are ye a worldly creature,
Or heavenly thing in likeness of nature?

Or are ye god Cupidis own princess,
And comin are to loose me out of band?

Or are ye very Nature the goddess,

That have depainted with your heavenly hand,
This garden full of flowers as they stand?
What shall I think, alas! what reverence
Shall I mister5 unto your excellence?

If ye a goddess be, and that ye like

To do me pain, I may it not astart: 6

If ye be warldly wight, that doth me sike,"

3 Confounded for a little while.

2 Went and came.

• Fly.

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1 Pleased.

Why list God make you so, my dearest heart,
To do a seely 2 prisoner this smart,

That loves you all, and wot of nought but woe?
And therefore mercy, sweet! sin' it is so.' **

Of her array the form if I shall write,
Towards her golden hair and rich attire,
In fretwise couchit3 with pearlis white
And great balas 4 leaming5 as the fire,
With mony ane emeraut and fair sapphire;
And on her head a chaplet fresh of hue,
Of plumis parted red, and white, and blue.

Full of quaking spangis bright as gold,
Forged of shape like to the amorets,
So new, so fresh, so pleasant to behold,
The plumis eke like to the flower jonets, 6
And other of shape, like to the flower jonets;
And above all this, there was, well I wot,
Beauty enough to make a world to doat.

About her neck, white as the fire amail,"
A goodly chain of small orfevory,8
Whereby there hung a ruby, without fail,
Like to ane heart shapen verily,
That as a spark, of low,9 so wantonly
Seemed burning upon her white throat,
Now if there was good party,10 God it wot.

And for to walk that fresh May's morrow,
Ane hook she had upon her tissue white,
That goodlier had not been seen to-forow,11
As I suppose; and girt she was alite,12

Thus halflings loose for haste, to such delight
It was to see her youth in goodlihede,
That for rudeness to speak thereof I dread.

In her was youth, beauty, with humble aport,
Bounty, richess, and womanly feature,
God better wot than my pen can report:
Wisdom, largess, estate, and cunning 13 sure,
In every point so guided her measure,
In word, in deed, in shape, in countenance,
That nature might no more her child avance!

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4 A kind of precious stone.

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6 A kind of lily. It is conjectured that the royal poet may here allude covertly to the name of his mistress, which, in the diminutive, was Janet or Jonet.-Thompson's

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She turned has, and furth her wayis went;
But tho began mine aches and torment,
To see her part and follow I na might;
Methought the day was turned into night.

The king's Quhair was written while James was confined in Windsor Castle, and it is supposed that he wrote several poems descriptive of humorous rustic scenes after he ascended the Scottish throne; none of these, however, can be identified.

James was followed in comparatively rapid succession by such writers as Henryson, Dunbar, Douglass and Lyndsay, of whom Warton remarks that 'they displayed a degree of sentiment and spirit, a command of phraseology, and a fertility of imagination not to be found in any contemporary English poets.'

ROBERT HENRYSON, the first of these writers, followed king James after an interval of about a half a century. Of this poet there are no personal memorials farther than that he was a schoolmaster of Dunfermlane, and that he died about 1508. His principal poem is The Testament of Cresseid, being a sequel to Chaucer's romantic poem Troilus and Cresseide. Henryson also wrote a series of fables, thirteen in number, and some miscellaneous poems chiefly of a moral character. One of his fables is the common story of the Town Mouse and the Country Mouse, which he treats with much humor and characteristic description, and concludes with the following beautifully expressed moral:

Blissed be simple life, withouten dreid;
Blissed be sober feast in quieté;

Wha has eneuch of no more has he neid,

Though it be little into quantity.

Grit abundance, and blind prosperity,

Oft timis make ane evil conclusion;

The sweetest life, theirfor, in this country,

Is of sickerness, with small possession.

To these lines we may add the following pointed though fanciful descrip

tion of


Would my good lady love me best,
And work after my will,
I should a garment goodliest
Gar make her body till.1

Of high honour should be her hood,
Upon her head to wear,
Garnish'd with governance, so good
Na deeming should her deir.2

1 Cause to be made to her shape.

2 No opinion should injure her.

Her sark should be her body next,

Of chastity so white:

With shame and dread together mixt,
The same should be perfyte.2

Her kirtle should be of clean constance,
Lacit with lesum3 love;
The mailies of continuance,

For never to remove.

Her gown should be of goodliness,
Well ribbon'd with renown;
Purfill'ds with pleasure in ilk place,
Furrit with fine fashioùn.

Her belt should be of benignity,
About her middle meet;

Her mantle of humility

To thole both wind and weit.8

Her hat should be of fair having,
And her tippet of truth;

Her patelet of good pansing,9
Her hals-ribbon of ruth.10

Her sleeves should be of esperance,
To keep her fra despair:
Her glovis of good governance,

To hide her fingers fair.

Her shoen should be of sickerness,
In sign that she not slide;
Her hose of honesty, I guess,
I should for her provide.

Would she put on this garment gay,

I durst swear by my seill,11

That she wore never green nor gray

That set12 her half so weel.

WILLIAM DUNBAR, the poet who follows Henryson, was born at Salton, 1465. Of his early life little is farther known than that, though poor, he was educated at the university of St. Andrews, where he is represented to have taken the degree of master of arts in 1479, when not yet fifteen years of age. Having, soon after he closed his studies, entered the Franciscan Order of Friars, he travelled for a number of years in Scotland, England, and France, as a novitiate of that Order, preaching, and living by the alms of the pious-a mode of life which he himself afterward acknowledged involved him in the constant exercise of falsehood, deceit, and flattery. In 1490, Dunbar, when in the twenty-fifth year of his age, returned to

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his own country, and having soon after renounced his sordid profession, entered into the service of the king. He was employed from that time until 1500, in some subordinate, though not unimportant capacity, in connection with various foreign embassies, and thus visited Germany, Italy, Spain, and France, besides England and Ireland. He could not, in such a mode of life, fail to acquire much of that knowledge of mankind which forms so important a part of the education of a poet.

For these various services, 'Dunbar, in 1500, received from the king an annual pension of ten pounds, soon afterward increased to twenty, and eventually to eighty." He is supposed to have been employed by James about this time, in some of the negotiations preparatory to the marriage of that prince with the princess Margaret, daughter of Henry the Seventh of England, which took place 1503. It was on this occasion that Dunbar wrote the Thistle and the Rose, one of his allegorical poems.

For a number of years after this important marriage, Dunbar continued to reside at court, regaling his royal master with various poetic compositions, and probably also with his conversation, the charms of which, if we may judge from his writings, must have been very great. His situation, however, was far from being happy; for he seems constantly to have repined at the servile course of life which he was condemned to lead, and to have anxiously longed for some more independent means of subsistence. But he sadly realized that while the great listen with delight to the flattering compliments of the learned, they seldom adequately reward their merit. He died 1530, in the sixty-sixth year of his age.

The poetic genius of Dunbar, in the judgment of Sir Walter Scott, and also of Mr. Ellis, was superior to that of any other poet that Scotland ever produced; and it is a matter of great surprise, therefore, that, with few exceptions, his poems should have remained in the obscurity of manuscript for nearly two centuries after they were written. 'These poems may be divided into three classes, the Allegorical, the Moral, and the Comic; besides which there is a vast number of productions composed on occasions affecting himself alone, and which may, therefore, be called Personal poems.' His principal Allegorical poems are the Thistle and the Rose, a Nuptial Song to celebrate the union of King James with the princess Margaret, The Dance, and The Golden Terge. Perhaps the most remarkable of all his poems is 'The Dance.' It describes a procession of the seven deadly sins in the infernal regions, and for strength and vividness of painting, would bear a comparison with any other poem in the language. From this great poem we offer the following brief extract:—

Let see, quoth he, who now begins -
With that the foul Seven Deadly Sins

Begoud to leap at anes.

And first in all the Dance was Pride,
With hair wiled back, and bonnet on side,

1 Pinkerton.

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