Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

Good broth and good keeping do much now and then:
Good diet, with wisdom, best comforteth man.
In health, to be stirring shall profit thee best;
In sickness, hate trouble; seek quiet and rest.
Remember thy soul; let no fancy prevail;
Make ready to God-ward, let faith never quail;
The sooner thyself thou submittest to God.
The sooner he ceaseth to scourge witn his rod.

Moral Reflection on the Wind.

Though winds do rage, as winds were wood, (1)
And cause spring-tides to raise great flood;
And lofty ships leave anchor in mud,
Bereaving many of life and of blood;
Yet, true it is, as cow chews cud,
Am trees, at spring, doth yield forth bud,
Except wind stands as it never stood,
It is an ill wind turns none to good.

SCOTTISH POETS.

The difference between the English and Scottish languages has now become decided. In Barbour and Wyntoun, the variation is very slight; but before another century had elapsed, the northern dialect was a separate and independent speech. This distinction had probably existed long before in the spoken language of the people; but it was only developed in poetry in the writings of Henryson, Dunbar, and Lyndsay. The Anglo-Saxon element predominated in the north, and it was proved to be not unfitted for the higher purposes of poetry. Dunbar is a vigorous imaginative poet, greater than any that had appeared since the days of Chaucer, and only wanting a little more chivalrous feeling and a finer tone of humanity to rival the father of English verse.

JAMES I OF SCOTLAND.

This chivalrous Scottish prince was born in 1394. In order to save him from the unscrupulous hands of his uncle, the Duke of Albany, James was privately despatched to the court of Charles VI. of France, but the vessel in which he embarked was seized off the coast of Norfolk, and the young prince, then in his eleventh year, was forcibly detained by Henry IV. of England. This act of gross injustice completed the calamities of the infirm and imbecile King Robert III. of Scotland, who sank under the blow, and it led to the captivity of James for more than eighteen years. Henry, however, furnished the captive prince with liberal means of instruction. In all the learning and polite accomplishments of the English court he became a proficient, excelling not only in knightly and athletic exercises, but in the science of music and in acquaintance of the classic and romantic poets Chaucer and Gower he studied closely. Original composition followed; and there are few finer strains than those with which

1 Mad.

James soothed his hours of solitary restraint within Windsor Tower. His description of the small garden which lay before his chamber window-once the moat of the Tower-and the first glimpse he there obtained of his future queen, the Lady Joan Beaufort, form a beauti ful and touching episode in our literary anuals. James obtained his release, married the Lady Joan in February, 1424, and in May of the same year was crowned King of Scotland-the most accomplished prince of his age, to rule over a turbulent and distracted country. He set himself vigorously to reduce the power of the profligate nobles, and to insure the faithful administration of justice, resolving, as he said, that the key should keep the castle, and the bush secure the COW. The sentiment was worthy a prince; but James pursued his measures in some instances, too far, and clouded the aspect of justice with ineffaceable stains of cruelty and vengeance. A conspiracy was formed against him (the chief actor in which was his uncle, Walter Stuart, Earl of Athole), and he was assassinated at Perth, on the 20th of February, 1437.

[ocr errors]

The principal poem of James I. is entitled The King's Quhair. meaning the king's Quire, or Book. Only one MS. of the poum (which extends to nearly 1400 lines) is extant, preserved in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and was printed in 1788, edited by William Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee. The subject is the royal poet's love for Lady Joan Beaufort, described in the allegorical style of the age, in the manner of Chancer, and with much ne description, sentiment, and poetical fancy. It places James high in the rank of romantic poets. Two humorous Scottish poems are also ascribed to himChristis Kirk on the Grene,' and Peblis to the Play,' both descriptive of rustic sports and pastimes, and the former ridiculing the Scottish want of skill in archery. They are excellent though coarse, humorous poems. The claim of James to the authorship of either has, however, been disputed, though it seems supported-at least in the case of Christis Kirk on the Grene'-by good testimony. The style has certainly a more modern cast than would be looked for, but no claimant more probable than James I. has yet been named; and Sir Walter Scott--as well as Tytler and others-unhesitatingly ascribes 'Christis Kirk on the Grene' to the royal poet. In the following quotation, and subsequent extracts, the spelling is modernised:

James I. a Prisoner in Windsor, first sees Lady Joan Beaufort, who afterwards was his Queen.

Bewailing in my chamber, thus alone,
Despaired of all joy and remedy.
For-tired of my thought, and woe-begone,
And to the window gan I walk in hy (1)
To see the world and folk that went torbye, (2)
As, for the time, though I of mirthis food
Might have no more, to look it did me good.

1 laste.

2 Past.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

1 Inlaid like fret-work. 2 A kind of precious stone. 4 A kind of lily. It is conjectured that the royal poet the name of his mistress, which, in the diminutive, was Edition of King Quhair (Ayr, 1824). 5 Enamel. 9 Before. 10 Slightly.

8 Match.

Of the lighter poems of King James, we subjoin a specimen. The following are the opening stanzas of Christ's Kirk of the Green':

3 Glittering.

may here allude covertly to Janet or Jouet.-Thomson's 6 Gold-work. 7 Flame. 11 Knowledge.

Was never in Scotland heard nor seen
Sic dancing nor deray, (1)
Nouther at Falkland on the Green,
Nor Peebliss at the Play, (2)
As was of wooers, as I ween,

At Christ's Kirk on ane day;
There came our Kittys, washen clean,
In their new kirtles of gray,
Full gay,
At Christ's Kirk of the Green that day.

They were so nice when men them nicht, (6)

To dance thir damsellis them dight,
Their lasses light of laits, (3)
Their gloves were of the raffel right, (4)
Their shoon were of the Straits (5)
Their kirtles were of Lincoln light,
Weel prest with many plaits.

They squealit like ony gaits (7)

Sa loud

At Christ's Kirk of the Green that day.

Of all their maidens mild as mead,
Was nane so jimp as Gillie,
As ony rose her rood (8) was red,
Her lyre (9) was like the lily.
Fu' yellow, yellow was her head,
But she of love was silly;
Though all her kin had sworn her dead,
She would have but sweet Willie
Alane

At Christ's Kirk of the Green that day.

BLIND HARRY.

6

and

The Adventures of Sir William Wallace,' written about 1460, by a wandering poet usually called BLIND HARRY, enjoyed great popularity up to our own time. Of the author, nothing is known but that he was blind from his infancy; that he wrote this poem, made a living by reciting it, or parts of it, before company. It is said by himself to be founded on a narrative of the life of Wallace, written in Latin by Arnold Blair, chaplain to the Scottish hero, and which, if it ever existed, is now lost. The chief materials, however, have evidently been the traditionary stories told respecting Wallace in the minstrel's own time, which was a century and a half subsequent to that of the hero. In this respect, The Wallace' resembles The Bruce;' but the longer time which had elapsed, the unlettered character of the author, and the comparative humility of the class from whom he would chiefly derive his facts, made it inevitable that the work should be much less of a historical document than that of the learned archdeacon of Aberdeen. It is, in reality, such an account of Wallace as might be expected of Montrose or Dundee from some unlettered but ingenious poet of the present day, who should consult only Highland tradition for his authority. Harry's Wallace is a merciless champion, for ever hewing down the English with his strong arm and terrible sword, and delighting in the suffering of his enemies. In the following passage, we have this relentless spirit blazing forth:

Storming of Dunnottar Castle.

Wallace on fire gart set all hastily,

Brunt up the kirk, and all that was therein.

1 Merriment, disorder (from the French derayer).

2 t Falkland and Peebles, archery and other games took place.

S Light of manrers. 4 Supposed to be from ra or rae, a roc-deer, and fell, a skin.

5 Shoes of morocco leather from the Straits. 6 Came nigh them.

7 Goats.

8 Those parts of the face which in youth and health have a ruddy colour.--Jamiesor, 9 Flesh, skin (Ang.-Sax, liru).

« ZurückWeiter »