Specimens with Memoirs of the Less-known British Poets, Complete
Part 3 out of 20
JOHN THE CHAPLAIN--THOMAS OCCLEVE.
The first of these is the only versifier that can be assigned to England
in the reign of Henry IV. His name was John Walton, though he was
generally known as _Johannes Capellanus_ or 'John the Chaplain.' He was
canon of Oseney, and died sub-dean of York. He, in the year 1410,
translated Boethius' famous treatise, 'De Consolatione Philosophiae,'
into English verse. He is not known to have written anything original.
--Thomas Occleve appeared in the reign of Henry V., about 1420. Like
Chaucer and Gower, he was a student of municipal law, having attended
Chester's Inn, which stood on the site of the present Somerset House;
but although he trod in the footsteps of his celebrated predecessors, it
was with far feebler powers. His original pieces are contemptible, both
in subject and in execution. His best production is a translation of
'Egidius De Regimine Principum.' Warton, alluding to the period at which
these writers appeared, has the following oft-quoted observations:
--'I consider Chaucer as a genial day in an English spring. A brilliant
sun enlivens the face of nature with an unusual lustre; the sudden
appearance of cloudless skies, and the unexpected warmth of a tepid
atmosphere, after the gloom and the inclemencies of a tedious winter,
fill our hearts with the visionary prospect of a speedy summer, and we
fondly anticipate a long continuance of gentle gales and vernal serenity.
But winter returns with redoubled horrors; the clouds condense more
formidably than before, and those tender buds and early blossoms which
were called forth by the transient gleam of a temporary sunshine, are
nipped by frosts and torn by tempests.' These sentences are, after all,
rather pompous, and express, in the most verbose style of the _Rambler_,
the simple fact, that after Chaucer's death the ground lay fallow, and
that for a while in England (in Scotland it was otherwise) there were
few poets, and little poetry.
This copious and versatile writer flourished in the reign of Henry VI.
Warton affirms that he reached his highest point of eminence in 1430,
although some of his poems had appeared before. He was a monk of the
Benedictine Abbey at Bury, in Suffolk. He received his education at
Oxford; and when it was finished, he travelled through France and Italy,
mastering the languages and literature of both countries, and studying
their poets, particularly Dante, Boccaccio, and Alain Chartier. When he
returned, he opened a school in his monastery for teaching the sons of
the nobility composition and the art of versification. His acquirements
were, for the age, universal. He was a poet, a rhetorician, an astronomer,
a mathematician, a public disputant, and a theologian. He was born in
1370, ordained sub-deacon in 1389, deacon in 1393, and priest in 1397.
The time of his death is uncertain. His great patron was Humphrey, Duke
of Gloucester, to whom he complains sometimes of necessitous circumstances,
which were, perhaps, produced by indulgence, since he confesses himself to
be 'a lover of wine.'
The great merit of Lydgate is his versatility. This Warton has happily
expressed in a few sentences, which we shall quote:--
'He moves with equal ease in every form of composition. His hymns and
his ballads have the same degree of merit; and whether his subject be
the life of a hermit or a hero, of Saint Austin or Guy, Earl of Warwick,
ludicrous or legendary, religious or romantic, a history or an allegory,
he writes with facility. His transitions were rapid, from works of the
most serious and laborious kind, to sallies of levity and pieces of
popular entertainment. His muse was of universal access; and he was not
only the poet of his monastery, but of the world in general. If a
disguising was intended by the Company of Goldsmiths, a mask before His
Majesty at Eltham, a May game for the sheriffs and aldermen of London,
a mumming before the Lord Mayor, a procession of pageants, from the
"Creation," for the Festival of Corpus Christi, or a carol for the
coronation, Lydgate was consulted, and gave the poetry.'
Lydgate is, so far as we know, the first British bard who wrote for
hire. At the request of Whethamstede, the Abbot of St Alban's, he
translated a 'Life of St Alban' from Latin into English rhymes, and
received for the whole work one hundred shillings. His principal poems,
all founded on the works of other authors, are the 'Fall of Princes,'
the 'Siege of Thebes,' and the 'Destruction of Troy.' They are written
in a diffuse and verbose style, but are generally clear in sense, and
often very luxuriant in description. 'The London Lyckpenny' is a
fugitive poem, in which the author describes himself coming up to town
in search of legal redress for a wrong, and gives some curious
particulars of the condition of that city in the early part of the
CANACE, CONDEMNED TO DEATH BY HER FATHER AEOLUS, SENDS
TO HER GUILTY BROTHER MACAREUS THE LAST TESTIMONY OF
HER UNHAPPY PASSION.
Out of her swoonė when she did abraid,
Knowing no mean but death in her distrčss,
To her brothčr full piteously she said,
'Cause of my sorrow, root of my heaviness,
That whilom were the source of my gladness,
When both our joys by will were so disposed,
Under one key our hearts to be enclosed.--
* * * * *
This is mine end, I may it not astart;
O brother mine, there is no more to say;
Lowly beseeching with mine wholė heart
For to remember specially, I pray,
If it befall my little son to dey
That thou mayst after some mind on us have,
Suffer us both be buried in one grave.
I hold him strictly 'tween my armės twain,
Thou and Natłrė laid on me this charge;
He, guiltless, mustė with me suffer pain,
And, since thou art at freedom and at large,
Let kindness ourė love not so discharge,
But have a mind, wherever that thou be,
Once on a day upon my child and me.
On thee and me dependeth the trespące
Touching our guilt and our great offence,
But, welaway! most ąngelic of face
Our childė, young in his pure innocence,
Shall against right suffer death's violence,
Tender of limbs, God wot, full guiltėless
The goodly fair, that lieth here speechlčss.
A mouth he has, but wordės hath he none;
Cannot complain, alas! for none outrąge:
Nor grutcheth not, but lies here all alone
Still as a lamb, most meek of his visąge.
What heart of steel could do to him damąge,
Or suffer him die, beholding the mannčre
And look benign of his twain even clear.'--
* * * * *
Writing her letter, awhapped all in drede,
In her right hand her pen began to quake,
And a sharp sword to make her heartė bleed,
In her left hand her father hath her take,
And most her sorrow was for her childė's sake,
Upon whose facė in her barme sleepķng
Full many a tear she wept in complainķng.
After all this so as she stood and quoke,
Her child beholding mid of her paines' smart,
Without abode the sharpė sword she took,
And rove herselfė even to the heart;
Her child fell down, which mightė not astart,
Having no help to succour him nor save,
But in her blood theself began to bathe.
 'Abraid:' awake.
 'Astart:' escape.
 'Dey:' die.
 'Grutcheth:' murmureth.
 'Awhapped:' confounded.
 'Barme:' lap.
THE LONDON LYCKPENNY.
Within the hall, neither rich nor yet poor
Would do for me ought, although I should die:
Which seeing, I gat me out of the door,
Where Flemings began on me for to cry,
'Master, what will you copen or buy?
Fine felt hats? or spectacles to read?
Lay down your silver, and here you may speed.
Then to Westminster gate I presently went,
When the sun was at high prime:
Cooks to me they took good intent,
And proffered me bread, with ale and wine,
Ribs of beef, both fat and full fine;
A fair cloth they 'gan for to spread,
But, wanting money, I might not be sped.
Then unto London I did me hie,
Of all the land it beareth the price;
'Hot peascods!' one began to cry,
'Strawberry ripe, and cherries in the rise!'
One bade me come near and buy some spice;
Pepper, and saffron they 'gan me beed;
But, for lack of money, I might not speed.
Then to the Cheap I 'gan me drawn,
Where much people I saw for to stand;
One offered me velvet, silk, and lawn,
Another he taketh me by the hand,
'Here is Paris thread, the finest in the land!'
I never was used to such things, indeed;
And, wanting money, I might not speed.
Then went I forth by London Stone,
Throughout all Canwick Street:
Drapers much cloth me offered anon;
Then comes me one cried 'Hot sheep's feet;'
One cried mackerel, rushes green, another 'gan greet,
One bade me buy a hood to cover my head;
But, for want of money, I might not be sped.
Then I hied me unto East-Cheap,
One cries ribs of beef, and many a pie;
Pewter pots they clattered on a heap;
There was harp, pipe, and minstrelsy;
Yea by cock! nay by cock! some began cry;
Some sung of Jenkin and Julian for their meed;
But, for lack of money, I might not speed.
Then into Cornhill anon I yode,
Where was much stolen gear among;
I saw where hung mine ownė hood,
That I had lost among the throng;
To buy my own hood I thought it wrong:
I knew it well, as I did my creed;
But, for lack of money, I could not speed.
The taverner took me by the sleeve,
'Sir,' saith he, 'will you our wine assay?'
I answered, 'That can not much me grieve,
A penny can do no more than it may;'
I drank a pint, and for it did pay;
Yet, sore a-hungered from thence I yede,
And, wanting money, I could not speed.
 'Copen:' _koopen_(Flem.) to buy.
 'Took good intent:' took notice; paid attention.
 'In the rise:' on the branch.
 'Beed:' offer.
 'Greet:' cry.
 'Yode:' went.
 'Yede:' went.
HARDING, KAY, &c.
John Harding flourished about the year 1403. He fought at the battle of
Shrewsbury on the Percy side. He is the author of a poem entitled 'The
Chronicle of England unto the Reign of King Edward the Fourth, in
Verse.' It has no poetic merit, and little interest, except to the
antiquary. In the reign of the above king we find the first mention of
a Poet Laureate. John Kay was appointed by Edward, when he returned from
Italy, Poet Laureate to the king, but has, perhaps fortunately for the
world, left behind him no poems. Would that the same had been the case
with some of his successors in the office! There is reason to believe,
that for nearly two centuries ere this date, there had existed in the
court a personage, entitled the King's Versifier, (versificator,) to
whom one hundred shillings a-year was the salary, and that the title
was, by and by, changed to that of Poet Laureate, _i.e._, Laurelled
Poet. It had long been customary in the universities to crown scholars
when they graduated with laurel, and Warton thinks that from these the
first poet laureates were selected, less for their general genius than
for their skill in Latin verse. Certainly the earliest of the Laureate
poems, such as those by Baston and Gulielmus, who acted as royal poets
to Richard I. and Edward II., and wrote, the one on Richard's Crusade,
and the other on Edward's Siege of Stirling Castle, are in Latin. So
too are the productions of Andrew Bernard, who was the Poet Laureate
successively to Henry VII. and Henry VIII. It was not till after the
Reformation had lessened the superstitious veneration for the Latin
tongue that the laureates began to write in English. It is almost a
pity, we are sometimes disposed to think, that, in reference to such
odes as those of Pye, Whitehead, Colley Cibber, and even some of
Southey's, the old practice had not continued; since thus, in the first
place, we might have had a chance of elegant Latinity, in the absence of
poetry and sense; and since, secondly, the deficiencies of the laureate
poems would have been disguised, from the general eye at least, under
the veil of an unknown tongue. It is curious to notice about this period
the uprise of two didactic poets, both writing on alchymy, the chemistry
of that day, and neither displaying a spark of genius. These are John
Norton and George Ripley, both renowned for learning and knowledge of
their beloved occult sciences. Their poems, that by Norton, entitled
'The Ordinal,' and that by Ripley, entitled 'The Compound of Alchemie,'
are dry and rugged treatises, done into indifferent verse. One rather
fine fancy occurs in the first of these. It is that of an alchymist who
projected a bridge of gold over the Thames, near London, crowned with
pinnacles of gold, which, being studded with carbuncles, should diffuse
a blaze of light in the dark! Alchymy has had other and nobler singers
than Ripley and Norton. It has, as Warton remarks, 'enriched the store-
house of Arabian romance with many magnificent imageries.' It is the
inspiration of two of the noblest romances in this or any language
--'St. Leon' and 'Zanoni.' And its idea, transfigured into a transcen-
dental form, gave light and life and fire, and the loftiest poetry, to
the eloquence of the lamented Samuel Brown, whose tongue, as he talked
on his favourite theme, seemed transmuted into gold; nay, whose lips,
like the touch of Midas, seemed to create the effects of alchymy upon
every subject they approached, and upon every heart over which they
wielded their sorcery.
We pass now from this comparatively barren age in the history of English
poetry to a cluster of Scottish bards. The first of these is ROBERT
HENRYSON. He was schoolmaster at Dunfermline, and died some time before
1508. He is supposed by Lord Hailes to have been preceptor of youth in
the Benedictine convent in that place. He is the author of 'Robene and
Makyne,' a pastoral ballad of very considerable merit, and of which
Campbell says, somewhat too warmly, 'It is the first known pastoral,'
(he means in the Scottish language of course,) 'and one of the best, in
a dialect rich with the favours of the pastoral muse.' He wrote also a
sequel to Chaucer's 'Troilus and Cresseide' entitled 'The Testament of
Cresseide,' and thirteen Fables, of which copies, in MS., are preserved
in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh. One of these, 'The Town and
Country Mouse,' tells that old story with considerable spirit and
humour. 'The Garment of Good Ladies' is an ingenious and beautiful
strain, written in that quaint style of allegorising which continued
popular as far down as the days of Cowley, and even later.
DINNER GIVEN BY THE TOWN MOUSE TO THE COUNTRY MOUSE.
* * * Their harboury was ta'en
Into a spence, where victual was plenty,
Both cheese and butter on long shelves right high,
With fish and flesh enough, both fresh and salt,
And pockis full of groats, both meal and malt.
After, when they disposed were to dine,
Withouten grace they wuish and went to meat,
On every dish that cookmen can divine,
Mutton and beef stricken out in telyies grit;
A lordė's fare thus can they counterfeit,
Except one thing--they drank the water clear
Instead of wine, but yet they made good cheer.
With blithe upcast and merry countenance,
The elder sister then spier'd at her guest,
If that she thought by reason difference
Betwixt that chamber and her sairy nest.
'Yea, dame,' quoth she, 'but how long will this last?'
'For evermore, I wait, and longer too;'
'If that be true, ye are at ease,' quoth she.
To eke the cheer, in plenty forth they brought
A plate of groatis and a dish of meal,
A threif of cakes, I trow she spared them nought,
Abundantly about her for to deal.
Furmage full fine she brought instead of jeil,
A white candle out of a coffer staw,
Instead of spice, to creish their teeth witha'.
Thus made they merry, till they might nae mair,
And, 'Hail, Yule, hail!' they cryit up on high;
But after joy oftentimes comes care,
And trouble after great prosperity.
Thus as they sat in all their jollity,
The spencer came with keyis in his hand,
Open'd the door, and them at dinner fand.
They tarried not to wash, as I suppose,
But on to go, who might the foremost win:
The burgess had a hole, and in she goes,
Her sister had no place to hide her in;
To see that silly mouse it was great sin,
So desolate and wild of all good rede,
For very fear she fell in swoon, near dead.
Then as God would it fell in happy case,
The spencer had no leisure for to bide,
Neither to force, to seek, nor scare, nor chase,
But on he went and cast the door up-wide.
This burgess mouse his passage well has spied.
Out of her hole she came and cried on high,
'How, fair sister, cry peep, where'er thou be.'
The rural mouse lay flatlings on the ground,
And for the death she was full dreadand,
For to her heart struck many woful stound,
As in a fever trembling foot and hand;
And when her sister in such plight her fand,
For very pity she began to greet,
Syne comfort gave, with words as honey sweet.
'Why lie ye thus? Rise up, my sister dear,
Come to your meat, this peril is o'erpast.'
The other answer'd with a heavy cheer,
'I may nought eat, so sore I am aghast.
Lever I had this forty dayis fast,
With water kail, and green beans and peas,
Than all your feast with this dread and disease.'
With fair 'treaty, yet gart she her arise;
To board they went, and on together sat,
But scantly had they drunken once or twice,
When in came Gib Huntér, our jolly cat,
And bade God speed. The burgess up then gat,
And to her hole she fled as fire of flint;
Bawdrons the other by the back has hent.
From foot to foot he cast her to and frae,
Whiles up, whiles down, as cant as any kid;
Whiles would he let her run under the strae
Whiles would he wink and play with her buik-hid;
Thus to the silly mouse great harm he did;
Till at the last, through fair fortune and hap,
Betwixt the dresser and the wall she crap.
Syne up in haste behind the panelling,
So high she clamb, that Gilbert might not get her,
And by the cluiks craftily can hing,
Till he was gone, her cheer was all the better:
Syne down she lap, when there was none to let her;
Then on the burgess mouse loud could she cry,
'Farewell, sister, here I thy feast defy.
Thy mangery is minget all with care,
Thy guise is good, thy gane-full sour as gall;
The fashion of thy feris is but fair,
So shall thou find hereafterward may fall.
I thank yon curtain, and yon parpane wall,
Of my defence now from yon cruel beast;
Almighty God, keep me from such a feast!
Were I into the place that I came frae,
For weal nor woe I should ne'er come again.'
With that she took her leave, and forth can gae,
Till through the corn, till through the plain.
When she was forth and free she was right fain,
And merrily linkit unto the muir,
I cannot tell how afterward she fure.
But I heard syne she passed to her den,
As warm as wool, suppose it was not grit,
Full beinly stuffed was both butt and ben,
With peas and nuts, and beans, and rye and wheat;
Whene'er she liked, she had enough of meat,
In quiet and ease, withouten [any] dread,
But to her sister's feast no more she gaed.
[FROM THE MORAL.]
Blessed be simple life, withouten dreid;
Blessed be sober feast in quieté;
Who has enough, of no more has he need,
Though it be little into quantity.
Great abundance, and blind prosperity,
Ofttimės make an evil conclusion;
The sweetest life, therefore, in this country,
Is of sickerness, with small possession.
 'Spence:' pantry.
 'Wuish:' washed.
 'Telyies grit:' great pieces.
 'Spier'd;' asked.
 'Sairy:' sorry.
 'Wait:' expect.
 'Threif:' a set of twenty-four.
 'Staw:' stole.
 'Creish:' grease.
 'rede:' counsel.
 'Syne:' then.
 'Lever:' rather.
 'Bawdrons:' the cat.
 'Hent:' seized.
 'Cant:' lively.
 'Strae:' straw.
 'Buik-hid:' body.
 'Crap:' crept.
 'Cluiks:' claws.
 'Minget:' mixed.
 'Gane-full:' mouthful.
 'Parpane:' partition.
 'Fure:' went.
 'Beinly:' snugly.
 'Sickerness:' security.
THE GARMENT OF GOOD LADIES.
Would my good lady love me best,
And work after my will,
I should a garment goodliest
Gar make her body till.
Of high honołr should be her hood,
Upon her head to wear,
Garnish'd with governance, so good
No deeming should her deir,
Her sark should be her body next,
Of chastity so white:
With shame and dread together mixt,
The same should be perfite.
Her kirtle should be of clean constance,
Laced with lesum love;
The mailies of continuance,
For never to remove.
Her gown should be of goodliness,
Well ribbon'd with renown;
Purfill'd with pleasure in ilk place,
Furred with fine fashiołn.
Her belt should be of benignity,
About her middle meet;
Her mantle of humility,
To thole both wind and weet.
Her hat should be of fair havģng,
And her tippet of truth;
Her patelet of good pansģng,
Her hals-ribbon of ruth.
Her sleeves should be of esperance,
To keep her from despair;
Her glovės of good governance,
To hide her fingers fair.
Her shoes 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,
That she wore never green nor gray
That set her half so weel.
 'Gar:' cause.
 'Till:' to.
 'Deeming:' opinion.
 'Deir:' injure.
 'Sark:' shift.
 'Perfite:' perfect.
 'Lesum:' lawful.
 'Mailies:' eyelet-holes.
 'Purfill'd:' fringed.
 'Ilk:' each.
 'Thole:' endure.
 'Weet:': wet.
 'Pansing:' thinking.
 'Her hals-ribbon of ruth:' her neck-ribbon of pity.
 'Sickerness:' firmness.
 'Seill:' salvation.
 'Set:' became.
This was a man of the true and sovereign seed of genius. Sir Walter
Scott calls Dunbar 'a poet unrivalled by any--that Scotland has ever
produced.' We venture to call him the Dante of Scotland; nay, we
question if any English poet has surpassed 'The Dance of the Seven
Deadly Sins through Hell' in its peculiarly Dantesque qualities of
severe and purged grandeur; of deep sincerity, and in that air of moral
disappointment and sorrow, approaching despair, which distinguished the
sad-hearted lover of Beatrice, who might almost have exclaimed, with one
yet mightier than he in his misery and more miserable in his might,
'Where'er I am is Hell--myself am Hell.'
Foster, in an entry in his journal, (we quote from memory,) says, 'I
have just seen the moon rising, and wish the impression to be eternal.
What a look she casts upon earth, like that of a celestial being who
loves our planet still, but has given up all hope of ever doing her any
good or seeing her become any better--so serene she seems in her settled
and unutterable sadness.' Such, we have often fancied, was the feeling
of the great Florentine toward the world, and which--pained, pitying,
yearning enthusiast that he was!--escaped irresistibly from those deep-
set eyes, that adamantine jaw, and that brow, wearing the laurel, proudly
yet painfully, as if it were a crown of everlasting fire! Dunbar was not
altogether a Dante, either in melancholy or in power, but his 'Dance'
reveals kindred moods, operating at times on a kindred genius.
In Dante humour existed too, but ere it could come up from his deep
nature to the surface, it must freeze and stiffen into monumental scorn
--a laughter that seemed, while mocking at all things else, to mock at
its own mockery most of all. Aird speaks in his 'Demoniac,' of a smile
upon his hero's brow,
'Like the lightning of a hope about to DIE
For ever from the furrow'd brows of Hell's Eternity.'
Dante's smile may rather be compared to the RISING of a false and self-
detected hope upon the lost brows where it is never to come to dawn, and
where, nevertheless, it remains for ever, like a smile carved upon
a sepulchre. Dunbar has a more joyous disposition than his Italian
prototype and master, and he indulges himself to the top of his bent,
but in a style (particularly in his 'Twa Married Women and the Widow,'
and in 'The Friars of Berwick,' which is not, however, quite certainly
his) too coarse and prurient for the taste of this age.
'The Merle and the Nightingale' is one of the finest of Moelibean poems.
Beautiful is the contest between the two sweet singers as to whether the
love of man or the love of God be the nobler, and more beautiful still
their reconciliation, when
'Then sang they both with voices loud and clear,
The Merle sang, "Man, love God that has thee wrought."
The Nightingale sang, "Man, love the Lord most dear,
That thee and all this world made of nought."
The Merle said, "Love him that thy love has sought
From heaven to earth, and here took flesh and bone."
The Nightingale sang. "And with his death thee bought:
All love is lost, but upon him alone."
_'Then flew these birds over the boughis sheen,
Singing of love among the leaves small.'_
William Dunbar is said to have been born about the year 1465. He
received his education at St Andrews, and took there the degree of M.A.
in 1479. He became then a friar of the Franciscan order, (Grey Friars,)
and in the exercise of his profession seems to have rambled over all
Scotland, England, and France, preaching, begging, and, according to his
own confession, cheating, lying, and cajoling. Yet if this kind of life
was not propitious, in his case, to morality, it must have been to the
development of the poetic faculty. It enabled him to see all varieties
of life and of scenery, although here and there, in his verses, you find
symptoms of that bitterness which is apt to arise in the heart of a
wanderer. He was subsequently employed by James IV. in some official
work connected with various foreign embassies, which led him to Spain,
Italy, and Germany, as well as England and France. This proves that he
was no less a man of business-capacity and habits than a poet. For these
services he, in 1500, received from the King a pension of ten pounds,
afterwards increased to twenty, and, in fine, to eighty. He is said to
have been employed in the negotiations preparatory to the marriage of
James with Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII., which took place in
1503, and which our poet celebrated in his verses, 'The Thistle and the
Rose.' He continued ever afterwards in the Court, hovering in position
between a laureate and a court-fool, charming James with his witty
conversation as well as his verses, but refused the benefices for which
he petitioned, and gradually devoured by chagrin and disappointment.
Seldom has genius so great been placed in a falser position, and this
has given a querulous tinge to many of his poems. He seems to have died
about 1520. Even after his death, misfortune pursued him. His works
were, with the exception of two or three pieces, locked up in an obscure
MS. till the middle of last century. Since then, however, their fame has
been still increasing. In 1834, Mr David Laing, so favourably known as
one of our first antiquarians, published a complete and elaborate edition
of Dunbar's works; and in a newspaper this very day (May 23) we see another
edition announced, in a popular and modernised shape, of the poetry of this
great old Scottish _Makkar_.
THE DANCE OF THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS THROUGH HELL.
Of Februar' the fifteenth night,
Full long before the dayis light,
I lay into a trance;
And then I saw both Heaven and Hell;
Methought among the fiendis fell,
Mahoun gart cry a Dance,
Of shrewis that were never shrevin,
Against the feast of Fastern's even,
To make their observąnce:
He bade gallants go graith a guise,
And cast up gamounts in the skies,
As varlets do in France.
* * * * *
Holy harlottis in hautane wise,
Came in with many sundry guise,
But yet laugh'd never Mahņun,
Till priests came in with bare shaven necks,
Then all the fiends laugh'd and made gecks,
Black-Belly and Bawsy-Broun.
* * * * *
'Let's see,' quoth he, 'now who begins:'
With that the foul Seven Deadly Sins
Began to leap at anis.
And first of all in dance was Pride,
With hair wyld back, and bonnet on side,
Like to make wasty weanis;
And round about him, as a wheel,
Hang all in rumples to the heel,
His kethat for the nanis.
Many proud trompour with him tripped,
Through scalding fire aye as they skipped,
They girn'd with hideous granis.
Then Ire came in with sturt and strife,
His hand was aye upon his knife,
He brandish'd like a beir;
Boasters, braggers, and barganeris,
After him passed into pairis,
All bodin in feir of weir.
In jackis, scripis, and bonnets of steel,
Their legs were chenyiet to the heel,
Froward was their affeir,
Some upon other with brands beft,
Some jaggit others to the heft
With knives that sharp could shear.
Next in the dance follow'd Envy,
Fill'd full of feud and felony,
Hid malice and despite,
For privy hatred that traitor trembled;
Him follow'd many freik dissembled,
With feigned wordis white.
And flatterers into men's faces,
And backbiters in secret places
To lie that had delight,
And rowneris of false lesģngs;
Alas, that courts of noble kings
Of them can never be quite!
Next him in dance came Covetice,
Root of all evil and ground of vice,
That never could be content,
Caitiffs, wretches, and ockerars,
Hood-pikes, hoarders, and gatherers,
All with that warlock went.
Out of their throats they shot on other
Hot molten gold, methought, a fother,
As fire-flaucht most fervčnt;
Aye as they tumit them of shot,
Fiends fill'd them new up to the throat
With gold of all kind prent.
Syne Sweirness at the second bidding
Came like a sow out of a midding,
Full sleepy was his grunyie.
Many sweir bumbard belly-huddroun,
Many slute daw and sleepy duddroun,
Him served aye with sounyie.
He drew them forth into a chenyie,
And Belial with a bridle-rennyie,
Ever lash'd them on the lunyie.
In dance they were so slow of feet
They gave them in the fire a heat,
And made them quicker of counyie.
Then Lechery, that loathly corse,
Came bearing like a bagged horse,
And Idleness did him lead;
There was with him an ugly sort
And many stinking foul tramort,
That had in sin been dead.
When they were enter'd in the dance,
They were full strange of countenance,
Like torches burning reid.
* * * * *
Then the foul monster Gluttony,
Of wame insatiable and greedy,
To dance he did him dress;
Him followed many a foul drunkąrt
With can and collep, cop and quart,
In surfeit and excess.
Full many a waistless wally-drag
With wames unwieldable did forth drag,
In creish that did incress;
Drink, aye they cried, with many a gape,
The fiends gave them hot lead to laip,
Their leveray was no less.
* * * * *
No minstrels play'd to them but doubt,
For gleemen there were holden out,
By day and eke by night,
Except a minstrel that slew a man;
So till his heritage he wan,
And enter'd by brief of right.
* * * * *
Then cried Mahoun for a Highland padyane,
Syne ran a fiend to fetch Mac Fadyane,
Far northward in a nook,
By he the Correnoch had done shout,
Ersch-men so gather'd him about
In hell great room they took:
These termagants, with tag and tatter,
Full loud in Ersch began to clatter,
And roup like raven and rook.
The devil so deaved was with their yell,
That in the deepest pot of hell
He smored them with smoke.
 'Mahoun:' the devil.
 'Gart:' caused.
 'Shrewis:' sinners.
 'Shrevin:' confessed.
 'Graith:' prepare.
 'Guise:' masque.
 'Gamounts:' dances.
 'Hautane:' haughty.
 'Gecks:' mocks.
 'Black-Belly and Bawsy-Broun:' names of spirits.
 'Anis:' once.
 'Wyld:' combed.
 'Wasty weanis:' wasteful children.
 'Kethat:' cassock.
 'Nanis:' nonce.
 'Trompour:' impostor.
 'Girn'd:' grinned.
 'Granis:' groans.
 'Sturt:' violence.
 'Barganeris:' bullies.
 'Into pairis:' in pairs.
 'Bodin in feir of weir:' arrayed in trappings of war.
 'Chenyiet:' covered with chain-mail.
 'Affeir:' aspect.
 'Beft:' struck.
 'Jaggit:' stabbed.
 'Heft:' hilt.
 'Freik:' fellows.
 'Rowneris:' whisperers.
 'Lesģngs:' lies.
 'Quite:' quit.
 'Ockerars:' usurers.
 'Hood-pikes:' misers.
 'Fother:' quantity.
 'Flaucht:' flake.
 'Tumit:' emptied.
 'Prent:' stamp.
 'Syne:' then.
 'Sweirness:' laziness.
 'Midding:' dunghill.
 'Grunyie:' grunt.
 'Bumbard:' indolent.
 'Belly-huddroun:' gluttonous sloven.
 'Slute daw:' slovenly drab.
 'Duddroun:' sloven.
 'Sounyie:' care.
 'Chenyie:' chain.
 'Rennyie:' rein.
 'Lunyie:' back.
 'Counyie:' apprehension.
 'Bagged horse:' stallion.
 'Sort:' number.
 'Tramort:' corpse.
 'Wame:' belly.
 'Can and collep, cop and quart:' different names of
 'Wally-drag:' sot.
 'Creish:' grease.
 'Laip:' lap.
 'Leveray:' desire to drink.
 'But:' without.
 'Wan:' got.
 'Padyane:' pageant.
 'Mac Fadyane:' name of some Highland laird.
 'By he the Correnoch had done shout:' by the time that he had
raised the Correnoch, or cry of help.
 'Ersch-men:' Highlanders.
 'Roup:' croak.
 'Deaved:' deafened.
 'Smored:' smothered.
THE MERLE AND NIGHTINGALE.
In May, as that Aurora did upspring,
With crystal een chasing the cluddės sable,
I heard a Merle with merry notės sing
A song of love, with voice right comfortįble,
Against the orient beamis, amiable,
Upon a blissful branch of laurel green;
This was her sentence, sweet and delectable,
'A lusty life in Lovė's service been.'
Under this branch ran down a river bright,
Of balmy liquor, crystalline of hue,
Against the heavenly azure skyis light,
Where did upon the other side pursue
A Nightingale, with sugar'd notės new,
Whose angel feathers as the peacock shone;
This was her song, and of a sentence true,
'All love is lost but upon God alone.'
With notės glad, and glorious harmony,
This joyful merle, so salust she the day,
While rung the woodis of her melody,
Saying, 'Awake, ye lovers of this May;
Lo, fresh Flora has flourish'd every spray,
As nature, has her taught, the noble queen,
The fields be clothed in a new array;
A lusty life in Lovė's service been.'
Ne'er sweeter noise was heard with living man,
Than made this merry gentle nightingale;
Her sound went with the river as it ran,
Out through the fresh and flourish'd lusty vale;
'O Merle!' quoth she, 'O fool! stint of thy tale,
For in thy song good sentence is there none,
For both is tint, the time and the travail,
Of every love but upon God alone.'
'Cease,' quoth the Merle, 'thy preaching, Nightingale:
Shall folk their youth spend into holiness?
Of young saintis, grow old fiendis, but fable;
Fy, hypocrite, in yearis' tenderness,
Against the law of kind thou goes express,
That crooked age makes one with youth serene,
Whom nature of conditions made diverse:
A lusty life in Lovė's service been.'
The Nightingale said, 'Fool, remember thee,
That both in youth and eild, and every hour,
The love of God most dear to man should be;
That him, of nought, wrought like his own figour,
And died himself, from death him to succour;
Oh, whether was kythit there true love or none?
He is most true and steadfast paramour,
And love is lost but upon him alone.'
The Merle said, 'Why put God so great beauty
In ladies, with such womanly havķng,
But if he would that they should loved be?
To love eke nature gave them inclinķng,
And He of nature that worker was and king,
Would nothing frustir put, nor let be seen,
Into his creature of his own making;
A lusty life in Lovė's service been.'
The Nightingale said, 'Not to that behoof
Put God such beauty in a lady's face,
That she should have the thank therefor or love,
But He, the worker, that put in her such grace;
Of beauty, bounty, riches, time, or space,
And every goodness that been to come or gone
The thank redounds to him in every place:
All love is lost but upon God alone.'
'O Nightingale! it were a story nice,
That love should not depend on charity;
And, if that virtue contrar' be to vice,
Then love must be a virtue, as thinks me;
For, aye, to love envy must contrar' be:
God bade eke love thy neighbour from the spleen;
And who than ladies sweeter neighbours be?
A lusty life in Lovė's service been.'
The Nightingale said, 'Bird, why does thou rave?
Man may take in his lady such delight,
Him to forget that her such virtue gave,
And for his heaven receive her colour white:
Her golden tressed hairis redomite,
Like to Apollo's beamis though they shone,
Should not him blind from love that is perfite;
All love is lost but upon God alone.'
The Merle said, 'Love is cause of honour aye,
Love makis cowards manhood to purchase,
Love makis knightis hardy at essay,
Love makis wretches full of largėness,
Love makis sweir folks full of business,
Love makis sluggards fresh and well beseen,
Love changes vice in virtuous nobleness;
A lusty life in Lovė's service been.'
The Nightingale said, 'True is the contrary;
Such frustis love it blindis men so far,
Into their minds it makis them to vary;
In false vain-glory they so drunken are,
Their wit is went, of woe they are not 'ware,
Till that all worship away be from them gone,
Fame, goods, and strength; wherefore well say I dare,
All love is lost but upon God alone.'
Then said the Merle, 'Mine error I confess:
This frustis love is all but vanity:
Blind ignorance me gave such hardiness,
To argue so against the verity;
Wherefore I counsel every man that he
With love not in the fiendis net be tone,
But love the love that did for his love die:
All love is lost but upon God alone.'
Then sang they both with voices loud and clear,
The Merle sang, 'Man, love God that has thee wrought.'
The Nightingale sang, 'Man, love the Lord most dear,
That thee and all this world made of nought.'
The Merle said, 'Love him that thy love has sought
From heaven to earth, and here took flesh and bone.'
The Nightingale sang, 'And with his death thee bought:
All love is lost but upon him alone.'
Then flew these birds over the boughis sheen,
Singing of love among the leavės small;
Whose eidant plead yet made my thoughtis grein,
Both sleeping, waking, in rest and in travail;
Me to recomfort most it does avail,
Again for love, when love I can find none,
To think how sung this Merle and Nightingale;
'All love is lost but upon God alone.'
 'Een:' eyes.
 'Merle:' blackbird.
 'Salust:' saluted.
 'Tint:' lost.
 'But:' without.
 'Kind:' nature.
 'Eild:' age.
 'Kythit:' shewn.
 'Frustrir:' in vain.
 'Spleen:' from the heart.
 'Redomite:' bound, encircled.
 'Sweir:' slothful.
 'Well beseen:' of good appearance.
 'Tone:' taken.
 'Whose eidant plead yet made my thoughtis grein:' whose close
disputation made my thoughts yearn.
This eminent prelate was a younger son of Archibald, the fifth Earl of
Angus. He was born in Brechin about the year 1474. He studied at the
University of Paris. He became a churchman, and yet united with
attention to the duties of his calling great proficiency in polite
learning. In 1513 he finished a translation, into Scottish verse, of
Virgil's 'Aeneid,' which, considering the age, is an extraordinary
performance. It occupied him only sixteen months. The multitude of
obsolete terms, however, in which it abounds, renders it now, as a
whole, illegible. After passing through various subordinate offices,
such as the 'Provostship' of St Giles's, Edinburgh, and the 'Abbotship'
of Arbroath, he was at length appointed Bishop of Dunkeld. Dunkeld was
not then the paradise it has become, but Birnam hill and the other
mountains then, as now, stood round about it, the old Cathedral rose up
in mediaeval majesty, and the broad, smooth Tay flowed onward to the
ocean. And, doubtless, Douglas felt the poetic inspiration from it quite
as warmly as did Thomas Brown, when, three centuries afterwards, he set
up the staff of his summer rest at the beautiful Invar inn, and thence
delighted to diverge to the hundred scenes of enchantment which stretch
around. The good Bishop was an ardent politician as well as a poet, and
was driven, by his share in the troubles of the times, to flee from his
native land, and take refuge in the Court of Henry VIII. The King
received him kindly, and treated him with much liberality. In 1522 he
died at London of the plague, and was interred in the Savoy Church.
He was, according to Buchanan, about to proceed to Rome to vindicate
himself before the Pope against certain charges brought by his enemies.
Besides the translation of the 'Aeneid,' Douglas is the author of a long
poem entitled the 'Palace of Honour;' it is an allegory, describing
a large company making a pilgrimage to Honour's Palace. It bears
considerable resemblance to the 'Pilgrim's Progress,' and some suppose
that Bunyan had seen it before composing his allegory. 'King Hart' is
another production of our poet's, of considerable length and merit. It
gives, metaphorically, a view of human life. Perhaps his best pieces are
his 'Prologues,' affixed to each book of the 'Aeneid.' From them we have
selected 'Morning in May' as a specimen. The closing lines are fine.
'Welcome the lord of light, and lamp of day,
Welcome fosterer of tender herbis green,
Welcome quickener of flourish'd flowers sheen,
Welcome support of every root and vein,
Welcome comfort of all kind fruit and grain,' &c.
Douglas must not be named with Dunbar in strength and grandeur of
genius. His power is more in expression than in conception, and hence
he has shone so much in translation. His version of the 'Aeneid' is the
first made of any classic into a British tongue, and is the worthy
progenitor of such minor miracles of poetical talent--all somewhat more
mechanical than inspired, and yet giving a real, though subordinate
glory to our literature-as Fairfax's 'Tasso,' Dryden's 'Virgil,' and
Pope's, Coper's, and Sotheby's 'Homer.' The fire in Douglas' original
verses is occasionally lost in smoke, and the meaning buried in flowery
verbiage. Still he was an honour alike to the Episcopal bench and the
Muse of Scotland. He was of amiable manners, gentle temperament, and a
noble and commanding appearance.
MORNING IN MAY.
As fresh Aurore, to mighty Tithon spouse,
Ished of her saffron bed and ivor' house,
In cram'sy clad and grained violate,
With sanguine cape, and selvage purpurate,
Unshet the windows of her largė hall,
Spread all with roses, and full of balm royal,
And eke the heavenly portis crystalline
Unwarps broad, the world to illumine;
The twinkling streamers of the orient
Shed purpour spraings, with gold and azure ment;
Eous, the steed, with ruby harness red,
Above the seas liftis forth his head,
Of colour sore, and somedeal brown as berry,
For to alighten and glad our hemispery;
The flame out-bursten at the neisthirls,
So fast Phaeton with the whip him whirls. * *
While shortly, with the blazing torch of day,
Abulyit in his lemand fresh array,
Forth of his palace royal ished Phoebus,
With golden crown and visage glorious,
Crisp hairs, bright as chrysolite or topaz;
For whose hue might none behold his face. * *
The aureate vanes of his throne soverain
With glittering glance o'erspread the oceane;
The largė floodės, lemand all of light,
But with one blink of his supernal sight.
For to behold, it was a glore to see
The stabled windis, and the calmed sea,
The soft season, the firmament serene,
The loune illuminate air and firth amene. * *
And lusty Flora did her bloomis spread
Under the feet of Phoebus' sulyart steed;
The swarded soil embrode with selcouth hues,
Wood and forest, obumbratė with bews. * *
Towers, turrets, kirnals, and pinnacles high,
Of kirks, castles, and ilk fair city,
Stood painted, every fane, phiol, and stage,
Upon the plain ground by their own umbrage.
Of Aeolus' north blasts having no dreid,
The soil spread her broad bosom on-breid;
The corn crops and the beir new-braird
With gladsome garment revesting the yerd. * *
The prai besprent with springing sprouts disperse
For caller humours on the dewy night
Rendering some place the gersė-piles their light;
As far as cattle the lang summer's day
Had in their pasture eat and nip away;
And blissful blossoms in the bloomed yerd,
Submit their heads to the young sun's safeguard.
Ivy-leaves rank o'erspread the barmkin wall;
The bloomed hawthorn clad his pikis all;
Forth of fresh bourgeons the wine grapės ying
Endlong the trellis did on twistis hing;
The loukit buttons on the gemmed trees
O'erspreading leaves of nature's tapestries;
Soft grassy verdure after balmy showers,
On curling stalkis smiling to their flowers. * *
The daisy did on-breid her crownal small,
And every flower unlapped in the dale. * *
Sere downis small on dentilion sprang.
The young green bloomed strawberry leaves amang;
Jimp jeryflowers thereon leaves unshet,
Fresh primrose and the purpour violet; * *
Heavenly lilies, with lockerand toppis white,
Open'd and shew their crestis redemite. * *
A paradise it seemed to draw near
These galyard gardens and each green herbere.
Most amiable wax the emerald meads;
Swarmis soughis throughout the respand reeds,
Over the lochis and the floodis gray,
Searching by kind a place where they should lay.
Phoebus' red fowl, his cural crest can steer,
Oft stretching forth his heckle, crowing clear.
Amid the wortis and the rootis gent
Picking his meat in alleys where he went,
His wivės Toppa and Partolet him by--
A bird all-time that hauntis bigamy.
The painted powne pacing with plumės gym,
Cast up his tail a proud pleasand wheel-rim,
Yshrouded in his feathering bright and sheen,
Shaping the print of Argus' hundred een.
Among the bowis of the olive twists,
Sere small fowls, working crafty nests,
Endlong the hedges thick, and on rank aiks
Ilk bird rejoicing with their mirthful makes.
In corners and clear fenestres of glass,
Full busily Arachne weaving was,
To knit her nettis and her webbis sly,
Therewith to catch the little midge or fly.
So dusty powder upstours in every street,
While corby gasped for the fervent heat.
Under the boughis bene in lovely vales,
Within fermance and parkis close of pales,
The busteous buckis rakis forth on raw,
Herdis of hartis through the thick wood-shaw.
The young fawns following the dun does,
Kids, skipping through, runnis after roes.
In leisurs and on leais, little lambs
Full tait and trig sought bleating to their dams.
On salt streams wolk Dorida and Thetis,
By running strandis, Nymphis and Naiadis,
Such as we clepe wenches and damasels,
In gersy groves wandering by spring wells;
Of bloomed branches and flowers white and red,
Platting their lusty chaplets for their head.
Some sang ring-songės, dances, leids, and rounds.
With voices shrill, while all thel dale resounds.
Whereso they walk into their carolling,
For amorous lays does all the rockis ring.
One sang, 'The ship sails over the salt faem,
Will bring the merchants and my leman hame.'
Some other sings, 'I will be blithe and light,
My heart is lent upon so goodly wight.'
And thoughtful lovers rounis to and fro,
To leis their pain, and plain their jolly woe;
After their guise, now singing, now in sorrow,
With heartis pensive the long summer's morrow.
Some ballads list indite of his lady;
Some lives in hope; and some all utterly
Despaired is, and so quite out of grace,
His purgatory he finds in every place. * *
Dame Nature's minstrels, on that other part,
Their blissful lay intoning every art, * *
And all small fowlis singis on the spray,
Welcome the lord of light, and lamp of day,
Welcome fosterer of tender herbis green,
Welcome quickener of flourish'd flowers sheen,
Welcome support of every root and vein,
Welcome comfort of all kind fruit and grain,
Welcome the birdis' bield upon the brier,
Welcome master and ruler of the year,
Welcome welfare of husbands at the ploughs,
Welcome repairer of woods, trees, and boughs,
Welcome depainter of the bloomed meads,
Welcome the life of every thing that spreads,
Welcome storer of all kind bestial,
Welcome be thy bright beamis, gladding all. * *
 'Ished of:' issued from.
 'Unshet:' opened.
 'Spraings:' streaks.
 'Ment:' mingled.
 'Sore:' yellowish brown.
 'Neisthirls:' nostrils.
 'Abulyit:' attired.
 'Lemand:' glittering.
 'Loune:' calm.
 'Sulyart:' sultry.
 'Selcouth:' uncommon.
 'Bews:' boughs.
 'Kirnals:' battlements.
 'Phiol:' cupola.
 'Stage:' storey.
 'Yerd:' earth.
 'Prai:' meadow.
 'Caller humours:' cool vapours.
 'Gersė:' grass.
 'Bourgeons:' sprouts.
 'Ying:' young.
 'Red fowl:' the cook.
 'Powne:' the peacock.
 'Sere:' many.
 'Aiks:' oaks.
 'Fenestres:' windows.
 'Upstours:' rises in clouds.
 'Bene:' snug.
 'Wolk:' walked.
 'Gersy:' grassy.
 'Leids:' lays.
 Songs then popular.
 'Rounis:' whisper.
 'Leis:' relieve.
 'Bield:' shelter.
HAWES, BARCLAY, &c.
Stephen Hawes, a native of Suffolk, wrote about the close of the
fifteenth century. He studied at Oxford, and travelled much in France,
where he became a master of French and Italian poetry. King Henry VII.,
struck with his conversation and the readiness with which he repeated
old English poets, especially Lydgate, created him groom of the privy
chamber. Hawes has written a number of poems, such as 'The Temple of
Glasse,' 'The Conversion of Swearers,' 'The Consolation of Lovers,' 'The
Pastime of Pleasure,' &c. Those who wish to see specimens of the strange
allegories and curious devices of thought in which it abounds, may find
them in Warton's 'History of English Poetry.'
In that same valuable work we find an account of Alexander Barclay, author
of 'The Ship of Fools.' He was educated at Oriel College in Oxford, and
after travelling abroad, was appointed one of the priests or prebendaries
of the College of St Mary Ottery, in Devonshire--a parish famous in later
days for the birth of Coleridge. Barclay became afterwards a Benedictine
monk of Ely monastery; and at length a brother of the Order of St Francis,
at Canterbury. He died, a very old man, at Croydon, in Surrey, in the year
1552. His principal work, 'The Ship of Fools,' is a satire upon the vices
and absurdities of his age, and shews considerable wit and power of
John Skelton is the name of the next poet. He flourished in the earlier
part of the reign of Henry VIII. Having studied both at Oxford and
Cambridge, and been laureated at the former university in 1489, he was
promoted to the rectory of Diss or Dysse, in Norfolk. Some say he had
acted previously as tutor to Henry VIII. At Dysse he attracted attention
by satirical ballads against the mendicants, as well as by licences of
buffoonery in the pulpit. For these he was censured, and even, it is
said, suspended, by Nykke, Bishop of Norwich. Undaunted by this, he flew
at higher game--ventured to ridicule Cardinal Wolsey, then in his power,
and had to take refuge from the myrmidons of the prelate in Westminster
Abbey. There Abbot Islip kindly entertained and protected him till his
dying day. He breathed his last in the year 1529, and was buried in the
adjacent church of St Margaret's.
Skelton as well as Barclay enjoyed considerable popularity in his own
age. Erasmus calls him 'Britannicarum literarum lumen et decus!' How
dark must have been the night in which such a Will-o'-wisp was mistaken
for a star! He has wit, indeed, and satirical observation; but his wit
is wilder than it is strong, and his satire is dashed with personality
and obscenity. His style, Campbell observes, is 'almost a texture of
slang phrases, patched with shreds of French and Latin.' His verses on
Margaret Hussey, which we have quoted, are in his happiest vein. The
following lines, too, on Cardinal Wolsey, are as true as they are
'Then in the Chamber of Stars
All matter there he mars.
Clapping his rod on the board,
No man dare speak a word.
For he hath all the saying,
Without any renaying.
He rolleth in his recņrds;
He sayeth, How say ye, my Lords?
Is not my reason good?
Good even, good Robin Hood.
Some say, Yes; and some
Sit still, as they were dumb.'
It is curious that Wolsey's enemies, in one of their charges against him
in the Parliament of 1529, have repeated, almost in the words of Skelton,
the same accusation.
TO MISTRESS MARGARET HUSSEY.
As midsummer flower,
Gentle as falcon,
Or hawk of the tower;
With solace and gladness,
Much mirth and no madness,
All good and no badness;
Far, far passing,
That I can indite,
Or suffice to write,
Of merry Margaret,
As midsummer flower,
Gentle as falcon,
Or hawk of the tower;
As patient and as still,
And as full of good-will,
As fair Isiphil,
Steadfast of thought,
Well made, well wrought.
Far may be sought,
Ere you can find
So courteous, so kind,
As merry Margaret,
This midsummer flower,
Gentle as falcon,
Or hawk of the tower.
SIR DAVID LYNDSAY.
Returning to Scotland, we find a Skelton of a higher order and a
brawnier make in Sir David Lyndsay, or, as our forefathers were wont
familiarly to denominate him, 'Davie Lyndsay.' Lyndsay was descended
from a noble family, a younger branch of Lyndsay of the Byres, and born
in 1490, probably at the Mount, the family-seat, near Cupar-Fife. He
entered the University of St Andrews in the year 1505, and four years
later left it to travel in Italy. He must, however, have returned to
Scotland before the 12th of October 1511, since we learn from the
records of the Lord Treasurer that he was presented with a quantity of
'blue and yellow taffety to be a playcoat for the play performed in the
King and Queen's presence in the Abbey of Holyrood.' On the 12th of
April 1512, Lyndsay, then twenty-two years of age, was appointed
gentleman-usher to James V., who had been born that very day. In his
poem called 'The Dream,' he reminds the King of his having borne him
in his arms ere he could walk; of having wrapped him up warmly in his
little bed; of having sung to him with his lute, danced before him to
make him laugh, and having carried him on his shoulders like a 'pedlar
his pack.' He continued to be page and companion to the King till 1524,
when, in consequence of the unprincipled machinations of the Queen-
mother--who was acting as Regent--he, as well as Bellenden, the learned
translator of Livy and Boece, was ejected from his office. When, however,
in 1528, the young King, by a noble effort, emancipated himself from the
thraldom of his mother and the Douglasses, Lyndsay wrote his 'Dream,' in
which, amidst much poetic or fantastic matter, he congratulates James on
his deliverance; reminds him, as aforesaid, of his early services; and
takes occasion to paint the evils the country had endured during his
minority, and to give him some bold and salutary advice as to his future
conduct. The next year (1529) he produced 'The Complaint,' a poem in
which he recurs to former themes, and remonstrates with great freedom
and severity against the treatment he had undergone. Here, too, the
religious reformer peeps out. He exhorts the King to compel the clergy
to attend to the duties of their office; to preach more earnestly; to
administer the sacraments according to the institution of Christ; and not
to deceive their people with superstitious pilgrimages, vain traditions,
and prayers to graven images, contrary to the written command of God. He
with quaint iron says, that if his Grace will lend him
'Of gold ane thousand pound or tway,'
he will give him a sealed bond, obliging himself to repay the loan when
the Bass and the Isle of May are set upon Mount Sinai; or the Lomond
hills, near Falkland, are removed to Northumberland; or
'When kirkmen yairnis [desire] na dignity,
Nor wives na soveranitie.'
Still finer the last lines of the poem. 'If not,' he says, 'my God
'Shall cause me stand content
With quiet life and sober rent,
And take me, in my latter age,
Unto my simple hermitage,
To spend the gear my elders won,
As did Diogenes in his tun.'
This 'Complaint' proved successful, and in the next year (1530) Lyndsay
was appointed Lion King-at-Arms--an office of great dignity in these
days. The Lion was the chief judge of all matters connected with
heraldry in the realm; was also the official ambassador from his
sovereign to foreign countries; and was inaugurated in his office with
a pomp and circumstance little inferior to those of a royal coronation,
the King crowning him with his own hands, anointing him with wine
instead of oil, and putting on his head the Royal Crown of Scotland,
which he continued to wear till the close of the feast. It is of Lyndsay
in the full accoutrements of this office that Sir Walter Scott speaks in
his 'Marmion,' although he antedates by sixteen years the time when he
'He was a man of middle age,
In aspect manly, grave, and sage,
As on king's errand come;
But in the glances of his eye,
A penetrating, keen, and sly
Expression found its home--
The flash of that satiric rage
Which, bursting on the early stage,
Branded the vices of the age,
And broke the keys of Rome.
On milk-white palfrey forth he paced;
His cap of maintenance was graced
With the proud heron-plume;
From his steed's shoulder, loin, and breast
Silk housings swept the ground,
With Scotland's arms, device, and crest
Embroider'd round and round.
The double treasure might you see,
First by Achaius borne,
The thistle and the fleur-de-lis,
And gallant unicorn.
So bright the king's armorial coat,
That scarce the dazzled eye could note;
In living colours, blazon'd brave,
The lion, which his title gave.
A train which well beseem'd his state,
But all unarm'd, around him wait;
Still is thy name in high account,
And still thy verse has charms,
Sir David Lyndsay of the Mount,
Lord Lion King-at-Arms.'
Soon after this appointment, Lyndsay wrote 'The Complaint of the King's
Papingo,' in which, through the mouth of a dying parrot, he gives some
sharp counsel to the king, his courtiers and nobles, and administers
severe satirical chastisement to the corruptions of the clergy. It is an
exceedingly clever production, and has some beautiful poetry as well as
stinging sarcasm. Take the following address to Edinburgh, Stirling,
Linlithgow, and Falkland:--
Adieu, Edinburgh! thou high triumphant town,
Within whose bounds right blitheful have I been;
Of true merchandis, the rule of this region,
Most ready to receive court, king, and queen;
Thy policy and justice may be seen;
Were devotion, wisdom, and honesty,
And credence tint, they micht be found in thee.
Adieu, fair Snawdoun! [Stirling] with thy towers hie,
Thy chapel-royal, park, and table round;
May, June, and July would I dwell in thee,
Were I a man to hear the birdis sound,
Which doth against the royal rock rebound.
Adieu, Lithgow! whose palace of pleasance
Meets not its peer in Portingale or France.
Farewell, Falkland! the forteress of Fife,
Thy velvet park under the Lomond Law;
Sometime in thee I led a lusty life.
The fallow deer to see them raik on raw [walk in a row],
Caust men to come to thee, they have great awe, &c.
In the year 1535, Lyndsay wrote his remarkable drama, 'The Satire of the
Three Estates'--Monarch, namely, Barons, and Clergy. It is made up in
nearly three equal parts of ingenuity, wit, and grossness. It is a drama,
and was acted several times--first, in 1535, at Cupar-Fife, on a large
green mound called Moot-hill; then, in 1539, in an open park near
Linlithgow, by the express desire of the king, who with all the ladies
of the Court attended the representation; then in the amphitheatre of
St Johnston in Perth; and in 1554, at Edinburgh, in the village of
Greenside, which skirted the northern base of the Calton Hill, in the
presence of the Queen Regent and an enormous concourse of spectators.
Its exhibition appears to have occupied nearly the whole day. In the
'Pictorial History of Scotland,' chapter xxiv., our readers will find a
full and able analysis with extracts of this extraordinary performance.
It is said to have done much good in opening the eyes of the people to
the evils of the Papacy, and in paving the way for the Reformation.
In 1536 Sir David, in company with Sir John Campbell of Lundie, was sent
to the Court of France to demand in marriage for James V. a daughter of
the House of Vendome; but the King chose rather to take the matter in
his own hands, and, going over in person, wedded Magdalene, daughter of
Francis. She died two months after her arrival in Scotland, universally
regretted; and Lyndsay made the sad event the subject of a poem,
entitled 'Deploration of the Death of Queen Magdalene,' whom he
'The flower of France, and comfort of Scotland.'
When James subsequently married Mary of Guise, Sir David's ingenuity was
strained to the utmost in providing pageants, masques, and shows to
welcome her Majesty. For forty days in St Andrews, festivities continued;
and it was during this prolonged festival that the Lion King, as if sick
and satiated with vanities, wrote two poems, one entitled 'The Justing
between James Watson and John Barbour,' a dull satire on tournaments, &c.,
and the other a somewhat cleverer piece, entitled 'Supplication directed
to the King's Grace in Contemptioun of Side Tails,' the long trains then
worn by the ladies. It met, we presume,with the fate of _Punch's_ sarcasms
against crinoline,--the 'phylacteries' would for a season, instead of
being lessened, be enlarged, till Fashion lifted up her omnipotent rod,
and told it to be otherwise.
King James died prematurely on the 14th of December 1542, and Lyndsay
closed his eyes at Falkland, and mourned for him as a brother. From that
day forth he probably felt that there was 'less sunshine in the sky for
him.' In the troublous times which succeeded this, he had to retire for
a season from the Court, having become obnoxious to the rigid Papists on
account of his writings. After the death of Cardinal Beatoun he wrote
the tragedy of 'The Cardinal,' a poem in which the spectre of the
Cardinal is the spokesman, and which teems with good advice to all and
sundry. The execution, however, is not so felicitous as the plan. In
1548 Lyndsay went to Denmark to negotiate a free trade with Scotland. On
his return in 1550 he wrote his very pleasing and chivalric 'History of
Squire Meldrum,' founded on the actual adventures of William Meldrum,
the Laird of Cleish and Binns, a distinguished friend of the poet, who
had gained laurels as a warrior both in Scotland and in France. This
poem is, in a measure, an anticipation of the rhymed romances of Scott,
and is full of picturesque description and spirit-stirring adventure. In
1553 he completed his last and most elaborate work, which had occupied
him for years, entitled 'The Monarchic,' containing an account of the
most famous monarchies which have existed on earth, and carrying on the
history to the general judgment. From this date we almost entirely lose
sight of our poet. He seems to have retired into private life, and is
supposed to have died about the close of 1557. He was probably buried in
the family vault at Ceres, but no stone marks the spot. Dying without
issue, his estates passed to his brother Alexander, and were continued
in the possession of his descendants till the middle of last century.
They now belong to the Hopes of Rankeillour. The office of Lord Lion was
held by two of the poet's relatives successively--Sir David, his
nephew, who became Lion King in 1591, and his son-in-law, Sir Jerome
Lyndsay, who succeeded to it in 1621.
Sir David Lyndsay, unlike most satirists, was a good, a blameless, and a
religious man. The occasional loftiness of his poetic vein, the breadth
of his humour, the purity of his purpose, and his strong reforming zeal
combined to make his poetry exceedingly popular in Scotland for a number
of ages, particularly among the lower orders. Scott introduces Andrew
Fairservice, in 'Rob Roy,' saying, in reference to Francis Osbaldistone's
poetical efforts, 'Gude help him! twa lines o' Davie Lyndsay wad ding a'
he ever clerkit,' and even still there are districts of the country where
his name is a household word.
MELDRUM'S DUEL WITH THE ENGLISH CHAMPION TALBART.
Then clarions and trumpets blew,
And warriors many hither drew;
On every side came many man
To behold who the battle wan.
The field was in the meadow green,
Where every man might well be seen:
The heralds put them so in order,
That no man pass'd within the border,
Nor press'd to come within the green,
But heralds and the champions keen;
The order and the circumstance
Were long to put in remembrance.
When these two noble men of weir
Were well accoutred in their geir,
And in their handis strong burdouns,
Then trumpets blew and clariouns,
And heralds cried high on height,
'Now let them go--God show the right.'
* * * * *
Then trumpets blew triumphantly,
And these two champions eagerly,
They spurr'd their horse with spear on breast,
Pertly to prove their pith they press'd.
That round rink-room was at utterance,
But Talbart's horse with a mischance
He outterit, and to run was loth;
Whereof Talbart was wonder wroth.
The Squier forth his rink he ran,
Commended well with every man,
And him discharged of his spear
Honestly, like a man of weir.
* * * * *
The trenchour of the Squier's spear
Stuck still into Sir Talbart's geir;
Then every man into that stead
Did all believe that he was dead.
The Squier leap'd right hastily
From his courser deliverly,
And to Sir Talbart made support,
And humillie did him comfort.
When Talbart saw into his shield
An otter in a silver field,
'This race,' said he, 'I sore may rue,
For I see well my dream was true;
Methought yon otter gart me bleed,
And bore me backward from my steed;
But here I vow to God soverain,
That I shall never joust again.'
And sweetly to the Squier said,
'Thou know'st the cunning that we made,
Which of us two should tyne the field,
He should both horse and armour yield
To him that won, wherefore I will
My horse and harness give thee till.'
Then said the Squier, courteously,
'Brother, I thank you heartfully;
Of you, forsooth, nothing I crave,
For I have gotten that I would have.'
 'Burdouns:' spears.
 'Pertly:' boldly.
 'Rink-room:' course-room.
 'Outterit:' swerved.
 'Kink:' course.
 'Trencliour:' head.
 'Stead:' place.
 'Deliverly:' actively.
 'Humillie:' humbly.
 'Gart:' made.
 'Cunning:' agreement.
 'Tyne:' lose.
SUPPLICATION IN CONTEMPTION OF SIDE TAILS, (1538.)
Sovereign, I mene of these side tails,
Whilk through the dust and dubbės trails,
Three quarters lang behind their heels,
Express against all commonweals.
Though bishops, in their pontificals,
Have men for to bear up their tails,
For dignity of their office;
Right so a queen or an emprice;
Howbeit they use such gravity,
Conforming to their majesty,
Though their robe-royals be upborne,
I think it is a very scorn,
That every lady of the land
Should have her tail so side trailand;
Howbeit they be of high estate,
The queen they should not counterfeit.
Wherever they go it may be seen
How kirk and causey they sweep clean.
The images into the kirk
May think of their side tailės irk;
For when the weather be most fair,
The dust flies highest into the air,
And all their faces does begary,
If they could speak, they would them wary. * *
But I have most into despite
Poor claggocks clad in raploch white,
Whilk has scant two merks for their fees,
Will have two ells beneath their knees.
Kittock that cleckit was yestreen,
The morn will counterfeit the queen. * *
In barn nor byre she will not bide,
Without her kirtle tail be side.
In burghs, wanton burgess wives
Who may have sidest tailės strives,
Well bordered with velvet fine,
But following them it is a pine:
In summer, when the streetės dries,
They raise the dust above the skies;
None may go near them at their ease,
Without they cover mouth and neese. * *
I think most pain after a rain,
To see them tucked up again;
Then when they step forth through the street,
Their faldings flaps about their feet;
They waste more cloth, within few years,
Nor would cleid fifty score of freirs. * *
Of tails I will no more indite,
For dread some duddron me despite:
Notwithstanding, I will conclude,
That of side tails can come no good,
Sider nor may their ankles hide,
The remanent proceeds of pride,
And pride proceedis of the devil;
Thus alway they proceed of evil.
Another fault, Sir, may be seen,
They hide their face all but the een;
When gentlemen bid them good-day,
Without reverence they slide away. * *
Without their faults be soon amended,
My flyting, Sir, shall never be ended;
But would your grace my counsel take,
A proclamation ye should make,
Both through the land and burrowstowns,
To show their face and cut their gowns.
Women will say, This is no bourds,
To write such vile and filthy words;
But would they cleanse their filthy tails,
Whilk over the mires and middings trails,
Then should my writing cleansed be,
None other' mends they get of me.
Quoth Lyndsay, in contempt of the side tails,
That duddrons and duntibours through the dubbės trails.
 'Side tails:' long skirts.
 'Mene:' complain.
 'Irk:' May feel annoyed.
 'Claggocks:' draggle-tails.
 'Raploch:' homespun.
 'Cleckit:' born.
 'Cleid:' clothe.
 'Duddron:' slut.
 'Nor:' than.
 'Flyting:' scolding.
 'Bourds:' jest.
 'Middings:' dunghills.
 'Duddrons:' sluts.
 'Duntibours:' harlots.
Of Tusser we know only that he was horn in the year 1523, was well
educated, commenced life as a courtier under the patronage of Lord
Paget, but became a farmer, pursuing agriculture at Ratwood in Sussex,
Ipswich, Fairsted in Essex, Norwich, and other places; that he was not
successful, and had to betake himself to other occupations, such as
those of a chorister, fiddler, &c.; and that, finally, he died a poor
man in London in the year 1580. Tusser has left only one work, published
in 1557, entitled 'A Hundred Good Points of Husbandrie,' written in
simple but sometimes strong verse. It is our first, and not our worst
DIRECTIONS FOR CULTIVATING A HOP-GARDEN.
Whom fancy persuadeth, among other crops,
To have for his spending sufficient of hops,
Must willingly follow, of choices to choose,
Such lessons approved as skilful do use.
Ground gravelly, sandy, and mixed with clay,
Is naughty for hops, any manner of way.
Or if it be mingled with rubbish and stone,
For dryness and barrenness let it alone.
Choose soil for the hop of the rottenest mould,
Well dunged and wrought, as a garden-plot should;
Not far from the water, but not overflown,
This lesson, well noted, is meet to be known.
The sun in the south, or else southly and west,
Is joy to the hop, as a welcomed guest;
But wind in the north, or else northerly east,
To the hop is as ill as a fray in a feast.
Meet plot for a hop-yard once found as is told,
Make thereof account, as of jewel of gold;
Now dig it, and leave it, the sun for to burn,
And afterwards fence it, to serve for that turn.
The hop for his profit I thus do exalt,
It strengtheneth drink, and it favoureth malt;
And being well brew'd, long kept it will last,
And drawing abide--if ye draw not too fast.
Good housewife provides, ere a sickness do come,
Of sundry good things in her house to have some.
Good _aqua composita_, and vinegar tart,
Rose-water, and treacle, to comfort thine heart.
Cold herbs in her garden, for agues that burn,
That over-strong heat to good temper may turn.
White endive, and succory, with spinach enow;
All such with good pot-herbs, should follow the plough.
Get water of fumitory, liver to cool,
And others the like, or else lie like a fool.
Conserves of barbary, quinces, and such,
With sirops, that easeth the sickly so much.
Ask _Medicus'_ counsel, ere medicine ye take,
And honour that man for necessity's sake.
Though thousands hate physic, because of the cost,
Yet thousands it helpeth, that else should be lost.
Good broth, and good keeping, do much now and than:
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 with his rod.
MORAL REFLECTIONS ON THE WIND.
Though winds do rage, as winds were wood,
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,
And trees, at spring, doth yield forth bud,
Except wind stands as never it stood,
It is an ill wind turns none to good.
 'Wood:' mad.
VAUX, EDWARDS, &c.
In Tottell's 'Miscellany,' the first of the sort in the English language,
published in 1557, although the names of many of the authors are not
given, the following writers are understood to have contributed:--Sir
Francis Bryan, a friend of Wyatt's, one of the principal ornaments of the
Court of Henry VIII., and who died, in 1548, Chief Justiciary of Ireland;
George Boleyn, Earl of Rochford, the amiable brother of the famous Anne
Boleyn, and who fell a victim to the insane jealousy of Henry, being
beheaded in 1536; and Lord Thomas Vaux, son of Nicholas Vaux, who died
in the latter end of Queen Mary's reign. In the same Miscellany is found
'Phillide and Harpalus,' the 'first true pastoral,' says Warton, 'in the
English language,' (see 'Specimens.') To it are annexed, too, a
collection of 'Songes, written by N. G.,' which means Nicholas Grimoald,
an Oxford man, renowned for his rhetorical lectures in Christ Church,
and for being, after Surrey, our first writer of blank verse, in the
modulation of which he excelled even Surrey. Henry himself, who was an
expert musician, is said also to have composed a book of sonnets and one
madrigal in praise of Anne Boleyn. In the same reign occur the names of
Borde, Bale, Bryan, Annesley, John Rastell, Wilfred Holme, and Charles
Bansley, all writers of minor and forgotten poems. John Heywood, called
the Epigrammatist, was of a somewhat higher order. He was the favourite
of Sir Thomas More and the pensioner of Henry VIII. He gained favour
partly through his conversational humour, and partly through his writings.
He is the author of various comedies; of six hundred epigrams, most of
them very poor; of a dialogue, in verse, containing all the proverbs then
afloat in the language; of an apologue, entitled 'The Spider and the Fly,'
&c. Heywood, who was a rigid Papist, left the kingdom after the decease
of Queen Mary, and died at Mechlin, in Brabant, in 1565. Warton has
preserved some specimens of Sir Thomas More's poetry, which do not add
much to our conception of his genius. In 1542, one Robert Vaughan wrote
an alliterative poem, entitled 'The Falcon and the Pie.' In 1521, 'The
Not-browne Maid,' (given by us in 'Percy's Reliques,') appeared in a
curious collection, called 'Arnolde's Chronicle, or Customs of London.'
In the same year Wynkyn de Worde printed a set of 'Christmas Carols,' and
in 1529 'A Treatise of Merlin, or his Prophecies in Verse.' In Henry's
days, too, there commences the long line of translators of the Psalms
into English metre, commencing with Thomas Sternhold, groom of the robes
to the King, who versified fifty-one psalms, which were published in 1549,
and with John Hopkins, a clergyman and schoolmaster in Suffolk, who added
fifty-eight more, and progressing with Whyttingham, Thomas Norton, (the
joint author, along with Lord Buckhurst, of the curious old tragedy of
'Gorboduc,') Robert Wisdome, William Hunnis, William Baldwyn, Parker, the
scholarly and celebrated Archbishop of Canterbury, &c. &c. Parker trans-
lated all the Psalms himself; and John Day published in 1562, and attached
to the Book of Common Prayer, the whole of Sternhold and Hopkins' 'Psalms,
with apt notes to sing them withall.' In Edward's reign appeared a very
different strain--the first drinking-song of merit in the language, 'Back
and sides go bare'--(see 'Specimens,' vol. 2.) This song occurs at the
opening of the second act of 'Gammer Gurton's Needle,' a comedy written
(by a 'Mr S.') and printed in 1551, and afterwards acted at Christ's
College in Cambridge.
In the reign of Mary, flourished Richard Edwards, a man of no small
versatility of genius. He was a native of Somersetshire, was born about
1523, and died in 1566. He wrote two comedies, one entitled 'Damon and
Pythias,' and the other 'Palamon and Arcité,' both of which were acted
before Queen Elizabeth. He also contrived masques and wrote verses for
pageants, and is said to have been the first fiddler, the most elegant
sonnetteer, and the most amusing mimic of the Court. He is the author of
a pleasing poem, entitled 'Amantium irae,' and of some lines under the
title, 'He requesteth some friendly comfort, affirming his constancy.'
We quote a few of them:--
'The mountains nigh, whose lofty tops do meet the haughty sky,
The craggy rock, that to the sea free passage doth deny,
The aged oak, that doth resist the force of blust'ring blast,
The pleasant herb, that everywhere a pleasant smell doth cast,
The lion's force, whose courage stout declares a prince-like might,
The eagle, that for worthiness is borne of kings in fight--
Then these, I say, and thousands more, by tract of time decay,
And, like to time, do quite consume and fade from form to clay;
But my true heart and service vow'd shall last time out of mind,
And still remain, as thine by doom, as Cupid hath assign'd.'
Edwards also contributed some beautiful things to the well-known old
collection, 'The Paradise of Dainty Devices.'
Gascoigne was born in 1540, in Essex, of an ancient family. He was
educated at Cambridge, and entered at Gray's Inn, but was disinherited
by his father for extravagance, and betook himself to Holland, where
he obtained a commission from the Prince of Orange. After various
vicissitudes of fortune, being at one time taken prisoner by the
Spaniards, and at another receiving a reward from the Prince of three
hundred guilders above his pay for his brave conduct at the siege of
Middleburg, he returned to England. In 1575, he accompanied Queen
Elizabeth in one of her progresses, and wrote for her a mask, entitled
'The Princely Pleasures of Kenilworth.' He is said to have died at
Stamford in 1578. He is the author of two or three translated dramas,
such as 'The Supposes,' a comedy from Ariosto, and 'Jocasta,' a tragedy
from Euripides, besides some graceful and lively minor pieces, one or
two of which we append.
You that have spent the silent night
In sleep and quiet rest,
And joy to see the cheerful light
That riseth in the east;
Now clear your voice, now cheer your heart,
Come help me now to sing:
Each willing wight come, bear a part,
To praise the heavenly King.
And you whom care in prison keeps,
Or sickness doth suppress,
Or secret sorrow breaks your sleeps,
Or dolours do distress;
Yet bear a part in doleful wise,
Yea, think it good accord,
And acceptable sacrifice,
Each sprite to praise the Lord.
The dreadful night with darksomeness
Had overspread the light;
And sluggish sleep with drowsiness
Had overpress'd our might:
A glass wherein you may behold
Each storm that stops our breath,
Our bed the grave, our clothes like mould,
And sleep like dreadful death.
Yet as this deadly night did last
But for a little space,
And heavenly day, now night is past,
Doth show his pleasant face:
So must we hope to see God's face,
At last in heaven on high,
When we have changed this mortal place
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