« PreviousContinue »
sequently Lyndsay, to denominate its author “the moral Gower;" he is, however, considerably inferior
[Episode of Rariphele.] to the author of the Canterbury Tales, in almost all
[Rosiphele, princess of Armenia, a lady of surpassing beauty, the qualifications of a true poet.
but insensible to the power of love, is represented by the poet
When come was the month of May,
And as she cast her eye about,
She saw clad in one suit, a rout
Of ladies, where they comen ride Mr Warton has happily selected a few passages from Gower, which convey a lively expression of
Along under the woode side;
On fair ambuland horse they set, natural feeling, and give a favourable impression of
That were all white, fair, and great; the author. Speaking of the gratification which his
And everich one ride on side. passion receives from the sense of hearing, he says,
The saddles were of such a pride, that to hear his lady speak is more delicious than
So rich saw she never none; to feast on all the dainties that could be compounded
With pearls and gold so well begone, by a cook of Lombardy. These are not so resto
In kirtles and in copes rich
They were clothed all alich,
Departed even of white and blue,
With all lusts that she knew,
They were embroidered over all :
Their bodies weren long and small,
The beauty of their fair face
There may none earthly thing deface: He adds (reduced spelling)
Crowns on their heads they bare,
As each of them & queen were ;.
That all the gold of Croesus' hall
The least coronal of all
Might not have bought, after the worth :
Thus comen they ridand forth.
[In the rear of this splendid troop of ladies, the princess be That loved long ere I was bore:
held one, mounted on a miserable steed, wretchedly adorned For when I of their loves read,
in everything excepting the bridle. On questioning this Mine ear with the tale I feed;
straggler why she was so unlike her companions, the visionary And with the lust of their histoire
lady replied that the latter were receiving the bright reward of Sometime I draw into memoire,
having loved faithfully, and that she herself was suffering How sorrow may not ever last,
punishment for cruelty to her admirers. The reason that the And so hope cometh in at last.
bridle alone resembled those of her companions was, that for
the last fortnight she had been sincerely in love, and a change That when her list on nights wake,
for the better was in consequence beginning to show itself in In chamber, as to carol and dance,
her accoutrements. The parting words of the dame are]
Now have ye heard mine answer ;
To God, madam, I you betake,
And warneth all for my sake,
Of love that they be not idle.
And bid them think of my bridle.
[It is scarcely necessary to remark, that the hard heart of the Is then nought so light as I.
princess of Armenia is duly impressed by this lesson.] I When she chooses. 3 Physician.
3 A dainty dish. • When she chooses to have a merry-making at night.
i Few of her women knew of it.
his sole remaining work, The Bruce, is altogether of that character. It is not unlikely that, in The Brute, Barbour adopted all the fables he could find : in writing The Bruce, he would, in like manner, adopt every tradition respecting his hero, besides searching for more authoritative materials. We must not be surprised that, while the first would be valueless as a history, the second is a most important document. There would be the same wish for truth, and the same inability to distinguish it, in both cases ; but, in the latter, it chanced that the events were of recent occurrence, and therefore came to our metrical historian comparatively undistorted. The Bruce, in reality, is a complete history of the memorable transactions by which King Robert I. asserted the independency of Scotland, and obtained its crown for his family. At the same time, it is far from being destitute of poetical spirit or rhythmical sweetness and harmony. It contains many vividly descriptive passages, and abounds in dignified and even in pathetic sentimen This poem, which was completed in 1375, is in octo-syllabic lines, forming rhymied couplets, of which there are seven thousand. Barbour died at an advanced age in 1396.
[A postrophe to Freedom.] (Barbour, contemplating the enslaved condition of his country, breaks out into the following animated lines on the bless. ings of liberty.--Ellis.)
A! fredome is a nobill thing!
And by the crown that was set Also upon his bassinet. And toward him he went in hy. 1 And the king sae apertly 2 Saw him come, forouth all his fears, In hy till him the horse he steers. And when Sir Henry saw the king Come on, foroutin abasing, Till him he rode in great hy. He thought that he should weel lichtly Win him, and have him at his will, Sin? he him horsit saw sae ill. Sprent they samen intill a lyng;3 Sir Henry missed the noble king; And he that in his stirrups stude, With the ax, that was hard and gude, With sae great main, raucht4 him a dint, That nouther hat nor helm micht stint The heavy dush, that he him gave, That near the head till the harns clave. The hand-ax shaft frushit in tway; And he down to the yirds gan gae All flatlings, for him failit micht. This was the first straik of the ficht, That was performit douchtily. And when the king's men sae stoutly Saw him, richt at the first meeting, Forouten doubt or abasing, Have slain a knicht sae at a straik, Sic hard’ment thercat gan they tak, That they come on richt hardily. When Englishmen saw them sae stoutly Come on, they had great abasing ; And specially for that the king Sae smartly that gude knicht has slain, That they withdrew them everilk ane, And durst not ane abide to ficht : Sae dreid they for the king's micht. * When that the king repairit was, That gart his men all leave the chase, The lordis of his company Blamed him, as they durst, greatumly, That he him put in aventure, To meet sae stith a knicht, and stour, In sic point as he then was seen. For they said weel, it micht have been Cause of their tynsal 6 everilk ane. The king answer has made them nane, But mainit 7 his hand-ax shaft sae Was with the straik broken in tway.
[Death of Sir Henry Bohun.) [This incident took place on the eve of the Battle of Bannockburn.)
And when the king wist that they were
Him sae range his men on raw, 1 Caused, ordered
[The Battle of Bannockburn.] When this was said The Scottismen commonally Kneelit all doun, to God to pray. And a short prayer there made they To God, to help them in that ficht. And when the English king had sicht Of them kneeland, he said, in hy, • Yon folk kneel to ask mercy.' Sir Ingram' said, ' Ye say sooth nowThey ask mercy, but not of you ; For their trespass to God they cry: I tell you a thing sickerly, That yon men will all win or die ; For doubt of deid? they sall not flee.' 'Now be it sae then !' said the king. And then, but langer delaying, They gart truinp till the assembly. On either side men micht then see
* In this and the subsequent extract, the language is as far as possible reduced to modern spelling.
2 Openly, clearly, 8 They sprang forward at once, against each other, in a line. 4 Reached.
5 Earth. 6 Destruction. 7 Lamented 8 Sir Ingram D'Umphraville. 9 Fear of death.
Mony a wicht man and worthy,
Thus were they bound on either side ;
The gude earl* thither took the way,
The Stewart, Walter that then was,
That time thir three battles were
There micht men hear mony a dint,
On them ! On them ! On them! They fail!'
them ma', And slew fast off their horse alsua, That they vandist3 a little wee.
(The appearance of a mock host, composed of the servants of the Scottish camp, completes the panic of the English army : the king flies, and Sir Giles D'Argentine is slain. The narrative then proceeds.)
They were, to say sooth, sae aghast,
On ane side, they their faes had,
Micht nane escape that ever came there. 1 Company
The van of the English army. 2 Edward Bruce. . That were without or out of the battle. • The Earl of Murray. 6 Lost amidst so great a multitude. • Exchanged 7 I promise you.
8 Failed, gave way. 5 Rabble. 6 Slime, muda
4 Shut up
ANDREW WYNTOUN. About the year 1420, ANDREW WYNTOUN, or, as he describes himself, Androwe of Wyntoune, prior of St Serf's Monastery in Lochleven, completed, in
St Serf said, 'Gif I sae be,
Seven hours,' Serf said, 'bade he therein.'
Lochleven. eight-syllabled metre, an Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland, including much universal history, and extending down to his own time: it may be considered as a Scottish member of the class of rhymed chronicles. The genius of this author is inferior to that of Barbour; but at least his versification is easy, his language pure, and his style often animated. His chronicle is valuable as a picture of ancient manners, as a repository of historical anecdotes, and as a specimen of the literary attainments of our ancestors.* It contains a considerable number of fabulous legends, such as we may suppose to have been told beside the parlour fire of a monastery of those days, and which convey a curious idea of the credulity of the age. Some of these are included in the following specimens, the first of which alone is in the original spelling :
[St Serf'st Ram.]
[Interview of St Serf with Sathanas.]
I ken thou art a cunning clerk.' * Dr Irving.
+ St Serf lived in the sixth century, and was the founder of tho monastery of which the author was prior.
[The Return of David II. from Captivity.] [David 11., taken prisoner the English at the battle of Durham, in 1346, was at length redeemed by his country in 1357. The following passage from Wyntoun is curious, as illustrating the feelings of men in that age. The morning after his return, when the people who had given so much for their sovereign, were pressing to see or to greet him, he is guilty of a gross outrage against them which the poet, strange to say, justifies ]
Yet in prison was King Davy.