Billeder på siden

The Squire relates his adventures in France ; and then,

This squyer and the ladie gent
Did wesche, and then to supper went :
During that nicht there was nocht ellis
But for to heir of his novellis.

[blocks in formation]

They drank, and syne went to repose.
He found his chalmer well arrayit,
With dornik (a) work on board displayit :
Of venison he had his waill,
Gude aquavitae, wyne, and ale,
With nobill confects, brawn, and geill, (6)
And so the squyer fared right weill.
Sa to heir mair of his narration,
The ladie cam to his collation,
Sayand he was richt welcum hame.
Grand-mercie, then, quod he, madame!
They past the time with ches and tabill,
For he to everie game was abill.
Than unto bed drew everie wicht;
To chalmer went this ladie bricht;
The quilk this squyer did convoy,
Syne till his bed he went with joy.

The Squire and the Lady have of course fallen deeply in love. She overhears him lamenting his captivity, and at once takes her kind resolution :

This was the mirrie tyme of May,
Quhen this fair ladie, freshe and gay,
Start up to take the hailsum (c) air,
With pantouns (d) on hir feit ane pair,
Airlie into ane cleir morning,
Befoir fair Phoebus' uprysing:

(a) Napery.

(c) Wholesome.

(6) Jelly.

(d) Slippers.

Kirtill alone, withoutin clok,
And sa the squyers door unlok.
She slippit in or evir he wist,
And feynitlie (a) past till ane kist,
And with hir keys oppenit the lokkis,
And made (6) hir to take furth ane boxe,
Bot that was not hir errand thare :
With that this lustie young squyar
Saw this ladie so pleasantlie
Com to his chalmer quyetlie,
In kirtill of fyne damais brown,
Hir golden tresses hingand (c) down;
Hir pappis were hard, round, and quhyte,
Quhome to behold was greit deleit;
Lyke the quhyte lillie was her lyre; (d)
Hir hair wes like the reid gold weir;
Hir scharckis quhyte, withouten hois, (e)
Quhareat the squyar did rejois,
And said, then, now vailye quod vailye, (f)
Upon the ladie thow mak ane sailye.
Hir courtlyke kirtill was unlaist,
And sone into his armis hir braist.



Sir David Lyndsay was long popular in Scotland ; and even yet, when a countryman would express unbounded and unqualified admiration of any literary performance, the phrase is,—“ Ye'll find words there that's no in a' Davie Lindsay !" The Lord Lyon died at the Mount, near Cupar, in 1553. His credit at court decreased after the death of his royal master ; but he was still occasionally employed in public affairs.

(6) Pretended.
(e) Hose, stockings.

(c) Hanging (f) Happen A Scottish poem or romance of this date, or perhaps earlier, which has been entitled “ The Mourning Maiden,” possesses more refinement of sentiment and truth of feeling than we are prepared to expect. And it was a considerable time before this, that the “ Clerk of Tranent” had written the “ Ro. mance of Sir Yawine, or Gawin," one of three ro. mances, of which Sir Gawin forms the hero. At as early a period, another of the “ Northern Makers,” “Gude Maister Robert Henrysoune,” a schoolmaster of Dunfermline, has, in Robine and Makyne, left us one of the most sprightly dramatic pastorals in the language : It was also the first. Some of the finest of the old Scottish ballads must have been written anterior to this date. “Tak’ your auld cloak about ye" is quoted by Shakspeare, and was probably of long standing then. But this most interesting portion of ancient national literature is foreign to the design of this limited work, and cannot here be investigated.

(a) Feigningly. (d) Throat.

what may

Original genius of the very highest order is more rare than the return of those “ wandering lights” which, after travelling for centuries through the wide and boundless dominions of air, revisit the earth for an instant, and again disappear ; unlike in this, that the certain reappearance of genius can neither be calculated nor foretold. Those masterspirits, who, more like incarnations of pure imagination than mortals of ordinary capacity, have, at different periods, arisen in opposite quarters of the globe, to prove the immeasurable distance that may exist between human intellects, have been “ few and far between,” as if Nature, possessing but a scanty store of such precious material, wished to be impartial in its distribution, and chary of its use.

Ages elapsed ere Homer's lamp appeared,
And ages ere the Mantuan swain was heard ;
To carry nature lengths unknown before,
To give a SAAKSPEARE birth, asked ages more.
Thus genius rose, and set at ordered times,
And shot a day-spring into distant climes ;
Ennobling every region that he chose,
He sunk in Greece, in Italy arose;
And tedious years of Gothic darkness past,
Emerged all splendour in our isle at last :
Thus lovely halcyons dive into the main,
And show far off their shining plumes again.

It is not surprising that no great genius should have arisen in England between Chaucer and the reign of Elizabeth. We may at once say, that none was born ; for there was nothing in the condi. tion of society in that interval that could have checked, much less have extinguished, the genius of Spenser or of Shakspeare. They were of that robust constitution which must have flourished in vigour under the most adverse circumstances like the chance-blown seed, which, fastening on some Gothic ruin, will grow into a flower of beauty surpassing its kind, dally with the wind, and mock the storm, and, with the slightest root in earth, draw nourishment from the air, the dews, and the sunshine. Genius is an essence far too subtle to be subjected to known laws. It has thriven in dungeons, and refused to strike root in palaces, been copious of production amid the fa. tigue and bustle of camps and cities, and languished in the retreats of learned leisure. This, indeed, applies to genius of that rare and predomin. ating kind, which has so seldom been manifested in any circumstances, and which surmounts all bonds existing in the great poet wherever he may be cast, more as a part of him than his--acted upon by all external influences, yet not only drawing its choicest materials from its own bosom, but even fabricating the tools with which it is to give harmony, and grace of proportion, and richness of colouring, to its productions ; for even the Art of poetry, as it is called all that gives smoothness, grace, and finish, depends less on external cir. cumstances than may be supposed. We have no English more choicely idiomatic than that of Chaucer-no poetic language more flowing, luxuriant, sweet, and delicate, than that of Spenser ; yet they possessed neither English books of any worth, dictionaries, nor Arts of Poetry, from which they could derive either a refined or a copious phraseology. The exquisite tenderness, and de. lightful simplicity of expression, of those old ballads, which seem to breathe the feelings of poetry in the glow of its first love, have never again been equalled ; and even in frolic grace,

and Anacreon. tic vivacity, some of the older English lyrics have seldom been surpassed in what we call our polished times. In the first great period of English poetry,

« ForrigeFortsæt »