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sequently Lyndsay, to denominate its author "the moral Gower;" he is, however, considerably inferior to the author of the Canterbury Tales, in almost all the qualifications of a true poet.
Mr Warton has happily selected a few passages from Gower, which convey a lively expression of natural feeling, and give a favourable impression of the author. Speaking of the gratification which his passion receives from the sense of hearing, he says, that to hear his lady speak is more delicious than to feast on all the dainties that could be compounded by a cook of Lombardy. These are not so restorative
As bin the wordes of hir mouth;
For as the wyndes of the south
Ben most of all debonnaire,
So when her list to speak faire
The vertue of her goodly speche
Is verily myne hartes leche.2
He adds (reduced spelling)
Full oft time it falleth so
My ear with a good pittance3
Is fed, with reading of romance
Of Isodyne and Amadas,
That whilom were in my case;
And eke of other many a score,
That loved long ere I was bore:
For when I of their loves read,
Mine ear with the tale I feed;
And with the lust of their histoire
Sometime I draw into memoire,
How sorrow may not ever last,
And so hope cometh in at last.
That when her list on nights wake,4
In chamber, as to carol and dance,
Methink I may me more avance,
If I may gone upon her hond,
Than if I win a king's lond.
For when I may her hand beclip,
With such gladness I dance and skip,
Methinketh I touch not the floor;
The roe which runneth on the moor,
Is then nought so light as I.
I When she chooses. 2 Physician.
[Rosiphele, princess of Armenia, a lady of surpassing beauty, but insensible to the power of love, is represented by the poet as reduced to an obedience to Cupid, by a vision which befell her on a May-day ramble. The opening of this episode is as follows:-]
When come was the month of May,
She would walk upon a day,
And that was ere the sun arist,
Of women but a few it wist ;1
And forth she went privily,
Unto a park was fast by,
All soft walkand on the grass,
Till she came there the land was,
Through which ran a great river,
It thought her fair; and said, here
I will abide under the shaw ;2
And bade her women to withdraw:
And there she stood alone still,
To think what was in her will,
She saw the sweet flowers spring,
She heard glad fowls sing,
She saw beasts in their kind,
The buck, the doe, the hart, the hind,
The males go with the female;
And so began there a quarrel
Between love and her own heart,
Fro which she could not astart.
And as she cast her eye about,
She saw clad in one suit, a rout
Of ladies, where they comen ride
Along under the woode side;
On fair ambuland horse they set,
That were all white, fair, and great;
And everich one ride on side.
The saddles were of such a pride,
So rich saw she never none;
With pearls and gold so well begone,
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:
Crowns on their heads they bare,
As each of them a 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 beheld one, mounted on a miserable steed, wretchedly adorned in everything excepting the bridle. On questioning this straggler why she was so unlike her companions, the visionary lady replied that the latter were receiving the bright reward of having loved faithfully, and that she herself was suffering punishment for cruelty to her admirers. The reason that the bridle alone resembled those of her companions was, that for the last fortnight she had been sincerely in love, and a change for the better was in consequence beginning to show itself in 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 princess of Armenia is duly impressed by this lesson.]
When she chooses to have a merry-making at night.
[The Envious Man and the Miser.]
Of Jupiter thus I find y-writ,
How whilom that he would wit,
Upon the plaints which he heard
Among the men, how it fared,
As of the wrong condition
To do justification;
And for that cause down he sent
An angel, that about went,
That he the sooth know may.
So it befel upon a day,
This angel which him should inform
Was clothed in a man's form,
And overtook, I understand,
Two men that wenten over lond;
Through which he thought to aspy
His cause, and go'th in company.
This angel with his words wise
Opposeth them in sundry wise;
Now loud words and now soft,
That made them to disputen oft;
And each his reason had,
And thus with tales he them led,
With good examination,
Till he knew the condition,
What men they were both two;
And saw well at last tho,1
That one of them was covetous,
And his fellow was envious.
And thus when he hath knowledging,
Anon he feigned departing,
And said he mote algate wend;
But hearken now what fell at end!
For than he made them understond,
That he was there of God's sond,
And said them for the kindship,
He would do them some grace again,
And bade that one of the
What thing is him levest to crave,3
And he it shall of gift have.
And over that ke forth with all
He saith, that other have shall
The double of that his fellow axeth;
And thus to them his grace he taxeth.
The Covetous was wonder glad;
And to that other man he bade,
And saith, that he first ax should;
For he supposeth that he would
Make his axing of world's good;
For then he knew well how it stood;
If that himsell by double weight
Shall after take, and thus by sleight
Because that he would win,
He bade his fellow first begin.
This Envious, though it be late,
When that he saw he mote, algate,
Make his axing first, he thought,
If he his worship and profit sought
It shall be double to his fere,
That he would chuse in no manner.
But then he showeth what he was
Toward envy, and in this case,
Unto this angel thus he said,
And for his gift thus he prayed,
To make him blind on his one ee,
So that his fellow nothing see.
This word was not so soon spoke,
That his one ee anon was loke:
And his fellow forthwith also
Was blind on both his eyes two.
Tho was that other glad enough: That one wept, and that other lough. He set his one ee at no cost,
Whereof that other two hath lost.
The language at this time used in the lowland districts of Scotland was based, like that of England, in the Teutonic, and it had, like the contemporary English, a Norman admixture. To account for these circumstances, some have supposed that the language of England, in its various shades of improvement, reached the north through the settlers who are known to have flocked thither from England during the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries. Others suggest that the great body of the Scottish people, apart from the Highlanders, must have been of Teutonic origin, and they point to the very probable theory as to the Picts having been a German race. They further suggest, that a Norman admixture might readily come to the national tongue, through the large intercourse between the two countries during the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries. Thus, it is presumed, our common language was separately formed in the two countries, and owed its identity to its being constructed of similar materials, by similar gradations, and by nations in the same state of society.'* Whatever might be the cause, there can be no doubt that the language used by the first Scottish vernacular writers in the fourteenth century, greatly resembles that used contemporaneously in England.
that office in 1357. Little is known of his personal history: we may presume that he was a man of political talent, from his being chosen by the bishop of Aberdeen to act as his commissioner at Edinburgh when the ransom of David II. was debated; and of learning, from his having several times accompanied men of rank to study at Oxford. Barbour probably formed his taste upon the romance writers who flourished before him in England. A lost work of his, entitled The Brute, probably another in addition to the many versions of the story of Brutus of Troy, first made popular by Geoffrey of Monmouth, suggests the idea of an imitation of the romances; and
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 sentiment. This poem, which was completed in 1375, is in octo-syllabic lines, forming rhymed couplets, of which there are seven thousand. Barbour died at an advanced age in 1396.
[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!
Fredome mayse man to haiff liking!
Fredome all solace to man giffis :
He levys at ese that frely levys!
A noble hart may haiff nane ese,
Na ellys nocht that may him plese,
Gyff fredome failythe: for fre liking
Is yearnyt our all othir thing
Na he, that ay hase levyt fre,
May nocht knaw weill the propyrte,
The angyr, na the wrechyt dome,
That is cowplyt to foule thyrldome.
Bot gyff he had assayit it,
Than all perquer he suld it wyt ;
And suld think fredome mar to pryse
Than all the gold in warld that is.
[Death of Sir Henry De Bohun.]
[This incident took place on the eve of the Battle of Bannockburn.]
And when the king wist that they were
In hale battle, comand sae near,
His battle gart1 he weel array.
He rade upon a little palfrey,
Lawcht and joly arrayand
His battle, with an ax in hand.
And on his bassinet he bare
An hat of tyre aboon ay where ;
And, thereupon, into takin,
Ane high crown, that he was king.
And when Gloster and Hereford were
With their battle approachand near,
Before them all there came ridand,
With helm on heid and spear in hand,
Sir Henry the Boon, the worthy,
That was a wicht knicht, and a hardy,
And to the Earl of Hereford cousin ;
Armed in arms gude and fine;
Came on a steed a bowshot near,
Before all other that there were:
And knew the king, for that he saw
Him sae range his men on raw,
* In this and the subsequent extract, the language is as far
as possible reduced to modern spelling.
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 yird5 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 thereat 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.
[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 now-
They 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 deid9 they sall not flee.'
'Now be it sae then !' said the king.
And then, but langer delaying,
They gart trump till the assembly.
On either side men micht then see
Mony a wicht man and worthy, Ready to do chivalry.
Thus were they bound on either side;
And Englishmen, with mickle pride,
That were intill their avaward,1
To the battle that Sir Edward
Governt and led, held straight their way.
The horse with spurs hastened they,
And prickit upon them sturdily;
And they met them richt hardily.
See that, at their assembly there,
Sic a frushing of spears were,
That far away men micht it hear,
That at that meeting forouten3 were.
Were steeds stickit mony ane;
And mony gude man borne doun and slain;
They dang on other with wappins sair,
Some of the horse, that stickit were,
Rushit and reelit richt rudely.
The gude earl thither took the way,
With his battle, in gude array,
And assemblit sae hardily,
That men micht hear had they been by,
A great frush of the spears that brast.
There micht men see a hard battle,
And some defend and some assail;
While through the harness burst the bleed,
That till earth down steaming gaed.
The Earl of Murray and his men,
Sae stoutly them conteinit then,
That they wan place ay mair and mair
On their faes; where they were,
Ay ten for ane, or mair, perfay;
Sae that it seemit weel that they
Were tint, amang sae great menyic,5
As they were plungit in the sea.
And when the Englishmen has seen
The earl and all his men, bedeen,
Faucht sae stoutly, but effraying,
Richt as they had nae abasing;
Them pressit they with all their micht.
And they, with spears and swerds bricht,
And axes, that richt sharply share
I'mids the visage, met them there.
There men micht see a stalwart stour,
And mony men of great valour,
With spears, maces, and knives,
And other wappins, wisslit their lives:
Sae that mony fell doun all deid.
The grass waxed with the blude all red.
The Stewart, Walter that then was,
And the gude lord, als, of Douglas,
In a battle when that they saw
The earl, forouten dreid or awe,
Assemble with his company,
On all that folk, sae sturdily,
For till help them they held their way.
And their battle in gude array,
They assembled sae hardily,
Beside the earl, a little by,
That their faes felt their coming weel.
For, with wappins stalwart of steel,
They dang upon, with all their micht.
Their faes receivit weel, Ik hicht,7
With swerds, spears, and with mace.
The battle there sae fellon8 was,
And sae richt great spilling of blude,
That on the earth the sluices stude.
That time thir three battles were
All side by side, fechting weel near,
There micht men hear mony a dint,
And wappins upon armours stint.
And see tumble knichts and steeds,
And mony rich and royal weeds
Defoullit foully under feet.
Some held on loft; some tint the seat.
A lang time thus fechting they were ;.
That men nae noise micht hear there;
Men heard noucht but granes and dints,
That flew fire, as men flays on flints.
They foucht ilk ane sae eagerly,
That they made nae noise nor cry,
But dang on other at their micht,
With wappins that were burnist bricht.
All four their battles with that were
Fechting in a front halily.
Almighty God! how douchtily
Sir Edward the Bruce and his men
Amang their faes conteinit them than!
Fechting in sae gude covine,1
Sae hardy, worthy, and sae fine,
That their vaward frushit was.
Almighty God! wha then micht see
That Stewart Walter, and his rout,
And the gude Douglas, that was sae stout,
Fechting into that stalwart stour;
He sould say that till all honour
They were worthy.
There micht men see mony a steed
Flying astray, that lord had nane.
There micht men hear ensenzies cry:
And Scottismen cry hardily,
On them! On them! On them! They fail!' With that sae hard they gan assail,
And slew all that they micht o'erta'.
And the Scots archers alsua2
Shot amang them sae deliverly,
Engrieving them sae greatumly,
That what for them, that with them faucht,
That sae great routs to them raucht,
And pressit them full eagerly;
And what for arrows, that fellonly
Mony great wounds gan 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,
And fled sae fast, richt effrayitly,
That of them a full great party
Fled to the water of Forth, and there
The maist part of them drownit were.
And Bannockburn, betwixt the braes,
Of men, of horse, sae steekit was,
That, upon drownit horse and men,
Men micht pass dry out-ower it then.
And lads, swains, and rangle,5
When they saw vanquished the battle,
Ran amang them; and sae gan slay,
As folk that nae defence micht ma'.
About the year 1420, ANDREW WYNTOUN, or, as he describes himself, Androwe of Wyntoune, prior of St Serf's Monastery in Lochleven, completed, in
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 lanHis guage pure, and his style often animated. 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's Ram.]
This holy man had a ram,
That he had fed up of a lam,
And oysit him til folow ay,
Quherevir he passit in his way.
A theyf this scheppe in Achren stal,
And et hym up in pecis smalle.
Quhen Sanct Serf his ram had myst,
Quha that it stal was few that wist:
On presumpcion nevirtheles
He that it stal arestyt was;
And til Sanct Serf syne was he brought;
That scheippe he said that he stal noucht,
And tharfor for to swer ane athe,
He said that he walde nocht be laythe.
Bot sone he worthit rede for schayme;
The scheype thar bletyt in his wayme!
Swa was he taynetyt schamfully,
And at Sanct Serf askyt mercy.
[Interview of St Serf with Sathanas.]
While St Serf, intil a stead,
Lay after matins in his bed,
The devil came, in foul intent
For til found him with argument,
And said, St Serf, by thy werk
I ken thou art a cunning clerk.'
+ St Serf lived in the sixth century, and was the founder of
the monastery of which the author was prior.
St Serf said,' Gif I sae be,
Foul wretch, what is that for thee?'
The devil said, 'This questiòn
I ask in our collation
Say where was God, wit ye oucht,
Before that heaven and erd was wroucht?'
St Serf said, 'In himself steadless
His Godhead hampered never was.'
The devil then askit, What cause he had
To make the creatures that he made?'
To that St Serf answered there,
'Of creatures made he was makèr.
A maker micht he never be,
But gif creatures made had he.'
The devil askit him, Why God of noucht
His werkis all full gude had wroucht.'
St Serf answered, 'That Goddis will
Was never to make his werkis ill,
And as envious he had been seen,
Gif nought but he full gude had been.'
St Serf the devil askit than,
'Where God made Adam, the first man?' 'In Ebron Adam formit was,'
St Serf said. And til him Sathanas,
'Where was he, eft that, for his vice,
He was put out of Paradise?'
St Serf said, 'Where he was made.'
The devil askit, 'How lang he bade
In Paradise, after his sin.'
'Seven hours,' Serf said, 'bade he therein.'
'When was Eve made?' said Sathanas.
'In Paradise,' Serf said,' she was.'
The devil askit, Why that ye
Men, are quite delivered free,
Through Christ's passion precious boucht,
And we devils sae are noucht?'
St Serf said,' For that ye
Fell through your awn iniquity;
And through ourselves we never fell,
But through your fellon false counsell.'
Then saw the devil that he could noucht,
With all the wiles that he wrought,
Overcome St Serf. He said than
He kenned him for a wise man.
Forthy there he gave him quit,
For he wan at him na profit.
St Serf said, 'Thou wretch, gae
Frae this stead, and 'noy nae mae
Into this stead, I bid ye.'
Suddenly then passed he;
Frae that stead he held his way,
And never was seen there to this day.
[The Return of David II. from Captivity.]
[David II., taken prisoner by 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.
And when a lang time was gane by,
Frae prison and perplexitie
To Berwick Castle brought was he,
With the Earl of Northamptoun,
For to treat there of his ransoun.
Some lords of Scotland come there,
And als prelates, that wisest were.
Four days or five there treated they,
But they accorded by nae way;
For English folk all angry were,
And ay spak rudely mair and mair,
While at the last the Scots party,
That dred their faes' fellony,