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T is not the plan of this work to comprehend the Scotch
poetry. But when I consider the close and national connection between England and Scotland in the progress of manners and literature, I am sensible I should be guilty of a partial and defective representation of the poetry of the former, was I to omit in my series a few Scotch writers, who have adorned the present period, with a degree of sentiment and spirit, a command of phraseology, and a fertility of imagination, not to be found in any English poet since Chaucer and Lydgate: more especially as they have left striking specimens cf allegorical invention, a species of composition which appears to have been for some time almost totally extinguished in England.
The first I shall mention is William Dunbar, a native of Salton in East Lothian, about the year 1470. His most celebrated poems are The THISTLE AND THE Rose, and the GOLDEN TERGE.
The THISTLE AND THE Rose was occasioned by the marriage of James the fourth, king of Scotland, with Margaret Tudor, eldest daughter of Henry the seventh, king of England: an event, in which the whole future political state of both nations was vitally interested, and which ultimately produced the union of the two crowns and kingdoms. It was finished on the ninth day of May in the year 1503, nearly three months before the arrival of the queen in Scot land: whose progress from Richmond 'to Edinburgh was attended with a greater magnificence of parade, processions, and spectacles, than I ever remember to have seen on any similar occasion. It may be pertinent to premise, that Mar
a See a memoir, cited above, in Leland's COLL. tom. iii. Append. edit. 1770. p. 265. It is worthy of particular notice,
that during this expedition there was in the magnificent suite of the princess a company
of players, under the direction of one John L 1
garet was a singular patroness of the Scotch poetry, now beginning to flourish. Her bounty is thus celebrated by Stewart of Lorne, in a Scotch poem, called Lerges OF THIS New yeIR DAY, written in the year 1527.
Dunbar's THISTLE AND Rose is opened with the following stanzas, which are remarkable for their descriptive and picturesque beauties.
Quhen Merche was with variand windis past,
Inglish, who is sometimes called Johannes. Amonge the faide lordes and the
qweene was in order, Johannes and his com
panye, the menítrells of musicke, &c.” p 267. See also, p. 299. 300. 280. 289. In the midst of a moft fplendid procession, the princess rode on horse-back behind the king into the city of Edinburgh, p. 287.. Afterwards the ceremonies of this stately marriage are described; which yet is not equal, in magnificence and expence, to that of Richard the second with Isabell of France, at Calais, in the year 1397. This last-mentioned marriage is recorded with the most minute circumstances, the dresses of the king and the new queen, the names of the French and English nobility who attended, the presents, one of which is a golden cup studded with jewels, and worth three thousand pounds, given on both sides, the banquets, entertainments, and a variety of other curious particulars, in five large vellum pages, in an antient Regifter of
Merton priory_in Surrey, in old French. MSS. LAUD, E. 54. fol. 105. b. Bibł. Bodl. Oxon. Froissart, who is most commonly prolix in describing pompous ceremonies, might have greatly enriched his account of the fame royal wedding, from this valuable and authentic record. See his Cron. tom. iv. p. 226. ch. 78. B. penult. Paris, 1574. fol. Or lord Berners's Translation, vol. ii. f. 275. cap. ccxvi. edit. Pinson, 1523. fol.
Great god help, &c. cIf the continues to do as she has done. Bounty. Fr. L'Offre. e Any other I could
speak of. f Largefs. Bounty,
& St. x.
When. Qu has the force of w. i Taken Leave. k Mother.
1 Mattin orisons. From Hore in the missal. So again in the GOLDEN Terge, St. ii. Where he also calls the birds the
Amang the tendir odouris reid and quhyt,
In bed at morrow sleiping as I lay,
Methoct freshe May befoir my bed upstude,
May then rebukes the poet, for not rising early, according to his annual custom, to celebrate the approach of the spring; especially as the lark has now announced the dawn of day, and his heart in former years had always,
chapel-clarkes of Venus, St. iii. In the tion occurs in Sir David Lyndesay's COMCourte of Love, Chaucer introduces PLAYNT OF THE PAPYNGO, edit. ut infr. the birds finging a mass in honour of May. SIGNAT. B. iii. Edit. Urr. p. 570. v. 1353. feq.
Suppose the geis and hennis fuld cry alarum, On May-day, when the larke began to ryse, And we fall serve fecundum xum Sarum, &c. To MATTins went the lustie nighingale. m Looked.
* Hailed. He begins the service with Domine labia,
• With good will. Loudly. The eagle fings the Venite. The popingay
Lovers. Cæli enarrant. The peacock Dominus reg
9 Slumbering navit. The owl Benedicite. The Te Deum
r Attire. is converted into Te Deum AMORIS, and
• From Chaucer, Miller's TALE, V. sung by the thrush, &c. &c. Skelton, in
147. p. 25.
Urr. the Boke of Philip SPARROW, ridicules the misfal, in fuppofing various parts of it
Full brightir was the shining of hir hewe to be fung by birds. p. 226. edit. Lond.
Than in the Towre the noble forged newe. 1739, 12mo. Much the fame sort of fic.
* Brightness. LI 2
glaid and blissful bene Sangis “ to mak undir the levis grene *.
The poet replies, that the spring of the present year was unpromising and ungenial ; unattended with the usual song of birds, and serenity of sky: and that storms and showers, and the loud blasts of the horn of lord Eolus, had usurped her mild dominion, and hitherto prevented him from wandering at leisure under the vernal branches. May rejects his excuse, and with a smile of majesty commands him to arise, and to perform his annual homage to the flowers, the birds, and the sun. They both enter a delicious garden, filled with the richest colours and odours. The sun suddenly appears in all his glory, and is thus described in the luminous language of Lydgate.
The purpour fone, with tendir bemys reid,
Immediately the birds, like the morning-stars, singing together, hail the unusual appearance of the sun-fhine.
And, as the blissful sone of cherarchy”,
And welcum day that comfortis every wicht.
x St. iv. See Chaucer's KNIGHT's
And makith it out of his slepe to sterte,
2 The hierarchy. See Job, ch. xxxviij. v. 7. The morning-stars singing together.
“ Hail May, hail Flora, hail Aurora fchene,
NATURE is then introduced, issuing her interdict, that the progress of the spring should be no longer interupted, and that Neptune and Eolus should cease from disturbing the. waters and air.
Dame Nature gaif an inhibitioun thair,
This preparation and suspence are judicious and ingenious; as they give dignity to the subject of the poem, awaken our curiosity, and introduce many poetical circumstances. NATure immediately commands every bird, beast, and flower, to appear in her presence; and, as they had been used to do every May-morning, to acknowledge her universal fovereignty. She sends the roe to bring the beasts, the swallow to collect the birds, and the yarrow 'to summon the flowers. They are assembled before her in an instant. The lion advances first, whose figure is drawn with great force and expression.
a St. ix.
message to the flowers; but that its name has been supposed to be derived from ArYou', being held a remedy for healing wounds in Xicted by that weapon.
The poet, to apologise for his boldness in personifying a plant, has added, “ full craf
tely conjurit scho.” St. xii.
• St. X.
* The yarrow is Achillea, or Millefolium, commonly called Sneeswort. There is no seafon for selecting this plant to go on a