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Wher is the well of mercie and of grace,
Fra him thai came, to him agane thei fall '.
Some readers may perhaps be of opinion, that Makgregor x was one of those Scottish lairds, who lived professedly by I'apine and pillage: a practice greatly facilitated, and even supported, by the 'feudal system. Of this sort was' Edom o'Gordon, whose attack on the castle of Dunse is recorded by the Scotch minstrels, in a pathetic ballad, which beginsthus. , .
It fell about the Martinmas,
Ben the wind blew schril and cauld',
We maun draw to a hauld;
Other parts of, Europe, from the same fituations in life, afford instances of the same practice. Froissart has left' a long narrative of an eminent robber,_one Amergot Marcell 5, who became at length' so fOrmidable and powerful, as to claim a place in the history of France. About the year 1380, he had occupied a strong castle for the space of ten years, in the province of Auvergne,.in which he lived with. the splendor and dominionsi of. a petty sovereign; having amassed, by pillaging the neighbouring country, one hun-; dred thousand francs. His depredations brought in an annual revenue of twenty thousand fioreins. Afterwards he
is tempted imprudently to sell his castle to one of the generals of the king for a considerable sum. Froissart introduces ' Marcell, after having sold his fortress, uttering the following lamentation, which strongly paints his system of depredation, the feudal anarchy, and the trade and travelling of those days. " What a joy was it when we rode forthe at adventure, " and somtyme found' by the way a- ryche priour, or mar" chaunt, or a route of mulettes, of Montpellyer, of Nar" bone, of Lymons, of Fongans, of T holous, or of Carcassone, laden with clothe of Brusselles, or peltre ware comynge from the fayres, or laden with spycery from Bruges, from Damas, or from Alysaunder! Whatsoever we met, all was ours, or els raunsomcd at our " pleasures. Dayly we 'gate newe money; and the vyl" laynes of Auvergne and of Lymosyn dayly provyded, and a brought to our castell, whete mele, breed [bread] ready U baken, otes for our horses and lytter, good wynes, beffes, and satte mottons, pullayne, and wylde foule. We were '-* ever furnyshed, as though we had been kings. Whan we" rode forthe, all the country trembled for feare. All wasU oures, goynge or comynge. Howe t-oke we Carlaste, I" and thetBourge of Companye! and I and Perot of Bernoys " toke Caluset. How dyd we scale 'with lytell ayde the U stronge'castell of Marquell pertayninge to the erle Dol-' '** phyn! Ikept it not past fyve dayes, but I receyved-for " it, on a fayre table, fyve thousand frankes; and forgave one thousand, for the love of the erle Dolphyn's chyldren. " By my faithe, this was a fayre and goodlie life !- &cc '."_
But on the whole I am inclined to think, that our testatorMakgregor, although a robber, was a personageof high rank,whose power and authority were such, as to require this indirect and artificial mode of abuse. For the same reason, I believe the name to be fictitious. '
I take this opportunity of observing, that the .old Scotch 'poet Blind Harry belongs to this period; and, at the same time, of correcting the mistake, which, in consormity to the common opinion, and on the evidence of Dempster and Mackenzie, I havecommitted, in placing him towards the close of the fourteenth century '. John Major the Scotch historian, who was born about the year 1470, remembered Blind Harry to have been living, and to have published a poem on the achievements of Sir William Wallace, when he was a boy. He adds, that he cannot vouch for the credibility of those tales which the bards were accustomed to sing for hire .in the castles ofv the nobilityb. I will give his own words. " Integrum librum Gulielmi Walla'cei Henricus, a nativitate " luminibus captus, mere infantic tempore cudit: et quae " vulgo dicebantur carmine vulgari, in quo peritus erat, " conscripsit. Ego autem talibus scriptis solum' in parte " fidem impertior; quippe qui msromanvm RECITATIONB " 'CORAM PRINCIPIBUS victum et vestitum, quodignus erat, " nactus est '." And that, in this poem, Blind Harry has intermixed much fable with true history, will appear from some proofs collected by fir David Dalrymple, in his judicious and accurate annals of Scotland, lately published '.
l cannot return to the English poets without a hint, that a Well-executed history of the Scotch poetry from the thirteenth century, would be a valuable acceflion to the general literary history of Britain. The subject is pregnant with much curious and instructive information, is highly deserving of a 'minute and regular research, has never yet been uniformly examined in its full extent, and the materials are both acceflible and ample. Even the bare lives of the vernacular poets of Scot
* See supr. vol. i. p. 321. Dempfler s. 74.. a. edit. Ascens. 1521. 4to. Compare says he lived in 1361. Hollinsh. Scor. ii. p. 4.'4. And Mack. ' The poem as now extant has probably tom. i. 423. Dempst. lib. viii. p. 349.
been resormed and modemised. 4 See p. 245. edit. 1776. 440. = His-r, MAGN. BI-ITAN. L. iv. c. xv.
land have never yet been written with tolerable care; and at present are only known from the meagre outlines of Dempster and Mackenzie. The Scotch appear to have had an early propensity to theatrical representations; and it is probable, that in the prosecution of such a design, among several other interesting and unexpected discoveries, many anecdotes, conducing to illustrate the rise and progress of our ancient drama, might be drawn from obscurity.
sin c T. xv.
OST of the poems of John Skelton were written in > the reign of king Henry the eighth. But as he was laureatcd at Oxford about the year 1-489 ®', I consider him as belonging to the fifteenth century.
Skelton, having studied in both our universities, was pro
s At least before the year 1507. For at the end of his Turn-rue for old ja/m Claris, there is this colophon. " Auctore *" Skelton rectore de Dis. Finis, &e. A4' pud Trumpinton, script. per Curatum "" ejusdem quinto die Jan. A. D. 1507." See the PtTHY PLEASAUNT AND PRO'PlTABLB Woaicas or MAlSTE-R SKELTON, reprinted at London, '736, izmo. spag. 272. He was ordained both deacon an priest in the year 1498. On the title of 'the monastery de Graciis near the tower of London. Rectsra. Savage. Episc. Lo'nd. There is a poem by Skelton on the death of king Edward the fourth, who died A. D. 1483. Woaxrs, ut supr. p. 100. This is taken into the Miaaoua or MA'GlSTRATBS
Skelton's poems were firsl printed at London, 1512. 8vo. A more complete edition by Thomas Marshe appeared in
' 1568. lzmo. From which the modern edition, in '736, was copied. Many pieces of this collection have appeared separately. We have also, Caa'rMNr. BOKES or Sum-on. For W. Bonham, 1547. .1 zmo. Again, viz. Five of his poems, for john Day, 1583. lame. Another collection for A. Scolocker, 1582. izmo. Another of two pieces, without date, for A. Kytson. Another, viz. MERXE TALES, [or T. Colwell, 1575. 121no. MAGNlFicsucr, a goodly fitter/ad' and a 'any
drey/Al and made by majster Sit/ton, for! laureate', [an deem/id, was printed by Rastell, in 1533. 4.to. ' This is not in any collection of his poems. He mentions it in his Cnowna or LAWRBLL, p. 47. " And of MAGNIFICENCE, a notable " mater, &c." Pinson also printed a piece of Skelton, not in any collection, " How " yong scholars now a days emboldened in " the fly blowne blast of the moche vayne " glorious, &c."Without date, 4to. There are also, not in his Works, Epitapb as Jasþer duke I Bedsard, Lond. 4to. And, Mistrier of ngland under Hnnsy shet/ents', Lond. 4to. See two of his Epitaphs in Camden's EmTAPmA REGUM, &c. Lond. 1600. 4to. See a dislich in Hollinsh. iii. 878. And Stanzas presented to Henry the seventh, in 1488, at Wind-for, in Ashmole's Oan. GAnT. chap. xxi. Sacr. vii.p. 594.. A great number of Skelton's pieces remain unprinted. See MSS. Harl. 367. 36. sol. Ior. sup-2252. 51. fol. 134.. seq. MSS. Reg. 18 D. 4.. 5. MSS. C. C. C. Cambr. G. ix. MSS. Cotton. ViTELL. E. x. 28. And MSS. Cathedr. Line. In the Caowna or LAWRELL, Skelton recites many of his own pieces. p. 47. seq. The sh'vcrayn later/nd: as' Virtue. The Rasiar. Prince Arthur's creation. Of Persidia. Dialogun osYmaginarion. The ramrdy of Arbad.mio.t. Tullirsami/inrr, that is, a translation of Tully's Familiar Epistles. Of good Adwisemcm'. The Reade against