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Tho was that other glad enough : That one wept, and that other loug!!. 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.
JOHN BARBOUR. The first of these writers was JOHN BARBOUR, archdeacon of Aberdeen. The date of his birth is unknown; but he is found exercising the duties of
[The Envious Man and the Miser.] Of Jupiter thus 1 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, 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 then some grace again, And bade that one of them should sain,2 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.
Catheral of Aberdeen. 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
2 Say. 3 What thing he was most disposed to crave.
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.
And by the crown that was set
[Apostrophe 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!
[Death of Sir ļIenry De Bokun.] . [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.
In this and the subsequent extract, the language is as far as possible reduced to modern spelling.
[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 deid9 they sall not flee.'
Now be it sae then !' said the king. And then, but langer delaying, They gart trump till the asseinbly. On either side men micht then see
2 Openly, clearly. 3 They sprang forward at once, against each other, in a line. - Reached. 5 Earth. 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 earl4 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 !
[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.
3 Failed, gaye way. 4 Shut up.
5 Rabble. 6 Slime, mud.
I The van of the English army. 2 Edward Bruce. 8 That were without or out of the battle.
The Earl of Murray.
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 thercin.'
Lochleven. eight-syllabled metre, an Orygynale Cronykil of Scotlund, 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 the monastery of which the author was prior.
[The Return of David II. from Captirity.] (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 illus. trating the feelings of men in that age. The morning after his return, when the people who had given so much for their sovoreign, were pressing to see or to grect him, he is guilty of a gross outrage against them-which the poet, strange to say, justifies. ]
Yet in prison was King Davy.
All privily went hame their way;
wliom nothing else is known, may be classed with At that time there nae mair did they.
the Prich of Conscience and Pierce Plowman's Vision, The king to London then was had,
English compositions of the immediately preceding That there a lang time after bade.
age. Thus, it appears as if literary tastes and modes After syne, with mediatioun
travelled northward, as more frivolous fashions do Of messengers, of his ransoun
at this day, and were always predominant in ScotWas treated, while a set day
land about the time when they were declining or Till Berwick him again brought they.
becoming extinct in England. And there was treated sae, that he
The last of the romantic or minstrel class of comShould of prison delivered be,
positions in Scotland was The Adventures of Sir And freely till his lands found,
William Wallace, written about 1460, by a wander: To pay ane hundred thousand pound
ing poet usually called Of silver, intil fourteen year And [while, the payment (payit) were,
BLIND HARRY. To make sae lang truce took they,
Of the author nothing is known but that he was And affirmed with seal and fay.
blind from his infancy; that he wrote this poem, Great hostage there levedl he,
and made a living by reciting it, or parts of it, beThat on their awn dispense should be.
fore company. It is said by himself to be founded Therefore, while they hostage were,
on a narrative of the life of Wallace, written in Expense but number made they there.
Latin by one Blair, chaplain to the Scottish hero, The king was then delivered free,
aud which, if it ever existed, is now lost. The chief And held his way till his countrie.
materials, however, have evidently been the tradiWith him of English brought he nane,
tionary stories told respecting Wallace in the minWithout a chamber-boy alane.
strel's own time, which was a century and a half The whether, upon the morn, when lic Should wend till his counsel privy,
subsequent to that of the hero. In this respect, The
Wallace resembles The Bruce; but the longer time The folk, as they were wont to do, Pressed right rudely in thereto :
which had elapsed, the unlettered character of the
author, and the comparative humility of the class But he right suddenly can arrace?
from whom he would chiefly derive his facts, made Out of a macer's hand a mace,
it inevitable that the work should be much less of a And said rudely, “How do we now?
historical document than that of the learned archStand still, or the proudest of you Shall on the head have with this mace !
deacon of Aberdeen. It is, in reality, such an ac. Then there was nane in all this place,
count of Wallace as might be expected of Montrose But all they gave him room in hy;
or Dundee from some unlettered but ingenious poet Durst nane press further that were by ;
of the present day, who should consult only HighHis council door might open stand,
land tradition for his authority. It abounds in That Dane durst till it be pressand.
marvellous stories respecting the prowess of its hero, Radure3 in prince is a gude thing ;
and in one or two places grossly outrages real hisFor, but radure, 4 all governing
tory; yet its value has on this account been perShall all time but despised be:
haps understated. Within a very few years past. And where that men may radure see,
several of the transactions attributed by the blind They shall dread to trespass, and sae
minstrel to Wallace, and heretofore supposed to be Peaceable a king his land may ma'.
fictitious—as, for example, his expedition to France Thus radure dred that gart him be.
-have been confirmed by the discovery of authentic Of Ingland but a page brought he,
evidence. That the author meant only to state real And by his sturdy 'ginning
facts, must be concluded alike from the simple unHe gart them all have sic dreading,
affectedness of the narration, and from the rarity of That there was nane, durst nigh him near,
deliberate imposture, in comparison with credulity, But wha by name that called were..
as a fault of the literary men of the period. The He led with radure sae his land,
poem is in ten-syllable lines, the epic verse of a later In all time that he was regnand,
age, and it is not deficient in poetical effect or eleThat nanc durst well withstand his will, vated sentiment. A paraphrase of it into modern All winning bowsome to be him till.
Scotch, by William Hamilton of Gilbertfield, has Wyntoun bas been included in this section of
long been a favourite volume amongst the Scottish
| peasantry: it was the study of this book which had our literary history, because, although writing
so great an effect in kindling the genius of Robert after 1400, his work is one of a class, all the rest of
Burns.* which belong to the preceding period. Some other Scottish writers who were probably or for certain of [Adventure of Wallace while Fishing in Irrine Water.] the fifteenth century, may, for similar reasons, be
[Wallace, near the commencement of his career, is living in here introduced. Of one named HUTCHEON, and de- l hiding with his uncle, Sir Ranald Wallace of Riccarton, near signed “ of the Awle Ryall”--that is, of the Hall |
Kilmarnock. To amuse himself, he goes to fish in the river Royal or Palace--it is only known that he wrote a Irvine, when the following adventure takes place :-) metrical romance entitled the Gest of Arthur. An
So on a time he desired to play.t other, called CLERK, “ of Tranent," was the author
In Aperil the three-and-twenty day, of a romance entitled The Adventures of Sir Gawain, of which two cantos have been preserved. They are * See his Life by Dr Currie. written in stanzas of thirteen lines, with alternate A few couplets in the original spelling are subjoined. rhymes, and much alliteration; and in a language
So on a tym he desyrit to play.
In Aperill the three-and-twenty day, so very obsolete, as to be often quite unintelligible.
Till Erewyn wattir fysche to tak he went, There is, however, a sort of wildness in the narra
Sic fantasye fell in his entent. tive, which is very striking.* The Howlate, an alle
To leide his net a child furth with him yeid; gorical satirical poem, by a poet named HOLLAND, of
But he, or nowne, was in a fellowne dreid. 1 Left. 2 Reached. 3 Rigour. Without rigour.
His swerd he left, so did he neuir agayne; * Eilis.
It dide him gud, supposs he sufferyt payro