« AnteriorContinuar »
A METRICAL VERSION OF THE HISTORY OE
PUBLIsHED BT THE AUTHORITY OF THE L03Ds C0MMISsIONERS OF HER MAJESTY'S
In submitting the claim of " The Buik of the Cro"niclis of Scotland" to be included in the series of works, hitherto inedited, now in course of publication under the direction of the Right Honourable the Master of the Rolls, the Editor was influenced by the consideration that, while England possesses the volumes of Langtoft, Robert of Gloucester, Harding and others, the present, with the exception of the invaluable chronicle of Wyntown, is the sole metrical narrative of her early history to which Scotland can point.1 And although, apart from the fact of the present chronicle being a translation, it by no means merits to be placed on the same level with the labour of the Prior of S. Serf, nevertheless, as a monument of the vernacular language, and a reflection of the manners,
1 The "Broce " of Barbour, and the " Wallace" of Blind Harry,do not fall within the special category.
sentiments, and character of the age in which it was composed, he deemed it in every respect desirable that it should be rescued from comparative obscurity and made accessible to the public. An opinion of its value, differing widely from that of its editor, may perhaps be entertained by the fastidious balancer of mere facts; but the philologist, and the philosophic student of the past of a once independent nation, will not underrate even its mythical exaggerations or rude imageries.
The original and, so far as is known, the only MS. of this chronicle is preserved in the Public Library, Cambridge, and bears the press-mark К. k. ii. 16. It is a volume in folio, written on paper in a character sufficiently indicative of the first half of the sixteenth century, even if the precise date of its execution were not set forth by its scribe. The number of its folios was two hundred and seventy; but of these the first and twenty-first have been lost; and of those which remain, the first five and the last have been misplaced by the binder; while several, particularly those at the beginning, are much soiled and mutilated. The folios also after f. 165 have been erroneously numbered. The most infelicitous dilaceration is that of its colophon, where the injury occurs at the precise spot whereon the name of the author had been recorded. From sundry nearly-coeval marginal scribbles, it appears at one time to have belonged to Hew Crawfurd of Cloberhill, or Cloverhill,1 (a Renfrewshire family extinct
1 About the middle of the sixteenth century Hew Crawfurd married Giles, daughter of Thomas Kelso, of Kelsoland, со. Ayr. Another Hew, cither his son or grandson, was served heir of his father on 22d August 1616. George Craw
ford was served heir of his father Hew on 3d July 1G40 ¡ and another Hew was served heir of his father, also named Hew, on 8th February 160s. Beyond this cannot be traced by the Editor.
about the end of the seventeenth or beginning of the following century); and thereafter to Bishop Moore, with the rest of whose MSS. it passed, by gift of George I., to the University of Cambridge; where it has been generally understood that the book was written by command of Margaret Tudor, sister of King Henry VIII., and widow of King James IV. of Scotland, for the instruction of the youthful sovereign, her son James V. This supposition is maintained, among various incidental allusions, by the arguments employed by the allegorical personage of the imperfect "Prologe," to induce the translator to undertake his task of rendering into the vulgar tongue the history of Hector Boyis,
"Maister in art, rector in theologie ;"
which, as he informs us in the following lines, was commenced on the eighteenth day of April 1531, and ended on the twenty-ninth of September 1535 :—
"Thankit be God now and his moder deir,
Thus far as regards the manuscript. Of its Author's name, as already stated, we have been most tantalizingly deprived; yet, very fortunately, he himself sup