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In the midst of June, that jolly sweet season,
When that fair Phoebus with his beamis bright
Had dryed up the dew from dale and down,
And all the land made with his lemis1 light.
In a morning, between mid-day and night,
I rose, and put all sloth and sleep aside,
Until a wood I went alone, but guide.

Sweet was the smell of flowers white and red,
The noise of birdis right delicious;
The boughis broad bloomid above my head,
The ground growing with grasses gracious:
Of all pleasaunce that place was plenteous.
With sweet odours and birdis harmony

That morning mild, my mirth was more for they.

The roses red arrayed in rorne and ryss,3
The primrose and the purpure viola;
To hear it was a point of Paradise,
Such mirth the mavis and the merle couth ma,
The blossoms blithe broke up on bank and brae,
The smell of herbis, and of fowls the cry,
Contending who should have the victory.


WILLIAM DUNBAR, 'a poet,' says Sir Walter Scott, 'unrivalled by any that Scotland has ever produced,' flourished at the court of James IV. at the end of the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth century. Having received his education at the university of St Andrews, where, in 1479, he took the degree of Master of Arts, Dunbar became a friar of the Franciscan order (Gray Friars), in which capacity he travelled for some years, not only in Scotland, but also in England and France, preaching, as was the custom of the order, and living by the alms of the pious-a mode of life which he himself acknowledges to have involved a constant exercise of falsehood, deceit, and flattery. In time, he had the grace, or was enabled by circumstances, to renounce this sordid profession. It is supposed, from various allusions in his writings, that, from about the year 1491 to 1500, he was occasionally employed by the king

1 Radiance. 2 Without. 3 Bush and twig. 4 Could make.

(James IV.) in some subordinate but not unimportant capacity, in connection with various foreign embassies, and that he thus visited Germany, Italy, Spain, and France, besides England and Ireland. He could not, in such a life, fail to acquire much of that knowledge of mankind which forms so important a part of the education of the poet. In 1500, he received from the king a pension of ten pounds, afterwards increased to twenty, and finally to eighty. He is supposed to have been employed by James in some of the negotiations preparatory to his marriage with the Princess Margaret (daughter of Henry VII.), which took place in 1503. For some years ensuing, he seems to have lived at court, regaling his royal master with his poetical compositions, and probably also with his conversation, the charms of which, judging from his writings, must have been very great. He represents himself as a court poet, and occasionally dancing in the queen's chamber, having a penchant for one of the court ladies :

Then cam in Dunbar, the maker,

On all the floor there was nane frecker,
And there he danced a dirry-duntoun,
He hopped like a piller wantoun;
For love of Musgrave men fules me :

He trippit while he tore his pantoun,1
A merrier dance micht na man see.
Then cam in Mistress Musgrave;
She might have learned all the lave;
When I saw her sae trimly dance,
Her gude conwoy and countenance,
Then for her sake I wished to be

The greatest earl or duke in France-
A merrier dance micht na man see.

It is sad to relate of one who possessed so buoyant and mirthful a spirit, that his life was not, so far as we can judge, a happy one. He appears to have repined greatly at the servile court-life which he was condemned to lead, and to have longed anxiously for some independent source of income. Among his poems are many containing nothing but expressions of solicitude on this subject. He survived the year 1517, and is supposed to have died about 1520, at the age of sixty; but whether he ultimately succeeded in obtaining preferment, is not known. His writings, with scarcely any exception, remained in the obscurity of manuscript till the beginning of the last century; but his fame had been gradually rising, and it was at length, in 1834, considered sufficient to justify a complete edition of his works, by Mr David Laing.

The poems of Dunbar may be said to be of three classes-the allegorical, the moral, and the comic; besides which there is a vast number of productions composed on occasions affecting himself, and which may therefore be called personal effusions. His allegorical poem, The Thistle and the Rose (a triumphant nuptial-song for the union of James and the Princess Margaret), was finished, as he himself states, on the 9th of May 1503. Langhorne, the English poet, finely says:

In nervous strains Dunbar's bold music flows,

And Time yet spares the Thistle and the Rose. But another of Dunbar's allegorical poems, The Golden Terge, was more popular in his own day, and is cited by Sir David Lyndsay as proving

1 His slipper.


that its author had 'language at large.' It is more richly descriptive and rhetorical, but has not more true poetry. The satirical and humorous poems of Dunbar are extremely gross. Perhaps the most remarkable of all his poems is The Dance. describes a procession of the seven deadly sins in the infernal regions; and for strength and vividness of painting, would stand a comparison with any poem in the language. The most solemn and impressive of the more exclusively moral poems of Dunbar, is one in which he represents a thrush and nightingale taking opposite sides in a debate on earthly and spiritual affections, the thrush ending every speech or stanza with a recommendation of 'a lusty life in Love's service,' and the nightingale with the more melodious declaration : 'All love is lost but upon God alone.' There is, however, something more touching in the less laboured verses in which he moralises on the brevity of existence, the shortness and uncertainty of all ordinary enjoyments, and the wickedness and woes of mankind.

This wavering warld's wretchedness,
The failing and fruitless business,
The misspent time, the service vain,
For to consider is ane pain.

The sliding joy, the gladness short,
The feigned love, the false comfort,
The sweir abade,1 the slightful train,2

For to consider is ane pain.

The sugared mouths, with minds therefra,
The figured speech, with faces tway;
The pleasing tongues, with hearts unplain,
For to consider is ane pain.

Or, in another poem :

Evermair unto this warld's joy,
As nearest heir, succeeds annoy;
Therefore when joy may not remain,

His very heir, succeedés Pain.

He is, at the same time, by no means disposed habitually to take gloomy or desponding views of life. He has one poem, of which each stanza ends with 'For to be blyth methink it best." In another, he advises, since life is so uncertain, that the good things of this world should be rationally enjoyed while it is yet possible. Thine awn gude spend,' says he, 'while thou has space.' There is yet another, in which these Horatian maxims are still more pointedly enforced; and from this we shall

select a few stanzas.

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2 Snare.

4 Injuries.

Follow on pity, flee trouble and debate,
With famous folkis hald thy company;
Be charitable and hum'le in thine estate,
For warldly honour lastes but a cry.
For trouble in earth tak no melancholy;
Be rich in patience, if thou in gudes be poor;
Who lives merrily he lives mightily;
Without Gladness availes no Treasure.

The philosophy of these lines is excellent. Dunbar was as great in the comic as in the solemn strain, but not so pure. His Twa Married Women and the Widow is a conversational piece, in which three gay ladies discuss, in no very delicate terms, the merits of their husbands, and the means by which wives may best advance their own interests. There is one piece of peculiar humour, descriptive of an imaginary tournament between a tailor and a shoemaker, in the same region where he places the dance of the seven deadly sins. It is in a style of the broadest farce, and full of very offensive language, yet as droll as anything in Scarron or Rabelais. One of the marvels brought by the king's ships was a black lady, and a great tournament was got up in honour of the sable beauty. Dunbar humorously says:

When she is clad in rich apparel,

She blinks as bright as ane tar-barrel;
When she was born the sun tholed eclipse;
The Night wad sure fight in her quarrel-
The lady wi' the meikle lips.

Another novelty at court was a French quackdoctor, Master John Damian, who appears to have got considerable sums of money from the king for experiments made in the vain hope of extracting gold out of other metals. Damian must have been a simpleton as well as knave, for he made a public attempt to fly with wings which he had constructed. The wings being fastened upon him, fell to the ground and broke his thigh-bone. He he flew off the castle wall of Stirling, but shortly accounted for his failure by the circumstance of there having been some feathers in the wings, which yearned and coveted the midden and not

the skies!'

presented this quack to the vacant abbacy of The king, with culpable recklessness, Tungland in Galloway. Dunbar happily satirised the quack, representing him as flying in the air, though he never got upon wing, and as assailed by all the indignant birds:

And ever the cushats at him tuggit,

The rooks him rent, the ravens him druggit, The hooded-craws his hair forth rugged, The heaven he might not bruik.

Pinkerton ascribes to Dunbar a comic tale apparently of about the same date as the poet's acknowledged works, entitled The Freirs of Berwick. The 'argument' of this piece is the merry adventure' of two White Friars of Berwick detecting Friar John, superior of the Gray Friars of the same place, in an intrigue with a farmer's wife. The tale is told with great humour and spirit, and the dénouement, the detection and punishment of Friar John, is brought about by a series of highly amusing incidents. There is no authority for assigning this piece to Dunbar, but it is worthy of him or of Chaucer.

The Merle and Nightingale.

In May, as that Aurora did upspring,
With crystal een chasing the cluddes sable,
I heard a Merle with merry notis sing
A sang of love, with voice right comfortable,
Again' the orient beamis, amiable,
Upon a blissful branch of laurel green;
This was her sentence, sweet and delectable,
A lusty life in Lovis service been.

Under this branch ran down a river bright,
Of balmy liquor, crystalline of hue,
Again' the heavenly azure skyis light,
Where did upon the tother side pursue
A Nightingale, with sugared notis new,
Whose angel feathers as the peacock shone;
This was her song, and of a sentence true-
All love is lost but upon God alone.

With notis glad, and glorious harmony,
This joyful Merle, so salust she the day,
While rung the woodis of her melody,
Saying, Awake, ye lovers of this May;
Lo, fresh Flora has flourished every spray,
As nature has her taught, the noble queen
The field been clothit in a new array;
A lusty life in Lovis service been.

Ne'er sweeter noise was heard with living man,
Na made this merry gentle Nightingale;
Her sound went with the river as it ran,
Out through the fresh and flourished lusty vale;
O Merle! quoth she, O fool! stint of thy tale,
For in thy song good sentence is there none,
For both is tint, the time and the travail
Of every love but upon God alone.

Cease, quoth the Merle, thy preaching, Nightingale:
Shall folk their youth spend into holiness?
Of young sanctís grows auld feindís, but fable;
Fye, hypocrite, in yeiris tenderness,
Again' the law of kind thou goes express,
That crookit age makes one with youth serene,
Whom nature of conditions made diverse:
A lusty life in Lovis service been.

The Nightingale said: Fool, remember thee,
That both in youth and eild,1 and every hour,
The love of God most dear to man suld be;
That him, of nought, wrought like his ain figour,
And died himself, fro' dead him to succour;
O, whether was kythit2 there true love or none?
He is most true and steadfast paramour,
And love is lost but upon him alone.

The Merle said: Why put God so great beauty
In ladies, with sic womanly having,
But gif he would that they suld lovit be?
To love eke nature gave them incliníng,
And He of nature that worker was and king,
Would nothing frustir put, nor let be seen,
Into his creature of his own making;
A lusty life in Lovis service been.

The Nightingale said: Not to that behoof
Put God sic beauty in a lady's face,

That she suld have the thank therefor or luve,
But He, the worker, that put in her sic grace;
Of beauty, bounty, riches, time, or space,
And every gudeness that been to come or gone,
The thank redounds to Him in every place:
All love is lost but upon God alone.

O Nightingale! it were a story nice,
That love suld not depend on charity;

1 Age.

And gif that virtue contrar be to vice,

Then love maun be a virtue, as thinks me;
For, aye, to love envy maun contrar' be:
God bade eke love thy neighbour fro the spleen;1
And who than ladies sweeter neighbours be?

A lusty life in Lovis service been.

The Nightingale said: Bird, why does thou rave?
Man may take in his lady sic delight,
Him to forget that her sic virtue gave,
And for his heaven receive her colour white:
Her golden tressit hairis redomite,"
Like to Apollo's beamis tho' they shone,
Suld not him blind fro' love that is perfite;
All love is lost but upon God alone.

The Merle said: Love is cause of honour aye,
Love makis cowards manhood to purchase,
Love makis knichtis hardy at essay,
Love makis wretches full of largéness,
Love makis sweir3 folks full of business,
Love makis sluggards fresh and well be seen,
Love changes vice in virtuous nobleness;
A lusty life in Lovis service been.

The Nightingale said: True is the contrary;
Sic frustir love it blindis men so far,
Into their minds it makis them to vary;

In false vain-glory they so drunken are,

Their wit is went, of woe they are not 'ware,
While that all worship away be fro' them gone,
Fame, goods, and strength; wherefore well say I dare
All love is lost but upon God alone.

Then said the Merle: Mine error I confess :
This frustir love is all but vanity:
Blind ignorance me gave sic hardiness,
To argue so again' the verity;

Wherefore I counsel every man that he
With love not in the feindis net be tone,4
But love the love that did for his love die:
All love is lost but upon God alone.

Then sang they both with voices loud and clear;
The Merle sang: Man, love God that has thee

The Nightingale sang: Man, love the Lord most dear,

That thee and all this world made of nought.
The Merle said: Love him that thy love has sought
Fro' heaven to earth, and here took flesh and bone.
The Nightingale sang: And with his dead thee

All love is lost but upon Him alone.

Then flew thir birdis o'er the boughis sheen,
Singing of love amang the leavis small;

Whose eidant plead yet made my thoughtis grein,
Both sleeping, waking, in rest and in travail:

Me to recomfort most it does avail,

Again for love, when love I can find none,
To think how sung this Merle and Nightingale;
All love is lost but upon God alone.

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2 Shewn.


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Thae tarmigants, with tag and tatter, Full loud in Ersche begoud to clatter, And roup like raven and rook.1

The Devil sae deaved was with their yell, That in the deepest pot of hell

He smorit them with smoke!

Tidings fra the Session.

feel his loss: he was stricken with the plague, and died in London in 1522. Douglas wrote two original poetical works, one entitled The Palace of Honour, an apologue for the conduct of a king, addressed to James IV. The poet represents himself as seeing in a vision a large company travelling towards the Palace of Honour. He joins them, and relates the particulars of the pil

A conversation between two rustics, designed to satirise the grimage. His second work, King Hart, presents proceedings in the supreme civil law-court of Scotland.

Ane muirland man, of upland mak,

At hame thus to his neighbour spak :
What tidings, gossip, peace or weir?
The tother rounit in his ear:

I tell you under this confession,
But lately lichtit off my meare,

I come of Edinburgh fra the Session.

What tidings heard you there, I pray you?
The tother answerit: I sall say you :
Keep well this secret, gentle brother;
Is na man there that trusts another:

Ane common doer of transgression,
Of innocent folk preveens a futher :5

Sic tidings heard I at the Session.

Some with his fallow rouns him to please,
That wald for envy bite aff his nese;"
His fa' some by the oxter" leads;
Some patters with his mouth on beads,

That has his mind all on oppression;
Some becks full law and shaws bare heads,

Wad look full heigh were not the Session. Some, bydand the law, lays land in wed;8 Some, super-expended, goes to bed; Some speeds, for he in court has means; Some of partiality compleens,

How feid and favour flemis 10 discretion; Some speaks full fair, and falsely feigns: Sic tidings heard I at the Session.

Some castis summons, and some excepts; Some stand beside and skailed law kepps; Some is continued; some wins; some tynes ; Some maks him merry at the wines;

Some is put out of his possession;
Some herried, and on credence dines:
Sic tidings heard I at the Session.

Some swearis and forsakis God;
Some in ane lamb-skin is ane tod;11
Some in his tongue his kindness turses ;12
Some cuts throats, and some pykes purses;

Some goes to gallows with procession; Some sains the seat, and some them curses: Sic tidings heard I at the Session.


GAVIN DOUGLAS, bishop of Dunkeld, was one of the most distinguished and accomplished men of that era. He was born about the year 1474, younger son of Archibald, fifth Earl of Angus, and was educated for the church. He lived, however, in stormy times, and was mixed up with the turbulent scenes of the Douglas faction. When that faction was driven from power, he fled to England, to the court of Henry VIII. He was proscribed as a traitor, and the revenues of his bishopric of Dunkeld sequestrated, but he did not live long to

1 Croaked like ravens and rooks. 2 Deafened. 3 Smothered.

4 Whispered.

6 Nose.

9 Hostility.

12 Carries.

5 Is advanced before a great number. 7 Armpit.

10 Banishes.

8 Pledge. 11 Fox.

a metaphorical view of human life. The human heart is personified as a king in his castle, with the five senses around him; he is attacked by Dame Pleasaunce, who has conquered many a king, from Solomon downwards, but at length Age and Experience come to the rescue, and King Hart is set free. Douglas gave an entire translation of the Eneid in the Scottish language, being the first version of a Latin classic into any British tongue. Douglas's translation is in what is called the heroic couplet, ten syllables to the line, the measure which Byron considered to be the best adapted to our language, though his own greatest triumphs were not achieved in it. Thus, in the famous passage of the descent of Eneas to the infernal regions, we read in Douglas:

It is right facile and eith [easy] gait, I thee tell,
For to descend and pass on down to hell,
The black yetts of Pluto and that dirk way
Stand ever open and patent night and day;
But therefra to return again on height,
And here above recover this air's light,
That is difficile wark-there labour lies.

Though later in point of time than Henryson and Dunbar, Douglas is much less easily read. He was, like Spenser, fond of archaisms, and he resolved, he said, to write wholly in the Scottish language:

And yet, forsooth, I set my busy pain,
As that I couth to mak it braid and plain;
Keeping na Suthron, but our awn language,
And speak as I learned when I was ane page.

His language, however, is far from being pure Scotch, being, according to Mr Skeat, much affected by Anglicisms.' The original poems styled Prologues, which the translator affixes to each book, are esteemed among his happiest efforts. The following is in the original spelling:

Apostrophe to Honour.

O hie honour, sweit heuinlie flour digest!
Gem verteous, maist precious, godliest,
For his honour thou art guerdon conding,1
Of worschip kend the glorious end and rest,
But whome in richt na worthie wicht may lest,
Thy greit puissance may maist auance all thing,
And houerall to meikall auail sone bring
I the require sen thow but peir art best,
That eftir this in thy hie blis we ring.

From a Description of Morning in May, from the
Prologue to the Twelfth Book of the Encid.

As fresh Aurore, to mighty Tithon spouse,
Ished of3 her saffron bed and ivor house,
In cram'sy clad and grained violate,
With sanguine cape, and selvage purpurate,
Unshet the windows of her large hall,
Spread all with roses, and full of balm royal,

1 Worthy reward.

3 Issued from.

2 Without peer or equal. ♦ Opened.

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