Page images
PDF
EPUB

donald, a petty chieftain of the north, displeased with a widow on his estate for threatening to appeal to the king, had ordered hier feet to be shod with iron plates nailed to the soles; and then insultingly told her that she was thus armed against the rough roads. The widow, however, found means to send her story to James, who seized the savage, with twelve of his associates, whom he shod with iron, in à similar manner, and having exposed them for several days in Edinburgh, gave them over to the executioner.

While a prisoner in Windsor Castle, James had seen and admired the beautiful Lady Jane Beaufort, daughter of the Duke of Somerset. Few royal attachments have been so romantic and so happy. His poem entitled the Quair , in which he pathetically laments his captivity, was devoted to the celebration of this lady; whom he obtained at last in marriage, together with his liberty, as Henry conceived that his union with the grandaughter of the Duke of Lancaster might bind the Scottish monarch to the interests of England.

James perished by assassination, in the 44th year of his age, leaving behind him the example of a patriot king, and of a man of genius universally accomplished.

1 Quair is the old Scotch word for a book.

THE KING THUS DESCRIBES THE APPEARANCE OF HIS MISTRESS, WHEN HE FIRST SAW HER FROM A WINDOW OF FIIS PRISON AT WINDSOR.

FROM CANTO II. OF THE QUAIR.

X.
The longè dayès and the nightès eke,
I would bewail my fortune in this wise,
For which, again · distress comfort to seek,
My custom was, on mornès, for to rise
Early as day: 0 happy exercise !
By thee come I to joy out of torment;
But now to purpose of my first intent.

XI.

Bewailing in my chamber, thus alone,
Despaired of all joy and remedy,
For-tired of my thought, and woe begone;
And to the window gan I walk in hye”,
To see the world and folk that went forby;
As for the time (though I of mirthis food
Might have no more) to look it did me good.

XII. Now was there made fast by the touris wall A garden fair ; and in the corners set An herbere green; with wandis long and small

1 Against.

Hąste.

3 Herbary, or garden of simples.

Railed about and so with treeis set
Was all the place, and hawthorn hedges knet,
That life was none (a) walking there forby
That might within scarce any wight espy.

XIV.
And on the smallè greenè twistis sat
The little sweetë nightingale, and sung,
So loud and clear the hymnàs consecrate
Of lovis use, now soft, now loud among !,
That all the gardens and the wallis rung
Right of their song; and on the couple next
Of their sweet harmony, and lo the text.

XV. Worshippe, O ye that lovers bene, this may! For of your bliss the calends are begun; And sing with us, “ away! winter away! Come summer come, the sweet seasòn and sun; Awake for shame that have your heavens won; And amorously lift up your headès all Thank love that list you to his mercy call.”

And therewith cast I down mine eye again,
Whereas I saw walking under the tower,
Full secretly new comyn to her pleyne ?,
The fairest and the frest youngè flower
That ever I saw (methought) before that hour:

[blocks in formation]

For which sudden abate 1 anon'astert 2 The blood of all my body to my heart. * * * * * * *

*

XVII.
Of her array the form gifs I shall write,
Toward her golden hair, and rich attire,
In fret wise couched with pearlis white,
And greatè balas 4 lemyng 5 as the fire ;
With many an emerant and faire sapphire,
And on her head a chaplet fresh of hue,
Of plumys parted red and white and blue.

XXIX.
About her neck, white as the fyr amaille 6,
A goodly chain of small orfevyrie ?,
Whereby there hang a ruby without fail
Like to a heart yshapen verily,
That as a spark of lowe 8 so wantonly
Seemèd burnyng upon her whitè throat;
Now gif there was good parly God it wote.

XXX.
And for to walk that freshè mayè's morrow,
An hook she had upon her tissue white,
That goodlier had not been seen toforrow',

? An unexpected accident. ? Started back. 3 If. 4 Rubies. 5 Burning. 6 Mr. Ellis conjectures that this is an error, for fair email, i. e. enamel. 7 Goldsmith's work. 8 Fire. 9Heretofore.

As I suppose, and girt she was a lyte !
Thus halfing2 loose for haste; to such delight
It was to see her youth in goodlihead,
That for rudeness to speak thereof I dread.

XXXI.
In her was youth, beauty with humble port,
Bounty, richess, and womanly feature:
(God better wote than my pen can report)
Wisdom largèss, estate and cunning sure,
In word in deed, in shape and countenance,
That nature might no more her childe avance.

ROBERT HENRYSON.

1425—1495.

Nothing is known of the life of Henryson, but that he was a schoolmaster at Dumferling. Lord Hailes supposes his office to have been preceptor of youth in the Benedictine convent of that place. Besides a continuation of Chaucer's Troilus and Cresseide, he wrote a number of fables, of which MS.copies are preserved in the Scotch Advocates Library.

1 A little.

Half.

« PreviousContinue »