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migrations to the north, in the reign of Malcolm Caenmore. Malcolm undoubtedly married a Saxon princess, who brought to Scotland her relations and domestics. Many Saxons also fled into Scotland from the violences of the Norman conquest. Malcolm gave them an asylum, and during his incursions into Cumberland and Northumberland, carried off so many young captives, that English persons were to be seen in every house and village of his dominions, in the reign of David I. But, on the death of Malcolm, the Saxon followers, both of Edgar Atheling and Margaret, were driven away by the enmity of the Gaelic people. Those expelled Saxons must have been the gentry, while the captives, since they were seen in a subsequent age, must have been re, tained, as being servile, or vileyns. The fact of the expulsion of Margaret and Edgar Atheling's followers, is recorded in the Saxon Chronicle. It speaks pretty clearly for the general Gaelicism of the Scotch at that period; and it also prepares us for what is afterwards so fully illustrated by the author of Caledonia, viz." that it was the new dynasty of Scottish kings, after Malcolm Caenmore, that gave a more diffusive course to the peopling of proper Scotland, by Saxon, by Anglo-Norman, and by Flemish colonists. In the successive charters of Edgar, Alexander, and David L we scarcely see any other witnesses than Saxons, who enjoyed under those monarchs all power, and acquired vast possessions in every district of Scotland, settling with their followers in entire hamlets. If this English origin of Scotch be correct, it sufficiently accounts for the Scottish poets, in the fifteenth century, speaking of Chaucer, Gower, and Lydgate, as their masters and models of style, and extolling them as the improvers of a language to which they prefix the word “our,” as if it belonged in common to Scots and English, and even sometimes denominating their own language English.
Yet, in whatever light we are to regard Lowland Scotch, whether merely as northern English, or as having a mingled Gothic origin from the Pictish and Anglo-Saxon, its claims to poetical antiquity are respectable. The extreme antiquity of the elegy on Alexander III. on which Mr. Ellis rests so much importance, is indeed disputed; but Sir Tristram exhibits an original romance, composed on the north of the Tweed, at a time when there is no proof that southern English contained any work of that species of fiction, that was not translated from the French. In the fourteenth century, Barbour celebrated the greatest royal hero of his country (Bruce), in a versified romance, that is not uninteresting. The next age is prolific in the names of distinguished Scottish “ Makers.” Henry the minstrel, said to have been blind from his birth, rehearsed the exploits of Wallace in strains of fierce though vulgar fire. James I. of Scotland; Henrysoun, the author of Robene and Makyne, the first known pastoral, and one of the best, in a dialect rich with the favours of the pastoral muse; Douglas, the translator of Virgil; Dunbar, Mersar, and others, gave a poetical lustre to Scotland, in the fifteenth century, and fill up a space in the annals of British poetry, after the date of Chaucer and Lydgate, that is otherwise nearly barren. James the first had an elegant and tender vein, and the ludicrous pieces ascribed to him possess considerable comic humour. Douglas's descriptions of natural scenery are extolled by T. Warton, who has given ample and interpreted specimens of them, in his History of English Poetry. He was certainly a fond painter of nature; but his imagery is redundant and tediously profuse. His chief original work is the elaborate and quaint allegory of King Hart', It is full of alliteration, a trick which the Scottish poets might have learnt to avoid from the “rose of rhetours" (as they call him) Chaucer; but in which they rival the anapæstics of Langland.
Dunbar is a poet of a higher order. His tale of the Friars of Berwick is quite in the spirit of Chaucer. His Dance of the Seven Deadly Sins through Hell, though it would be absurd to compare it with the beauty and refinement of the celebrated Ode on the Passions, has yet an animated pieturesqueness not unlike that of Collins. The effect of both pieces shows how much more potent allegorical figures become, by being made to fleet suddenly before the imagination, than by being detained in its view by prolonged description. Dunbar conjures up the personified Sins, as Collins does the Passions, to rise, to strike, and disappear. They “come like shadows, so depart."
1 In which the human heart is personified as a Sovereign in his castle, guarded by the five Senses, made captive by Dame Pleasaunce, a neighbouring potentate, but finally brought back from thraldom by Age and Experience.
In the works of those northern makers of the fifteenth century , there is a gay spirit, and an indication of jovial manners, which forms a contrast to the covenanting national character of subsequent times. The frequent coarseness of this poetical gaiety, it would indeed be more easy than agreeable to prove by quotations; and, if we could forget how very gross the humour of Chaucer sometimes is, we might, on a general comparison of the Scotch with the English poets, extol the comparative delicacy of English taste; for Skelton himself, though more burlesque than Sir David yndsay in style, is less outrageously indecorous in matter. At a period when James IV. was breaking lances in the lists of chivalry, and when the court, and court poets of Scotland, might be supposed to have possessed ideas of decency, if not of refinement, Dunbar at that period addresses the queen, on the occasion of having danced in her majesty's chamber, with jokes which a beggar wench of the present day would probably consider as an offence to her delicacy.
Sir David Lyndsay was a courtier, a foreign am · The writings of some of those Scottish poets belong to the sixteenth century; but from the date of their births they are placed under the fifteenthi,
bassador, and the intimate companion of a prince; for he attended James V. from the first to the last day of that monarch's life. From his rank in society, we might suppose, that he had purposely laid aside the style of a gentleman, and clothed the satirical moralities, which he levelled against popery, in language suited to the taste of the vulgar; if it were easy to conceive the taste of the vulgar to have been, at that period, grosser than that of their superiors. Yet while Lyndsay's satire, in tearing up the depravities of a corrupted church, seems to be polluted with the scandal on which it preys, it is impossible to peruse his writings without confessing the importance of his character to the country in which he lived, and to the cause which he was born to serve. In his tale of Squire Meldrum we lose sight of the reformer.
It is a little romance, very amusing as a draught of Scottish chivalrous manners, apparently drawn from the life, and blending a sportive and familiar, with an heroic and amatory interest. Nor is its broad, careless diction, perhaps, an unfavourable relief to the romantic spirit of the adventures which it portrays.