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Arthur of the Scots poet Huchown, the Lancelot of Walter Map, the Brut of Layamon and Wace, and the Historia Britonum of Geoffrey of Monmouth. The substratum of the vast body of Arthurian legend was the fabulous tale of the wizard Merlin (a relic of the old Celtic mythology), and of the obstacles which Arthur had to surmount before he reached his rightful throne. Upon this were grafted tales of knightly fortitude, of erring passion, of mortal feud. And the whole was surmounted by the mysterious legend of the Quest of the Holy Grail-the legend, that is, of a protracted search for the blood of Christ, preserved in a small casket or vessel of some kind after the Crucifixion by Joseph of Arimathea. This curious fable was of far later date than the nucleus of Arthurian tradition, and there seems little doubt that it was originally brought from the East by the early Crusaders. For the older strata of Welsh mythic romance the reader is referred to the series entitled Popular Studies in Romance, Mythology, and Folklore, published by the accomplished Celtic scholar David Nutt. He may then proceed to Professor Rhys's Studies in the Arthurian Legend (1891), a work of the highest authority, but one that presupposes a considerable knowledge of the subject-more especially of the writer's own Hibbert Lectures on Celtic Heathendom (1888). It must be admitted that neither the Confessio Amantis nor the Morte d'Arthur can stand the juxtaposition of The Canterbury Tales. Their vivid humanity renders Malory wan, attenuated and bloodless in comparison. Ascham and Latimer attacked its morals, and it went into a long eclipse from 1634 to 1816; but it emerged then to strike a priceless blow for purity and brevity in speechcraft as opposed to the tasteless, polysyllabic verbiage of the post-Johnsonian school.
THE SCOTS POETS
"What Voltaire said of Dante is literally true of such poets as Henryson, Douglas, and Dunbar. We simply take them on trust."-CHURTON COLLINS.
The Chaucerian tradition in Scotland-Robert HenrysonRobene and Makyne-William Dunbar-The Golden Targe -Comparisons of Dunbar with Chaucer and Burns-Gavin Douglas-Sir David Lyndsay-His religious satires.
THE arbitrary date 1475 is followed in English literature by a century of second-rate writers, in other words, of preparatory and tentative work. Among the names of those who, for want of better, we must describe as the leaders in English literature, there is not one that evokes enthusiasm, there is scarcely one that awakes an echo in the halls of remembrance. It is perhaps somewhat difficult to believe, but is yet the fact, that when we have enumerated Hawes, Skelton, More, Tyndale, Latimer, Wyatt, Ascham, Surrey, Udall, to whom might possibly be added Lord Berners, Heywood, and Foxe, we have named all the prominent writers of the century that followed Caxton in England. It is true that they produced among them one book of quite the first rank (the Utopia), but that was written. in Latin. In Scotland it was very different; there the true Chaucerian tradition was handed on, and brilliant verse in Chaucer's vein was deftly wrought by apt pupils.
Most Chaucerian of these Scottish disciples of the English maker was Robert Henryson (an interesting link between the days of James I. and those of James IV.), who seems to have been educated abroad before he was
admitted at Glasgow University in 1462. Subsequently he became schoolmaster at Dunfermline, and died there at a ripe old age before 1506, when Dunbar mentions him as one of the departed. The principal works of Henryson are Moral Fables of Esop, Orpheus and Eurydice, The Testament of Cresseide (a sequel to Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde), and the early pastoral (perhaps it should be described as the earliest, as it is certainly one of the best, in the English tongue) Robene and Makyne. This last, as its merit deserves, is the best known of Henryson's poems; it was included in Percy's Reliques of English Poetry and in many later anthologies. Robin and Marion were traditional names for rustic lovers in the Middle Ages. The earliest pastoral play in France, by Adam de la Halle (thirteenth century), bears the title Robin et Marion.
The amount of character and of local colour which Henryson managed to impart to these pieces is striking; they are full of playful satire, while as delineations of contemporary manners they merit a close appreciation. Behind the rude and archaic phraseology of Robene and Makyne lies hid an eclogue of a very high poetic merit.
This charming little pastoral may be termed a "sport" in Scottish literature, for we have nothing like it again until we come to Ramsay's Gentle Shepherd. It is written in ballad metre, to which Henryson recurs in The Bludy Serke (the story of a blood-stained garment, bequeathed by a mortally wounded knight to a king's daughter, whom he had rescued from a giant's dungeon), and in the quaint alliterative Garmond of Gude Ladeis.1
1 A large proportion of Henryson's poems were first printed from manuscript sources by David Laing in 1865-largely from George Bannatyne's manuscript in the Advocates' Library at Edinburgh, and from the Maitland manuscripts in the Pepysian Library at Magdalene College, Cambridge. The Morall Fabilles were, however, printed in 1570, and The Testa
But the greatest of these Scottish disciples of Chaucer was admittedly William Dunbar 2-" Dunbar quha language had at large," as Sir David Lyndsay compendiously called him. Of less tender and graceful fancy than either James I. or Henryson, Dunbar had more original genius. In choice of subjects he has some affinity with Jan Steen
ment of Cresseide in 1593. Selections from Henryson have been very numerous. Allan Ramsay gave some in his Evergreen (1724), so did Percy and Lord Hailes. There is a good one, with glossarial notes on every page, in G. Eyre Todd's Mediaval Scottish Poetry (Glasgow, 1892). The standard edition is The Poems and Fables of Robert Henryson (first collected, with notes and memoir), by David Laing (Edinburgh, 1865).
2 The chief predecessors of Dunbar in Scottish poetry were: (1) John Barbour, a pensioner of King Robert II., and Archdeacon of Aberdeen, who wrote his versified chronicle or rhyming narrative of the wanderings, trials, sufferings, and forti, tude of the great Robert Bruce about 1376-8, and died at Aberdeen, at a good old age in March, 1396. (2) Andrew of Wynton wrote a somewhat similar but inferior rhyming chronicle from the beginning of the world down to 1406. Then comes the famous Kingis Quair (The King's Quire or Book) of (3) King James I. Born in 1394, James was captured by the English at sea in 1406, and was imprisoned for eighteen years, mainly in the Tower of London. While in prison James was carefully educated; he became a disciple of Chaucer, and, though the point is much disputed, there is still good reason to believe that he and no other wrote the Quair -ą beautiful description of love at sight and of the solace derived from love by a captive; a classic example of the love allegory first developed in Italy and France, but naturalised in England by Chaucer's Romaunt of the Rose and Troilus and Criseyde; and written in the seven-line stanza of Troilus, known since the time of Gascoigne as the " rhyme royal." James I., who was murdered in 1437, was followed at the other end of the social scale by (4) Blind Harry the Minstrel, who flourished about 1470, and wrote a patriotic chronicle in heroic verse on Wallace, founded mostly on traditional stories of the national hero.
or Hogarth, but his outlines are as sharp and relentless as Dürer's. With a Heinesque ribaldry and malice he combines something of the fatalistic temper of Villon. Timor mortis conturbat me, he groans.
Dunbar graduated at St. Andrews University in 1479, being then probably near twenty years of age. He was at one time a Franciscan friar, in which capacity he made good cheer on the English roads; but he seems to have thrown off the habit and taken to diplomacy. Subsequently he took priest's orders (in 1504), but he continued to lead the life of a courtier, and his name disappears significantly after the battle of Flodden (September 9th, 1513).
Dunbar's most celebrated poems were The Thistle and the Rose, The Golden Targe, and the allegorical satire called The Dance of the Seven Deadly Sins. The Thistle and the Rose was a political allegory, occasioned by the marriage of James IV. of Scotland with Margaret Tudor, eldest daughter of Henry VII., King of England-an event in which the whole future political state of both nations was vitally interested, and which ultimately produced the union of the two crowns and kingdoms. It was finished on May 9th, 1503, in plenty of time for the Queen's arrival in Scotland after a magnificent progress from Richmond to Edinburgh. The Rose is hailed Queen by the flowers, and her praises are sung by a chorus of birds, the sound of which awakens the poet from his dream.
The design of Dunbar's Golden Targe is to show the gradual and imperceptible influence of love when too far indulged over reason; it is tinctured throughout with the morality and imagery of The Romaunt of the Rose and The Flower and the Leaf of Chaucer. The opening scene of the rising sun on the spring landscape is delineated in the manner of Lydgate, yet with more strength, distinctness, and exuberance of ornament. It concludes with the