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Can I not ellis fynd bot giff that he
Be lord, and, as a god, may lyve and regne,
Than wold I pray his blissful grace benigne
And evermore for to be one of tho
Him trewly for to serve in wele and wo.
Quhare as I saw walkyng under the Toure,
The fairest or the freschest youngë floure
The blude of all my body to my hert.
No wonder was; for quhy? my wittis all
Only through latting of myn eyen fall,
There was no takyn? in her suetë face.
And eft sonës I lent it out ageyne,
With no wight mo, bot only women tueyne,
Ah ! suete, are ye a warldly creature,
Or hevinly thing in likeness of nature ?
And cumyn are to louse me out of band,
That have depayntit with your hevinly hand
Quhat sall I think, allace ! quhat reverence
o pride, lit. menace.
to do a sely God makat, that dooistert ;
Giff ye a goddesse be, and that ye like
To do me payne, I may it not astert ;
Quhy lest? God mak you so, my derest hert,
That lufis you all, and wote of nought but wo?
Bewailing myn infortune and my chance,
So ferre I fallyng into lufis dance,
In hir was youth, beautee, with humble aport,
Bountee, richesse, and womanly faiture,
Wisdome, largesse, estate, and conyng sure
In word, in dede, in schap, in contenance,
That nature mycht no more hir childe auance.
Wele that sche was a wardly creature,
It did my wofull hert, I yow assure
I threwe furthwith, and said thir versis sevin :
To quhom I yelde homage and sacrifise,
That me ressauit s have in such [a] wise,
Now help me furth, and for your merci lede
My hert to rest, that deis nere* for drede. I causes me to sigh. ? did it please. 3 received. 4 nearly dies.
And et endit hadde ent
Quhen I with gude entent this orison
Thus endit had, I stynt a lytill stound,
I kest, behalding unto hir lytill hound,
Than wold I say, and sigh therewith a lyte,
Ah! wele were him that now were in thy plyte !
That sat upon the twiggis, wold I chide,
That thou of love has song this morowe tyde ?
For Venus' sake, the blisfull goddesse clere,
FROM "THE GUDE AND GODLIE BALLATES' (1570).
And vertew is flour and rute of noblés ay,
Ris? steppis few, and dreid for none effray:
Exill al vice, and follow treuth alway;
For as it cummis, sa will it pass away ;
Labour in treuth, quhilk suith is of thy fay;
Thou dant? thy toung, that power hes and may,
Refraine thy lust, and harkin quhat I say ;
Graip or thou slyde“, and keip furth the hie way,
And for ilk inche He will thé quyte ane span. ? rise. ? daunt, i e. tame, restrain. 3 eyes. "grip ere thou slide.
[Of ROBERT HENRYSON, the charming fabulist, Chaucer's aptest and brightest scholar, almost nothing is known. David Laing conjectures him to have been born about 1425, to have been educated at some foreign university, and to have died towards the closing years of the fifteenth century. It is certain that in 1462, being then .in Artibus Licentiatus et in Decretis Bacchalarius,' he was incorporated of the University of Glasgow; and that he was afterwards schoolmaster in Dunfermline, and worked there as a notary-public also.]
Henryson was an accomplished man and a good and genuine poet. He had studied Chaucer with the ardour and insight of an original mind, and while he has much in common with his master, he has much that is his own. His verse is usually well-minted and of full weight. Weak lines are rare in him ; he had the instinct of the refrain, and was fond of doing feats in rhythm and rhyme ; he is close, compact, and energetic. Again, he does not often let his learning or his imagination run away with him and divert him from his main issue. He subordinates himself to the matter he has in hand; he keeps himself to the point, and never seeks to develope for development's sake ; and so, as it appears to me, he approves himself a true artist. It follows that, as a storyteller, he is seen to great advantage. He narrates with a gaiety, an ease, a rapidity, not to be surpassed in English literature between Chaucer and Burns. That, moreover, he was a born dramatist, there is scarce one of his fables but will prove. It is to be noted that he uses dialogue as a good playwright would use it; it is a means with him not only of explaining a personage but of painting a situation, not only of introducing a moral but of advancing an intrigue. He had withal an abundance of wit, humour, and good sense ; he had considered life and his fellow
men, nature and religion, the fashions and abuses of his epoch, with the grave, observant amiability of a true poet; he was directly in sympathy with many things ; he loved to read and to laugh; it was his business to moralise and teach. It was natural that he should choose the fable as a means of expressing himself. It was fortunate as well ; for his fables are perhaps the best in the language, and are worthy of consideration and regard even after La Fontaine himself.
To a modern eye his dialect is distressingly quaint and crabbed. In his hands, however, it is a right instrument, narrow in compass, it may be, but with its every note sonorous and responsive. To know the use he made of it in dialogue, he must be studied in Robyne and Makyne, the earliest English pastoral; or at such moments as that of the conversation between the widows of the Cock who has just been snatched away by the Fox; or in the incomparable Taile of the Wolf that got the Nek-Herring throw the Wrinkis of the Fox that Begylit the Cadgear, which, outside La Fontaine, I conceive to be one of the high-water marks of the modern apologue. In such poems as The Three Deid Powis?, where he has anticipated a something of Hamlet at Yorick's grave, as The Abbey Walk, the Garmond of Fair Ladies, the Reasoning between Age and Youth, it is employed as a vehicle for the expression of austere thought, of quaint conceitedness, of solemn and earnest devotion, of satirical comment, with equal ease and equal success. As a specimen of classic description - as the classic appeared to the mediæval mind-I should like to quote at length his dream of Æsop. As a specimen of what may be called the choice and refined realism that informs his work, we may give a few stanzas from the prelude to his Testament of Cresseid. It was winter, he says, when he began his song, but, he adds, in despite of the cold,
• Within mine orature
And fair Venus, the beauty of the nicht,
Uprais, and set unto the west full richt