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Men of good discretion
THE above specimen of affectionate early criticism, from Wyntoun's Chronicle, modernized in the spelling, contains all that we know directly of the writer, whom the best authorities agree in placing second, in point of time, on the list of Scottish poets. His language is more obscure than that of Sir Tristrem ; and Sir Frederic Madden considers the MS. of the poems, to which he maintains he has the best claims, the oldest extant of any author born north
of the Tweed.
But perhaps the best reason for placing him before Barbour is, that all the poetry attributed to him belongs to the romance school.
Dunbar, in his Lament for the Deth of the Makkaris (makers of poetry), mentions that
"Clerk of Tranent, eik he hes tane,
That made the awenteris of Gawane."
In a second reference to this otherwise unknown poet, in the Maitland MS., the name is written The Clerk;
hence it has been assumed, by several Scottish antiquarian writers, that the Huchowne of Wyntoun, and the Clerk of Dunbar, must be the same person; and that Huchowne being the old Scottish form of the name Hugh, the one gives his name, and the other his profession, seeing both agree in making him the author of a poem bearing the same title. Dr Irving objects to this assumption, on the ground that both Wyntoun and Huchowne, in quoting the name Hugh, spell it Hew; yet he is disposed to follow Chalmers, who thinks there cannot be any doubt about the matter, in considering "the gude Schir Hew of Eglintoun," mentioned by Dunbar, as the author, on account of his connection with the Court of Robert Second, without seeming to see that, in that case, his name must be taken in the Gaelic form, which he calls the old Scottish. Besides, Dunbar does not make Sir Hugh the author of "The Adventures of Gawane," &c. Sir Frederic Madden says the former assumption "is satisfactorily refuted by the internal evidence of the poem itself;" and that there are so many difficulties about the latter, "as justly to prevent our yielding assent to it without some additional evidence." There is the further objection that Wyntoun does not prefix any title to Huchowne, who, if he were Sir Hugh of Eglintoun, who was knighted in 1342, Wyntoun, about fifty years after, was not likely to
name as simple Huchowne. Dr David | occasioned by the wickedness of Jonas,
Besides the poems ascribed to him by
Of the author he remarks-"It is I
We give specimens of all his poems that have been printed. That of The Pystyl of Swete Susan, which is founded on the apocryphal story of Susanna, may be taken as a specimen of the class still in MS. only. Dr Irving characterizes it as "a curious relique of our early literature."
Dukis and digne lordis, douchty and deir;
Thus the royale can remove, with his Round Tabill,
Of all riches maist rike, in riall array; Wes neuer fundun on fold but fenzeing or fabill,
Ane farayr floure on ane feild of fresch men, in fay,
Farand on thair stedis, stout men and stabill;
Mony sterne our the streit stertis on stray. Thair baneris schane with the sone, of siluer and sabill.
And vther glemyt as gold, and gowlis so gay;
Of siluer and saphir, schirly thai schane;
Merkit our ane fair meid,
SYR GAWAYN AND THE GRENE KNYGHT
Hym to seik our the sey, that saiklese
The syre that sendis all seill suthly to Sithen the sege & the assaut watz sesed
With banrentis, barounis, and bernis full The borz' brittened & brent to brondez bald, & askez, Biggast of bane and blude, bred in Bri- The tulk that the trammes of tresoun ther
Thai walit out werryouris with wapinnis Watz tried for his tricherie, the trewest to wald, on erthe;
The gayest grumys on grund, with geir Hit was Ennias the athel, & his highe kynde,
that myth gane,
That sithen depreced prouinces, & patrounes bicome
Welneze of all the wele in the west isles, Fro riche Romulus to Rome ricchis hym swythe,
THE PYSTYL OF SWETE SUSAN.
There was in Babloine a bern, in that borw riche
With gret bobbaunce that burze he biges That was a Jeugh jentil, and Joachim he vpon fyrst,
& neuenes hit his anne nome, as hit now hat;
He was so lele in his lawe, there lived non him liche,
Ticius of Tuskan [turnes] and teldes bi- Of all riches that reuke arayes he was riht: His innes, and his orchardes, weren with
RALPH THE COLLIER.
THIS curious specimen of our early poetry, though at one time so popular that, according to Dunbar,
Gentle and simple of every clan
Ken of Ralph Collier, and John the Reive, yet for about seventy years it was considered to be lost, when, in 1821, a copy turned up in a volume of English tracts in the Advocates' Library, and was reprinted by Dr David Laing, in Select Remains of the Popular Poetry of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1822. Dr Laing remarks, that "it has claims to public attention altogether independent of its uncommon rarity, as it has no inconsiderable share of poetical merit. Although,
like most poems of the same age (about the beginning of the fifteenth century) and character, many words are altered from their usual acceptation, or introduced merely for the sake of the alliterative style, the language is by no means obscure. The narrative is simple and circumstantial, the characters are well described, and a vein of comic humour runs through the whole." Dr Irving suggests that it may have been written by HUCHOWNE, from its similarity in style to The Adventures of Arthur; but Dr Laing says we are not possessed ofsuch evidence as might entitle us to ascribe it in particular to any one Scottish poet.
Of the reasonableness of Dr Irving's conjecture any one may satisfy himself
by comparing the specimen given with that of The Awntyre of Arthure at the Terne Wathelyne.
Notwithstanding what Dr Laing says of the language, by which we understand him to mean the vocabulary, the obscurity of which is not the only obstacle to the understanding of our early poetry, we think a specimen in its original integrity will suffice. It being, however, a representative of a different class of romances from that of the Arthurian, simpler in structure, and, from the contrast in the social condition of their characters-a consideration that greatly heightens their humour popular that some of them, as The King and the Cobbler, have come down to our own day as chap-books, we give a pretty full outline-rendering of the story or legend of the romance, in which it has been endeavoured to preserve the dramatic humour of the piece.
In the chieftyme of Charlis, that chosin Christane,
Thair fell ane ferlyfull flan within thay
Quhair Empreouris, and Erlis, and vther mony ane,
THE STORY OF THE KING AND THE COLLIER.
[Constructed from the Poem.] When the Emperor Charlemagne one day, about Christmas time, was hunting in the royal forest, attended by the lords and ladies of his court, it came on such a storm of east wind and snow, that, in the hurry to reach some place of shelter, the king got separated from his train, and lost his way. He wandered about without seeing any one till toward evening, when, much exhausted through fatigue and anxiety, he fell in with a collier, with his horse and creels. "For the love of the rood," said the king, addressing him, "tell me your name?" "Men call me Ralph," said the collier; “I sell coals, and work hard for my living, early and late. Tell me now why you ask?" "So might I thrive," said the king, "I ask for no ill; thou seemest a noble fellow; thy answer is so fine. Myself and my horse are well-nigh worn out with cold and fatigue; for the love of Saint July, direct us to some hostelry where we may pass the night." "I know of none hereabout," said the collier, cept mine own house, which lies at
Turnit frae Sanct Thomas befoir the yule some distance across the moor; if you
Thay past vnto Paris thay proudest in pane, With mony Prelatis & Princis that was
of mekle pryde, All thay went with the king to his worthy
Ouir the feildis sa fair thay fure be his syde.
Mony stout man steiris
Of town with the King.
like to come along with me, you are welcome to such fare as I can give you.' "Right glad," said the king, "and a thousand thanks for your offer." "Don't thank me too soon," said the collier, "in case we fall out; for as yet I have given you neither meat nor drink; 'to love and then lack Peter were shame;' the time to praise your host is at parting." "By my faith," said the king, "it is true what you say ;" and thus