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They dread so greatly then to-day
THE FISHER AND THE FOX, OR DOUGLAS'
The Lord Douglas said, "By Saint Bride,
A little lodge thereby he made;
And there-within a bed he had,
A door there was, for outyn ma.5
He rose; and there well long dwelt he.
Then till the door he went in hy,'
The fox got out then in great hy,
By yon host and us that are here:
But right where they lie. But, pardie,
But at this time their thought shall fail.
For we tomorn here all the day
And then ger make our fires light,
To show the author's observation and love of nature that universal test of poetical geniuswe give this specimen in the original spelling, followed by a paraphrased version by Mr Tytler, in Scott's romance measure, which reads like an extract from the Lord of the Isles.
This wes in Ver, quhen wynter tyde,
And the treis begouth to ma
'Twas in the spring, when winter's tide,
The turtle and the nightingale,
IF John Barbour be designated poet and historian, his immediate successor in the annals of Scottish literature, Andrew Wyntoun, may be designated | historian and poet. He cannot be said
to rival, nor even to approach his predecessor in either capacity, and this he himself modestly professes by using Barbour's work when dealing with the subject of it; nevertheless his Chronicle, besides its historical value, has a homely 2 Guised. 3 Promptly. 4 Before. poetical tone, and occasionally a quaint
humour, that entitles its author to a place in the list of Scottish poets.
Almost all that is known of him is derived from his own work, where he introduces himself in the prologue thus :
"And for I wyll nane bere the blame
Of thaim all, the lest worthy;
Of the Inche within Loch Lewwyne;" the sum of which is, that his baptismal name is Andrew of Wyntown; that he is a canon regular of St Andrews, and though least worthy of them, nevertheless, by their grace, without merit of his own, elected Prior of the Inch, Lochleven.
The monastery was situated on one of the islands of Lochleven, in Kinrossshire, and was subordinate to the priory of St Andrews. It was dedicated to St Serf, or Servanus, whose history Wyntoun duly traces as a son of the King of Canaan, who, under the guidance of a sweet angel, left his native land for Alexandria, from whence, by way of Constantinople, he came to Rome, when he was elected to the popedom, vacant on the death of John III. After seven years, he resigned the popedom, and, led by his angel, he passed through France into England, but did not rest till he found himself in Scotland, where, after visiting a great many places, by the permission of Brude, king of the Picts, he fixed his abode in the above island, and founded the monastery known by his name. At the end of seven years he returned to Culross,
where "his cors found halowit sepulture."
There are no data for ascertaining the date of either Wyntoun's birth or death; although, in the chartulary of the priory of St Andrews, there are several documents dated between the years 1395 and 1413 bearing his name. That he lived till 1419 is shown by his reference to an event of that date about the end of his Chronicle; and in the prologue to the last book, he refers to the infirmities of age, and the prospect of approaching dissolution, so as to convey the idea of his being an old man. Tytler says"The Chronicle itself was finished between 3d September 1420 and the return of King James from England in 1424, and its author, in all probability, did not long survive its conclusion." Dr Laing supposes him to have died about 1427; and, taking his age at his death at 72, it would place his birth in 1355.
Wyntoun appears more anxious to vindicate his choice of the vernacular from the attacks of the Latin critics than Barbour, and invokes the protection of his patrons in the prologue to his Chronicle:
"Bot Lordys gyve your courtesy,
Forbere me in this juperty ;'
I made at the instans of a Larde
His patron, Sir John Wemyss, of
Reres and Kincaldrum, ancestor of the Earls of Wemyss, was employed as an ambassador to treat for the release of James I. from his captivity in England, and must therefore have been a man of considerable political importance; and if the number of MSS. of the Chronicle that have descended to our time be an indication of the interest he took in his friend's literary success, he must have been a worthy patron. At any rate, his discernment and encouragement of the literary talents of the modest prior of St Serf's Isle, is in pleasing contrast with the spirit of an age which is more truly represented by Scott's Earl of Angus, who gives
"Thanks to St Bothan, son of mine,
Save Gawain, ne'er could pen a line." But Wyntoun's Chronicle, though well known in its MS. form, was not printed till 1795, when a splendid edition was published, edited with great care by David Macpherson, author of The Annals of Commerce. Macpherson's edition embraced only so much of it as refers to the history of Scotland; but a new and revised edition of Macpherson's is now (1876) being edited by Dr David Laing in three volumes, of which the two first volumes were issued in 1872, in which the general history from the creation is contained. This, when completed, will be the first entire edition published. The three principal MSS. are The Royal and the Cotton, both in the British Museum, and that in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh.
It has been already indicated that its chief value is historical. Its accuracy, as regards its proper subject, the history of Scotland, is vouched for by such
judges as Macpherson, Tytler, and Laing, and is placed in favourable contrast with the fanciful compilation of Boece. His natural and truth-like account of the history of Macbeth is given as an illustration of his commonsense treatment of his subject.
It is true, he is strongly imbued with the superstitious belief of his age, and relates many stories which were current in his time, evidently believing, if not in their truth, at least in. their possibility; but the manner of their relation is not such as to confound the spirit of his history with those fables that adorn or blemish it, according to the standpoint from which they are regarded. From the poetical point of view, which is that with which we are more immediately concerned, they are valuable as pictures of society under the sway of beliefs, whose effects were none the less poetically striking because their influence was malign. But, perhaps, his quaint humour and naturalness are his most pleasing poetical qualities, and it is these homely touches that make him a favourite with such as relish the muse in her unobtrusive antique vestments, rather than in the loud flashy habit of her sensational mood. Mr Tytler, with whom he is a special favourite, remarks, that "the worthy prior can provide from his poetic scrip every species of intellectual ware, from the driest piece of genealogical history, or the uncouthest catalogue of Pictish monarchs, to the animated description of a heavy fight, or the moving picture of a tournament or a hunting party.” We have tried to illustrate his various qualities by the extracts given.
THE LAMB OF ST SERF.
This holy man had a ram,
And till Saint Serf syne3 was he brought;
SAINT SERF AND THE DEVIL.
While Saint Serf intill a stede,9
Say where was God, wit thou aught, Before that heaven and erde14 was wrought?"
Saint Serf said, "In himself stedles 15 His Godhead hampered never was."
'Why God let Adam, the first man,
And Eve sin in Paradise?"
Saint Serf said, "That monywise,
Be themself, set God had not
Them with his precious passion bought?"
But by the false suggestion
Of the devil, their fae felloun. 3