صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

lumen et decus!' How dark must have been the night in which such a Will-o'-wisp was mistaken for a star! He has wit, indeed, and satirical observation; but his wit is wilder than it is strong, and his satire is dashed with personality and obscenity. His style, Campbell observes, is almost a texture of slang phrases, patched with shreds of French and Latin.' His verses on Margaret Hussey, which we have quoted, are in his happiest vein. The following lines, too, on Cardinal Wolsey, are as true as they are terse:

"Then in the Chamber of Stars
All matter there he mars.
Clapping his rod on the board,
No man dare speak a word.
For he hath all the saying,
Without any renaying.
He rolleth in his records ;
He sayeth, How say ye, my Lords ?
Is not my reason good?
Good even, good Robin Hood.
Some
say,

and some Sit still, as they were dumb.' It is curious that Wolsey's enemies, in one of their charges against him in the Parliament of 1529, have repeated, almost in the words of Skelton, the same accusation.

Yes;

TO MISTRESS MARGARET HUSSEY.

Merry Margaret,
As midsummer flower,
Gentle as falcon,
Or hawk of the tower;
With solace and gladness,
Much mirth and no madness,
All good and no badness;
So joyously,
So maidenly,
So womanly,
Her demeaning,

In everything,
Far, far passing,
That I can indite,
Or suffice to write,
Of merry Margaret,
As midsummer flower,
Gentle as falcon,
Or hawk of the tower;
As patient and as still,
And as full of good-will,
As fair Isiphil,
Coliander,
Sweet Pomander,
Good Cassander;
Steadfast of thought,
Well made, well wrought.
Far
may

be sought,
Ere you can find
So courteous, so kind,
As merry Margaret,
This midsummer flower,
Gentle as falcon,
Or hawk of the tower.

SIR DAVID LYNDSAY.

RETURNING to Scotland, we find a Skelton of a higher order and a brawnier make in Sir David Lyndsay, or, as our forefathers were wont familiarly to denominate him, "Davie Lyndsay.' Lyndsay was descended from a noble family, a younger branch of Lyndsay of the Byres, and born in 1490, probably at the Mount, the family-seat, near Cupar-Fife. He entered the University of St Andrews in the year 1505, and four years later left it to travel in Italy. He must, however, have returned to Scotland before the 12th of October 1511, since we learn from the records of the Lord Treasurer that he was presented with a quantity of blue and yellow taffety to be a playcoat for the play performed in the King and Queen's presence in the Abbey of Holyrood.' On the 12th of April 1512, Lyndsay, then twentytwo years of age, was appointed gentleman-usher to James V., who had been born that very day. In his poem called “The Dream,' he reminds the King of his having borne him in his arms ere he could walk; of having wrapped him up warmly in his little bed; of having sung to him with his lute, danced before him to make him laugh, and having carried him on his shoulders like a 'pedlar his pack. He continued to be page and companion to the King till 1524, when, in consequence of the unprincipled machinations of the Queen-mother—who was acting as Regenthe, as well as Bellenden, the learned translator of Livy and Boece, was ejected from his office. When, however, in 1528, the young King, by a noble effort, emancipated himself from the thraldom of his mother and the Douglasses, Lyndsay wrote his Dream,' in which, amidst much poetic or fantastic matter, congratulates James on his deliverance; reminds him, as aforesaid, of his early services; and takes occasion to paint the evils the country had endured during his minority, and to give him some bold and salutary advice as to his future conduct. The next year (1529) he produced. The Complaint,' a poem in which he recurs to former themes, and remonstrates with great freedom and severity against the treatment he had undergone. Here, too, the religious reformer peeps out. He exhorts the King to compel the clergy to attend to the duties of their office; to

preach more earnestly; to administer the sacraments according to the institution of Christ; and not to deceive their people with superstitious pilgrimages, vain traditions, and prayers to graven images, contrary to the written command of God. He with quaint irony says, that if his Grace will lend him

he

Of gold ane thousand pound or tway,'

he will give him a sealed bond, obliging himself to repay the loan when the Bass and the Isle of May are set upon Mount Sinai; or the Lomond hills, near Falkland, are removed to Northumberland; or

“When kirkmen yairnis [desire) na dignity,

Nor wives na soveranitie.'
Still finer the last lines of the poem. “If not,' he says, 'my God

"Shall cause me stand content
With quiet life and sober rent,
And take me, in my latter age,
Unto my simple hermitage,
To spend the gear my elders won,

As did Diogenes in his tun.' This Complaint' proved successful, and in the next year (1530) Lyndsay was appointed Lion King-at-Arms—an office of great dignity in these days. The Lion was the chief judge of all matters connected with heraldry in the realm; was also the official ambassador from his sovereign to foreign countries; and was inaugurated in his office with a pomp and circumstance little inferior to those of a royal coronation, the King crowning him with his own hands, anointing him with wine instead of oil, and putting on his head the Royal Crown of Scotland, which he continued to wear till the close of the feast. It is of Lyndsay in the full accoutrements of this office that Sir Walter Scott speaks in his ' Marmion,' although he antedates by sixteen years the time when he assumed it:

'He was a man of middle age,
In aspect manly, grave, and sage,

As on king's errand come;
But in the glances of his eye,
A penetrating, keen, and sly

Expression found its home-
The flash of that satiric rage
Which, bursting on the early stage,
Branded the vices of the age,

And broke the keys of Rome.
On milk-white palfrey forth he paced;
His cap of maintenance was graced

With the proud heron-plume;
From his steed's shoulder, loin, and breast

Silk housings swept the ground,
With Scotland's arms, device, and crest

Embroider'd round and round.
VOL. I.

81

The double tressure might you see,

First by Achaius borne,
The thistle and the fleur-de-lis,

And gallant unicorn.
So bright the king's armorial coat,
That scarce the dazzled eye could note;
In living colours, blazon'd brave,
The lion, which his title gave.
A train which well beseem'd his state,
But all unarm’d, around him wait;
Still is thy name in high account,

And still thy verse has charms,
Sir David Lyndsay of the Mount,

Lord Lion King-at-Arms.'

Soon after this appointment, Lyndsay wrote "The Complaint of the King's Papingo,' in which, through the mouth of a dying Jarrot, he gives some sharp counsel to the king, his courtiers and nobles, and administers severe satirical chastisement to the corruptions of the clergy. It is an exceedingly clever producion, and has some beautiful poetry as well as stinging sarcasm. Take the following address to Edinburgh, Stirling, Linlithgow, ind Falkland :

Adieu, Edinburgh! thou high triumphant town,
Within whose bounds right blitheful have I been;
Of true merchandis, the rule of this region,
Most ready to receive court, king, and queen;
Thy policy and justice may be seen ;
Were devotion, wisdom, and honesty,
And credence tint, they micht be found in thee.

Adieu, fair Snawdoun ! [Stirling] with thy towers hie,
Thy chapel-royal, park, and table round;
May, June, and July would I dwell in thee,
Were I a man to hear the birdis sound,
Which doth against the royal rock rebound.
Adieu, Lithgow! whose palace of pleasance
Meets not its peer in Portingale or France.

Farewell, Falkland ! the forteress of Fife,
Thy velvet park under the Lomond Law;
Sometime in thee I led a lusty life.
The fallow deer to see them raik on raw [walk in a row),

Caust men to come to thee, they have great awe, &c.

« السابقةمتابعة »