« PreviousContinue »
" And as the glorious orb drove up the sky,
Sang every bird through comfort of the light,
Lovers awake, away thou dully Night;
Welcome, sweet Day, that comforts every wight; Hail May, hail Flora, hail Aurora, sheen,
Hail princess Nature, hail Love's loveliest Queen.” Dame Nature, having first commanded fierce Neptune and Eolus the bald not to perturb the water nor the air“ And that na schouris snell, nor blastes cauld,
Effray should flouris, nor fowlis on the foldissues next her mandate to the beasts, the birds, and the flowers, to attend her court, as they are wont on the first of May:“Scho ordaind eik that every bird and beist,
Befoir her hienes suld annone compeir, And every flour of verteu, most and leist,
And every herb be field, fer and neir,
As they had wont in May, fro yeir to yeir, To her their makar to mak obediens,
Full law inclynand, with all dew reverens."'* “ She then ordain'd that every bird and beast,
Before her highness should anon appear, And every flower of virtue, most and least,
And every herb, by field or forest near,
As they were wont in May, from year to year, To her, their Queen, to make obedience, Inclining low, with all due reverence.”
The swift-footed roe is despatched as the herald to warn the beasts of the forest, the restless swallow to bear her commands to the denizens of the air; and, obedient to the summons, all instantly appear before the queen.
1 Piercing * Poems, vol. i. p. 6.
“ All present were in twinkling of an ee,
Baith beast, and bird, and flower, before the Queen. And first the lion, greatest of degree,
Was called there, and he most fair to sene,
With a full hardy countenance and keen,
Piercing of look, and stout of countenance;
Lusty of shape, light of deliverance,
Red of his colour as the ruby glance;
This description is not only noble, containing as fine a picture of the monarch of the beasts as is to be found in the whole range of poetry, but is culiarly appropriate, being a blazon of the Scottish arms—a red lion rampant upon a field of gold, encircled with a border of fleurs-de-luces; Nature permits him to lean his paws upon her knee, and, placing the royal crown upon his head, commands him as king, and protector of the smallest as well as the greatest of his subjects, to rule over them with benignity, and to temper justice with mercy; a fine moral lesson to the prince, of whom the lion is meant to be the personification: “ The lady lifted up his clawis clear,
And let him lightly lean upon her knee,
Of radiant stones, most royal there to see,
Saying, The king of all beasts make I thee,
Go forth-and to thy lieges keep the laws. * There is scarce a word changed, except from the old to the more modern spelling.
“ Justice exerce with mercy and conscience,
And let na small beast suffer scaith nor scorn
Do law alike to apes and unicorns,
And let no bowgle with his boistrous horn
But in the yoke go quietly him beside.
And sharp as darts of steel she made his pens,
As unto peacocks, papingoes, or cranes;
And make one law for strong fowls and for wrens; And let no fowl of rapine do affray,
Nor birds devour but their own proper prey.' The queen next addresses herself to the flowers, and, with great beauty and propriety, selecting the thistle, whose warlike thorns peculiarly fitted him protect the softer plants from scaith or
“ Then called she all the flowers that grew in field,
Describing both their fashion and effeirs;'
Considering him so able for the weirs, 2
Nature then proceeds to the coronation of the rose, as queen of flowers; and the praises, bestowed on the beauty and rare qualities of this gem of the garden, are gracefully applied to the illustrious English princess, who was about to bestow her hand and her heart upon his royal master:
* Poems, vol. i. pp. 7, 8. properties.
3 defend the rest.
“ Then to the rose sche turned her visage,
And said, O lovely daughter, most bening,
From the stock royal, rising fresh and ying,
But any spot or macall doing spring;3
For o'er them all thy beauty is renown'd.
This comely queen did on her head enclose,
Wherefore, methought the flowers did all rejoiset
Crying at once-Hail to the fragrant rose ! Hail empress of all plants! fresh queen of flowers ! To thee be praise and honour at all hours." The crown is no sooner placed on the head of the
queen of flowers, than the birds, led by the mavis and the nightingale, strain their little throats in one. loud, but melodious song of triumph and loyalty; with the noise of which the poet awakes, and, starting from his couch, half afraid, anxiously looks round for the brilliant and fragrant court, in which he had beheld these wonders; but the garden, the birds, the flowers, and Dame Nature, have all faded into empty air; and he consoles himself by describing the vision.
This sweet poem was written, as we already know, in commemoration of the union of James IV. with the lady Margaret Tudor. finished, as he intimates in the concluding verses, on the ninth of May. The marriage did not take place for some months after; but the preparations for it had commenced as early as the fourth of May, when a commission was given by 1 lineage.
2 young. 3 springing without spot or taint. 4 rejoice.
* Poems, vol. .i. p. 9.
Henry VII. to several of his nobles, to treat with the King of Scots regarding the dowry. Some of the minute particulars attending the journey of the princess to Scotland, and her first meeting with the king, as recorded by Leland in his Collectanea, are characteristic of the times. On the 1st of August she left erwick, and was eonducted to Lambertoun Kirk, where she was delivered free of all expense, to the messengers of the King of Scots; who conducted her from thence to Fast Castle, and thence through Dunbar, where they “schott ordnance for the luve of her." On the 3rd she reached the Earl of Morton's house at Dalkeith, where she was immediately visited by the king—"his leure behind his back, and his berde something long,” attended by his brother the Archbishop of St. Andrew's, the Bishop of Caithness, the Earls of Huntley, Argyle, and Lennox, the Lord Hamilton, and many other lords and gentlemen, to the number of sixty horse. The king was then conveyed to the queen's chamber, and she met him at the chamber-door, honourably accompanied; and at the meeting, he and she; after making great reverences the one to the other, kissed together; and in like manner, kissed the ladies and others also. And he, in especial, welcomed the Earl of Surrey very heartily. After which, the queen and he went aside, and communed together for long space.
On the 7th, the princess left Dalkeith, nobly accompanied and in fair array, seated in her litter, which was very richly adorned. Half way between that and Edinburgh, the king met her, mounted on a bay horse, running at full speed as he would run after