Page images

the hare, and surrounded by a troop of his nobles. On reaching his capital, he mounted a palfrey, having placed the princess on a pillion behind him; in which honest and antique fashion, the gallant monarch rode through the good town to his palace, amid the acclamations of his subjects. On the 8th of August the marriage took place in the chapel of Holyrood. James was then in his thirty-third year, his youthful queen just fourteen; and some characteristic touches of manners may be gleaned from the “Treasurer's Accounts." In his description of the king's first interview with his bride at Dalkeith, Young, the English herald, seems to have been struck with the length of James's beard; and his young bride was probably a little annoyed at it, for on the day after the marriage we find, that the gallant monarch employed the Countess of Surrey, and her daughter Lady Gray, to clip his beard; for which service, these noble tonsors received—the first thirty-five ells of cloth of gold; and the last, fifteen ells of • damask gold.*

If we may judge from the expensive preparations, and the costly dresses of the nobles, as they appear in the same ancient records, the marriage must have been celebrated with uncommon pomp and magnificence: and, amidst the various presents and hymeneal offerings, which on that joyous occasion were laid at the feet of the princess, few

* Item, the 9 day of August, after the marriage, for 25 eln cloth of gold to the Comitass of Surry of Ingland, quhen sche and her dochter, Lady Gray, clippit the King's berde, iiicxxxlb. Item, for xv eln of damas gold, by the King's commande to the said Lady Gray of Ingland, joxxxlb.MS. Collections by the Rev. Wm. M'Gregor Stirling.

could be more beautiful or appropriate than Dunbar's fine allegorical vision, the “Thistle and the Rose.” We have no reason to believe, however, that its author experienced any substantial instance of royal gratitude. He continued to reside at court, to share in the amusements and bear a part in the revels of his gay and thoughtless master; but he saw others preferred, whilst he was thrust back or neglected; and his poetry is, in many places, little else than a severe and biting commentary on the arrogance of court minions, the insolence of wardrobe keepers, deputy treasurers, and other minor officials. One of these indignant castigations is, from its humour, worthy of notice. The queen's keeper of the robe was Jamie Doig, or, as it was then probably pronounced in Scotland, Dog; who, on occasion, had been ordered by the queen to present the poet with a velvet doublet—a command which he obeyed with so ill a grace, that Dunbar addressed this poetical complaint to the prin





“ The Wardroper of Venus bowre,

To give a doublet is as doure,
As it were for ane fute side frog:

Madame, ye have a dangerous Dog.
“ When that I show to him your marks,

He turns to me again and barks,
As he were worrying ane hog:
Madame, ye have a dangerous dog.

Jobstinate or difficult.

“ When that I show to him your writing,

He girns that I am red for flyting;
I would he had a heavy clog:

Madame, ye have a dangerous Dog.
“ When that I speak to him friend-like,

He growls like ony midden-tike,2
War-chasing cattle thro a bog:

Madame, ye have a dangerous Dog.
“ He is ane mastiff, strong of might,

To keep your wardrobe over night
From the great Soldan, Gog-magog:

Madame, ye have a dangerous Dog.
“ Oure large he is to be your messan,

I you advise to get a less ane,4
His tread gars all your chambers schog:

Madame, ye have a dangerous Dog." Jamie Doig, however, appears soon after to have relented, the promised suit is delivered from the wardrobe, and the poet changes his verses easily and readily as he does his doublet. The dangerous Dog is transformed into a Lamb; and, in the lines “on the said James when he had pleased him,” we learn some particulars which say little for the matrimonial felicity of the worthy wardraipair :

“ The wife that he had in his inns,

That with the tangs5 wad break his shins,
I wad she drownd were in a dam,

He is na Dog-he is ane Lamb."* Jamie Doig himself, whose strength and make were so great that his step shook the chambers of his royal mistress, is one of those whom the complains bitterly.

dunghill cur. a smaller one.

tongs. * Poems, vol, ii. pp. 110, 111.




3 lap-dog.



treasurer is ordered to furnish with a dress of state for the marriage."

On another occasion the poet addresses the king in the character of the “Grey Horse, auld Dunbar," complaining that, when idler steeds are tenderly cared for, and clothed in gorgeous trappings, he who has done his Majesty good service, is neglected in his old age:

“ Thocht in the stall I be nocht clappit,

As coursours that in silk beine trappit,
With ane new hous I wald be happit,
Against this Christmas for the cauld;'
Sir, let it nevir in town be tald 2

That I suld be a Yuillis yald.3
I am ane auld horse, as ye knaw, 4

That evir in dules dois dring and draw;
Great court-horse puttis me fra the staw,
To fang the fog7 be firth and fald;
Sir, let it nevir in town be tald

That I suld be a Yuillis yald.
“ I haif lang run forth in the field,

On pastouris that ar plane and peil'd,8
I micht be now tane in for eild,
My banes are showing hie and bald.
Sir, let it nevir in town be tald
That I suld be a Yuillis yald.
My mane is turned into quhyte, 1
And thereof ye haif all the wyte,"
Quhan uther horse had bran to bite,
I had but gress,12 knip gif I wald;
Sir, let it nevir in town be tald
That I suld be a Yuillis yald.
* Treasurer's Books, August 3, 1503.
1 cold.

2 told. a useless old horse, turned into a straw-yard at Yule, or

Christmas. 4 know. sorrow. 6 stall.

7 bear the fog. 8 bare and worn out.

10 white. 11 blame.

grass, if I would pick a little.







“ The court has done my curage cuill,

And maid me ane forriddin muil,2
Yet to weir trappourriss at this Yule,
I wad be spurr'd at everie spald.
Sir, let it nevir in town be tald

That I suld be a Yuillis yald.” Whether this remonstrance was attended by any substantial or permanent benefit to the “Auld Grey Horse” is doubtful; but it is certain the king replied in the following fashion, which, as the only poetical effort of this gallant prince, is worth preservation

“ Efter our writingis treasurer,

Tak in this Grey Horse, auld Dunbar,
Quhilk in my aucht with service trew)
To lyart changeit is his hew.6
Gar howse him now aganis this Yuill,
And busk7 him like ane bischoppis muill;8
For with my hand I have indost 9

To pay quhat evir his trappouris 10 cost." A curious feature in the poetical literature of this age is to be found in that species of rhythmical invective termed Flyting or Scolding, for which Dunbar appears to have made himself especially illustrious. It is difficult to determine whether the enmity and rivalry of two poets, who gave themselves up to this coarse sort of buffoonery, was real or pretended. The probability seems to be, that it was considered, both by the authors and their audience, as a mere pastime of the imagination—a license to indulge in every kind of poétical vituperation-a kind of literary 2 over-worked mule.

3 trappings.
spurred at every bone.
7 adorn.

1 cool.


8 mule. 9 indorsed. 10 trappings.

5 true.

6 hue.

« PreviousContinue »