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given with a freshness, truth, and humour, which strongly reminds us of the muse of Chaucer. The metre is the only specimen of blank verse to be met with in the Scottish language. The poet, in a sweet midsummer's night, walks forth to enjoy the season in a garden, where he has scarcely solaced himself for a few moments, when he is startled by the sounds of mirth and revelry proceeding from a shady arbour hard by. He approaches unperceived, and sees three fair ladies sitting at a table, on which is a rich banquet, with wine, of which they have evidently partaken. These are, of course, the dramatis personæ of the talethe two married women and the widow. Their apparel is of the most costly description, their talk loud, and the subjects which they discuss, the miseries of matrimony, and the delights of widowed freedom. I shall endeavour to give the verses with no very material change, except from the ancient to the modern spelling:
“ On a midsummer's even, that merriest is of nights, I moved forth alone, when midnight near was past, Beside a lovely garden, all full of gayest flowers, And highly hedged around with trees of hawthorn sweet, On which a joyous bird her notes gan sing so loud, That ne'er methought a blyther bird on bough was ever
heard. Pleased with the fragrance sanative of these sweet midnight
flowers, And with the winged minstrels song so full of gladsomeness, I drew in secret to the hedge, intent on mirthful cheer, Whilst nightingales the dew drops sipt to make their notes
more clear. Sudden I heard beneath a holly, cloth'd in heavenly green, Beside my hand, a strife of words, with haughty argument, And drawing nearer to the hedge, I thrust my body thro', Ensconced in the hawthorn white, and hid with leafy screen,
And thus thro' crannies of the thorn that thickly plaited
hues, Their braided tresses shone like gold, and such their beauThat all the ground seemed light around, gleaming with
gladsome beams; Comb'd were those waving locks so bright, and curiously Straight down their shoulders, fair and round, in folds of
wavy length; Their curches cast were them above, of muslin thin and
clear, And green their mantles were as grass that grows in May
season, Bordered with feathers curious wrought, around their
graceful sides; With wondrous favour meek and gent their goodly faces
shone, All blooming in their beauty bright, like flowers in middle
June: Soft, seemly, white, their skin did show, like lilies newly
blown, Tinted with damask, as the rose whose little bud just opes.
“A marble table covered stood before these ladies three, With glittering, goodly cups in rows, replenished all with
wine; And of these lightsome dames were two wedded to lords
I ween, The third in widowhood did live, a wanton she and gay. Full loud they talked, and struck the board, and many a
tale they knew, And deep and oft they drain’d the cup, and loud and louder
grew Their mirth and words, and faster still from tale to tale
Poems, vol. i. pp. 61, 62,
Such is a moderately close translation of the opening of this satirical tale; but it is impossible to follow the widow or the married ladies farther. We are not, however, to form our ideas of the female manners of the age from the conversation and loose principles of Dunbar's “ Cummeris.” It is not to be forgotten that it is a satirical poem, and probably did not profess to give an exact picture of the times.
The “Friars of Berwick,” which Pinkerton, on very probable grounds, has ascribed to this poet, affords a still finer example of his vigour as a satirist. Its object is to expose the licentious lives of some of the monkish orders, and nothing can be more rich than the humour with which the story is told. Friar Robert and Friar Allan, two of thee order of White Jacobin Friars, set off from Berwick to visit their brethren in the country. On their return they are benighted :“ Whiles on a time they purposed to pass hame,' But very tired and wet was friar Aslane, For he was old and might not well travel, And he had too a little spice of gravel; Young was friar Robert, strong and hot of blood, And by the way he bore both cloths and hood, And all their gear, for he was wise and wight. By this it drew near hand towards the night; As they were comming toward the town full near, Thus spoke friar Allan, My good brother dear, It is so late, I dread the gates be closed; And tired are we, and very ill-disposed To lodge out of the toun, perchance then we
In some good house this night may lodged be."
selves at the door of the hostelrie of Simon Lauder, an honest innkeeper, whose wife, Dame Alison, is somewhat similar in her disposition to the two married women and the widow, with whom we are already acquainted—fond of good cheer and good company, and not very correct in her morals. The friars knock at the gate, inquire for the “gudeman,” and find that he has gone to the country to buy corn and hay. They then complain of being. wondrous thirsty, and the dame, with ready hospitality, fills a stoup of ale, and invites them to sit down and refresh themselves, to which they at once assent:
“The friars were blyth, and merry tales could tell,
Because they knew the gates were closed fast."'* The friars in dismay entreat Dame Alison, seeing they are shut out from their own abbey, to give them a night's lodging; but this she steadily refuses, alleging the scandal which would be likely to arise, should she, in the absence of her husband, be known to have harboured two friars. She points, however, to a barn or outhouse, where they are welcome to take up their quarters, and to which she sends her maiden to prepare their bed; and there they lie down accordingly-friar Allan, who was old, and fatigued with travel, to sleep; but friar Robert is wakeful, and at last rises to see if he may spy or meet with any merriment. The story then turns to the goodwife, Dame Alison, who, in the absence of her husband, had invited friar John, a neighbouring monk, of great
* Poems, vol. ii. p. 5.
riches and dignity, to sup with her that evening.
And rabbits eke to fire she straight did lay,
“She cloth'd her in a gown of finest red,
The expected guest at last tirls at the gate, and the meeting, which is seen through a cranny in the chamber by friar Robert, is described with great spirit and humour. Nor does the friar come empty handed: he brings a pair of “ bossis” or bottles
“good and fine, That hold a gallon full of Gascogne wine;" two plump partridges, and some rich cakes in a basket. They now sit down to their feast, but in the middle of supper, their merriment is interrupted by a loud knocking at the door, and to their dismay it turns out to be honest Simon himself, who, having completed his business, arrives suddenly. All is in confusion in a moment: friar John runs from corner to corner, not knowing where to escape, but at last, finding it impossible