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“ Altho he be the lamp and heart of hevin 1
Forfeblit wox his lemand gilded levin,
The frosty regioun ringis of the zere.' Everything is melancholy and dreary; the trees leafless and bare; the rivers running red in spate; * the burns or smaller streams, so sweet and quiet in summer tide, tearing down their banks; the surges dashing on the shore with a noise louder than the roar of a chafed lion; the heavens dark and lowering, or, if the sky clears for a moment, only opening to show the wintry constellations, rainy Orion, and the chill, pestilential Saturn,
Shedding infection from his tresses hoar.” The earth, says the poet, pursuing his fine winter picture, is now barren, hard, and unlovely; the meadows have put on their brown and withered coats; Hebe, the beautiful daughter of Juno, hath not even a single flower with which she may adorn herself; and, through a cold and leaden atmosphere, the mountain tops are seen capt with snow. As these melancholy.images present themselves, shadowy dreams of age and death steal into. the mind
Gousty schadowis of eild and grisly dede.” All living creatures seem to sympathize with the decay of the year.
The deer are seen retreating from their high summer pastures, into the more sheltered valley; the small birds, congregating in flocks, change their pleasant songs into a melan1 heaven.
2 flashes of light. year. * A stream, overflowing its banks from heavy rains, is said in Scotland to be in spate.
choly chirm, or low complaining murmur; the
At evin betime doun in ane bed me strekit,3
I crossit me, syne bownid for to slepe."'5 For some time he is unable to sleep: he watches the moon shedding her rays through his casement; he hears the owl hooting in her midnight cave, and, when she ceases, a strange sound breaks the stillness of the night; he listens, and recognizes the measured creaking strokes proceeding from the wings of a flock of wild geese, as they glide high in air over the city-an inimitable picture, true to nature, and eminently poetical :I well. warmed.
3 stretched. 4 cold
“ The horned bird, quhilk? we clepethe nych owle,
Within her caverne heard I shout and zoule,3
Attour the city fleand,' heard I glide.” He is at last surprised by sleep, nor does he waken till the cock-Phæbus' crowned bird, the clock of the night—had thrice clapped his wings, and proclaimed the approach of day. The same truth and excellence which marks the preceding part of the picture, distinguishes this portion: the jackdaws are heard chattering on the roof, the moon is declining near the horizon, the gled or kite, taking her station on the high leafless trees beside the poet's window, whistles with that singular and characteristic note which proclaims the dawning of a winter day; and, having had his fire stirred, and his candle lighted, he rises, dresses himself, and for a moment opens the casement to look out upon the scene: but it is only for a moment; the hail-stones hopping on the leads, and the gust of cold and rimy air which sweeps in, admonish him that this is no time for such observation, and, quickly closing the lattice, he hurries, shivering with cold, to the fire-side. As he warms himself, the faggots crackle on the hearth, the cheerful blaze lights up his chamber, and, glancing from the precious and richly gilded volumes which are ranged in their oaken presses, his eye lights upon “Virgil,” lying open upon a reading-desk. He is thus reminded of how much of his task yet
2 call. 6 frightful.
stern-looking. 9 flying
remains, and addresses himself diligently to his translation. It is difficult to conceive a more pleasing or picturesque description than what is here given. It is distinguished by a minute observation of nature, a power of selection and grouping, rich colouring and clearness of outline, which we invariably trace in the works of a true poet.
It has been already remarked, that in his phraseology, Douglas is more obscure than Dunbar or Henryson. “The Friars of Berwick," or, the tale of the “Landwart Mouse,” may be understood by a purely English reader, with comparative facility; whilst in the “Palace of Honour," and still more in the “Translation of the Æneid," passages are perpetually recurring which require some study to make out their meaning. We find the explanation of this given by the poet himself. Dunbar represents himself as writing in the English tongue; but the translator of “Virgil,” as “kepand na Soudron bot ouir awin langage.
In the time of James V., we know from a curious
passage quoted in “Hailes' Life of John Hamilton,” that to "knapp Sudrone” was considered the mark of a traitor; and even so late as Jame VI., Winzet speaks of his being ignorant of “Southeron," and knowing only his proper language, the “auld brade Scottis." in Douglas above referred to, is interesting in this point of view: “ And yet forsoith I set my besy pane,
As that I couth to mak it brade and plane,
.99* The passage
Na yet? sa clene all Sudroun I refuse,
It was at the request of Henry, Lord Sinclair, cousin of the poet, and a liberal and learned patron of literature, that this remarkable translation was undertaken; and Douglas has informed us, that he completed it on the 22nd of July, 1513, about twelve years after he had composed his “ Palace of Honour," and not two months before the death of his sovereign, James IV., in the battle of Flodden-fatal not only to the monarch and the country, but especially disastrous to the family and lineage of the poet. Deeply affected by this calamity, and deprived of his father, who died soon after, he bade farewell to the Muses, and, in the conclusion of his translation of the Æneid, intimates his resolution of devoting his remaining days to the glory of God and the good of his country.
The passage in which he bids adieu to his poetical studies is striking and characteristic, intimating a strong consciousness of the perpetuity of his fame:“ Now is my werk all finist and complete, Quhom Jovis ire nor fyris birnando hete, nor yet. 2 behoved. scanty.