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of his age, has dared to think for itself, he is altogether excellent; and, did the limits of these sketches permit, it would be easy to justify this high praise by examples. Where, for instance, could we meet, even in the works of Chaucer or Spenser, with a finer personification than this early poet has given us of Saturn, sitting shivering in his cold and distant sphere, his matted locks falling down his shoulders, glittering and fretted with hoar-frosts; the wind whistling through his grey and weather-beaten garments, and a sheaf of arrows, feathered with ice and headed with hailstones, stuck under his girdle?
“ His face frouned, his lere I was like the lede,
His teeth chattered and shivered with the chin,
Out at his nose the mildrop fast gan rin,
Were wonder grete, and as a speer were longe. “ Attour his belte his lyart 3 lokkis laie
Feltrid 4 unfair or fret with frostis hore,
His withered wede fro him the winde out wore;
A bousteaus bow within his hande he bore;
Let us turn now for a moment from this wintry picture, and observe with what a fresh and glowing pencil, with what an ease and gracefulness of execution, the same hand can bring before us a summer landscape :
i flesh or skin. 2 drooped.
5 fashion of his clothing.
3 hoary. 4 matted.
“ In middis of June, that joly swete sessoun,
Quhen that fair Phæbus with his beamis brycht
And all the land maid with his lemyss ? lycht,
In a morning, between midday and nycht,
Ontill a wod I went alone, but gyd.?
The nois of birdis rycht delitious,
The grund growand with grasses gratious,
Of all plesans that place was plenteous
The morning myld, my mirth was mair forthy. " The roses red arrayit, the rone and ryss,3
The primrose and the purpure viola ;
Sic mirth, the mavis and the merle couth ma;
The blossomyss blyth brak up on bank and bra,
Contending quha suld have the victory." Henryson's greatest work is that to which we have already alluded—the completion of Chaucer's beautiful poem of Troilus and Creseide”-in a strain of poetry not unworthy of the original. "Henryson," says Mr. Godwin, in his Life of Chaucer,' “perceived what was defective in the close of the story of Troilus and Creseide, as Chaucer had left it. The inconstant and unfeeling Creseide, as she appears in the last book, is the just object of aversion, and no reader can be satisfied that Troilus, the loyal and heroic lover, should suffer all the consequences of her crime, whilst she escapes with impunity. The
1 beams. 2 without guide. 3 the brambles and bushes. 4make. 5 a hill side.
poem of Henryson,” he continues, “has a degree
Suld correspond and be equivalent;
This tragedy; the weather right fervent,
Whan Aries in middis of the Lent,
“ Yet neerthelesse within mine oratoure
I stode, whan Titan had his bemis brycht
And faire Venus the beaute of the night
Upraise, and sette unto the weste full right,
That I might see on every side me by;
And shedde his misty cloudis fro the skie;
The freste fresid, the blasts bitterly
la sad season for a melancholy story.
“ For I trusted, that Venus, lovers Quene,
To whom sometime I hight obedience,
And thereupon, with humble reverence,
I thought to praie her hie magnificence,
It kindlith not so sone as in youthheid,
And in the old the corage dull and dede,
Of which the fire outward is best remeid,
I am experte, for both I have assailed. “I made the fire and bekid me aboute,
Then toke I drinke my spirits to comforte,
To cutt the winter night, and mak it schort,
I took a querè,2 and lefte all othir sporte,
Of fair Creseide and lusty Troilus.” The picture presented in these striking line possesses the distinctness of outline and conception, and the rich poetic colouring, which marks the hand of genius. We see the aged bard sitting in a winter's evening in his oratory; we hear the bitter northern blast shaking the casement; the hail-stones are pattering on the glass; the sun has sunk; but, as the storm subsides, the air clears up to an intense frost, and the beautiful evening star, the planet of love, shows her golden face in the west. For awhile, with the enthusiasm of a lover of nature, the poet contemplates the scene; but, warned by the increasing cold, he closes his shutters, stirs his fire, wheels in his oaken chair, and, after warming his sluggard 1 warmed myself on every side.
blood with a cup of generous wine, takes up a volume of Chaucer, and happens to light upon the story of "fair Creseide and lusty Troilus.
In the poem, to use the words of an excellent critic, “Creseide is represented as deserted by Diomed, filled with discontent, and venting her rage in bitter revilings against Venus and Cupid. Her ingratitude is resented by these deities, who call a council of the seven planets, in which it is decreed that Creseide shall be punished with leprosy. Cʻynthia is deputed in a vision to inform her of her ate : she wakes, and finds that the dream is true. She then entreats her father to conduct her to an hospital for lepers, by the govenors of which she is compelled to go as a beggar on the highway. Among the passers by comes Troilus, who, in spite of the dreadful disfigurement of her person, finds something in her that he had seen before, and even draws, from a glance of her horrible countenance, a confused recollection of the sweet visage and amorous glances of his beloved Creseide. His instinct leads him no farther; he does not suspect that his mistress is actually before him; yet,
For knightly pitie, and memorial
Of faire Creseide,' he takes a girdle, a purse of gold, and many a gaie jewell, and shakes them doun in the skirt of the miserable beggar,
*Then rode awaye, and not a worde he spake.' “No sooner is he gone, than Creseide becomes aware that her benefactor is no other than Troilus himself. Affected by this unexpected occurrence,