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she falls into a frenzy; betrays her real name and condition; bequeaths to Troilus a ring which he had given her in dowry-and dies. Troilus laments her fate, and builds her a monument."*
There is a fine moral strain, a tone of solemn and impressive thought, which runs through many of the pieces of Henryson: of this we have a striking example in his poem entitled “Praise of Age:"“Within ane garth, under a red roseir,
Ane auld man, and decrepit, hard I sing;
It wes grit joy to heir of sic a thing.
And as methocht he said in his dytingFor to be young I wad nocht, for my wyss
Of all this warld to mak me lord and kyng : The moir of aige the nerrer hevynnys bliss. “Fals is this warld and full of variance,
Besoucht with sin and uther sytis mo; Trewth is all tynt, gyle hes the governance,
Wretchitnes hes wrocht all welthis weill to wo.
Freedome is tynt, and flemit the Lordis fro;
I am content that youth-heid is ago:
“Suld no man traist this wretchit world; for quhy?
Of erdly joy ay sorrow is the end : The stait of it can no man certify;
This day a king—to morne na gude to spend.
Quhat haif we here bot grace us to defend ? The quhilk, God grant us till amend our miss;
That to his gloir he made our saulis send: The moir of aige the nerrer hevynnys bliss.”
With little alteration these verses throw themselves into a modern garb, which does not spoil • Godwin's Life of Chaucer, vol. i. p. 493.
the striking picture of the aged moralist singing
I heard an aged man serenely sing ;
It gave me joy to see so strange a thing.
And thus he sung :- I would not, to be king Of all this world, live o'er a life like this.
Oh Youth! thy sweetest flowers have sharpest sting: The more of age the nearer heavenly bliss. “ False is the world, and full of changes vile;
O’errun with sin, and penury, and pain: Truth is all fled—the helm is held by guile
Fell coward treason hath high honour slain,
And freedom languisheth in iron chain. 'Tis the low love of power hath brought all this.
Ah! weep not then that youth is on the wane: The more of age the nearer heavenly bliss. “Trust then no more this wretched world-for why?
All earthly joy doth still in sorrow end; His mortal state can no man certify:
To-day a king—to-morrow none will lend Thy regal head a shelter:-may God mend, With his sweet grace, so sad a wreck as this;
And to his glory soon our spirits send: The more of age the nearer heavenly bliss."
Again, what can be sweeter than these lines on the blessings of simple life? “Blessit be symple life withouten dreid,
Blessit be sober feast in quietie,
Thocht it be lytil into quantitie.
Abondance great and blind prosperitie
The sweetest lyfe therefore in this countrie,
Is sickerness4 and peace with small possessioun. 1 dread. 2 enough.
“Friend, thy awin' fire thocht it be but ane gleid,
Will warm thee weil, and is worth gold to thee;
Under the hevin, I can nocht better see,
Then ay be blyth, and live in honestie:
Of early bliss it bears the best degree, Blythness of heart, in peace, with small possession.” The well-known apologue, of which this is the “ moralitie”. that of the Town and Country Mouse-has been delightfully translated, or rather paraphrased, both by Pope and La Fontaine; yet our ancient Scottish bard need not dread a comparison with either. There is not, indeed, in his production (what it would be unreasonable to look for the polished elegance, the graceful court-like expressions, and the pointed allusions to modern manners, which mark the versification of these great masters; but there is a quiet vein of humour, a succession of natural pictures, both burgh and landwart, city and rural; and a felicity in adapting the sentiments to the little four-footed actors in the drama, which is peculiarly its own. Henryson's mice speak and reason exactly as one of these long-whiskered, tiny individuals might be expected to do, were they suddenly to be permitted to express their feelings. There is, if we may be allowed the expression, a more mouse-like verisimilitude about his story, than either of his gifted successors. The tale is introduced with great spirit:
Easop relates a tale, weil worth renown,
2 unknown. 3 if you read.
Of quhom the elder dwelt in Borrowstoun,
The zungerl scho wond upon land weil neir,
Richt solitair beneath the buss and breir;
Thold4 cauld and hunger oft, and great distress;
Was gilt-brother, and made a free burgess,
Toll-free, and without custom mair or less, And freedom had to gaes whereer she list.” The burgh or city mouse is seized with a sudden desire to pay her country sister a visit, and, with staff in hand,
" As pilgrim pure scho past out of the toun,
To seek her sister baith in dale and down." The meeting of the two relatives is described with much naïveté :“Thro mony toilsom ways then couth she walk,
Thro muir and moss, throughout bank, busk, and breir, Fra fur to fur,8 cryand, frae balk to balk,
Come forth to me my ain sweet sister dear,
Cry 'Peep' anes. With that the mous couth hear,
The entertainment given by the rural mouse,
The youngest sister to her buttry hied,
And sic plain cheer, as she had her beside.
The burgess mouse sae dynk 11 and full of pride, Said, Sister mine, is this your daily food ?
Why not, quoth she, think ye this mess not good ? 1 younger.
3 life. 4 bore. 5 go. 6 poor. 7 both. 8 furrow to furrow. 9 she,
“ My sister fair, quoth she, have me excused,
This diet rude and I can neer accord; With tender meat my stomach still is us'd
For why, I fare as well as any lord:
Thir withir'd nuts and pease, or they be bored, Will break my chaffs, and mak my teeth full slender, Which have been us'd before to meat more tender.”
The rest of the story and the catastrophe are well known; the invitation of the city mouse, its acceptance, their perilous journey to town, their delicious meal, and its fearful interruption by Hunter Gib, (the jolly cat,) the pangs of the rural mouse, whose heart is almost frightened out of its little velvet tenement, her marvellous escape, and the delight with which she again finds herself in her warm nest in the country, are described with great felicity of humour. No one who has witnessed the ingenuity of the torment inflicted by a cat on its victim, will fail to recognize the perfect nature of Hunter Gib's conduct, when the unfortunate rural citizen is under his clutches:“ From foot to foot he cast her to and frae,
Whiles up, whiles down, as tait1 as ony kid, Whiles would he let her run beneath the strae,
Whiles would he wink and play with her bubhid: 3
Thus to the silly mous great harm he did, Till at the last, thro fortune fair and hap,
Betwixt the dresser and the wall she crap.* “Syne up in haste beside the panaling
Sae high she clam, that Gibby might not get her, And by the cleeksi sae craftily gan hing
Till he was gane;) her cheer was all the better; Syne doun she lap when there was nane to let her. Then on the burgess mouse aloud did cry, Sister, farewell, thy feast I here defy." 1 tenderly.
3 hide and seek. crept. 5 climbed. 6 Hooks or pins. gone.