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Hath he upon oure bertes such maistrye?
Or is all this þut feynit fantasye?
For giff he be of so grete excellence

That he of every wight hath care and charge,
What have I gilt * to him, or done offense,

That I am thrald and birdis go at large? In the midst of his musing, as he casts his eyes downward, he beholds “the fairest and the freshest young floure” that ever he had seen. It is the lovely Lady Jane, walking in the garden to enjoy the beauty of that “fresh May morrowe.” Breaking thus suddenly upon his sight in a moment of loneliness and excited susceptibility, she at once captivates the fancy of the romantic prince, and becomes the object of his wandering wishes, the sovereign of his ideal world.

There is in this charming scene an evident resemblance to the early part of Chaucer's Knight's Tale, where Palamon and Arcite fall in love with Emilia, whom they see walking in the garden of their prison. Perhaps the similarity of actual fact to the incident which he had read in Chaucer, may have induced James to dwell on it in his poem. His description of the Lady Jane is given in the picturesque and minute manner of his master, and being, doubtless, taken from the life, is a perfect portrait of a beauty of that day. He dwells with the fondness of a lover on every article of her apparel, from the net of pearl, splendent with emeralds and sapphires, that confined her golden hair, even to the “goodly chaine of small

* Gilt, what injury have I done, &c.

orfeverye’s* about her neck, whereby there hung a
ruby in shape of a heart, that seemed, he says, like a
spark of fire burning upon her white bosom. Her
dress of white tissue was looped up, to enable her to
walk with more freedom. She was accompanied by
two female attendants, and about her sported a little
hound decorated with bells, probably the small Italian
hound, of exquisite symmetry, which was a parlour
favourite and pet among the fashionable dames of an-
cient times. James closes his description by a burst
of general eulogium:
In her was youth, beauty with humble port,

Bountee, richesse, and womanly feature,
God better knows than my pen can report,

Wisdom, largesse, t estate, and cunning sure.
In every point so guided her measure,

In word, in deed, in shape, ix countenance,

That nature might no more her child advance. The departure of the Lady Jane from the garden puts an end to this trantint riot of the heart. With her departs the amorous musion that had shed a temporary charm over the scene of his captivity, and he relapses into loneliness, now rendered tenfold more intolerable by this passing beam of unattainable beauty. Through the long and weary day he repines at his unhappy lot, and when evening approaches and Phæbus, as he beautifully expresses it, had a bad farewell to every leaf and flower," he still lingers at the window, and, laying his head upon the cold stone,

*Wrought gold. | Estate, dignity. Vol. I.

| Largesse, bounty.
& Cunning, discretion.


gives vent to a mingled flow of love and sorrow, until gradually lulled by the mute melancholy of the twilight hour, he lapses,“ half sleeping, half swoon," into a vision, which occupies the remainder of the poem, and in which is allegorically shadowed out the history of his passion.

When he wakes from his trance, he rises from his stony pillow, and pacing his apartment full of dreary reflections, questions his spirit whither it has been wandering; whether, indeed, all that has passed before his dreaming fancy has been conjured up by preceding circumstances, or whether it is a vision intended to comfort and assure him in his despondency. If the latter, he prays that some token may be sent to con firm the promise of happier days, given him in his slumbers.

Suddenly a turtle-dove of the purest whiteness comes flying in at the window, and alights upon his hand, bearing in her bill a branch of red gilliflower, on the leaves of which is written in letters of gold, the following sentence:

Awake! awake! I bring, lover, I bring

The newis glad, that blissful is and sure,
Of thy comfort; now laugh, and play, and sing,

For in the heaven decretit is thy cure, He receives the branch with mingled hope and dread ; reads it with rapture, and this he says was the first token of his succeeding happiness. Whether this is a mere poetic fiction, or whether the Lady Jane did actually send him a token of her favour in this romantic way, remains to be determined according

to the faith or fancy of the reader. He concludes his poem by intimating that the promise conveyed in the vision, and by the flower, is fulfilled by his being restored to liberty, and made happy in the possession of the sovereign of his heart.

Such is the poetical account given by James of his love adventures in Windsor Castle. How much of it is absolute fact, and how much the embellishment of fancy, it is fruitless to conjecture; do not, however, let us always consider whatever is romantic as incompatible with real life, but let us sometimes take a poet at his word. I have noticed merely such parts of the poem as were immediately connected with the tower, and have passed over a large part which was in the allegorical vein, so much cultivated at that day. The language of course is quaint and antiquated, so that the beauty of many of its golder phrases will scarcely be perceived at the present day; but it is impossible not to be charmed with the genuine sentiment, the delightful artlessness and urbanity, which prevail throughout it. The descriptions of Nature, too, with which it is embellished, are given with a truth, a discrimination, and a freshness, woréhy of the most cultivated period of the arts.

As an amatory poem, it is edifying, in these days of coarser thinking, to notice the nature, refinement, , and exquisite delicacy which pervade it, banishing every gross thought, or immodest expression, and presenting female loveliness clothed in all its chivalrous attributes of almost supernatural purity and grace.

James flourished nearly about the time of Chaucer

and Gower, and was evidently an admirer and studier of their writings. Indeed, in one of his stanzas he acknowledges them as his masters, and in some parts of his poem we find traces of similarity to their productions, more especially to those of Chaucer. There are always, however, general features of resemblance in the works of cotemporary authors, which are not so much borrowed from each other as from the times. Writers, like bees, toll their sweets in the wide world; they incorporate with their own conceptions, the anecdotes and thoughts which are current in society, and thus each generation has some features in common, characteristic of the age in which it lives. James in fact belongs to one of the most brilliant eras of our literary history, and establishes the claims of his country to a participation in its primitive honours. Whilst a small cluster of English writers are constantly cited as the fathers of our verse, the name of their great Scottish compeer is apt to be passed over in silence; but he is evidently worthy of being enrolled in that little constellation of remote, but never-failing luminaries, who shine in the highest firmament of literature, and who, like morning stars, sang together at the bright dawning of British poesy.

Such of my readers as may not be familiar with Scottish history, (though the manner in which it has of late been woven with captivating fiction has made it a universal study,) may be curious to learn something of the subsequent history of James, and the fortunes of his love. His passion for the Lady Jane, as it was the solace of his captivity, so it facilitated

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