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Mr. C.'s prolegomena consist, i. Of a life of the author, a. An attempt to settle the chronology of his poems. 3. An account of their different editions. 4. An inquiry, relative to the persons who were then the licensers of the press. 5. What were the writings of Lyndsay. 6. An historical view of his character as a writer. 7. Of the, epochs of the different people, who successively settled in Scotland. 8. A philological view of the Teutonic language of Scotland, from the demise of Malcolm Crenmore to the age of Lyndsay. 9. An examination of the auihor's language.—Of these dissertations we must briefly remark that they are on the whole very heavily written that, with a seeming attention to arrangement, the matter is frequently broken into unnecessary fragments; and that the seventh and eighth are but remotely, if in any degree, connected wilh the work. We cannot, indeed, be expected to enter into a minute discussion of their merits: but we shall endeavour to connect a few observations which we made in our perusal, with a brief account of the life of Lyndsay as it is drawn up by Mr. C. 5 and this we do with the more pleasure, because in this part of his duty the Editor has evinced both industry and acuteness in correcting the errors of former biographers, and in bringing to light many facts which had escaped their research.
The exact date of the author's birth is not known, but it is plausibly conjectured to have been in 1490. His family, which was descended from that of Lord Lyndsay of the Byres, was settled at the Mount, an estate near Coupar in Fifeshirc, and whence Sir David took his usual designation. It is again conjectured that he received his early education at the school of Coupar: but the first circumstance of his life which is known with precision happened in 1505, when he was sent to th« University of St. Andrew's. Here he remained until i5og; about which time, as Mr. C. ingeniously discovers from one of his poems, he became a courtier, and was appointed (as his present Biographer thinks) a Page of Honour to James V. on the day of that monarch's birth, 12 April, 1512. During his continuance in this office, which was about twelve' years, Sir David seems to have acted occasionally as Minstrel to the young prince; for he himself informs us that he was accustomed to play on the lute and enact the fool for his amusement:—in which sort of accomplishments, the Minstrels, or Mimi, (one of the many denominations of the order,) are represented to have excelled. As the passage in which Lyndsay givei us this information is 4 curious Curious, and has evidently not been understood by Mr. C, we shall quote and endeavour to explain it: purposely omitting the interpretation of words which differ but slightly fiorft modern English.
* I tak the qaenis grace, thy mother,
Was, pa, da, lyn, upon the lute;
In this extract, the nth and 12th lines literally signify *' The first syllables that you could utter, or articulate"—not speak, as Mt. C. explains it, too generally,—" were, play (pa) on the lute, David (da) Lyndsay.'' (lyn). The poem itself is a Complaynt or Petition to the King j and this ingenious appeal to his feelings, by reminding him of his first attempts at speech, and of the earliest melody (Ginkerton, a tune not now -known to exist) which he loved, did not, as we-are informed, go unrewarded. Here we cannot help regretting that Mr. C. has not endeavoured to throw some light on the Scottish music of this period: he would have been fully justified in his attempt by the frequent mention of popular airs in the works of Lyndsay ; and thus he would have had a fair opportunity to » have confirmed by his researches the opinion of Dr. Barney, a most competent judge, that the Scottish melodies would hereafter be proved to be of a much higher antiquity than was generally supposed. The literati in the North will probably be surprized to hear that Dryden is nearly if not the very
* Alive. f Astride.
% i. e. Dancing with many a skip and nod. Mr. C. does not explain lend. ,
|| /'. e. Twenty tunes truly, or offhand. § Which.
•* *, e. When you came from the school; the apartment in which lie was educated. •
I 2 earliest earliest author who mentions—incidentally, in the preface ftf his FablesT—and describes Scottish melody. The Editor's silence on this subject is the more mortifying, because at p. 384 of. Vor. I. he intimates his knowlege of a f.ict of which we were previously ignorant. 'It was,' says he, 'then the rage in Scotland to copy France, in th$ir dancing, music, and dress.' This sounds very strangely to us, and we should be glad to know his authority for the assertion: if indeed the term music be not here divested of its general meaning, and restricted to airs used in daacing. That such music was imported into Scotland from France, through long and constant intercourse, we have little doubt : but it could not reasonably be supposed to affect the natioQal melody. To the lost air of Ginkerton, the Editor might have found an apposite allusion in a Medley Cantus preserved in the library of the Faculty of Advocates at Edinburgh, which is quoted in the Introduction to the Complaynt of Scotland.
In 1524, Lyndsay was dismissed from his office in consequence of a change in court politics, and retired on a pension: but in 1530 he was inaugurated Lion king of arms, and incidentally became a knight; for which distinctions he was certainly indebted to the partiality of the sovereign himself, siuce he does not scruple to inform us that he was personally obnoxious to the party in power. The importance which his biographer attaches to these honours is really ludicrous. Lyndsay is constantly styled 'our Lion,' and when he sees any thing it is with 'heraldic eyes.'—lis was now, ex officio we suppose, employed on foreign embassies, and* was indeed on all great days a very prominent character, for he constructed pageants and delivered set speeches for these occasions. The most remarkable instance, however, that occurs of his endeavours to amuse the court, and at the same time to gratify his taste for satire, was at Epiphany, 1539, when was acted at Linlithgow, before the king and queen and an immense assemblage of spectators, "Lyndsay's Play." This was hiscelebrated Stilyre an the three Estatis, a kind of rude improvement on the antient moralities; which laid the foundation of his popularity with the vulgar in his own country, and has occasioned him to be regarded as one of the early reformers of religion iu Scotland. We apprehend, indeed, that much of Lyndsay'9 fame has arisen from his connection with the Reformation: but we think that his share in that great work has been exaggerated. It has been said that Lyndsay prepared the ground and that Knox sowed the seed: but at p. 39 of Vol. I. Air. Chalmers seems to conclude that the whole process was accoi pli»h:d by Sir David himself. That he was heartily
devoted devoted to the cause is very clear: but it should be remembered that he never engaged in it personslyj atid therefore to compare the effect of his writings, with that of the fearless intrepidity and popular eloquence of John Knox, is to rate his influence too highly. He always had a nice sensibility of danger, was aware of certain acts of Parliament that lud been passed in his time, and knew of the existence of such things as writs de htretico comburendo. Other men, also, long before Lyndsay's days, had evinced the boldness of satirising with equal severity the vices of the Romish clergy, and we must add that they paid more regard to propriety and decency in their reprehension. At the same time, it is but fair to acknowledge that he was universally regarded by his contemporaries as an apostle of Reformation; and we insert one of their testimonies to this effect, as it is singularly curious, and exhibits an instance of Mr. C.'s proneness to create difficulties which did not exist. The writer is Dr. Bulleyn; who, after having described Chaucer and Lidgate, thus proceeds:
"Nexte theim, in :i blacke chaire of gette (jet) stone, in a coate of armes, catte an ancientc knight, in orcngc tawnie, as one forsaken, bearyng upon his breast a white lion, with a crown of riche golde r>n his hedde: his name was, Sir Davit Linsc, vppon the ftiounte, with a hammer of strong Steele in his hande, breakynsj asonder the counterfcicle crofse kaies of Rome, forged by Antichriste. And this good knight of Scotlande, saied to Eng4ande, the elder brother, and Scotlande the younger:
1 Halitare fratres in unum,
One God, one faith, one baptisms pure,
Before he rightly corrects white to red lion, Mr. C. remarks, * why Bulleyn considered Lyndsay as one forsaken I do not comprehend, though the writer may have known some anecdote, which tradition has not transmitted.' Dr. Bulleyn only meant that Lyndsay looked like one forsaken, because his robe was of the favourite colour of the forsiken. We find, repeated allusions to the predilection of forsaken lovers for every thing that was yellow, (from a very natural association,) in our elder poets. Shakspeare notices it in the Tempest:
'* Broom groves, Whose shadow the dismissed bachelor loves."
One of the commentators says that he does not know why' the forsaken lover should walk in a broom-wood grove, in preference to any other: but Shakspeare did. A species of yellow daisy is still in some parts of the kingdom called
I 3 bachelor's
bachelor's button; and a song in the Paradise of Daintm Devisy, quoted by Percy, is intiiled, The Complaint of a Lover, wearing blacke and taunie." Hence, too, we suspect, , the old tune of Black and Yellow.
Of Lvndsay himself we have nothing farther to add; since his public life seems to have ceased with the death of his master in 1542, in which year he had received from him an addition to his salary. He was married, but died childless, it is supposed, in 1557.
Mr. Chalmers has shewn much commendable industry in one of the prime duties of an Editor, viz. the collation of different editions: but we wish that he had been more merciful to his predecessors, and had appeared less conscious of his own merits. He has, it seems, fallen in with editions, unknown to them; they talk of editions unknown to him, and he very plainly gives them the lie. We would advise the Editor to be more on his guard in future. It is very possible that a whole impression of Lyndsay'a works, as they were eagerly bought up and perused even by the vulgar, may have disappeared in the lapse of more than two centuries: but then, should a stray copy of such an impression be accident-, ally discovered, woe to the critic who stoutly denied its existence, for the epithets of ideot and fool, which he had lavished on those who professed to have seen one of that date, recoil with double vengeance on himself. Such discoveries have happened ; and that they may happen in the case of some of the disputed editions of Lyndsay is probable enough, seeing that a copy of one, which is mentioned we believe by none of his biographers, and which has escaped the researches of even Mr. Chalmers, now lies before us. 11 professes to be 11 imprcntit at Edinburgh, be Henrie Charteris, Anno. M D.LXXXII., cum Privilegio Regali" and falsely to be "Augmintit •with siadrie Warkis, auhilk was not bejoir imprtntit,"—a trick which has not ceased in our own times. We at first supposed it to be a copy of one of the various editions of the .same printer already known, but with a different title page, as such deceptions were common : but, on collating its text with that of Mr. C, we found some variations which he would probably have specified had he known them. We subjoin a few instances from the 2d volume: p. 159. (oxfast, Edit. 1582. hasyiir.
—— now Strang, ■ strong now.
I (51, well, wall.
194. gotten furth, :— gotten out.
208. tellandt . talkand.
na, ■ tny. ftc. Sec, but