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Makyne,' a pastoral ballad of very considerable merit, and of which Campbell says, somewhat too warmly, It is the first known pastoral,' (he means in the Scottish language of course) and one of the best, in a dialect rich with the favours of the pastoral muse. He wrote also a sequel to Chaucer's "Troilus and Cresseide,' entitled The Testament of Cresseide,' and thirteen Fables, of which copies, in MS., are preserved in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh. One of these, 'The Town and Country Mouse, tells that old story with considerable spirit and humour. The Garment of Good Ladies' is an ingenious and beautiful strain, written in that quaint style of allegorising which continued popular as far down as the days of Cowley, and even later.
DINNER GIVEN BY THE TOWN MOUSE TO THE COUNTRY MOUSE.
* * * Their harboury was ta’en
Into a spence, where victual was plenty,
Both cheese and butter on long shelves right high,
With fish and flesh enough, both fresh and salt,
And pockis full of groats, both meal and malt.
After, when they disposed were to dine,
Withouten grace they wuish2 and went to meat,
On every dish that cookmen can divine,
Mutton and beef stricken out in telyies grit;3
A lordë's fare thus can they counterfeit,
Except one thing—they drank the water clear
Instead of wine, but yet they made good cheer.
With blithe upcast and merry countenance,
The elder sister then spier’d4 at her guest,
If that she thought by reason difference
Betwixt that chamber and her sairy5 nest.
“Yea, dame,' quoth she, “but how long will this last?' 'For evermore, I wait, and longer too;' 'If that be true, ye are at ease,' quoth she.
To eke the cheer, in plenty forth they brought
A plate of groatis and a dish of meal,
A threifa of cakes, I trow she spared them nought,
Abundantly about her for to deal.
Furmage full fine she brought instead of jeil,
A white candle out of a coffer staw,3
Instead of spice, to creish4 their teeth witha’.
Thus made they merry, till they might nae mair,
And, 'Hail, Yule, hail!' they cryit up on high;
But after joy oftentimes comes care,
And trouble after great prosperity.
Thus as they sat in all their jollity,
The spencer came with keyis in his hand,
Open'd the door, and them at dinner fand.
They tarried not to wash, as I suppose,
But on to go, who might the foremost win;
The burgess had a hole, and in she goes,
Her sister had no place to hide her in;
To see that silly mouse it was great sin,
So desolate and wild of all good rede, 5
For very fear she fell in swoon, near dead.
Then as God would it fell in happy case,
The spencer had no leisure for to bide,
Neither to force, to seek, nor scare, nor chase,
But on he went and cast the door up-wide.
This burgess mouse his passage well has spied.
Out of her hole she came and cried on high,
How, fair sister, cry peep, where'er thou be.'
The rural mouse lay flatlings on the ground,
And for the death she was full dreadand,
For to her heart struck many woful stound,
As in a fever trembling foot and hand;
And when her sister in such plight her fand,
For very pity she began to greet,
Synel comfort gave, with words as honey sweet.
Why lie ye thus ? Rise up, my sister dear,
Come to your meat, this peril is o'erpast.'
The other answer'd with a heavy cheer,
'I may nought eat, so sore I am aghast.
Lever? I had this forty dayis fast,
With water kail, and green beans and peas,
Than all your feast with this dread and disease.'
With fair 'treaty, yet gart she her arise;
To board they went, and on together sat,
But scantly had they drunken once or twice,
When in came Gib Hunter, our jolly cat,
And bade God speed. The burgess up then gat,
And to her hole she fled as fire of flint;
Bawdrons: the other by the back has hent.4
From foot to foot he cast her to and frae,
Whiles up, whiles down, as cants as any kid;
Whiles would he let her run under the strae, 6
Whiles would he wink and play with her buik-hid ;?
Thus to the silly mouse great harm he did;
Till at the last, through fair fortùne and hap,
Betwixt the dresser and the wall she crap.1
Syne up in haste behind the panelling,
So high she clamb, that Gilbert might not get her,
And by the cluikscraftily can hing,
Till he was gone, her cheer was all the better:
Syne down she lap, when there was none to let her;
Then on the burgess mouse loud could she cry,
Farewell, sister, here I thy feast defy.
Thy mangery is minget all with care,
Thy guise is good, thy gane-full4 sour as gall;
The fashion of thy feris is but fair,
So shall thou find hereafterward may fall.
I thank yon curtain, and yon parpane 5 wall,
Of my defence now from yon cruel beast;
Almighty God, keep me from such a feast !
Were I into the place that I came frae,
For weal nor woe I should ne'er come again.'
With that she took her leave, and forth can gae,
Till through the corn, till through the plain.
When she was forth and free she was right fain,
And merrily linkit unto the muir,
I cannot tell how afterward she fure. 6
But I heard syne she passed to her den,
As warm as wool, suppose it was not grit,
Full beinly7 stuffed was both butt and ben,
With peas and nuts, and beans, and rye and wheat;
Whene'er she liked, she had enough of meat,
In quiet and ease, withouten [any] dread,
But to her sister's feast no more she gaed.
(FROM THE MORAL.]
Blessed be simple life, withouten dreid;
Blessed be sober feast in quieté;
Who has enough, of no more has he neede
Though it be little into quantity.
Great abundance, and blind prosperity,
Ofttimës make an evil conclusion;
The sweetest life, therefore, in this country,
Is of sickerness, with small possession.
THE GARMENT OF GOOD LADIES.
Would my good lady love me best,
And work after my will,
I should a garment goodliest
Gar2 make her body till.3
Of high honour should be her hood,
Upon her head to wear,
Garnish'd with governance, so good
No deeming4 should her deir,5
Her sark6 should be her body next,
Of chastity so white:
With shame and dread together mixt,
The same should be perfite.?
Her kirtle should be of clean constance,
Laced with lesum 8 love;