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The mailies1 of continuance,
For never to remove.
Her gown should be of goodliness,
Well ribbon'd with renown;
Furred with fine fashioùn.
Her belt should be of benignity,
About her middle meet;
To thole4 both wind and weet.5
Her hat should be of fair having,
And her tippet of truth;
Her hals-ribbon of ruth.7
Her sleeves should be of esperance,
To keep her from despair;
To hide her fingers fair.
This was a man of the true and sovereign seed of genius. Sir Walter Scott calls Dunbar la poet unrivalled by any that Scotland has ever produced.' We venture to call him the Dante of Scotland; nay, we question if any English poet has surpassed “The Dance of the Seven Deadly Sins through Hell' in its peculiarly Dantesque qualities of severe and purged grandeur, of deep sincerity, and in that air of moral disappointment and sorrow, approaching despair, which distinguished the sad-hearted lover of Beatrice, who might almost have exclaimed, with one yet mightier than he in his misery and more miserable in his might,
Where'er I am is Hell-myself am Hell.' Foster, in an entry in his journal, (we quote from memory,) says, 'I have just seen the moon rising, and wish the impression to be eternal. What a look she casts upon earth, like that of a celestial being who loves our planet still, but has given up all hope of ever doing her any good or seeing her become any better-s0 serene she seems in her settled and unutterable sadness.' Such, we have often fancied, was the feeling of the great Florentine toward the world, and which—pained, pitying, yearning enthusiast that he was !-escaped irresistibly from those deep-set eyes, that adamantine jaw, and that brow, wearing the laurel, proudly yet painfully, as if it were a crown of everlasting fire! Dunbar was not altogether a Dante, either in melancholy or in power, but his · Dance' reveals kindred moods, operating at times on a kindred genius.
In Dante humour existed too, but ere it could come up from his deep nature to the surface, it must freeze and stiffen into monumental scorn—a laughter that seemed, while mocking at all things else, to mock at its own mockery most of all. Aird speaks, in his Demoniac,' of a smile upon bis hero's
'Like the lightning of a hope about to DIE For ever from the furrow'd brows of Hell's Eternity.' Dante's smile may rather be compared to the RISING of a false
and self-detected hope upon the lost brows where it is never to come to dawn, and where, nevertheless, it remains for ever, like a smile carved upon a sepulchre. Dunbar has a more joyous disposition than his Italian prototype and master, and he indulges himself to the top of his bent, but in a style (particularly in his 'Twa Married Women and the Widow,' and in The Friars of Berwick,' which is not, however, quite certainly his) too coarse and prurient for the taste of this age.
"The Merle and the Nightingale' is one of the finest of Mælibean poems. Beautiful is the contest between the two sweet singers as to whether the love of man or the love of God be the nobler, and more beautiful still their reconciliation, when
"Then sang they both with voices loud and clear,
Singing of love among the leavës small? William Dunbar is said to have been born about the year 1465. He received his education at St Andrews, and took there the degree of M.A. in 1479. He became then a friar of the Franciscan order, (Grey Friars,) and in the exercise of his profession seems to have rambled over all Scotland, England, and France, preaching, begging, and, according to his own confession, cheating, lying, and cajoling. Yet if this kind of life was not propitious, in his case, to morality, it must have been to the development of the poetic faculty. It enabled him to see all varieties of life and of scenery, although here and there, in his verses, you find symptoms of that bitterness which is apt to arise in the heart of a wanderer. He was subsequently employed by James IV. in some official work connected with various foreign embassies, which led him to Spain, Italy, and Germany, as well as England and France. This proves that he was no less a man of business-capacity and habits than
Jerses, you heart of a Wome official
a poet. For these services he, in 1500, received from the King a pension of ten pounds, afterwards increased to twenty, and, in fine, to eighty. He is said to have been employed in the negotiations preparatory to the marriage of James with Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII., which took place in 1503, and which our poet celebrated in his verses, 'The Thistle and the Rose.' He continued ever afterwards in the Court, hovering in position between a laureate and a court-fool, charming James with his witty conversation as well as his verses, but refused the benefices for which he petitioned, and gradually devoured by chagrin and disappointment. Seldom has genius so great been placed in a falser position, and this has given a querulous tinge to many of his poems. He seems to have died about 1520. Even after his death, misfortune pursued him. His works were, with the exception of two or three pieces, locked up in an obscure MS. till the middle of last century. Since then, however, their fame has been still increasing. In 1834, Mr David Laing, so favourably known as one of our first antiquarians, published a complete and elaborate edition of Dunbar's works; and since then other editions of the poetry of this great old Scottish Makkar have been issued.
THE DANCE OF THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS THROUGH HELL.
Mahound gart2 cry a Dance,
To make their observance : "Maboyn:' the devil.—3 « Gart:' caused.—3 «Shrewis:' sinners.-— Shrevin : confessed,
He bade gallants go graith1 a guise,2
As varlets do in France.
Holy harlottis in hautanet wise,
But yet laugh'd never Mahdun,
Black-Belly and Bawsy-Broun.6
Began to leap at anis.?
Like to make wasty weanis; 9 And round about him, as a wheel, Hang all in runiples to the heel,
His kethat 10 for the nanis. 11 Many proud trompour 12 with him tripped, Through scalding fire aye as they skipped,
They girn'd13 with hideous granis.14
Then Ire came in with sturt 15 and strife,
1Graith:' preparc.-9.Guise:'masque. _3 "Gamounts:' dances.—4 Hautane:' haughty.-5.Gecks:' mocks.–6. Black-Belly and Bawsy-Broun :' names of spirits.
_ Anis' once.—8 • Wyld:' com bed.—2 Wasty weanis :' wasteful children.10 Kethat:' cassock. -11 .Nanis:' nonce.-19. Trompour:' impostor.–13 Girn'd:' grinned. -14 Granis:' groans.—15 Sturt:' violence.