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Our hero was riding by briskly, when she called to him by name, and said, * Florent, you are riding to your death, but I can save you by my counsel.” He turned at once, and begged her to advise him what he should do. Said she, “What wilt thou give me, if I will point out a course by means of which you shall escape death ?" Any thing you may ask,” said he. “I want nothing more than this promise," said she, “therefore give me your pledge
That you will be my housébande."
Nay,” said Florent—"that may not be.”
“Ride thenné forth thy way," quod she. Florent was now in great perplexity: he rode to and fro, and knew not what to do. He promised lands, parks, houses, but all to no purpose, the housebande was the only thing that would do. He came, however, to the conclusion that
Better to take her to his wife,
Or elles for to lose his life. He also calculated with some skill the doctrine of chances, and came to the conclusion that she would probably not live very long; and that while she did live he would put her
Where that no man her shouldé know
Till she with death were overthrow. He therefore agreed, most reluctantly, to the terms proposed. She then tells him that when he reaches the castle, and they demand of him his answer to the question proposed, he shall reply
That alle women lievest would
Be sovereign of mannes love; for what woman, says she, is so favored as to have all her will: and if she be not “ sovereign of mannes love,” she cannot have what she “ lievest have,” that is what she may most desire. With this answer, she says he shall save himself; and then she bids him to return to this same place, where he shall find her waiting for him. Florent rode sadly on, and came to the castle. A large number of the inmates is summoned to hear his answer. He named several things of his own excogitations, but all would not do. Finally, he gives the answer the old woman directed: it is declared to be the true one, and he rides forth from the castle.
Here began poor Florent's deepest sorrow, for he must return according to his oath. He rides back, and finds the old woman sitting in the same place,
The loathliest wight
There was no grace in her visage. She insists, however, that he shall comply with the terms of agreement, and therefore, sick at heart, and almost preferring death,
1 Low flat.
In ragges as she was to-tore
He set her on his horse to-fore, and riding thror gh all the lanes and by-ways, that no one might see him, he arrives, by design, at the castle by night. He then calls one or two of his trusty friends, and tells them that he was obliged
This beste wedd to his wife,
For elles he had lost his life.
Her ragges they anon off draw,
And was arrayed to the best, all except her matted and unsightly hair, which she would not allow them to touch.
But when she was fully array'd
But poor Florent must take her for better for worse, though the worse seemed then rather to predominate. The company are all assembled, and the bride and bridegroom stand up to be united in the holy bonds of matrimony. The ceremony being over, the ill-fated knight covered up his head in grief.
His body mighté well be there;
His hearté was in Purgatoire. She endeavored to ingratiate herself in his affections, and approached and took him softly by the hand. He turned suddenly, and saw one of the most beautiful beings that ever his eyes beheld. He was about to draw her unto himself-when she stopped him,
And sayth, that for to win or lose
Here Florent was utterly at a loss what to say. At last he exclaims,
I n'ot what answer I shall give,
Right as ye willé, so will I.
This is what «alle
women most desire," to be sovereign of man's love :-in short-to bave their own way. The bride then thus answers the happy groom:
“My lord,” she saide, “grand-merci'
JAMES I. OF SCOTLAND. 1395—1437.
To an incident which happened in the reign of Henry IV. of England, we are indebted for the most elegant poem that was produced during the early part of the fifteenth century—“The King's Quair," 3 by James I. of Scotland.
This prince was the second son of Robert III., and was born in 1395. His elder brother died, and the king determined to send his surviving son, James, to be educated at the court of his ally, Charles VI., of France; and he embarked for that country with a numerous train of attendants in 1405. But the ship was stopped by an English squadron, and the passengers were, by order of Henry IV., sent to London. It was, of course, an outrageous violation of all right, for Henry to make James a prisoner; but the accident that placed him in his power was ultimately advantageous to the prince as well as to the nation he was born to govern. He was at that time only ten years of age, but Henry, though he kept him closely confined, took great pains to have him educated in the most thorough manner, and so rapid was the progress that he made in his studies that he soon became a prodigy of erudition, and excelled in every branch of polite accomplishments.
During fifteen years of his captivity, he seemed forgotten or at least neglected by his subjects. The admiration of strangers and the consciousness of his own talents only rendered his situation more irksome, and he had begun to abandon himself to despair, when he was fortunately consoled for his seclusion at Windsor Castle by a passion of which sovereigns in quiet possession of a throne have seldom the good fortune to feel the influence. The object of his admiration was the lady Jane Beaufort, (daughter of John Beaufort, duke of Somerset,) whom he afterwards married, and in whose commendation he composed his principal poetical work, “ The King's Quair." In 1423 he was released, and, taking possession of the throne of his ancestors, he did very much to improve the civilization of his country, by repressing many disorders, and enacting many salutary laws. But his stringent measures
1 Many thanks.
2 Lessened. 8 “Quair," quire, pamphlet, or pook; hence the “King's Quair" means the King's Book. See Ellis's "Specimens," i. 299, Warton's "History of English Poetry,” it. 437, and Park's edition of Walpole's "Royal and Noble Authors.'
of reform were very offensive to a lawless nobility; a conspiracy was formed against him, and he was murdered at Perth, in 1437.
The chief poem of James I., as mentioned above, consists of one hundred and nịnety-seven stanzas. It contains various particulars of his own life; is full of simplicity and feeling, and, as has been correctly said, is superior to any poetry' besides that of Chaucer produced in England before the reign of Elizabeth, -as will be testified by the following stanzas.
ON HIS BELOVED.
The longe dayes and the nightis eke
I would bewail my fortune in this wise;
My custom was on mornis for to rise
Early as day: 0 happy exercise !
Bewailing in my chamber thus alone,
Despaired of all joy and remedy,
And to the window gan I walk in hye,2
To see the world and folk that went forby;
Now was there made, fast by the Touris wall,
A garden fair ;3 and in the corners set
Railed about, and so with treeis set
Was all the place, and hawthorn hedges knet
And on the smalle grene twístis sat
The little sweete nightingale, and sung
Of lovis use, now soft, now loud among,
That all the gardens and the wallis rung
“Worshippe ye that lovers bene this May,
For of your bliss the calends are begun;
2 Haste. 8 The gardens of this period seem to have been very small. In Chancer's "Troilus and Cresseide" we find the same place indifferently called a garden and a yard; and this, at Windsor, fast by the Touris wall, was probably either in the yard or on the terrace.
4 Probably an arbour, though the word is also very frequently used for an nerbary, or garden of simples.
5 Living person. 6 Mr Tytler imagines that this relates to the pairing of the birds; but the word couple seems herm to be used as a musical term.
Come, summer, come! the sweet season and sun!
Awake, for shame! that have your heavens won !1 And amorously lift up your headis all; Thank Love, that list you to his mercy call !'”
When they this song had sung a little throw,
They stent; awhile, and, therewith unafraid As I beheld, and cast mine eyen a-lowe,
From bough to bough they hipped4 and they play'd,
And freshly, in their birdis kind, array'd Their feathers new,
and fret5 them in the sun, And thanked Love that had their makis6 won.
And therewith cast I down mine eye again,
Whereas I saw, walking under the Tower Full secretly, new comyn her to pleyne,7
The fairest, or the freshest younge flower
That ever I saw, methought, before that hour;
And though I stood abased tho a lyte, 9
No wonder was; for why? my wittis all Were so o'ercome with pleasance and delight
Only through letting of mine eyen fall,
That suddenly my heart become her thral]
And eft-soones I lent it forth again: And saw her walk that very womanly,
With no wight molo but only women twain.
Then gan I study in myself, and sayn, "Ah sweet, are ye a worldly créature, Or heavenly thing in likeness of nature ?
“Or are ye god Cupidis own princess,
And comen are to loose me out of band ? Or are ye very Nature the goddess,
That have depainted with your heavenly hand
This garden full of flouris as they stand? What shall I think, alas! what reverence Shall I mesterll [un] to your excellence ?
“ Giff 12 ye a goddess be, and that ye like
To do me pain, I may it not astert:
1 Mr. Tytler explains this as follows: “Ye that have attained your highest bliss, by winning your mates."—See the last line of the next stanza.
2 A little time.
8 Stopped 4 Hopped.
6 Mates. 7 This seums to mean complain; but should it not rather be playen, to play or sport 1 8 Started back. 9 Then a little. 10 More 11 Administer ? 12 If. 18 Make me sigh.