« VorigeDoorgaan »
1 Pleased : that is, "If thou art a goddess, I cannot resist thy power; but if only a mortal creature, God surely cannot lest or incline you to grieve or give pain to a poor creature that loves you."--Tytler. 2 Inlaid Hike fret-work. 8 A sort of precious stone.
4 Shining. 5 Spangles.
6 “Made in the form of a love-knot or garland."--Tytler. 7 A kind of lily. It is conjectured that the royal poet may here allude covertly to the name of his mistress, which, in the diminutive, was Janet or Jonet.— Thomson's Edition of King's Quhair. Ayr, 1824.
8 The repetition of this word is apparently a mistake of the original transcriber.
And when she walked had a little thraw
Under the sweete greene boughis bent,
She turned has, and furth her wayis went;
But tho began mine aches and torment,
WILLIAM CAXTON. 1413–1491.
O Albion! still thy gratitude confess
Lord I taught by thee, when CAXTON bade
His silent words for ever speak :
The name of William Caxton will ever be held in grateful remembrance by the world of letters, for he it was who introduced the art of printing into England. He was born in the county of Kent in the year 1413, and at the age of fifteen was put as an apprentice to a merchant of London. In consideration of his integrity and good behavior, his master bequeathed him a small sum of money as a capital with which to trade. He was soon chosen by the Mercer's Company to be their agent in Holland and Flanders, in which countries he spent about twenty-three years. While there, the new invention of the art of printing2 was everywhere spoken of; and Caxton, at a great expense of time and labor, and with an industry to which all obstacles will ever give way, made himself complete master of it, as then known. He first employed himself in translating from French into English, The Recuyelll of the Histories of Troye, which was published at Cologne, 1471, and is the first book ever printed in the English language. The next year Caxton returned to England, and in 1474 put forth The Game of Chess, remarkable as being the first book ever printed in England. It was entitled, The Game and Playe of the Chesse: Translated out of the French, and imprynted by William Caxton. Fynyshed the last day of Marche, the yer of our Lord God, a thousand foure hundred, Lcxiij.
1 " It would, perhaps, be dificult to select even from Chaucer's most finished works a long specimen of descriptive poetry so uniformly elegant as this : indeed some of the verses are so highly finished, that they would not disfigure the compositions of Dryden, Pope, or Gray.”—Elis.
2 It is not a little singular that the history of printing, that art which commemorates all other inventions, and which hands down to posterity every important event, is so enveloped in mystery that the ablest minds in Europe have had long and acrimonious disputations respecting the question to what place and to what person the invention is rightfully due. There is not space here to give even an outline of these controversies; I can merely give the result. The two cities which claim the discovery are Haarlem or Haerlem, a city of North Holland, and Mentz, in Germany on the Rhine. The dispute, however, as Mr. Timperley properly observes, has turned rather on words than facts, arising from the different definitions of the word PRINTING. If the honor is to be awarded from the discovery of the principle, it is unquestionably due to Lawrence Coster, of Haarlem, who first found out the method of impressing characters on paper, by means of blocks of carved wood, about 1430. If movable types be considered the criterion, as it seems to me they must, the merit of the invention is due to John Guttenburg, of Mentz, who used them about 1440: while Schoeffer, in conjunction with Faust, was the first who founded types of metal.
From all the arguments and opinions, therefore, which have been adduced in this important controversy, the following conclusion may be satisfactorily drawn. TO JOHN GUTTENBURG, of Mentz, is due the appellation of FATHER OF PRINTING; to PETER SCHOEFFER that of FATHER OP LETTER-FOUNDING; and to JOHN FAUST that of ENERGETIC PATROX, by whose pecuniary aid the wonderful discovery was brought rapidly to perfection.
Caxton was a man who united great modesty and simplicity of character to indefatigable industry. He styled himself “ simple William Caxton.” He printed, in all, about sixty-four different works, a great number of which he translated as well as printed; and those which he did not translate, he often revised and altered; so that, in point of language, they may be considered as his own.
He continued to prepare works for the press to the very close of his life; and though of no brilliancy of talent, he exemplifies, in a remarkable degree, how much good one man may do, of even moderate powers, provided he industriously and faithfully employs all that has been given to him with an eye single to one great object.2
Among other works 3 printed by Caxton were the Chronicles of England, which contained indeed some true history, but much more of romantic fable. As a specimen of the latter, the following may be given upon the
ORIGIN OF THE NAME OF ALBION.
Before that I will speak of Brute, it shall be shewed how the land of England was first named Albion, and by what enchesons it was so named.
Of the noble land of Syria, there was a royal king and mighty, and a man of great renown, that was called Dioclesian, that well and worthily him governed and ruled thro' his noble chivalry; so that he conquered all the lands about him ; so that almost all the kings of the world to him were attendant. It befel thus that this Dioclesian spoused a gentle damsel that was wonder fair, that was his uncle's daughter, Labana. And she loved him as reason would; so that he had by her thirty-three daughters; of the which the eldest was called Albine. And these damsels, when they came unto age, became so fair that it was wonder. Whereof Dioclesian anon let make a summoning, and commanded by his letters, that all the kings that held of him, should come at a certain day, as in his letters were contained, to make a feast royal. At which day, thither they came, and brought with them admirals, princes, and dukes, and noble chivalry. The feast was royally arrayed; and there they lived in joy and mirth enough, that it was wonder to wyte. And it befel thus, that Dioclesian thought to marry his daughters among all those kings that were of that solemnity. And so they spake and did, that Albine, his eldest daughter, and all her sisters, richly were married unto thirty-three kings, that were lords of great honour and of power, at this solemnity. And when the solemnity was done, every king took his wife, and led them into their own country, and there made them queens.
1 Compilation-selection. 2 Read~"Life of Caxton," published by the Society for the Disa fusion of Useful Knowledge. 8 For a full list of his works, see Ames's "Typographical Antiqutties," or "Timperley's History of Printing," page 155. 4 This Brute was the grandson of Æneas and the old chronicles derived the descent of the Britons from the Trojans. 6 Chance.
The story then goes on to relate how these thirty-three wives conspired to kill their husbands, all on the same night, and “anon, as their lords were asleep, they cut all their husbands' throats; and so they slew them all.”
When that Dioclesian, their father, heard of this thing, he became furiously wroth against his daughters, and anon would them all have brente.? But all the barons and lords of Syria counseled not so for to do such straitness to his own daughters ; but only should void the land of them for evermore; so tha they never should come again ; and so he did.
And Dioclesian, that was their father, anon commanded them to go into a ship, and delivered to them victuals for half a year. And when this was done, all the sisters went into the ship, and sailed forth in the sea, and took all their friends to Apolin, that was their God. And so long they sailed in the sea, till at the last they came and arrived in an isle, that was all wilderness. And when dame Albine was come to that land, and all her sisters, this Albine went first forth out of the ship, and said to her other sisters: For as much, (said she,) as I am the eldest sister of all this company, and first this land hath taken ; and for as much as my name is Albine, I will that this land be called Albion, after mine
And anon, all her sisters granted to her with a good will.
WILLIAM DUNBAR. 1465-1530.
WILLIAM DUNBAR is pronounced by Ellis,4 to be “the greatest poet Scot. land has produced.” His writings, however, with scarcely an exception, remained in the obscurity of manuscript, till the beginning of the last century; hut his fame since then has been continually rising. His chief poems are THE THISTLE AND THE Rose, The Dance, and The GOLDEN TERGE. The Thistle and the Rose was occasioned by the marriage of James IV. of Scotland with Margaret Tudor, the eldest daughter of Henry VII. of England, an event in which the whole future political state of both nations was vitally interested, and which ultimately produced the union of the two crowns and kingdoms, in the person of James VI. of Scotland, and I. of England, 1603— 1625. This poem opens with the following stanzas, remarkable for their descriptive and picturesque beauties :
3 Strictness. 4 "Specimens of the Early English Poeta," vol. 1. p. 377: but should he not have excepted Burns and Sir Walter Scott ?
Quhen! Merche wes with variand windis past,
Quhil al the house illumynit of her lemys.12 The Dance of the Seven Deadly Sins through Hell has much merit. On the eve of Lent, a day of general confession, the poet, in a dream, sees a display of heaven and hell. Mahomet, 13 or the devil, commands a dance to be performed by a select party of fiends, and immediately the Seven Deadly Sins appear. The following is a description of Envy:
Next in the dance followit INVY,
Hid malyce and dispyte;
With feynit wordis quhyte.
To ley 19 that had delyte.
Of tham can nevir be quyte !" 22 As a specimen of one of his minor poems take the following, containing inuch wholesome advice:
1 When. Qu has the force of w. 2 Taken leave. 8 Mother. 4 Whose. 5 Looked. 6 Halled. 7 With good will. 8 Lovers. 9 Slumbering.
10 Attire. 11 Forged, made. 12 Brightness. 13 The Christians, in the crusades, were accustomed to hear the Saracens swear by their Prophet Mahomet, who then became, in Europe, another name for the Devil.
14 Enmity. 15 Hatred. 16 Trembled. 17 Dissembling gallant. 18 Backbiters. 19 Lie. 20 Rounders, whispers. To round in the ear, or simply to round, was to whisper in the ear. Falsities.