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Through their great mischance and folly,
May nought knaw well the property,P
Then all perquer he suld it wit;
And suld think freedom mair to prise
Than all the gold in warld that is.
It is, he goes on to observe, by its contrary, or opposite,
c Doomed, judged.
d Taking no heed, paying no regard.
f Ah! how cruelly they judged them!
h Both the sense and the metre seem to require that this then (in orig. than) should be transferred to the next line; "they hangit then."
i Also, thus.
1 Makes. m Pleasure. n Yearned for, desired.
The quality, the peculiar state or condition? 4 Coupled, attached. Thraldom. 8
that the true nature of everything is best discovered ;the value and blessing of freedom, for example, are only to be fully felt in slavery; and then the worthy archdeacon, who, although the humorous is not his strongest ground, does not want slyness or a sense of the comic, winds up with a very singular illustration, which, however, is more suited to his own age than to ours, and may be suppressed here without injury to the statement.
But Barbour's design, no doubt, was to effect by means of this light and sportive conclusion an easy and harmonious descent from the height of declamation and passion to which he had been carried in the preceding lines. Throughout his long work he shows, for his time, a very remarkable feeling of the art of poetry, both by the variety which he studies in the disposition and treatment of his subject, and by the rare temperance and self-restraint which prevents him from ever overdoing what he is about either by prosing or raving. Even his patriotism, warm and steady as it is, is wholly without any vulgar narrowness or ferocity: he paints the injuries of his country with distinctness and force, and celebrates the heroism of her champions and deliverers with all admiration and sympathy; but he never runs into either the gasconading exaggerations or the furious depreciatory invectives which would, it might be thought, have better pleased the generality of those for whom he wrote. His understanding was too enlightened, and his heart too large, for that. His poem stands in this respect in striking contrast to that of Harry, the blind minstrel, on the exploits of Wallace, to be afterwards noticed; but each poet suited his hero—Barbour the magnanimous, considerate, and far-seeing
king; Blind Harry, the indomitable popular champion, with his.one passion and principle, hatred of the domination of England, occupying his whole soul and being.
We will now give one of Barbour's portraits-that of Sir James of Douglas, the second figure in his canvas :—
All men lovit him for his bounty! a
A man may yet sufficiand be:
And but f lawty may nane have price,
a Goodness of nature and disposition. Appearance, or rather, perhaps, demeanour, bearing. Great, magnanimous?
• One. The reading seems doubtful.
Loyal, true, faithful. h He deigned (it deigned him). j Contained, held him in ?
His body was weil made and leanie,'
Ector had black hair, as he had;
And wes fulfillit of leauty;
And was curtais, and wise, and wight.
But of manheid and mickle might
Till Ector dar I nane compare
Of all that ever in warldes ware.
The whether, in his time sa wrought he
The only other passage for which we can make room is a short extract from the narrative of the great day of Bannockburn, which occupies altogether about 2000 lines of the poem, or the whole of the eighth and ninth Books of Dr. Jamieson's edition :
There might men see men felly fight;
They faught as they war in a rage;
For, when the Scottis archery
Saw their fayes b sa sturdily
Stand in to battle them again,
With all their might and all their main
These three words seem not to be in the MS., and the
last of them at least may be doubted.
Cheerful, in good spirits. n Speech.
a Acts of valiant service.
They laid on as men out of wit;
And where they with full strak might hit
That they helmes and heades clave.
Met them, and dang on them doughtily
Sa hardy, worthy, and sa fine,
Groaning. P War-cries.
Wholly. Fighting all at once front to front?
• Maintained themselves? t Combination (covenant). "The meaning evidently is, that the van of the English was broken, and left its ground, in spite of the efforts of its own side to support it. ▾ To their great confusion. A place of shelter or refuge. * Who had received?