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"Christis kirk of the green"; an exmination of the poem, and a study of its generic descendents in Scottish… Macaree, David 1960

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"CHRISTIS KIRK OF THE GREEN" An examination of the poem, and a study of i t s generic descendents i n S c o t t i s h vernacular l i t e r a -t u r e from the f i f t e e n t h century to the t w e n t i e t h . by David Macaree M.A., U n i v e r s i t y of Glasgow, 1945 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF M. A. i n the Department of E n g l i s h We accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming to the re q u i r e d standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA A p r i l , I960 In presenting t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements f o r an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r reference and study. I f u r t h e r agree that permission f o r extensive copying of t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department or by h i s repres e n t a t I v e s . I t i s understood that copying or p u b l i c a t i o n of t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be allowed without my w r i t t e n permission. Department of ^4pgy^co>^ The U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, Vancouver Canada. Date A b s t r a c t In t h i s paper, I f i r s t examine the Middle Scots poem, " C h r i s t i s K i r k of the Green" ( r e f e r r e d to as " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " ) , and then study the poems i n the S c o t t i s h vernacular which have been i n f l u e n c e d by i t . " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " , which may have been composed i n the f i f t e e n t h century, has popular merry-making f o r i t s theme, and i t s c r e a t o r has used a d i s t i n c t i v e s t a n z a i c form i n h i s d e p i c t i o n of the s i g h t s of a r u r a l f a i r . In my i n v e s t i g a t i o n , I have considered f i r s t the s t r u c t u r a l and thematic antecedents of " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " . My next step has been to examine i t s b i b l i o g r a p h i c a l and l i t e r a r y h i s t o r y . There a f t e r , I have st u d i e d other poems of the same genre composed before the year 1560: " P e b l i s to the Play", "Sym and h i s b r u d i r " , and "The J u s t i n g and Debait at the Drum". The employ-ment of the " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " stanza — or a modified form thereof — f o r s a t i r i c a l accounts of s o c i a l gatherings i n eighteenth-century Scotland i s the theme of Chapter 5, and i t s use by a modern poet d e s c r i b i n g the Edinburgh I n t e r n a t i o n a l F e s t i v a l i s examined i n the f i n a l chapter of t h i s t h e s i s . By a study of these poems, drawn from f i v e c e n t u r i e s of S c o t t i s h vernacular l i t e r a t u r e , I have demonstrated th a t the t r a d i t i o n e s t a b l i s h e d by " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " has contined to be u s e f u l up to the t w e n t i e t h century as one l i t e r a r y method of c h r o n i c l i n g , i n a s a t i r i c f a s h i o n , the a c t i o n s of people at popular gatherings. t i i i TABLE OF CONTENTS pages I I n t r o d u c t i o n 1 I I The Antecedents of " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " 19 I I I A C r i t i c a l and Textual Examination of " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " . . 38 IV The " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " genre i n l a t e ' M i d d l e Scots Poetry.. 58 V Eighteenth-Century Vernacular Poetry i n the " C h r i s t ' s . . 73 K i r k " T r a d i t i o n VI The " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " T r a d i t i o n i n the S c o t t i s h Renaissance 115 V I I Appendices: I L i f e and Background of Robert Fergusson 125 I I Text of "Embro to the p l o y " . 128 V I I I B i b l i o g r a p h y 131 y i i v Acknowledgment I wish to make g r a t e f u l acknowledgment to Mr, R.G. Sutherland (Robert Garioch) f o r supplying a t y p e s c r i p t copy of "Embro to the ploy", and f o r h i s permission to quote, i n extenso, from the poem. CHAPTER I Introduction In the year 156$, George Bannatyne, an Edinburgh merchant, coll e c t e d , w i t h i n one manuscript volume, a l l the poems i n Middle Scots that he could f i n d . One of the pieces that he trans-cribed into his anthology was " C h r i s t i s Kirk of the Green", which, i n hi s version, runs as follows: 1 Was never i n Scotland heard nor seen s i c dancing nor deray, Neither at Falkland on the green, Nor Peblis at the play, As wes of wooeris as I ween At Christ K i r k on ane day; There came our k i t t i e s waschen clean In t h e i r new k i r t i l l i s of grey, F u l l gay, At C h r i s t i s Kirk of the green. 10 2 To dance t h i r damosellis them dicht, Thir lasses l i c h t of l a i t i s , Their glovis was of the r a f f e l r i c h t , Weil prest with mony p l a i t i s ; They were so nice when men them nicht, They squealit l i k e ony g a i t i s , So loud At C h r i s t i s Kirk of the green, that day. 20 3 Of a l l t h i r maidens mild as mead Was nane so jimp as G i l l i e ; As ony rose her rude was r e i d , Her l y r e was l i k e the l i l y ; Fu' yellow, yellow was her heid, But scho of luve was s i l l y , Thoch a l l her k i n had sworn her dede, Scho wald h a i f bot sweet W i l l i e Alone, At C h r i s t i s Kirk of the green. 30 4 Scho scornit Jock and s k r a i p i t at him, And murionit him with mockis; He wald h a i f l u v i t , scho wald nocht l a t him, For a l l h i s yellow l o c k i s ; He chereist her, scho bade gae chat him, 2 Scho compt him nocht twa c l o c k i s ; So shamefully his short gown set him, His limbis was l i k e twa rokkis, Scho said, At C h r i s t i s Kirk of the green. 40 5 Tom Lular was t h e i r minstrel meet, 0 Lord! as he cou'd lance; He p l a y i t so s h i l l and sang so sweet, W h i l l Towsy tuk a trance. Auld Lichtfute there he did f o r l e i t , And counterfutit France; He use himself as man discreet And up took morice dance, F u l l loud, At C h r i s t i s K i r k of the green. 50 6 Than Stevin come steppand i n with stendis; No rin k micht him arrest, Platfute he bobbit up with bendis, For Maid he made request, He lap w h i l l he lay on his l e n d i s , But risand he was p r e i s t , W h i l l that he h o s t i t at baith th'endis For honour of the feast That day, At C h r i s t i s Kirk of the green. 60 7 Syne Robene Roy begouth to r e v e l , And Dwiny t i l l him druggit; "Lat be, "quo* Jock; and ca'd him j a v e l l , And be the t a i l him t u g g i t . The kensy c l e i k i t to the c a v e l l , But Lord! than g i f they l u g g i t l They p a i r t i t h i r manly with a ne v e l l ; God wait g i f hair was ruggit Betuix them, At C h r i s t i s Kirk of the green. 70 & Ane bent a bow, s i c s t u r t coud s t e i r him; Great scaith was't to haif scar'd him; He chesit a f l a n as did a f f e i r him; The tother s a i d : "Dirdum dardum." Throuch baith the cheeks he thocht to cheir him, Or throw the erse hai f char's him; Bot be ane acrebraid i t come nocht near him, 1 can nocht t e l l what marr'd him, There, At C h r i s t i s Kirk of the green. 80 3 9 With that a fr i e n d of his c r i e d , " F y i " And up ane arrow drew; He f o r g i t i t so f u r i o u s l y The bow i n f l i n d e r s flew; So was the w i l l of God trow I, For had the tree been true, Men said, that kend his archery, That he had s l a i n anew That day, At C h r i s t i s Kirk of the green. 90 10 Ane hasty hensure c a l l i t Harry, Wha was ane archer heynd, T i l t up a tackle withouttin t a r r y , . That torment so him teen'd. I wait nocht whiddir his hand coud vary Or the man was his f r i e n d , For he escapit throw michtis of Mary As man that no i l l meant, But gude, At C h r i s t i s Kirk of the green. 100 11 Than Lowrie as ane lyon lap, And sune a f l a n coud fed d i r , He hecht to pierce him at the pap Thereon to wad a weddir. He h i t him on the wame a wap, I t buft l i k e ony bledder; But swa his fortoun was and hap His doublet was of ledder, And saved him, At C h r i s t i s Kirk of the green. 110 12 A yaip young man that stude him neist Loused off a shot with i r e ; He e t t l e d the bern i n at the b r e i s t , The bolt flew owre the byre; Ane c r y i t Fyi he had s l a i n a p r i e s t A mile beyond the mire; Then bow and bag f r a him he kest, And f l e d as f i e r c e as f i r e Off f l i n t , At C h r i s t i s Kirk of the green. 120 13 With f o r k i s and f l a i l i s they l a t great f l a p p i s , And flung togidder l i k e f r e i k i s ; With bowgaris of barnes they beft blue cappis, W h i l l they of bernis made b r i g g i s . The r e i r d r a i s e rudely with the rappis, When rungis was l a i d on r i g g i s ; The w i f i s come furth with c r y i s and clappis: 4 "Lo where my l i k i n g l i g g i s . " QuoT they At C h r i s t i s Kirk of the green. 130 14 They g i r n i t and l a t g i r d with granis, I l k gossip other g r e i v i t ; Some s t r a i k with s t i n g i s , some gaderit Some f l e d and e v i l mischievit; The minstrel wan within twa wanis; That day f u l l w e l l he p r i e v i t , For he came home with unbirsed banis When fech t a r i s were mischievit For ever At C h r i s t i s Kirk of the green. 15 Heich Hucheon, with a hazel ryss, To red can throw them rummil; He mudlet them down l i k e ony mice, He was no barty-bummil. Thoch he was wicht he was nocht wise With s i c j a n g l e r i s to jummill, For f r a his thumb they dang a s l i c e , W h i l l he c r i e d : "Barla-fummillI I am s l a i n , " At C h r i s t i s Kirk of the green. 150 16 When that he saw his blude so r e i d , To f l e e micht no man l a t him; He ween'd i t been for auld done f e i d , The f a r sa i r e r i t set him. He gart his feet defend his heid, He thocht ane c r i e d , Haif at him," W h i l l he was past out of a l l plead; He suld be swift that gat him Throw speed, At C h r i s t i s Kirk of the green. 160 17 The town souter i n g r i e f was bowdin, His wife hang i n his waist; His body was with blude a l l browdin, He granit l i k e ony g a i s t . Her g l i t t e r a n d h a i r , that was f u l l golden, So hard i n lufe him l e s t , That f o r her sake he was nocht yolden, Seven mile w h i l l he was chas'd And mair, At C h r i s t i s Kirk of the green. ^70 IB The m i l l e r was of manly mak; To meet him was na mowis; There durst nocht ten come him to tak, stan i s , 140 5 Sa nowit he t h e i r nowis. The bushment h a i l l about him brak And b i c k e r i t him with bowis, Syne t r a i t o r l y behind his back They hewit him on the howis Behind, At C h r i s t i s Kirk of the green. igo 19 Twa that was heidmen of the herd Han upon otheris l i k e rammis; Than f o l l o w i t feymen r i c h t onafear'd Bet on with barrow trammis, Bot where t h e i r gobbis was ungeird They gat upon the gammis, Wh i l l bludy b e r k i t was t h e i r beard As they had w i r r e i t lambis, Maist l i k e At C h r i s t i s Kirk of the green. 190 20 The w i f i s kest up ane hideous y e l l When a l l t h i r yunkeris y o k i t ; As f i e r c e as ony f i r e - f l a u c h t f e l l , F r e i k i s to the f i e l d they f l o c k i t ; Thae carles with clubbis coud other q u e l l , W h i l l blude at b r e i s t i s out bockit. So rudely rang the common b e l l , W h i l l a l l the steeple r o c k i t For r e i r d , At C h r i s t i s Kirk of the green. 200 21 When they had b i r k i t l i k e b a i t i t b u l l i s And branewood brunt i n b a a l i s , They were as meek as ony mulis That mangit are with m a i l i s . For faintness thae forfochten f u l i s F e l l down l i k e f l a u c h t e r - f l a i l i s , And fresh men come i n and held t h e i r d u l i s And dang them doun i n d a i l i s Be-dene, At C h r i s t i s Kirk of the green. 210 22 When a l l was done, Dick with ane a i x Come f o r t h to f e l l a fidder; Quod he; "Where are yon hangit smaix Richt now wald s l a i n my broder?" His wife bade him: "Ga hame, gab-glaikis," And sa did Meg h i s moder. He turned and gaif them baith t h e i r p a i k i s , For he durst ding nane other, 6 For f e a r , At C h r i s t i s K i r k of the green that day. 1 220 This poem i s worthy of more a t t e n t i o n than has been paid to i t by l i t e r a r y h i s t o r i a n s . As a d e s c r i p t i o n of events at a r u r a l f a i r i n Pre-Reformation Scotland, i t i s not only a l i v e l y and s k i l f u l work w i t h i n a medieval t r a d i t i o n already es-t a b l i s h e d , the c e l e b r a t i o n of communal merry-making, but i t s own successs seems to have made of i t a genre piece whose i n f l u e n c e was to p e r s i s t through l a t e r S c o t t i s h poetry down to the pres-ent day. In l a t e r poems of t h i s genre, as i n " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " i t s e l f , i s an a l l - s e e i n g r e p o r t w h o records, without m o r a l i s -i n g , the i n c i d e n t s of a segment of the human comedy, adopting a tone that i s both humorous and l i g h t l y s a t i r i c a l . In the best poems of the type he i s c l o s e enough to the p r o t a g o n i s t s to • l e a r n t h e i r names, and s u f f i c i e n t l y acquainted w i t h t h e i r back-ground to understand the reasons f o r t h e i r a c t i o n s . Apart from the n a r r a t o r , the poems of which C h r i s t ' s K i r k i s the prototype, have — w i t h minor v a r i a t i o n s — a common st a n z a i c form, though l a t e r poets dispensed w i t h the a l l i t e r a t i o n , and employed rhyme only.' I t would be pleasant to know more of the l i t e r a r y h i s t o r y of t h i s poem before Bannatyne copied i t i n t o h i s manuscript. C o l l a t i o n of h i s v e r s i o n w i t h that contained i n the M a i t l a n d 2 F o l i o MS. revea.ls enough d i s c r e p a n c i e s to suggest the existence %.T. R i t c h i e , ed., Bannatyne MS., Edinburgh, 1928, vol.2^ pp. 262-265. 2¥.A. Craigie", ed., M a i t l a n d F o l i o MS., Edinburgh 1913-26. 2 v o l s . 7 of at least two versions of e a r l i e r date. These, however, have disappeared, and i n the attempt to f i x the a t t r i b u t i o n of the poem, or even to date i t with any certainty, we are faced with a s i t u a t i o n analogous to that described by Hardin Craig i n his study of the mediaeval r e l i g i o u s drama i n England: The remains of t h i s drama l e f t us by the Renaissance and the Reformation remind one of the undestroyed parts of a badly bombed c i t y of which a few f i n e buildings have been spared; also a few ordinary structures and a number of s t i l l valuable fragments.3 Similar, probably worse, devastation confronts the student of the older Scottish l i t e r a t u r e , for the C a l v i n i s t Reformation i n Scotland proved h o s t i l e not to drama only, but to almost every form of secular l i t e r a t u r e . During the l a t t e r part of the sixteenth and the whole of the seventeenth century, while l i t e r a t u r e i n England was f l o u r i s h i n g , the voice of Scotland's muse was p r a c t i c a l l y s i l e n t . The Reformation sealed the fate of the old school of Scottish verse, which perished, or a l l but perished,in i t s prime; and t h i s f a t e , however undeserved „ was exacerbated by the neglect into which the e a r l i e r poets and t h e i r works f e l l during the seventeenth century. That century was disastrous f o r Scottish vernacular l i t e r a t u r e ; the paucity of printed editions at i t s beginning meant that works of the e a r l i e r periods existed mainly i n the form of manuscripts; and during the wars, c i v i l and r e l i g i o u s , which racked the country, many of these were l o s t or suffered irreparable dam-3 English Religious Drama. Oxford, 1 9 5 5 , p. 152 4 age. The removal of the Scottish Court to London i n 1603 gave Southern English an advantage over the northern tongue, which, when i t emerged from obscurity at the st a r t of the eighteenth century, had changed almost out of recognition. In the words of Pinkerton, f i r s t editor of the Maitland F o l i o MS., the seventeenth century — that dark age i n Scottish history — "threw a t o t a l night over Scotland; a night of Gothic darkness haunted by the most shocking spectres of frenzy and fanaticism ... so that the century which stands highest i n English history and genius, i s one of the darkest i n those of Scotland, and during i t Scottish language and l i t e r a t u r e suffered permanent impoverishment. I t i s symptomatic of the desuetude into which written Middle Scots had f a l l e n that the r e v i v a l of interest i n i t which began at the end of the seventeenth century, and became of increasing moment i n the eighteenth, should have been, i n i t s inception, as much etymological as l i t e r a r y . The compiler of a bibliography of Middle Scots poets has t h i s to say on the subject: The r e v i v a l of Scots at the end of the seventeenth century i s the r e s u l t of many forces. In one aspect i t i s but a part of a much wider movement, a renaissance of Old English and the Older Tautonic languages i n general. The f i r s t traces of a serious study of Scots are of t h i s phase .... In 1691 an Old English student, Edmund Gibson, published an edit i o n of Polemo-Middinia, to which he added a version of "Christ's K i r k " as a "sort of exercise towards a study of Anglo-Saxon," ^ Craigie, op_. c i t . , v o l . 2, p. 13. ^ 9 These pieces he elucidated i n copious notes, pointing out cognate words i n Gothic, Cambrian, Icelandic, Old English, and the English d i a l e c t s .... Gibson may claim to be the f i r s t to treat a Scottish poem as a c l a s s i c . . . . but he does not so much i l l u s t r a t e the text by means of notes as make i t an excuse f o r bringing his notes together.5 Even when the r e v i v a l had assumed a d i s t i n c t l y l i t e r a r y form, eighteenth-century editors, A l l a n Ramsay for one, f e l t the necessity f o r supplying a glossary, or even for t r a n s l a t i n g obsolete words and phrases into terms that would be recognised by t h e i r contemporaries. Changes i n d i c t i o n had been accom-panied by changes i n the quantity of vowel sounds that often led Ramsay astray i n the attempt "to f i x the orthography to the most frequent manner," one of the stated objectives of the Evergreen, his e d i t i o n of selections from the Bannatyne MS. A reading of the preface and a perusal of the copious explanatory notes lead one to the conclusion that Ramsay f e l t he was deal-ing with poetry whose appeal was mainly antiquarian. In t h i s assumption he could hardly have been further from the mark, f o r the recovery of fragments of Middle Scots poetry i n the popular t r a d i t i o n was but the prelude to an outburst of national verse associated with Fergusson and Burns. These two poets drew t h e i r i n s p i r a t i o n from poems i n the popular t r a d i t i o n that had existed along with the strong 5 ?W.A. Geddie, Bibliography of Middle Scots Poets, Edinburgh, 1910, Introduction, p. l i i i . _^ A. Ramsay, The Ever-green, Glasgow, 1824./"first published 1724_/» v o 1 . !» P«2« Chaucerian s t r a i n evident i n the c o u r t l y verse of the f i f t e e n t h and e a r l y s i x t e e n t h century. Both Fergusson and Burns owned t h e i r debt to Ramsay, who, by making a v a i l a b l e examples of the n a t i v e h a b i t of S c o t t i s h verse, provided them w i t h t h e i r m a t e r i a l s . Of the body of poetr}r t h a t Ramsay t r a n s m i t t e d , a modern c r i t i c has w r i t t e n : The n a t i v e element that had i t s f u l l e s t expression i n these poets was always a c t i v e and i t had c o - e x i s t e d w i t h verse t h a t had been a f f e c t e d by f o r e i g n models. Even the c o u r t l y poets were a f f e c t e d by the popular ha b i t • • • ^ As an example of a c o u r t l y poet a f f e c t e d by the n a t i v e idiom, we may c i t e W i l l i a m Dunbar, i n whose work there i s a f u s i o n of two d i s t i n c t v o c a b u l a r i e s -- aureate d i c t i o n , ornamented w i t h French and L a t i n -- and the broadest of broad Scots. While one of these s t y l e s predominates i n i n d i v i d u a l poems, depending on whether they were c o u r t l y , or s a t i r i c and abusive, he was always ready to use the other i f i t s u i t e d h i s d purpose. In "The Tua M a r i i t Wemen and the Wedo", f o r example, the two c a t e g o r i e s of vocabulary are found i n close j u x t a -p o s i t i o n . On the s e t t i n g , he has l a v i s h e d a l l the b r i g h t c o l o u r , ornament, and "anamalit termes c e l i c a l l " of the grand s t y l e : G,G. Smith, "The Middle Scots Anthologies," Cambridge  H i s t o r y of E n g l i s h L i t e r a t u r e , ed. A.W. Ward and others, Cambridge, 1932-33, v o l . 2, p. 267. ^William"Dunbar, Poems, ed. A.M. Mackenzie, Edinburgh, 1932, pp. 85-97 . 11 Apon the Midsummer e v i n , m i r r i e s t of n i c h t i s , I muvit f u r t h a l l a n e , n e i r as midnicht west past, Besyd ane g u d l i e g r e i n g a r t h , f u l l of gay f l o u r i s , Hegeit, of ane huge h i c h t , w i t h hawthorne t r e i s ; Quhairon ane b i r d , on ane bransche, so b i r s t out h i r n o t i s That never ane b l y t h f u l l e r b i r d was on the beuche harde: Quhat throw the sugarat sound of h i r sang gl a d , And throw the savour sanative of the s u e i t f l o u r i s , I drew i n derne to the dyk to d i r k i n e f t e r m i r t h i s ; The dew donkit the d a i l l and dynnit the f e u l i s . 1-10 In t h i s s e t t i n g , the c o l l o q u i a l Scots of the three l a d i e s a s s a i l s the ear w i t h i t s harshness. One married woman, f o r in s t a n c e , describes her husband i n the f o l l o w i n g terms of gross i n v e c t i v e : I have a w a l l i d r a g , a worm, an auld wobat c a r l e , A w a i s t i t wolroun, not worth words to c l a t t e r , A bumbart, a drone bee, a bag f u l l of flewme, 89-91 In l i k e manner, S i r David Lindsay could t u r n from the c o u r t l y mode of "The testament and Complaynt of our Soverane L o r d i s Papyngo" to the rough humour of "The J u s t i n g B e t u i x James Watson and Jhone Barbour"; and Alexander S c o t t , ( h i s near contemporary,) was s i m i l a r l y capable of t u r n i n g from the penning of d a i n t y love l3Tics, based on E n g l i s h o r i g i n a l s , to the vernacular of h i s "Jou s t i n g and Debait at the Drum". By the same token, _ / ~ ~ i f we accept the cl a i m to the author-ship of " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " t h a t has been put forward on h i s be-half_7 James I (1425-37) must al s o be e n r o l l e d i n the l i s t of those who have enriched the n a t i v e t r a d i t i o n . That he had l i t e r -ary a b i l i t y has been a t t e s t e d by contemporary c h r o n i c l e r s , and though h i s authorship of the K i n g i s Quhair has been c a l l e d i n 12 question, his t i t l e to that work rests on f a i r l y sure foundations. James, however, spent eighteen years as a prisoner i n England, where he came under the influence of the Chaucerian t r a d i t i o n , and the Kingis Quhair i s European rather than Scottish i n out-look. I f , indeed, proof of his authorship of poems i n the Scottish vernacular t r a d i t i o n could be confirmed, i t would supply even stronger evidence of the strength of the native i n -fluence on the courtly poets, but on t h i s point no conclusive evidence has been forthcoming. As a r e s u l t , there have existed, and s t i l l e x i s t , wide differences of opinion among editors and l i t e r a r y h i s t o r i a n s . Though such differences are not surprising i n view of our fragmentary knowledge of Middle Scots poetry and i t s authors, they have led to editors following t h e i r own predilections i n the a s c r i p t i o n of the poem, and have caused endless arguments among c r i t i c s — arguments the more vociferous f or the lack of any r e a l proof. Supporters of the theory that James I was the author have pointed out that "Christ's K i r k " i s assigned to him o in the Bannatyne MS.7 They have c i t e d , also, a reference by John Major"^ to James as the composer of some pieces of verse i n the vernacular, i n p a r t i c u l a r of a poem beginning "At Beltayn". ^ R i t c h i e , op_. c i t . , v o l . 2, p. 265. History of Greater B r i t a i n , ed. and trans. A. Constable, Edinburgh, 1892, p. 366. 13 Since these are the opening words of "Peblis to the Play", companion piece to "Christ's K i r k " , they have argued that the king was responsible for both. Opponents, on the other hand, have suggested that the lateness of Major's testimony (1521), and the silence of the one contemporary history of the reign of James, Walter Bower's Scotichronicon, lessen the value of the sixteenth century historian's statement. They have pointed out that Bannatyne made mistakes i n his a s c r i p t i o n of other poems, and that Maitland gave the text of both "Peblis to the Play" and "Christ's K i r k " with no a s c r i p t i o n . They have remarked, too, that Edmund Gibson, i n his e d i t i o n of 1691,gave the poem to James V (1513-42), though doubt i s implied i n his a s c r i p t i o n , which runs as follows: "Composed (as was supposed) by King James V."Gibson could not have had access to the Bannatyne MS., and though i t i s just possible that he used the Maitland F o l i o MS., which was by that time i n the l i b r a r y of Samuel Pepys, i t seems more l i k e l y that he based his text on an edition of "Christ's K i r k " that had appeared i n 1684. Whether Gibson obtained h i s information from his source (no copies of the text of 166*4 apparently having survived), or from o r a l t r a d i t i o n i s not known. In any case the same dubious asc r i p t i o n was given by James Watson i n the f i r s t e d ition of his Choice C o l l e c t i o n of Cited i n Geddie, op_. c i t . , p. 96. 14 12 comic and serious Scots Poems both ancient and modern. which appeared i n 17Q6. Watson, however, having learned of the existence of the Bannatyne MS. and of the a s c r i p t i o n therein, credited James I with the authorship of the poem i n the second edit i o n of his anthology, published i n 1713. Since that time editors have shown a f i n e i m p a r t i a l i t y i n the matter, some a t t r i b u t i n g the poem to James I,others to James V, others again, taking the l i n e of least resistance, to some anonymous Middle Scots poet. Indeed i t i s easy to sympathise with the l a s t , f o r , on the basis of the correspondence between certain l i n e s i n "Christ's K i r k " and those penned by Lindsay i n the "Justing 13 Betuix James Watson and Jhone Barbour", a case might be made out f o r his authorship of the former poem. The s i m i l a r i t y of the l i n e s i s too close to allow f o r accidental resemblance; Lindsay's poem contains.- the following l i n e s : Quod Jhone, "Howbeit thou t h i n k i s my leggis lyk ro k k i s . (27) Y i t thocht thy braunis be lyk twa barrow-trammis, Defend the, manI" Than ran thay to, lyk rammis. (33-34) Edinburgh, 1706. London, B r i t i s h Museum Microfilm. 1 ^ S i r David Lindsay, Poems, ed. Douglas Hamer, Edinburgh, 1930 v o l . 1, pp.114-116. "Christ's K i r k " has: His lymmis were lyk twa rokkis, Ran upoun otheris lyk rammis; Bet on with barrow trammis, y 15 There i s , however, some s l i g h t l i n g u i s t i c evidence that "Christ's K i r k " was composed during the f i f t e e n t h century, i n which case Lindsay must have been the borrower rather than the o r i g i n a t o r . L i n g u i s t i c grounds for assigning "Christ's K i r k " to the f i f t e e n t h century are the use of the i n d e f i n i t e a r t i c l e , "a", before consonants. The f i r s t recorded use of "ane" before a consonant was i n 1462,"^ and t h i s usage did not estab l i s h i t s e l f u n t i l the beginning of the sixteenth century, from which time i t became uniform i n Middle Scots. When Bannatyne trans-cribed "Christ's Kirk", the sixteenth century was w e l l advanced, yet "a" occurs eight times before consonants i n the manuscript, while "ane" i s found only four times. The implication from t h i s i s that Bannatyne was copying from a text i n which "a" was used, and sometimes changed i t for "ane", but more often l e f t i t as i t was. The many references to bowmen and t h e i r weapons, too, would have t o p i c a l s i g n i f i c a n c e , i f "Christ's K i r k " was composed i n the f i f t e e n t h century. In the course of that century, the Parliament of Scotland, on at least four occasions, enacted l e g i s l a t i o n on the subject of archery practice and."wapinschaws", or p e r i o d i c a l musters of able-bodied men with t h e i r weapons. The most detailed of these acts was passed i n 1458; i t dealt with the number of musters to be held during the year, and l a i d down standards for target practice. It may w e l l be, therefore, ^ S i r W.A. Craigie, ed., A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue, Chicago, 1937, v o l . 1, p.78. that the poem was composed at some time between I46O and 1500, though the dating i s necessarily t e n t a t i v e . Such a dating would of course exclude James I's claim to the authorship of "Christ's Kirk", but, to my mind, a stronger reason f o r denying t h i s i s the brevity of his residence i n Scotland i n comparison with his years i n England during youth and early manhood. Though i t i s annoying to know so l i t t l e that i s d e f i n i t e of the background of a poem whose humorous treatment of communal h i g h - s p i r i t s , i n a d i s t i n c t i v e stanzaic form, has been the exemplar f o r a s i g n i f i c a n t body of verse over a period of f i v e centuries, the uncertainty that exists i n regard to "Christ's K i r k " i s by no means unique. Of the three other examples of the form produced by the middle of the sixteenth century, only one, Alexander Scott's "Jousting and Debait at the Drum", can be attributed with any exactitude, f o r , i n the cases of "Peblis to the Play" and "Sym and his brudir", d i f f i c u l t i e s e x i s t , equal to, or exceeding, those that faced us i n the attempt to f i n d an author or an approximate date of composition for "Christ's K i r k " No such problems confront us i n the study of poems i n t h i s t r a d i t i o n written i n the eighteenth century. A l l a n Ramsay not only reprinted "Christ's Kirk", but added two cantos of his own to the o r i g i n a l . Other poets, notably Robert Fergusson and Robert Burns, who used verse forms drawn from popular vernacular verse i n Middle Scots, were, as a r e s u l t , able to add the "Christ's K i r k " stanza to the other metrical patterns which they 17 employed. Alexander Montgomerie's "Cherry and the Slae" provided a stave suitable f o r the description of nature; the s i x - l i n e stanza i n rime-couee gave a vehicle for rhymed e p i s t l e s , addresses to i n d i v i d u a l s , to creatures of the countryside, and to natural ob-j e c t s . In the same form Fergusson and Burns wrote s a t i r e s and " f l y t i n g s " f u l l of invective, " f l y t i n g s " that Dunbar, himself a master of the type, would have enjoyed. In "Christ's K i r k " they found a form used for the description of robust and unrestrained merry-making, and t h i s depiction of the hurly-burly of a v i l l a g e f e s t i v a l they employed as the foundation for t h e i r own humorous poems on popular gatherings i n a contemporary s e t t i n g . Fergusson used the stave i n dealing -with a f a i r , a race-meeting, and a c i v i c e l e c t i o n . Burns, ranging more widely, employed i t f o r such diverse subjects as a Hallowe'en party, two e c c l e s i a s t i c a l assemblies, an outspoken s a t i r e on King George I I I , and one r e c i t -ative of the " J o l l y Beggars." But the use by Ramsay, Fergusson, and Burns of "Christ's K i r k " as a model went far beyond a mere echoing of i t s stanzaic form, and, just as the early poem i s " d i f f i c u l t to c l a s s i f y according to the t r a d i t i o n a l scheme of types — l y r i c , s a t i r e , allegory merging into each other i n a perplexing way,"1-5 so, i n t h e i r poems, do we f i n d a l i k e confluence. The form, moreover, has survived the decline i n Scottish vernacular verse that followed the death of Burns, and i t has been used by 1 5Smith, op_. c i t . , p.270. IS I -R.G. Sutherland ("Robert Garioch"), one of the modern poets who uses Lallans, i n "Embro to the Ploy," whose theme i s the behaviour of the cosmopolitan crowd assembled i n Edinburgh for the annual f e s t i v a l of the a r t s . Since "Christ's K i r k " has given both i t s stanzaic form and i t s d i s t i n c t i v e treatment of scenes of communal revelry to such a l i n e of successors, representing almost every subse-quent period of Scottish vernacular l i t e r a r y a c t i v i t y , there seems to be j u s t i f i c a t i o n f o r subjecting i t , and other s i m i l a r poems, to detailed examination. I propose, therefore, to consider i t s antecedents, metrical and thematic; then to discuss the poem i t s e l f from the point of view of the subject and i t s treatment; next to devote space to an examination of early works of the same type within the c r i t i c a l framework thus established. Later sections of t h i s thesis w i l l deal with the renewal of interest i n the form which took place during the eighteenth century, and with i t s employment by a poet of the twentieth c entury. 19 Chapter I I The Antecedents of " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " In c o n s i d e r i n g p o s s i b l e sources from which the author of " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " drew, i t i s necessary to r e c a l l t h a t the poem i s i n the t r a d i t i o n of popular S c o t t i s h verse. Nowhere i s t h i s t r a d i t i o n b e t t e r expressed than i n the S c o t t i s h b a l l a d s which i t resembles i n the r a p i d movement from scene to scene and i n the i n t r o d u c t i o n by name of characters who play t h e i r p a r t , and are then rep l a c e d , q u i t e unceremoniously, by ot h e r s . In st a n z a i c form, and i n the use of a l l i t e r a t i o n as w e l l as rhyme, the poem has l i n k s w i t h the a l l i t e r a t i v e poetry of Northern England and Southern Scotland. This poetry found i t s expression mainly i n romances, but i t was al s o present i n medieval r e l i g i o u s drama, p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the Towneley Plays which were as s o c i a t e d w i t h Wakefield i n Y o r k s h i r e . I t i s to the b a l l a d s then, and to a l l i t e r a t i v e verse that we t u r n i n searching out the ancestry of " C h r i s t ' s K i r k . " I f we accept the d e f i n i t i o n of a b a l l a d as, "A folk - s o n g that t e l l s a s t o r y w i t h s t r e s s on the c r u c i a l s i t u a t i o n , t e l l s i t by l e t t i n g the a c t i o n u n f o l d i t s e l f i n a c t i o n and speech, and t e l l s i t o b j e c t i v e l y w i t h l i t t l e comment or i n t r u s i o n of personal bias,""*"^ we can see the resemblance to " C h r i s t ' s Kirk." 1 0G.H. Gerould, The B a l l a d of T r a d i t i o n , Oxford, 1932,, p. 11. y 20 In i t , the q u a r r e l i s rendered i n dialogue, and once the oppos-ing f o r c e s t u r n from high words to blows our a t t e n t i o n i s kept focussed on the i n c i d e n t s of the f i g h t . Though S c o t t i s h b a l l a d r y had i t s golden age between 1450 and 1600, there i s no doubt th a t a s i g n i f i c a n t number of E n g l i s h and S c o t t i s h b a l l a d s were i n c i r c u l a t i o n e a r l i e r . The E n g l i s h b a l l a d , "Judas", i s found i n a manuscript of the l a t e t h i r t e e n t h century, and the p o p u l a r i t y of Robin Hood b a l l a d s i s mentioned by Andrew of W.yntoun i n h i s O r i g i n a l C h r o n i c l e (1421). I t i s probable, too, that b a l l a d s d e a l i n g w i t h such h i s t o r i c a l events as the b a t t l e s of Otterburn (13$$) and Harlaw (1411) were a l -ready current when " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " was composed. C e r t a i n l y , i f we exclude the bob and wheel, there i s a resemblance to the b a l l a d stanza i n the " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " stave, w i t h i t s f o u r - and t h r e e - s t r e s s l i n e s rhyming a l t e r n a t e l y . Though the a l l i t e r a t i o n that i s a f e a t u r e of the poem under examination i s normally l e s s evident i n the b a l l a d s , two b a l l a d quatrains placed together would show a strong s i m i l -a r i t y to the eight rhyming l i n e s of a verse from " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " , as may be seen from a comparison of stanzas from " L i t t l e Geste of Robin Hood" 1 7 and "Chevy The Oxford Book of B a l l a d s , ed. Arthur Q u i l l e r - C o u c h , Oxford, 1932 /£• copyright 1919_J*. Chase" with: A yaip young man that stude him neist Loused o f f a shot with i r e ; He e t t l i t the bern i n at the b r e i s t , The bolt flew owre the byre; Ane c r y i t Fyl he had s l a i n a priest A mile beyond the mire; Then bow and bag f r a him he kest, And f l e d as f i e r c e as f i r e . (111-118) In "A L i t t l e Geste of Robin Hood" we f i n d : Lithe and l i s t e n , Gentlemen That be of free-born blood; I s h a l l you t e l l of a good yeoman, His name was Robin Hood. Robin was a bold outlaw, The while he walked on ground; So courteous an outlaw as he was one Was never none y-found. (1-8) "Chevy Chase" provides: At l a s t the Douglas and the Percy met, Like to captains of might and main; They swapt together t i l l they both swat With swordes of fine Milan. These worthy freykes for to f i g h t Thereto they were f u l l f a i n , T i l l the blood out of t h e i r basnets sprent As ever did h a i l or r a i n . (113-120) Since the bal l a d form flourished i n many parts of Europe those based on f o l k t a l e s were often variants of common storie s One example, the t a l e of the noblewoman who l e f t her castle to wander with her gipsy lover, was known to ballad makers i n many lands. Another, the Scottish ballad of "Thomas the Rhymer", traced i t s descent from the romance, S i r Orfeo. and thence back to Greek mythology. Yet a t h i r d , " S i r Hugh Le Blond", was a I b i d . , pp. 664-674 22 fragment of Arthurian romance whose source lay beyond the boundaries of Scotland. Nevertheless, the ballad minstrel anchored his story to a d e f i n i t e l o c a l i t y by the use of actual place names. Robin Hood, whose adventures resemble those of the legendary Swiss hero, William T e l l , died at Kirkleys Abbey; True Thomas "lay on Huntlie bank" when he saw the queen of e l f l a n d " r i d i n g down by the Eildon Tree"; the king of Scotland sat " i n Dunfermling toun". A l l these were places which the audience either knew or could v i s u a l i s e , but sometimes the same effect was achieved by the minstrel's naming of geographical locations, f a m i l i a r to his hearers, with c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s s i m i l a r to the setting of his story. S 0 > i n the opening stanza of "Christ's K i r k " we have the mention of place names to point up the w i l d gaiety of the scene: Was nevir i n Scotland heard nor seen Sic dancing nor deray, Neither at Falkland on the Green, Nor Peblis at the Play. (1-4) In addition to the use of place names, there were other touches that would assure the ballad minstrel's audience that the events had t h e i r setting i n a f a m i l i a r l o c a l e . Details of dress, ornament, weapons and armourj the names of dances and t i t l e s of songs, a l l serve to set the ballad i n the surroundings of home. Of t h i s aspect of ballads i t has been wri t t e n : The scenes, then, of the ballads, when not l a i d i n the romantic setting of palace or castle or i n the world of pure fancy, are u t t e r l y f a i t h f u l to the l i f e t h e i r audience knew. They reproduce a known and f a m i l i a r background as t r u l y as Jan Steen or David Teniers 2 3 represents that of a merchant's house or a v i l l a g e inn. The touch of the a r t i s t , i n the story as i n the picture, l i e s not only i n the drawing and i n the colour but i n the arrangement of these homely materials. As i n the ballads, so i t was i n "Christ's K i r k " . The lasses dressed f o r the f a i r i n the height of contemporary r u s t i c fashion: Their g l o v i s was of the r a f f e l r i c h t , Their schoon was of the s t r a i t i s ; Their k i r t i l l i s were of the lincome l i c h t , Weil pressed with mony p l a i t i s . (13-16) One of the combatants i n the f i g h t escaped serious injury because ...swa his fortoun was and hap His doublet was of ledder. (107-108) The weapons mentioned i n the poem, l i k e the equipment of the warriors i n the Border ballads, were the usual arms of the peasantry, the private soldiers of the national armies of mediaeval states. The arms carried by the men at the f a i r : bows pikes, and axes, were those specified by an act of the Scottish Parliament of 1430 as suitable f o r "yemen" to carry at "wapinschaws": "bow and schefe", or i n the case of the "yeman that i s nane archer na can nocht d e y l l with a bow, a doublet of 20 fence . . . and a gude ax or e l l i s a brogit s t a f f . " Combatants i n the melee at Christ's Kirk of the Green who ^ S i r James Fergusson, "The Ballads", Scottish Poetry, ed. James Kinsley, London, 1955, PP. 109-110. Dickinson, ed,, A Source Book of Scottish History. Edinburgh, 1953, v o l . 2, p. 72. 24 I had no offensive weapons with them snatched up and used what-ever came to hand, usually farm implements that would be common i n any Scottish a g r i c u l t u r a l community. With " f o r k i s and f l a i l i s " , "bowgaris of barnis", and "barrow trammis" the con-testants l a i d on one another, while the common b e l l rang out to give warning of a " t u l z i e " ; another homely touch that would have lent v e r i s i m i l i t u d e to the scene i n the minds of a Scottish audience. S i m i l a r l y , the ballads, unless set i n the world of f a i r y l a n d , had, as t h e i r protagonists, recognisable characters moving i n a f a m i l i a r s e t t i n g . Not only were the leaders of forays and outlaw bands mentioned by name, t h e i r more important followers too, emerged from anonymity, as passing reference was made to them, usually with some descriptive epithet tacked on to the name to c l a r i f y the i d e n t i f i c a t i o n . The ballads of Robin Hood supply such names as L i t t l e John, Much the m i l l e r ' s son, Gil b e r t with the white hand, and Reynold Greenleaf. In "The Battle of Otterburn" and "Chevy Chase", the lieutenants of doughty Douglas and S i r Harry Percy are named, and the same p a r t i c u l a r i t y i s evident i n "Christ's K i r k " . The various, incidents of the affray that followed the dance are i n d i v i d u a l -ised by the poet's use of the names of the combatants. A quarrel between Jock and Robene Roy precipitated the action (61-70). Once general h o s t i l i t i e s had broken out, a "hasty hensure" ca l l e d Harry j u s t i f i e d the descriptive tag by shooting x 2 5 an arrow at random, thus missing his target (91-98). Heigh Hucheon — Big Hughie — used his hazel wand of o f f i c e to good eff e c t , u n t i l the sight of his own blood from a scratch on the thumb made him plead for a truce (141-149). While the f i g h t was going on, Tom Lular, the minstrel, had made d i s c r e t i o n the better part of valour and was hiding within a house, whereby he escaped with "unbirsed bones" (135-137). The occasional use of a descriptive term, instead of a proper name, likewise adds to the a i r of veracity, since i t implies that i n such a crowd there must have been some whose names were unknown to the poet. In ballads that treated of love, both requited and un-requited, the description of the lady was usually detailed, and r e l i e d on the "ballad epithet" that f i t t e d many contexts. Beauty lay i n the possession of yellow or golden h a i r , a rosy com-plexion, red l i p s , and a trim waist. The possessor of these a t t r i b u t e s , w i t h a l , usually had a w i l l of her own i n the choice of a husband, and she was quite prepared to defy her family i f t h e i r choice was not hers. In "Christ's K i r k " the descriptions of G i l l i e , and of the unwanted s u i t o r , Jock, reveal the same pattern: Of a l l t h i r maidens mild as mead Was nane sae jimp as G i l l i e ; As ony rose her rude was r e i d , Her l y r e was l i k e the l i l y ; Fu' yellow, yellow was h i r heid, But scho of luve was s i l l y , Thoch a l l h i r k i n had sworn h i r dede, Scho wald haif bot sweet W i l l i e Allone, ^ At C h r i s t i s Kirk of the green. 26 Scho scornit Jock and s k r a i p i t at him And murionit him with mockis; He wald haif l u v i t , scho wald nocht l a t him, For a l l his yellow l o c k i s ; He chereist her, scho bade gae chat him, Scho compt him nocht twa c l o c k i s . (21-37) Whereupon Jock, who had apparently been favoured by her family, i f not by the young lady herself, acted as other disappointed suitors have done, and t r i e d to salve his amour propre by choosing Dwiny as his partner i n the dance, a choice that pre-. c i p i t a t e d the quarrel with Robene Roy, and led to a premature ending to the dancing and merry-making. In i t s d i c t i o n , "Christ's K i r k " , l i k e the ballads, r e l i e d almost e n t i r e l y on the language of the everyday world. A c r i t i c has written that "The ballads r i s e to poetry without the verbal conventions of poetry, and there are few words and phrases i n 21 them which could be classed as poetic d i c t i o n . " The same holds true for "Christ's K i r k " , but there i s a difference i n the employment of that language. In the ballads language was sub-ordinate to the movement of the story, whereas, i n the poem under discussion, the riches of the speech of everyday l i f e were v/employed to b u i l d up a picture by the amassing of d e t a i l s . In •this respect the poem stands i n a closer r e l a t i o n s h i p with the verse i n the popular t r a d i t i o n of Dunbar and Henryson. In i t s use of a l l i t e r a t i o n as w e l l as rhyme, i n i t s stanzaic form, and i n i t s r e l a t i v e l y formal development, i t has associations 2 1Fergusson, op_. c i t . , p. 113. 2 7 i with the a l l i t e r a t i v e romances rather than with the ballads, which tended to concentrate on the central issue and began, as i t were, at the f i f t h act. The author of "Christ's K i r k " was not alone i n s t r i v i n g to produce, by close observation and cumulation of d e t a i l , a quick and perfect image f o r the reader. G. Gregory Smith has suggested that the phrase which best describes t h i s method i s "intimacy of s t y l e " , and he goes on to state that, "In Scots the zest f o r handling- a multitude of d e t a i l s rather than f or 2 2 seeking broad effects by suggestion i s very persistent." This c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of Scots poetry, which was also the mark of the a l l i t e r a t i v e romances, has been evident from the f i r s t . "Christ's K i r k " was no exception to the prevailing habit. The scene i s set i n the opening stanza; the preparations of the r u s t i c maidens are described i n d e t a i l ; t h e i r reaction to the admiring glances of the swains i s set down i n black and white: They were so nice when men them nicht, They squealit l i k e ony g a i t i s . (17-1$) With the same loving attention to d e t a i l s the f i g h t between the m i l l e r and his assailants i s described: The m i l l e r was of manly mak; Tae meet him was na mowis; There durst nocht ten come him to tak, Sa nowit he t h e i r nowis. The bushment h a i l l about him brak And b i c k e r i t him with bowis, 2 2 Scottish L i t e r a t u r e , Character and Influence, London, 1919, p. 5. 28 i Syne t r a i t o r l y behind h i s back They hewit him on the howis Behind At C h r i s t ' s K i r k of the green. (171-180) In l i k e meticulous manner other i n c i d e n t s are d e a l t w i t h . The n a r r a t o r records each scene w i t h the p r e c i s i o n of a camera which roves from point to point and o c c a s i o n a l l y l i n g e r s on a scene of more than o r d i n a r y i n t e r e s t . The completed e f f e c t of such a p i l i n g up of d e t a i l i s not, however, that of a s e r i e s of u n r e l a t e d s t i l l p i c t u r e s , w i t h the act o r s caught i n a moment of a r r e s t e d movement. The e f f e c t on the mind's eye i s one of f u r i o u s a c t i v i t y ; bowmen loose o f f t h e i r arrows; com-batants are knocked to the ground; i r a t e head-shepherds charge one another head-on — " l i k e rammis" i s the appropriate s i m i l e used. Nor are the sounds t h a t accompany the a c t i o n f o r g o t t e n . The "hideous y e l l " of the women, f e a r f u l f o r the saf e t y of t h e i r menfolk, i s punctuated by the rude clanging of the common b e l l summoning a i d to q u e l l the disturbance. This wealth of d e t a i l i n " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " , conveyed to the reader i n expressive terms, p a r a l l e l s the usage of 23 a l l i t e r a t i v e romances such as S i r T r i s t r e m and S i r Gawayne and  the Grene K n i g h t . 2 ^ A stanza from " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " , d e s c r i b i n g , 2 3G.P. M c N e i l l , ed., Edinburgh, 1886, 2 ^ S i r I s r a e l G o l l a n c z , ed., London, 1940. 29 i n general terms, the scene at the f i g h t , gives us: The w i f i s kest up ane hideous y e l l When a l l t h i r younkeris y o k i t ; As f i e r c e as ony f i r e - f l a u c h t f e l l , F r e i k i s to the f i e l d they f l o c k i t ; Thae carles with clubbis coud other q u e l l , W h i l l blude at b r e i s t i s out bockit. So rudely rang the common b e l l , W h i l l a l l the steeple r o c k i t For r e i r d , At C h r i s t i s Kirk of the green. (191-200) In S i r Tristrem, the affray i n which Morgan and Roland were leaders of the opposing p a r t i e s , i s rendered i n these terms: Morganes f o l k cam newe Of rouland r i i s the gode, On helmes gun t h a i hewe, Thurch b r i n i e s brast the blod; Sone to deth ther drewe Mani a f r e l y fode. Of rouland was to rewe, To grounde when he yode, That bold: His sone him aft e r stode, And dere his deth he sold. (188-19$) S i r Gawayne's blow, with i t s untoward r e s u l t , i s treated as follows: Gavan gripped to his ax, . and gaderes i t on hight, The kay fot on the f o l d . he before sette, Let h i t doun l i g h t l y . l i g h t on the naked, That the sharp of the shalk . shindered the bones, And shrank thurgh the shire grece, . and scade h i t i n twinne, That the b i t of the broun s t e l . bot on the grounde. The f a i r hede fro the halce . h i t to the erthe, That f e l e h i t foined i t with her fete,.there h i t f o r t h roled; The blod brayd f r o the body, . that blikked on the grene And nawther f a l t e r e d ne f e l . the freke never the helder As non unhap had him a i l e d , . thagh hedles he were i n stedde. He braide his bluk aboute, That u g l i bodi that bledde; 30 Moni on of him had doute, Bi that his resouns were redde. (421-430, 438-443) Comparison of these extracts reveals, besides the wealth of language common to a l l three, other features that a l i g n "Christ's K i r k " with the a l l i t e r a t i v e t a l e s i n verse, whose vogue i n the north and north midlands of England, as w e l l as i n southern Scotland, extended over nearly two centuries — from the l a t e t h i r t e e n t h to the f i f t e e n t h . The features referred to are the extensive use of a l l i t e r a t i o n , and the bob — a l i n e with only one stress — f o l l o w e d by the wheel, whose l i n e s varied i n number from poem to poem. Even where a l l i t e r a t i o n alone was used within the stock, as i n S i r Gawayne and the Grene  Knight. each verse paragraph ends with a kind of r e f r a i n , made up of a two-syllabled bob, and a wheel of four short l i n e s , i n which rhyme i s employed i n addition to a l l i t e r a t i o n . This periodic contraction, that serves as a kind of rhythmic punctu-ation, i s apparently also employed i n S i r Tristrem. the date of whose composition has been set l a t e i n the thirteenth century, but., to f i n d e a r l i e r examples i t i s necessary to turn to French, from which the form seems to have been derived. T.F. Henderson c i t e s an approximate example, dating from the early thirteenth century, which was quoted i n one of Archbishop Langton's sermons. I t runs as follows: Scottish Vernacular L i t e r a t u r e . Edinburgh, 1910, P. 3 0 . * Bele A l i z matin leva, Sun cors v e s t i e para, Enz un verger s'entra Cink f l u r e t t e s y truva, Un chapelet f e t en a De rose f l e u r i e ; Pur Deu, trahez vus en l a Vus k i ne amez mie. This, i n turn, was a variant rendering of an old French rondet, "Robin et A e l i z " , which, i n one form, has a bob and wheel closely resembling that of "Christ's K i r k " . In t h i s version, one stanza only survives, and i t runs: Main se leva bele A e l i z ; mignotement l a v o i venir. bien se para, mieux se v e s t i en mai. 2A 'dormez, jalous, et je m'envoiserai. The employment, by poets w r i t i n g i n English, of rhyming verses s i m i l a r to those just quoted, represents a movement northward of the Romance poetic t r a d i t i o n that had established i t s e l f i n England following the Norman Conquest. As i t s use became more common i n Northern England and Southern Scotland, i t gradually merged with, and ultimately supplanted, the older Germanic a l l i t e r a t i v e verse. For a period of almost two centuries, how-ever, writers north of a l i n e from the Humber to the Severn attempted to use both rhyme and a l l i t e r a t i o n , and t a l e s such as S i r Tristrem. S i r Gawayne and the Grene Knight, The P i s t i l l of  Susane, as w e l l as a large number of the Towneley Plays f were the r e s u l t of t h e i r attempts at a synthesis. 1932, p. 176. 2^C.C. Abbott, Early Medieval French L y r i c s , London, 32 I t i s d i f f i c u l t to see any continuous progression from a l l i t e r a t i o n , w i t h rhyme as a secondary f e a t u r e , to rhyme accompanied by weakened a l l i t e r a t i o n . S i r T r i s t r e m , the e a r l i e s t romance i n the bob-wheel stanza, has r e l a t i v e l y weak a l l i t e r a t i o n and the body of each stave c o n s i s t s of eight three-s t r e s s e d l i n e s rhyming a l t e r n a t e l y , w h i l e the wheel has two l i n e s o n l y , as i n t h i s example: The knightes t h a t were wise A forward f a s t t h a i bond, That i c h aman sc h u l i o i e n he And seven yer to stond; The douk and rouland r i i s Ther to t h a i bed h e i bond To herye and holden p r i i s , And f o r e n t i l l i nglond To lende Markes ki n g t h a i fond With knightes mani and hende. (45-55) In the example c i t e d above, a l l i t e r a t i o n plays a minor part i n the m e t r i c a l form; rhyme and a r e g u l a r succession of un-s t r e s s e d and s t r e s s e d s y l l a b l e s show i t s a f f i n i t y w i t h Romance 27 r a t h e r than w i t h Germanic models. In The P i s t i l l o f Susane, which, l i k e S i r Gawayne, appeared i n the fourteenth century when the a l l i t e r a t i v e r e v i v a l was at i t s height, a l l i t e r a t i o n has assumed importance i n the m e t r i c a l s t r u c t u r e . An attempt has been made to i m i t a t e the rhythmic p a t t e r n of Old E n g l i s h poetry w i t h i t s on-verse and o f f - v e r s e , though, i n t h i s r e s p e c t , The P i s t i l l of Susane has not gone so f a r as has S i r Gawayne, i n which rhyme has been dispensed w i t h i n the stock. Nevertheless, both poems have a bob, w i t h a wheel of fo u r l i n e s , at the 2 ^ F . J . Amours, ed., S c o t t i s h A l l i t e r a t i v e Poems, Edinburgh, 1897, v o l . 2, pp. 172-245. 33 end of each stanza or verse paragraph, and i n t h i s , the f i n a l l i n e rhymes with the bob, while the other three contracted l i n e s form a rhyming t r i p l e t . C i t a t i o n of the f i r s t stanza of The P i s t i l l of Susane shows how a l l i t e r a t i o n and rhyme are em-ployed, and how the contracted l i n e s of the bob and wheel draw i t to a conclusion: Ther was i n Babiloine a bern, i n that borow ri c h e , That was a Ieuz g e n t i l , and Ioachim he hiht, He was so l e l e of h i s lawe, ther l i v e d none him l i c h e , Of a l l e riche that renke arayes he was r i h t . His innes and his orchardes were with a depe dich, Halles and herbergages, heich upon heiht; To seche thoru that c i t e ther nas non sich Of erbus and er b e r i , so avenauntliche i - d i h t That day, Within the sercle of sees, Of erberi and alees Of a l l maner of trees Sothely to say. (1-14) With the f i f t e e n t h century, the strength of the a l l i t e r a t i v e school of poetry weakened, and the plays attributed to the Wakefield Master, though they r e t a i n the bob and wheel, have r e l a t i v e l y l i t t l e a l l i t e r a t i o n . The same i s true of the 28 " F l a g e l l a c i o " , also one of the Towneley Plays, whose stave of t h i r t e e n l i n e s resembles that of The P i s t i l l of Susane. though i t lacks the a l l i t e r a t i o n of that poem. A stanza from t h i s play shows how the s u b s t i t u t i o n of alternate unstressed and stressed s y l l a b l e s for the a l l i t e r a t i v e l i n e , i n which stressed s y l l a b l e s only were counted, gives an effect d i f f e r e n t George England, ed., Towneley Plays, London, 1897. 34 i from that of the verse already quoted. In t h i s stanza P i l a t e i s speaking to the captive C h r i s t : Thou man that suffers a l l t h i s i l l Why w y l l Thu us no mercy cry? Slake t h i hast and Thi greatt w y l l While on The we have mastery. Of Thy greatt warkes shew us som s k y l l Men c a l l The kyng, Thou t e l l us why; Wherfor the lues seke The to s p y l l The cause I wold know wytterly, Perdee Say what i s Thy name? Thou l e t t f o r no shame Thay put on The greatt blame Else myght Thou skap f o r me. (261-273) The disappearance of a l l i t e r a t i o n as a feature of English poetry i s accounted for on two grounds. I t s use, i n addition to rhyme, imposed r e s t r a i n t s that poets found irksome. Possibly of greater importance was the lack of response of writ e r s i n the London area, where the concentration of population gave the largest audience. The reaction of the Southern poets may be 29 summed up i n the words of Chaucer's Parson, 7 when he said: But trusteth w e l l , I am a Southren man, I can not geste - rum, ram, ruf - be l e t t r e . ( 4 2 - 4 3 ) . In Scotland a l l i t e r a t i v e verse showed greater v i t a l i t y , and i t was s t i l l being produced at the end of the f i f t e e n t h century. Nevertheless, the return of James I, the f i r s t of the Scottish Chaucerians, foreshadowed i t s eventual disappearance among the courtly poets, though Dunbar employed i t i n some of his popular verse. Dunbar, indeed t r i e d his hand at the w r i t i n g of a poem ^"Canterbury Tales", Works, ed., F.N. Robinson, Boston, 1957, Fragment X (Group 1 ) , p. 228. i n the ta i l - r h y m e stanza, and, i n "The Tua M a r i i t Wemen and the Wedo", showed a high degree of c a p a b i l i t y i n a l l i t e r a t i v e verse. I t was, however, i n 'popular poetry, as e x e m p l i f i e d by " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " , that the t r a d i t i o n of a l l i t e r a t i v e verse t a l e s i n the bobwheel stanza was continued, and, s i n c e i t i s not un-l i k e l y that some of these were composed i n Scotland, the existence of a n a t i v e t r a d i t i o n f o r the employment of such verse forms i s i n d i c a t e d . Of t h i s t r a d i t i o n " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " represents the l a s t stage, f o r rhyme and a r e g u l a r succession of s t r e s s e d and unstressed s y l l a b l e s i s used i n a d d i t i o n to a l l i t e r a t i o n . Thus, the f i r s t eight l i n e s of each stanza rhyme a l t e r n a t e l y , and have by turns f o u r s t r e s s e s and t h r e e . Line nine, the bob, completes the sense of the preceding sentence, and the f i n a l l i n e , "At C h r i s t i s K i r k of the green", serves as a r e f r a i n i n the manner of the wheel. In form, and i n treatment of i t s subject, then, " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " has l i n k s both w i t h the b a l l a d s and w i t h the a l l i t e r a t i v e verse t a l e s that preceded i t . I t s author employs the " b a l l a d e p i t h e t " , sets h i s scene i n a recognisable l o c a l i t y , and deals w i t h one episode, as i n the b a l l a d . He uses the r i c h e s of language i n a d e t a i l e d treatment o f i n d i v i d u a l i n c i d e n t s , and employs a form of stanza reminiscent of the a l l i t e r a t i v e verse t a l e . The tone, humorous and l i g h t l y s a t i r i c a l , d e r i v e s , however, from n e i t h e r the b a l l a d nor the a l l i t e r a t i v e verse t a l e . Two poems, " P e b l i s to the P l a y " and "Sym and h i s b r u d i r " , have much 3 6 the same q u a l i t y , and, though they can be dated with no more exactitude than "Christ's Kirk", i t may be that they preceded t h e i r better-known analogue. Whether they did so. or not, they, as w e l l as "Christ's K i r k " , f a l l into the category of m i r t h f u l or humorous t a l e s which, according to T.F. Henderson, "Began _/~in the f i f t e e n t h centuryj/ to obtain that special place i n Scottish vernacular 30 poetry which they have never ceased to hold." One of these 31 humorous t a l e s , Rauf Ooilzear. introduces, as i t s hero, a charcoal merchant, and, i n the tail-rhyme stanza of the serious romances, describes his reception of Charlemagne, when that king asked f o r shelter i n his hut. Here the humour l i e s i n the reversal of the usual romance values, and i n Rauf's unceremonious treatment of his guest, to whom he gives a lesson i n etiquette: Schir, thow art u n s k i l l f u l l , and that s a i l I warrand, Thow byrd to have nurtour aneuch, and thow hes nane; Thow hes w a l k i t , I wis, i n mony wyld land, The mair vertew thou suld have, to keip the f r a blame Thow suld be courtes of kynd, and ane cunnand co u r t i e r . Thocht that I s i m p i l l be, Do as I bid thee: The house i s mine pardie And a l l that i s h e i r . " Besides "Christ's K i r k " and "Sym and his brudir", the Bannatyne MS. furnishes a number of t a l e s , probably of the f i f t e e n t h century,.in which the humour i n c l i n e s to fantasy so w i l d , as to •^Scottish Vernacular L i t e r a t u r e , p. 77. -^Amours, op_. c i t . v o l . 2, pp. $2-114. 37; make the two that I have mentioned seem comparatively re-strained. There are the t a l e s of the Gyre-Carling, the protean witch; of King Berdok of Babylon, who resided i n a cabbage; of Lord Fergus Ghaist, a merry creature who steals God's k n i f e , Abraham's whim-wham, and a pair of old shoes from the man i n the moon. Yet another extravaganza, Cockelbie's Sow, was praised by Dunbar as a well-known Scottish c l a s s i c , and must therefore have been i n existence w e l l before the end of the f i f t e e n t h century. From t h i s evidence, i t seems certain that a large number of popular poems, whose aim was amusement, was being produced about the time when "Christ's K i r k " was composed. To the ballads and to the a l l i t e r a t i v e verse t a l e s as antecedents of "Christ's K i r k " , there may be added the humorous t a l e i n verse, which, l i k e the subject of our study, frequently assumed a stanzaic form usually associated with serious romances, and derived some of i t s comic effect therefrom. What distinguishes "Christ's K i r k " from the other poems cited i s the persistence with which the genre i t i n i t i a t e d has continued to appear i n Scottish l i t e r a t u r e . For the depiction of crowd scenes, i t s stanza has been used, and i t s humorous tone has been imitated, i n each age of vernacular l i t e r a r y a c t i v i t y . Nevertheless, without the influences that shaped i t , and with-out the demand for humorous t a l e s that provided a suitable climate of opinion f o r i t s composition, i t might not have appeared at a l l , or might have been conceived i n a form d i f f e r i n g r a d i c a l l y from that which i t assumed. 38 i Chapter I I I A C r i t i c a l and Textual Examination of "Christ's K i r k " Having considered the possible sources from which the author of "Christ's K i r k " drew his material, i t i s now my purpose to subject to detailed examination a work. whose "influence on the af t e r vernacular poetry," according to T.F. 32 Henderson, "can scarce be over-estimated." The two e a r l i e s t versions of the poem s t i l l extant are those contained i n the Bannatyne MS. and the Maitland Folio MS., both of which date from the second h a l f of the sixteenth century. These repositories of early Scottish verse owe t h e i r preservation, apparently, to the fact that they remained for a lengthy period i n the families of t h e i r respective compilers, thus escaping the fate of so many Scottish documents that suffered destruction i n the course of the c i v i l and r e l i g i o u s struggles of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Bannatyne MS. was written at Newtyle i n the county of Angus about 1568. I t s sub-heading, "Written i n time of pest," suggests that George Bannatyne had r e t i r e d to his native place to escape the plague that ravaged Edinburgh i n that year, and, finding time l y i n g heavy on his hands, had proceeded to compile an anthology of Scottish verse. After his death the manuscript 32 Op. c i t . , p.. 112. 39 passed to the Foulis family into which one of Bannatyne's daughters married, and i n the hands of t h i s family i t remained u n t i l 1712. In that year i t was given, by William Foulis of Woodhall, to an Edinburgh advocate, William Carmichael. By i t s new owner the Bannatyne MS. was made available to A l l a n Ramsay, who selected from i t the poems that appeared i n his Ever Green. F i n a l l y i t became public property on i t s presentation to the Advocates'Library of Edinburgh i n 1772, a bequest made by Carmichael's eldest son. The history of the Maitland F o l i o MS. par a l l e l e d that of the Bannatyne MS. The descendants of Maitland of Lethington, who had compiled the MS. between 1570 and 15$5, kept i t i n the possession of the family u n t i l the Duke of Lauderdale, a great-grandson of the compiler, presented i t to Samuel Pepys. When Pepys died i n 1703, the Maitland F o l i o MS. was bequeathed, along with his other papers and books, to Magdalene College i n Cambridge, and i n 1724 i t was placed i n the Pepysian Library of that college. Here i t l a y , v i r t u a l l y neglected, u n t i l mention of i t s existence by Bishop Percy, led to an examination of the contents by James Pinkerton. Pinkerton perceived the importance of the manuscript and, i n 17#6, published the f i r s t printed edi t i o n of i t s contents. Both manuscripts, therefore, remained i n private l i b r a r i e s during the seventeenth century, and, though t h e i r existence was undoubtedly known to a f a i r l y wide c i r c l e of friends of the respective f a m i l i e s , there i s no evidence that the contents of 40 either had a wide public c i r c u l a t i o n . So f a r as i s known the Bannatyne MS. remained untouched by e d i t o r i a l hands u n t i l the early years of the eighteenth century; i n the case of the Maitland F o l i o MS. mention i s made of a cer t a i n John Reidpath's receiving permission to copy from i t a l l the poems by William Dunbar that he found therein. This, however, i s the only record of a study of either manuscript during the seventeenth century. Nevertheless broadsheet editions of "Christ's K i r k " appeared at i n t e r v a l s between 1600 and 1700, and i t i s almost certain that the version contained therein derived from neither of the manuscripts already mentioned. In i t the bob and wheel have disappeared, being replaced by a single l i n e of two stresses which gives a simple r e f r a i n , "That day," at the end of each stanza. In i t stanzas have been added, much to the disgust of Pinkerton, who, i n his notes to "Christ's K i r k " as i t was i n the Maitland F o l i o MS..wrote as follows: "This copy consists of twenty-three stanzas only; wanting two of the common ed i t i o n , both of which are palpable i n t e r p o l a t i o n s . The l a s t i n p a r t i -cular i s quite foreign to the piece i n every respect, and must 33 have been written by one quite ignorant of what he was reading.""^ The stanza that drew Pinkerton's f i r e was one i n which mention of a bride and bridegroom turned the occasion into a country 33 -^Cited i n Craigie, op_. c i t . , v o l . 1, p. 95. 41 wedding, a suggestion that A l l a n Ramsay was to employ as the foundation for the two cantos he added to the o r i g i n a l poem. The offending stanza must have been appearing i n broadsheet versions, since only i t s i n c l u s i o n gives sense to the heading, "A Ballad of a Country Wedding," on the broadsheet ed i t i o n that appeared about 1660. James Watson included t h i s stanza i n the version of "Christ's K i r k " which he published i n 1706 as one of the Choice C o l l e c t i o n of Comic and Serious Scots Poems, and as he based hi s text on Edmund Gibson's e d i t i o n of 1691, i t s in c l u s i o n seems to have become a matter of course, u n t i l Ramsay's pr i n t i n g of the Bannatyne version i n 1724 led to i t s exclusion by l a t e r editors of the poem. Co l l a t i o n of the two MSS. versions of the poem reveals, i n general, a f a i r l y close correspondence between them, when allowance i s made fo r the p r o b a b i l i t y that Bannatyne and Maitland were using d i f f e r e n t sources, and for the d i a l e c t a l differences that existed, and s t i l l e x i s t , between the speech of Angus i n the North-East of Scotland and that of Lanarkshire i n the South-west. From the evidence supplied by the use of "a" or "ane" before consonants, i t would appear that Bannatyne's source was the e a r l i e r of the two, since Maitland's version has "ane" throughout. The order of stanzas i n the Bannatyne MS., also, gives a more u n i f i e d reading, and for those reasons I have con-sidered i t as the standard t e x t , which I have reproduced on pp. 1-5 of t h i s paper, with the stanzas numbered f o r cross-reference 42 IT with the text of the Maitland F o l i o MS. Textual v a r i a t i o n s , with one exception, are not s i g n i f i c -ant, and differences i n the s p e l l i n g of some words may be accounted for by the d i a l e c t a l backgrounds of the two compilers, or by s l i g h t discrepancies i n t h e i r sources. Thus " t h i r " , meaning "these", does not appear i n the Maitland F o l i o MS., arid here "war" replaces "wes" as the imperfect singular of the verb "to be". In Maitland's version, also, there seems to have been a conscious attempt to improve the rhythm of certain l i n e s by substituting terms, synonymous with those used by Bannatyne, which give a smoother flow to the verse. Thus, i n l i n e 7 of stanza 8„ where Bannatyne has "Bot be ane acrebraid i t come nocht near him;", Maitland gives "myle" i n place of "acrebraid" For the t h i r d l i n e of stanza 19, Bannatyne's version runs, "Than f o l l o w i t feymen r i c h t onafear'd", while Maitland supplies,"Thai forsy f r e i k i s r i c h t unaffeird". A more important textual variant i s found i n stanza 1, where the Bannatyne MS. has " k i t t e i s " as a general term for f l i g h t y g i r l s , while Maitland keeps to the singular, " k i t t i e " , and seems to r e f e r to a par-t i c u l a r person of that name who comes to the f a i r i n her new k i r t i l l of gray. The use of the term i n a general sense provide a smoother t r a n s i t i o n to the second stanza, since " k i t t e i s " may I b i d . , v o l . 1, pp. 149-155. 43 be equated with the "damosellis", whereas Maitland has to draw a d i s t i n c t i o n between the"damosellis" and the " l a s s i s " and i t i s not made clear with which group " k i t t i e " i s to be associated. There are differences also i n the order of stanzas, and, i n t h i s regard, Bannatyne's order i s superior to that of •Maitland. In the Maitland F o l i o MS. the t h i r d and fourth stanzas of the Bannatyne MS. are transposed, and the positions of the f i f t h and s i x t h stanzas are s i m i l a r l y reversed. Thereafter no v a r i a t i o n occurs u n t i l the end of stanza 11, at which point Maitland inserts a stanza that i s wholly lacking i n Bannatyne's version. Since the interpolated stanza i s , i n tone and i n i t s a l l i t e r a t i o n , s i m i l a r to the rest of the poem, and since i t depicts an incident that follows l o g i c a l l y from what has just occurred, a case can be made fo r i t s inclusion i n a d e f i n i t i v e e d i t i o n of "Christ's K i r k " . Lowrie has struck his blow, the f u l l force of which has been lessened by his victim's wearing a leather doublet (101-110), Nevertheless, so powerful i s the stroke that: The baff so boustuousle aibasit him To the erd he duschit doun; The tother f o r dreid he p r e i s s i t him, And f l e d out of the toun. The wyffis came f o r t h and up they p a i s i t him And fand l y f f i n the loun; And with thre routis they r a i s i t him And coverit him of swoune Agane, At C h r i s t i s Kirk of the Grene. (111-120) From t h i s point on, variant readings are minor and d i a l e c t a l ; '7 the order of the stanzas i s the same i n both manuscripts, though . 44 ( the in c l u s i o n of the stanza quoted above gives twenty-three for the Maitland F o l i o version of the poem, instead of Bannatyne's twenty-two. •a c In the form published by James Watson, ^ "Christ's K i r k " d i f f e r s widely from the version contained i n the two manuscripts The s u b s t i t u t i o n of a simple r e f r a i n f o r the bob and wheel has already been mentioned. There i s extensive transposition among the stanzas that describe the f i g h t , and stanza eight i s omitted e n t i r e l y . Maitland's extra stanza i s included, as are the two whose in c l u s i o n roused the wrath of Pinkerton. The f i r s t of these follows the description of the noise made by the women and the ringing of the common.bell. I t seems to poke fun at the v i l l a g e constable, who, as a t a i l o r , was a follower of a c r a f t noted for t i m i d i t y . Certainly Tom T a i l o r i s no heroic figure as the stanza r e l a t e s : By t h i s Tom T a i l o r was i n h i s gear, when he heard the common b e l l , He said, he should make a l l a stear when he came there h i m s e l l . He went to f i g h t with such a fear while to the ground he f e l l . A wife that h i t him i n the ear with a great knocking mell F e l l ' d him that day. (181-189) The f i n a l stanza i s a l i k e i n a l l three versions, but Watson, following Gibson, has printed, as stanza twenty-three, the Op c i t . . part 1, pp. 1-7. 45 account of the bride and bridegroom that so annoyed Pinkerton, Study of the stave i n question tends to confirm that editor's opinion that i t does not f i t i n the context of the poem, and has been added to the o r i g i n a l at some l a t e r date. I t runs as follows: The Bridegroom bought a pint of ale and bade the piper drink i t , Drink i t quoth he, and i t so stale ashrew me i f I think i t . The bride her maidens stood nearby and said i t was not blinked And Bartagesie the bride so gay, upon him fast she winked F u l l soon that day. (190-198) Here, quite apart from the fact that i t reads strangely i n the midst of a description of a f i g h t , the difference i n tone i s evident. Even A l l a n Ramsay disowned the offending stanza, though he had already based his additional cantos upon the idea contained therein. His advertisement to the e d i t i o n of his poems that appeared i n 1718 makes clear his r e a l i s a t i o n that the stanza was an accretion, though, by i t s omission, he de-prived his two cantos of any connection with the o r i g i n a l poem. The advertisement, which casts an i n t e r e s t i n g l i g h t on Ramsay's e d i t o r i a l methods, i s i n these terms: This e d i t i o n of the F i r s t Canto i s copied from an old Manuscript C o l l e c t i o n of Scots Poems wrot an hundred and f i f t y years ago; where i t i s found to be done by King James I, Besides i t s being more correct the V l l l t h stanza was not i n print before, the l a s t but one of the l a t e edition being none of the King's gives place X 46 tcr t h i s . 3 6 The statement i s l e s s than exact. Ramsay has included two stanzas t h a t do not appear i n the Bannatyne MS.; one i s the stanza found i n M a i t l a n d T s v e r s i o n ; the other which describes the conduct of the T a i l o r , i s found i n n e i t h e r manuscript. S e t t i n g aside a l l reference to the b r i d e and the b r i d -groom, what we have i s a poem d e s c r i b i n g the events at an annual f a i r i n pre-Reformation Sc o t l a n d . In a r u r a l community, the centre of a sheep-farming d i s t r i c t , the p a r i s h church w i t h i t s grounds served as the n a t u r a l meeting place f o r such g a t h e r i n g s . The employment of ground close to the church would not s t r i k e the minds of medieval people as incongruous, however strange i t might be to us who l i v e i n an age when the church has ceased to be a f o c a l point of community l i f e . A s o c i a l h i s t o r i a n has described a s i m i l a r scene at a medieval f a i r i n an E n g l i s h town i n these words: In f a i r time the throng of t r a d e r s expected to be able to overflow from the High S t r e e t i n t o the Cathedral p r e c i n c t s , and were ever wont and used ... to l a y open, buy and s e l l merchandise i n the s a i d church and cemetery. Edward" I had indeed forbidden such f a i r s i n h i s Statutes of Merchants, but such an order was l i t t l e i n harmony w i t h the h a b i t s and customs of the age ...37 In S cotland the f i e l d by the church served not only as a f a i r -A l l a n Ramsay, Poems, 1718, p. £~3_Jy c i t e d i n Geddie, B i b l i o g r a p h y , p. 97.. 3 7 M r s . J.R. Green, Town L i f e i n the F i f t e e n t h Century, London, 1894, v o l . 1, p. 186. 47 ground, but also as the scene of archery practice. A number of laws of the Parliament of Scotland are e x p l i c i t on the point, and the Act of 145$ may serve as an i l l u s t r a t i o n f o r a l l . "... ~) c and at the bowe merkis be maide at i l k parroch k i r k a pair of / b u t t i s and schuting be usyt i l k S u n d a y . " / The holding of a f a i r on s a n c t i f i e d ground becomes quite understandable, i f we assume that the annual event had been an old pagan f e s t i v a l that had been taken over by the e c c l e s i a s t i c a l a uthorities a f t e r the conversion of Scotland to C h r i s t i a n i t y . Though no e x p l i c i t reference i s made to any s p e c i f i c f e s t i v a l , i n t e r n a l evidence suggests that, l i k e "Peblis to the Play," the poem has to do with Beltane, whose celebration on May 2 had become i d e n t i f i e d with the C h r i s t i a n feast of the Invention of the Cross. One of the r i t e s of p r o p i t i a t i o n to the pagan gods of darkness at the beginning of summer was the burning of bonfires, and the l i n e "branewood burnt i n b a a l i s " would suggest such a ceremony, dating from an e a r l i e r time when b a a l f i r e s were the scenes of human s a c r i f i c e s to appease the d e i t i e s of winter. The gathering of the f o l k s of the v i l l a g e and country-side was, therefore, no accidental occurrence, but was part of a long established pattern of communal behaviour. The significance of the occasion had been increased by the setting aside of Beltane as a term day when rents were due, and when farm servants Dickinson, l o c . c i t . 4$' might seek new employers. Nor were these the sole reasons f o r the congregation of the inhabitants of the parish. The Scottish Parliament, mindful of the need for a national m i l i t i a ready f o r instant mobilisation, had ordained, "That wapinschawingis be haldin be the l o r d i s and baronys s p i r i t u a l e and temporale 39 four tymis i n the yere." These periodic musters also co-incided with the quarter days, of which Beltane was one, and, as a r e s u l t every able-bodied man would be present, armed as y for war. Some commentators have .seen, i n the large number of stanzas dealing with the misadventures of bowmen, propaganda f o r more intensive archery practice. I t may w e l l be that t h i s i s one reason f o r t h e i r i n c l u s i o n , f or the lack of s k i l l of Scottish archers was s u f f i c i e n t l y notorious to be matter for mirth on the part of English commentators, and was the cause of repeated exhortations by successive Scottish Parliaments, that the commons should devote t h e i r spare time to bowmanship, and eschew the playing of golf and f o o t b a l l . Certainly, i f the standard of archery exhibited i n course of the melee at Christ's Kirk of the green i s any c r i t e r i o n , the concern expressed by Scottish l e g i s l a t o r s was well-founded, but, though the poem con-ta i n s s a t i r e at the expense of the archers, and i t s purpose may Loc. c i t have been pa r t l y d i d a c t i c , the exaggerated account of t h e i r lack of s k i l l i s , quite c e r t a i n l y , an i n t e g r a l part of a poem whose tone i s predominantly humorous. Even one successful shot would ^/ have led to f a t a l consequences, with a corresponding change from mirth to tragedy, and i n avoiding t h i s danger, the poet has made the possessors of l e t h a l weapons into figures of fun. Hard blows are given and taken, but they are i n f l i c t e d by cudgels, staves, and f i s t s , so that heads are broken, teeth are knocked out, combatants are knocked down and stunned — but no one i s k i l l e d or suffers permanent disablement. Depiction of the actions of bowmen as ludicrous, then, serves several pur-poses. There i s comedy i n the lack of success of the archers; there i s a s a t i r i c implication that would not be l o s t on con-temporary readers, mindful of c r i t i c i s m of Scottish bowmanship; there i s maintenance of the humorous tone. It i s a measure of the poet's s k i l l that he manages to v / v a r y the descriptions of the f i v e unsuccessful attempts by bowmen to k i l l neighbours with whom they have temporarily f a l l e n out. One, who had a high reputation as a marksman, was pre-vented from shooting at a l l by the breaking of his bow, which he had drawn back too hard i n the heat of his anger. Of the three who missed t h e i r intended victims, i t i s implied that one had second thoughts and deliberately shot wide. The two others were blinded with rage, and of these, the possessor of a cross-bow was prevented from shooting again, af t e r h i s f i r s t bolt 5 0 "flew owre the byre," by the shout that his random shot had k i l l e d a p r i e s t . The rumoured accident was s u f f i c i e n t to cool the marksman's ardour, and i n his perturbation he threw down his bow and took to his heels. Even Lowrie's well-directed shot to the stomach had no l a s t i n g i l l - e f f e c t s , since h i s v i c -tim, though stunned, was saved from serious injury by his leather doublet. To account f o r the large number of stanzas on the subject of archery, i t i s surely enough to point out that the occasion of a "wapenschaw" would supply a v a l i d reason f o r the presence of men armed with bows. I t i s not surprising that t h e i r part i n the f i g h t should be given prominence i n view of i t s impact on a contemporary audience, but i n a poem which i s humorous i n tone there would be no place f o r a f a t a l shooting a f f r a y . In t h i s respect i t i s to be noted that Dick, who was likewise armed with a deadly weapon, was turned aside from h i s f e l l pur-pose by the i l l - t i m e d gibes of his wife and his mother, so that he slaked his anger by giving them a drubbing with his f i s t s , instead of using his axe on some of his temporary foes. Having disposed of those who might have caused f a t a l i n j u r i e s , the poet allows the other actors to attack each other with plenty of fury.. The suggestion of c e r t a i n c r i t i c s there-fore that some noble, possibly royal, poet was s a t i r i s i n g the cowardice of the commons, seems hardly tenable. Though a few i n d i v i d u a l s might behave i n a fashion that was less than heroic, 51 there i s no i n d i c a t i o n that the "heidmen of the h e i r d " were engaged i n anything but an a l l - i n combat, or t h a t the m i l l e r thought of ignoble r e t r e a t though faced by no fewer than t e n a s s a i l a n t s . In l i k e manner, the mention of the young men f l o c k i n g to the f i e l d , "as f i e r c e as ony f i r e - f l a u c h t f e l l , " s c a r c e l y suggests that they showed any u n w i l l i n g n e s s to ex-change blows. Where s a t i r e i s employed at the expense of those who a c q u i t t e d themselves i n a f a s h i o n l e s s than h e r o i c i t i s humorous r a t h e r than denunciatory. Two who acted i n such a f a s h i o n , the cobbler and the m i n s t r e l , f o l l o w e d c a l l i n g s t h a t were peaceful by t r a d i t i o n , and the p r a c t i t i o n e r s of such c r a f t s were, by analogy, peace-loving a l s o . There i s high humour i n the suggestion that the cobbler's fLight r e s u l t e d from the e n t r e a t i e s of h i s w i f e , e n t r e a t i e s of s u f f i c i e n t s t r e n g t h , apparently, to keep him running f o r at l e a s t seven m i l e s . The m i n s t r e l ' s t a k i n g s h e l t e r " w i t h i n twa wanis" i s t r e a t e d i n l i k e manner, and the forethought t h a t preserves him from harm r e -ceives i r o n i c a l commendation. The poet, however, saves h i s most comic touches f o r the d e s c r i p t i o n of Hucheon's deeds. Hucheon has an a f f i n i t y w i t h F a l s t a f f i n h i s braggadocio, and i n h i s d i s -l i k e f o r the s i g h t of h i s own blood. Here we have the r e c o g n i s -able type of butt i n the petty o f f i c e r of the law, of p o r t l y b u i l d , who takes to f l i g h t when he f i n d s h i m s e l f i n danger. In t h i s case Hucheon, once he has found that h i s "hazel r y s s " — 52 which i s possibly his s t a f f of o f f i c e — provides i n s u f f i c i e n t protection, asks for a parley as soon as he sees the blood flowing from a cut on his thumb. Even worse, he notices i n the crowd some who have old scores to s e t t l e with him, and so, "He gart his feet defend his heid," a mock-heroic description of a f l i g h t that outstripped a l l pursuit. In h i s description of the sights and sounds of the free-f o r - a l l , the narrator remains s u f f i c i e n t l y close to the action to note the actions of the crowd, and to record the shouts and remarks of the bystanders. The "hiddeous y e l l s " of the women are punctuated by the clanging of the common b e l l . The i n -timacy of the effect i s heightened by the mention of individuals by t h e i r C h r i s t i a n names — Robene Roy, Heigh Hucheon, Jock, Dick — and by the poet's evident knowledge of the l o c a l i t y and of country customs. The lack of any apparent motive for the outbreak of general h o s t i l i t i e s , following the i n i t i a l quarrel between Jock and Robene Roy, shows the accuracy of the author's observation of the behaviour of crowds, f o r once a wrestling bout has got out of hand, p a r t i c u l a r l y where there are many young men, f u l l of holiday s p i r i t s , and possibly elevated by li q u o r as w e l l , a f r e e - f o r - a l l can break out with l i t t l e or no further provocation. Before the s t a r t of the f i g h t , however, we have had a short but adequate description of the country dancing for which the services of Tom Lular had been engaged. Here again there i s 53' a strong impression of the poet's f i r s t hand knowledge. Even a early as the f i f t e e n t h century the popularity of native dances was being challenged by that of foreign measures. The younger members of the crowd want French dances, and f o r these the piper plays, as w e l l as giving the dancers music f o r the Morris dance, imported from England, but o r i g i n a l l y coming from the Moors of Spain. The scene might be contrasted with the dance of witches, described by Burns i n "Tarn o' Shanter". These wanted "nae c o t i l l o n brent new frae France," but capered to Auld Nick's playing of "hornpipes, j i g s , strathspeys, and reels though, of course, as "wither'd beldames old and d r o l l , " they probably had l i t t l e patience with the l a t e s t fashions i n the dance, such as youth of a l l ages have demanded i n despite of t h e i r elders. Mention of the crowd of wooers and of the damosels and lasses indicates that the participants i n the dance were, i n general, youthful. Certainly the g i r l s display t h e i r adoles-cence by t h e i r reactions to the attentions of the young men whose whistles of appreciation cause them to neigh l i k e goats. In his description of the a t t i r e , of the lasses, the poet reveal his knowledge of the fashions of the day. He mentions the s k i r t s , of grey or Lincoln green, w e l l pressed into pleats; he notes t h e i r doeskin gloves, and t h e i r shoes of Morocco leather from the S t r a i t s of G i b r a l t a r . G i l l i e ' s " f l y t i n g " at Jock i s likewise recorded, as though from f i r s t hand knowledge. Thus her opinion of her su i t o r as not worth two beetles, and her outspoken c r i t i c i s m of his pipe-stem legs as resembling two d i s t a f f s , Havs a l l the marks of authenticity, as i f the poet had been eavesdropping on the quarrel between the pa i r , and noting some of the p i t h i e r remarks. The author of "Christ's K i r k " has given us, then, more than a painstaking description, by an outsider, of events at a v i l l a g e f a i r . The omnipresent and omniscient narrator knows the place and the people he i s dealing with; knows them w e l l ; i s sympathetic towards them; and yet manages to be s u f f i c i e n t l y objective to note the ludicrous, as well as the serious happenings at the f a i r . Whatever h i s rank i n society, the poet shows a deep knowledge of the common f o l k , and i t i s hard to j u s t i f y the suggestion made by one scholar that "Christ's K i r k " was intended as a s a t i r e , by a noble poet, on the pretensions of the commons. I f that were so, i t would rank with "Metzi's Wedd ing", "The Peasants of St. Polten", and other poems dealing with the German peasant brawl, poems i n which the peasant characters ape the manners of the n o b i l i t y , u n t i l the t h i n veneer of sophistication wears o f f under the influence of l i q u o r . In "Christ's K i r k " there i s no suggestion that the v i l l a g e r s are attempting to imitate the gentry, and, where there are ^ G.F. Jones, "Christ's K i r k " and"Peblis to the Play" * and the German peasant brawl," PMLA, v o 1 . 6&% 1955, pp.1101 -25. 55 i s a t i r i c a l touches, they are directed at the conduct of individuals rather than at the values of the f o l k i n general. I t i s true that, i n "Peblis to the Play", which the same c r i t i c also c i t e s , the townspeople do laugh at the quaint dress and manners of t h e i r country neighbours, but t h i s , too, i s r e a l i s t i c rather than s a t i r i c a l , f o r such a reaction was not confined to Scotland of the f i f t e e n t h century; i t s t i l l exists i n those parts of the world where the d i s t i n c t i o n between town and countryside survives. C.S. Lewis, i n his account of popular poetry i n Middle Scots, has suggested that "Christ's K i r k " gains i t s effect from the poet's perfect command of his material and his stanzas. After he has indicated that "Peblis to the Play" and "Christ's K i r k " were, i n his opinion, composed by d i f f e r e n t poets, he goes on to write that, "They l e t us see pretty c l e a r l y that they had poetry of a very d i f f e r e n t sort at t h e i r disposal i f they had wished to use i t . " ^ " By t h i s he meant that the presence of occasional l y r i c touches shows a bent towards l y r i c a l verse on the part of the poets concerned. Certainly "Christ's K i r k " has numerous evocative phrases; the descriptions of G i l l i e , the sl i p p i n g away of the minstrel who "won within twa wanis", the soutar's wife with her "Glitterand hair that was f u l l golden", suggest an a b i l i t y to use the descriptive epithet with a f u l l ^ C.S. Lewis, English Literature i n the sixteenth century, Oxford, 1954, p. 105. 56 / sense of the value of words. The same quality appears i n the narration of the f i g h t where the wealth of a l l i t e r a t i o n i s employed to present a scene of furious action. Thus one would-be archer handled his tackle so roughly that, "The bow i n f l i n d e r s flew," the young men rushed to the f i e l d , "As f i e r c e as ony f i r e - f l a u c h t f e l l , " "Whill a l l the steeple r o c k i t , " from the rude ringing of the common b e l l . In going on to compare "Christ's K i r k " with some of the poetry of Skelton, Lewis sums up his impressions as to t h e i r respective merits i n these words. "The difference l i e s i n the a r t . These /""Christ's K i r k " and "Peblis to the Play^7 are poems about confusion and vu l g a r i t y , not confused and vulgar ^ poems."4' Later, i n dealing with "The Tunning of Eleanor Humming," he once again draws a p a r a l l e l with "C h r i s t ' s . K i r k " when he writes of Skelton's poem: The merit of the thing l i e s i n i t s speed ... We get a v i v i d impression of riotous bustle, chatter, and crazy disorder. A l l i s ugly but a l l i s a l i v e . The poem thus has a good deal i n common with "Peblis to the Play" and "Christ's Kirk"; what i t lacks i s t h e i r melody and gaiety. The poet and we may laugh, but we hardly enter into the enjoyment of his sort of f o u l drabs.*3 In addition to the melody and gaiety of the poem, the main impression that a modern reader obtains i s the timelessness of the scene that i s depicted. The weapons may be o l d -Lo c. c i t . I b i d . , p. 138. X 57 fashioned, the fashions of dress may have changed, but the people behave i n ways that have altered l i t t l e over a period of f i v e centuries. I t was c e r t a i n l y recognition of t h i s f act that inspired Scottish poets of the eighteenth century to use the same form and tone i n t h e i r poems on popular amusements, and i n t h e i r depiction of the humour — and occasionally the i l l -humour -- of crowds, whether seeking pleasure at a race-meeting, an election gathering, an open-air preaching f e s t i v a l , or a Hallowe'en party. I t i s t h i s aspeert of the poem that appeals to the reader of "Christ's K i r k " i n our own day, f o r though the scene i s archaic, the conduct of members of the gathering i s not, and i t i s int e r e s t i n g to surmise what the w r i t e r would do, i f , by a process of reincarnation, he could be present at a s i m i l a r f e s t i v i t y of the present day, and then f e e l inspired to record his impressions i n stanzas s i m i l a r to those of "Christ' Kirk of the green." 58 Chapter IV The "Christ's K i r k " stave i n la t e Middle Scots poetry Though our attention has been focussed, hitherto, on "Christ's K i r k " i t s e l f , both for i t s i n t r i n s i c merit, and as a forerunner of l a t e r examples of genre painting, that i s only because i t alone, of poems of t h i s type, was available to editors of the early eighteenth century. In fact three other poems, "Sym and his Brudir" and "The Jousting and Debait at the Drum" from the Bannatyne MS,, and "Peblis to the Play" from the Maitland Folio MS., are written i n the same ten- l i n e stanza with i t s d i s t i n c t i v e bob and wheel. Of the three poems "Sym and his Brudir" and "Peblis to the Play" may date from the same period as "Christ's Kirk", and a case may be made for the common authorship of the l a s t two of these, "The Jousting and Debait" was ascribed by Bannatyne to Alexander Scott, whose po e t i c a l works appeared between 1545 and 1568,- so that we can say with more certainty than usual that i t was the l a s t of the poems i n t h i s group to be composed. In some ways i t i s unfortunate that "Peblis to the Play" was not re a d i l y available as a model for vernacular poets of the eighteenth century for i t complements "Christ's Kirk"; i t accompanies the l a t t e r as a companion piece i n modern anthologies, and i s linked with i t i n c r i t i c a l estimates of value, but, i n 1 7 8 6 , when Pinkerton's ed i t i o n of the Maitland Folio MS. brought 5,9 the poem to public attention once more, Ramsay and Fergusson were both dead, and Burns, though the Kilmarnock edi t i o n of his poems appeared i n the same year, had only ten more years to l i v e . Expressions of regret may, however, be tempered by the knowledge that both Fergusson and Burns rounded out the theme of "Christ's K i r k " to include the end of the day's merrymaking, just as was done i n "Peblis to the Play" which, though i t also deals with quarrelling and f i g h t i n g , devotes space to the description of the country dance that followed the restoration of peace, and ends on a note that i s almost l y r i c a l , w i t h the t e a r f u l farewells of the young couples. Like "Christ's K i r k , " "Peblis to the P l a y " ^ opens with the description of preparations for the f a i r , which i n t h i s case i s e x p l i c i t l y a Beltane occasion. This time, however, the poet lingers over his depiction of the bustle i n a t y p i c a l farm steading where: A l l the wenches of the west War up or the cock crew. (11-12) They busy themselves with l a s t minute d e t a i l s of dress; some bemoan t h e i r lack of well-ironed kerchiefs, while Meg, whose woes are singled out for s p e c i a l attention, bewails the fact that her face and neck have been so " e v i l sone-brint" that she w i l l have to disguise them with "ane hude" and a t i p p e t . So intense are her feelings of mingled disappointment and expectancy that ^ C r a i g i e , op. c i t . . v o l . 1, pp. 176-183. 60 she i s quite unable to eat or drink anything, despite the ad-vice of her companions that she should keep calm. No less than four stanzas are devoted to the journey to town along the highroad that becomes progressively more crowded as each farm lane adds men, women, and children to the throng. To speed them on t h e i r way are pipers playing popular tunes; young men sing and play the f o o l to hide t h e i r discomfort i n the presence of the country maidens with whom, however, they soon pair o f f for t h e i r journey to Peebles. When the throng of countryfolk, dressed i n t h e i r best, a r r i v e at the town gates, t h e i r appearance i s matter f o r mirth on the part of t h e i r more sophisticated urban neighbours who "Leuch at t h a i r array" and ask i f the gypsies or the "Quene of May" and her retinue are coming to the sports. The f i r s t stop i s , n a t u r a l l y , the ale-house. Here arises the apparently inevitable quarrel, a quarrel that soon turns into a f i g h t . Apparently the forces of law and order are stronger i n Peebles than they were at Christ's K i r k , f or the fi g h t ends with seven of the combatants " g r u f f l i n g i n the stokkis" and t h i r t y - t h r e e more "thrumland i n a middin." The incidents at the inn, as w e l l as those of the f i g h t , are rendered with the same attention to d e t a i l that was a feature of "Christ's K i r k " also. Dialogue i s used f r e e l y i n narrating the stages of the quarrel, and, once again, the actions of in d i v i d u a l s , es-p e c i a l l y those of a comic nature, are selected f o r special * 61 notice. The attempts of the cadger to save his goods, and i n c i d e n t a l l y himself, from harm are rendered i n terms of broad farce. F i r s t his baskets of merchandise f a l l to the ground; then he tumbles into a puddle when the g i r t h i n g strap of the harness breaks; f i n a l l y , i n answer to his c r i e s f o r help, his wife drags him " a l bedirten" from a p a r t i c u l a r l y muddy spot. Just as the comic aspects of the turmoil receive most attention, so the humours of the dance that follows the quelling of the r i o t are given the greatest prominence. The piper i s induced to continue playing f o r the dancers, though he grumbles unceasingly that he has received no payment, and suggests that three-halfpence would be none too small a reward f o r h i s pains.. Again, as i n "Christ's Kirk", the prowess of one of the dancers i s singled out for comment. There i s an obvious correspondence between the mighty leaping of Steven and the performance of W i l l Swane, who "hockit about" so heavily that a l l ran to see him, to the great delight of the performer, who takes t h e i r expressions of amusement fo r those of admiration for h i s s k i l l . The three concluding stanzas have a quietness that i s t o t a l l y lacking i n "Christ's K i r k , " but which i s i n keeping with the exhaustion of s p i r i t s at the end of a long day of merry-making. The newly-matched pairs of lovers part, with tears and sighs, and with promises of future assignations. The f i n a l stanza, indeed, begins with a kind, of l y r i c evensong: Be that the sone was settand s c h a f t i s , And nere done wes the day. (251-252) 6 2 The poet, however, i s merely having a joke at the expense of the reader, f o r the s t i l l n e s s he has created i s only to make the sound of farewell kisses the more audible "Quhen that t h a i went t h a i r way." In general, what has already been said of "Christ's K i r k " applies to "Peblis to the Play". There i s the same careful des-c r i p t i o n of many incidents, but i n t h i s case the comic, rather than the serious aspects are given greater prominence. Sat i r e , where i t e x i s t s , i s l i g h t and i s directed at the pretensions of the townsfolk, rather than at the country people who have come to Peebles to enjoy themselves on an uninhibited holiday r e v e l . In t h i s poem, however, the l y r i c element i s stronger with occasional r e p e t i t i o n of phrase suggesting the movement of a formal dance i n l i n e s such as: Than t h a i come to the townis end Withouttin more d e l a i , He befoir and scho b e f o i r , To see quha was maist gay. (81-84) The same device i s employed i n the l i n e s : Than he to-ga and scho to-ga And nevir ane bad abyd you, (71-72) where, once again, the effect i s that of a formal procession i n a dance f i g u r e , "Peblis to the Play" d i f f e r s , however, from i t s companion piece i n i t s r e l a t i v e lack of a l l i t e r a t i o n and i n the omission of rhyme i n the f i r s t , t h i r d , f i f t h , and seventh l i n e s of many of i t s stanzas. In f a c t , only the f i r s t four stanzas follow thei pattern of alternate rhyme with any consistency. Thereafter 63 several stanzas maintain the rhyme of l i n e one with l i n e three, but subsequently even t h i s i s abandoned, and only l i n e s two, four s i x , and eight a r e " l e f t rhyming. In his abandonment of a l l i t e r a t i o n as a prosodic ornament, and i n his varying of the rhyming pattern of the "Christ's K i r k " ...stave, the poet gives a foretaste of the d i f f e r e n t rhyming patterns that l a t e r vernacular poets — Burns i n p a r t i c u l a r — were to employ within the framework of t h i s stanzaic form. I f "Peblis to the Play" points forward to the r e v i v a l of vernacular verse i n eighteenth-century Scotland, the same cannot be said of "Sym and his brudir".^^ This poem looks back to the medieval f a b l i a u i n i t s description of the practices of two begging f r i a r s of St. Andrews, though i t s narration of the tumultuous events at the brother's wedding does give i t a l i n k with "Christ's Kirk", which likewise depicts a scene of furious a c t i v i t y . The main c r i t i c i s m that can be l e v e l l e d at "Sym and his Brudir" i s i t s lack of unity. At the opening of the poem we have a s a t i r i c a l account of the somewhat questionable a c t i v i t i e s of the two brothers, whose mode of l i f e has been determined by / t h e i r innate l a z i n e s s . Then, with only the barest mention of the desire of Sym's brother to have a wife, comes the description of the horse-play that accompanies h i s wedding. This occupies . the rest of the poem, which, judging from i t s abrupt conclusion, i s incomplete, ^ R i t c h i e , op. c i t . , v o l . 3, pp. 39-43. 64 4 When we f i r s t meet the two brothers, we f i n d them acting as professional beggars with considerable success. Like the f r i a r described by Chaucer i n his "Summoner's T a l e " , ^ they went about, To preche and eek to begge, ... (1712) but l a t e r they expanded t h e i r business to include the sale of forged r e l i c s , a f t e r the manner of Chaucer's Pardoner. Like him they beguile the countryside with forged r e l i c s , s i l e n c i n g doubters with the sight of a parchment that they claim to have brought from Rome, though, i n t r u t h , they have never been f a r -ther a f i e l d than Perth. The cynical attitude of the Pardoner i s matched by that of the brothers, who i n t h i s matter think as one. The Pardoner, as described by Chaucer,^ 7 ... had a croys of latoun, f u l of stones, And i n a glas he hadde pigges bones. But with these r e l i k e s , whan that he fond A povre person dwelling up-on londe, Up-on a day he gat him more moneye Than that the person gat i n monthes tweye. And thus, with feyned f l a t e r y e and japes, He made the person and the peple his apes. (699-706) Of the two brothers the unknown poet has written, quhen meit was went thay flew our f e l l i s a l s bissy as ony beis Syne clengit sanct Jameis s c h e l l i s and pecis of palm t r e i s To se quha best the pardone s p e l l i s . Op,, c i t . , Fragment I I I (Group D) pp. 94-100. Ib i d . , Fragment I (Group A), pp.. 17-2$. 65 - . I schrew thame that ay l e i f s but lauchter quod syme to his brudir. (39—45) The opening of the poem, with i t s references to tale s i n verse of Iohine, Robene hude, and Wallace wicht, resembles the beginning of a t y p i c a l f a b l i a u , f o r , having whetted the c u r i o s i t y of his audience, the narrator goes on to compare these st o r i e s with that which he i s going to t e l l . In his s a t i r i c a l account of the deeds of the brothers, the poet uses the bob and wheel e f f e c t i v e l y to give point to his remarks. For example, though the brothers' occupation takes them frequently to the precincts of churches, we are t o l d that, ...sen t h a i r b a i r d i s grew on t h a i r mow They saw nevir the k i r k within Nowthir sym nor his brudir. ( 1 6 - 1 $ ) Here the force of the single-word bob emphasises the contrast between t h e i r conduct and that of devoted servants of the church, with which neither of the brothers has any sympathy. The an t i t h e s i s between t h e i r scale of values and C h r i s t i a n doctrine i s brought out i n the description of t h e i r reaction to the wealth that they obtained i n such questionable fashion. In the words of the poem, "Thay puft thame up i n pryd," then the brother decides to taste the joys of matrimony, though Sym i s not so p a r t i c u l a r and i s content to l i v e i n "synning".. From t h i s point one would expect the t a l e to develop along the l i n e s of a f a b l i a u , with cuckoldry or the outwitting of r-the two rogues as i t s theme. Unfortunately i t i s here that an 66 abrupt s h i f t of emphasis takes place, and our attention i s directed away from the two rascals to a confused description of the horseplay that accompanies the wedding. The poem thereby changes from a s a t i r e into a broad farce, and, as a r e s u l t , the suspense that has been b u i l t up i s dissipated. Among the a c t i v i t i e s described i s a mock tournament, the reason for which i s never made clear, and the l a s t three stanzas concern them-- selves with the deeds of Job Symmer, the town herdsman, who ^takes the centre of the stage to the exclusion of the two worthies. Job, as one of the combatants i n the joust, i s arrayed i n armour made from "twa p l a i t i s of ane awld pan", but the re s u l t of his intervention i n the quarrel only emphasises his un-( a u i t a b i l i t y f o r knightly deeds, f o r , His mouth wes schent and sa forschorne Held nowdir wind nor water . F a i r w e i l l a l l b l a s t of blawing home He micht not do but b l a t t e r He endis the story with harme forlorne The nolt begowt to skatter The ky ran s t a r t l i n g to the come Wa worth the tyme thow gat h i r now quod symme t i l l h is brudir. (127-135) On t h i s scene of confusion the curtain descends, f o r , with t h i s parody of the romance tournament, the manuscript version ends. Such an abrupt ending, with the two main characters o f f stage, suggests that the poem.may be incomplete, or that the poet's fantasy f a i l e d him. Yet another p o s s i b i l i t y i s that one poet was responsible 67, for the s a t i r i c a l opening stanzas, and. that another, and less g i f t e d , maker added the part of the poem that deals with the wedding of Sym's brother. The abrupt change of tone, as w e l l as the weakness i n handling the metrical form, would support t h i s conclusion, f o r the l a t t e r part of "Sym and his brudir" re-sembles an unsuccessful attempt to emulate the verve and extravagance of "Christ's K i r k . " In any event, whatever the reason f o r the sudden s h i f t i n focus, the r e s u l t i s an imperfect fusion of thematic elements. Nevertheless the poem must have had a s u f f i c i e n t l y wide c i r c u l a t i o n for i t s two main characters to have been considered as representative types of begging f r i a r s , since they are mentioned by S i r David Lindsay i n "Peder C o f f e i s " , his s a t i r e on c l e r i c a l abuses. There, the begging f r i a r s are described as going about the countryside, Peipand peurly with piteous granis Like fenzeit Symmie and his bruder. (23-24) I t i s , however, the description of the mock tournament i n "Sym and his brudir" that gives i t a l i n k with Alexander Scott's "Jousting and Debait at the Drum",^ Tales i n verse on the ludicrous attempts of the commons to ape the c h i v a l r i c code had a wide popularity, both i n Middle English and i n Middle ^ Works, ed. Douglas Hamer, Edinburgh, 1929-33, v o l . 1 PP. 390-392. ^Poems, ed. James Cranston, Edinburgh, 1896, pp. 9-15. 6$ Scots, and Scott could use as models the English "Turnament of o Tottenham", Dunbar's "Turnament of the T a i l l i o u r and the Sowttar", and Lindsay's "Justing betuix James Watson and Jhone Barbour". What i s surprising i s that a poet, whose main claim to be remembered rests on his love l y r i c s should have turned his hand to a theme such as t h i s , with i t s echoes of a medieval outlook on l i f e that had almost passed away. I t seems almost as though Scott wrote t h i s poem while he was t r y i n g to discover his true metier, and, finding no delight i n poetry that succeeds by i t s sheer force of d i c t i o n , turned to Elizabethan l y r i c s , of the type written by Wyatt and Surrey, f o r his models. Also lacking i n Scott was a z:est f o r the coarser elements of broad farce that i s so evident i n the three poems already c i t e d . Not for him was the description of the accoutrements of the bachelors who came together to do b a t t l e for Tib's hand i n 50 marriage i n the "Turnament of Tottenham": When t h e i had t h e i r oaths made; f o r t h cam t h e i te With f l a y l e s and harnys and trumps made of t r i e There were a l l the bachelers of that contrie; Thei were dicht i n aray as thaim s e l f wolde be: Theire baner was f u l b r i c h t Off an olde raton f e l l The chefe was of a ploo mell, And the schadow of a b e l l Quartered with the mone l i c h t . (145-153) 51 Lacking also was the w i l d comic fantasy of Dunbar as examplified i n his description of the t a i l o r and his retinue: ^ E a r l y Popular Poetry of England r ed. W.C. H a z l i t t , London, 1866, v o l . 3 , pp. 82-97. ^Op. c i t . , pp. 123-126. 6 9 The t a i l y e o u r , baith with speir and sche i l d , Convoyit wes unto the f i e l d With mony lymmar loun, Of seme b y t t a r i s and beist knapperis, Of stomok s t e i l l a r i s and clayth takkaris, A graceles garisoun. His baner born wes him b e f o i r , Quhairin wes cl o w t t i s ane hundred s c o i r , I l k ane of divers hew; And a l l stowin out of sindry webbis, For, q u h i l l the Greik s i e flowis and ebbis, Telyouris w i l l nevir be trew. (7-1$} — Gil b e r t P i l k i n g t o n i n his "Turnament of Tottenham," and Dunbar, i n his "Turnament of the T a i l l i o u r and the Sowttar", describe. with open enjoyment., the f a i l u r e of the combatants to control t h e i r bodily functions. Lindsay, i n his "Justing betuix James Watson and Jhone Barbour," written i n 153#, manages,, i n general to catch the broad humour of the Middle Ages, though one has the impression, while reading his smooth flowing couplets, that some of the more unsavoury d e t a i l s are not quite to his more fas t i d i o u s taste. Scott, w r i t i n g some twenty years a f t e r Lindsay, has pared down the breadth of humour almost to vanishing point i n his l i g h t l y w i t t y narrative of a joust that did not even take place because of the unwillingness of one of the intended champions. Nevertheless the poem sta r t s i n promising fashion with the naming of the two champions, W i l l Adamson and Johine Sym, who have met to do b a t t l e f o r "a l u s t y lady gent." Her honour, i n the event, proves to have been as f r a i l as was Johine*s pretension to courage, for a f t e r the joust has been called-of^f because of his r e f u s a l to f i g h t , i t i s discovered that he has 70 already seduced the intended prize and she i s about to become a mother. What we do have i s a narrative, consciously w i t t y , t o l d i n neatly turned verse i n which the "Christ's K i r k " stave ceases to rush l i k e a mountain torrent and becomes a gently flowing stream. The "Jousting and Debait" suffers also from a dichotomy of purpose i n that Scott has t r i e d to synthesise his thematic and formal models i n a description of a c h u r l i s h joust and a popular gathering of spectators out f o r a day's amusement. In so doing, he has f a l l e n between two stools; the members of the group never emerge as indi v i d u a l s ; they remain anonymous consumers of "baith syne and vennisoun", or spend t h e i r time heckling the combatants for t h e i r r e f u s a l to come to blows. The two p r i n c i p a l s , likewise, never become more than straw figures manipulated by t h e i r creator to exhibit his own cleverness. The t r u t h of the matter i s that the poem i s too con-sciously contrived, and, as a r e s u l t , lacks spontaneity. I t exemplifies the commonest f a u l t of Scottish poetry composed by those poets who drew t h e i r i n s p i r a t i o n mainly from England and from English models. In the work of Alexander Scott we see the f i r s t signs of that tendency which was to i n t e n s i f y a f t e r the Union of the Crowns sent the Scottish Court to London i n 1603 — the conscious toning down of the native idiom of thought and language. Thus, what would have been uproarious farce — bawdy ^ perhaps, but overflowing with l i f e — i n the hands of Dunbar 71 becomes an exercise i n p o l i t e humour, with the restrained smile, rather than the uninhibited laugh, as i t s object. Compare Dunbar's description of the setting and the r i v a l champions i n his poem about a tournament: Nixt that a turnament was t r y i d That lang befoir i n h e l l was c r y i d In presens of Mahoun; Betuix a telyour and ane sowtar, A pricklous and ane hobbell clowttar, The barres was maid boun, (1-6) with Scott's depiction of a s i m i l a r scene: Up at the Drum the day wes s e t t , And f i x i t wes the f e i l d Whair baith t h i r noble c h i f t a n i s mett Enarmit undir s c h e i l d . (21-24) The sheer audacity of Dunbar's invention helps us to suspend d i s b e l i e f i n a way that Scott's more prosaic account does not, for we cannot see Adamson and Sym as "noble c h i f t a n i s " despite the i n c l u s i o n of a l l u s i o n s comparing them with "Mars the god armipotent", or Hercules who "dang the d e v i l l of h e l l . " Even the mention of the "dowsy pe i r s " — the twelve paladins who followed Charlemagne — f a i l s to supply an e f f e c t i v e contrast, because of i t s remoteness to the two rather scared youngsters who are expected to f i g h t to amuse a holiday crowd. What the "Justing and Debait" lacks most i s the presence of an eye-witness to the scenes that are described. The reader i s never free from the f e e l i n g that here we have a poem conceived and produced i n the study, with the models drawn from books rather than from l i f e . For t h i s reason i t lacks the 72, close contact with i t s subject matter that was a feature of "Christ's K i r k " and "Peblis to the Play". As a r e s u l t , the "Jousting and Debait" f a l l s f a r below them i n value, and the bugle that s i g n i f i e s to the crowd at the Drum that "nycht had thame ourtane" might be taken as a prophetic signal of the long night that was to descend on Scottish vernacular verse, and was to keep i t i n shadow f o r the next hundred and f i f t y years. From the point of view of the l i t e r a r y h i s t o r i a n , such a period of silence may not have been a l l l o s s . When Fergusson and Burns began w r i t i n g , new customs and new occasions, un-thought of at an e a r l i e r period, caused the congregation of crowds f o r events other than those depicted i n "Christ's Kirk", and so the old-established form could be employed afresh. .Alexander Scott, w r i t i n g at the end of the e a r l i e r period, had invented an occasion, possibly to avoid the necessity for traversing f a m i l i a r ground, and the comparative f a i l u r e of his attempt would indicate that a period of fallow was needed before the form could be employed anew. 73 i Chapter V Eighteenth-Century Vernacular Poetry i n the "Christ's K i r k " Tradition In the middle of the sixteenth century, during the l i f e -time of Alexander Scott, a movement away from the old Scots l i t e r a r y t r a d i t i o n became dis c e r n i b l e , and, throughout the seventeenth century,Scots was rapidly ceasing to be a l i t e r a r y language and was declining to the status of aspoken d i a l e c t . Thus, when the eighteenth century witnessed a r e v i v a l of i n t e r -est in. vernacular poetry, the f i r s t task that had to be faced was the rediscovery of a written idiom which had a l l but vanished. To t h i s task A l l a n Ramsay, i n p a r t i c u l a r , bent his energies, and at a time when many Scotsmen were mourning the loss, of t h e i r country's separate i d e n t i t y as a p o l i t i c a l organism, he set to work to supply the necessary materials for a r e v i v a l of vernacular l i t e r a t u r e by his publication of the poetry of an e a r l i e r day. He did more; he himself used the t r a d i t i o n a l metrical forms that he found, and, i n some of his verse at le a s t , he clothed his thoughts i n the d i a l e c t of Central Scotland. To t h i s p a t r i o t i c impulse of Ramsay we owe the works of Fergusson and Burns, both of whom owned t h e i r debt to him, and both of whom b u i l t on the foundation that he had l a i d . Nonetheless, the ground plan that Ramsay marked out f o r V those who were to follow him was.:one that was circumscribed. 7^ The t r a d i t i o n that he handed on accepted the conception of Scots verse as being popular, that i s , r u s t i c or comic, and excluded the courtly poetry of the makars from consideration. A. modern c r i t i c , the editor of the Scottish Text Society's volumes of the poems of Fergusson, has pointed out the l i m i t a t i o n s of his concept as follows: The consequences of his conservatism were revolutionary: working within an a r i s t o c r a t i c t r a d i t i o n of comic verse he had fathered a poetry that was thoroughly popular i n both s p i r i t and technique. Yet the revolutionary nature of his creation, p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the l a t t e r respect, was not apparent to him. He assumed that his Scots poetry was e s s e n t i a l l y of the same kind as a l l Scots poetry that had gone before, and d i f f e r e d only i n having l o s t i t s fashionable status. The only consequence of that s o c i a l descent that was clear to him was a l i m i t a t i o n of subject matter: that the nature of the language i t s e l f was affected by the change he did not consider. He was indeed quite unaware of the sophisticated quality of the d i c t i o n of the older poetry, and he had no conception of a Scots language that was as f a r removed from popular usage as i t was from English.-> 2 The reference to "an a r i s t o c r a t i c t r a d i t i o n of comic verse" i s not to the poetry of the f i f t e e n t h and early sixteenth centuries but to l i t e r a r y jokes perpetrated by gentlemen poetasters l i k e Robert Sempill and William Hamilton of G i l b e r t f i e l d , who saved t h e i r Scots vernacular verse for humorous poems about r u s t i c s , and who used English models f o r poetry of more serious import. By h i s r e p r i n t i n g of t h e i r works i n Scots, and by his 3 Robert Fergusson, P©ems, ed. M.P. McDiarmid, Edinburg: 1954, v o l . 1, p. 122. 75 » own imitations of them, Ramsay a l l i e d himself with those whom Sibbald castigated i n his remarks on the beginnings of modern Scots poetry: For the d i a l e c t which i s now c a l l e d Scottish, we are indebted to a few w r i t e r s , of depraved taste about the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth centuries who instead of c o n t r i -buting l i k e Drummond of Hawthornden, to the improvement of the written language of t h e i r country, chose to pen elegies to pipers and dying speeches of hounds and horses, i n the f a m i l i a r d i a l e c t s of the meanest vulgar,53 I t might be argued that, i n publishing the Ever Green, Ramsay was making available to .his contemporaries and succes-sors the works of the early makars, but i t appeared a f t e r his compilations of popular verse, and his own verses i n the same manner had charted the course which l a t e r Scots poets were to follow. He himself seems to have looked on the selection of poems from the Bannatyne MS.as c u r i o s i t i e s from an age when, i n his opinion, Scottish poetry had been undefiled by foreign influences. That, at l e a s t , appears to be the import of the preface to his anthology, i n the course of which he wrote: When these good old bards wrote, we had not made use of imported trimmings upon our cloaths, nor foreign Embroidery i n our w r i t i n g s . Their poetry i s the Product of t h e i r own country, not p i l f e r e d and spoiled i n the Transportation from abroad. Their images are native and t h e i r Landskips domestick: copied from these f i e l d s and Meadows we every day behold,54 53 JJames Sibbald, Chronicle of Scottish Poetry. Edinburgh, 1802, v o l . 4, p. 45, c i t e d i n McDiarmid, Fergusson, vol.1,p.118. 54 * ^Ramsay, Ever Green, p. v i i . 76 The community of style that medieval Scots poetry shared with other sophisticated l i t e r a t u r e s of Europe was hidden from him, and he found nothing i n i t to praise but i t s Scottishness. Study of the contemporary poems that he tr i c k e d out i n antique guise f o r i n c l u s i o n i n his Ever Green serves to confirm the idea that he f e l t that he was dealing with l i t e r a r y c u r i o s i t i e s from a bygone age. These poems, "The Eagle and Robin Red-breist" and "The Vi s i o n " , to name two examples, he turned into language which was made deliberately archaic, and the l a t t e r of these he t r i c k e d out with a spurious s u b t i t l e , "Compylit i n L a t i n be a most l e r n i t Clerk i n Tyme of our Hairship and Oppression, anno 1300, and t r a n s l a t i t i n 1524." Even the inclu s i o n of such pieces, with t h e i r ex post  facto "prophecies", did not ensure the success of the Ever Green. The Scottish reading public, conditioned by Ramsay's e a r l i e r compilations to expect something l i g h t , showed i t s disappointment; Ramsay wearied of the task; the projected fourth volume never appeared, and there were no rep r i n t s of the incomplete anthology i n his l i f e t i m e . "Christ's K i r k " may be c i t e d to show the lack of attention given to the Ever Green. Here Ramsay printed i t i n i t s o r i g i n a l form, with the bob and wheel, but i t was the amended stanza, with a simple r e f r a i n ending i n "day", that was used by l a t e r poets, who followed the example of his e a r l i e r , modernised, version. Setting aside the Ever Green, the t r a d i t i o n that Ramsay y cherished and passed on was impoverished. As a r e s u l t , both 77 Fergusson and Burns were forced to imitate models written i n standard English, a medium i n which neither f e l t at home. Fergusson, indeed^ never achieved a synthesis between his poetry i n Scots and the verses which he wrote i n English. Burns t r i e d , and f a i l e d , to unite the two s t y l e s i n poems such as "The Cottar's Saturday Night", because the grand manner, though genuine, seems forced and out of place i n the r u s t i c context. The Ayrshire poet was more successful, however, i n his attempt to create a unity between the d i a l e c t of h i s own time and a composite l i t e r a r y t r a d i t i o n of the past. In poems l i k e "Holy W i l l i e ' s Prayer" the vernacular i s reinforced by the s a t i r i c boisterousness of Lindsay's "Thrie E s t a i t i s , " the starkness of the ballads, the warmth and earthiness of folk-song, and the pious beat of Scottish metrical psalmody. Ramsay, however, had gone to his grave unaware of the impoverished t r a d i t i o n that he had passed on. For him i t was enough that poetry — any poetry •— was once more being written i n Scots. I t i s unfortunate that his taste l a y , i n the d i r e c t i o n of comic or sentimental verse, for i t was poetry i n these veins that he usually co l l e c t e d , often imitated, and occasionally composed. The sense of outraged nationalism that caused him to resurrect what he did from the past led him to save much that was not worth preserving. The c r i t i c a l t e s t s that he applied confined themselves to the Scottishness and the apparent ant i q u i t y of the pieces he published. He was acutely conscious 7 8 strangely enough, of the effect of h i s use of Scots on a genteel audience, and, at least once, he f e l t i t necessary to defend, i f not to apologise f o r , his Scotticisms. Thus, i n the pre-face to the 1721 edition of his poems, we f i n d , "The Scotticisms which perhaps may offend some over-nice ear give new l i f e and grace to the poetry and become t h e i r place as w e l l as the Doric 55 d i a l e c t of Theocritus, so much admired by the best judges." Ramsay's eagerness to appease "the best judges" reminds us that these were admirers of neo-classicism i n verse, with i t s concomitant, among less g i f t e d v e r s i f i e r s , of poetic d i c t i o n . For the use of such d i c t i o n Ramsay f e l t no apology was necessary, and he employed i t f r e e l y i n the poems and folk-songs which he t r i c k e d out i n a guise of pseudo-elegance. One gets the impression that he preferred to exchange the freshness of old songs and poems for a mass of c l i c h e s , deriving from English models. Thus, an old Scots l y r i c , "The l a s t time I cam ower the muir", becomes, i n his version, "The happy lover's re-f l e c t i o n s " , and even more banal i s his handling of the seventeenth 56 century ballad, "Bessie B e l l and Mary Gray". In i t s o r i g i n a l form, t h i s t o l d of "two bonnie lasses" who b u i l t themselves a retreat from the plague, but f a i l e d to escape i t , and were buried 55 Works, ed. Burns Martin and J.W. O l i v e r , Edinburgh, 1945, v o l . 1, x i x . ^ A l l a n Cunningham, ed. The Songs of Scotland, London, ,^  1825, v o l . 3, p. 60. 79 t o g e t h e r . Ignoring these p a t h e t i c a s s o c i a t i o n s , Ramsay turned the poem i n t o a catalogue of t h e i r charms, f u l l of i n f l a t e d 57 e p i t h e t s . Comparison of the second stanza of the o r i g i n a l , w i t h t h a t composed by Ramsay makes c l e a r the c o n t r a s t . In the b a l l a d we have: They thought to l i e i n Methven K i r k , Amang t h e i r noble k i n , But they maun l i e on Lyndoch brae, To beak f o m e n t the sun. 0 Bessie B e l l and Mary Gray, They were twa bonnie l a s s e s , They b i g i t a bower on yon burn-brae, And t h e e k i t i t o'er w i ' rashes. (9-16) Ramsay gi v e s us: Now Bessy's h a i r ' s l i k e a l i n t - t a p ; She smiles l i k e - a May morning^ When Phoebus s t a r t s from T h e t i s ' l a p , The h i l l s w i t h rays adorning: White i s her neck, s o f t i s her hand, Her waist and f e e t ' s f u ' genty; With every grace she can command; Her l i p s , 0 wow! they're d a i n t y . (9-16) I n d i v i d u a l words and phrases from other poems could be used as the b a s i s f o r a handbook of poe t i c d i c t i o n . Tears are "bri n y streams"; 'the heaving milky way" i s the female b r e a s t ; sheep are "the pastor's tender care"; yet a poet capable of such phraseology appears to f e e l that he was condescending i n h i s use of the vernacular i n " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " . Such an a t t i t u d e of condescension appears a l l too c l e a r l y i n h i s published v e r s i o n of the o r i g i n a l poem, w i t h the a d d i t i o n I b i d . , pp. 58-59. 80 . of two cantos of h i s own. To him the characters of the o l d poem were clowns and buffoons, and h i s f e e l i n g toward them i s expressed i n the note appended to the second of h i s cantos, where he w r i t e s : Thus have I pursued these comical c h a r a c t e r s , having gentlemen's h e a l t h and pleasure, and the good manners of the vul g a r i n view: the main design of comedy being to present the f o l l i e s and mistakes of low l i f e i n a j u s t l i g h t , making them appear as r i d i c u l o u s as they r e a l l y are, t h a t each who i s a spectator may avoid being the object of laughter,58 In pursuing that aim, he turned the c h a r a c t e r s , young and o l d , men and women, i n t o b o o r i s h drunkards, and s t r e s s e d the coarseness and v u l g a r i t y of t h e i r a c t i o n s . His a t t i t u d e was, i n f a c t , t h a t of the s o p h i s t i c a t e d c i t y - d w e l l e r , who, having been f o r c e d to attend the wedding of a country r e l a t i v e , has re s o l v e d to make the best of matters by c o l l e c t i n g i n stances of the rudeness and gaucherie of country f o l k to re g a l e h i s c i t y f r i e n d s on h i s r e t u r n . Added t h e r e t o , i n Ramsay's case, was a r a t h e r j u v e n i l e sense of humour t h a t accentuated grossness by innuendo, so that the u n i n h i b i t e d merriment t h a t accompanied the bedding of the b r i d e and groom i s rendered w i t h a p r u r i e n t snigger. An unhealthy enjoyment of the s a l a c i o u s , indeed marred a number of h i s vernacular poems, notably "Lucky Spence's l a s t a d v i c e " , i n which a decayed madam advises the inmates of her Ramsay, op. c i t . , v o l . 1, p. 8 2 . 81 b r o t h e l as to t h e i r conduct once her death has deprived them of her counsel. One does not r e q u i r e to be p r u d i s h to f e e l d i s -gust a t : Drive at the Jango t i l l he spew, Syne h e ' l l sleep soun. When he's asleep, then dive and catch His ready cash, h i s r i n g s and watch; And g i n he l i k e s to l i g h t h i s Match At your Spunk-box, Ne'er stand to l e t the fumbling Wretch E'en take the pox. (19-30) The same f e e l i n g i s aroused by a p e r u s a l of the two a d d i t i o n a l cantos of " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " , ^ f o r here, too, Ramsay's obsession w i t h f i l t h , both moral and p h y s i c a l , causes him to e x p a t i a t e on the f u n c t i o n i n g or m a l - f u n c t i o n i n g of the excretory organs, and to i n s i n u a t e , i n i n d i r e c t terms, t h a t the groom l a c k s v i r i l i t y , then e x p l a i n h i s a l l u s i o n w i t h yet another double-entendre. What, f o r i n s t a n c e , are we to make o f : She fand her l a d was not i n t r i m , And be t h i s same good token That i l k a member, l i t h and l i m , Was souple l i k e a docken, 'Bout him t h a t day.? (Canto I I I , 190-193) Then, i n h i s footnote, he adopts a tone of outraged innocence, by asking r h e t o r i c a l l y , "Pray, i s there anything v i c i o u s or unbecoming i n saying — "Men's l i t h s and limbs are supple when i n t o x i c a t e d ? " ( s i c ) The s a l a c i t y t h a t d i s t o r t e d h i s v i s i o n , and l a c k of 6 0 I b i d . , v o l . 1, pp. 66-82, ^ I b i d . , v o l . 1, p. 82. 82 i -magnanimity are both evident i n the second and t h i r d cantos of " C h r i s t f s K i r k " , and i t i s the presence of the one, and the absence of the other that cause h i s a d d i t i o n s to the poem to f a l l short of the o r i g i n a l . Instead of the candid camera that r e -corded o b j e c t i v e l y the events at a country f a i r , we are given an account i n h i g h l y s u b j e c t i v e terms, of the happenings at a country wedding. The p a r t i c i p a n t s are held up to scorn; l a s s e s , who, i n the o r i g i n a l canto were " L i c h t of l a i t i s " , have turned i n t o clumsy country g i r l s , who, i n the movements of a r e e l , Gar'd a' t h e i r hurdies wallop, And swat l i k e pownies when they speel Up braes, or when they g a l l o p . (Canto I I , 76-78) Lowry, Robin, and Hucheon have l i k e w i s e degenerated i n t o drunken s o t s , so that what was intended f o r humour evokes only d i s g u s t when we read: But Lawrie he took out h i s nap Upon a mow of pease; And Robin spewed i n ' s a i n w i f e ' s l a p He s a i d i t gave him ease. Hucheon, w i t h a three-lugged cap, His head b i z z e n w i ' bees Hi t Geordie a m i s l u s h i o s rap, And brak the b r i g o's neeze. (Canto I I I , 161-168) Perhaps a d i r e c t comparison of two stanzas best shows how the poem, i n i t s treatment by Ramsay, has d e t e r i o r a t e d from the o r i g i n a l . Since the l a s t stanza of Ramsay's second canto i s p a r a l l e l w i t h the opening stave o f the o l d poem, i t i s easy to see how f a r su p e r i o r was the model. The f i r s t stanza of " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " , i t w i l l be r e c a l l e d , runs as f o l l o w s : Was n e v i r i n Scotland heard nor seen Sic. dancing nor deray, 83 Neither at F a l k l a n d on the Green, Nor P e b l i s at the play, As wes of wooeris as I ween At C h r i s t ' s K i r k on ane day; There came our k i t t e i s waschen clene In t h e i r new k i r t i l l i s of grey, F u l l gay, At C h r i s t ' s K i r k of the green. (1-10) In c o n t r a s t , Ramsay's stanza i s tawdry and empty: Was ne'er i n Scotland heard nor seen S i c banquetting and d r i n k i n g , -Si c r e v e l l i n g and b a t t l e s keen, -Si c dancing and s i c j i n k i n g , -And unco wark that f e l l at e'en, When l a s s e s were h a f f - w i n k i n , The l o s t t h e i r f e e t and b a i t h t h e i r e'en, And maidenheads gaed l i n k e n A f f a' t h a t day. (Canto I I , 185-192) One gets the impression that the o r i g i n a l poet was enjoy-ing h i m s e l f and t h a t Ramsay was enjoying the thought of the d i s c o m f i t i n g of h i s c h a r a c t e r s , whom he patronised i n con-descending f a s h i o n . F o r t u n a t e l y Fergusson and Burns were able to remedy the d e f i c i e n c y i n t h e i r poems on communal amusements, but i t remains matter f o r r e g r e t that they f o l l o w e d Ramsay i n h i s abandonment of the bob and wheel, which, i n the words of one w r i t e r s , " i s l i k e a gasp or a sudden proud tos s of the head." The s u b s t i t u t i o n of a simple r e f r a i n c e r t a i n l y made the verse form e a s i e r to handle, but i t reduced the c a p a c i t y of the stanza f o r expressing s u r p r i s e or i n d i g n a t i o n . A l l i n a l l , t h e r e f o r e , our debt to Ramsay must be p a r t i a l l y o f f - s e t by r e -gret t h a t he used the " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " stanza to such small e f f e c t . K a r l W i t t i g , The S c o t t i s h T r a d i t i o n i n L i t e r a t u r e . Edinburgh, 1958, p.. 114. #4 His only essays i n the form were the two cantos added to " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " and some e u l o g i s t i c verses, "Edinburgh's S a l u t a t i o n to the Most Honourable, My Lord Marquess of Carnarvon", ^ a subject f o r which i t s b r i s k j i n g l i n g movement was q u i t e u n s u i t e d . I t i s indeed hard to imagine the s p i r i t of Edinburgh addressing i t s v i s i t o r i n terms l i k e the f o l l o w i n g : Lang syne,'my Lord, I had a c o u r t , And nobles f i l l e d my cawsy; But since I have been fortune's s p o r t , I look nae hauff sae gawsy. Yet here brave gentlemen r e s o r t , And mony a handsome l a s s y ; Now t h a t you're lodged w i t h i n my p o r t , How w e l l I wat t h e y ' l l a' say, "Welcome my Lord". (19-27) Nevertheless, having condemned A l l a n Ramsay as poet and e d i t o r , i t i s but r i g h t that I should give him c r e d i t f o r having mined the raw ore t h a t h i s successors i n the v e r n a c u l a r t r a d i t i o n r e f i n e d and moulded. His use of d i a l e c t , however circumscribed the purpose, and h i s employment of the s i x - l i n e stanza i n rime couee and of the " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " stave, however imperfect h i s handling, revealed to others t h e i r p o s s i b i l i t i e s . Perhaps the best summing-up of h i s p o s i t i v e achievement i s t h a t contained i n the Cambridge H i s t o r y of L i t e r a t u r e , where the c o n t r i b u t o r , having pointed out h i s shortcomings, goes on to p r a i s e him i n these words: / " A l l a n Ramsay, as b o o k s e l l e r and l i b r a r i a n ^ / d i d more perhaps, than any other man to f u r t h e r the i n t e l -l e c t u a l r e v i v a l of which, towards the c l o s e of the X ^Ramsay, op. c i t . , v o l . 1, pp. 149-151. 85 century, Edinburgh became the centre. Apart from t h i s , by the publication of his own verse, of the Tea-Table Miscellany and of the Evergreen . . . he disseminated a love of song and verse among the people, both high and low, which, consummated by the advent of Burns, s t i l l remains a marked ch a r a c t e r i s t i c of Scotland . . . . To have been the f i r s t to seek to do j u s t i c e to those forgotten masters i n verse i s a s u f f i c i e n t t i t l e on Ramsay's part to the permanent gratitude of his countrymen; but, i n addition, his work as a l i t e r a r y pioneer i n the combined capacity of w r i t e r , e d i t o r , publisher, and l i b r a r i a n was, largely because of the l i t e r a r y dearth of the preceding century i n Scotland, of far greater importance than that of many with whose l i t e r a r y achievements h i s own can bear no comparison.°4 From his followers i n the f i e l d of Scottish vernacular poetry, Ramsay received his due meed of acknowledgement, even while they were w r i t i n g verse that far transcended his i n q u a l i t y . To gain acceptance at a l l , t h e i r verse had to be of a higher standard, for i t was subjected to more searching c r i t i c -ism than had been l e v e l l e d at that of the pioneer i n vernacular poetry. They had also to overcome the apathy, or even a n t i -pathy of some of t h e i r countrymen, who, lacking t h e i r fathers' prejudices against the use of standard English, were sedulous i n t h e i r employment of i t i n preference to t h e i r own tongue. Expatriates who had made t h e i r homes i n London were not alone i n eschewing the use of Scots; i t s propriety was equally., suspect .F. Henderson, "Scottish popular poetry before Burns," Cambridge History of English L i t e r a t u r e , ed. A.W. Ward and others, Cambridge, 1932-33, v o l . 9, p. 410. v 86 among certain leading figures i n Scotland i t s e l f . The correspond ence columns of Ruddiman's Weekly Magazine were enlivened throughout the summer of 1772 by a debate on the fate of the Scottish tongue. Those who contributed to the discussion em-ployed pen-names which would suggest that t h e i r pretensions to culture were not narrowly Sco t t i s h . "Anthropos", f o r instance, was one who wrote i n favour of "giving up a d i a l e c t which we a l l disdain to write i n , for a language i n point of beauty and 65 energy, the f i r s t perhaps i n the world." His was the common consensus of opinion) almost alone was "Scoto-Britannus". who appealed for the retention of a few Scotticisms. I r o n i c a l l y enough, while these gentlemen were performing t h e i r obsequies over t h e i r native tongue, the adjoining columns of the same per i o d i c a l were carrying the e a r l i e s t Scottish poems of Robert Fergusson, poems which might have caused them to consider that t h e i r requiem was, to say the l e a s t , a l i t t l e premature. Even e a r l i e r , i n 1764, James Boswell, desirous of emulating h i s hero, the great lexicographer, announced that he was considering the compilation of a dictionary of the Scottish tongue, because, i n his own words: "^Weekly Magazine. Edinburgh, 17 September 1772, English  L i t e r a r y Periodicals Series. Ann Arbor, University Microfilms, Publication E. 6, r e e l 3. Ibi d . , 16 September 1773. 87 The S c o t t i s h language i s being l o s t every day, and ' i n a short time w i l l become q u i t e u n i n t e l l i g i b l e . „ . . To me, who have the true p a t r i o t i c s o u l of an o l d Scotsman, t h a t would seem a p i t y . I t i s f o r t h a t reason t h a t I have undertaken to make a d i c t i o n a r y of our tongue, through which one w i l l always have 67 the means of l e a r n i n g i t l i k e any other dead language. In r e t r o s p e c t i t i s easy to smile at Boswell's gloomy p r o g n o s t i c a t i o n , but he was by no means alone i n h i s assumption i n an age when James B e a t t i e , author of "The M i n s t r e l " could sum up p r e v a i l i n g S c o t t i s h sentiment i n the l i n e s : .. „ f r a e the c o t t a r to the L a i r d , we a' r i n South.68 Even those who were unable to make the a c t u a l journey to the land of promise admired i t from a f a r , and t h e i r admiration of thi n g s E n g l i s h was coupled w i t h a corresponding contempt f o r S c o t t i s h i n s t i t u t i o n s . F o r t u n a t e l y f o r S c o t t i s h vernacular l i t e r a t u r e , Robert 69 Fergusson, having gone part way to A n g l i c i s a t i o n , r e t r a c e d h i s f o o t s t e p s and re v e r t e d to the t r a d i t i o n of h i s f o r e f a t h e r s . When h i s verses began to appear i n the Weekly Magazine, however, there was, at f i r s t , l i t t l e i n d i c a t i o n that a poet greater than A l l a n Ramsay had appeared on the S c o t t i s h scene. The p r e v a i l i n g l i t e r a r y t r e n d was towards s e n t i m e n t a l i t y , represented i n poetry 6 ? F . J . P o t t l e , ed., Boswell i n Holland, London, 1952,p.161. 68 " E p i s t l e to Mr. Alexander Ross of Lochlea", Weekly  Magazine, 1 September 1768, U n i v e r s i t y M i c r o f i l m s , E.6, r e e l 1, 69 For a b r i e f account of Fergusson Ts l i f e and background, see appendix, pp. 88 by the m i l d p a s t o r a l i s m of Gay, Shenstone, and Gray. At a time when Scots as a means of expression was unfashionable, these seemed the poets f o r an apprentice w r i t e r to i m i t a t e , and t h i s Fergusson d i d , i n a s e r i e s of d e r i v a t i v e verses t h a t show t h e i r o r i g i n a l s a l l too c l e a r l y . In these he s c a r c e l y rose abov the m e d i o c r i t y of other weekly c o n t r i b u t o r s , and on the few occasions when he d i d , i t was due to the s u p e r i o r q u a l i t y of the model r a t h e r than to any merit inherent i n h i s i m i t a t i o n of i t . Had he continued i n t h i s s t r a i n , i t i s d o u b t f u l i f h i s name would have been remembered beyond the week i n which h i s c o n t r i -b u t i o n appeared i n the poets' corner of the magazine. Fortunate f o r him, however, he found t h a t he could not express h i m s e l f f r e e l y i n standard E n g l i s h , and he discovered a l s o t h a t h i s t r u e metier was the r e p o r t i n g of the s o c i a l scene, w i t h sympathy, but without s e n t i m e n t a l i t y . Fergusson f e l t c o n s t r a i n t that the use of a f o r e i g n idiom imposed on h i s w r i t i n g , and he was conscious of a growing d i s -t a s t e f o r the Union of Parliaments, which, he f e l t , was d r a i n i n g Scotland of v i t a l i t y , and was reducing her to the st a t u s of an 70 E n g l i s h province. A couplet which he penned about 1770 (the year when h i s f i r s t venacular poems appeared) expressed h i s f e e l i n g of anger and f r u s t r a t i o n : i n "The G h a i s t s " , Fergusson, op. c i t . , v o l . 2, p. 143» 89 i Black be the day that e'er to England's ground Scotland was e i k i t by the Union's bond. (57-58) For p o l i t i c a l and p o e t i c reasons, t h e r e f o r e Fergusson began t o employ the ve r n a c u l a r , which d e s p i t e e f f o r t s of the S c o t t i s h i n t e l l i g e n t s i a , was s t i l l the current speech of the country. For a young poet, w r i t i n g a t the beginning of the eighth'. decade of the eighteenth century, the d e c i s i o n to employ the S c o t t i s h vernacular was a bold one, because, as one c r i t i c has w r i t t e n , "In 1770 Edinburgh s o c i e t y was a c t i n g on the r e s o l u t i o n no longer to speak, much l e s s to w r i t e , i n the Scots tongue which 71 they had learned from t h e i r f a t h e r s . Nevertheless, despite the p r e v a i l i n g p r e j u d i c e , Fergusson, at the end of 1771, submitted the Weekly Magazine a poem i n the S c o t t i s h d i a l e c t i n which he abandoned h i s attempt to ape the po e t i c manner of E n g l i s h w r i t e r s , and struck out on h i s own account. The course which he was t o followwas that which Ramsay had charted, but he soon showed h i m s e l f Ramsay's su p e r i o r i n h i s d e p i c t i o n of r u s t i c and urban scenes, whether s e r i o u s or comic. His experience o f r u r a l l i f e gave him a f e e l i n g f o r the s i g h t s and sounds of the countryside, and f o r the experiences of co u n t r y f o l k , as he showed i n "The Farmer's I n g l e " and the "Ode to the Gowdspink," but i t was as the poet of Edinburgh t h a t he 72 e x c e l l e d . His f i r s t p ublished poem i n Scots, "The Daft Days," 7 1A.M. B e l l , "Robert Fergusson," C o r n h i l l Magazine, v o l . 55, 1923, p. 171. 72 ' Fergusson, op. c i t . , v o l . 2, pp. 32-34. 90 » combined the d e s c r i p t i o n of the dead season i n the country w i t h the j o l l i t y t h a t marked the passing of the o l d year i n the c i t y . Though t h i s poem i s not w r i t t e n i n the " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " stanza, i t i s worth quoting to show how economically he was able to create a scene w i t h the minimum of f u s s . Here i s h i s p i c t u r e of December i n the dead co u n t r y s i d e : Now mirk December's dowie f a c e , Glowrsowre the r i g s w i ' sour grimace, While t h r o ' h i s minimum of space, The bleer-eyed sun, Wi' b l i n k i n g l i g h t and s t e a l i n g pace, His race doth run. (1-6) In c o n t r a s t i s the warmth of an Edinburgh i n t e r i o r at the same season: Auld Reekie I t h o u ' r t the canty hole, A b e i l d f o r mony a c a u l d r i f e s o u l , Wha snugly at thy i n g l e l o l l , B a i t h warm and couth; While round they gar the b i c k e r r o l l To weet t h e i r mouth. (19-24). Just as Fergusson saw the pleasures of midwinter i n terms of the c i t y , so, i n h i s poems t h a t f o l l o w e d the p a t t e r n of " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " , he found h i s occasions i n the gatherings of the c i t i z e n s of Edinburgh. In d e p i c t i n g the humours of h o l i d a y crowds at a race-meeting and at an annual Hallowe'en f a i r , Fergusson r e v e r t e d to the s p i r i t of the o r i g i n a l poem, w i t h i t s c l o s e o b s e r vation of s i g h t s and sounds, and i t s o c c a s i o n a l touch of l i g h t s a t i r e . He experimented, however, w i t h the scheme of a l t e r n a t e rhymes, which, without the a l l i t e r a t i o n of the Middle Scots poem, had been bequeathed to him by Ramsay. / 91. The scheme of two a l t e r n a t e rhymes had always tended to produce a j i n g l i n g e f f e c t , and Ramsay accentuated t h i s tendency by us i n g feminine rhymes w i t h some frequency. By h i s doubling o f the number of rhymes, Fergusson turned the j i n g l e i n t o a l i l t t h a t produced a f i n e r euphony, a smoother movement, and a strong p o t e n t i a l i t y f o r comedy as opposed to f a r c e . Nor was t h i s Fergusson fs only i n n o v a t i o n . He was a l s o r e s p o n s i b l e f o r the c r e a t i o n of the a l l e g o r i c a l f i g u r e , M i r t h , who accompanies the poet on h i s v i s i t to L e i t h Races, and who, as i t were, jogs h i s elbow to draw h i s a t t e n t i o n to noteworthy i n c i d e n t s . The success of t h i s device l e d to i t s adoption by Burns i n h i s "Holy F a i r " , where the poet has no l e s s than three such f i g u r e s at h i s s i d e on h i s journey to Mauchline. Yet another f e a t u r e of Fergusson's handling of the form was h i s rendering of v a r i o u s S c o t t i s h d i a l e c t s . In both "Hallow-Fair" and " L e i t h Races" he has caught the sing-song i n t o n a t i o n of Buchan and Aberdeen, the softness of speech and the t o r t u r e d syntax of the English-speaking Gael, the c l i p p e d accents of the r e c r u i t i n g sergeant, and the everyday accents of the i n h a b i t a n t s of Edinburgh, though i t i s i n h i s other poem of t h i s type, "The E l e c t i o n " , t h a t the l a s t are used most f r e e l y . D e t a i l e d study of each of these poems r e v e a l s Fergusson's adherence, i n broad o u t l i n e at l e a s t , to the p r i n c i p l e s t a c i t l y e s t a b l i s h e d by the o r i g i n a l " C h r i s t ' s K i r k . " Two of them, "The H a l l o w - F a i r " and " L e i t h Races", d e p i c t the humours of h o l i d a y 92 crowds, beginning w i t h the e a r l y morning pre p a r a t i o n s , and s e l e c t i n g instances of t h e i r behaviour during the day. The other, more openly s a t i r i c , c asts an eye on the pretensions o f those who a s p i r e to o f f i c e i n the C i t y C o u n c i l , and presents, i n the s t y l e of Hogarth, a p i c t u r e of the c o n v i v i a l i t y at the i n a u g u r a l meeting of t h a t body. "The H a l l o w - F a i r " , ^ Fergusson's f i r s t essay i n the form, opens w i t h a scene very s i m i l a r to t h a t at the beginning of " C h r i s t ' s K i r k . " Sunrise i s the s i g n a l f o r the maidens to begin t h e i r p r e p a r a t i o n s : Upo' the tap o' i l k a lum, The sun began to keek, And bade the t r i g made maidens come, A s i g h t l y jo to seek. (10-13) At the f a i r , country John, who bears a resemblance to h i s ancestor, Jock, attempts to win the favour of Meg. The l a s s , dressed i n her best, "wi' r o k e l a y new", proves l e s s hard-hearted than G i l l i e , and r e l e n t s a f t e r he has promised to buy her f a i r i n g s . Next we meet a s e l e c t i o n of hucksters, each anxious to separate the holiday-makers from t h e i r money: Here chapman b i l l i e s tak t h e i r stand, And shaw t h e i r bonnie w a l l i e s ; Wow, but they l i e f u ' g l e g a f f hand To t r i c k the s i l l y f a l l o w s . Heh, s i r s I what c a i r d s and t i n k l e r s come An' ne'er do weel horse coupers, An' spae-wives fe n z y i n g to be dumb, Wi' a' s i c l i k e landloupers, To t h r i v e t h a t day. (28-36) 7< I b i d . , v o l . 2, pp. $9-93. 93 I t i s n o t i c e a b l e t h a t Fergusson a l t e r n a t e s general des-c r i p t i o n of the group w i t h d e t a i l e d p o r t r a y a l of i n d i v i d u a l s . A f t e r the i n t r o d u c t i o n o f " s t r a p p i n dames and sturdy l a d s " comes the close-up of John and Meg, and a f t e r the mention of the chapmen f o l l o w s a stanza devoted to one of t h e i r number, Sawny, the vendor of woollen s t o c k i n g s . Here the i n d i v i d u a l -i s e d d e s c r i p t i o n gains i n v e r i s i m i l i t u d e , as the poet s l i p s n a t u r a l l y i n t o the Aberdonian d i a l e c t which Sawny uses i n c r y i n g h i s wares: Here Sawny c r i e s , f r a e Aberdeen, "Gome ye to me f a need: The brawest shanks th a t ere were seen " I ' l l s e l l ye cheap an' guid, " I wyt they are as p r o t t y hose "As come f r a e weyr or leem; "Here t a k ' a rug and shaw's your pose: "Forsooth, my ain' s but teem "An' l i c h t t h i s day." (37-45) S c a r c e l y has he f i n i s h e d when, The d i n l i n drums alarm our ears, (55) as a prelude to the speech of the r e c r u i t i n g sergeant: "A' gentlemen and volunteers "That wish your country gude, "Gome here to me, and I s a i l g i e "Twa guineas and-a crown, "A bowl o' punch, th a t l i k e the sea " W i l l soum a lang dragoon "Wi' ease t h i s day," (57-63) Having l i s t e n e d to the con t r a s t i n tones of Sawny and the sergeant, the n a r r a t o r enters one of the booths, set up as a temporary ale-house. Here the noise i s such that no i n d i v i d u a l v o i c e can emerge c l e a r l y above the confusion of tongues: * 94 Then there's such y a l l o c h i n and d i n , Wi' wives-and wee-anes g a b b l i n ' That ane micht trew they were a k i n To a' the tongues at Babylon, Confused that day. (68-72) By now Fergusson has caught the moods and movements of the crowd by h i s impressions of groups and i n d i v i d u a l s , and we are ready to f o l l o w him throughout the day. Here, however, what the e d i t o r of h i s poems f o r the S c o t t i s h Text S o c i e t y has c a l l e d 74 h i s "weakness i n power of mind" leads him i n t o a lengthy d i a t r i b e at the expense of the town guard, and causes him to f o r g e t h i s main theme. The d i g r e s s i o n i s , i n i t s e l f extremely amusing, but i t causes a break i n the poem tha t i s never r e -p a i r e d , and i t must be a matter f o r r e g r e t t h a t he d i d not devote a separate piece to the deeds of the guardians of Edinburgh, to .which he a l l u d e s i n " L e i t h Races" a l s o . They are introduced here, when one of t h e i r number apprehends an over-exuberant r e v e l l e r , but i n s t e a d of l e a v i n g them i n t h e i r guardhouse, Fergusson proceeds to moralise at t h e i r expense: Good fock, as ye come f r a e the f a i r , Bide yont f r a e t h i s black squad; There's nae s i c cankered pack elsewhere Allowed to wear cockade. Than the strong l i o n ' s hungry maw, Or tusk of Russian bear, Frae t h e i r wanruly f e l l i n ' paw Mair cause ye hae to f e a r Your death t h a t day. (100-108) 7 4 I b i d . , v o l . 1, p. 196. Thus, i n something of an a n t i - c l i m a x , "Hallow-Fair" ends, 75 and i t was l e f t f o r " L e i t h Races" to show that Fergusson was capable of a completely i n t e g r a t e d poem i n the manner of " C h r i s t ' K i r k . " Even i n ' L e i t h Races"he narrowly evaded the t r a p i n t o which he had f a l l e n i n h i s i n i t i a l essay. Chance mention of the town guard's mustering f o r t h e i r march to the race-course leads him, once more, i n t o a d i g r e s s i o n on t h e i r few v i r t u e s and many v i c e s , but t h i s time he manages to r e c a l l h imself before he has strayed too f a r from the p o i n t , and the remainder of the poem f o l l o w s the p a t t e r n set by h i s model. I t i s a measure of h i s increased s k i l l that he succeeds i n rounding out h i s d e s c r i p t i o n of the day's a c t i v i t i e s w i t h s u f f i c i e n t economy to avoid any sense of s t r a i n or f l a g g i n g of i n t e r e s t . The r a c i n g ends, and, a f t e r some s o c i a l d r i n k i n g , most of the h o l i d a y makers are q u i c k l y disposed_of: Great feck gae h i r p l i n g hame l i k e f o o l s , The c r i p p l e leads the b l i n d . (174-175) Only a few hardened carousers, l o a t h to b r i n g the h o l i d a y to an end, are l e f t t o continue t h e i r t i p p l i n g and arguing, u s u a l l y w i t h no c l e a r n o t i o n of the subject under d i s c u s s i o n , so that-they are o f t e n : ...ten m i l e from the question In hand t h a t n i g h t . (170-171) In t h i s stanza the s u b s t i t u t i o n of " n i g h t " f o r "day" i n the r e f r a i n does more than simply mark the passage of time, i t . ^ 7 5 I b i d . , v o l . 2, pp. 160-167. 96 announces the conc l u s i o n of the h o l i d a y f r o l i c , and p o i n t s forward to the workaday world of the morrow. The opening of the poem introduces M i r t h , the a l l e g o r i c a l f i g u r e , who, a f t e r complaining t h a t Fergusson has cele b r a t e d Hallow-Fair but has neglected other occasions of p u b l i c r e v e l r y , c a j o l e s him to v i s i t the races, where, i n a d d i t i o n to enjoying h i m s e l f , he w i l l f i n d i n c i d e n t s worth r e c o r d i n g i n h i s ob-s e r v a t i o n of the human comedy. With t h i s suggestion the poet agrees, and straightway we have the d e s c r i p t i o n of e a r l y morning b u s t l e as womenfolk prepare f o r the occasion: Ere servant maids had wont to r i s e To seeth the bre a k f a s t k e t t l e , I l k dame her brawest ribbons t r i e s , To put her on her me t t l e . (46-49) The b u s t l e i s not confined w i t h i n doors; o u t s i d e , on the s t r e e t s , vendors of programmes are already busy shouting t h e i r wares: "Here i s the t r u e an' f a i t h f u l l i s t " 0 f Noblemen, and Horses; "Their e i l d , t h e i r weight, t h e i r height, t h e i r g r i s t , "That r i n f o r P l a t e s or Purses Fu' f l e e t ' t h i s day." (59-63) Once more i t i s n o t i c e a b l e how s k i l f u l l y Fergusson records the c r i e s of the "scaud and bare-arsed loons" without s t r a i n i n g e i t h e r l i n e or sense. In the same way, he employs a v a r i e t y of d i a l e c t s i n h i s observation of the i n d i v i d u a l s who make up the s o c i a l scene, w i t h which, r a t h e r than w i t h the r a c i n g , he i s concerned. S e l l e r s of refreshments, p e d l a r s , d i c e r s , card-sharps, and other gentry who l i v e by t h e i r w i t s are the ob j e c t s of h i s s c r u t i n y . Spectators, both afoot and i n c a r r i a g e s , r e c e i v e 9<7, e q u a l l y c a r e f u l a t t e n t i o n , and i n the case of the l a t t e r group, we have the poet's s a t i r i c comment t h a t the s t y l e of the turnout i s no r e f l e c t i o n of the honesty of the occupants: Some chaises honest f o l k c o n t a i n , An' some has many a whore i n ; Wi' rose and l i l y , red and white, They g i e themselves s i c f i t a i r s , L i k e Dian, they w i l l seem p e r f i t e ; But i t ' s nae goud th a t g l i t t e r s Wi' them t h i r days. (138-144) " L e i t h Races" i s undoubtedly Fergusson's most e f f e c t i v e essay i n the manner of " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " , because, as w e l l as demonstrating h i s a b i l i t y to s e l e c t what i s s i g n i f i c a n t i n the conduct of the crowd, i t deals w i t h a scene that i s t i m e l e s s . In "The E l e c t i o n " h i s s a t i r e on men a n d . i n s t i t u t i o n s , though more b i t i n g , has not the same impact since the occasion that i n s p i r e d i t r e q u i r e s some explanation to be comprehensible to the modern reader. His s a t i r e was, i n ge n e r a l , d i r e c t e d at the method of e l e c t i n g r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s to the C i t y C o u n c i l , and was, i n p a r t i c u l a r , l e v e l l e d at the burghers, whose votes determined i t s composition. The names on the burghal r o l l were those of c i t i z e n s whose ancestors had been members of the Incorporated Trades of Edinburgh, and si n c e the r i g h t to be e n r o l l e d was h e r e d i t a r y , the p r i v i l e g e was j e a l o u s l y guarded. No matter how poor they might be, the burghers thought much of themselves, and the annual e l e c t i o n dinner, where candidates I b i d . , v o l . 2, pp. 185-190 9 8 v i e d w i t h each other i n p r o v i d i n g meat and drink f o r the e l e c t o r s , gave them a chance to shine. One of the burghers, John the cobbler, i s chosen by the poet as r e p r e s e n t a t i v e of a l l . He i s i n a fever of impatience and self-importance as he prepares f o r h i s evening of g l o r y . His newly-awakened pr i d e i s evident i n h i s tone of command to younger members of h i s f a m i l y as he makes ready: Haste Epps, quo' John, an' b r i n g my gezz! Tak t e n t ye dinna s p u l z i e ; Last night the barber ga't a f r i z z , An s t r a i k i t i t w i ' u l z i e , Hae done your p a r r i t c h l a s s i e L i z z , Gie me my sark and gravat; I'se be as braw's the Deacon i s When he takes a f f i d a v i t 0 T f a i t h the day. (10-18) Gossiping neighbours, at the close-mouth, are l e s s impressed by John's appearance than he i s hi m s e l f , as t h e i r comments i n d i c a t e : Whar's Johnny gaun, c r i e s neebor Bess, That he's sae gayly bodin Wi' new kam'd wig, weel s y n d i t f a c e , S i l k hose f o r hamely hoddin? "Our Johnny's nae sma' d r i n k y o u ' l l guess, "He's t r i g as ony muir-cock, "An' f o r t h to mak a deacon, l a s s ; "He downa speak to poor fock "Like us the day." (19-27) These s p i t e f u l comments serve two purposes; they show John as he i s on t h i s s p e c i a l occasion, and imply that on normal days he i s not so p a r t i c u l a r , e i t h e r as to the c l e a n l i n e s s of h i s face, or as to those w i t h whom he speaks. From t h i s beginning, the a c t i o n proceeds as one might expect. Burghers and candidates carouse; speeches are cut short i n order that the c i r c u l a t i o n of the bowl may not be impeded; the r e v e l l e r s r e t u r n home i n l e s s s t a t e than they departed.. But they have done t h e i r c i v i c duty f o r another year, though i t -i s d o u b t f u l i f they have any c l e a r n otion as to what business has been t r a n s a c t e d . The s o c i a l s a t i r e , here, i s o v e r t , and, i n t h i s r e s p e c t , "The E l e c t i o n " r e c a l l s the opening stanzas of "Sym and h i s b r u d i r " , and looks forward to "The Holy F a i r " and "The O r d i n a t i o n " of Burns. Fergusson, however, lacked the i n t e n s i t y o f f e e l i n g of h i s successor, and "The E l e c t i o n " peters out i n broad f a r c e , i n v o l v i n g the r e t u r n o f John and h i s f r i e n d s to the arms of t h e i r wives. Where Fergusson i s d e a l i n g w i t h p o l i t i c a l m o r a l i t y i n general terms, we can recognise the aptness of h i s s t r i c t u r e s on the v e n a l i t y of o f f i c e seeking. The statement: ... p o l i t i c i a n s b r i b e a loon Against h i s s a u l f o r v o t i n g (111-112) has i m p l i c a t i o n s t h a t we can understand, but such statements are i n f r e q u e n t , and we are l e f t w i t h the impression that Fergusson was more concerned w i t h the f a r c i c a l aspects of the scene than w i t h the s o c i a l s a t i r e i m p l i c i t i n such a system of e l e c t i o n . The young poet, i n f a c t , though he had the d i s c r i m i n a t o r y o b s e r v a t i o n , yet lacked the one necessary a t t r i b u t e of the s u c c e s s f u l s a t i r i s t — a s u f f i c i e n t l y strong sense of i n d i g n a t i o n P o s s i b l y , had he l i v e d longer, such a sense might have developed, but time f o r the maturing of h i s g i f t s was not granted to him; he d i e d , alone, at the age of twenty-four, and was b u r i e d i n the unmarked grave of a pauper. 10©, I r o n i c a l l y enough, Burns, whose own poetry was to e c l i p s e t h a t of Fergusson i n the minds of t h e i r countrymen, was respon-s i b l e f o r f i n d i n g and marking h i s grave as part payment of the poe t i c debt t h a t he acknowledged to h i s predecessor. Nor was the debt a small one. We have, i n the words of Burns h i m s e l f , the unequivocal statement t h a t h i s reading of the works of Fergusson i n s p i r e d him to c r e a t i v e e f f o r t . In the course of an a u t o b i o g r a p h i c a l l e t t e r , he wrote, "Rhyme, except some r e l i g i o u s pieces which are i n p r i n t , I had given up; but meeting w i t h Fergusson's Scotch poems, I strung anew my w i l d l y - s o u n d i n g 77 l y r e w i t h emulating v i g o u r . " Fergusson, however, d i d more than l i b e r a t e i n Burns the c r e a t i v e impulse t h a t r e s u l t e d i n the Kilmarnock volume of h i s poems. Despite the o p p o s i t i o n o f those who disapproved of the use o f Scots, and the neglect of Fergusson by p e r i o d i c a l s such as the Edinburgh Magazine, h i s employment of the S c o t t i s h d i a l e c t had accumstomed Scotsmen to reading poems i n the n a t i v e idiom, and a s u b s t a n t i a l p r o p o r t i o n of them had enjoyed the experience. Fergusson had thus prepared the way f o r the acceptance of the poetry of Burns when the f i r s t volume of h i s verse appeared i n 1786. To be sure, there were s t i l l c r i t i c i s m s of the use of d i a l e c t ; "We much r e g r e t t h a t these poems are w r i t t e n i n some measure i n an unknown tongue . . . being composed i n the S c o t t i s h ' ' J . deL. Ferguson, L e t t e r s of Robert Burns. Oxford, 1931* v o l , 1, p. 113. 101 d i a l e c t , which contains many words a l t o g e t h e r unknown to the E n g l i s h reader . . . . t h i s work, t h e r e f o r e , can only be f u l l y r e l i s h e d by the n a t i v e s of t h a t part of the country where i t 78 was produced." So ran the c r i t i c i s m of the Monthly Review, but the important point i s t h a t poems i n Scots were now considered worthy of n o t i c e at a l l . In g e n e r a l , however, the poems were greeted w i t h enthusiasm, though the p u b l i c , i n t h e i r a d u l a t i o n of a poet who was also a ploughman, tended to h a i l h i s innate genius, and to f o r g e t the debt which he owed to those who had given him h i s verse forms and themes. The s i x - l i n e stanza i n rime couee, t h a t he made so much h i s own, was drawn from h i s reading of Ramsay and Fergusson, as was the " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " stave, which he used e f f e c t i v e l y when he a p p l i e d i t to i t s t r a d i t i o n a l purpose. I t i s s i g n i f i c a n t t h a t the poems w r i t t e n i n the l a t t e r form were a l l produced between h i s discovery of Fergusson's 79 poetry -- p o s s i b l y i n 1784 — and the appearance of the Kilmarnock e d i t i o n i n 1786. In them the i n f l u e n c e of Fergusson i s s trong, f o r Burns used the rhyme scheme that h i s predecessor had adopted, and, i n "The Holy F a i r " , he f o l l o w e d , i n p a r t , the ' C i t e d i n Scots Magazine, Edinburgh, December 1786, p. 5 9 2 , E n g l i s h l i t e r a r y P e r i o d i c a l s S e r i e s . Ann Arbor, U n i v e r s i t y M i c r o f i l m s , r e e l 14. f o r d i s c u s s i o n of t h i s p o i n t , see Fergusson, op. c i t . , v o l . 1, pp. 177-178 10?. plan of " L e i t h Races". I t i s but r i g h t , t h e r e f o r e , t h a t due c r e d i t should be given to Fergusson, not only f o r the q u a l i t y of h i s own vernacular poetry, but a l s o f o r h i s i n f l u e n c e on Burns. Burns in c l u d e d three poems w i t h the " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " stanza i n h i s Kilmarnock e d i t i o n ; "A Dream", "Hallowe'en", and "The Holy F a i r " . I t i s s u r p r i s i n g t h a t he heeded the advice of h i s f r i e n d s who advised him to omit a f o u r t h poem i n t h i s form, "The O r d i n a t i o n " , but stubbornly ignored them when they wished him 80 to leave out "A Dream" a l s o . The occasion f o r t h i s r a t h e r heavy-handed piece of s a t i r e was King George I l l ' s b i r t h d a y i n 1786, and Burns, i n attempting to be i r o n i c at the expense of Thomas Warton, the Poet Laureate, and at the same time, to address the Royal Family on terms of easy f a m i l i a r i t y , f a l l s be-tween two s t o o l s . The poem, i t s e l f , , as the couplet at i t s head makes c l e a r , was intended to shock. I t s epigraph; Thoughts, words and deeds, the s t a t u s blames w i t h reason; But s u r e l y deeds were ne'er i n d i c t e d treason, i s a rude gesture i n the manner of a small boy's "cheeking" a policeman — h a l f hoping f o r , h a l f f e a r i n g — r e t a l i a t i o n . In "A Dream", Warton's "Birthday Ode" i s glanced at i n the l i n e s : The poets, too, a venal gang, Wi' rhymes weel-turned and ready, Robert Burns, P o e t i c a l Works, ed. W.M. R o s s e t t i , London, n.d., pp. 96-99. i c a ¥ad gar ye trow ye ne'er do wrang, But aye unerring steady, On s i c a day. (14-18) Burns then goes on to c o n t r a s t h i s own independence of s p i r i t w i t h the s e r v i l i t y d i s p l a y e d by Warton and othe r s , but h i s grounds f o r f e e l i n g f r e e to c r i t i c i z e — h i s not h o l d i n g a government post — suggest a c e r t a i n amount of envy f o r those more f o r t u n a t e than h i m s e l f : For me, before a monarch's face, Even there I winna f l a t t e r ; For n e i t h e r pension, post, or place, Am I your humble debtor. (19-22) The main weakness i n "A Dream" i s the f o r c e d tone of f a m i l i a r i t y . I t i s p o s s i b l e that Burns was t r y i n g to emulate one of Dunbar's " f l y t i n g s " ; but i f so, the attempt f a i l e d , probably because of the d i s t a n c e between him and h i s s u b j e c t s . Thus, the references to one of the Royal Dukes as "young r o y a l Tarry-Breeks", to the Princesses as "bonny blossoms", and to W i l l i a m P i t t , the Prime M i n i s t e r , as "a t r u e guid f a l l o w ' s get" are l a c k i n g i n t a s t e , when they come from one who has never met the persons concerned, and whose only knowledge of them has been gained from newspapers and country g o s s i p . The " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " stave, too, i s not a p a r t i c u l a r l y happy choice as a v e h i c l e f o r personal s a t i r e . In the form used i n t h i s instance — that w i t h a l t e r n a t e rhymes — i t s j i n g l i n g movement i s too l i g h t - h e a r t e d f o r a poem i n whose mood there i s an u n d e r l y i n g b i t t e r n e s s . Nevertheless, though "A Dream" i s not r e p r e s e n t a t i v e of Burns at h i s best, i t contains Wh-at l e a s t one example of h i s s k i l l i n expressing a g e n e r a l i s a t i o n . w i t h f o r c e enough to make h i s words p r o v e r b i a l . Facts are c h i e l s t h a t winna ding An' darena be disputed; (30-31) so run the l i n e s , and i t may be tha t they alone make "A Dream" worth r e c a l l i n g , 81 "Hallowe'en," too, though c l o s e r to the " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " t r a d i t i o n , does not q u i t e succeed. The t r o u b l e here i s that the r i t e s of A l l Hallow's Eve have to be explained, even to contemporaries of the poet,, and the reader i s c o n s t a n t l y d i s t r a c t e d by the n e c e s s i t y of studying f o o t n o t e s . The poem tends to become merely a s t r i n g of disconnected episodes, since i t was a c o n d i t i o n f o r the success of the various s p e l l s that they be cast i n secrecy, without witnesses. Before he f a l t e r s , however, Burns has kept c l o s e l y to the o l d t r a d i t i o n . The scene i s set i n time and space i n the opening stanzas; young men and maidens are desc r i b e d : The l a s s e s f e a t an' c l e a n l y neat, Mair braw than when they're f i n e ; (19-20) and The ladssae t r i g , w i ' wooer-babs double loops Weel knotted on t h e i r garten. (23-24) So long as communal r i t e s are being observed, a l l i s w e l l , but I b i d . , pp. 2 4 - 3 1 . y i o soon i n d i v i d u a l s leave the company, and we perforce f o l l o w t h e i r misadventures through a s e r i e s of lengthy d i g r e s s i o n s . At f i r s t , Burns has the company re-assemble, but, having run out of p l a u s i b l e p r e t e x t s f o r t h i s , he abandons the attempt at co n t i n u -i t y , and s i n g l e members of the group are l e f t s c a t t e r e d over the c o u n t r y s i d e , as the misadventures of other i n d i v i d u a l s are narrated. In the l a s t , and l e n g t h i e s t , episode, we are at one minute watching the mishaps that b e f a l l L i z z i e , and i n the n^xt, are back i n the farm k i t c h e n f o r the c o n c l u s i o n of the p a r t y . 82 "The Holy F a i r , " however, more than atones f o r the other two. I t must be considered among the best, i f not the best, of the Kilmarnock poems. In i t , Burns achieved complete mastery over subject-matter and form; . i t s s a t i r e i s good-humoured, i n c o n t r a s t to the b i t t e r n e s s of much of h i s poetry i n t h i s v e i n ; i t preserves a balance between crowd scenes and the a c t i o n s of i n d i v i d u a l s t h a t i s reminiscent of the o r i g i n a l " C h r i s t ' s K i r k . " I f passage of time has confirmed the q u a l i t y of "The Holy F a i r , " i t i s because the a c t i o n s of i n d i v i d u a l s and t h e i r motives f o r attending an open-air communion are presented i n terms t h a t are completely true to l i f e . The young are more concerned w i t h e a r t h l y , than w i t h d i v i n e l o v e ; t h e i r e l d e r s are making a p i c n i c of the a f f a i r ; the c l e r g y — i n t h e i r case the s a t i r e has an edge to i t , f o r Burns was no f r i e n d to them — preach, not of b r o t h e r l y l o v e , but of e t e r n a l damnation, or more moderately, x ^ 2 I b i d . , pp. 100-106, '1C6 plead the cause of good works and morals. A l l these elements are p e r f e c t l y a s s i m i l a t e d , and, once again, as i n the best poems of t h i s type, we f e e l the presence of the poet, s i n g l i n g out i n d i v i d u a l s from the mass, and d i r e c t -i n g our a t t e n t i o n to them. Before t h i s happens, however, we have had an opening which sets the scene i n a f a s h i o n t h a t i s almost l y r i c a l , so that what f o l l o w s has the advantage of sur-p r i s e . The f i r s t stanza contains not a h i n t of what i s to happen: Upon a simmer Sunday morn, When Nature's face i s f a i r , I walked f o r t h to view the corn, And s n i f f the c a l l e r a i r . The r i s i n g sun, owre Galston muirs, Wi' g l o r i o u s l i g h t was g l i n t i n ; The hares were h i r p l i n down the f u r s , The l a v ' r o c k s they were ch a n t i n Fu' sweet th a t day. (1-9) With the appearance of the a l l e g o r i c a l f i g u r e s , Fun, S u p e r s t i t i o n , and Hypocrisy, the tempo quickens. Fun introduces h e r s e l f , i n the guise of a young g i r l , and asks the poet to accompany her to Mauchline Holy F a i r , "To spend an hour i n d a f f i n , " and to enjoy the sp e c t a c l e of the a n t i c s of the other two. The roads l e a d i n g to the meeting place are as crowded as was the highroad t o Peebles: Here farmers gash,in r i d i n g g r a i t h , Gaed hoddin by t h e i r c o t t e r s ; There swankies young, i n braw b r a i d - c l a i t h , Are s p r i n g i n owre the g u t t e r s . The l a s s e s , s k e l p i n b a r e f i t , thrang, In s i l k s an' s c a r l e t s g l i t t e r ; (55-60) X 10? I but the r e a l scene of b u s t l e i s reserved f o r the meeting i t s e l f , Here, before the s t a r t of the preaching, the atmosphere i s not one of reverence and devotion, and Burns points out the mixture of r e l i g i o u s and s e c u l a r f e e l i n g that pervades the crowd: Here some are t h i n k i n on t h e i r s i n s , An' some upon t h e i r c l a e s ; Ane curses f e e t that f y l ' d h i s s h i n s , Anither sighs an' prays. (82-85) With a marked slowing of pace, the s e r v i c e begins, Now a' the congregation o'er Is s i l e n t expectation; (100-101) but not f o r long, f o r what we are t r e a t e d to i s a sermon f u l l of C a l v i n i s t i c h e l l - f i r e , warning of a f a t e , which, according to the d o c t r i n e of p r e d e s t i n a t i o n , i s c e r t a i n f o r a l l except the m i n o r i t y of the e l e c t . This type of sermon pleases the company, f o r i t s l u r i d d e t a i l s provide a t h r i l l ; the next preacher, who expounds the moderate viewpoint, however, sends the godly o u t s i d e f o r refreshment out of j a r s and b o t t l e s , because, His E n g l i s h s t y l e , an T gesture f i n e Are a' clean out o' season. (129-130) With the f i r s t bout of preaching over, the congregation throng to the ale-house, there to d i s c u s s the n i c e t i e s of theology over t h e i r d r i n k . So'warm becomes the argument t h a t , They r a i s e a d i n , t h a t , i n the end, Is l i k e to breed a rupture 0' wrath t h a t day. (160-162) During the second preaching s e s s i o n , many of the audience, overcome by t h e i r p o t a t i o n s , take the opportunity to doze, u n t i l s t a r t l e d by "Black" Russel's t i r a d e on h e l l : ; 1 0 8 ' A v a s t , unbottomed, boundless p i t , F i l l ' d fou o' l o w i n brunstane, Wha's r a g i n flame, an' s c o r c h i n heat, nWad melt the hardest whun-stanel The h a l f - a s l e e p s t a r t up w i ' f e a r , An' t h i n k they hear i t r o a r i n , But p r e s e n t l y i t does appear, 'Twas but some neebor s n o r i n Asleep t h a t day. (190-198) :$:b the end of the s e r v i c e , the crowd breaks up i n t o small p i c n i c p a r t i e s , and as the audience begins to d r i f t away on the homeward journey, the poem ends w i t h a summing up of the d i f f e r e n t elements of which the occasion was made up: How mony hearts t h i s day converts 0' s i n n e r s and o' Lasses'. Their hearts o' stane g i n night are gane, As s a f t as ony f l e s h i s . There's some are f o u o' love d i v i n e ; There's some are fou o' brandy; An' mony jobs that day begun May end i n Houghmagandie Some i t h e r day. (235-243) Occasional s a t i r e , once the s i t u a t i o n t h a t c a l l e d i t i n t o being no longer e x i s t s , has to stand on i t s own p o e t i c m e r i t s . "The Holy F a i r " does so, because of i t s p e r f e c t blending of the r e l i g i o u s and the profane, and because of the wonderful d e p i c t i o n of the behaviour of the crowd. The c a r e f u l j u x t a p o s i t i o n of t h e o l o g i c a l and p h y s i c a l elements i s everywhere evident, but i t i s so c a r e f u l l y c o n t r o l l e d , and the poem moves along so e f f o r t -l e s s l y , t h a t we are s c a r c e l y conscious of the i n c o n g r u i t y . One stanza, f o r i n s t a n c e , begins w i t h a l i n e from a S c o t t i s h m e t r i c a l psalm, "0 happy i s the man and b l e s t , " but we d i s c o v e r t h a t the s t a t e of happiness and b l i s s comes, not from d i v i n e grace, but because, ... h i s a i n dear l a s s Comes c l i n k i n g down beside him. (93-94) The "unco g u i d " , sure of t h e i r own s a l v a t i o n , and equally, c e r -t a i n of the damnation f o r o t h e r s , f i n d themselves seated by ... a set o f chaps, at watch, Thrang w i n k i n at the l a s s e s To c h a i r s that day. (#8-90) In the same manner, S t . Paul's t r i n i t y of C h r i s t i a n v i r t u e s , as amended by Burns to read, "Wi' f a i t h , an' hope, an' l o v e , an' d r i n k , " almost passes by before we n o t i c e what the poet has done. The point i s that C a l v i n i s m had i n i t l i t t l e of the f i r s t t h r ee, s i n c e i t s t r e s s e d p r e d e s t i n a t i o n , and, the Church having f a i l e d to provide these, i t was l e f t to the e f f e c t s of strong d r i n k to i n s p i r e them i n the minds of the company. The i n t e g r a l part played by the d e s c r i p t i o n of the audience i n the success of "The Holy F a i r " may be r e a l i s e d when tha t 83 poem i s contrasted w i t h "The O r d i n a t i o n , " i t s e l f a s a t i r e on an e c c l e s i a s t i c a l o c c a s i o n . Though f e a r of r e p r i s a l s caused Burns to omit "The O r d i n a t i o n " from the Kilmarnock e d i t i o n , i t now has l i t t l e appeal, because the q u a r r e l s between C a l v i n i s t extremists and moderates are of i n t e r e s t only to h i s t o r i a n s , and the poem contains nothing but the d e s c r i p t i o n of such a f a i l i n g r - o u t . I t s e s s e n t i a l weakness has been ably summed up by David Daiches, when he remarks: I b i d . , pp. 81-84. n o ... i t i s f u l l of references to s p e c i f i c persons, place s , and s i t u a t i o n s , and i t r e q u i r e s f o r a f u l l understanding a considerable knowledge of A y r s h i r e church p o l i t i c s of the time, as w e l l as knowledge^, of the general S c o t t i s h e c c l e s i a s t i c a l s i t u a t i o n . ^ For i t s humorous e f f e c t , "The O r d i n a t i o n " r e l i e s h e a v i l y on crude p h y s i c a l images, i n which Burns describes the exultant triumph over moderation: Curst Common Sense, th a t imp o' h e l l , Cam i n w i ' Maggie Lauder; But Oliphant a f t made her y e l l , And R u s s e l l s a i r misca'ed her; This day Mackinlay taks the f l a i l , And he s the boy w i l l blaud her I H e ' l l c l a p a shangan on her t a i l , And set the b a i r n s to daud her Wi' d i r t t h i s day. (10-18) The r e i t e r a t i o n of such terms, and the generation of so much heat over a t h e o l o g i c a l squabble soon become wearisome, and the l a c k of any l i g h t r e l i e f , such as might have been s u p p l i e d by the presence of a crowd, gives few o p p o r t u n i t i e s f o r good-natured humour. Since Burns was a n a t i v e of A y r s h i r e , and s i n c e many of h i s poems have t h e i r s e t t i n g i n A y r s h i r e , i t has been too e a s i l y assumed that h i s language was predominantly t h a t of South-West Scot l a n d . In f a c t , he borrowed from both Fergusson and Ramsay, and h i s d i a l e c t was thus a s y n t h e t i c one, c o n t a i n i n g many words from Eastern Scotland, as w e l l as a l a r g e number of o l d e r terms ^ R o b e r t Burns, New York, 1950, p. 198 I l l • I t h a t he had come across i n h i s reading. His a b i l i t y l a y i n welding t h i s language i n t o an instrument s u i t e d to h i s purpose, whether th a t purpose was s a t i r e , l y r i c , or pure comedy. In "The Holy F a i r , " f o r instance, s i b i l a n t s announce the presence of s a t i r e , and the r e p e t i t i o n of the sound g i v i n g a s t r o n g l y a l l i t e r a t i v e l i n e . Fun introduces her two companions: An' t h i s i s S u p e r s t i t i o n here An' t h a t ' s Hypocrisy ... (39-40) The "unco g u i d , " these r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s of the two q u a l i t i e s , are l i k e w i s e h i s s e d a t : On t h i s hand s i t s a chosen swatch, Wi' screwed-up, grace-proud f a c e s , ( 8 6 - 8 7 ) At the meeting i t s e l f , the main impression i s one of t u r m o i l , and t h i s e f f e c t Burns achieves by h i s use of onomatkopoeic- word^, o f t e n i n p a i r s to g i v e greater f o r c e . Fundamentalist d o c t r i n e i s expounded to the accompaniment of " r a t t l i n an' thumpin" and "stampin an' jumpin." The scene i n the ale-house i s rendered i n terms of a Babel of tongues, w i t h both a l l i t e r a t i o n and i n t e r n a l rhyme being used to r e i n f o r c e the e f f e c t i n : Here's c r y i n out f o r bakes an' g i l l s , An' there the pint-stowp c l a t t e r s ; While t h i c k an' thrang, an' loud an' lan g , Wi' l o g i c , an T w i ' S c r i p t u r e , They r a i s e a d i n , t h a t , i n the end, Is l i k e to breed a rupture 0' wrath t h a t day. (155-162) Only w h i l e he i s d e a l i n g w i t h the guidwives and the guidmen does Burns a l l o w the t o r r e n t of noise to abate. Notice how choice of words r e f l e c t s the qu i e t entry of one of the matrons^ In comes a gaucie, gash guidwife, An' s i t s down by the f i r e , (208-209) and how the s o f t - v o i c e d d i s c u s s i o n among the p a t r i a r c h s as to which of them s h a l l render grace before meat: The auld guidmen, about the grace, Frae s i d e to side they bother. (212-213) Here, the language r e f l e c t s the peace of those who have come to terms w i t h l i f e , and, untroubled a l i k e by y o u t h f u l d e s i r e and C a l v i n i s t r a n t i n g , have achieved a s t a t e of contentment w i t h t h e i r l o t . I t i s d i f f i c u l t to understand why Burns stopped w r i t i n g poems i n the manner of " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " a f t e r 1786. P o s s i b l y he never found a s u i t a b l e occasion i n l a t e r years, though that,, i s d o u b t f u l ; p o s s i b l y h i s l a c k of complete success i n t h i s genre — w i t h the exception of "The Holy F a i r " — discouraged him; p o s s i b l y the p r a i s e heaped on such poems as "The Cotter's Saturday Night" and "To a Mountain Dai s y " made him f e e l that s a t i r e i n Scots was of l e s s value than these. At any r a t e , he ceased to use the form, and, a f t e r him, i t languished, j u s t as had happened i n the s i x t e e n t h century. Attempts at i m i t a t i o n by h i s contemporaries succeeded i n being only pale r e f l e c t i o n s of poems by Fergusson and h i m s e l f , and one only , "Anster F a i r , " s t i l l makes an o c c a s i o n a l appearance i n a n t h o l o g i e s . Here, the a p p l i c a t i o n of the form to scenes i n an ^ast-coast f i s h i n g v i l l a g e provides some n o v e l t y , as does the s u b s t i t u t i o n of an Alexandrine f o r the r e f r a i n , so t h a t , i n the words of W i l l i a m 7s Tennant, the author, "the close of the stanza may be more f u l l and sounding." But, just as Alexander Scott's burlesque of a tournament did not succeed, neither does Tennant's elaborate description of Maggie Lauder's c a p i t u l a t i o n to Rab the Ranter, "Anster F a i r " , l i k e Scott's "Jousting and Debait", may be considered as closing another chapter i n the history of poems i n the t r a d i t i o n of "Christ's K i r k , " and i t has been l e f t to contemporary Scottish poets to show that the form had not died during the barren years, for Scottish l i t e r a t u r e , of the nineteenth century. To sum up the matter of t h i s chapter, i t may be said that interest i n "Christ's K i r k " i n eighteenth-century Scotland led to the composition of s i m i l a r poems by Burns and Fergusson. Of these, two were of the highest value — "Leith Races" and "The Holy F a i r . " These succeeded, because, i n addition to r e f l e c t i n g f a i t h f u l l y the manners and customs of t h e i r own time, they have picked out the incongruities i n human conduct, and these are timeless. In the l i g h t of what happened during the eighteenth 86 century, the remark by Alexander Pope: One l i k e s no language but the Faerie Queene; A Scot w i l l f i g h t for Christ's Kirk o' the Green, (39-40) ^Cited by John W. O l i v e r , " Scottish Poetry i n the E a r l i e r Nineteenth Century", Scottish Poetry, ed. James Kinsley, London, 1955, p. 235. "Imitations of Horace", Bk. 2., E p i s t l e 1, Works. ed. William Roscoe, London, 1847, v o l . 4> p. 441. 114 though intended as a c r i t i c i s m of the t a s t e of h i s contemp-o r a r i e s , has about i t something of the a i r of a prophecy, f o r the form s u r v i v e d many v i c i s s i t u d e s before i t served as the b a s i s f o r poems by Fergusson and Burns long a f t e r Pope's death. 115 Chapter VI The " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " T r a d i t i o n i n the. S c o t t i s h Renaissance To c r i t i c s i n the e a r l y years of the t w e n t i e t h century, the contemporary s t a t e of S c o t t i s h vernacular l i t e r a t u r e might w e l l have j u s t i f i e d t h e i r echoing the words of Commissioner S e a f i e l d as he signed the Act of Union a b o l i s h i n g the S c o t t i s h Parliament, "There's the end of an auld sang." For more than a century, S c o t t i s h l i t e r a t u r e , prose and verse a l i k e , had been i n almost u n i n t e r r u p t e d d e c l i n e . Prose was represented by the 87 "copious d i s t r i b u t i o n of s l o p and s l u s h " provided by the K a i l y a r d school; as f o r verse, Ian Gordon, i n h i s a r t i c l e , "Modern Scots Poetry", s t a t e s : ... no one, even i f he has not read i t , need be a f r a i d to c l a s s i f y nineteenth century S c o t t i s h poetry as downright bad. Not unreasonably, the nineteenth century v e r s i f i e r s turned to Burns . . . . In Rabbie Burns they found the p r a i s e of d r i n k and Bonny Jean and the louse and the mountain d a i s y . . . . To them he was an i n s p i r e d ploughman a l t e r n a t i n g between d r i n k and s e n t i m e n t a l i t y . 8 8 I f i t be asked why Scots ignored the c u l t u r a l t r a d i t i o n of t h e i r f o r b e a r s , the answer might be that\ they neglected i t , because many of them were, i n l a r g e measure, ignorant of i t s e x i s t e n c e . Ties w i t h the past had been weakened by the uprooting of f a m i l i e s during the I n d u s t r i a l R e v o l u t i o n , and the coming of a P u b l i c School system i n 1872 d i d nothing to remedy matters, ^James Lyon, "Howe Dumb-Heid", Scots Review, v o l . 1, (1951), p. 225. Edinburgh Essays i n Scots L i t e r a t u r e , Edinburgh, 1933, jc P i 125. 116 The Education Act l a i d down that the language of i n s t r u c t i o n was to be E n g l i s h , and t h i s p o l i c y , f o l l o w e d over a per i o d of some s i x t y years, weakened the vernacular, though i t d i d not s u b s t i t u t e a corresponding mastery of standard E n g l i s h . There arose i n s t e a d , a k i n d of macaronic speech, i n which d i a l e c t predominated. In 1933, a Research Committee, i n i t s r e p o r t on the speech of Glasgow s c h o o l c h i l d r e n , remarked, "The C e n t r a l S c o t t i s h D i a l e c t i s the medium of expression n a t u r a l l y em-ployed by the Glasgow c h i l d , who may i n t e r r o g a t e the teacher i n a d i c t a t i o n l e s s o n w i t h such a question as, "Whit cums e f t e r " a f t e r " ? " In the playground c h i l d r e n who t r y to speak 89 standard E n g l i s h are g e n e r a l l y laughed at . . . ." As i t was wit h language, so i t was w i t h l i t e r a t u r e . The average p u p i l passed h i s school years without having heard of Barbour, Dunbar, Lindsay, and other S c o t t i s h w r i t e r s , s i n c e S c o t t i s h l i t e r a t u r e , w i t h the exception of a very few c a r e f u l l y s e l e c t e d pieces by Burns and S c o t t , was passed over i n complete s i l e n c e . Such a p o l i c y , c o i n c i d e n t w i t h the low ebb of vernacular l i t e r a t u r e , might w e l l have ensured the disappearance of Scots as a l i t e r a r y tongue, i f the t r a d i t i o n , though d r i v e n underground, had not been, s u f f i c i e n t l y v i t a l to s u r v i v e i t s lengthy period of o b s c u r i t y . Reaction came when the economic depression that c i t e d i n A Golden Treasury of S c o t t i s h Poetry, ed. Hugh MacDiarmid, New York, 1941, P. 560. 117 f o l l o w e d the F i r s t World War st i m u l a t e d a s i g n i f i c a n t number of Scotsmen i n t o p r o t e s t at the neglect of t h e i r country and i t s i n s t i t u t i o n s . P o l i t i c a l l y , t h i s l e d to the founding of the S c o t t i s h N a t i o n a l i s t Party; c u l t u r a l l y , to the conscious c u l t i v a t i o n of what was best i n S c o t t i s h l i t e r a t u r e and the v i s u a l a r t s , and to an attempt to adapt these to express the values of man i n the t w e n t i e t h century. In vernacular l e t t e r s , much was due to one man, CM. Grieve, b e t t e r known under h i s pseudonym of Hugh MacDiarmid, who es-poused the cause of L a l l a n s , and, by h i s a c t i v i t y , i n s p i r e d o t h e r s . To i n d i c a t e the magnitude of the debt of S c o t t i s h l e t t e r s to MacDiarmid, i t i s only necessary to c i t e the case of R.L. Stevenson, who, f i f t y years e a r l i e r , had the same oppor-t u n i t y , but allowed i t to s l i p , because he thought t h a t L a l l a n s would soon be a dead language. In the note to h i s poems i n Scots appearing i n Book I I of Underwoods, he says: For a l l t h a t , I own a f r i e n d l y f e e l i n g f o r the tongue of Fergusson and of S i r Walter, both Edinburgh men . . . . And indeed I am from the Lothians myself; i t i s there I heard the language spoken about my childhood; and i t i s i n the drawling L o t h i a n speech that I repeat i t to myself. . . . The day draws near when t h i s . i l l u s t r i o u s and malleable tongue s h a l l be q u i t e f o r g o t t e n . . . .90 91 In the f i r s t poem of that volume, "The Maker to P o s t e r i t y " , he puts the same idea i n t o verse: C o l l e c t e d Poems, London, 1950, p. 1+86. I b i d . , pp. 145-146. 118 'Few spak i t than, an' noo there's nane. My p u i r auld sangs l i e a' t h e i r lane, Their sense, that aince was braw an' p l a i n , T i n t a' t h e g i t h e r , L i k e runes upon a s t a n d i n ' stane Amang the heather.' (25-30) Had Stevenson set out, w i t h energy, to r e v i v e L a l l a n s , i n s t e a d of expressing r e g r e t at i t s imminent death, he might have made h i s v o i c e heard, but i t i s f u t i l e to r e c a l l what might have been, and we must be t h a n k f u l that MacDiarmid came i n time to save i t from o b l i v i o n . His own f i e r y enthusiasm r a l l i e d some to the cause, but others were a t t r a c t e d by the r e a l i s a t i o n that MacDiarmid's poetry had r e s t o r e d the q u a l i t y of thought l a c k i n g i n vernacular verse of the nineteenth century. Although h i s poetry i s o f t e n s a t i r i c a l , MacDiarmid's b i t t e r n e s s w i t h the e x i s t i n g s t a t e of s o c i e t y — a b i t t e r n e s s t h a t has l e d him to embrace Communism — has prevented him from w r i t i n g s a t i r e i n the l i g h t e r v e i n of " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " ; that task has had to be l e f t to those l e s s i n v o l v e d than he. Apart from one or two s a t i r e s by Stevenson, Scots poetry s i n c e the eighteenth century had shown l i t t l e c a p a c i t y f o r expressing humour without recourse to n o i s y l a u g h t e r , and i t was not u n t i l W.D. Cocker's " B a l l a d of the Deluge" — the s t o r y of Noah's Flood i n L a l l a n s — appeared i n 1931 t h a t there was the f i r s t s i g n of a r e t u r n to l i g h t verse t h a t could amuse without shouting raucously. In t h i s s t r a i n , Cocker has been followed by R.G. Sutherland, who, under the pseudonym of Robert Garioch, has w r i t t e n s o c i a l s a t i r e w i t h i n the t r a d i t i o n a l framework of S c o t t i s h verse. One 11? 1 92 o f h i s poems i s "Embro t o t h e p l o y " , a modern " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " , i n w h i c h t h e e s t a b l i s h e d p a t t e r n i s f o l l o w e d c l o s e l y . I n t h i s , h o w e v e r , t h e r e i s a c o s m o p o l i t a n s p i r i t t h a t i s a l m o s t e n t i r e l y new, f o r t h e d r a m a t i s pe r sonae a r e no l o n g e r drawn f r o m one l i m i t e d a r e a , b u t f r o m t h e w o r l d a t l a r g e . S u t h e r l a n d , a Native o f E d i n b u r g h , has u sed t h e l a n g u a g e o f t h e c i t y o f h i s b i r t h f o r h i s o b s e r v a t i o n s on t h e I n t e r n a t i o n a l F e s t i v a l o f t h e A r t s , and on t h e men and women - - i n h a b i t a n t s and v i s i t o r s — whose a c t i o n s s u p p l y t h e human comedy. W i t h p l a y g o e r s , we a t t e n d d r a m a t i c p e r f o r m a n c e s ; u n d e r t h e t u t e l a g e o f o u r g u i d e , we a r e i n i t i a t e d i n t o t h e m y s t e r i e s o f a c e i l i d h ; w i t h h i m , we meet h a b i t u e s o f c a f e s and c l u b s , who c r i t i s e e v e n t s and p e r s o n s . F i t t i n g l y enough, we a r e f i r s t i n t r o d u c e d t o t h e f o r m e r i n h a b i t a n t s o f E d i n b u r g h , who, r e t u r n i n g as v i s i t o r s , a r e s t r u c k by t h e abundance o f c u l t u r a l a c t i v i t i e s d u r i n g t h e F e s t i v a l , and c o n t r a s t t h e p r e s e n t p l e n t y w i t h t h e f a m i n e w h i c h t h e y remember: F u r t h g a n g a n Embro f o l k come hame f o r t h r e e weeks i n t h e y e a r , and f i n d A u l d R e e k i e no t h e same, f u s t u r r i t i n a s t e e r . The s t a n e - f a c e d b i g g i n s whaur t h e y f r o z e and supped t h e i r p u i r s h o u s l e i r o c u l t u r a l c a u l d - k a i l and b r o s e see c a i n t r i p s unco queer t h a e days a t Embro t o t h e p l o y . (11-20) N e x t , ' w e meet a s a m p l i n g o f f o r e i g n v i s i t o r s : T y p e s c r i p t s u p p l i e d by t h e a u t h o r , M a r c h 3 , I 9 6 0 . F o r t e x t see a p p e n d i x I I . ^ 120 1 Americans wi routh o d o l l a r s , wha d r i n k our whisky neat, wi Sassenachs and Oxford Scholars are eydent f o r the t r e a t . (21-24) Along w i t h r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s of t h i s heterogeneous group, we v i s i t places of entertainment, and S u t h e r l a n d , w i t h i n each stanza, succeeds i n commenting on the l o c a t i o n , on the entertainment, and on the r e a c t i o n of the audience. F i r s t , we v i s i t the performance of A l l a n Ramsay's "Gentle Shepherd" i n the h a l l of the Royal High School. Here a touch of reminiscence creeps i n , f o r t h i s was Sutherland's o l d school, and h i s use of "pawmies" f o r applause suggests the time, when, f o r him, as f o r h i s companions, the word had a l e s s pleasant connotation, since i t meant "blows w i t h a l e a t h e r s t r a p " i n h i s h i s schooldays. He notes, too, t h a t the seats have become no s o f t e r w i t h the passing of the years; they are s t i l l "gey hard", even when i t costs twenty s h i l l i n g s to s i t on them. Gently s a t i r i c a l , a l s o , i s h i s d e p i c t i o n of the scene i n the Assembly H a l l , where Lindsay's "Thrie E s t a i t i s " i s being presented. Here, we are i n the headquarters of the Church of Scotland, and from t h i s very p l a t f o r m Churchmen had been wont to condemn a l l t h e a t r i c a l performances. On the present occasion, the breadth of humour might offe n d the s u s c e p t i b i l i t i e s of the tender-minded, but a l l i s w e l l — the Middle Scots i n u n i n t e l l i g -i b l e to most of the audience: The h a l i e k i r k i s assembly - haa now f a i r l y coups the c r e e l 121 wi Lindsay's Thrie E s t a i t i s , braw devices o the D e i l . About our heids the s a t i r e s t o t s l i k e h a i l s t a n e s t i l l we r e e l ; the bawrs are i n a u l d - f a r r a n t Scots, i t ' s maybe j i s t as w e l l , mphm, at Embro to the p l o y . (41-50) During the hours of d a y l i g h t , v i s i t o r s wander about the c i t y , and the readiness of many f o r e i g n e r s to c l a i m membership of a Highland c l a n leads them to the vendors of t a r t a n , who are only to eager to s a t i s f y the d e s i r e : The t a r t a n t r e d wad garr ye lauch; nae t r a c h l e i s owre teuch, your surname needna end i n -och, t h e y ' l l c l e i k ye up the c l e u c h , A puckle d o l l a r - b i l l s w i l l aye p r i e v e Hiram Teufelsdrockh a s c i o n of the Clan Mackay, i t ' s maybe r i c h t eneuch, v e r f l u c h ! at Embro to the p l o y . (61-70) Here the s a t i r e i s heightened by Sutherland's choice of name f o r the t a r t a n - f a n c y i n g t o u r i s t . Hiram Teufelsdrflckh suggests an American of German descent, one of whose ancestors may have been Diogenes Teufelsdrockh, whose p h i l o s o p h i c a l d i s c u s s i o n on c l o t h e s was the b a s i s f o r C a r l y l e ' s S a r t o r Resartus. N i g h t f a l l b r i n g s no end to s u r p r i s e s . The l a v i s h em-ployment of f l o o d - l i g h t i n g has, i n the e s t i m a t i o n of the poet, " t r a n s m o g r i f i e d " the c a s t l e i n t o something "mair s i b -to Wardour S t r e e t " than to an ancient f o r t r e s s . From t h i s e x t e r i o r scene, however, we q u i c k l y move indoors to sample refreshments and entertainment provided by temporary s o c i a l c l u b s . The howff 122 i frequented by w r i t e r s i s f i l l e d "wi o r r a f o l k " , and modern " y i l l - c a u p commentators" c r i t i c i s e p l a y s , as t h e i r f o r e f a t h e r s , i n the days of Burns, discussed sermons. In the end, the l a s t r e v e l l e r makes h i s way home, and the poet, gazing at the deserted s t r e e t s , makes one p h i l o s o p h i c comment, as he points out t h a t , though there i s much tha t i s tawdry, there are a l s o "mony hairtsom braw h i g h - j i n k s " to be enjoyed, i n simmer whan aa s o r t s f o r e g a i t h e r at Embro to the ploy. (117-118) In using such a venerable form, Sutherland faced the danger of producing nothing more than a pale i m i t a t i o n of e a r l i e r poems of t h i s genre. He has avoided t h i s p e r i l by expanding h i s time scheme to s e v e r a l days, and by p r o v i d i n g an i t i n e r a r y t h a t a t y p i c a l v i s i t o r might f o l l o w , accompanied by an ever-present n a r r a t o r . As u s u a l , the body of each stanza i s concerned w i t h one scene, then comes the bob w i t h i t s s a t i r i c a l comment, before the wheel, "at Embro to the ploy", reminds us of the occasion. In h i s r e v e r s i o n to the o r i g i n a l s t a n z a i c form, Sutherland makes notable use of the suggestive power of the s i n g l e s t r e s s bob, " V e r f l u c h I " not only i n d i c a t e s the ancestry of the " s c i o n of the Clan Mackay", but serves to suggest the poet's f e e l i n g s about the t r a n s a c t i o n i n t a r t a n c l o t h . The u n t r a n s l a t a b l e "mphm" has, i n the mouth of a Scot, a range of meaning, from simple a f f i r m a -t i o n to deepest doubt, and i t s use i n connection w i t h Lindsay's humour suggests t h a t i t i s j u s t as w e l l that the import of the 123 / "ftawrs" i s beyond most of the audience. Even the omission of the bob i n the l a s t stanza, serves a purpose, f o r the la c k of a s a t i r i c a l summing-up leave us w i t h the impression t h a t , on the whole, the poet approves of the F e s t i v a l , and that h i s comments elsewhere are not to be taken too s e r i o u s l y . Thus, w i t h "Embro to the ploy", the genre e s t a b l i s h e d by " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " i s represented i n the modern renaissance of S c o t t i s h v e rnacular l i t e r a t u r e . From the r u r a l f a i r of the Middle Ages, through communal occasions of the eighteenth century, to that phenomenon of our own day, the f e s t i v a l of the a r t s , S c o t t i s h poets have found m a t e r i a l f o r a s i g n i f i c a n t body of verse. In each period of l i t e r a r y a c t i v i t y i n Scotland, the form made popular by " C h r i s t ' s K i r k " has been employed f o r the d e p i c t i o n of communal h i g h - s p i r i t s , and such genre pieces have continued to appear because t h e i r common denominator, the be-haviour of people at s o c i a l gatherings, i s of absorbing i n t e r e s t both to t h e i r contemporaries and to those of l a t e r ages. In these poems observant n a r r a t o r s record the a c t i o n s of the pro-t a g o n i s t s , and the t o t a l e f f e c t i s gained from the v e r i s i m i l i t u d e provided by the p i l i n g up of a multitude of d e t a i l s . A poe t i c form which has proved adaptable to the d e p i c t i o n of communal merrymaking over a p e r i o d of f i v e hundred years, has, i n my o p i n i o n , a strong c l a i m to be considered of importance i n any body of l i t e r a t u r e . I t s theme, the "mony hartsom braw h i g h - j i n k s " t h a t accompany such gatherings, though p r i m a r i l y mirth-provoking has yet i t s se r i o u s message i n r e v e a l i n g man to himself g r a n t i n g , at l e a s t i n p a r t , the wish expressed by Burns 0 wad some power the g i f t i e g i e us To see o u r s e l s as others see us! (43-44) "To a Louse", P o e t i c a l Works, p. 81. 125 Appendix I Robert Fergusson (1750-1774) "Not the greatest of eighteenth century S c o t t i s h poets but perhaps the most assured i n h i s use of Scots;"" so runs the v e r d i c t of a modern c r i t i c of Fergusson's work. We must take i n t o account, however, that h i s i l l - s t a r r e d l i f e ended, when he was ba r e l y on the t h r e s h o l d of h i s po e t i c c areer. The e v i l f a t e that pursued him so r e l e n t l e s s l y i n h i s l i f e t i m e f o l l o w e d h i s memory even a f t e r death, and he has r e c e i v e d l e s s than due c r e d i t f o r h i s achievement; h i s fame, even amongst h i s own countrymen, has been overshadowed by that of Burns, f o r whose appearance on the l i t e r a r y scene Fergusson prepared the way. Three reasons may be adduced f o r the unduly low p o s i t i o n of Fergusson i n the c r i t i c a l e s t i m a t i o n of h i s contemporaries: he wrote i n Scots; he portrayed people and events r e a l i s t i c a l l y , i n an age of s e n t i m e n t a l i t y ; he died at the age of twenty-four, when h i s po e t i c powers had b a r e l y matured. Fergusson has a clai m to be considered the poet of Edinburgh. He portrayed, not the world of f a s h i o n , but the teeming l i f e of the closes of the Old Town, where he spent h i s boyhood, and where he drudged away the few short years of h i s manhood, t o i l i n g at an uncongenial task to support h i s widowed X ^ a v i d Daiches, "Eighteenth Century Vernacular Poetry", S c o t t i s h Poetry, ed. James K i n s l e y , London, 1955, p. 170. 126i mother and h i s a i l i n g s i s t e r , whose so l e breadwinner he was. Besides h i s knowledge of Edinburgh, however, Fergusson was ac-quainted w i t h the l i f e of the f o l k i n the smaller towns, and i n the S c o t t i s h c ountryside. He r e c e i v e d part of h i s education i n Dundee, at t h a t time a medium-sized seaport and market town. He spent s e v e r a l extended h o l i d a y s at Old Meldrum i n Aberdeenshire, the n a t i v e s o i l of h i s parents. He attended S t . Andrews U n i v e r s i t y , which he had to leave without graduating, as a con-sequence of h i s f a t h e r ' s death. A l l h i s attempts to o b t a i n a p o s i t i o n through h i s uncle's i n f l u e n c e having f a i l e d , he was fo r c e d to seek employment as a c o p y i s t i n the Commisary O f f i c e , where he passed the working hours of the few short years that remained to him. The constant thwarting of hopes, t h a t might have d i s -couraged a person of mature years, l e t alone a mere youth, one who was, moreover, never of robust physique, d i d not sour h i s temperament, or narrow h i s sympathies f o r h i s f e l l o w s . He p r e f e r r e d to laugh w i t h , r a t h e r than at people, and, conscious of h i s own weaknesses -- perhaps too conscious — he was l e n i e n t w i t h the f a u l t s of ethers. With such q u a l i t i e s , he was w e l l adapted to describe the l i f e of common f o l k , w h i l e h i s years at u n i v e r s i t y had given him a breadth of outlook and a knowledge of l i t e r a t u r e t h a t helped him to express himself as a poet. His poems brought him l i t t l e f i n a n c i a l g a i n . They appeared, as he wrote them, i n Ruddiman's Weekly Magazine, and i t s reader^ 1-27 soon began to take h i s c o n t r i b u t i o n s f o r granted. Not f o r him was the t h r i l l of waking one morning to f i n d h i m s e l f famous; the record of h i s death, even, was a l a c o n i c entry i n the Minutebook of the C h a r i t y Workhouse, "Mr. Fergusson, d i e d i n the eels ( s i c ) . Having succumbed to depressive mania, he had been taken to Edinburgh's Bedlam, where he d i e d , alone, but f o r h i s unhappy f e l l o w - s u f f e r e r s . Robert Burns, who, a l l u n w i t t i n g l y , has been at l e a s t p a r t l y r e s p o n s i b l e f o r Fergusson fs neglect by l a t e r generations of Scots, d i d h i s best to keep the l a t t e r ' s memory green, and though h i s "Lines on Fergusson" are h a r d l y i n h i s best s t y l e , being w r i t t e n i n standard E n g l i s h , the l a s t word may be l e f t w i t h him: I l l - f a t e d genius I Heaven-taught Fergusson'. What hert that f e e l s and w i l l not y i e l d a t e a r , To t h i n k l i f e ' s sun d i d set ere well-begun ^ To shed i t s 'influence on thy b r i g h t career? Fergusson, Poems, ed. McDiarmid, v o l . 1, p. 7&. -^Poetical Works, ed. W.M. R o s s e t t i , p. 193. X Appendix II EMBRO TO THE PLOY In simmer, whan aa s o r t s f o r e g a i t h e r i n Embro to the ploy, f o l k seek out f r i e n s to hae a b l e t h e r or faes they'd f a i n annoy. Smorit wi B r i t i s h Railways' reek f r a e Glesca or Glen Roy or Wick, they come to hae a week o c u l t i v a t e d j oy, or three, at Embro to the ploy. Furthgangan Embro f o l k come hame f o r three weeks i n the year, and f i n d Auld Reekie no the same, f u s t u r r i t i n a s t e e r . The stane-faced b i g g i n s whaur they f r o z and supped t h e i r puirshous l e i r o c u l t u r a l c a u l d - k a i l and brose see c a n t r a i p s unco queer thae days at Embro to the p l o y . Americans wi r o u t h o d o l l a r s , wha d r i n k our whisky neat, wi Sassenachs and Oxford Scholars are eydent f o r the t r e a t o music sedulously h i g h - t i e at t h i r t y bob a seat: grand opera performed i n E y e t i e to them' a r i g h t up t h e i r s t r e e t , they say, at Embro to the ploy. The auld High Schule, whaur mony a s k e l o t r i p l e - t o u n g u i t tawse has gien a h e i s t - u p and a help towards Doctorates o Laws, nou hears, f o r Ramsay's c a n t i e rhyme loud pawmies o applause f r a e f o l k wha've peyed a pund a time to s i t on wudden raws, gey hard, at Embro to the ploy. 129 The h a l i e k i r k ' s assembly-haa nou f a i r l y coups the c r e e l wi Lindsay's T h r i e E s t a i t i s , braw devices o the D e i l . About our heids the s a t i r e s t o t s l i k e h a i l s t a n e s t i l l we r e e l ; the bawrs are i n a u l d - f a r r a n t Scots, i t ' s maybe j i s t as weel, mphm, at Embro to the p l o y . £0 The Epworth Haa wi wonder d i d behold a p i p e r s ' b i c k e r ; wi hadarsd and h i n d a r i d the a i r gat t h i c k and t h i c k e r , Cumha na Cloinne set f o r s t r i n g s inflames a p i p e r quicker to get h i s dander up, by j i n g s than t h i r t y u.p. l i q u o r , s w i t h ! at Embro to the ploy. 60 The t a i r t a n t r e d wad garr ye lauch; nae t r a u c h l e i s owre teuch, your surname needna end i n -och, t h e y ' l l c l e i k ye up the cleuch. A puckle d o l l a r - b i l l s w i l l aye prieve Hiram Teufelsdrockh a s c i o n o the Clan McKay, i t ' s maybe r i c h t eneuch, v e r f l u c h ! at Embro to the p l o y . The Northern B r i t i s h Embro Whigs Wha b i g g i t C h a r l o t t e Square, they f a i r l y wad hae t i n e d t h e i r wigs to see the S t u a r t s there; the b l e e d i n E a r l o Moray an aa weel p e n t i t and gey bare: our queen and p r i n c e s s , b u s k i t braw enjoyed the hale a f f a i r , (see Press) at Embro to the P l o y . Whan day's anomalies are c l e d i n decent shades o n i c h t , the C a s t l e i s t r a n s m o g r i f i e d by braw e l e c t r i c l i c h t . The toure t h a t b i e l d s the Bruce s croun presents an unco s i c h t mair s i b to Wardour St r e e t nor Scone; catch, valley 70 wae's me f o r Scotland's micht, says I , at Embro to the pl o y . 90 The Cafe Royal and Abbotsford are f i l l e d wi o r r a f o l k wha's s t o c k - i n - t r e d ' s the s c r i e v i t word or t w i c e t - s c r i e v i t joke; b r a i n s , weak or Strang, i n heavy beer, or o r d i n a r y , soak. Quo Smith, "This y i l l i s awfie dear, I hae nae c l i n k s i n poke, nor fauldan-money, at Embro to the ploy. 100 -The auld Assembly-rooms, whaur Scott f o r e g a i t h e r t wi h i s f i e r s nou sees a gey kenspeckle l o t ablow the c h a n d e l i e r s ; t i l Embro drouths, the Three-weeks Club a r i c h t godsend appears; i t ' s something new to f i n d a pub that gaes on s e r v i n beers f u l a t e at Embro to the ploy. 110 They toddle hame doun mirky s t r e e t s , f i l l e d wi s y n t h e t i c joy; aweel, the year b r i n g s few s i c t r e a t s and muckle to annoy; there's monie hartsom braw h i g h - j i n k s mixed -up i n t h i s a l l o y i n simmer whan aa s o r t s f o r e g a i t h e r at Embro to the ploy. H 8 Robert Garioch 131 B i b l i o g r a p h y I General Works C r a i g i e , S i r W.A. A D i c t i o n a r y of the o l d e r S c o t t i s h tongue, from the t w e l f t h century to the end of the seventeenth. 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