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“That cruel beist, he never ceist
Be his usurpit powr,
Our saullis to devour.
“Quha could devyse sic merchandyse
As he had there to sell,
The grit master of hell ?”
And so the poet goes on to describe more minutely the misdeeds of the Papal power.
Others of these parodies, which have no polemical aim, are scarcely characterised by bolder language than that which an excessive mysticism employs in the utterance of pious emotions. The following seems to be based on one of the old love-songs referred to in the Complaint of Scotland:
“My lufe murnis for me, for
My lufe that murnis for me.
'Quha is my lufe but God abuve,
Quhilk all the warld hes wrocht;
Full deir he hes me bocht.
“ His precious blude he sched on rude,
That was to make us fre;
That my lufe murnis for me.
"This my lufe came from abuve,” &c.
The most of these parodies, however, exhibit their authors floundering helplessly in the management of an intractable allegory, the incongruity of which produces on modern tastes the effect of an intentional jest. One illustration will be sufficient :
“ My prophites call, my preachers cry,
Johne, cum kiss me now,
And mak no more adow.
“Ane spreit I am incorporat,
No mortallis eye can see,
my word does intimat,
Beleve my promise in Christis death;
As my Scripture plainlie saith.
These parodies and other sacred lyrics of the Rcformation were collected into “A Compendious Book of Psalms and Spiritual Songs,” which was published at Edinburgh after the middle of the sixteenth century,
and, besides being frequently republished, has recently · appeared under the care of the most competent of editors. The chief authors of these lyrics appear to have been John and Robert Wedderburn. The influence which they exerted is undoubted. It is probably to collections of some of these lyrics that reference is made in a canon of the Provincial Council held in 1549, denouncing all those who should keep in their possession books of vulgar rhymes or songs, attacking the clergy or containing any heresy. It is remarkable, moreover, that of the various editions of the Gude and Godlie Ballads which were issued, very few copies are to be found at the present day. “Old copies of the book," Mr. Burton observes, "are extremely rare, and the cause of the rarity evidently is, not because few copies were printed, but because the book was so popular and so extensively used that the copies of it were worn out.'
It was not in the nature of compositions violating so outrageously all the principles of taste, to obtain a permanent place in the sacred poetry of Scotland. But it is a fact worthy of notice, that no original lyrics on sacred themes have ever reached an equal popularity. The Scotch have no hymnology which can for a moment be put in comparison with that of England and Germany. This seems astonishing when it is remembered that the service of the Church in Scotland, requiring from the laity no responses nor any audible participa
1 “A Compendious Book of Psalms and Spiritual Songs, commonly known as the Gude and Godlie Ballads,” edited by David Laing, 1868.
? “History of Scotland,” vol. v. p. 88.
tion beyond the singing, has given extraordinary prominence to this act. The want of a Scottish hymnology it is not difficult to explain. The demand for sacred lyrics has been abundantly satisfied by metrical translations of the Psalms. The reason of this may not be readily discovered, but the fact is certain, and the Psalms have thus come to be intricately interwoven with the religious sentiments of the Scottish people. The strength of this attachment it is impossible for an alien to realize. It is observable, not so much in the fanatical horror with which many congregations shrink from using in their service hymns “of merely human composition,” as in the warmth of affection with which the old Psalter is spoken of even by those whose culture might be supposed to be offended by its rude versification. This attachment to the Psalms will probably be traced to peculiarities in the religious character of the Scotch, as developed by the scenery of their country, by their history, and by the Reformation. But whatever may have been the cause of this attachment, few will fail to ascribe to it the effect of imparting tu Scottish piety the prominently Old Testament type by which it has been generally marked.
§ 4.—The Jacobite Struggle.
The omission of any reference to the lyrical literature of this struggle would be liable to misapprehension, and the slight notice which it receives here may be a dis
See A. Cunningham's “Scottish Songs,” vol. i. pp. 104, 105, which expresses only what anyone who has mixed in the educated society of Scotland may have heard.
appointment to some; but the object of this essay must form the justification of such treatment. The extent of this literature is indeed extraordinary-perhaps unequalled by the polemical songs of any other contest in the history of the world. Hogg, speaking of the first volume of his “ Jacobite Relics,” after observing that he confines himself in that volume to the songs previous to the battle of Sheriffmuir (13th November, 1715), adds: "Indeed there is no scarcity of them during that era. In the reign of Queen Anne the hopes of the Jacobites were at the full, and they seem to have adopted the sentiment lately expressed by a modern lawyer, 'Suffer us to make the songs of our country, and do you make its laws.' Every Muse that could string a rhyme must certainly have then been put in requisition; for of the songs which I have received, that have apparently been written about that time, I have not thought proper to admit above one-fifth, and yet I am sure the peruser will think there is enough of them in all conscience.” 1
It is not, however, in number alone that these lyrics are surprising After throwing aside a considerable amount of dreary rubbish, unreadable as controversial pamphlets after the passions of a controversy have died away, there are a large number of Jacobite songs whose literary excellence' is likely to give them a place, for a long time to come, in the lyrical poetry of Scotland. And this excellence is of a very varied character, fitted to gratify the lover of song in the various moods in which poetical gratification is desired. I know of no contest which has produced such a number of songs, equal
“Jacobite Relics,” vol. i. Introd. pp. xi., xii.