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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume II. The End of the Middle Ages.

XI. The Middle Scots Anthologies: Anonymous Verse and Early Prose

§ 17. Sir Gilbert Hay

The earliest examples of vernacular prose are the translations of Sir Gilbert Hay, or “of the Haye,” dated 1456, and preserved in a single volume now in the collection at Abbotsford. They are (1)The Buke of the Law of Armys, or Buke of Bataillis, based on the French of Honorè Bonet, (2)The Buke of the Order of Knichthood, following L’Ordre de Chevalerie and (3) a version of thepseudo-Aristotelian Government of Princes. To which of these the entry in the Asloan MS. (“The Document of Schir Gilbert Hay”) refers is not known, for the portion of the MS. which contained the text has been lost. Of more originality, but with small claim as literature, is the long treatise on political wisdom and rule of life for a prince, by John of Ireland, rector of Yarrow and quondam confessor to James III and Louis XI of France. The text, labelled Johannis de Irlandia Opera Theologica, is preserved in the Advocates’s Library. A longn extract from John’s writings stands first in the Asloan MS. (“On the Passioun,” etc.); and we have clues to his authorship of other vernacular treatises of a semi-thelogical character which are not extant. The place of his prose in the history of the language has been discussed in another chapter. The contents of the Portuus of Noblines in the Asloan MS., and (in part) in the Chepman and Myllar prints, are explained by the fuller title, “The wertuis of nobilnes and portratours thairof & c. callit the Portuus and matynnis of the samin.” This piece is a dull discussion, in a series of homilies, on Faith, Loyalty, Honour and the other virtues. It purports to be a translation by Andrew Cadiou from the French. The Spectakle of Luf or Delectatioun of Wemen, translated from the Latin, is an exhortation, in the conventional dialogue-form, “to abstene frasic fleschly delectatiounis quhilk thow callis luf.” The reader is informed in the conclusion that the translation was finished at St. Andrews on 10 July, 1492, by G. Myll, “ane clerk, quhilk had bene in to Venus court mair than the space of XX [char]3 eiris, quhill (he adds) I mycht nocht mak the seruice that I had bene accustomyd to do; quharfor I was put out of hir bill of hushald.” The Schort Memoriale of the Scottis corniklis for addicioun, and account of the reign of James II, is of no literary pretence.