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

X. The Scottish Chaucerians


General Authorities

Chambers’s Cyclopaedia of English Literature. 1901.

Courthope, W. J. History of English Poetry. Vol. I. 1895.

Henderson, T. F. Scottish Vernacular Literature. 1898.

Jusserand, J. J. A Literary History of the English People. Vols. I and II. 1895, 1906.

Millar, J. H. A Literary History of Scotland. 1903.

Morley, Henry. English Writers. Vols. VI and VII. 1890, 1891.

Smith, G. Gregory. The Transition Period. 1900.

(For references to Sibbald, Irving and other authorities, see under each author, infra.)


(i) The Kingis Quair

MS. Only extant Ms., Bodleian, Oxford (Arch. Seldon, B. 24, foll. 192–211). Date of MS., after 1488.

Editions. Poetical Remains of James the First, King of Scotland. Edinburgh, 1783. This anonymous volume was edited by William Tytler (father of Lord Woodhouslee). The poem, which is described as having been “never before published,” was printed from an indifferent transcript.

The Works of James I, King of Scotland, containing the Kingis Quhair (sic: see note infra), Christis Kirk of the Grene, and Peblis to the Play. Perth, 1786. This is one of R. Morison’s publications. It follows Tytler’s very closely.

Chalmers, George, included the poem in his Poetic Remains of the Scotish Kings, 1824. A worthles text.

Sibbald, J., in his Chronicle of Scottish Poetry, 1802, printed 160 of the 197 stanzas (I, pp. 14–54).

Skeat, W. W. The Kingis Quair, together with A Ballad of Good Counsel. By King James I of Scotland. Scottish Text Society, Edinburgh, 1884. This edition supersedes all the others. Skeat had published previously, in 1871, in the first edition of his Specimens of English Literature from 1394 to 1579, stanzas 152–173 of the poem.

Thomson, Ebenezer. The King’s Quair, a poem, by James, K. of Scots. (? First edition. Ayr, 1815.) Second edition. Ayr, 1824.

[It is, perhaps, scarcely necessary to remind the reader of D. G. Rossetti’s The King’s Tragedy.]

Critical (including the question of James I’s authorship).

Brown, J. T. T. The Authorship of the Kingis Quair. A New Criticism. Glasgow, 1896. An attempt to disprove James I’s authorship.

Irving, D. History of Scotish Poetry, 1861, pp. 123–160.

Jusserand, J. J. Jacques [char] d’Écosse fut-il poète? Étude sur l’authenticité du Cahier du Roi. Paris, 1897. A reprint of an article in La Revue historique, 1897, vol. LXIV—a complete answer to Brown’s criticism.

—— The Romance of a King’s Life. 1896. An English version of an article in La Revue de Paris, Feb., 1894, pp. 172–199.

Neilson, W. A. The Origins and Sources of the Court of Love (Harvard Studies), 1899, pp. 152 et seq., 233 et seq.

Ross, John M. Scottish History and Literature, 1884, pp. 132–159.

Skeat, W. W. Chaucerian and other Pieces, 1897, p. lXXXV. (Oxford Chaucer, vol. VII.)

—— Introduction to text, u.s.

Wischmann, Walther. Untersuchungen über das Kingis Quair Jakobs I von Schottland. Wismar, 1887.

NOTE. The confusion of quhair (where) with quair (quire, book) in references to th title of James I’s poem is unfortunately too common. Cf. Morison’s edition, u.s., and Ross’s account of the poem, u.s. The frequency of quh- in Middle Scots sometimes caused erroe even in contemporary texts: e.g. quhod for quod, which occurs once in Lyndsay’s Dreme (St. Andrews, 1554).

Reference has been made (p. 92, note I) to the stronger southern character of the texts of the Early Transition period. Consideration of this fact may have suggested the ingenious speculation that the Kingis Quair was written by James I in the southern dialect and that the text which we have is a copy by a northern scribe. James’s authorship is not disputed, but there would seem to be some question of the historical value of the conclusions regarding the mixed character of the language. The theory assumes that James, having been captured at an early age, and having spent many years in England, must have forgotten his native speech. Against this we place Bower’s statement respecting the king’s companions in exile (see also Jusserand, Jacques [char] Ietc., u.s., pp. 16 et seq). and the assumption—not less reasonable than the other—that in circumstances such as James’s the once familiar speech would not be entirely forgotten, and that it would act as a disturbing factor in his efforts to reproduce literary English. Further, it is hard to believe that a Scottish scribe, bent on transforming the text, would, or could make any changes in word or rime except in accordance with Scots usage. (Note the evidence of “lakketh,” st. 27; “stynten,” st. 117; “regne”—“benigne,” st. 37; and the northern rimes generally.)

Other Poems by, or ascribed to, James I

(ii) “Sen trew Vertre encressis dignytee,” sometimes entitled Good Counsel. MS. In Cambridge University Library (Kk. I. 5, fol. 5).

Editions. In the 1578, 1600 and 1621 issues (not in that of 1567) of Ane Compendious Buik of Godly and Spiritual Songis [known as The Gude and Godlie Ballatis].

Laing, D. Reprint of the 1578 edition of the above. Edinburgh, 1868.

Lumby, J. R. Ratis Raving and other Moral and Religious Pieces in Prose and Verse, E.E.T.S. 1870, pp. VI, 10, 118–119.

Mitchell, A. F. A Compendious Book of Godly and Spiritual Songs. Scottish Text Society, Edinburgh, 1897, pp. lxxxi, 238.

Skeat, W. W. Kingis Quair, etc., u.s., pp. 51–54, 94–96.

(iii) Peblis to the Play, and (IV) Christis Kirk on the Grene. For discussion of the authorship of these pieces see Irving, u.s., pp. 142–153; Skeat, K. Q., u.s, pp. xvii–xxiii; Brown, J. T. T., u.s., pp. 16–20. See also chapter XI of this volume.

(v) Fragment B of the Romaunt of the Rose (11. 1706–5810) printed in the Oxford Chaucer, I, pp. 164–229. For Skeat’s reasons for suggesting the ascription of this section to James I see the introduction, pp. 3–6; also his Chaucer Canon, Oxford, 1900, pp. 75–89. Cf. also Athenaeum, 22 July, 1899.


(i) The Morall Fabillis of Esope

MSS. Harleian MS. 3865, Brit. Mus., with title-page bearing the date 1571. (This MS., containing the general prologue and thirteen Fables, is the most complete.) Bannatyne MS. (1568), Advocates’ Library, Edinburgh (MS. I. I. 6), containing the general prologue and ten Fables. Makculloch MS. (c. 1500) in the Library of the University of Edinburgh (Laing MSS., No. 149), containing the general prologue and the Fable of the Cock and the Jewel. Asloan MS. (early sixteenth century), containing the Fable of the Two Mice.

Editions. The Morall Fabillis &pipe; of Esope the Phrygi- &pipe; an, Compylit in Eloquent, and Ornate Scottis &pipe; Meter, be Maister Robert Henrisone, &pipe; Scholemaister of Dun- &pipe; fermeling. .…. Newlie Imprentit at Edinburgh, be Robert Lekpreuik, at the Ex- &pipe; pensis of Henrie Charteris: and ar to be &pipe; sauld in his Buith, on the North syde of the gait, abone the Throne. &pipe; Anno. Do. M.D.LXX. A unique copy of this edition is preserved in the library at Britwell Court, Bucks.

The Fabulous tales of &pipe; Esope the Phrygian, Compiled &pipe; moste eloquently in Scottishe &pipe; Metre by Master Robert Henrison, and now lately &pipe; Englished &pipe;.… London.&pipe; Richard Smith &pipe; Anno. 1577. The only known copy of this edition was in the library of Sion College (E.B. IX, 40); but it is now missing (see S.T.S. edition, infra, II, pp. xi–xvi).

The next extant edition is that (“Neulie reuised and corrected”) of Andro Hart, Edinburgh, 1621, reprinted by the Maitland Club, Edinburgh, 1832, with an unsigned preface by David Irving.

Laing, D. The Poems and Fables of Robert Henryson, now first collected. With Notes, and a Memoir of his Life. Edinburgh, 1865. The Fables are printed on pp. 101–217.

Diebler, A. R. Henrisone’s Fabeln (a reprint of the Harleian MS. text), in Anglia, IX, 342–390, 453–492.

Smith, G. Gregory. The Poems of Robert Henryson. Vol. II. Scottish Text Society, Edinburgh, 1906. This edition prints all the texts of the Fables

in extenso and gives a complete bibliography. See also Specimens of Middle Scots, 1902, pp. 1–7 and 267–9.

(ii) Orpheus and Eurydice

MSS. Asloan MS., u.s. Bannatyne, MS. u.s.

Editions. Among the fragments of the Chepman and Myllar prints (the earliest specimens of Scottish printing) preserved in the unique volume in the Advocates’ Library, Edinburgh (19, 1. 16). The text is incomplete. A reprint (now rare) was issued by Laing in 1827. Laing, D. Poems, u.s., pp. 49–71.

(iii) The Testament of Cresseid

MS. It appears in the Table of the Asloan MS., u.s., but the leaves on which it was written have been lost.

Editions. In William Thynne’s edition of Chaucer. 1532.

The Testament of &pipe; Cresseid,&pipe; Compylit be M. Robert&pipe;Henrysone, Sculemai-&pipe; ster in Dunfer- &pipe; meling. &pipe;&pipe; Imprentit at Edin- &pipe; burgh be Henrie Chart-&pipe; eris.&pipe; M.D.XCIII. This is the earliest known separate edition, and the first printed in Scotland. A unique copy is preserved in the British Museum.

Chalmers, G. Reprint of the foregoing for the Bannatyne Club. 1825. Laing, D. Poems, u.s., pp. 75–99. Skeat, W. W. Chaucerian and other Pieces (Oxford Chaucer, vol. VII), 1897, pp. 327–346. This text is based on Chalmers’s reprint, No. 3, supra.

For observations on early seventeenth century Scottish editions, of which no copies are extant, see Laing, u.s., p. 259. In 1635 Sir Francis Kynaston made a Latin rimed version of Chaucer’s Troilus and Henryson’s Cresseid—Amorum Troili et Cressidae Libri duo priores, Anglico-Latini, Oxoniae, excudebat Iohannes Lichfield, anno domini 1635. F.G. Waldron printed a specimen of the MS. in 1796. The MS. was formerly in the possession of S. W. Singer. See Laing, u.s., p. 260.

(iv) Shorter Poems (thirteen in number)

MSS. Twelve of the poems are preserved in the Bannatyne MS., u.s., and five are in duplicate, in the first draft, bound up with the MS. Four are in the Maitland Folio MS. (Pepysian Library, Magd. Coll., Cambridge). One, and a fragment of another, are in the Makculloch MS., u.s., one is in the Gray MS., Advocates’ Library, Edinburgh, and one is in the later Riddell MS. (1636), preserved in the library of Mr. Chalmers of Auldbar.

Editions. Two poems (Prais of Aige and Want of Wyse Men) were printed by Chepman and Myllar, u.s. Several of the poems have been reprinted at various times (by Ramsay, Hailes, Sibbald, Pinkerton, Chalmers and others); but the first collected text appeared in Laing, Poems, u.s., 1865. Robene and Makyne has been reprinted most often, the latest version (following the Bannatyne text) appearing in Specimens of Middle Scots, Edin. 1902, pp. 21–25.

Collected Editions

The only collected editions of Henryson’s poems are (1) Laing, u.s., 1865 and (2) Smith, G. Gregory, Scottish Text Society, in three volumes, in course of publication. Vol. II (vol. I of the texts), containing the Fables, was published in Nov., 1906. Vol. III will contain all the texts of Nos. II, III and IV.

Critical (general).

Diebler, A. R. Henrisone’s Fabeldichtungen. Halle, 1885.

Henley, W. E., in Ward’s English Poets, 1887, I, pp. 137–139.

Irving, D., u.s., 1861, pp. 208–224.

Laing, D., Poems, u.s., 1865, introduction.

Morley, H. English Writers, 1890, VI, pp. 250–257.

Neilson, W. A. The Origins and Sources of the Court of Love (Harvard Studies), 1899, pp. 2, 93, 159–163.

Ross, J. M., u.s., 1884, pp. 159–169.

Saintsbury, G. History of English Prosody, 1906, I, pp. 271 et seq.

Sibbald, J., u.s., 1802, I, pp. 87–90.


MSS. There is no single MS. collection of Dunbar’s poems. They have been gathered together from the following: (1) The Bannatyne MS., u.s. (60 poems); (2) The Maitland Folio MS., u.s. (60 poems and one fragment); (3) The Asloan MS., u.s. (5 poems and 2 fragments); (4) The Makculloch MS., u.s. (2 poems); (5), (6), (7) MSS. in the British Museum, viz. Cotton. Vitellius A. XVI, fol. 200 (1 poem), Arundel, No. 285, fol. 161 (3 poems) and App. to Royal MSS., No. 58, fol. 15 b (I poem); (8) The Aberdeen Register of Sasines (I poem); (9) The Reidpath MS., Univ. Lib. Cambridge, MS. Moore, L1. 5. 10, 1620 (44 poems and 3 fragments).

The distribution of the poems among these MSS. is shown in tabular form in the Scottish Text Society’s edition (infra), I, pp. cxcvi–cxcviii. See also introduction to Schipper’s edition (infra), pp. 5–14. The former edition ascribes 101 poems to Dunbar; the latter 103. Many of the poems occur in more than one MS. Thus of the 47 poems represented in the Reidpath MS. only one nine (eight, Schipper) are not found in any of the other MSS. The lists include the poems which have been attributed to Dunbar.

Editions. (a) Chief reprints of the poems before the publication of the first collected edition by Laing (infra).

Chepman and Myllar’s prints, u.s. (7 poems.)

Hailes, Lord. Ancient Scottish Poems. Edin. 1770. (32 poems from the Bannatyne MS.)

Pinkerton, John. Ancient Scotish Poems. 2 vols. 1786. (23 poems.)

Ramsay, Allan. The Ever Green. Edin. 1724. (24 poems, freely rendered.)

Select Poems of Will. Dunbar. Pt. I. (Morison’s Perth edition), 1788.

Sibbald, J. Chronicle of Scottish Poetry. Vols. I and II. 1802. (45 poems.) (b) Collected editions.

Laing, D. The Poetical Works of William Dunbar, with a Memoir and Notes. 2 vols. Edin. 1824. A supplementary volume published in 1865 contains a selection of poems by the minor Makars.

Schipper, J. The Poems of William Dunbar, edited with Introductions, Various Readings and Notes. Vienna (Kaiserliche Akademie der Wissenschaften), 1894. A useful edition, but marred by misprints.

Small—Mackay—Gregor. The Poems of William Dunbar. 3 vols. Scottish Text Society. 1884–93. (Vol. I, Introduction by æ. J. G. Mackay; vol. II, Texts edited by John Small; vol. III, Notes and Glossary by Walter Gregor, with an Appendix by æ. J. G. Mackay.) This is still the standard edition.

Critical (general).

Irving, D., u.s., 1861, pp. 225–254.

Kaufmann, J. Traité de la langue du poéte ècossais William Dunbar, précedé d’une esquisse de sa vie et de ses poèmes. Bonn, 1873.

Laing, D., u.s., 1824, introduction.

Mackay, æ. J. G. Introduction to Scottish Text Society’s edition (supra), separate issue (privately printed). 1893.

Neilson, W. A. Origins and sources, u.s., 1899, pp. 2, 163–165, 212, 220 et seq.

Ross. J. M., u.s., 1884, pp. 169 et seq.

Schipper, J. William Dunbar. Sein Leben und seine Gedichte. Berlin, 1884.

Sibbald, J., u.s., 1802, I, pp. 209 et seq.

Warton, Hist. of Eng. Poetry, sect. XXX.


Baildon, H. B. Dissertation on the Rimes of Dunbar. (Freiburg.) Reprinted Edin. 1899.

McNeill, G. P. Note on the versification and Metres of Dunbar. Scottish Text Society’s edition, u.s., I, pp. clxxii–cxciii. Saintsbury, G. History of English Prosody, Vol. I. 1906. Schipper, J. Altenglische Metrick. Bonn, 1882–1888 passim.


The Palice of Honour

MSS. None extant.

Editions. A reference in the Edinburgh edition of 1579 (infra) to “the copyis set furth of auld amangis ourselfis” has received confirmation by the discovery of two fragments of an unknown edition (reproduced by Small, infra, I, p. clxx), which Laing has dated c. 1540, and accredited to an Edinburgh press.

The &pipe; Palis of &pipe; Honoure Compyled by &pipe; Gawyne dowglas Bys- &pipe; shope of Dunkyll. &pipe;&pipe; Imprinted at London in &pipe; fletstret, at the sygne of &pipe; the Rose garland by &pipe; Wyllyam &pipe; Copland &pipe;&pipe; God saue Quene Marye. N.d., (probably 1553).

Heir beginnis &pipe; ane treatise callit the Palice &pipe; of Honovr compylit &pipe; be M. Gawine Dowglas &pipe; Bischop of &pipe; Dunkeld. &pipe;&pipe; Imprentit at Edin- &pipe; burgh be Iohne Ros &pipe; for Henrie Charteris. Anno 1579. Cvm privilegio regali.

Reprint of the 1579 edition, together with the Prologues to Douglas’s translation of the Aeneid, in Morison’s Perth edition of Scottish Poets. 1787.

Reprint of the 1579 edition for the Bannatyne Club. 1827.

Pinkerton, J. Reprint of the 1579 edition in Scottish Poems, reprinted from scare editions. Vol. I. 1792.

Sibbald. J. Chronicle of Scottish Poetry, 1802, I, pp. 385–423 (incomplete).

Small, J., infra, I, pp. 1–81.

King Hart

MS. In Folio Maitland MS. (Pepysian Library, Magd. Coll., Cambridge) u.s.


Pinkerton, John. Ancient Scotish Poems, 1786, I, pp. 3–43. In this edition Pinkerton divided, unwarrantably, the poem into two cantos, the first of 53 stanzas, the second of 67.

Small, J., infra. I. pp. 83–120.

Smith, G. Gregory, in Specimens of Middle Scots, 1902, pp. 49–64 (stanzas 1–53).

Excerpts are printed by Eyre-Todd in the Abbotsford Series, 1892, I, pp. 237–243.


MS. In Folio Maitland MS., u.s., foll. 192–3.

Edition. Small, J., infra, I, pp. 121–122 (misprinted 124).

Translation of the Aeneid

MSS. In the library of Trin. Coll., Cambridge (Gale’s MSS., O. 3. 12) c. 1525. In the library of the University of Edinburgh, known as the Elphynstoun MS., c. 1525. Another in the same library, known as the Ruthven MS., c. 1535. In the library of Lambeth Palace, dated Feb. 1545 (1546). In the library of the Marquis of Bath at Longleat, dated 1547.


The &pipe; xiii Bukes of Eneados of &pipe; the famose Poete Virgill &pipe; Translatet out Latyne &pipe; verses into Scottish me- &pipe; tir, bi the Reuerend Fa- &pipe; there in God, May- &pipe; ster Gawin Douglas &pipe; Bishop of Dunkel & &pipe; vnkil to the Erle &pipe; of Angus. Euery &pipe; buke hauing hys &pipe; perticular &pipe; Prologe. &pipe;&pipe; Imprinted at Lond[char] 1553. The printer was W. Copland, u.s.

Virgil’s æneis translated into Scottish verse by the famous Gawin Douglas, Bishop of Dunkeld. A new edition. Wherein the many errors of the former are corrected, and the defects supplied from an excellent manuscript. To which is added a large glossary… And to the whole is prefixed an exact account of the Author’s Life and Writings… Edinburgh. Andrew Symson and Robert Freebairn MDCCX. The responsible editor was Thomas Ruddiman; the Life is by bishop John Sage. The MS. referred to is the Ruthven, u.s., which did not come to Ruddiman’s notice before 45 pages of the folio were in type. John Urry (see the bibliography to the chapter on Chaucer) gave some assistance. He appears to have collated a portion of the Bath MS. with the edition of 1553 for Ruddiman’s volume. Jamieson was largely indebted to the glossary in the preparation of his Scottish Dictionary (1st edition, 1808).

The æneid of Virgil, translated into Scottish verse. Bannatyne Club. 2 vols. 1839. This edition is a handsome reprint of the Cambridge MS. (supra), without prolegomena or notes.

Small, J. (ut infra) 1874. Vols. V, III and IV. XII, This edition is based on the Elphynstoun MS. (supra).

Some of the Prologues have been printed separately:

Nos. IV, VII, VIII and XII, and a portion of XIII in Sibbald’s Chronicle of Scottish Poetry, 1802, I, pp. 428–457.

Nos. VII, XII and XIII in Eyre Todd’s Abbotsford Series, I, pp. 249–269 (reprinted from Small).

Nos. VII and XII in Hand Browne’s Selections from the Early Scottish Poets. Baltimore, 1896, pp. 154–165 (reprinted from Small).

Nos. I and VII in Gregory Smith’s Specimens of Middle Scots, 1902, pp. 107–128 (from the Elphynstoun MS., collated with the Ruthven MS.).

Douglas’s Prologues attracted students in England in the latter half of the eighteenth century. Cf. Francis Fawkes, Original Poems and Translations, 1761; T. Warton, who prints the greater portion of No. XII in his Hist. of Eng. Poetry, III.

Collected Edition

The only collected edition is The Poetical Works of Gavin Douglas, Bishop of Dunkeld, with Memoir, Notes, and Glossary by John Small, M.A., F.S.A. Scot., 4 vols., Edinburgh, 1874. (Vol. I, Introduction, etc., The Palice of Honour, King Hart and Conscience. Vols. II–IV, The Aeneid and Glossary.)

Critical (general)

Irving, D., u.s., pp. 255–290.

Lang, A. In Ward’s Eng. Poets, 1887, I, pp. 159–162.

Lange, P. Chaucer’s Einfluss auf die Originaldichtungen des Schotten Gavin Douglas. Diss. halle, 1882.

Neilson, W. A. Origins and Sources, u.s., 1899, pp. 77, 102, 160–163, 214.

Ross, J. M., u.s., 1884, pp. 293–374.

Sibbald, J., u.s., 1802.

Warton, u.s., section XXXI.