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The poet perceives an immense rock of a very peculiar appearance. It seems of a slippery and hard substance, and, like glass, reflects the rays of the sun. Many paths wind around it, but only one leads to the summit. The Muses and the rest of their train immediately ascend, leaving the poet and his attendant nymph behind. She leads him by the hand, and encourages him to proceed: but when they have nearly gained the pinnacle, he observes their path crost by an abominable ditch, burning like hell, and full of brimstone, pitch, and boiling lead. In this are seen floating many a ghastly wretch ; some already suffocated, others still yelling amid the flames. The 'nymph informs him that these are such as once professed to be faring towards the palace of Honour, but in the sequel, being allured by pleasure or sloth, have stumbled into this dismal lake. She now seizes him by the locks, and conveys him to the summit of the enchanted rock. At her, command he casts his eyes from the eminence, and beholds the world tost in a tempest of misery, and many perishing amid the weltering waves. He perceives a goodly barge labouring against the fury of the storm, and at length bulging against a sand-bank. Some of the crew are swallowed by the waves, others reach the shore and begin to ascend the rock.
As we bene on this hie hill situait,
Thy wretchit warld thow may considder now:
I blent adoun and felt my body grow.
This brukill eird, sa litill till allow,
That terribill tempest, hiddeous wallis huge,
Quhair nouther rest nor quiet micht appeir :
Innumerabill folk I saw flotterand in feir,
Quhilk pereist on the walterand wallis weir :
This gudelie carvell taiklit traist on raw,
Richt souer, ticht, and wonder stranglie beildit,
In bubbis thick, that na schippis sail micht weild it.
It was a pieteous thing, alaik! alaik!
Maist lamentabill the pereist folk to se,
Sum hang upon a takill, sum on ane tre,
Sum fra thair grip sone waschin with the see ;
Tho at my nymph breifie I did enquire,
Yone multitude, said scho, of pepill drint
Quhairfoir thay sall in endlis fire be brint.
Yone lustie schip yow seis pereist and tint,
Ye bene all borne the sonnis of ire, I gues,
Than in yone carvell surelie ye remane,
Than schip broken sall ye drown in endles pane,
This explication of the Christian system seems to proceed with little propriety from one of the attendants of the Muses. The poet is guilty of several other incongruities equally palpable.
He is now presented with a view of the palace of Honour, the splendour and magnificence of which surpasses description. Within the gate he beholds many stately tournaments and many lusty sports. The nymph then conveys him to a garden, where he finds Venus seated on a gorgeous throne.
Bot straicht befoir Venus visage, but let,
Stude emeraut stages twelf, grene precious greis,
Quhairon thair grew thre curious goldin treis,
This mirror possesses the quality of representing “ all things gone like as thay war present.”
In it he beholds an adumbration of every remarkable action recorded in history. Among other personages of a like description, he sees
Greit Gowmacmorne and Fyn Mac Cowl, and how
Thay suld be goddis in Ireland, as thay say.
These are evidently Fingal and Gaul the son of Morni, the renowned heroes of Ossian. As early at least as the age in which Douglas flourished, the exploits of Fingal were celebrated in certain popular tales, composed either in the Scotish or Gaëlic language
g “ Conjiciunt quidam in hæc tempora Fynnanum filium Cæli, (Fyn Mak-Coul, vulgari vocabulo) virum, uti ferunt, immani staturâ septenum enim cubitorum hominem fuisse narrant) Scotici sanguinis, venatoriâ arte insignem, omnibusque insolitâ corporis mole formidolosum; circularibus fabulis, et iis quæ de Arthuro Britonum rege, passim apud nostrates leguafur, simillimum, magis quam eruditorum testimonio decantatum.”
Boethi Scotorum Historia, f. 128. b.
in this enchanted mirror he also sees diverse tricks of legerdemain performed by Roger Bacon and other necromancers.
The nigromancie thair saw. I eik anone
With mony subtill point of juglairie;
Of ane nutmeg thay maid a monk in hy,
Ane paroche kirk of ane penny pye:
The nymph at last informs him that the mirror possest of such wonderful properties, signifies nothing else
Bot the greit bewtie of thir ladyis facis,
After he has for some time contemplated these curious spectacles, Venus recognizes her former prisoner, and welcomes him to this region. She presents him with a book, which proves to be Virgil's Æneid, and commands him to translate it into his native language; a task which it is well known he has performed with wonderful felicity.
The nymph now conducts him to a spot where he has an opportunity of observing the multitude that presses for admission into the palace. He