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THE EVE OF ST. JOHN.
The Baron of Smaylho'me rose with day,
He spurr'd his courser on,
That leads to Brotherstone.
His banner broad to rear;
To lift the Scottish spear.
And his vaunt-brace of proof he wore;
Full ten pound weight and more.
And his looks were sad and sour;
As he reach'd his rocky tower.
Ran red with English blood ;
'Gainst keen Lord Evers stood.
His acton pierced and tore,
But it was not English gore.
He held him close and still;
His name was English Will.
· The plate-jack is coat-armour; the vaunt-brace, or wam-brace, armour for the body: the sperthe, a battle-axe.
? See Appendix, p. 388.
“Come thou hither, my little foot-page,
Come hither to my knee;
I think thou art .true to me.
And look thou tell me true!
What did thy lady do?"“My lady, each night, sought the lonely light,
That burns on the wild Watchfold ; For, from height to height, the beacons bright
Of the English foemen told.
The wind blew loud and shrill;
To the eiry Beacon Hill.
Where she sat her on a stone;
It burned all alone.
Till to the fire she came,
Stood by the lonely flame.
Did speak to my lady there;
And I heard not what they were.
And the mountain-blast was still, As again I watch'd the secret pair,
On the lonesome Beacon Hill. " And I heard her name the midnight hour,
And name this holy eve, And say, “Come this night to thy lady's bower;
Ask no bold Baron's leave
“He lifts his spear with the bold Buccleuch;
His lady is all alone;
On the eve of good St. John.'-
I dare not come to thee;
In thy bower I may not be.'-
Thou shouldst not say me nay;
Is worth the whole summer's day. 6 • And I'll chain the blood-hound, and the warder shall
not sound, And rushes shall be strew'd on the stair; So, by the black rood-stone,' and by holy St. John, I conjure thee, my love, to be there !'Though the blood-hound be mute, and the rush beneath
And the warder his bugle should not blow, Yet there sleepeth a priest in the chamber to the east,
And my footstep he would know.'
For to Dryburgh? the way he has ta’en;
For the soul of a knight that is slayne.'
Then he laugh'd right scornfully – • He who says the mass-rite for the soul of that knight, “At the lone midnight hour, when bad spirits have power
May as well say mass for me:
'The black-rood of Melrose was a crucifix of black marble, and of superior sanctity.
? Dryburgh Abbey is beautifully situated on the banks of the Tweed. Aster its dissolution, it became the property of the Halliburtons of Newmains, and is now the seat of the Right Honourable the Earl of Buchan. It belonged to the order of Premonstratenses.—[The ancient Barons of Newmains were ultimately represented by Sir Walter Scott, whose remains now repose in their cemetery at Dryburgh.-Ed.]
In thy chamber will I be.'-
And no more did I see."
From the dark to the blood-red high: " Now, tell me the mien of the knight thou hast seen,
For, by Mary, he shall die!”“His arms shone full bright, in the beacon's red light;
His plume it was scarlet and blue;
And his crest was a branch of the yew."« Thou liest, thou liest, thou little foot-page,
Loud dost thou lie to me!
All under the Eildon-tree.”_
For I heard her name his name;
Sir Ríchard of Coldinghame."-
From high blood-red to pale – “ The grave is deep and dark - and the corpse is stiff and
And Eildon slopes to the plain,
That gay gallant was slain.
And the wild winds drown'd the name; For the Dryburgh bells ring, and the white monks do sing,
For Sir Richard of Coldinghame!”
'Eildon is a high hill, terminating in three conical summits, immediately above the town of Melrose, where are the admired ruins of a magnificent monastery. Eildon-tree is said to be the spot were Thomas the Rhyner uttered his prophet ies. See
He pass'd the court-gate, and he oped the tower-gate,
And he mounted the narrow stair,
He found his lady fair.
Look'd over hill and vale;
And all down Teviotdale.
“ Now hail, thou Baron true! What news, what news, from Ancram fight?
What news from the bold Buccleuch ?"• The Ancram Moor is red with gore,
For many a southern fell;
To watch our beacons well.”—
Nor added the Baron a word:
And so did her moody lord. In sleep the lady mourn’d, and the Baron toss'd and turn'd,
And oft to himself he said, “ The worms around him creep, and his bloody grave is
The night was wellnigh done,
On the eve of good St. John.
By the light of a dying flame;
Sir Richard of Coldinghame!
"Mertoun is the beautiful seat of Hugh Scott, Esq. of Harden.