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And, bending o'er his harp, he flung
Tall wax'd the Spirit's altering form,
Wild mingling with the howling gale,
Loud bursts of ghastly laughter rise;
And die amid the northern skies.
The voice of thunder shook the wood,
As ceased the more than mortal yell;
Upon the hissing firebrands fell.
Next dropp'd from high a mangled arm;
The fingers strain'd an half-drawn blade:
Torn from the trunk, a gasping head.
Oft o'er that head, in battling field,
Stream'd the proud crest of high Benmore;
Fillan, are to be found in BELLENDEN'S Boece, Book 4, folio ccxiii. and in PENNANT'S Tour in Scotland, 1772, pp. 11. 15.
[See a note on the lines in the first canto of Marmion. . .
"Thence to St. Fillan's blessed well,
Woe to Moneira's sullen rills!
E'en the tired pilgrim's burning feet
At noon shall shun that sheltering den,
And we-behind the Chieftain's shield,
O hone a rie'! O hone a rie'!
The pride of Albin's line is o'er!
THE EVE OF ST. JOHN.
SMAYLHO'ME, or Smallholm Tower, the scene of the following ballad, is situated on the northern boundary of Roxburghshire, among a cluster of wild rocks, called Sandiknow1-Crags, the property of Hugh Scott, Esq. of Harden. The tower is a high square building, surrounded by an outer wall, now ruinous. The
"This place is rendered interesting to poetical readers, by its having been the residence, in early life, of Mr. Walter Scott, who has celebrated it in his Eve of St. John.' To it he probably alludes in the introduction to the third canto of Marmion.
"Then rise those crags, that mountain tower, Which charmed my fancy's wakening hour.'' Scots Mag. March, 1809 The farm-house in the immediate vicinity of Smallholm.
circuit of the outer court, being defended on three sides, by a precipice and morass, is accessible only from the west, by a steep and rocky path. The apartments, as is usual in a Border keep, or fortress, are placed one above another, and communicate by a narrow stair; on the roof are two bartizans, or platforms, for defence or pleasure. The inner door of the tower is wood, the outer an iron gate; the distance between them being nine feet, the thickness, namely, of the wall. From the elevated situation of Smaylho'me Tower, it is seen many miles in every direction. Among the crags by which it is surrounded, one, more eminent, is called the Watchfold, and is said to have been the station of a beacon, in the times of war with England. Without the towercourt is a ruined chapel. Brotherstone is a heath, in the neighbourhood of Smaylho'me Tower.
This ballad was first printed in Mr. Lewis's Tales of Wonder. It is here published, with some additional illustrations, particularly an account of the battle of Ancram Moor; which seemed proper in a work upon Border antiquities. The catastrophe of the tale is founded upon a well-known Irish tradition.' This ancient fortress and its vicinity formed the scene of the Editor's infancy, and seemed to claim from him this attempt to celebrate them in a Border tale.2
1 The following passage, in Dr. HENRY MORE'S Appendix to the Antidote against Atheism, relates to a similar phenomenon:-"I confess, that the bodies of devils may not be only warm, but sindgingly hot, as it was in him that took one of Melancthon's relations by the hand, and so scorched her, that she bare the mark of it to her dying day. But the examples of cold are more frequent; as in that famous story of Cuntius, when he touched the arm of a certain woman of Pentoch, as she lay in her bed, he felt as cold as ice; and so did the spirit's claw to Anne Styles."-Ed. 1662, p. 135. 2 [See the Introduction to the third canto of Marmion.
"It was a barren scene, and wild,
Where naked cliffs were rudely piled;
But ever and anon between
Lay velvet tufts of softest green;
And well the lonely infant knew
Recesses where the wallflower grew," &c.-ED.]
THE EVE OF ST. JOHN.
THE Baron of Smaylho'me rose with day,
Without stop or stay, down the rocky way,
He went not with the bold Buccleuch,
He went not 'gainst the English yew,
To lift the Scottish spear.
Yet his plate-jack' was braced, and his helmet was laced, And his vaunt-brace of proof he wore;
At his saddle-gerthe was a good steel sperthe,
The Baron return'd in three days' space
He came not from where Ancram Moor
Where the Douglas true, and the bold Buccleuch,
Yet was his helmet hack'd and hew'd,
His acton pierced and tore,
His axe and his dagger with blood imbrued,—
He lighted at the Chapellage,
He held him close and still;
And he whistled thrice for his little foot-page,
The plate-jack is coat-armour; the vaunt-brace, or wam-brace, armour for the body: the sperthe, a battle-axe.
2 See Appendix, p. 388.
"Come thou hither, my little foot-page, Come hither to my knee;
Though thou art young, and tender of age,
"Come, tell me all that thou hast seen, And look thou tell me true!
Since I from Smaylho'me tower have peen,
"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 bittern clamour'd from the moss,
"I watch'd her steps, and silent came Where she sat her on a stone;
No watchman stood by the dreary flame,
It burned all alone.
"The second night I kept her in sight, Till to the fire she came,
And, by Mary's might! an Armed Knight
"And many a word that warlike lord Did speak to my lady there;
But the rain fell fast, and loud blew the blast, And I heard not what they were.
"The third night there the sky was fair,
"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