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EVE OF SAINT 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 Sandiknow-Crags, the property of Hugh Scott, Esq. of Harden. The tower is a high square building, surrounded by an outer wall, now ruinous. The 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 grate; 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 sur. rounded, 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 tower-court is a ruined chapel. Brotherstone is a heath, in the neighbourhood of Smaylho'me Tower.
This ancient fortress and its vicinity formed the scene of the author's infancy, and seemed to claim from him this attempt to celebrate them in a Border tale. The catastrophe of the tale is founded upon a well-known Irish tradition.
EVE OF SAINT JOHN.
The Baron of Smaylhoʼme rose with day,
He spurr'd his courser on,
That leads to Brotherstone.
He went not with the bold Buccleuch,
His banner broad to rear;
To lift the Scottish spear.
Yet his plate-jack* was braced, and his helmet was
laced, And his vaunt-brace of proof he wore;
* The plate-jack is coat-armour; the vaunt-brace, or wambrace, armour for the body; the sperthe, a battle-axe.
At his saddle-gerthe was a good steel sperthe,
Full ten pound weight and more.
The Baron return'd in three days' space,
And his looks were sad and sour; And weary was his courser's pace,
As he reach'd his rocky tower,
He came not from where Ancram Moor*
Ran red with English blood; Where the Douglas true, and the bold Buccleuch,
'Gainst keen Lord Evers stood.
Yet was his helmet hack’dand hew'd,
His acton pierced and tore
But it was not English gore.
* See an account of the battle of Ancram Moor, subjoined to the ballad.
He lighted at the Chapellage,
He held him close and still ; And he whistled thrice for his little foot-page,
His name was English Will.
“ Come thou hither, my little foot-page,
Come hither to my knee;
I think thou art true to me.
" Come, tell me all that thou hast seen,
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.