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MARMION

A TALE OF FLODDEN FIELD

IN SIX CANTOS

Alas! that Scottish maid should sing

The combat where her lover fell!
That Scottish Bard should wake the string,
The triumph of our foes to tell!

LEYDEN's Ode on Visiting Flodden

TO THE

RIGHT HONOURABLE HENRY, LORD MONTAGUE

ETC., ETC., ETC.

THIS ROMANCE IS INSCRIBED BY

THE AUTHOR

ADVERTISEMENT

It is hardly to be expected that an author whom the public have honoured with some degree of applause should not be again a trespasser on their kindness. Yet the author of Marmion must be supposed to feel some anxiety concerning its success, since he is sensible that he hazards, by this second intrusion, any reputation which his first poem may have procured him. The present story turns upon the private adventures of a fictitious character, but is called a Tale of Flodden Field, because the hero's fate is connected with that memorable defeat and the causes which led to it. The design of the author was, if possible, to apprise his readers, at the outset, of the date of his story, and to prepare them for the manners of the age in which it is laid. Any historical narrative, far more an attempt at epic composition, exceeded his plan of a romantic tale; yet he may be permitted to hope, from the popularity of The Lay of the Last Minstrel, that an attempt to paint the manners of the feudal times, upon a broader scale, and in the course of a more interesting story, will not be unacceptable to the public.

The poem opens about the commencement of August, and concludes with the defeat of Flodden, 9th September, 1513.

ASHESTIEL, 1808.

Reference 1
Himebaugh
12-2-24
1104

INTRODUCTION

What I have to say respecting this poem may be briefly told. In the Introduction to The Lay of the Last Minstrel I have mentioned the circumstances, so far as my literary life is concerned, which induced me to resign the active pursuit of an honourable profession for the more precarious resources of literature. My appointment to the Sheriffdom of Selkirk called for a change of residence. I left, therefore, the pleasant cottage I had upon the side of the Esk, for the 'pleasanter banks of the Tweed,' in order to comply with the law, which requires that the sheriff shall be resident, at least during a certain number of months, within his jurisdiction. We found a delightful retirement, by my becoming the tenant of my intimate friend and cousingerman, Colonel Russel, in his mansion of Ashestiel, which was unoccupied during his absence on military service in India. The house was adequate to our accommodation and the exercise of a limited hospitality. The situation is uncommonly beautiful, by the side of a fine river whose streams are there very favourable for angling, surrounded by the remains of natural woods, and by hills abounding in game. In point of society, according to the heartfelt phrase of Scripture, we dwelt ‘amongst our own people'; and as the distance from the metropolis was only thirty miles, we were not out of reach of our Edinburgh friends, in which city we spent the terms of the summer and winter sessions of the court, that is, five or six months in the year.

An important circumstance had, about the same time, taken place in my life. Hopes had been held out to me from an influential quarter, of a nature to relieve me from the anxiety which I must have otherwise felt, as one upon the precarious tenure of whose own life rested the principal prospects of his family, and especially as one who had necessarily some dependence upon the favour of the public, which is proverbially capricious;

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