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’T were sweet, ere yet his terrors rave,
To sit upon the Wizard's grave;
That Wizard Priest's, whose bones are thrust,
From company of holy dust ;?
On which no sunbeam ever shines-
(So superstition's creed divines) —
Thence view the lake, with sullen roar,
Heave her broad billows to the shore ;
And mark the wild-swans mount the gale,
Spread wide through midst their snowy sail,
At one corner of the burial ground of the demolished chapel, but without its precincts, is a small mound, called Binram's Corse, where tradition deposits the remains of a necromantic priest, the former tenant of the chaplainry. His story much resembles that of Ambrosio in "The Monk," and has been made the theme of a ballad, by my friend Mr. James Hogg, more poetically designed the Ettrick Shepherd. To his volume, entitled "The Mountain Bard," which contains this, and many other legendary stories and ballads of great merit, I refer the curious reader.
And ever stoop again, to lave
Their bosoms on the surging wave;
Then, when against the driving hail
No longer might my plaid avail,
Back to my lonely home retire,
And light my lamp, and trim my fire ;
There ponder o'er some mystic lay,
Till the wild tale had all its sway,
And, in the bittern's distant shriek,
I heard unearthly voices speak,
And thought the Wizard Priest was come,
To claim again his ancient home!
And bade my busy fancy range,
To frame him fitting shape and strange,
Till from the task my brow I clear'd,
And smiled to think that I had fear’d.
But chief, 't were sweet to think such life, (Though but escape from fortune's strife,) Something most matchless good and wise, A great and grateful sacrifice; And deem each hour to musing given, A step upon the road to heaven.
Yet him, whose heart is ill at ease,
Such peaceful solitudes displease ;
He loves to drown his bosom's jar
Amid the elemental war:
And my black Palmer's choice had been
Some ruder and more savage scene,
Like that which frowns round dark Loch Skene.
There eagles scream from isle to shore ;
Down all the rocks the torrents roar;
O'er the black waves incessant driven,
Dark mists infect the summer heaven ;
Through the rude barriers of the lake,
Away its hurrying waters break,
Faster and whiter dash and curl,
Till down yon dark abyss they hurl.
Rises the fog-smoke white as snow,
Thunders the viewless stream below.
Diving, as if condemn'd to lave
Some demon's subterranean cave,
Who, prison'd by enchanter's spell,
Shakes the dark rock with groan and yell.
And well that Palmer's form and mien
Had suited with the stormy scene,
Just on the edge, straining his ken
To view the bottom of the den,
Where, deep deep down, and far within,
Toils with the rocks the roaring linn;
Then, issuing forth one foamy wave,
And wheeling round the Giant's Grave,
Loch Skene is a mountain lake, of considerable size, at the head of the Moffat-water. The character of the scenery is uncommonly savage; and the carn, or Scottish eagle, has, for many ages, built its nest yearly upon an islet in the lake. Loch Skene discharges itself into a brook, which, after a short and precipitate course, falls from a cataract of immense height, and gloomy grandeur, called, from its appearance, the “Grey Mare's Tail." The "liiant's Grave," afterwards mentioned, is a sort of trench, which bears that name, a little way from the foot of the cataract. It has the appearance of a battery, designed to command the pass,
White as the snowy charger's tail,
Drives down the pass of Moffatdale.
Marriott, thy harp, on Isis strung,
To many a Border theme has rung :1
Then list to me, and thou shalt know
Of this mysterious Man of Woe.
See various ballads by Mr. Marriott, in the 4th vol. of the Border Minstrelsy.