Imatges de pÓgina
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gone, and the blood, according to her great pins thrust under his tongue up to their medical authority, Thom, was "dosint,' heads. After a trance of three hours in or as we should say benumbed. Bessie's Turnbull's chamber, the poor schoolmaster fame as a midwife and nurse soon became had told the foolish and suspicious country only equalled by her fame as a spaewife. people of how he had been transported to She told anxious farmers where such a various mountains half round the world. man's coat was, another's plough-irons, Under torture, following the lead of danand she disclosed the thief who stole gerous and entrapping questions, the schoolLady Blair's body-linen. Envious mid- master confessed that he had done homage wives, angry bone-setters, and jealous for- to Satan as he stood in the pulpit of North tune-tellers soon conspired against poor Berwick Church. To his witch congregaBessie.

Poor, weakly, crafty woman no tion, Satan had said, during a short but doubt, to gain a higher reputation among appropriate sermon: her poor ignorant country patients, she “Many come to the fair, but all sell not had trumped up all this story about the wares; fear not, though I am grim, for I ghost of old Thom, and had even shown a have many servants who shall never ail or green silk lace which she wound round want so long as their hair is on, and never the left arms of women at their time of shall a tear fall from their eyes so long as delivery as a talisman brought for her by they serve me. Spare not to do evil, eat, that very old soldier from the Queen of drink, and be blithe, take rest and ease, Fairyland herself.

for I will raise you up on the latter day Oh what a tangled web we weave

gloriously." When first we practise to deceive.

Fian had also entered into a league with Too late, with her limbs crushed in the Satan and a gang of witches and wizards terrible boots, her ribs snapping on the to wreck King James on his return from rack, her poor fingers bleeding in the Denmark, where he had visited Ann, his "pilniewinks,” Bessie Jake lamented that future wife. It was also deposed that at she had ever boasted of meeting a soldier's | the witches' Sabbath in North Berwick ghost, or a fairy queen. In her delirium, Church, Fian and the crew had passed her brain gone, she rambled on with fresh round the church "widdershins,” that is, lies about having frequently seen Thom contrary to the sun's course.

Fian opened handling goods, like any decent living body, the strong church door by blowing into the at the Edinburgh market. The last time lock, and then puffed in the lights, which she met him, said the groaning woman, very properly burned blue, and appeared as he had told her she would soon be arrested, big black candles held by old men's hands but assured her that she would be well all round the pulpit. Satan appeared as a treated, and eventually cleared. Lies, lies huge black man with a black beard like that all, even if the biggest ghost ever rapped of a goat, a high ribbed nose like a hawk's up had spoken those words. To the fire beak, and a long tail. He wore a black she was hurried, and the lies were burnt gown, “evil-favoured” black skull. out of her miserable body in the sight of a cap on his head, and preached with a pitiless multitude that blackened the Castle black book in his hand, telling them if Hill of Edinburgh.

they would be good servants to him, he Following down the black rings that would be a good master to them, and that mark the burning place of these victims of they should never want. He made the cruel and stupid superstition, we come, in witches all very angry on one occasion, by 1590, to John Fian, alias Cunningham, a forgetting the proprieties so much as to poor parish schoolmaster at Saltpans, Lo- call one Rob by his christian name. thian, who was discovered to occupy the The congregation all ran “hirdie-girdie" onerous office of secretary and registrar- at this, in surprise and consternation, general to the devil. The witnesses, who but, nevertheless, no public apology seems feared or disliked this unhappy scholar, to have been made. Fian had also, as deposed that Satan had appeared to him he confessed under torture, dug up dead all in white one night as he lay in bed, bodies and dismembered them to make thinking how he could be revenged on charms. At the house of one David Seaton Thomas Turnbull

, his landlord, for not it was sworn that he had opened a lock white-washing his room as per agreement. by merely breathing into the hand of an It was sworn that to obtain this revenge old wife sitting by the fire. Another time Fian had sworn allegiance to Satan, and four lighted candles sprang out of his received bis recruiting mark, to wit, two horse's head, and a fifth arose on the staff

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which his servant carried. These candles To read upon yon sweet Book,

Which the Mighty God of Heaven stoop, gave a light equal to the sun at noon, and

Open, open, Heavens yaits, the terrified man seeing them, fell dead on Steik, steik, Hello yaits, his own doorstep. Fian sent an evil spirit to

All saints be the better,

That hear the White Prayer, Pater Noster.
torment an enemy of his for twenty weeks.
He chased a cat, and in the chase “levi. The Black Pater Noster ran thus:
tated," as Mr. Home would say, up in the

Four newks in this house, for holy angels,
air and clean over a hedge. He wanted A post in the midst, that's Christ Jesus,
the cat to fling into the sea to produce Lucas, Marcus, Matthew, Joannes,

God be into this house and all that belangs us. shipwrecks. He bewitched a young maiden, and even made a pet cow miraculously When she sought for an answer from follow him even into his schoolroom. He the devil on any occasion, he appeared to cast horoscopes, and wore moleskins. To her in the shape of a dog; the way of make him confess to all this fantastic non- dismissing and conjuring him to go was sense, much torturing was requisite. They this, "I charge thee to depart on the law first bound his head with a rope, and thou lives on, as she did when she distwisted it tight and tighter for an hour. missed him after her consulting him about But this did not educe anything but groans. old Lady Edmiston's sickness. But the Then they put on the dreaded “boots,” and manner how she raised the devil was with crushed his legs to a pulp. On the third these words, “ Eloa, come and speak to stroke of the cruel wedges he fainted. Then me, who came in the likeness of a dog." they searched him for the “devil's mark.” | Her sailing with her cummers and fellowWhen he recovered, to stop further tor. witches in a boat to a ship was very retures he made the above confession, adding markable: the devil caused her and them that the devil had appeared to him just to drink good wine and beer without money, then, all in black, but carrying a white she neither seeing the mariners nor the wand.

mariners her. And after all the devil On Doctor Fian's renouncing the devil raised a wind, whereby the ship perished. and all his works (it was about time), the She baptised a cat to hinder Queen Ann evil spirit, he said, angrily broke the from coming into Scotland.

, white wand he carried, and disappeared. In her own confession to King James The next day the poor wretch recanted, she said that “ the devil, in man's likeness, and then the monsters invented fresh met her going out to the fields from her tortures, but he was resolute now, and own house at Keith, betwixt five and six would invent no more lies. On a January at even, being alone, and commanded her Saturday, 1591, he escaped from their to be at North Berwick Kirk the next cruelty in a fire on the Castle Hill. Other night, to which place she came on horsemembers of Fian's gang were also dragged back, conveyed by her good son, called to the stake, after endless examinations, John Couper, and lighted near the kirkthat lasted a whole winter, before that yeard about eleven hours at even. They miserable pedant, James the First. Agnes danced along the kirk-yeard, Geilie DunSympson, generally known as the “wise can playing on a trump, and John Fian, wife of Keith,” after dreadful tortures, con- muffled, led the king. The said Agnes and fessed that she and two hundred other her daughter followed next. Besides, there witches had gone to sea in sieves on All were Kate Gray, George Moilis, bis wife, Halloween, laughing and drinking as Robert Grierson, Katherine Duncan, Bessie they sailed.

Wright, Isabel Gilmore, John Graymail, The witnesses against her complained Duncan Buchanan, Thomas Barnhil and of her using nonsenical rhymes, for the his wife, Gilbert Mackgill, John Mackgill, instructing of ignorant people and teach- Katherine Mackgill, with the rest of their ing them to pray; among others, these two cummers, above one hundred persons, prayers, the Black and White Pater Noster, whereof there were six men, and all the to be used morning and evening:

rest women. The women made first their White Pater Noster,

courtesy to their maister, and then the
God was my foster.

The men turned nine times widder.
He fostered me

shines about, and the women six times.
Under the Book of palm tree.
Saint Michael was my dame,

The devil started up himself in the pul-
He was born at Bethlehem.

pit like a mickle black man, and calling the
He was made of flesh and blood,

roll, every one answered, “Here,'
God send me my right food;
My right food and dyne too,

“ The first thing Satan demanded was if
That I

they kept all promise, and had been good


may to



servants, and what they had done since the same in execution. As to their consultalast time they had conveened. At his tions therefrom, they use them oftest in the command they opened up three graves churches, where they convene for adoring, two within and one without the kirk, at what time their master inquiring of and catting off from the dead corps the them what they would be at, every one of joints of their fingers, toes, and nose, parted them proposes unto him what wicked torthem amongst them, and she (Agnes ture they would have done, either for obSympson) got for her part a winding-sheet taining of riches, or for revenging them and two joints. The devil commanded them upon any whom they have malice at; who to keep the joints upon them while they were graunting their demaund, as no doubt willdry, and then to make a powder of them to ingly he will, since it is to doe evill, he do evil withall. Then he bade them to keep teacheth them the meanes whereby they his commandments, which were to do all the may doe the same; as for little trifling evil and mischief they could. Before they turnes that woman have adoe with, he departed and were dismist they behoved to causeth them to joynt dead corpses, and kiss this diabolical preacher.

to make powders thereof, mixing such other In the churchyard at North Berwick, things there amongst as he gives unto Geillis Duncan, a half-crazed servant- them. That fourth kinde of spirits, which girl, had led the dance, playing a tune by the Gentiles was called divine, and her called Gyllatripes on the jew's - harp. wondering court and amongst was called The devil had confessed to her (well-de. the Phairie, or our 'good neighbours,' was vised flattery, but fruitless), that James one of the sorts of illusions that was rifest was a man of God and his greatest enemy. in the time of Papistrie; for although it She and some other witches had sunk a was holden odious to prophesie by the vessel on one occasion, and on another divel, yet whom these kind of spirits caried baptised a cat. Doctor Fian, she owned, away, and formed, they were thought to be acted as secretary and registrar at their sonsiest, and of best life. To speak of the meetings. She, too, went to the ever-ready many vain trottles founded upon that illubonfire. Barbara Napier, wife of an Edin- sion-how there was King and Queen of burgh burgess, and sister-in-law to the Phairie of such a jolly court and traine as Laird of Carschoggill, was acquitted, much they had, how they rode and went, eat, and to the rage and regret of the Scottish Solo- drink, and did all other actions like na

A lady of good family, Euphemia turall men and women, I think it were Maclean, daughter of Lord Cliftonhall, was liker Virgil's Campi Elysii, nor anything burnt about the same time, probably all the that ought to be beleeved by Christians, sooner for being a Catholic and a friend of except in generall, that as I spake sundrie the hated Bothwell. The year after, a man times before, the divell illuded the senses named Richard Graham was burnt at the of sundrie simple creatures, in making them Cross in Edinburgh for boasting of having beleeve that they saw and heard such things a familiar spirit at his beck, and also for as were nothing so indeed. raising a devil in the court-yard of the “PHILOMATHES. But how can it be then house of Sir Lewis Ballantyne, in the that sundrie witches have gone to death Canongate, an apparition which, by-the- with that confession, that they have been bye, frightened poor Sir Lewis to death. transported with the Phairie to such a hill,

The foolish book on Demonology, written which opening, they went in and saw a by King James before he ascended the Eng- faire queen, who being now lighter, gave lish throne, gave a great impetus to the them à stone that had sundrie virtues, persecution of witches. Droves of old which at sundrie times hath been produced women were hurried to the flames. What in judgement ? special opinions the sapient king held, our “Epi. I say that even as I said before of readers may gather from the following ex- that imaginar ravishing of the spirit foorth tracts, which are the very gist of the whole of the bodie; for may not the divel object farrago of learned nonsense, which at least to their fantasie, their senses being dulled, did this good to the world, that it probably and as it were asleepe, such hiiles and gave some hints to Shakespeare for his houses within them, such glistering courtes wonderful witches in Macbeth.

and traines, and whatsoever such-like where" EPISTEMON. In their actions used to with he pleaseth to delude them, and in the wards others, three things ought to be con- mean time their bodies being senselesse, to sidered; first, the maner of their consulting convey in their hande any stone or such therefrom; next, their part as instruments; like thing, which he makes them to imagine and last, their master's part, who puts the to have received in such a place."


Of the burning of old Major Weir and to secure? He answered, none. His sis. his sister on the Gallows Hill, near Edin- ter said there was, wherenpon, to the value burgh, in 1670, traditions still exist. of five dollars, in parcels here and there,

Mr. Sinclair, a fatuous professor of philo- were found in several clouts. His sister sophy at Glasgow University, thus de- advised the two magistrates to secure his scribes the event :

staff especially; for she also went to prison. “Major Thomas Weir was born in Clyds- After he was secured in the Tolbooth, the daile, near to Lanerk, and he had been a bailies returned, and went into a tavern near lieutenant in Ireland long since. What to Weir's house, in the West Bow, a street way he came to get some publick command so called there. The money was put into in the city of Edinburgh, in the year ’49 a bag, and the clouts thrown into the fire and ’53, we know not, but it seems he had by the master of the house and his wife, always been called Major Weir since that which, after an unusual manner, made å time. It seems he had some charge over circling and dancing in the fire. There the waiters at the ports of the city, being, was another clout found, with some bard as it were, a check to them. Coming one thing in it, which they threw into the fire day, as his custome was, he found some of likewise; it being a certain root which them in a cellar, taking a cup of ale, neglect-circled and sparkled like gunpowder, and ing their charge. After a gentle reproof, passing from the tunnel of the chimney, it one of them replyed that, some of their gave a crack like a little cannon, to the number being on duty, the rest had retired amazement of all that were present. to drink with their old friend and acquaint- “The money aforesaid was taken by one ance Mr. Burn. At which word he started of the two bailies to his own house, and back, and, casting an eye upon him, re- laid by in his closet. After family prayer peated the word Burn four or five times; was ended, he retired into the same closet and, going home, he never any more came (where I have been), during which time abroad till a few weeks after he had dis- his wife (who is yet living) and the rest covered his impieties. It was observed by of the family were affrighted with a tersome that, going to Liberton, he sometimes rible noise within the study, like the falling shunned to step over Liberton-burn, and of an house, about three times together. went about to shun it. Some have conjec- His wife, knocking, gave a fearful cry: tured that he had advise to beware of a “My dear, are you alive ?' The bailie came burn or some other thing which this equi- out unafrayed, having (as he said) heard vocal word might mean. If so, he had nothing. The money was presently sent foreseen his day approaching. A year be- away to the other bailie's house, a great fore he discovered himself he took a sore distance from Weir's, where, as was resickness, during which time he spake to all ported, there was some disturbance, but who visited him like an angel, and came in broken expressions. frequently abroad again.

During the time of his imprisonment “This man, taking some dreadful tortures Weir was never willing to be spoken to, of conscience, and the terrours of the Al- and when the ministers of the city offered mighty being upon his spirit, confessed to to pray for him he would cry out in fury, several neighbours in hisown house, and that Torment me no more, for I am tormented most willingly, his particular sins which he already.' One minister (now asleep), askwas guilty of, which bred amazement to ing him if he should pray for him, was all

persons, they coming from a man of so answered, “Not at all.' The other rehigh a repute of religion and piety. He plied in a kind of holy anger, 'Sir, I will ended with this remarkable expresssion : pray for yon in spite of your teeth, and the * Before God,' says he, “I have not told devil your master too, who did pray, you the hundred part of that I can say making him at least to hear him; but the more and am guilty of.' These same abo- other, staring wildly, was senseless as a minations he confessed before the judges brute. Another, who is likewise at rest, likewise. But after this he would never demanded if he thought there was a God. to his dying hour confess any more, which Said the man, 'I know not.' That other might have been for the glorifying of God smartly replied, 'Oh, man, the argument and the edification of others, but remained that moveth me to think there is a God is stupid, having no confidence to look any thyself, for what else moved thee to inform man in the face, or to open


eyes. the world of thy wicked life.' But Weir “When two of the magistrates came to answered, “Let me alone.' When he his house in the night time, to carry him peremptorily forbade one of his own parish to prison, they asked if he had any money | ministers (ģet alive) to pray, one demanded

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if he would have any of the Presbyterian on, if by the lanthorn they could see what persuasion to pray. He answered, “Sir, she was; but haste what they could, this you are now all alike to me. Then said long-legged spectre was still before them, the minister to him, 'I will pray with moving her body with a vehement cachinyou.' 'Do it not,' said the other, “upon nation a great unmeasurable laughter. your peril,' looking up to the beams of the At this rate the two strove for place, till house. But prayer was offered up so much the giantess came to a narrow lane in the the more heartily, because the company Bow, commonly called the Stinking Closs, about expected some vision. It is ob- into which she turned ; and the gentleservable that, in things common, he was woman looking after her, perceived the pertinent enough; but when anything about Closs full of flaming torches (she could Almighty God and his soul's condition give them no other name), and as it had came about, he would shrug and rub his been a great multitude of people, stencoat and breast, saying to them, “Torment toriously laughing and gapping with takies me not before the time. When he was at of laughter.” the stake to be burnt, the city minister The major's poor old half-crazed sister called to a churchman there looking on, came next to the gallows. She confessed being one of that persuasion whereof Weir various horrible crimes, which most prowas formerly deemed to be, to speak to bably had never been committed. She also him; but no sooner he opened his mouth, owned that the Queen of the Fairies had than he made a sign with his hand and his helped her in spinning, and that her brother head to be silent. When the rope was and friend, soon after the battle of about his neck to prepare him for the fire, Worcester, had driven to Dalkeith in a he was bid say, 'Lord be merciful to me!' (most uncomfortable !) fiery chariot. On But he answered, “Let me alone, I will the scaffold the poor wretch tried to strip not; I have lived as a beast, and I must off her clothes, in order to die with the die as a beast.' The fire being kindled, greatest shame possible, and the rough both he and his staff, a little after, fell into executioner had at last to fling her by force the flames. Whatever incantation was in from the ladder. Her last words were his staff is not for me to discuss. He could true to the sect to which her brother had not officiate in any holy duty without this claimed to belong : rod in his hand, and leaning upon it, which Many,” she said, “weep and lament made those who heard him pray admire for a poor old wretch like me, but, alas ! his fluency in prayers. Its falling into the few are weeping for a broken covenant.” fire with him (let others search out the Sir Walter Scott, in his Demonology and disparity) minds me of this passage. In Witchcraft, describes Major Weir's house, Shetland a few years ago a judge having at the head of the West Bow, as then in the condemned an old woman and her daughter, course of being destroyed. It was a gloomy, called Helen Stewart, for witchcraft, sent high-storied structure, with the usual outthem to be burned. The maid was so side stairs of the Old Town fortresses of stupid that she was thought to be pos- poverty, and it had been alternately a sessed. When she had hung some little brazier's shop and a magazine for lint. In time on the gibbet a black, pitchy-like ball his High School days, Sir Walter Scott foamed out of her mouth ; and after the says, no family would inhabit the haunted fire was kindled it grew to the bigness of house, and bold was the urchin who dared a walnut, and then flew up like squibs into approach the gloomy ruin, at the risk of the air, which the judge, yet living, attests. seeing the major's enchanted staff parading It was taken to be a visible sign that the through the old apartments, or hearing the devil was gone out of her.

hum of his sister's necromantic wheel." "Some few days before he discovered him- In 1727, the last witch was burnt in self, a gentlewoman coming from the Castle Scotland. She was a poor, half imbecile Hill

, where her husband's niece was lay- old Highland woman, near Littledean, in ing-in of a child, about midnight perceived Sutherland, who was accused of having inabout the Bow-head three women in win- duced the devil to shoe her lame daughter, dows, shouting, laughing, and clapping to serve as a horse on which to ride to their hands. The gentlewoman went for witches' meetings. The poor old crone ward, till just at Major Weir's door there and how pathetic the picture is !) is said arose, as from the street, a woman above to have sat by the fire prepared for her the length of two ordinary females, and death warming herself calmly, while the stepped forward. The gentlewoman, not wood was being heaped ready for the exeas yet excessively feared, bid her maid step cution. In 1736, the cruel witchcraft Act

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