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out, and burning the heart of one of the horses that had died through their mischievous cantrips." She told me also of a marvellous circumstance which took place at the fire. A large black grew (greyhound) came run ning with its mouth covered with foam, and seemingly ready to drop down with fatigue, and made a desperate attempt to pluck the heart from the flames, but its endeavours proved ineffectual, for one of the bystanders having struck it a severe blow with a stick across the back, compelled it to make off. On their way home the company was met by a villager, who came running, as fast as he was able, to inform one of the spectators that his wife had suddenly been taken ill. Upon reaching the house they found to their no small surprise, that her back was broken; but as she either could not, or would not, give a satisfactory account of the accident, they unanimously concluded that she was a witch, and that she had got her back broken by the blow which she had received when attempting, in the shape of a greyhound, to take the horse's heart from the fire. Being all satisfied of this, they ordered her, that they might set the matter completely at rest, to repeat that part of the Lord's Prayer which says, "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil;" this she could not do, always saying, "And lead us into temptation, but deliver us not from evil," &c. They immediately bound her, and carried her to the place where they had been consuming the horse's heart, and after cutting cross marks upon her forehead and breast to prevent her from flying away, tossed her into the flames. She told me also, that shortly after the adventure on the house top, the old woman's son died of excruciating pains all over his body, but more particularly in the sides and head, the places through which pins had been fixed in the waxen image. The serious and de
vout gravity with which the old wo man related this story, and the faith which she seemingly reposed in its authenticity, amused me much. Upon inquiring if it was generally believed in her younger days, "Who could doubt it!" answered she, apparently much displeased with so suspicious a question, " did they believe the Bible, ye micht as weel hae askit, for the tane just deserves as weel to be believed in as the tither."
There is a story of ancient date still current among some old people about Jedburgh, a place once famed for witches. I need scarcely inform the reader that it would be accounted little short of sacrilege in the estimation of some of the older inhabitants, to express so much as a doubt of its authenticity. It runs thus: A person of the name of Brown, the parish schoolmaster of Jedburgh, had the misfortune to be saddled with a wife who was known through the town to be a most mischievous witch. Brown being a pious good man, used to remonstrate with her upon her unlawful practices. Offended, however, by these reproofs, she formed the design of taking away his life. She accordingly, assisted by some of her associates, took him out of his bed in the night time and drowned him in the river Jed. Some of the Jedburgh people, who had been awakened by the noise, heard him singing the Twenty-third Psalm, as they were leading him, with a rope about his neck, down to the water, and at the same time a company of fairies were observed to be dancing on the top of the steeple of Jedburgh Abbey. After the witches had accomplished their diabolical purposes with the poor dominie, they joined the party of fairies on the highest pinnacle of the Abbey, and there the whole company regaled themselves with wine and ale; beverages of which they are said to have been particularly fond. The liquor was taken from the cellar of a Mr John Ainslie, who was either a merchant or innkeeper, and whose descendants are still living in very respectable stations of society. It is said that the drowning of the man was the exclusive act of the witches, and that it
these were pulled from the image, the person whom it represented was relieved from her complaints," &c.
was done without the knowledge of the fairies, for they never were considered as being addicted to deeds of violence, unless when they received provocation. Popular tradition says, that a son of Lord Torphichen, who had been taught the art of witchcraft by his nurse, was among the party on that occasion, and that he was the person who first gave information of the murderers of Brown. It is also said, that the same company of fairies passed through Jedburgh before the army of Prince Charles, with drums beating, probably attached to the ancient regime.
It was supposed, that when a woman gave herself over, body and soul, to the devil, he gave her unrestrained power of doing all sorts of wickedness and mischief,—but in consonance to his supposed character, he bound them down to perform no good action whatever, except in furtherance of any of their foul schemes. This power of doing ill by supernatural means, seems, however, not to have been considered as altogether absolute, for many methods were practised to avert their machinations. Among these was the custom of branding such women as were by public repute witches, with a mark, or cross cut, on their foreheads, which was supposed to destroy for ever the Satanic influence, and to relieve those who had previously been bewitched by them from their malady. Scarlet thread was of ten wrapped round the horns of cattle to protect them from being bewitched, but when it was taken off they were again subject to their charms. I have often seen pins of rowan tree and boun tree or alder wood, fixed in stables and byres to protect the inmates. I once heard a woman say, that having stuck a bough of bower tree above her door head, she heard the witches and fairies " greeting at her door the whole night, and crying, we canna win in." But (a mongst a thousand others) one of the most esteemed prescrvatives, particularly of the human person, against the spells of witchcraft, of which I have heard, was an ear of wheat, which was carried constantly in the pocket. It was vulgarly believed, that on every grain of wheat there is a representation of the human facesaid to be the face of our Saviour, and hence it derived its efficacy.
It was believed that a witch could not alter her natural appearance, when in human form, but that notwithstanding she was able to metamorphose herself into any animal shape she pleased, save that of the dove and the lamb, which, as they were considered emblems of divinity, no order of preternatural beings were supposed able to assume. Of all animal forms, that of the cat seems to have been their favourite, though we frequently hear of their exploits in the shapes of grews, or greyhounds, and hares.
As I have already observed, the modern witch is of a less frightful character. Indeed, they are nearly synonymous with a fortuneteller or strolling spaewife, or a gypsey. I intended to have given some illustrations of this, but this, together with what I have to relate concerning the ancient popular opinions about supernatural appearances, or what are vulgarly styled bogles, I must for the present defer, as I fear I have already obtruded too much on the patience of you and your readers. Meanwhile I am, &c.
Hawick, April 29, 1820.
SCOTTISH IMITATION OF A PASSAGE IN TASSO'S AMINTA.
DEAR SIR, Since you have been so kind,
The scene is an Italian wood;
The nymphs are fair, the day is good,
I therefore mean to change the scene,
When I was just a wee wee callan,
While thus amang the wuds we ran,
An' she was gentler far than ony,
She prest them to the bumbee wound,
Eliza's cheek, vermillion pure,
It was my lot some time ago to succeed to the property of an old antiquarian uncle, whom, as I cannot give you his real name, with the permission of the great and unknown novelist, we shall call Mr Jonathan Oldbuck. His house, of which I lately took possession, was an exact prototype of the mansion of Monk barns, so charmingly described in the Antiquary. It was an old-fashioned turretted pile, which contained a few dark low-roofed rooms. On their wainscoated walls of brown oak were hung up, in fantastic trophies, the precious relics and outlandish-looking gear, in collecting which he had spent the better part of his
Her sweet wee mouth, wi' laughin glance, fortune. His library and papers I
found in great confusion; but, in at-
The same age.
Than the soft languor of her eyes;
Greenock, 10th May 1820.
ANCIENT CONDITION OF EDINBURGH.
once defended the strong and grizzled pate of some hardy borderer, I discovered a dissertation on the British literature of the 12th and 13th centuries, embracing biographical notices of the great Roger Bacon, John de Sacro Bosco, Daniel Morley, Sylvester Gyraldus, and other luminaries of these memorable days, with a most erudite account of that course of study then known by the name of the Trivials and Quadrivials. But what particularly pleased me was the detection of the old gentleman's common-place book. It was locked up in an ancient writing-desk of most curious carving, which had once belonged to the famous Leslie, Bishop of Ross, bearing his initials, family arms, and mitre, in rich alto relievo upon the pannels. The perusal of this antiquarian album has given me no common pleasure, as, amid frequent trifling and much oddity, it really contains some curious information. It occurred to me, Mr Editor, that you would not be displeased to see some of these lucubrations. Without farther preface, therefore, I present you with the following
EXTRACTS FROM THE COMMON-PLACE
BOOK OF MR JONATHAN OLDBUCK.
Howlett-Hall, June 2, 1736.
I HAVE been lately much delighted with looking over a MS. Abridgment of the Town-Council Register. It contains many curious particulars illustrative of the ancient condition and manners of our city. The statutes relative to the intercourse of the good town with the sovereign, when Scotland had still her own king, and court, and nobles, the regulations regarding the affairs of the church, when Knox was just opening his ecclesiastical battery upon the gorgeous fabric of Catholic superstition, the enactments in times of public pestilence, or domestic faction, or foreign invasion, all these provisions of the council contain valuable information to every one who is interested in the history and antiquities of his country; Nay, even on what may be esteemed minor subjects, such as the general government of the city,-the building of new lands, of houses, and demolishing of old,—the state of the crafts of Edinburgh.-of the public markets, and prices of provisions, the escheats and the punishments of criminals, this abstract of our city
records will be found pregnant with important matter, even by such sage dons as the historian and the political economist:-of triple value, however, to such high characters as myselfthe enthusiastic, poring, parchmentfed, thorough-paced Antiquary. Opening the volume, for instance, at a venture, and putting your thumb, like Jack Horuer, with delicious uncertainty into this intellectual pasty, what rare morsels may you not bring up?
Disease called the Glengore. It is statut, for eschewing the contagious sickness called the Glengore, that all maner of persons infected therewith pass furth of the town, and compear upon Leith Sands, at ten hours the morn in the forenoon, and there shall be boats, ready furnisht with victuals, to take them to the Inch; and those that undertakes the cure to pass with them; and wha failzies sae to doe, they and ilk ane of them sall be burnt in the cheek with a marking-iron, that they may be known in time comeing, and to be banished.-Page 9, f. 34. The date of this act of council is 22d September
By this act it will be observed, that, when this particular disease infected the city, both doctors and patients were transported in boats to Inchkeith. Again,
Swans in the North Loch. In the book which contains the acts* from 1589 to 1594, we find this entry:-" Ordains a boll of oats to be bought for feeding the swans in the North Loch ;" and there is a person unlawed for shooting a swan in the said loch, and obleist himself to find another in its place.
Punishment for calling a Bailie an Oppressor.
Ordains one Young, for calling the baillies oppressors, to come upon a Sunday to St Giles, furth of the prison, with officers conveying him, with a wax candle of a pound weight in his
dates of these acts, the abstract from which I regret I cannot discover the precise I take them only mentioning the book from which they are taken, and the page where the original act is to be found, thus forming an index to the numerous volumes of the acts of town-council.
hand, and present the samyne to St Giles light, and thereafter sitt down upon his knees, and ask forgiveness; and to return to prison, and stay there during the baillies' pleasure.
Ordains all adulterers to be put in the iron-house, and fed with bread and water, for a month, and thereafter to be banished; and fornicators to be scourged at the tail of an cart through the town; and this to endure till a better law be made by higher powers against the saids vices.--P. 52, f. 47. This act is in the volume embracing the acts from 1561 to 1571.
Hangman or Lockman.
An order appoints a new garment to be made for the lockman at the execution of the Earl of Morton, who is to be executed for several crimes of lese majestie. A subsequent order contains a letter from the King regarding taking down the Earl of Morton's head.
In the book from 1561 to 1571, we find an ordinance, that "the prices following are to be taken by the cordiners, viz. For the pair of double soled shoes of the longest measure, 3s. 8d.; the pair of single soled shoes of the longest measure, 2s. 8d.; the pair of finest double soled boots of the longest measure, 1 pound." There is also, a little prior to this, an act or daining that there shall be no stands or craims in the High Street, passages, or kirk doors, except on Monday, and that there be none of the particulars following sold, viz. French cloath, silks, worsteds, bombasies, fustains, buckrams, French bonnets, French hats, all kinds of spicerie, chamletts, Holland cloath, sairge, sowing silk, sowing gold and silver, starch, mader, iron, except wax, pitch, and tarr, battorie, soap, sherl, alom, Spanish skins, burdoletts, nor uther skins, nor nae sic like staple goods, under a penalty for the first fault, and escheat thereafter.
In the book containing the acts from 1561 to 1571, we find a letter from the Queen, appointing the magistrates, because the voluntarie contribution for the poor was not suffi
cient, to tax the neighbours conform to their abilities, and to poynd and distrenzie therefore, if need beis.
Loan to the King.
The council lends 10,000 m. to the King, and ordains a roll to be made up of the neighbours that can best spare the same; and ordains the refusers to be imprisoned, and their names to be given up to the King; and the town to give security for the money.-Page 100 of the book from 1579 to 1583.
In the book from 1558 to 1561, we find an act ordaining the treasurer to pay to one Cairns fourty pounds, for furnishing John Knox, minister, his household fifteen dayes. In the same book we are furnished with a compleat inventary of the treasury of St Giles.
Delivered to James Barren, Dean of Gild, the following particulars of St Giles treasury, viz. the chalice, weighing 23 ounces; the relic called the arm of St Giles; the christening stock, and two newcatts of silver; the great eucharist, with the golden work and staines; four golden bells, with twa croces; a small bell, with an heart, weighing four ounces; an unicorn of gold; an piece of gold that held the bread within the eucharist; a littel blew bell of gold; a little heart with two pearles; sundrie staines set with gold, within a little ring and diamond; the sacrament of cloth of gold, with St Giles his coat, with an little pendicle of red velvet that hangs at his feet.
Punishment for setting the Milns in Back Water.
Ordains Thomas Bartillmo for setting the milns in back water, to come on a Sunday with ane wax candle, with his sark only, and ask the provost's foregiveness.
In the book containing the acts from 1558 to 1561, we find an order to pay John Knox his house-mail, and a little farther on another act causing 50 pounds to be paid to the Reformer for supporting his charges. At a later period still there is an act ordaining 50 pounds to be payed to him for his quarter payment, and directing, that