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Folk Lore in Lowland Scotland
Chapter I - Beltane and the Vanished Races


"On the wind-swept moors and tranquil valleys I have felt, by some secret intuition, some overwhelming tremor of the spirit, that here some desperate strife has been waged, some primeval conflict enacted; an uncontrollable throb of insight, that here some desperate stand was made, some barbarous Thermopylea lost or won." —House of Quiet.

THE study of the folk lore of Lowland Scotland reveals to us in scanty uncertain glimmers some shadowy conception of the aboriginal inhabitants of what was in sober truth a stern and wild Caledonia. Ancient haunts of men have numberless tongues for those who know how to hear them speak. But it is not the uncouth monoliths like giant mile-stones, looming forth on heights and dark moorlands, but the place names our deluvian ancestors bequeathed to us, which guide us to the knowledge from whence they had wandered to the north. Those that run may not read, but those who pause, and with careful patience clear away the dust of bygone ages, can decipher, despite the obstructions of centuries of progress, traces which, like a blazed trail, lead us beyond the even track of written history into the forest primeval of Scotland's story. Amid all our vaunted complicated civilisation is it not somewhat startling to find we, who consider ourselves so advanced in religious knowledge, adhere to usages descended to us frorn the sanguinary creed of our blue-woaded ancestors?

One chief and most abiding indication of their, and consequently of our, Oriental origin, are the relics left by these extinct races of their worship of the great lights of heaven. Fire has had a fascination for the human species from time immemorial. Naturally, those who were forced to dwell in the north craved the most for warmth, but whether the blaze is lit by a hearth-stone, or in the open under the roof of heaven, man, civilised or savage, is allured by and gathers round a fire. The glowing flames for the time being become the home centre. In far past ages the inhabitants of Scotland wielded weapons of stone, but later, when the hidden metals had been tracked to their lair, the natives learned to forge bronze swords, the sun, moon, and stars above them were all important mystic factors in their lives—gods to be propitiated. They had to live preying, and being preyed upon by the four- footed people who shared the woods with them. Their roof was a tree, and in winter they sought, like the foxes, shelter in Mother Earth. For all their weather-hardened skins, or robes of deer hide fastened with horn pins, they were a-cold. They looked on the forces of nature as the smiles or frowns of a beneficent or an angered Being. They sought to curry favour with the Power above that gave to them light and heat. From the East they had brought along with them their language, as well as their reverence for Baal. Fire was his earthly symbol, and from his name Baal, Lord, and the Celtic lein, fire, comes Beltane - a word which lingers as a beacon light in Scottish place names. Beltane is also linked with our traditional customs, legends, and poetry. To he nearer to their God on the mountaintops, they built up fires to do him honour. As Solomon says, "It is a blessed thing for the eyes to behold the sun." When the drear-nighted winter was over, the heat of the great orb's rays were doubly welcome. We read in the Old Testament of this worship of Baal, and the manner in which sacrifices of men and beasts were offered to appease or pleasure him. The rites were the same in North Britain as in Tophet, the Valley of Slaughter, when the Lord complained they broke His law. The Druids, those all-powerful priests who swayed the people of this country, appointed certain seasons in which to pay their chiefmost deity homage. These days have remained our national festivals, 1st May, Midsummer, the eve of November, and Yuletide. Besides the white bulls slain in honour of Baal, the Men of the Oaks decreed that a huge wicker cage in the form of a colossal mortal should be woven, and in it were cast a holocaust of human victims. These were not only prisoners, but the worshippers' hearts'-blood, for parents gave their best beloved. Rude music made by striking tightly-stretched hides deadened their dolorous cries. When they had thus paid sanguinary homage to their god, when the lurid flames, lit in his honour, had devoured the giant cageful of their choicest and fairest, the assembled company held high revel, danced and caroused, partaking of peculiarly-prepared food and drink. The foregoing is a brief outline of how the ritual of the sun-worship of the Druids was conducted on the high-placed rude altars on the moorlands, and by others who lived in the old time before them.

We have to surmise much regarding the ways of our ancient ancestors, but the first authentic history of a nation is the history of its tongue. Mountains and rivers still murmur the voices of a people long denationalised or extirpated, so it happens the prehistoric race, who lived in what is now epic Scotland, have left in place names, and also in surviving observances, hints which enable us to grope our way back to embryo eras in our country's chronicle.

The coming of the Romans wrought many changes. They uprooted Druidism, for these conquerors did exactly as was done in the East in King Josiah's time. "They broke in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and forbade that any man might make his son or daughter pass through the fire to Moloch."

But the old beliefs lingered, though the priests were scattered. Superstition is enduring, especially when mingled with a religious creed. Dr. Jameson mentions that an old Highlander, so lately as the end of the eighteenth century, was in the habit of addressing the Deity under the title of " The Arch Druid." These specified seasons for sacrifices and foul orgies of heathen darkness held by our pagan predecessors are still holidays in this Christian land of ours. When the thorn was white with blossom Merrie England frolicked round the bedecked maypole. In Lowland Scotland, however, the mode and manner of welcoming the spring-time followed more closely customs instituted by those who placed "the grey recumbent tombs of the dead in the desert places; standing stones on the vacant wine-red moor."

Even from ballad history we glean how much in vogue was the keeping of Beltane. The royal poet, James I., pictures for us how, from far and near, the people thronged to the May-day fair at Peebles. This carnival to hail spring was a landmark of time for the lowland Scot even until our own day. The origin of our saying, "Peebles for Pleasure," comes from this spring gathering. James I., in The King's Quhair, tells how

At Beltane when ilke bodie hownis
To Peblis to the play.
To heir the singing and the soundis
The solace suth to say."

Now in this twentieth century, except for those who rise to wash their faces in the dew on Mayday, Beltane has been well nigh forgotten, even among the shepherds, who kept up this feast and its customs, for only in the latter end of the Victorian era has it fallen into abeyance. Still many scale Arthur's Seat on May-morning, for tradition had so imbued the citizens of Edinburgh with the custom that they yet adhere to it. Even amid the rush of our present-day life, we have to pause, however briefly, to recruit when winter is past and the time of the singing of birds has come. We feel the need of a chance to enjoy the returning strength of the sun, although the old way of keeping Beltane, even among the conservative rustics, has gone, and the religious rest time, "the Preachings," have disappeared. These holydays have been superseded by the more prosaic and scrimp Spring Holiday, a day on which the populace can go forth and see the advent of summer. Mr. Guthrie in his Old Scottish Customs, published in 1885, tells how he remembers the manner in which Beltane used to be kept. "The shepherds met ere the dawn of May on some neighbouring heights and round a trench which they cut in a huge ring. They went through certain ceremonies, the formulary of which had been handed down from Baal's votaries. They made a fire of wood, on which they dressed a caudle of eggs, butter, oatmeal, and milk. Each of the company brought, besides the ingredients for making the caudle, plenty of beer and whisky. The rites began by spilling some of the caudle on the ground by way of libation. That done, every one took a cake of oatmeal, upon which were raised knobs, each dedicated to some particular being, the supposed preservers of their flocks and herds, or to some animal, the real destroyer of them. Each person then turned his face to the fire, broke off a knob, and throwing it over his left shoulder, said:
This I give to thee, preserve thou my horses; this to thee, preserve thou my sheep,' and so on. After this they used the same rites to the noxious animals. 'This I give to thee, O fox; this to thee, O hooded crow; this to thee, O eagle.' When the ceremony was over they dined on the caudle, and after the feast was finished what was left was carefully hidden away by two persons deputed for that purpose, but on the following Sunday the herdsmen reassembled and finished the remains of the former feast." Having gone through many peculiar forms of frolic and mummery, the keepers of Beltane fed and made merry. Then lots were cast by breaking up the oaten cakes and blacking one knob. The drawer of the charcoaled piece from the hat was bound to leap through the blaze three times. Those who, amid the laughter of the onlookers, sprang over the flaring embers with as little scaith as possible would not in times past have escaped with a bound above the burning heat, but have been devoured by the red-tongued flames to propitiate the God of Light. It was also customary at these gatherings for fathers to pass over the fire with their children in their arms to ensure their offspring immunity from ill. Milton touches on the origin of this custom in Paradise Lost:-

Though for the noise of drums and timbrels loud
Their children's cries unheard, that passed through the fire
To his grim idol."

There is a Gaelic proverb which speaks of being in "the jeopardy of Baal." This arose from the practice of lighting two contingent fires and driving those to be sacrificed between them to be consecrated before death. To be between Baal's fire came in local parlance to much the same thing as being between the deep sea and the devil, without hope of escape. The idea of thus purifying the flocks by cleansing fires still dwells with us. In parts of Perthshire in 1810 "the inhabitants collected and kindled a fire by friction, and through the fire thus kindled they drove their cattle in order to protect them against disease." In other parts of Scotland the horses are herded between the two bonfires, thus still unconsciously dedicating them to the sun. Penant, in his Tour in Scotland, mentions seeing the hill-tops aglow in honour of Beltane, and Mr. Napier in his book on folk lore, published in 1879, says, " Many think the superstitions of last century died with the century, but this is not so; and as these notions are curious and in many cases important historical factors, I have thought it worth while to jot down what of this folk lore has come under my observation during these last sixty years." He mentions isolated districts where the rural people still held to the observances of Beltane, and talked with those who recollected it when it was more of a national feast day. All fires in Druidical times were quenched on the last night of April. The priests on a neighbouring hill dedicated to the solar worship, from the pyres they lit to welcome Nay, gave to the people kindling from their sacred beacon wherewith to relight the social watchfires on their own hearths.

Midsummer was the season next set aside to propitiate Baal, but it fell sooner into oblivion than the other specially-appointed feast days. The light was long in June, the sun strong; the flocks fattened on the new luscious grass, for heat and consequently food were plentiful. There was no need to fawn and curry favour with a bountiful patron, so then as now, when all things were going easily and smoothly, man took the benefit as his due and paid small court to the Powers above. A well-known proverb shows the frailty of human beings and the strategy of Satan:-

"When the devil was ill, the devil a saint would be,
When the devil was well, devil a saint was he."

The coming harvest caused some anxiety, but Midsummer Day and its never dark night and clear skies did not lend itself to Baal worship. When the summer was over and winter had to be faced, man bethought himself again of courting favour. The exit of October became, and still from custom and tradition's sake remains, a marked day. The Celtic name for this Hallowmass was Sham-in, the fire of Baal. The Irish called it Sain-fuin - sam, summer, and fuin, end—i.e., the end of summer. It was at this season that the Druids usually met in the most central places of their surrounding country and administered justice and adjusted disputes. Those who did not make their peace were not given the brand from the consecrated fire and had a sentence of excommunication passed on them. "Dr. Arthur Mitchell," says an antiquarian, writing in 1867, "informs me that a few years ago he counted within sight of a railway station in Perthshire a dozen of these Samhain fires burning in different directions on a Hallowe'en night. On the eve of the first day of November there were such fires kindled as on May-day, accompanied as they continually were by sacrifices and feastings." The name Hallowe'en for this late autumnal feast in Christian times superseded Samhain. The Romans had a festival called Fernalia in February, when they visited the graves of their friends and offered up oblations. The spirits of the dead were then believed to be free to roam in their whilom earthly haunts, and if not propitiated would, during the ensuing year, haunt their neglectful relatives. Eventually to cloak pagan Samhain with a semblance of Christianity, the Church mingled the two feasts into Hallowmass. On the eve of November it was believed the veil was lifted and a peep into futurity given. Gradually All-Hallow observances were not held on hill-tops, but centred round the people's own fireside, and there nuts were burnt and apples ducked for. Apples have taken root in the superstitions of the people may be from the day of their forbiddenness. A tree of them is said to be lucky near a house, and apples are credited with holding a special sway over the affairs of the affections. One common Hallowe'en custom is for a girl to pare an apple and fling the skin over her shoulder to read from its twists the initial letter of her lover's name. This divination of the future by contortions and signs rose from out of the blood-bestained smoke of Baal's fire. The oak-wreathed Druids learned to draw conclusions as to the future by watching the writhings of their victims, whether bull or man, under their knife, and the way they fell in their dying agony. A less blood-thirsty age reads what is to come in apple skins. From Hallowe'en hankerings for future insight any bold lover had but to be alert, or have a friend to give him a hint when to appear, to score a success. Most of the charms had to be worked out alone, some had to be tested in a solitude of two, which gave a quick-witted youth every opportunity of advancing his suit. There was the pulling of green kail stocks from out of a spinster's or bachelor's garden, when a couple went with shut eyes, hand in hand, among the cabbages. If the runts were of goodly growth, stout of stem, all was well for the pullers. Their mates would be well favoured in person and purse. If the roots were unclogged with earth, they would be lacking in comeliness and poverty-stricken. If the kernel of the stock was sweet or sour to taste, so would be the temper of the future consort. The stocks were hung about the doors, and the next person crossing the threshold was held to bear the name of the future wife or husband. It was thus made easy for a lover to come in at an opportune moment, or to persuade the lady of his choice not to fly in the face of fate, when such opportunities as walking in the dark, with eyes shut, hand in hand, were strewn by tradition in their path. For instance, on this night when the future was seen face to face, maidens ofttimes, while combing their locks, ate an apple alone at midnight, threw one piece over their left shoulder, and while munching the rest, they looked through their veil of hair and saw the reflection of their ordained spouse in the mirror. There is also the old custom of the sowing of hemp. It was also done at midnight by a lass scattering the seed saying, "Hemp seed I sow thee, hemp seed I sow thee; and he that is my true love come behind and harrow thee." A youth who was too fainthearted to take advantage of such a chance was not worthy to win a fair lady. The winnowing of corn at mirk midnight offered yet another opportunity, also the measuring of the beanstalk. The order in regard to the latter spell was to go three times round a beanstalk with outstretched arms, as if measuring it, and the third time the votary will clasp in her arms the shade of her future partner. It is easy to see how the shadow with a little tact might become substance.

Throwing the clue was another forecast practised. The receipt for this augury was: "Steal forth alone at night to the nearest lime kiln, and throw in a clue of blue yarn, winding off in a fresh clue, as you come near the edge, grasp hold of the thread lying in the kiln. You then ask who holds, and the name of your future partner will be uttered from beneath." Mr. Guthrie, in his Old Scottish Customs, tells us of a girl called Mary Shirley, who had two admirers, Robert Laurie and William Fleming. Laurie was the favoured one. Fleming consulted a friend of Mary's, and found from her that Mary Shirley intended on the coming Hallowe'en to throw the blue clue into the kiln nearest her father's house. Fleming obeyed the hint thus kindly given. On the night in question he hid himself in the lime kiln and seized hold of the clue which the inquiring lass threw in. In answering to her faltering "Who holds?" he gave his own name. Hastily dropping the thread, the terrified girl fled homewards. Ere many hours had elapsed Fleming proposed and was accepted by the pretty Mary, to the no small surprise and anger of his rival. When congratulated on the wisdom of her choice, she replied somewhat sadly: It was na me who made the choice; I myself was a' for Robert, but fate had it I was tae get the ither, and wha can gang agin fate? " The marriage thus strangely brought about proved a very happy one for both parties. Fleming, however, wisely preserved silence as to the Hallowe'en trick which won him his bride." There were many other observances, all with much the same object, tried with merriment on the eve of November, when people believed the borderland between the visible and invisible world was for a brief space free to dead and living. There was the pricking of an egg, the eating of a herring, the dipping of a shirt-sleeve, etc., each giving golden opportunities to help the prophecy to be realised.

At Ruthergien there long lingered peculiar ceremonies as to the baking of sour cakes on St. Luke's Day. This unique baking was supposed to have originated in pagan times,—the meaning thereof is swallowed up in the darkness of ages. The baking was executed by women who began their work at sunset. They sat within a chalked line, whose bounds were never overstepped by the audience as it was looked upon as consecrated ground. One dame was the toaster or queen, the helpers were her maidens. The dough was prepared beforehand and rolled up into balls mixed with sugar and aniseed. The women's hands never touched the dough; she who sat next the fire towards the east was called the Toddler, her companion on the other side was called the Hoddler, who took a ball, formed it into a small cake and then cast it on the bake- board of the Hoddler, who beat it out a little thinner. This being done, she in her turn threw it on the board of her neighbour, and thus it vent round from east to west, in the direction of the sun's course. When it came to the toaster it was as thin as a piece of paper. Sometimes the cake was so emaciated as to be carried by the air up the chimney. The bread thus baked was never originally intended for human food. In later days it was always given to strangers. The origin of this custom is said to be very ancient, and it is thought by some to have belonged to the worship of the moon, for cakes were kneaded by women for the Queen of Heaven. This baking has fallen into abeyance, but for long at Rutherglen sour cakes and salt roasts were prepared for provisions at the time of St. Luke's Fair. Those who are inquisitive as to what had been, can only guess that near to the time of Hallowe'en in pagan times the moon came in for her share of homage. As the spouse of the sun she was held sacred, and Venus was the page to these leading luminaries. The rainbow and the lightning were the sun's servants. Astoreth or Astarte was the name of the moon god, the sun's fair silvery consort, and to this day from ingrained superstition we look for the Lady Moon when she appears but a silver bow in the heavens. For luck's sake we turn our money in our pockets, kiss our hands, or bow to her three times. Job (xxxi. 26) speaks of the worship of this goddess as of some ill religion, the observance of which has descended to us. If I beheld the sun when it shined or the moon walking in brightness and my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand, this also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge for I should have denied the God that is above."

O Lady Moon—whose horns point to the east,
Grow be increased.
O Lady Moon—whose horns point to the west,
Wane be at rest!

says an olden rhyme. Thus everlastingly fair Lady Moon has been saluted when her silvery horns are first seen. She has waned and gone to rest for untold ages, for millions of moons, and still, till lately, here among us cakes were baked by her woman votaries, still she entices us by her monthly newborn beauty to make obeisance to her. As for the eve of All Souls, the ancient Sambain, when graves give up their dead, and for a space the spirits of good and evil have special licence to return to this world, it will never be forgotten as long as Burns is read, for his imagery of the revel of the witches by Alloway Kirk has made it immortal.

When the days had begun to lengthen the Druids instituted the festival of Yuletide, to hail the slowly-increasing light. The northern nations, like the Hebrews, to use an Irishism, began their day in the evening. They counted time by nights. That was an all-important period, for their sacred fires (which they looked upon as the earthly symbol of the sun) loomed the better against the mirk of the dark hours. The conviviality on the threshold of a new year we still adhere to. In one of our ballads we read of the hallowed days of Yule, for the time of feasting lasted longer than one scrimp day. When people had gathered together from afar, they enjoyed a week or more of social intercourse, as when in James the First's time they "bounded" to "Peebles to the play." Yule and New Year came to be merged as one festival. In Christian times in England, the feast of the Nativity remained the principal holiday, but in Lowland Scotland Hogmanay and the first week of January were the " hallowed days of Yule." Also no doubt owing to the persevering efforts made by the Presbyterian clergy after the Reformation to extinguish all Catholic holydays, Christmas was not regarded north of the Tweed. The last of December, Hogmanay as it was called in Scotland, was looked upon by the children as a period when beggary was justifiable. The foreseeing housewife prepared for the besieging of her door by demanding bairns, and baked Hogmanay cakes. She good-naturedly obeyed the injunctions sung before her house:-

"Get up, good wife, and shake your feathers,
Dinna think that we are beggars;
For we are bairns come out to play,
Get up and gie's our hogmanay."

In England the people in Christian times learned to sing Christmas carols, but in Scotland, the boys who were guisards sang, or rather hastily, with sing-song voices, gabbled, rhymes, whose meaning is lost in conjecture:-

".....Hogmanay,
Give us of your white bread, and none of your grey."

was one favourite jingle cried by the guisars. To the middle of last century, in outlying primitive districts, at the close of the year, children dressed themselves in sheets, which they folded so as to form an ample pocket like a fishwife's petticoat, to hold their dole. Then they went from door to door, laughing and singing their Yuletide rhymes:-

"My feet's cauld, my shoon's done,
Gie 's my cakes, and let's rin."

the sheeted blackmailers cried, when they had got their pockets full. Mr. Chambers in his Popular Rhymes of Scotland, published in 1841, says: "It is no unpleasing scene (I am sorry to say I speak of sixty years since) to see the children going laden home, each with his large apron bellying out before him, filled full of cakes, perhaps scarcely able to waddle beneath the load. Such a mass of oaten alms is no inconsiderable addition to the comfort of the poor man's household, and tends to make the season still more worthy of its jocund title."

Auguries as to the future were drawn from Yuletide bakings. The farmers' wives in Forfarshire kneaded bannocks at this season. If they fell asunder after being put to the fire, it was an omen that they would not bake again on the eve of Yule. Hansel-Monday followed the New Year, for Scotland has two special holidays of her own—Hogmanay and Hansel-Monday—which she does not share with her southern sister, England. She leaves to the latter Christmas and Boxing Day. Hansel-Monday is the first Monday of the week after New Year, when presents were given in tokens as a symbol of peace and goodwill, and Hansel-Monday, as every householder knows, is still a day when those who serve us during the year expect a largesse. In olden times, not only to children and servants were hansels given, but to all the stalled beasts. The farmer went round and laid in each manger an extra feed. Burns alludes to the kindly custom when the master pats his steady steed and says:-

"Gude New Year I wish thee, Maggie,
Hae, there's a nip to thy auld baggie."

Every house was set in order and work ceased on Hogmanay. Yarn was hanked and wheel and reel put by. Yule, when the days were brief, was a convenient season to gather round the hearth and burn the Yule log, which was usually of ash. The holiday was lengthened out in the company of bewitching mead and heather ale, and all the Scandinavians kept the Yuletide by their own hearths. Hogmanay, though seemingly Scotch, is said to be of French derivation from au gui menez, " to the mistletoe go," which mummers formerly cried in France at Christmas. Another suggested explanation is au geux mencz, that is, "bring to the beggars." There are others who hold that Hogmanay comes from a word meaning "the night of slaughter." That derivation of the word recalls the olden days when the cattle were killed in preparation for the feast of Baal. The mistletoe has grown into the flower symbolic of Yuletide. It is a true evergreen, for it reminds us still of the days when the Druids held sway over our pagan land. Whatever be the derivation of Hogmanay, it holds its own in Scotland. Dark men are popular on the dawn of the first of January. The first person to enter a house on the New Year should be black-haired, not a red or fair man, and a woman is unwelcome. Many devices are resorted to to secure a lucky first- foot, so that the house may prosper. The wine of the country is in much requisition on Hogmanay. It is given and taken by the first-foots. Still in the stubborn Scotch mind, despite centuries of advancement, there remains fixed the idea that the days of Yule should be holiday times. They extend, as in prehistoric years, for weilnigh a week, and there is a pardon given for the noisy carousing on the occasion. Even in this bustling age people find it takes a few days to wish a good New Year to all their friends. The Druids' practice to keep a watch on the night that the old year dies remains with us. Crowds eagerly hearken for the church bells to ring out the old, to ring in the new, and there is not much time given for that "solemn pause thinking over the year that's awa'," of which Sir Walter Scott speaks in his journal.

To sum up some of the customs which folk lore from ages past has bequeathed to us, and which, though in a modified form, we unconsciously adhere to, the Druids instilled into their devotees a patriotism which made them strive to die

"....... facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers and the temples of his Gods.''

This habit of self-sacrifice, our recent wars can testify, is not yet extinct. The Druid priests were astrologers of no mean repute; waiting by their altar fires they studied the starry firmament. From them, as we have mentioned, we learned to calculate time by senights and fortnights instead of by the days of the month. They too left us the mistletoe as a plant sacred to Yule. They had gone forth to cut it with the silver knife in their oak groves to lay upon their altar. It is now entwined with holly leaves and is enshrined in our hearths and homes, as a sign that Christmas is near. Their manner of homage reeked with blood, but they gave to their deity their best and most precious lives without stint. "Thine ancient sacrifice a humble and a contrite heart" we have been taught is sufficient offering, but simple sacrifice though it be, we ofttimes let the seasons roll by without tendering it. Standing by some lichen-covered pagan altar we think of the victims, biped and quadruped, who were once slaughtered there to appease the heathen gods, and see that the grass grows green around the spot once saturated with hot life's blood. Yet though Christianity had shone in the land for hundreds of years, the belief that a life given would mollify the powers that be still glimmered among us. Not twenty miles west from the capital of Scotland, my father, Sir James Y. Simpson, to whose genius and benevolence the world owes the blessings derived from the use of chloroform, mentions in one of his arch,-,ological essays, " In old pagan times we know that the sacrifice of the ox was common. I have myself often listened to the account given by one near and dear to me who was in early life personally engaged in the offering up and burying of a poor live cow as a sacrifice to the spirit of Murrain." The one " near and dear " was the future doctor's father. The cow was immured at his grandfather's farm, and Sir James's father used to graphically describe to his eager son how he and his brothers propelled the poor victim into its grave, and "I remember," he added, with grisly graphicness, "seeing the earth heaving after the soil was pushed in." This was some time in one of the latter decades of the eighteenth century, and the owner of the cow, Alexander Simpson, of Slackend, farmer and farrier, was a man full of practical common sense. He was so shrewd and pawky it is likely the wretched animal thus buried to allay the plague was on its last legs before it was thus cruelly immured alive; for he also laid aside a corner of a field as an offering to the Evil One—a corner called the Gudeman's croft—and this bit was a stony, useless kiiowe. The plough left it unbroken, and it was supposed to be appreciated by the so-called Gudeman. Throughout Scotland these "crofts" may be seen.

When a ship is named and launched we speed it on its way, breaking a bottle of red vine over it. This is a relic of that heathen time when great events were baptised with blood. The new vessel on her passage into the sea would have had her way paved with the bodies of prisoners and slaves which she would have juggernauted amid the acclamations of the delighted crowd.

We learned to rear monuments from those far- off ancestors of ours. Those unwieldy stones they raised on bare heights had been placed there with what almost seems superhuman effort, unaided by any mechanical device. They had no roads to drag their memorials along, no tackle to upheave them into their places - these great slabs of rock, which never knew the smoothing influence of a mason's tools. But the people carved upon them incomprehensible circular hieroglyphics which we cannot read. They engraved these pillars of rock with patient labour, for their implements like their monuments were of stone. Our more practical humane age, instead of placing monoliths on high to bear some great name in remembrance, builds with its gold hospitals and schools for the sick and needy. These rugged, be-lichened obelisks with their strange markings were installed in their places amid the sacrifices and shouts of the worshipping heathen. They have withstood the storms of untold centuries, and standing there in their natural, unhewn, rugged grandeur, tell us how we learned to commemorate outstanding deeds and deaths, for from them we were taught to thus write in stone. The names of some of our Scottish hill-tops show to us where our forefathers worshipped, and we read in them our country's story. They are to us rays of light on sun-worship; for instance, Tullie Beltane is the knoll of Baal's fire, and in the statistical account of Scotland, 1848, it is stated that a thick stratum of charcoal was discovered beneath a structure of fine loam on the summit of the hill. When the country people saw it, they expressed no surprise, as the tradition was familiar to them that it was here where the former inhabitants of the country had been in the habit of lighting their Beltane fires. There is a peak in the Cheviots, Yalverton Bell, and these names (for the word Bal or Bell is given to many a knoll), tell where of old the fires were lit, and where the pagans worshipped, and these names telegraph back to us over mighty distances of time significant specimens of the tongue spoken by the first inhabitants of the districts. In the Celtic other names alluding to fire are beacon lights to the archeologist, such as Ard-Andein, the light of the fire; Craig-an-tein, the rock of the fire; Auch-an-tein, the field of the fire. There are besides Stonehenge other remains of pagan temples left in this land; they, too, like the great menhirs of Salisbury Plains, were almanacs in stone. The priests knew by the slant of the sun on its rising or setting what time of the year it was. At Craig-Iaddi there are slabs of rock which form a rude altar, one laid table-wise resting on the other two. The name of the Cromlech itself speaks, Craig-Maddi, the rock of God. There, on the solitary moorland, unmistakable history is written, for no one can look at this huge memorial without recognising at once an altar of the hoary past. Greenach in Perthshire, where there is a large stone circle, means field of the sun; Greanchnox means the knoll of the sun. The latter place is now our great seaport on the Clyde, Greenock. There is also Greenan, a river in Perthshire—river of the sun; and there is a Balgreen, meaning the town of the sun. Near to Edinburgh is its harbour, Granton, and in its name is written the fact that ages before Edwin built a burgh on the great rock which had been a Roman fort, and founded high Dunedin, our city of the winds, the Druids had worshipped on this hillock by the sea. The knoll which caught the gleam of the rising or the setting sun is now a villa-laden steep, but here the priests of Baal had stood and watched, and worshipped and walked amid the Stones of Fire centuries before Edinburgh began to emerge from a fortress into a be-castled romance of stone and lime.

Fire was the alarm signal in troubled times, for it sped the news of coming war. The empty braziers on the peel towers of the Borders were once kept charged to be aye ready to be lighted and let their neighbours know that the English had crossed the Tweed. Fire carried the news of the coming of the Armada from south to north with wonderful despatch. The alarm at Plymouth lit the first link in the chain of fire which blazed from hill to hill till "the glare on Skiddaw roused the burghers of Carlisle." Braziers made an effectual line of telegraph in our land. They were in use till last century, for they were used when it was thought Napoleon was likely to invade our isle. The false alarm lit one day made the bold borders make ready with zeal and promptitude. The very bonfires which we light in times of rejoicing are a link with the eras when the sun-worshippers liked to look down from their blazing heights and call, as did the priest whom Elijah challenged on Carmel, "O Baal, hear us." Their love of flames is not extinguished yet in us, their descendants. The gory trace of the sun-cult's fires, like the bloodstains on woodwork, is indelible. We worship a known God, but when we wish to return thanks for blessings received, we toilsomely ascend, laden with burdens of fuel, to conspicuous heights, and there build bonfires and frolic around the flames, pleased that our Tight should so shine before men; as when every peak from Land's End to John o' Groat's was aglow with our fires of homage to a great Queen, who, victorious and glorious, had ruled over us for sixty years. We rejoiced and made merry, forgetful that, despite the lapse of ages, we adhered to the practice learned by our ancestors from the priests of Baal.


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