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In the Hebrides
Chapter 8


FOOTPRINTS OF THE PAST

Lonely Chapels—Blended Faiths—Sunwise Turns—East and West Divination by Smoke--Touch of a Seventh Son—The Royal Touch, a Cure for Scrofula—Burial of a Living Cock for Epilepsy—Legends of isle Rassay - Of Wild Deer—Of buying a Gale—Witchcraft--Drawing the Tether—A Milk Charm from the isle of Uist—Ancient and Modern Witches—The Evil Eye—Making Images to injure a Neighbour—Cats—Belief in Tranamigration—The Luck of leaving a House unswept—Ill-Luck of succeeding an Ejected Tenant.

AMONG the numerous interesting small isles lying off the large Isle of Skye, the group called the Shiant Isles is worthy of note. They rise to a height of about 500 feet, presenting to the waves a precipitous face of columnar basalt, much less regular than that of Staffa. In some places, where the pillars have fallen, the rock to which they were attached has a smooth surface, as if the columnar form were merely superficial. The puffin and the guillemot, and myriads of sea-fowl of every description, here make their homes, and hold undisputed possession of the site of a ruined Chapel, around which some ascetics of olden days made their lowly cells. One of the islands has good pasturage, and I believe a shepherd generally lives on the spot.

Very similar is the Isle of Flodigarry, also called Eilean Alteveg, whose pillars are unusually large, but the lower part is generally divided into sections, like a heap of gigantic millstones. Here formerly stood a chapel sacred to St. Turos, but of its ruins we saw no trace. All these islands and headlands have the same very striking form—namely, a long sloping face of smooth grass to the west, and a precipitous face eastward. Their position with regard to the points of the compass varies, however, at different parts of the coast.

In very 3arly days, these islanders were thought worthy of more spiritual care than falls to their lot now-a-days. There is hardly one island on which some devoted Christian did not make his cell and build his chapel. The more remote the island, the better it was cared for.

St. Kilda owns several such sites, to which indeed it seems to owe its name. St. Ronan's oratory still remains on Isle Rena; but in most cases the ruins have disappeared, and only the name of some saint, perhaps with the prefix of Ku, to mark his cell, tells that here. once was holy ground, the place where prayer was wont to be made.

Here and there we find some little islet bearing only the name of Pabba, which is a corruption of Papa, or Father, the title whereby these anchorite fathers were addressed in the Norse tongue. One such isle lies off Skye, another off Harris, a third off Barra. We find Pappadil in Rum, and divers isles off Orkney and Shetland are known as Papa, the Father's Isle, telling their own history of those eaIIy servants of the Cross. Some, indeed, say that these Culdees were merely hermits (Cuil-dich, men of seclusion), who sought these desolate "clippings of the earth" as the loneliest spots in which they could hide from their species. Be that as it may, there can be no doubt that they did devote themselves to teaching the people, and in some measure succeeded in instilling a very grey, clouded sort of light.

For the result of their labours was much like what has been recorded of that of the priest of Samaria, who was brought to Bethel to teach time nations how they should fear the Lord. Their pupils took so kindly to both faiths, that we are told "they feared the Lord and served their own gods, their graven images, their children, and their children's children."

There was as strange a blending of faith as of race when these wild Norsemen and Cults first began to amalgamate. The new Christian faith retained 80 many of the practices of old Paganism, that at times it was hard to tell which claimed the upper hand; and the people are described as having generally been "Christians, in time of peace, but always certain to invoke the aid of Thor, when sailing on any dangerous expedition."

At a later date they used to induce the priests to sprinkle the sea with holy water, as an infallible means of procuring plenty of herring! and, at least until the year 1660, the custom prevailed on Hallow-e'en of wading into the sea, with a cup of ale, which was poured out as a libation to Shony, a sea-god, who was implored to send abundant sea-ware for the good of the land. After this the people adjourned to the church, and from the church to the fields —to spend the night in feasting and dancing.

Of course the Sea-going folk were sure to retain their old superstitions to the last, and it reads curiously in an account of the launch of Clan Ronald's galley, as sung by an old Celtic bard, to find, first a fervent prayer to the Holy Trinity for the safety of the ship; and that" He Who knows every harbour under the sun may render the breath of the sky propitious, and urge the vessel over the waters, uninjured, to a safe haven;" and then to find that, to make assurance doubly sure, a lie-goat had been suspended from the mast, to secure a favourable wind! This double precaution seems to have failed in its object, for soon after leaving South Uist, a terrible storm arose, and the bard tells how "the awful world of waters drew on its rough mantle of thick darkness, swelling into mountains, and sinking into glens," and how the tall masts of good red pine were shivered by the tempest. Not till they reached the Strait of Isla did Ocean make peace with these mariners, "and dismissed this host of winds to the upper regions of the air, leaving the waters smooth as a polished mirror."

The unhappy goat which thus adorned Clan Ronald's mast, reminds us how, when the first crusade set 'forth from France and Britain, the Christian hosts carried with them a goose and a goat to which they rendered homage, believing the Holy Spirit to be present within them.

Thus, too, it was that in the early glimmering of that grey dawn there existed such strange anomalies as that Christian Rewald, King of the East Saxons, who erected in his churches two altars, at one of which he offered sacrifices to Christ, and at the other to devils; a species of hedging not peculiar to the dark ages, for a recent writer on India tells us of a Hindu convert who, while firmly believing the Christian creed, and worshipping the Saviour, would nevertheless never pass an image of any of the Hindu gods, or even a sacred stone daubed with red paint, without kneeling down to worship it; for she used to say, "Maybe there's something in it!"

The extent to which these Pagan rites were tolerated, even in later days, seems strange indeed. But the conciliatory policy of the mediawal Christians made room for every species of heathen observance, provided the people would submit to baptism. It was the same policy which in Rome itself suggested christening the idol-image of Jupiter, and so converting it into that adorable statue of St.-Peter, which the people might thenceforward worship to their hearts' content, and whose sacred toes have ever since continued to receive such enthusiastic kisses from the Christians of all successive generations.

It was by adopting the symbols revered by the people, and giving them new meanings,—by sprinkling sacred stones with Holy Water, and by dedicating Holy Wells to Christian saints,—that the early teachers enlisted the local affections of the people on behalf of the new faith, and the old rites being retained, in course of ages true Christian churches were built on the identical spots where the heathen idolatries had so long prevailed. Such was the origin of our glorious cathedrals of Canterbury and Westminster; of St. Paul's, St. Martin's, St. Pancras's, and many another time-honoured place of worship. The tradition concernijg Westminster is that it was built on the site of the Temple of Apollo.

Sometimes when Christian sanctuaries were built on Pagan sites, the very stones dear to the heathen were retained within the new church. A curious instance of this may be seen to this day in Spain, where at the hermitage of St. Michael at Arrichinaga, in the province of Biscay, a church has been built, actually enclosing the huge stones of a great dolmen, between which is placed the shrine of the saint. Thus the original veneration for the sacred stones was sanctified by the saintly combination. This Christian church is so modern as to prove that the reverence for the great stones must have continued till a very recent period.

I cannot but think that a similar policy accounts for a peculiarity of several ancient Christian stone altars (one of which you may see in a side chapel of Norwich Cathedral), where a square grey stone, measuring perhaps eighteen inches across, is inserted into a large stone slab of quite different formation and colour. It serves to cover the hidden relic which gave sanctity to the altar, and was itself Christianized by being marked with five small crosses (symbolizing the five wounds of Christ). Nevertheless, it seems probable that these blue-grey stones which were exalted to such honour, were themselves originally objects of heathen veneration.

I am told that nowhere are the traces of this amalgamation more marked than in the highlands of Auvergne, once the stronghold of Druidism, and the province of all others where Paganism longest reigned in France. Here we are told that idolatrous worship lingered till very recent times; and though the Council of Clermont fulminated anathemas against those who worshipped stones—who carried the Eucharist to the graves, who ate meats offered to devils—still the old rites went on. So that a May-day or a Midsummer's-eve in Auvergne still afford us some remarkable instances of Christianized heathendom.

In glancing eastward and westward, nothing is more striking than the strong grip which this tendency to ancestor and devil- worship seems ever to have had over the human mind. Whatever waves of faith may have passed over a land—whether Christian, Mohammedan, Buddhist, or Brahmin—and however each may have striven, by gentle means or by the sword, to put it down, the crushed faith has still been treasured in secret, and though its own votaries are generally ashamed to confess it, still nothing will induce them to give it up. Thus it still exists all over the earth, independent of the reigning faith, whatever that may be, and actually in opposition to its teaching.

But of all old superstitions, that which we find most constantly cropping up is the practice of the dejaul, that is, a turn southward, following the course of the sun, such as the custom of rowing a boat sunwise at first starting, or of walking thrice sunwise round any person to whom one wishes good-luck. At the new year, when the sun begins its yearly revolution, a cow's hide used in like manner to be carried thrice round the house, following the course of the sun.

The word deisul is derived from deas, the right hand, and Rul, the sun; the right hand being always kept next to that object round which the turn was made. I believe deas literally means the south, which lies on the right hand when the face looks eastward; but the word is used to denote everything which is right and well doing. A person turning against the course of the sun faces the west, and everything becomes unlucky. His right hand will then be to the north, tuath, and the very word tuatliaisd, denotes a stupid person; hence the words dei8Ul and tuathail are in Gaelic equivalent to right and wrong.

This contrary turn from right to left was called widder8hin8, or carlua-8u1. It was only made when invoking a curse on some particular object. Thus evil-doers and malignant witches began the devil's work by so many turns against the course of the sun. Among the confessions of a wretched schoolmaster accused of witch- craft, and tortured in presence of James VI. and his Privy Council, he is shown to have gone round the church of North Berwick in a contrary direction to the sun, after which he merely blew upon the lock, and the door opened. For this and similar offences the wretched man was burnt alive. (Times had changed, since a precisely similar action ascribed to St. Columba had been extolled as a saintly miracle!)

Whatever may have been the virtue derived from these singular solar turns, we find them again and again alluded to in the history of various ancient nation.

Even in the sacred page we may trace their symbolical use; most notably in that strange account of the miraculous siege of Jericho, when by Divine command the host of Israel was made to compass the city thirteen times in awful silence, unbroken save by the dread sound of the seven sacred trumpets borne by the seven priests who preceded the Holy Ark.

On seven successive days were Joshua and his men of war bidden to form a vast procession, escorting the priests who bore the ark, and, having marched once round the doomed city in the sight of its wondering, and doubtless mocking, people, they were then to return silently to their camp. But on the seventh day they were commanded to compass the city seven times, and when the trumpets sounded, then the whole multitude joined in a shout so mighty that it seemed to rend the very heaven, and even as they did so the strong foundations were shaken, and the battlemented walls crumbled and fell to the ground, and the Israelites marched up straight before them and possessed the city that had been thus marvellously given into their hands.

Some idea of the mysterious virtue attached to these sunwise turns may perhaps be the reason that the Jews, in several different countries, thus march seven times round their newly-coffined dead. In Pagan records we find the same customs common to both Greeks and Romans. There is also historical evidence of their having been practised by the (hula three thousand years ago. Virgil mentions them among the funeral rites of Pallas, when the mourners first marched thrice in sad procession round the funeral pile, then, mounting their steeds, again made the same sad circuit three times, amid wails of sorrow.

Among the Santhals (sun-worshipping aborigines of India) the corpse is carried thrice round the funeral pyre, and laid thereon; the next of kin then makes a torch of grass, and after walking three times round the pile in silence, touches the mouth of the deceased with the flaming brand, averting his own face. After this the friends and kindred gather round, all facing the south, and set fire to the pyre.

The same ceremony is observed by every devout Hindoo. In the days of suttee, now happily gone by, the wretched young widow walked thus thrice sunwise round the funeral pyre whereon lay the body of her deceased lord, before she ventured to lie down beside him, to await her horrible death. I have myself often watched either the Brahmins or the nearest relations of the dead walk thrice sunwise round the funeral pyre before they applied the torch. In their pilgrimage round the holy city of Benares and other places of pilgrimage they follow the same course.

With them, however, this homage to the sun is a natural part of their daily worship, wherein he is adored as the true light of Brahma, filling earth and heaven, the foe of darkness, the destroyer of every sin. Therefore the worshipper bows to the great cause of day, and making a turn toward the south, exclaims, "I follow the course of the sun. As he in his course moves through the world by the way of the south, so do I, in following him, obtain the merit of a journey round the world by way of the south."

So in the Himalayas. The prayer-wheels are always turned sunwise, and it is held to be iniquitous to turn them in the opposite direction; hence the great unwillingness of the people to allow us to touch them. In Thibet also, where they build long terraces engraven with forms of adoration, there is always a path on each side of them, so that the people in passing by, may go on one side and return by the other, sunwise. When they dance round their idols, or go in procession round their temples, the same course is always followed, just as it has been in all ages by the followers of Buddha, whether in Thibet, Nepaul, Burmah, or Ceylon, where it has ever been accounted an act of merit to walk sunwise round every dagoba, or relic shrine, in the land.

Thus, too, the devout Mahommedan completes his meritorious pilgrimage to Mecca by making the circuit of the Caaba seven times sunwise.

In the Christian churches of Abyssinia the officiating priests, bearing the cross and incense, thus march three times round the altar, with slow and solemn step, at the end of each part of the service. I suppose the custom is common to all the Greek Church, As in the marriage ceremony (every part of which is thrice repeated) the young couple, having thrice drunk from the chalice and thrice kissed the cross, conclude by following the priest thrice sunwise round the altar.

All Russian sects likewise order their processions so as to follow the sun's course, and I have little doubt that some insensible trace of homage to the dei8ul has ordered the course of our own ecclesiastical processions round churches on the day of consecration, when, beginning at the east, they go round the south aisle to the west, a course which I believe is invariable, and not otherwise accounted for.

That this was the daily custom of our ancestors is well known; and at Stonehenge we can still distinguish the earthen path encompassing the temple, whereby the priests and people passed on their daily round.

We need not go far for instances of the deisul. At our own tables, the bottles are always sent round following the course of the sun, and to reverse their journey has always been held unlucky.' Should a bottle be thoughtlesly diverted from its course, a true Highlander will turn it round before sending it on. Not that this feeling is peculiar to the north. The remark of a Lincolnshire servant concerning a helper whose waiting at table had been commended, shows that the old instinct is still alive: "Oh! I did not think much of his waiting! He went round the table against the sun."

Many quaint instances of the practice of the deisul are recorded in Martin's 'Tour in the Hebrides,' a curious old book published in 1690. For instance, when the men of Lewis made expeditions to the rocky island of St. Flanuan, in pursuit of sea-fowl, as soon as they had effected the difficult landing, they uncovered their heads, and made a turn eunwise, thanking God for their safety. They then repaired to the little chapel of St. Flannan, on approaching which they stripped off their upper garments and laid them on a great stone set there on purpose, after which they advanced on their knees towards the chapel, and 80 went round the little building in procession—just as the undoes in the Himalayas do now. They then set to work rock-fowling till the hour of vespers, when the same ceremony was repeated. They held it unlawful to kill any sea-bird after evening prayer, and in any case might never kill a bird with a stone.

The islanders used to say that even the birds of the air were taught by nature to follow the deisul; more especially noting how, the puffin, on its arrival in March, makes a tour round the island sunwise, before it will settle on the ground, and observes the same ceremony before its departure in August—therefore, they said it was assuredly right that they should make a similar turn with their boat before starting for the fishery.

In Lewis Mr. Martin met the parish minister, who had just returned from his first visit to the distant Isle of St. Ronan, where the people had greeted him with the assurance that he was expected, as they had beheld him by second sight. In spite of his protests they made their sunwise turn round him. They then slew five sheep, one for each family—and making sacks of their skins, at once filled thorn with barley meal, which they presented to him as being a stranger.

The idea of luck was, as we have seen, connected with the south, the right hand being described as the south hand. Therefore a bride must, at the marriage service, be led east by south, westward, to the side of her future husband; and if the young couple hope for any luck in the future, they must begin their wedded life by making a turn sunwise. Likewise at the churching of women, and at burials, this custom was commonly observed till quite recently. Every village had its lucky spot round which the dead were so carried.

It appears also as if the unaccountable prejudice against burying the dead on the north side of a church was due to the same insensible reverence for the sun (the source of all purity and light), towards whose rising the sleepers were to look as they lay with their feet turned eastward. The abode of the evil spirit lay to the north, away from the sun's gracious influences. Hence the crowd of graves invariably found on the south side of almost every country churchyard, whether in Scotland, Wales, or England, while on the north side there are probably none, save perhaps the tiny green mounds that mark the burial-place of some unbaptized infant, or the unhallowed tomb of a suicide.

The same curious fact has been remarked by antiquaries in their researches among the graves of the Ancient Britons. They tell us that in examining their burial hills, all the interments, however numerous, are invariably on the south side. Out of several hundred burrows examined in different parts of the country, only two instances are recorded in which human remains were found to the north of the tumulus.

The perpetual recurrence of the terms east and west in the mouth of a genuine Highlander of course originate in the same feeling. If you ask a man into your house, you bid him "come west," quits irrespective of the points of the compass. To bid him come east, however true geographically, would be gross insult, involving ill- luck. Once within the house, the host gives his guest a dram, and bids him "Put it west his throat," implying good-will in the swallowing of it. A lad courting a lass is said to be "putting it west upon her."

If you bid a man take some work in hand heartily, you bid him "put it west," or "put west your foot." Hence the answer of a poor old man to whom a bolus had been recommended for his often infirmities. Being asked if he had taken it, he replied, "Na, mom! It wadna gang east!" meaning that it was so utterly against the grain. I suppose, however, we must refer merely to the points of the compass the question lately asked us by an old woman at the post-office, whether she must stamp her letter in the east or west corner!

The only exception to this rule of good and evil luck which has ever come to my knowledge is in the case of divination by smoke, when it seems to be accounted the luckiest omen that the smoke should drift eastward towards the rising sun.

A quaint instance of this old superstition came under the notice of the minister of Nether-Lochaber in the autumn of 1872. An old man had gone to a distant market to sell a colt. He was absent so long that the wife grew anxious, more especially desiring to know whether he had been successful in getting the price they had agreed to ask for the colt. So she heaped up a big fire, and sent out her young daughter to gather a bundle of green alder boughs. These she placed on the fire ; then going outside the cottage, watched to see in what direction the smoke would drift as it issued from the chimney. It so chanced that it floated eastward, and the wife turned to her daughter well-pleased, saying she knew all was well, for she had never known that omen fail.

Nor did it do so in this case, for a few hours later the gudeman returned, having sold his colt for a price considerably higher than be had expected. It seems that the only condition necessary to working this spell is, that the alder boughs must be gathered with definite reference to the case in point, and by the hand of a maiden.

If these two points are not rigidly observed, the augury will fail, and the smoke will drift aimlessly to and fro; the direction of the wind is apparently a matter of no consequence! The ever-observant narrator of the above, adds that this particular form of witchcraft was common both among the Greeks and Romans, and was known to the students of magic as capnomancy, that is, divination of smoke. It seems, however, that when the priests drew auguries from the smoke of the sacrifices, the most hopeful omen was that the column of smoke should ascend direct heavenward.

Perhaps the most remarkable use of the terms east and west occurs in the old version of the creed in Gaelic; which tells how our Lord "went East" into the place of the dead, and "went West" into Heaven.

One remarkable survival of an old superstition, which is still commonly believed in throughout the North-West Highlands and Isles, is that scrofula can certainly be cured by the touch of "the seventh son of a woman, never a girl or wench being born between." A gentleman from the Long Island states that in the Isle of Lewis it is customary for the seventh son to give a silver sixpence with a hole in it to each patient. The coin is strung, and the sufferer must constantly wear it round his neck. Should he lose it, the malady returns. Age is of no account in the exercise of this magic gift. The smallest child may heal the aged man; all that is requisite is that some one should take the little hand and apply it to the sore.

In some cases the touch is applied "In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, one God, Who only works cures."

Is it not somewhat startling to reflect that until the year A.D. 1719 a very solemn service was retained in our own Book of Common Prayer, to be used "At the Healing,"—that is to say, when the same work of miraculous cure was effected by the touch of the British sovereign! The office appointed by the Church to be said on these occasions was quietly omitted from the Prayer Book by command of George I., who altogether discouraged the superstition. Yet the practice was only finally relinquished by George III.

As to the Jacobite party, they retained their faith in the Stuart touch to the very last. Thus, when Charles Edward was at Avignon, certain sufferers were taken to him there; others were brought to him at Holyrood. Of course there was every reason why he should cling to a prerogative which belonged only to him who was king by Divine right.

For while the ban of the Church was pronounced against all seventh eons who dared to exercise this healing art, there was, as we have seen, a special liturgy appointed for use when the sufferers were brought to the King,—a practice sanctioned by both the Kirk anl the Law, inasmuch as "daily experience doth witness that Kings and Queens do possess this speciall gift of God, to heall with only touching."

This custom was first introduced by Edward the Confessor in 1058, and was continued by his successors. So we hear that Charles I. did on St. John's Day 1633 visit Holyrood Chapel, and there "heallit 100 persons, young and old, of the Cruelles, or King's Evil."

In the days of his captivity, when a rude soldiery would not suffer the poor cripples to come near the royal person, the King prayed aloud that God would grant their petition, and that prayer, says the historian, was granted, although the touch was thus prevented. Charles II. actually touched ninety-two thou8and one hundred and seven such patients, being an average of twelve per diein for twenty years. Verily he had "a doctor's trouble, but without the fees!"

In fact, he paid the fees, as he restored the custom of giving to each sick person a broad gold piece, instead of the "beggarly silver coin" which his predecessors had substituted for the original "fair rose-noble." According to Wiseman, the King's physician, scarcely one instance occurred in which the Royal touch failed to accomplish a cure. Indeed, not he alone, but a host of learned divines and surgeons wrote treatises on the subject, declaring their perfect faith in this miraculous power. Even in the days of good Queen Bess, an eminent surgeon, in a professional work on the treatment of this disease, declares his confident belief that when all the other methods of cure have failed, people may expect sure relief from the touch of Her Majesty.

Nevertheless, when vain men and women dared to practise soothing mesmeric passes and "stroking," the cures which they sometimes performed were invariably attributed to witchcraft, just as magic was suspected, when the Egyptian priests of old proved that "by touching with the hands," or "stroking with gentle bands," they could immediately restore to health those to whom medicines had proved of no avail.

In early days these royal physicians signed their patients with the Cross; but this was discontinued when the wrath of Rome was fulminated against Protestant kings, to whom, nevertheless, Catholics, as well as patients of other creeds, continued to come for relief. In fact, as if to prove how powerless was the anathema of the Pope to check this gift of Heaven, we find Henry VIII. not content with miraculously curing all scrofula-stricken patients who came to him, but also such as were afflicted with cruel cramps. The former he cured by the usual royal process of stroking; while on the latter he bestowed magical rings, known as cramp rings.

So strictly orthodox, however, were these miracles, that Church and State alike clung jealously to them, as to a most precious item of regal prerogative, and so late as 1684 (while presumptuous subjects who dared to work similar cures were condemned as wizards and witches), we are told bow one Thomas Russell was tried for high treason, because he had spoken with contempt of the King's touch.

The practice of bestowing on every patient a gold coin, suspended from the neck by a white ribbon, was first introduced by Henry VII. in the gladness of finding that he indeed possessed the regal gift of healing, just as truly as that poor Richard whose Divine right to the throne he failed to acknowledge.

Charles II., as we have seen, dealt out his ninety-two thousand cures and golden coins with liberal hand, but in later days a trifling silver coin was substituted. Such an one was bestowed by Queen Anne on the infant Dr. Samuel Johnson, and is still preserved as a relic by the Duke of Devonshire. It is strange, indeed, to think of the great embodiment of heavy learning having been subjected to this quaint remedy for his infantile pains. He speaks of his earliest recollections of Queen Anne, as a lady dressed in a black hood, and glittering with diamonds, into whose awful presence he had been ushered in his infancy, that by her royal touch she might cure him of his sore disease!

The same strange power has always been claimed by the Kings of France, as part of their Divine right. So early as A.D. 481 it was practised by Clovis. And we are told that on Easter Day 1686 Lewis XIV. touched sixteen hundred people, saying to each, "Le roy te touche, Dieu te guériaee!"

When royalty refused any longer to practise this healing art, a substitute was found, noways flattering to the royal touch. It was discovered that rubbing the body of a patient with the dead hand of a criminal who had been executed, was a certain and instant cure for the King's Evil. Such a hand had other good qualities as well, and even in the beginning of the present century, it would sell for a considerable sum, the executioner at Newgate deriving large monies from this little perquisite.

But the corpses of criminals have ever possessed a mystic value, and they hold a distinct place in the pharmacy of our ancestors. "The moss which grows on the skull of a man that hath been hanged" possessed marvellous curative properties, and was a rare ingredient in precious salves. In Caithness and elsewhere the skull of a suicide, used as a drinking cup, was considered to be a sure cure for epilepsy, and the corpses of such were liable to be dug up in order to obtain this precious treasure. (Probably the special value attributed to ivory in the pharmacopceia of our ancestors lent additional merit to the skull.)

Perhaps in a malady so mysterious as epilepsy - one whose horrible characteristics so strangely resemble those attributed to demoniacal possession—we need scarcely wonder to find that in dealing with it the people have ever been more inclined to trust to the efficacy of propitiatory sacrifices, than to the leech's skill.

Consequently, in our own Western Highlands, and in some of the border counties, it was till very recently, quite a common ceremony to kill a cock beside the sick man, and either bury it beneath the floor of the cottage, or at least let its blood trickle into a hole in the floor. To this was probably added some of the patient's hair, and some parings of his nails! (A curious survival of the old belief that when "one possessed" had been exorcised, the malignant spirits, driven from the heart and head, took refuge in the hair, or concealed themselves beneath the nails.)

It is not very many years since a fisherman in the flourishing town of Nairn died suddenly in an epileptic fit. The doctor being a man well loved, and who possessed the full confidence of the people, was told by the sorrowing relations that they had at least the comfort of knowing that they had done everything that was possible on his behalf. On further inquiry, he found that they, had buried a cock alive beneath his bed, and they pointed out the spot, with evident satisfaction.

In the same town he was shown two spots on the public road where epileptics had fallen, and where cocks had been buried alive to appease the demon. This ceremony is in the records of earlier days described as "the yirding (earthing) of a quik cok in the grund," and is classed as a sacrifice to devils; consequently the actors will rarely confess to having taken part therein, but give an evasive answer, as if fearing to offend the Evil Power by any positive denial.

Sir James Simpson mentions several instances within his own knowledge, in which this strange remedy has been resorted to, for the cure of fits, epilepsy, and insanity. In one case a cock was killed and deposited in a hole in the kitchen floor, on the spot where a child had fallen down in a fit of convulsions; and a Ross- shire lassie told him that the neighbours were urging her mother to try the like cure for the same cause!

He also speaks of the sacrifice of cats, moles, and other animals. Thus, at Nigg, in Ross-shire, a lad being attacked with epilepsy, his friends laid on his head a plate, and above it, held a living mole, by the tail. They then cut off its head, and allowed the blood to drip on to the plate. Three moles were thus killed in succession, but without effect.

This offering a life for a life is the common Hindoo practice in cases of sickness. Various domestic animals are brought into the room, from a belief that they will absorb the noxious principles of disease, and act as disinfectants. When they are supposed to have done their work, they are thrown from the window. Even in the case of so enlightened a prince as the young Rajah of Kalopore, whose death at Florence was a cause of so much regret, the presence of four European physicians would have been considered by no means sufficient had these traditional Hindoo prescriptions been neglected; and as the Florentine authorities might justly have objected had these wretched animals been cast from the windows into the street, they were thrown down into an open courtyard!

Among the Santhals, and various other tribes both of Northern and Southern India, it is customary in every case of dangerous illness to sacrifice a cock beside the patient, to whatever demon is supposed to have caused his malady. A live cock is also nailed to the funeral pyre.

In Algeria, the Moors and negroes drown living cocks in a sacred well, as the surest cure for epilepsy and madness.

Akin to these memories of the old pagan creeds and rites of our ancestors, are various quaint customs and superstitions which still linger in many an out-of-the-way corner of the Isles and Highlands; also a multitude of dreamy old legends and traditions, which, to some minds, may seem to be mere idle folly, but of which the most trivial details do possess a. special value,—an interest deeper than their own, linking them to tales of the far East, and affording clues to guide us backward through the mazes of lost antiquarian lore. Already they are but scattered fragments, which must be carefully gathered together, by those who know their worth, for the ban of kirk and school he heavily on all that savours of superstition. Even the old stories are losing favour; and though the young folk still listen, there are no longer such gatherings as there were a few years back, when fifty or sixty people would crowd round some Father of the Clachan to hear one wild legend after another.

One such man used to live at Broadford in the Isle of Skye, who told wondrous tales of the Elan na Fernior, Island of the Big Men, that is, the opposite Isle of Raasay, where huge bones of some extinct race of giants are still shown in the kirk.

He told also of the Picts, or little men, whose curious "bee-hive houses," built under ground, chamber within chamber, still puzzle the antiquaries in Lewis and Uist; unless, indeed, they have been contest to accept Campbell of Islay's suggestion of the strange likeness between these old houses and those in common use among the little Lapps of the present day. Both are alike sunk in the ground, so that to the passer-by they appear but as grassy conical hillocks, with a hole at the top to act as chimney for the fire which burns in the centre of the hut—a chimney through which a man standing upright might suddenly thrust his head, greatly to the amazement of the passers-by.

Round these huts, say the old Gaelic fairy-tales, the little men drove their herds of wild deer, and the little women came forth to milk the hinds; just as, at the present day, the little Lapps still drive the wild deer down from the mountains and the little Lapp women milk the hinds, and give the traveller reindeer cream in bowls of birch-wood.

And in case any foolish unbeliever should doubt, as some have doubted, the existence of rein-deer on our Scottish hills, and should venture to suggest that our wild red deer never would submit tamely to be thus herded and driven about, we refer him to the old Orkney Saga, which tells how, in the eleventh century, when Harold and Ronald, Earls of Orkney, made peace after their deadly feuds, they came over to Caithness to hunt the rein-deer; and they and their merry men feasted abundantly on their venison, and left a great store of bones, both of red deer and rein-deer, as a special legacy to Professor Owen, and for the discomfiture of the incredulous, for there the bones remain to this day.

So, after all, it is probable that the fairy tales which tell of the little people who lived in the grassy hillocks and milked the wild deer are true stories, only spiritualized by the mists of time and imagination.

The old man of Broadford was "weel acquaint" with the old wife in Lewis to whom windbound sailors told their griefs, whereupon she would give them a rope with three knots, bidding them never unfasten the third. And sure enough, when they undid the first knot a gentle breeze would rise, and at the second there sprung up a good stiff gale; but once a rash mariner was so mad as to undo the third, and straightway a wild hurricane swept over land and sea, and the boats were wrecked, and the men only escaped with their lives to rue their comrade's presumption. Is this not a curious nineteenth-century edition of the old accounts of the Druid priestesses of L'Isle de Sam, off Brest, who, in the days of Strabo, used to govern the winds by their wild songs, and sell a gale to all devout mariners!

This old man would also tell how it came to pass that so many soldiers had returned safe to the Isles after the French and Spanish campaigns. All because "there was a blind man in Broadford who was able to put the charm upon them. On each in turn he laid his hands, and they went away looking straight before them. One man half turned his head and saw his own shoulder—an evil omen—and sure enough he lost that arm; but though the bails fell round the others as thick as peas, they were nowise hurt, but returned as living proofs of the blind man's power."

As to the stories of witchcraft in the present day, they are still numberless. The old poacher told how he himself had been following a fine hart and stag in the cornea, when suddenly, to his amazement, they were transformed into a man and woman. He watched them tremblingly, thanking his stars that he had not fired on them; when, in the twinkling of an eye, he once more beheld only a couple of deer feeding in the twilight. Had he only been possessed of a silver sixpence, he would surely have had a shot at them; but a common bullet was useless against such game, so he just stalked them for awhile, and again saw them resume their natural form, when he cautiously crept away down the glen, and was right glad to find himself once more in safe quarters!

I think, however, he must have appropriated to himself some Gaelic legend of olden times, as the same story occurs in one of the very oldest Hindoo poems, in which the Rajah Pandu goes out hunting, and shoots his arrows at a very fine stag and bind, which straightway resume human form, and appear as a Brahmin and his wife, who, turning on the luckless archer, curse him with a terrible curse.

As regards the silver bullet or coin, as a witch-antidote, its efficacy is beyond all question.

The boat-builder who knows his trade must place a crooked sixpence in the keel of every boat. (and should she prove an unusually bonnie craft, her owner will probably do his best to start her on her first sail without spectators, lest any, beholding, should covet her, and so work mischief). The fishers of the good old school have full faith in the power of the silver coin to avert mischief from themselves as well as from their boats, and a sixpence placed in the heel of the stocking, is even a more important wedding ceremony, than the cross drawn on the door-post to keep off the witches.

The stories that tell how certain "ill-women" from the Isle of Raasay were turned into seals, are matters of undoubted credence.

So are a hundred instances in which (now in the present day) women spite one another, by destroying the milk of their neighbour's cow—a fact which I have again and again heard most gravely asserted in various parts of Scotland by men and women who in most respects were sensible and clear-headed enough. They believe that if only a woman can privately gather a handful of grass from the roof of her neighbour's cow-shed, all the milk will pass from her neighbour's cow to her own pail; and in proof of their superstition, they point out how so and so has invariably twice as much milk as her own cows could possibly yield, and how she always brings a double weight of butter to the market.

I must not betray the names of old friends, but I know of divers hill-side bothies where a bowl of rich cream or curds is always ready, and freely offered, greatly to the scandal of jealous neighbours, who believe it to be all the produce of the black art. One of the principal inhabitants of a northern town assured me she had, with her own eyes, seen a woman preparing to make cheese, and that all her pans were filled to the brim, though it was well known that two of her cows were dry, and a third scarcely yielding sufficient milk for the family.

Of such an one it is common to say, "Oh! she must have been drawing the tether;" meaning that early on Beltane morn, ere her neighbours were astir, she had gone forth secretly, dragging her cow's tether through the dewy grass all round her field, and muttering incantations to secure good milk!

On one occasion two women were caught in the very act of brushing the May dew from the pastures with a long hair tether. They fled, leaving their tether behind them. The man who found it, hung it above the door of the cow-byre. The consequence was that the dairy-maids could not find pails enough to hold the supply of milk. But the farmer thought this was uncanny, so he burnt the rope, on which were a number of knots, every one of which exploded like a pistol-shot, in the fire. In preparing such a tether, the hair of a different cow must be used for each knot.

When under-hand dealings of this sort are suspected, a counter- charm must at once be applied. Such an one came under the notice of Mr. Carmichael, in Uist, in the summer of 1874. It is known as the Eulan an Torranain, or Wise-woman Wisdom, which not only insures a cow against the evil eye, but causes her to give quantities of rich milk.

The Torranain was described to him as a large snow-white blossom, growing in rocky places on the hills, which fills with the dew of bliss while the tide is flowing, and slowly dries up again during the ebbing. Therefore, to obtain the virtue of the flower, it must be gathered during the flow of the tide, and then placed under one of the milk-pails; not, however, till it has been waved over it thrice in a sunwise circle, while slowly and solemnly chanting the Eolas, an incantation in which St. Columba, St. Bride, St. Oran, and St. Michael, of the high-crested steeds, are all called upon to lend their aid to win the nine blessings.

The combination of the old planet worship, traceable in the reverence for tides and the s'unwise circle, with the appeal to Christian saints, is noteworthy. Mr. Carmichael's informant did not know the flower, but said she would gladly give one pound for the information, and that she had travelled far to see an old man (a descendant of the celebrated herbalists, the Bethunes of Skye, Mull, and Islay), who knows much about flowers, but his wife would on no account allow him to tell her, and rated her soundly for daring to come to her house on such unholy missions, supposing she wanted to take away her neighbour's milk!

I believe that at the present day there is scarcely a district in the Highlands in which some unlucky old wife is not shunned by her neighbours from the conviction that she is not "canny." But so far from maltreating her, they invariably make way for her at kirk and market, never refusing anything she asks for, however inconvenient her request may be. One such old woman we knew well, whose neighbours firmly believed that she frequently assumed the form of a cat, and sat on the rafters to bewitch her husband. She had the reputation of bewitching other people besides him, and certain it is that dire evils befell those who incurred her hatred.

As to dissuading the people from consulting these weird-wives they have ready answers in store. One woman will tell you how, when she had no family, she consulted the old callhiach, and soon afterwards became the joyful mother of children.

Another will tell how her milk went from her, and the witch brought it back. She can bring luck too to the herring boats, so it would be rash economy to save her puckle of meal.

Happy it is for these poor ignorant old wives that the days are gone by when the kirk sessions used to vote supplies of fuel for the burning of the witches, and when the clergy, as a matter of course, stood by the funeral pyre, not, however, to comfort the poor victims, to whose shrieks they could listen unmoved, as to those of expiring devils. Little mercy awaited them from Romish priest or Protestant minister. They were held by both alike to have renounced their baptism and so placed themselves beyond the reach of God's mercy; and while no priest would shrive one accused of the black art, however penitent she might be, no more could the Reformers find one glimmer of hope for such an one. Luther decreed that all such must be burnt; and John Knox stood by the fire to "mak sicker."

So admirable a thing as the destruction of a witch was held to be work meet for the day of rest, "a sanctifying" of the Sabbath! And there were even cases of church services being omitted in order that minister and people might be present at the burning.

The brutalities to which these poor ignorant women were subjected are almost incredible, though our ancestors seem to have considered them quite right and proper.

There were actually men appointed in every district, known as prickera or witch-finders, who received from the kirk sessions and Court of Justiciary sums averaging six pounds Scota for every witch whom they discovered. In some instances the clergy themselves became witch-prickers.

It was supposed that every witch and wizard bore the devil's mark, which was simply a small discoloured spot, which would neither feel pain nor bleed, though a large pin were thrust through it. So soon, therefore, as any person was suspected of witchcraft (no matter how young and delicate a maiden, or how venerable a grand-dame), she was seized and stripped naked, bound with ropes, and pricked all over with sharp needles. Screams of agony were of no avail. The witch-pricker continued his devilish work till the exhausted victim could scream no more. Whereupon at the next thrust of the needle it was declared that the mark had been found!

Then sometimes for a whole week the tormentors took it by turns to watch, and keep the poor sufferer awake, lest in her dreams she should commune with Satan, as also in hopes of extorting semi- delirious confessions; the watchers themselves relieved guard every four-and-twenty hours.

After these preliminaries, the accused were delivered to the tormentors to extort further confessions; and every form of torture which the Arch-Fiend himself could have devised, was in turn practised upon the poor quivering flesh. They were sprinkled with boiling pitch and brimstone, which produced appalling sores—they were suspended in mid-air while burning torches were held beneath their uplifted arms. Finger-nails were wrenched off—red-hot tongs playfully gripped the bones, after burning away the flesh; the limbs were crushed with screws and hammers, while a witch-bridle (the four iron points of which pierced the tongue, the palate, and both checks) was fastened on by a padlock at the back of the neck, and thus, to an iron ring in the wall.

Sometimes the swimming test was applied. The victim was dragged to a pond and thrown in with her thumbs and toes tied together. If the merciful waters would receive and drown her, her innocence was proven. But should they reject her and suffer her to float, she was guilty beyond all doubt, and the hottest bonfire must be made ready for her. Then she was dragged backwards by her hair to the court, lest by her looks she should bewitch the judges, who then solemnly pronounced sentence in the name of the most Holy Trinity. Thus, whether innocent or guilty, society was rid of the accused.

Remember that all this devilish work was actually going on in Scotland less than two hundred years ago, at which time one of the witch-prickers, who for some of his misdeeds was most righteously hanged, confessed on the gibbet "that he had illegally caused the death of one hundred and twenty females whom he had been appointed to test for witchcraft."

It certainly sounds rather as if the judges themselves had been bewitched, when we read the accounts of the successive witch- manias that have overspread this land. For instance, at the close of the searching reign of the Long Parliament, a list was drawn up of three thousand victims who had actually suffered death by its command on the most trivial accusations.

Even in the year 1716 it is recorded that a woman and her daughter, aged nine, were hanged at Huntingdon for selling their souls to the devil, and raising a storm, by pulling off their stockings and making a lather of soap. Six years later another luckless witch was executed at Dornoch! But I regret to say that my own county—the fair Laich of Moray—was the last to learn lessons of mercy, for an old atone near the town of Forres marks the spot where the very last witch-burning occurred.

It is a remarkable fact that the commencement of this diabolical persecution should have been coeval with the invention of that great civilizer, the printing-press, one of whose first missions was to disseminate a stringent bull fulminated against witchcraft by Pope Innocent VIII., wherein, under the title of "Hammers for Witches," he minutely described how all such might be recognized, and how punished. The flame thus kindled spread like wild-fire; nor did the Reformation in any way lessen the evil.

It was not till the year 1735 that the penal statutes against 'witchcraft were formally repealed, a measure decried by many of the clergy and other respected members of the community as direct disobedience to the Levitical command, that no witch should be suffered to live. When the reign of fire and faggot was thus finally abolished, it was calculated that within three hundred years, upwards of thirty thousand people had been put to death in England alone on the charge of sorcery, while in Germany the number of victims could not have been less than one hundred thousand! Even such as were acquitted would in many cases have preferred death, as the mere suspicion seems to have placed them beyond the pale of human sympathy. They were outcasts for ever, hunted and cursed by all, save those who needed their arts, every conceivable form of evil being attributed to the agency of "The Devil and his Haggs."

Now, as if penitent for past cruelty, the law does what it can to protect those accused of such unholy deeds; for instance, in the autumn of 1871 a case (by no means exceptional) was tried before the sheriff, at Stornoway, for defamation, a man having formally accused a whole family of having by witchcraft stolen the milk from his cows. He stuck to his belief, and was fined five shillings and costs.

Still more frequent is the accusation of having wilfully cast the evil eye on a neighbour's goods; and our northern sheriffs have to decide many a case for slander and defamation, all turning on some such vague accusation of witchcraft. For the dread of the evil eye is just as great here as in the far East; and any one reputed to possess it, is shunned as a living plague. Quits recently, I knew an instance of the people on the beautiful west coast of Ross-shire refusing to let a woman settle among them; and they even came to the proprietor to request that he would not give her a stance (i. e. an allotment), because they declared she had wicked eyes. To us, the young woman and her eyes seemed rather comely and kindly.

This certainly must be an unpleasant faculty for its possessor. I was told by a very clever schoolmaster in the same district, that he had often gone fishing with one of his friends, a very good fellow, but one who was reputed to possess it involuntarily. All the other men in the boat would watch him, and when they had a fish on their lines, would try to draw it in secretly, for so surely as he observed them, their fish would get away.

We know on how many of our north-country farms the gude.wife who is busy at her churn or other household work, will bustle away her goods at the approach of any dubious stranger, because she knows that there are certain people whose presence will prevent the butter from coming, or the cakes from baking.

We know, too, how vexed a hen-wife would be should she catch us counting her chickens; and as to the experiment of counting a string of fish-wives, it would be rash indeed to try it, for dire would be the storm of tongues! Should you be cruel enough to count the fishers as they get into their boat, they will probably refuse to go to sea that night, after so evil an omen. This, however, arises rather from the old dread of numbering the people, than from fear of the evil eye.

In the autumn of 1880 Mr. Fraser of Kilmuir, in Skye, received a letter signed by the most influential members of the Free Church at Uig, complaining of a family—a mother and five daughters—who "by evil arts take the milk from the neighbours' cows." One woman went and spoke very solemnly to the offenders concerning their great sin, and their consciences must have smitten them, for when the reprover went home, the cows were giving their milk all right. But very soon the charm must have been laid on again, for the cows ceased giving milk.

On receiving the document, the proprietor, who was on board his yacht, asked the skipper what he thought about it. The latter replied that "he couldn't say. His own cow had recently been thus charmed, but he knew another skeely woman, and sent for her. She came, and made a sunwise turn round the cow, and twined red worsted in its tail, and the milk came back / For this he paid her five shillings, but she told him that her charm would only work for, three months, and after that, if the cow ought still to be giving milk, she must be sent for again."

Again, in 1881, an office-bearer in the Free Church at Uig went to a Justice of the Peace to make affirmation on oath, that everything he had on his lands was bewitched by a woman who was his neighbour, and should be sharply dealt with at once. The J.P., however, refused to interfere.

That the will to work mischief is not always lacking, is shown by the extraordinary number of cases, scattered all over Britain, in which it has been proved that malevolent persons have made some sort of image to represent home neighbour, and have then stuck it full of pins, with a fall conviction that they would thereby compass his death.

It sounds like a story of the middle ages to hear of women sitting by their own fireside modelling images of wax in order that as these slowly melt, so he to whom they wish evil may likewise fade away. Yet such a case actually came under our notice in the good town of Inverness, where an old woman having conceived a violent hatred to her spiritual pastor on account of his refusing her admission to the Holy Communion, took this method of destroying him. It so happened that at that time he full into very bad health, and as the old lady watched him growing gradually weaker and weaker, she was fully satisfied that her charm was working effectually. She was, however, doomed to disappointment, as her image was discovered and betrayed; and her spell being broken, the victim rapidly recovered!

Two similar instances came under our notice in the same neighbourhood. Thus at Kirkhill near Beauly, in the year 1870, a farmer had occasion to dismiss a man summarily, from his employment. The man owed him a grudge, and by way of avenging himself, he made an image of clay which he buried near the farmer's house, hoping that as the rains washed away the clay, his enemy would pina and die. Sure enough he did pine, and became very sickly indeed; when lo I one day, as he was digging in his field he found this image, and at once suspected its object, and the miscreant who had placed it there; so wroth was he, that it needed all the persuasive eloquence of his neighbours to prevent his at once carrying the case before his landlord. Curiously enough, he is said to have recovered from that hour!

Again, also in Beauly, we heard of a man slowly dying without any apparent cause. His home was ruled by a woman of violent temper. "O! she was a wild woman!" said my informant. The neighbours at last became convinced that she was compassing his death by evil arts, and sought in every direction for some wax or clay image. They found she had been sticking very suspicious lumps of clay on divers trees. However, they sought in vain for any more definite proof of guilt, and in due time the sick man died.

In Strathspey we were also told in whispered tones of this terrible form of witchcraft, as of a thing not to be doubted, and here the witches gave piquancy to their crime by sticking pins into the clay doll, before laying it in some running stream, where it may slowly but surely melt away. A calf's heart stuck full of pins is also accounted a sure means of disposing of a foe. A sick person having reason to attribute his illness to any such supernatural cause, of course appeals to some local wise woman. Amongst the sapient cures suggested will probably be a poultice of warm cow-dung—a nice recipe, quite a la Hindoo.

It seems that these malpractices are neither a thing of the past, nor peculiar to the old wives of Scotland. Mackay, writing in 1841, mentions many cases of witchcraft having come under his notice in Hastings, Lincoln, and Huntingdon; most especially one of a cunning man whose ordinary business it was to mould wax images stuck full of pins, in order to destroy such persons as annoyed his customers! He also tells of a wizard near Tunbridge Wells who was constantly consulted by persons of the highest rank.

There is no need, however, to look back for such cases. So lately as May '1872, two onions, stuck full of pins, and ticketed with the name of the intended victim, were found suspended in the chimney of a public-house at the village of Rockwellgreen, Somersetshire; showing that the old tricks are not forgotten there.

Our police can tell us that such instances are by no means unique, and that this superstition, in many varying forms, is practised in Devonshire, and in the northern counties of England. About fifty years ago, a Yorkshire farmer consulted a wizard doctor in South Durham, concerning heavy losses of cattle. Of course the murrain was attributed to witchcraft, so the remedy to be applied was a counter-spell. The farmer was directed to bolt and bar every window, to keep off the warlocks. He was to take the heart of one of his dead oxen, and stick into it nine new nails, nine new pins, and nine new needles, and then slowly burn it in a fire of rowan-tree wood, just before midnight, when a certain verse from the Bible was to be pronounced over the flames, as an incantation. All this was duly observed. The enraged spirits rapped and hammered furiously at all the bolted windows, but the spell was broken, and from that hour the plague was stayed.

Among the little devices of modem Scotch witches, we know of a certain cat having been killed and coffined, as a symbol likely to compass the death of a lady in Perthshire who had incurred the ill-will of some miscreant. The man who found this unlucky cat was very much disturbed in his mind, evidently considering it very dangerous. He was fully aware of its meaning, so it was probably by no means a unique instance.

Poor cats! they seem to be always associated with witchery and divination, and very hard lines they get. One revolting form of augury long in use in the Isles, was that of half roasting a live cat, in the belief that its screams would attract the king of cats, who could reveal all hidden knowledge, as the price of poor pussy's release.

They also occupy a very grave place in the records of James VI., where, in the trial of the witches of Tranent, two luckless old women confessed to having christened cats by the name of Anne of Denmark and having thrown them into the sea, in order to raise such storms as might impede her voyage. Thus it came to pass that by their evil arts, a boat laden with gifts and jewels for the Queen, was wrecked in the Firth of Forth. A few years later, another witch confessed to having christened a cat by the Queen's name, and passed it nine times through the iron gate of Seaton, and then cast it to the devil. For this, and similar acts, she and four other persons were burnt alive !!

Even to this day we are sometimes startled to find persons believing, not only that certain animals are witches in disguise, but that the dead have returned to earth in these strange forms! I have heard such stories whispered with bated breath, on our own Highland hills, and the same traditions are common in the wilds of Cornwall, where we heard of a gamekeeper positively refusing to fire at a fox that haunted a certain house, and came constantly baying under the windows. He was not deterred by any fox-hunting scruples, but by the conviction that the animal was really "poor Mr. Frank," whose spirit returned to an earthly form, sometimes in the form of a hare, sometimes as a black-cock, but most often as a fox. No Brahmin could have been more decided in his views.

A quaint trace of the old Druidical teaching of transmigration, is the notion, not yet wholly extinct, that when a man is slowly lingering away in consumption, the fairies are on the watch to steal his soul, that they may therewith give life to some other body. To prevent this, old wives are often anxious to cut the nails of the sufferer, that they may tie up the parings in a bit of rag, and wave this precious charm thrice round his head, deisul.

That firm faith in the immortality of the soul undoubtedly found a place in the Celtic creed, is, I suppose, beyond question: in fact Ca8ar mentions it as one of the tenets of the Druids. In the tumuli of Britain, as well as those of India, skeletons of animals have been found, as if placed ready for food; swords also that would have been precious to the living, were buried with the dead,. that they might not be left defenceless on awakening.

The old Gauls buried written statements of accounts and claims of debts, that they might be carried on in the next life; and so well was this creed acted upon, that men would lend one another money, trusting to repayment when they met in some new phase of existence!

I doubt whether modern Hindoos would be equally trusting, or the Pharisees of olden days either, of whom it is said that They too held the doctrine of transmigration. (Certainly we may infer that they did so, from the readiness with which they suggested that Christ was merely a new incarnation of Elijah, Jeremiah, or onef the prophets, and also from that strange question respecting the man who was -born blind, "Did thi8 man sin, or his parents, that he was born blind.

Time and space alike fail to touch on divers local superstitions.

I may, however, mention one more quaint old fret, which may have sprung from Scriptural tradition, or perhaps may own a more remote origin, namely, that curious objection to enter a house" empty, swept, and garnished," which exists in several of our northern counties. The out-going tenant, whose officious care should extend to cleaning the floor, would be held guilty of a most unneighbourly act to the new-corner. The more dirt and litter he leaves about, the better pleased is his successor. My attention was first called to this fact, on one occasion when a tidy housekeeper at "the big house" had caused a cottage close by to be scrubbed before the arrival of the new tenant, whose look of dismay on glancing round, rather astonished her. "Oh!" said the woman, "I would rather have found the dirtiest house in the country than this clean floor!" The idea is, that all the new-corner's luck has been swept out.

Shortly afterwards, a house in the same district (Speyside) was changing hands; the old housekeeper was most anxious to have everything in perfect order for its new master, but nothing would induce her to have the floors cleaned till he should have taken possession. On further inquiry we found the same superstition to be a matter of general acceptance throughout Banffshire, Nairn, and the neighbouring districts, as also in Perthshire.

There is also a lingering belief in the ill-luck of taking a farm from which the previous tenant has been ejected against his will, lest a curse should go with the land—a curse which is expressed by a peculiar Gaelic word, eirthear. And it was till very recently quite a natural question to inquire whether any such grudge was attached to a farm, and if so, the bargain constantly fell to the ground.

This feeling accounts for such entries in the transfer of land as that whereby, in 1698, Alexander Kinnaird, in a legal document, making over the lands of Culbyn to Duff of Drummuir, specifies twice over that he gives the bargain his goodwill and ble8ing. Not that it proved worth much, as the estate was resold forty years later, and very soon after, was overwhelmed with that mysterious sandstorm, which changed the fertile lands into the worthless desert we know so well.


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