Was an eccentric old man,
who lived in Hillhead, where the ruins of his house are still to be
Amongst his other possessions were a calf and an iron pot; and one day
the calf, in an exploring expedition, put its head inside the pot, which
proved to be such a tight fit that no efforts of the animal could
disengage it. Willie himself shortly appeared on the scene, and made
vigorous but unsuccessful endeavours to take the pot from the head.
due cogitation he came to the conclusion that the only way to free the calf from the pot was to cut
off the animal's head, which dire remedy he at once carried into
execution. When the deed was done, however, Willie saw that his remedy
fell far short of being effectual, for the head was still firmly fixed
in the pot, in fact, more firmly than ever, for it was now a dead head,
and could not second his efforts to release it; while it was clearly the
interest of the calf, as long as it lived, to use its utmost efforts to
aid him in shaking off the encumbrance.
Willie, at last, was driven to smash the pot in pieces, and thus reached
the goal of his efforts. Whether it occurred to him at this stage that
he might have used the last remedy at first we do not know, but his
proceedings show the danger of coming to rash and precipitate
conclusions without considering all the premises.
Notwithstanding his apparent ruthlessness with the calf, Willie bore the
character of a harmless, inoffensive, and simple old man. He had a
strong belief in evil spirits, and one morning, possibly when they
appeared to his imagination more numerous and powerful than usual, he
resolved to make, as Samson did with the Philistines, a holocaust of the
whole tribe of warlocks, which he did by fairly setting fire to his
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