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Chapter XIX. - Folklore


ANCIENT Eastern nations, we have seen, used a system of lustration; they dedicated fountains to the sun. By the ancient Persians water was worshipped; it is so now among the Hindus. The river Indus was a god, and the Ganges remains an object of veneration. The savage tribes of America worship the spirit of the waters, and, according; to Gildas, the Britons rendered homage to streams and springs.

Worship of the water was performed less by bodily prostrations or the use of verbal forms than by propitiatory offerings. Seneca relates that on solemn festivals the priests threw brass money into the springs of the Nile, while on these occasions persons of opulence deposited in the waters portions of gold. Describing the sacred spring of the Clitumnus, Pliny remarks that it was so pellucid that one might count the pieces of money thrown into it which rested at the bottom.

Small coins have been found in the consecrated fountains both of Wales and Scotland. When in 1870 St Querdon's Well, in the parish of Troqueer, Kirkcudbrightshire, was cleaned and put in order, several hundred copper coins were found at the bottom. Of these the oldest were of the reign of Queen Elizabeth; but owing to the extreme thinness of the earlier coins, it was evident that those deposited at all earlier date must have rusted away. Some of the later coins belonged to the reign of George III. But votive offerings at wells have more generally consisted of objects of personal ornament or portions of wearing apparel. Hall way, in his "Travels," describes the practice of rag-offering at wells as common in Persia; while Mungo Park relates that he had found it existing among some African tribes. Alike in the East and West, when portions of garments were used, these were deposited by the margins of the fountains, or attached to the boughs of small trees or plants which grew in their vicinity. And so recently as the year 1860, Dr Arthur Mitchell, when travelling in northern Scotland, found at the Well of Craiguck, in Ross-shire, a bush hanging over the fountain of which the branches were hung with bits of clothing, deposited by those who had made visits to the spring. St Anthony's Well, near Edinburgh, is still resorted to by aged persons, in the belief that by its use their complaints may be alleviated. Faith in the supernatural power of Healing ascribed to ancient wells partially arose from the virtues of mineral springs. These virtues were recognised by the physicians of ancient Greece, who recommended mineral waters to those suffering from cutaneous and other diseases. By the Romans the efficacy of mineral springs was well understood. There exists evidence that among a portion of our own countrymen the qualities of medicinal springs were intelligently estimated. Owing to severe, exposure in adverse times, King Robert the Bruce was seized with a scorbutic disorder, which was described as "leprosy." While encamped in the vicinity of Ayr, he there had recourse to a mineral spring, by the use of which he was Healed. In token of gratitude, when as a sovereign lie attained the full exercise of his authority, he reared at the spot an hospital, which he also endowed for the support of eight "lepers," or persons suffering from eczema or skin disease, who might resort to the place to seek benefit from the waters. St Catherine's, or the Balm Well of Liberton, was held efficacious in some cutaneous ailments; it was by command of James VI., who visited it in 1617, enclosed with an ornamental building. This has recently been restored.

By the Britons certain wells were held to have been slug by demons for the destruction of mankind. Adamnan mentions a well in Pictland which was under the control of a malignant deity, whoever touched its waters being seized with leprosy or some other disorder. Through the influence of St Columba, who invoked a blessing upon it, the fountain became remedial and Health-imparting. Hence on the part of some arose the notion that by a votive offering the demon of the fountain was propitiated.

In a paper on "Holy Wells" in Scotland, contributed to the Scottish Society of Antiquaries? in 1883, Mr J. Russel Walker has enumerated about six hundred dedicated to saints, and furnished drawings of such as in modern times have been enclosed by masonry. Not improbably one or more of these holy pools existed in every parish. Dr Joseph Anderson has enumerated the following:—

St Adamnan's, at Dull and Forglen; St Aidan's, at Menmuir, St Aidan's, at Fearn, St Baldred's Pool, at Prestonkirk; St Bride's Wells, at Dunsyre and Beith; St Colb's Well, at Menmuir; St Colmans, at Kiltearn; St Caran's, at Drumlithie; St Columba's, in Eilan na Naoinih and in Eigg; St Fechin's or St Vigeans, at Grange of Conon, in Forfarshire; St Devenick's, at Methlick; St Donnan's in Eigg; St Ethan's in Burghead; St Fergus's, at Glanimis; St Fillan's Wells, at Struan, St Fillans, Largs, etc.; St Mair's Well, at Beith; St Irnie's, at Kilrenny; St Mungo's (Ketutigern's) Wells, at Penicuik and Peebles; St Maelrublia's Well, on Innis Maree; St Marnock's at Aberchirder; St Mirren's at Kilsyth; St Medin's, at Airlie; St Modan's, at Ardchattan; St Mulnags at Mortlach; St Muriel's, at Rathmuriell in the Garioch; St Nathalan's at Old Meldrum; St Ninian's Wells, at Lamington, Arbroath, Stirling, etc.; St Patrick's Well, at Muthil; St Ronan's Well, at the Butt of Lewis; St Serfs', at Monzievaird; and St Wallach's, in the parish of Glass, Aberdeenshire. ["Scotland in the Early Christian Times," by Joseph Anderson. First Series. Edin., 1881. 8vo. Pp. 193-4.]

Holy Wells were held to operate variously. Some were believed to produce an instant cure, others to be remedial by a process slow and nearly imperceptible. Certain springs were regarded as efficacious in cases of insanity; of these the most renowned was the Well of St Fillan. Patients were dipped in this well, and were afterwards laid bound with cords in a chapel of the Saint, which stood near. In the chapel they were compelled to remain during the night, and in the morning their heads were touched with a handbell dedicated to St Fillan, when the cure was completed. For the cure of insanity the Well of Maelrubha on Innis Maree was in considerable repute. The patient was brought into the sacred island, and after kneeling before the altar was conducted to the well, and made to sip of the holy water. Next he was thrice dipped in the lake, and the process was repeated for a course of weeks. Thereafter, as a conclusive act, the patient was by his attendants attached to a boat and rowed round the island. to the well at Struthill, near Muthil, were borne lunatic patients. It was also frequented for the cure of hooping-cough. The spring of Tobar-na-demhurnich was held to denote whether a sick person would overcome his complaint. From this well water was drawn before sunrise, and the patient was immersed in it. The water was then examined. If it remained clear, the patient was likely to recover; when its purity was sullied, death was regarded as near. The spring of Balmanno, in Kincardineshire, was believed to supernaturally restore impaired eyesight, and to render delicate infants strong and healthy. A well in the isle of Gigha, in Argyllshire, known as Tobar-rath-bhuathaig, the lucky Well of Bethag, and situated at the base of a hill near the Isthmus of Tarbat, was believed to govern the wind. Six feet above the spot from which the water flowed there was a heap of stones, which formed a cover to the fount. When a visitor desired to procure a fair wind he opened the entrance by removing the stones, and cleared out the water with a shell or wooden dish. The water was then thrown in the direction from which the wind was desired to blow, the action being accompanied by a certain form of words. On the close of the ceremony the well was carefully closed, for if it was left open, it was held that a storm would ensue which might overwhelm the island.

To south-running water extraordinary virtues were attributed. When a sick person was unable to drink of it freely his night-dress was cast into it, and then thrown about his person. Water drawn under a bridge "over which the living walked and the dead were carried" was regarded as especially remedial; it was conveyed at dawn or twilight to the house of the invalid, who was expected to drink of it before the bearer addressed him. It was essential for the success of the charm, that the bearer had been silent on his way to and from the stream, and that he had not permitted the water-vessel to rest upon or even touch the ground. If the sick person was unable or unwilling to use this charm, it was supposed to operate when the water was thrown upon his dwelling.

One of the caves at Wemyss, in Fifeshire, which contains a. well of water, was early in the present century visited on the first Monday of January, old style, by young persons of the neighbourhood, who in their hands bore burning torches. From an "Account of the Presbytery of Penpont" in Macfarlane's MSS. the following was transcribed by Sir Walter Scott:--

"In the bounds of the Iands of Eccles, belonging to a Iyneage of the name of Maitland, there is a loch, called the Dowloch, of old resorted to with much superstition, as medicinal both for men and beasts, and that with such ceremonies, as are shrewdly suspected to have been begun with witchcraft, and increased afterward by magical directions. Forthbringing of a cloth, or somewhat that did relate to the bodies of men and women, and a shackle or teather, belonging to cow or horse; and these being east into the loch, if they did float, it was a great omen of recovery, and a part of the water carried to the patient, though to remote places, without saluting or speaking to any they met by the way; but if they did, the recovery of the party was hopeless. This custom was of late much curbed and restrained; but since the discovery of many medicinal fountains near the place, the vulgar, holding that it may be as medicinal, as these are, at this time began to re-assume their former practice."

At the Reformation the civil and ecclesiastical authorities sought to check superstitious pilgrimages to wells. A public statute was passed in 1579 prohibiting such pilgrimages, and in 1624 the Privy Council appointed certain commissioners to wait at Christ's Well in Menteith on the first of May, and to seize and imprison in the Castle of Doune those who there superstitiously assembled. By the church the custom of superstitiously frequenting wells was emphatically denounced, transgressors being subjected to a rigorous discipline.

Distempers in cattle were believed to be cured when the ailing animals drank water in which the leugan or weird stones had been dipped. Of these stones the most celebrated is the Lee Penny, a triangular piece of crystal, measuring half an inch on each side, and set in a silver coin. It is associated with the following legend:—Sir Simon Lockhart, of Lee, accompanied Sir James Douglas in 1329 when he was bearing to Palestine the heart of King Robert the Bruce. In course of the journey Sir Simon took prisoner a Saracen chief, whose wife tendered a large slim as his ransom. In counting the money, she dropped a bens, and showed such alacrity in picking it up that the knight's curiosity was aroused. Informed of its virtues, he refused to release the chief unless the gem was added to the ransom money. The lady reluctantly complied, and hence the talisman became the property of the Lee family.

During the seventeenth century, the superstitious use of the Lee Penny became common, and in consequence the Presbytery of Lanark sought advice from the Provincial Synod. In the following minute of Synod the result is detailed:—

"Apud Glasgow, the 25th October, Session 2d. Quhilk daye amongst the referies of the brethren of the ministrie of Lanark, it was proposit to the Synode, that Gawen HaminiItoune of Raploch, had preferit ane complaint before them against Sir Thomas Loch-hart of Lee, anent the superstitious using of ane stone set in silver for the curing of diseased cattle, quhilk the said Gawen affirmed could not be lawfullie used; and that they had deferit to give any desissane therein till the advise of the Assemblie might be heard concerning the saute. The Assemblie having inquirit of the matter of using thereof, and particularlie understood the examinatione of the said Laird of Lee, and otherwise, that the custom is oldie to cast the stone in some water, and give the discasit cattel thereof to drink, and that the same is done without using onie words, such as charmers use in their unlawful practices; and considering that in nature there are monie thinges sein to work strange effect, quhairof no humane skill can give ane reason, it having pleasit God to give unto stones and herpes a special virtue for the healing of mony infirmities in elan and beast--advise the brethren to surcease their process, as quhairin they can perceive no ground of offence; and admonishes the said Laird of Lee in the using of the said stone, to tak heid it be usit heir-after with the least seandall that possible may be."

The Lee Penny was supposed to be remedial in cases of hydrophobia. About the middle of last century Lady Baird of Saughton Hall was bit by a mad dog. Her ladyship's relatives at once despatched a messenger to Lee Castle for a loan of the charmed crystal, which was granted. Of the water into which the amulet had been dipped, Lady Baird drank copiously, and as the malady remained undeveloped, she was held as cured. The Lee Penny has ceased to be an object of superstition.

A charmed stone is preserved by the family of Stewart of Ardvoirlich. In size and shape it resembles a large egg, and is similar to the jewel in the national sceptre. According to tradition the arch-druid wore the gem as his badge of office. Highland graziers make long journeys to procure for their distempered cattle water in which it had been dipped. In Galloway, several round flat stones, about five inches in diameter and artificially perforated, were used, within the recollection of persons now living, for the cure of distemper in horses. One of the stones was placed in a tub of water, and the ailing animal was sprinkled with the liquor. Pennant found that crystal stones were, by the inhabitants of the Hebrides, used in charming water and imparting to it a healing efficacy.

A crystal, believed to possess rare virtues, is possessed by the Campbells of Glenlyon. Highlanders attribute Bruce's success at Bannockburn to the influence of a crystal charm. In his Life of St Columba, Adamnan relates that Broichan, one of the Scottish magi whom the saint had visited with a deadly sickness on account of his having enslaved a Christian female, was cured by drinking water in which was placed a white pebble from the Ness.

By other superstitious modes water was held to become health-restoring. Water taken from the tops of three waves was in Shetland believed to cure toothache, and in the Isle of Tiree water taken from the tops of nine waves, and in which nine pebbles from the shore have been boiled, is held to be remedial in jaundice; it is applied externally, the clothes of the patient being dipped in the bath and put on undried. In a chapel dedicated to St Columba, in Flodda Chuan, one of the Western Isles, a blue round stone rested upon the altar, and when fishermen were detained in the isle by contrary winds, they washed the stone with water, thereby hoping to propitiate the genius of the storm.

Seamen and fishermen are especially prone to superstition. The seamen of Shetland, in tempestuous weather, throw a piece of money into the window of a ruinous chapel dedicated to St Ronald, in the belief that the saint will allay the vehemence of the storm. At Cockenzie, a fishing village in Haddingtonshire, no fisherman ventures out to sea when in his progress towards the beach a lame person or a pig crosses his path. And when going out, or coming into port, any of their number uses an oath, the first who hears it calls out "auld airn," while each makes an effort to touch any portion of iron in the boat, so as to counteract ill-luck that might otherwise ensue. Shetland fishermen profess to foretell, from knots in the bottom boards of a boat, whether or not she would be fortunate at the fishing, be upset under sail, or be cast away. On their way to the boats the fishermen of Orkney are careful to avoid meeting anyone supposed to be unlucky, especially the clergyman. If a northern sailor trod on the tongs, or was asked where he was going on his way to his boat, it was held useless for him that day to proceed with his avocation. When afloat the Shetland mariner was careful not to turn the boat withershins, that is, against the course of the sun. When setting their lilies, Shetland sailors avoid mentioning certain objects except by some special words and phrases. Thus, a knife is called skunie or tullie, a church buanhoos or banchoos; a minister upstanda, haydeen, or prestingolva; the devil, da Auld Chield, da sorrow, da ill-healt (health), or da black tief, a cat, kirser, fitting, vengla, or foodin.

When on hauling in their lines Shetland sailors found that a stone was brought up, it was carefully carried to the shore, since it was deemed unlucky to throw it back into the sea. Among them it was held wrong to name a cat to any fisherman when he was baiting his lines, and if any mischievous person called to a seaman when on his way to his boat, "'There's a cat in your bundle," his fishing for the day was spoiled. When a sailor returned with an inferior supply of fish, his wife would kick the bundle round the room, and administer to him a severe rating, in the belief that this course would induce improved luck.

By seamen poultry are held as bad shipmates, being likely to raise a storm. The appearance of a shark is dreaded; in the wake of a ship it is held to indicate the death of someone on board. Petrels are regarded as messengers of death. In Orkney and the Hebrides seamen formerly believed that drowned persons were changed into seals. The existence of mermaids is credited by Shetland seamen; and by those of the Western Isles, mermaids are supposed to kidnap children. Macphee, the chief of Colonsay, remarked a beautiful damsel washing her locks on an isolated rock at some distance from the shore. Launching a swift boat, and fetching a compass, he surprised the angel of the deep by coming suddenly behind her. A sealskin was lying on the rock, which he immediately seized. Perceiving that her robe was gone, the ocean nymph was much confused, but Macphee gallantly covered her with his plaid; he then placed her in his boat and rowed to shore. Taking her to his castle, she became his wife.

Shetland fishermen disenchant their boats in this fashion:—The cavity or tap-hole is filled with water supplied by the mistress of the craft. Next the boat is rowed out to sea before sunrise, and a waxen figure burnt in it just as daylight begins to appear, the plaster of the vessel exclaiming "Go hence, Satan." Shetland seamen still purchase favourable winds from elderly women, who pretend to rule or to modify the storms. There are now in Lerwick several old women who in this fashion earn a subsistence. Many of the survivors of the great storm of the 20th July 1881, so fatal on northern coasts, assert that their preservation was due to warnings which they received through a supernatural agency.

Till the present century it was, among the seamen of Orkney and Shetland, deemed unlucky to rescue persons from drowning, since it was held as a matter of religious faith, that the sea is entitled to certain victims, and if deprived would avenge itself on those who interfered.

With the concerns of domestic life superstitious omens were largely associated. If coom hung from the bars of the grate, a stranger's arrival was foretokened. Should the coom drop off by the clapping of the hands, the stranger was simply to call and then to pursue his journey. There is a superstition among domestic servants that it is unlucky to leave off making a bed before completing it—the least evil to be apprehended being that the person for whom the bed is made will during the following night be deprived of rest.

Respecting the superstitions of Selkirkshire, the Ettrick Shepherd presents these details:—"When persons sneeze in first stepping out of bed in the morning, they are thence certified that strangers will be there in the course of the day, in numbers corresponding to the times they sneeze; and if a feather, or straw, or any such thing be observed hanging at a dog's nose or beard, they call this a guest, and are sure that a stranger is approaching. If at the dog's nose it hangs long the visitor is to remain for a long time, but if it fails instantly away, the visitor is hastily to depart. From the length of this guest they determine what will be the size of the real one, and from its shape whether it will be a man or a woman; and they watch carefully on what part of the floor it drops, since it is on that very spot the stranger will sit. And there is scarcely a shepherd in the whole country who, if he chances to find one of his flock dead on a Sabbath, is not thence assured that he will have two or three more in the course of the week. During the season the ewes are milked, the bught door is always carefully shut at even, and the reason assigned for this is, that when it is negligently left open, the witches and fairies never miss the opportunity of dancing in it all night. With the domestic animals were associated peculiar notions. In leaving the house on business, if a cat crossed the path there was to be lack of speed. The first person on whom a cat leaped after crossing a dead body was doomed to blindness. With the howling of a dog during the night was associated mischance. The isles of Eynhallow and Damisay in the Orkneys, and the isles of Havera, Hascosea, and Uyea in Shetland, are supposed in the soil to possess some magical charm, which prevents their being infested with mice. For the removal of vermin soil is borne from these islands to distant localities.

Birds are included in the rites of superstition. To the peasantry the owl is an object of aversion. The bones of certain birds sewed into the clothes are believed to preserve the health, and the feathers of a wild fowl placed in the pillow of a dying person are supposed to prolong his life. In the north-western highlands, when the life of a sick person was despaired of, a cock was sacrificed, and buried at the foot of the patient's bed. For the cure of epilepsy, a live cock was buried with a lock of the invalid's hair and the parings of his nails — a barbarous usage which has not wholly ceased. [For the cure of epilepsy and madness the Moors and Negroes of Algeria drown a cock in a sacred well. The cock was in Egypt sacrificed to Osiris, the Apollo of the Greeks. The superstitions associated with the cock in Pagan worship were tolerated by the early Christians.] The numbers of magpies seen at a time is an augury of various fortunes as expressed in the rhyme:-

"One's sorrow—two's mirth; 
Three's a wedding—four's death;
Five a blessing—six hell;
Seven the deil's ain:sel'"

There is a prejudice against the yellow-hammer, expressed in the following rhyme:—

"Hauf a puddock, hauf a taed,
Hauf a yellow-yeldrin',
Gets a drag of the devil's bluid
Ilka May morning."

The prejudice against the yellow-hammer is believed to have originated owing to the birds having by their cries discovered to the troopers the retreats of hiding Covenanters. The curlew is obnoxious probably from the same cause.

There are superstitious observances connected with insects and the ordinary animals. The lady-bird, or
"Lady Lanners," was among the lowland peasantry used to discover future partners. When a schoolboy found the insect he placed it on his palm, and repeated these lines till it flew off:-

Lady, Lady Lanners,
Lady, Lady Lanners,
Tak' up your cloak about your head,
An' flee awe, to Flanners;
Flee ower frith, and flee ower fell,
Flee ower pule and rinnin' well,
Flee ower muir, and flee ower mead,
Flee ower livin, flee ower dead,
Flee ower corn, and flee ower lea,
Flee ower river, flee ower sea
Flee ye east, or flee ye west,
Flee till him that loe's me best."

In Shetland it was held that a plague of moths will infest the house into which a woman newly risen from childbed enters without being invited to eat and —drink. In the same region, a drink of water in which a stone found in the stomach of a cod has been boiled is held to be a preventive of sea-sickness, while the scum that rises from slugs kept in a bottle is described as a cure for rickets. The foot of a mole kept in his purse secured the lowlander against want of money. With the bones of animals the peasant inhabitants of Morayshire practised divination. Having picked the flesh from a shoulder of mutton, they turned towards the east, and looking steadfastly on the bone, conceived themselves able to anticipate the future. The head of a fox nailed to the stable door protected horses from the influence of an evil power. In Shetland, the counting of cattle or sheep or horses belonging to an individual was supposed to bring bad luck to him. Consequent on a superstitious dislike to enumeration of any kind, the census returns are obnoxious to the islanders.

In securing "luck" and averting "skaith" amulets were used. Of these, the more generally reputed was the whorl of the primitive spinner, known as an "adder-stone;" and the colt and arrow-head of the stone are described as "thunderbolts" and "elf-darts." A pear, supposed to have been enchanted by Hugh Gifford, Lord of Yester, a notable magician in the reign of Alexander III., is preserved in the family of Broun of Colston, as heirs of Giflord's estate. So long as the pear is preserved, the family, it is held, will continue to prosper. It is alleged that the Earl of Gowrie, celebrated as chief in the Gowrie conspiracy, wore on his person as a charm the word tetragrummaton, written upon parchment.

In northern districts it was believed that pregnant women were by a toadstone preserved from the power of demons. For the cure of epilepsy the people of Caithness, also of the Western Isles, made the patient drink from a cup formed of a suicide's skull. Only a few years ago an epileptic youth, in the vicinity of Kirkwall, was treated in this manner. A skull was exhumed from a graveyard, and a portion of it being ground to powder, was mixed with water and given to the patient. For the restoration of one suffering from fever the nails of his fingers and toes were pared, and the parings placed in a rag cut from his clothes; the rag was then waved round his head, when a cure was believed to ensue. In the northwestern Highlands erysipelas was cured by cutting off a portion of a cat's ear, and dropping the animal's blood on the part affected. In Shetland, a stitch in the side was cured by applying to the part mould dug from a grave, and heated in a saucepan. Mould to be so used it was held essential should be taken from and returned to the brave after sunset. In northern counties a sprain was supposed to be relieved when around the affected joint was fastened a thread bearing nine knots. Madness was cured by the use of the Barbreck bone, a small portion of ivory, formerly in the possession of Campbell of Barbreck, and now deposited in the museum of the Scottish Antiquaries. In north-western districts, fatuous persons, who are supposed to suffer from "an evil eye" having fallen upon them in childhood, are sprinkled with water in which a silver or gold coin has been dipped. By a superstitious process the inhabitants of Orkney transfer diseases from one party to another. A patient is washed, and the water used in the act of ablution is thrown down at a gateway, on which the disease is believed to seize the first person who passes through, to the relief of the original sufferer. In Shetland it is held that when a sick person describes his ailment, the listener is apt to have the distemper conveyed to himself except he spits covertly. In northern counties a belief prevails that scrofulous complaints yield to the touch of a seventh son, accompanied by an invocation of the Trinity. At perforated monoliths the natives of the Hebrides formerly sought help in rheumatic ailments. They held that rain could be produced by touching the Runic Cross at Brora. A cave in a steep rock in front of Kinnoull Hill in Perthshire, known as the Dragon-hole, was believed to contain a stone which would render invisible the person holding it. Green pebbles picked up at Iona were supposed to derive an influence from St Columba, and to be valuable as amulets. Barren women passed their hands through the holes of the Bore Stone at Gask in order to obtain children, and with the same hope used to make pilgrimages to the Monastery of St Adrian, in the Isle of May. By joining hands through the perforated stone of Odin at Loch Stennis, lovers became pledged to fidelity, and the sacredness of the vow was recognised by the church courts. [Principal Gordon, of the Scots College of Paris, who visited Orkney in 1781, relates that about twenty years previously the elders of the Kirksession of Sandwick were particularly severe on a young man brought before them for seduction on account of his having broken "the promise of Odin."—"Wilson's Prehistoric Annals," Edinburgh, 1851, 8vo, pp. 100, 101; Dr Arthur Mitchell's "Past in the Present," p. 153.]

Under certain conditions salt was an effective charm. Thrown over the left shoulder it averted strife. At removals the salt-box was borne first to the new dwelling. When in the autumn of 1789 Robert Burns was about to take possession of the farmhouse at Ellisland, which had been reared for his accommodation, a family procession to the place was conducted along the banks of the Nith from his lodging at the Isle, half a mile distant. In this procession was borne a bowl of salt resting upon the family Bible. When the character of an ailment was unknown, salt was placed on an old sixpence borrowed from a neighbour; it was then melted in a tablespoonful of water. The coin was put into the solution, and the soles of the patient's feet and the palms of his hands moistened three times with the liquid. The patient was made to taste the mixture thrice, and his brow was stroked with it. Then the solution which remained in the spoon was thrown over the fire, as were reverently uttered the words, "Lord preserve us fra a' skaith." The cure was now held to be complete.

Distempered cattle were formerly held to be benefited by "kindling needfire"--that is, producing fire by the friction of two sticks rubbed against each other. Juniper burned near a herd of cattle was supposed to propitiate the evil powers and avert distemper. When any of the cattle suffered from a complaint, the precise character of which could not be discovered, the owner of the herd repeated the following spell :—

I charge thee for arrowschot,
For doorschot, for windowschot,
For eyeschot, for tunbschot,
For liverschot, for lungschot,
For hertschot, all the waist,
In the name of the Father, the Sone, and the HaIy Gaist,
To wend out the flesche and bane
Into stock and stane,
In the name of the Father, the Sone, and the Haly Gaist.

In Orkney, when the milk of a cow has lost its original qualities, it is held to be affected by "an evil eye," and a cure is believed to follow when the, animal is made to drink water from a well used by the delinquent. Women in the island of St Kilda are in the habit of putting a small flower into the pail when they go to milk their cows and ewes to keep the milk from being bewitched by an "evil eye."

The colour of red was sacred to Thor, the god of lightning. Red-eyed persons were suspected of witchcraft. Before turning out their cattle to the grass in spring, Highland women tied a piece of red thread round their cows' tails to protect them from skaith. And in Aberdeenshire portions of rowan-trees and red woodbine were put over the doors of cow-houses to prevent witches from taking away the cows' milk. In northern districts a branch of the rowan-tree was placed over the door of the farmer's dwelling, after it had been waved while the words, "Avaunt, Satan," were pronounced reverently.

Gipsies entertain peculiar superstitions. They attach weirds to the forms of clouds, the flight of wild birds, and the sough of the wind. Should they meet persons of unlucky aspects, they turn back from their journeys, and in their summer peregrinations wait some propitious omen of their fortunate return. They burn the clothes of their dead, under a belief that the wearing of them would shorten the days of the living. They believe that "the deil tinkles" at the lykewake of those who in the death-throes had experienced the anguish of remorse.

In connection with births and baptisms certain superstitious rites have already been adverted to. In Orkney the mother and her new-born child were sainted —that is, rescued from peril by the following process. The bed being drawn into the centre of the floor, the nurse thereafter waved round the bed an open Bible three times for each person of the Holy Trinity. When in the child's petticoat was stuck a silver brooch, Satanic influence was also repelled. In Badenoch, when an infant yawns, an evil influence is supposed to be at work, which may be counteracted by the act of spitting in the child's face. In Shetland, when an infant is teething, it is held that live peats for kindling should not be given to a, neighbour, otherwise the child's teeth will stop growing. A child which was passed through the perforated stone of Odin at Loch Stennis, in Orkney, was believed to be through life preserved from paralysis. In northern counties it is held that when a child is baptized, the drops of water are not to be wiped from the brow, and it is regarded as a bad omen if the child does not answer to its name by screaming when the water is sprinkled.

Certain social customs which obtained at bridals have been already alluded to. In Orkney it is held that a bridegroom should not venture upon the ocean. At the ceremonial of the bridegroom's feet-washing a ring was thrown, which was scrambled for by those present, the finder being supposed the first to be married. Iii northern parts it was deemed unlucky for a bridal party to meet a funeral procession. After marriage it was unlucky to enter at one door and (o out at the other. The spouse who slept first on the marriage night was field to be the first to die.

The practice of forbearing to marry in May obtains in various countries, and is of ancient origin. Remotely associated with the rites of Baal, the month in popular superstition was regarded as that in which the fairies obtained a special ascendancy.

When a marriage was solemnised on Saturday, it was held that one of the spouses would die within the year, or that the marriage would be unfruitful. In northern counties, on the morning of the marriage, It silver coin was placed in the heel of the bridegroom's stocking, and at the church door the shoe-tie of his right foot was unloosed, and a cross drawn in the door-post. Among the Highland peasantry every knot in the apparel of the bride and bridegroom is untied prior to the nuptial ceremony, and when the bride reaches the threshold of her future home she is lifted over it.

In the West Highlands and in the Hebrides there is a prevailing belief that ringworm can be cured by rubbing it over and around with a woman's marriage ring. In allusion to this superstition, Dr Alexander Stewart writes thus:-

"Riding home one evening, we observed two little girls and a sturdy long-leaved hafin lad sitting patiently in front of a cottage, the door of which was shut and locked. The youngsters, rather better dressed than usual, had come from a considerable distance, and we wondered what they could be doing there. On mentioning the matter next day, we had the story in full:—The three were suffering from ringworm. The owner of the cottage has a marriage ring of wonderful efficacy in curing this epidermic distemper. They had come from one of the inland glens to he operated upon; but the possessor of the ring was away in Glasgow, and only returned home by steamer late that evening. When she did arrive the young people were duly manipulated and ring-rubbed secunduni arter; and in four-and-twenty hours thereafter we were gravely assured they were quite healed. Any gold ring is usually employed, but the particular ring referred to in this case is much sought after on such occasions, because, as our informant said, it is of "guinea gold," by which we suppose very pure gold, with the least possible alloy, is meant, and because it is the property of a widow who was married to one husband more than fifty years."

In our chapter on practices connected with death and burial, we have referred to certain superstitious usages associated with these events. Prognostications of death varied in different districts. When a northern highlander experienced an itching of the nose, he became satisfied that he would lose a neighbour by death; the death of a male was indicated when the sensation was felt in the left nostril. In southern districts a tinkling in the ear was held as a sign that the death of a relative was near. The cock crowing at an untimely hour was believed to foretoken the death of some one in the locality. When a strange dog howled round a house, the lowlander accepted the occurrence as an omen that the angel of death was approaching. "A Bede candle," or supernatural light, was in the western isles believed to be seen moving to the churchyard from the dwelling of one about to die. In Orkney when, in washing her husband's clothes in a stream, a woman sees his trousers fill with water, she regards the occurrence as a portent of his approaching death. In some parts of the highlands it is believed that the struggle between life and death is prolonged by shutting the door of the patient's room; yet it is not to be kept quite open, but left slightly ajar. Space is thus left for the imprisoned spirit to escape, and yet an obstacle offered to the entrance of any frightful form which might otherwise intrude.

In connection with funerals there were various superstitions. The spiritual safety of the deceased was well assured when on the day of his funeral fell gentle showers. The following rhyme widely obtained:-

"'West wind to the bairn when gaun for its name;
Gentle rain to the corpse carried to its lang hame
A bonny blue sky to welcome the bride
As she gangs to the kirk wi' the sun on her side."

If on leaving the dwelling of the deceased, a funeral party walked in a scattered and straggling manner, it was taken for an omen that ere long another death would occur under the same roof. In Shetland when a funeral procession is passing, the bystanders throw three clods one by one after the corpse. When a coffin is brought to a house it is placed on chairs, which after the funeral procession has moved are carefully upset, since otherwise another death in the house is held to be imminent. The instant a funeral procession has started, the straw on which the corpse was laid is burnt, and the ashes narrowly examined to see if footsteps may be traced. When footsteps are discovered they are held to be those of another member of the family who is about to die.

In the Hebrides when at a funeral one of the company accidently fell, a token was accepted that lie would next be carried forth to burial. In Shetland when the wind blows against a funeral party, it is held to be an omen that another death will occur shortly. And when a grave is dug, a spade is laid across it, so as to prevent crows and other fowls from entering it, there being a common belief that nothing evil can pass iron or steel. The soul of a murdered person was formerly believed to linger about his body till the detection of the slayer, and that at whatever distance of time, the body, or even the skeleton of the murdered person, would emit blood on the murderer's touch. In Romish times the ordeal was usually applied amidst "pomp and circumstance," for the slaughtered corpse was stretched on a bier in front of the altar, -while the suspected assassin was led up to it following a procession of priests singing an anthem. In his "Damonologic" James VI. writes—"In a secret murther, if the dead cairkasse be any time thereafter handled by the murtherer, it will gush out of blood, as if the blood were crying to heaven for revenge of the murtherer." The ordeal continued to be applied both by the civil and ecclesiastical authorities till the commencement of the eighteenth century. A commission which sat at Dalkeith, on the 14th June 1641, held Christian Wilson guilty of the murder of Alexander Wilson, her brother, because on touching the body of the deceased " the blood rushed out of it, to the great admiration of all the beholders, who tooke it for discoverie of the murder." In 1680, a woman was before the Kirk-session of Colinton, charged with the murder of her illegitimate child, and in the minute of the Court are entered these words:—"There is one thing very observable . .. that, when the mother laid her hand upon the child's nose, there came a little blood from it, which was seen by many persons. In December 1687 Sir James Stanfield of Newmills was found strangled in a stream near Haddington. According to James iltuirhead, the surgeon, and another, when Philip Stanfield, his son, was assisting to place the body in the coffin, blood darted from the left side of the neck upon his touch, on which he exclaimed, "Lord, have mercy upon me!" On this testimony Philip Stanfield was convicted of parricide and publicly executed.

In a letter which, in 1712, was addressed by a minister in Caithness to the historian Wodrow, the writer remarks, "Some murthers in this country have been discovered by causing suspected persons touch the deid corps, which, upon their touching, have immediately bled, whereupon some have confessed built and have been executed."

With particular seasons superstitious notions were associated. In Orkney it was formerly deemed unlucky to cat or drink till after Divine service. In cases of fever the symptoms were expected to be more severe on Sunday, and if the patient began to feel better on that day, a relapse was to be anticipated. On Monday the Shetlander will dive nothing out of his dwelling. Members of the family of Sinclair, in Caithness, decline on Monday to cross the river bed, since it was on that clay that a body of the Sept left their native shores to join the standard of James IV. on the field of Flodden, where the whole were cut off. Oil Saturday it is generally deemed unlucky to flit, as is indicated in the rhyme,

"Saturday's flit, short while sit."

In the Highlands peasants formerly took off their bonnets to the rising sun. To the new moon northern women made a reverence. In northern counties no important business is transacted during the moon's wane. In the acts of the Baron Court of Breadalbane, in 1621, there is a provision against cutting of briars save "in the waning of the moon." And not improbably to show his defiance of superstition, or to enable others to watch the influence of a particular fact, a father, at Kirkintilloch, in the year 1811, caused the session-clerk to make entry in the parochial register that his child was born "in the last clay of the last quarter of the moon."

Superstitious usages in connection with saints' days and other anniversaries have been described.' Others may be added. It was deemed unlucky to retain in the house a dead body till the morning of New Year's Day; hence, if a death occurred at this period the funeral was hastened. The entrance of a well-favoured person into a dwelling on the morning of New Year's Day was a good omen, but if one feeble and decrepit entered first, evil ere the year had closed was to be anticipated.

On Candlemas, the 2nd of February, families in the Hebrides observed the following custom:—The mistress and servants of each family took a sheaf of oats, and dressing it in women's apparel, placed it in a large basket, along with a wooden club; this was called "Brud's bed." The mistress and servants now exclaimed three times, "Brud is come! Brud is welcome" This they did just before severally retiring to rest, and when they rose in the morning they looked among the ashes, expecting to see the impression of Brud's club, which if they did, they reckoned the appearance as a presage of a favourable spring and a prosperous autumn. The contrary was a bad omen. During the increase of the March moon the peasantry of Morayshire cut down withes of woodbine. These were twisted into wreaths and preserved till the following March. Children sick of fever and consumptive patients were now made to pass through the wreaths three several times, when a cure was supposed to be effected.

Superstitious observances common to the first of May, or Beltane, have already been described. On May-day the Romans, by the hands of the priests of Vulcan, offered sacrifices to Maia, the good mother of the Greeks. And the Divine female energy, styled Maya, has in the figure of the mirror her special emblem on our sculptured stones. During the eighteenth century the inhabitants of Barvas, one of the Western Isles, sent early on May-day morning a man to cross the Barvas river, lest any woman should on that day cross first. For when by any misadventure a woman chanced to cross first, it was held that salmon would not come up the river during the remainder of the season. Dr Alexander Stewart writes, "It was an article of belief in the hygiene code of the old highlanders, that the invalid suffering under any form of internal ailment, upon whom the sun of May once fairly shed its light, was pretty sure of a renewed lease of life, until at least the next autumnal equinox."

A practice, evidently derived from time ancient rites of May-day, has by historians been unnoticed heretofore. At Stirling, on one of the early days of May, boys of ton and twelve years divest themselves of clothing, and in a state of nudity run round certain natural or artificial circles. Formerly the rounded summit of Demyat, an eminence in the Ochil range, was a favourite scene of this strange pastime, but for many years it has been performed at the King's Knot in Stirling, an octagonal mound in the royal gardens. The performances are not infrequently repeated at Midsummer and Lammas.

On the 3rd of May a Highlander begins no undertaking of consequence; it is known as La sheachanna na bleanagh, or the dismal day.

On St John's Eve, the 23rd of June, it was formerly held that if an unmarried woman laid upon her parlour table a clean cloth, with bread, cheese, and ale, and then sat down as about to eat, the door of her house being left open, the person whom she was afterwards to marry would come into the room and make obeisance to her. On the Eve of St John, Masonic lodges hold a grand anniversary. At Melrose they display burning torches. Entering the ruins of the venerable abbey, the torch-bearers pass through the mouldering aisles and round the massive pillars, thereafter round the structure three several times, and as a concluding ceremony form a semi-circle in the chancel, where martial music is discoursed, followed by an exhibition of fireworks. On St John's Day, in the Chapel Royal of Holyrood, in 1633, Charles I. touched one hundred persons for "the cruellis," or King's Evil.

The weather which prevailed on St Martin of Bullion's Day—the 4th of July—was held to possess a prophetic character. There was a proverb that if on that day the deer rose up and lay down dry there would be a "good gose-harvest"—that is, an early harvest. Pain upon the 4th July was held to betoken wet weather for twenty days thereafter.

On the 25th of August the people of Applecross sacrificed a bull to St 1llourie. This saint, otherwise St Maree, was patron of the coast from Applecross to Lochbroom; the name being a corruption of that of Maelrubha, a hermit who came from Ireland to Scotland in 673, and who died at Applecross in 722. The sacrifice was usually offered at Eilean Maree or Innis Maree, a small island in Loch Maree, where the saint had a cell, and where, before his arrival in Scotland, there was a pagan temple. During the seventeenth century the Presbytery of Dingwall sought to suppress this superstition, also other rites such as pouring milk on the hills as an oblation, and rendering reverence to stones which were consulted as to future events. The practice of sacrificing to Mourie ceased before the close of the seventeenth century.

At Rutherglen, in Lanarkshire, certain rites were observed in connection with St Luke's Fair. About eight days prior to the fair, which was held on Wednesday before the first Friday of November, some oatmeal was converted into dough, and laid up to ferment. Mixed with sugar and cinnamon, it was brought into a proper consistency and rolled up in balls. The baking process was effected by women, who commenced after sunset a night or two before the fair. A large space in the house was marked out, the area included within a line being considered as consecrated, and not to be touched by strangers. Into this hallowed spot were introduced six or eight women, all of whom, except the toaster, seated themselves on the ground in the form of a circle, and with their faces turned towards the fire. Each held a baking-board on her knees. The woman who toasted was queen or bride, and those who baked were called her maidens ; names such as "todler" or "hodler" being given to each. The cakes were commenced by todler, who formed the ball of dough into a small cake ; she passed it on from one to the other in the direction of east to west, till, each kneading it in turn, it became thin as a sheet of paper. The cake was beaten out by the hand only, and was kept unruffled and unbroken. During the act of baking music was discoursed. The bread was not intended for common use, but was offered to strangers in small portions. While there is no tradition as to the origin of the practice, it is not without significance that a similar rite which obtained among the ancient Hittites became a snare to the chosen people.

With the feast of All-Hallow Eve, or Hallowe'en the 31st of October—were connected many rites derived from the elder superstition. Called in Gaelic Samhain—that is, the sleep of summer—the occasion was associated with observances in which the chief factors were fire and water. In north-eastern districts the ashes of the Hallowe'en bonfires were scattered, all who took part in kindling them vying with each other who should spread abroad the greatest quantity. It was believed that on All-Hallow Eve the fairies gave access to their subterranean abodes to all who nine several times encompassed their hillocks. But the adventurer was not allowed to return to human society.

Christmas, or Yule, was largely associated with idolatrous rites. Children born on Christmas were believed to have the power of seeing spirits and even of commanding them. In Highland districts each householder bore from the nearest plantation a withered stump, which, placed on a heap of peats, was set on fire and burned, and by this act skaith and death were averted till the return of the anniversary. Snow or wind on Christmas was supposed to forebode a favourable season, but if the day was mild, "a fat kirkyard " or much death during winter was to be apprehended.

On Hogmanay—the 31st December—a rite called "burning the clavic" was formerly observed in Morayshire; it lingers at Burghead, on the southern shore of the, Moray Firth. The clavie is a piece of wood cleft for holding and carrying a torch. At the celebration at Burghead a tar-barrel is elevated on a fir prop and set up against a wall. The barrel is packed with logs or pieces of timber, tar being poured over then. Under the pile is laid a burning peat, which, igniting the tarred wood, produces a powerful flame. Borne on the back of a person specially appointed to the office, the barrel is laid down at a point where two streets meet; it is then taken up by another, and so transported from place to place till the circuit is completed. The clavie is next carried to a promontory north of the town, known as the Doorie, on the summit of which a freestone pillar is built for its reception. Fresh fuel is procured, and after burning about half an hour the barrel is thrown down the western slope of the hill, followed by the multitude, who snatch up the blazing fragments. During the seventeenth century the Kirksessions of the several parishes in the district, also the Presbytery of Elgin, endeavoured to suppress the rite, but unsuccessfully. The celebration brought blessing, it was believed, both on land and water—that is among the cattle, and also among the fishing-boats.

Among the supernatural beings common to Scottish superstition the most reputed was "the Brownie." Successor of the Lar familiaris of the ancients, his existence was immediately suggested by the svartalfer, a small dark Finnish people who occupied the circle dwellings, and are described in northern sagas. Deriving his name from the supposed tawny colour of his skin, he had short hair or brown matted locks, and bore a brown mantle which reached to his knee, with a, hood of the same colour. Brownies lived in the hollows of trees, the recesses of ruinous castles, and in the caves and correis of unfrequented eminences. Of a, character between man and spirit, they made aerial progresses, and while so occupied, emitted music like the tones of a harp, the grinding of a mill, or the crowing of a cock. Indolent naturally, the brownie would, like Robin Goodfellow of English superstition, perform active and useful labour. Capable of extraordinary exertions, they executed their work at night, and sought no food or other recompense, stipulating only that they should be permitted to discharge their duties without interference. They abandoned work on the offer of thanks. The character of a brownie is forcibly depicted in the popular ballad of "Aiken Drum." In his strange aspects, coming to a farmer and his wife, he excited alarm, till, in answer to the gudeman's question as to who he was and whence lie came, he replied-

"I lived in a lan' where we saw nae sky,
I dwalt in a spot where a burn rins na by;
But I'se dwall now wi' you if ye like to try-
Hae ye wark for Aiken Drum?

"I'll shiel' a' your sheep i' the mornin' sune,
I'll bring your crop by the licht o' the mune,
And ba the bairns wi' an unkenned tune,
If ye'll keep puir Aiken Drum.

"I'll loup the linn when ye canna wade,
I'll ca' the kirn, and I'll turn the bread
An' the wildest filly that ever ran rede
I'se tame't, quoth Aiken Drum.

"I'se seek nae guids, gear, bond, nor mark,
I use nae biddin', shoon, nor saek,
But a cogfu' o' brose 'tween the light and dark
Is the wage o' Aiken Drum."

All went well about the farm, for the brownie toiled day and night till:

A new-made wife, fu' o' frippish freaks
* * * * *
Laid a mouldy pair o' her ain man's breeks
By the brose o' Aiken Drum."

The lift of clothing was taken as an insult, and the brownie disappeared.

When two brownies chanced to render together an unpaid service, they could not endure that one should be commended at the cost of the other. Having fallen behind with his work, the, blacksmith of Glamznis excited the compassion of two brownies, who during night powerfully assisted him. Entering his smithy one morning before his supernatural assistants had departed, he was so rejoiced at the progress made, that he exclaimed exultingly:-

"Weel chappit, Red Cowl,
But better chappit, blue."

"Chap wha we like to,
We'll chap nae mair to you,"

was the immediate response of the tawny visitors, who instantly evanished.

Every husbandman in the Hebrides who was more industrious than his neighbours was supposed to be aided by a brownie.

To families eminent for their personal or hereditary virtues, members of the brownie fraternity were held to be attached, and with such they were believed to remain from one to another generation. For three centuries a noted brownie had served the family at Leithen Hall, Dumfriesshire. He had been remarked to moan deeply on the death of one of the owners, and when the heir arrived from foreign parts to take possession, brownie showed himself and proffered homage. Offended lby the uncouth aspects of his domestic, the new laird ordered him a suit of clean livery. The usual result followed, for the supernatural departed, exclaiming as he went

Ca', cuttie, ca'!
A' the luck o' Leithen Ha'
Gangs wi' me to Bodsbeck Ha'."

And so in a few years Leithen became ruinous, and the neighbouring house of Bodsbeck began to flourish.

Goranberry Tower, in the county of Roxburgh, a stronghold of the Elliots, was haunted by a species of brownie. Familiarly known as "the Cowie," he kept the work of the place in a forward state. Between night and day lie drove the peats, smeared the sheep, and secured the corn. Within the Tower he might be heard chopping or sawing wood, or turning the quern, or in the act of spinning. When he uttered the voice of lamentation, he thereby foretokened a death in the family. Adam Elliot of Goranberry, the last of his family, fell from his horse in crossing at night the adjacent stream of the Hermitage, but contrived to find his way into the adjacent churchyard, where he perished. Prior to the laird's death, Cowie was loud in his bewailings, and his cries on the fatal night were especially agonising. He was heard no more.

Nearly every family in the Orkneys had a brownie, from whom they believed that they obtained service, and to whom they consequently tendered offerings, such as milk or ale. As an offering, milk was sprinkled at every corner of the house, and ale poured into a stone with an aperture, and named brownie's stone. There were in the Orkneys stacks of corn known as brownie's stacks, which, though not made secure in the usual manner, would steadily resist the storm, and could not be overturned. Noltland Castle, an ancient seat of the Balfours in the Island of Westray, in Orkney, has, it is believed, been upwards of a century kept by a brownie, which had formerly laboured in the service of the family, and now in their absence celebrates in the castle the births and marriages of the house in a sort of spectral illumination.

Fairies were common to every European country, and not improbably had their origin among the same people by whom the "brownie" was recognised as a supernatural. Their original appellative was the Saxon e f which signified a spirit of the lower order. And according to the Icelandic sagas, the northern nations believed in a race of dwarfish spirits which inhabited the rocky mountains and were in nature akin to the human. Among the Laplanders there are traditions of a subterranean people gifted with supernatural qualities, and in the islands of Faroe are entertained similar superstitions.

To the ancient elves were ascribed qualities capricious and diabolical. But with the period of the Crusades a milder view of those supernaturals began to be entertained, for in their intercourse with the Saracens the crusaders were informed of those imaginary beings, the "Peri," a designation which in Arabic is pronounced fairy. And thus in British folklore was substituted the eastern fairy with its prepossessing aspects for the repulsive northern elf. The fairy is named in Chaucer; also in English writers of greater antiquity ; and this description of supernatural also occurs in the earlier romances of France, Italy, and Spain. By the older poets their heroes are described as marrying fairies, or as being descended from them. Pleasing and gentle, the English fairy hovered in the balmy clouds, floated in the colours of the rainbow, and feasted on the odour of flowers. To Scottish fairies were ascribed qualities midway between those of the Scandinavian elves and the fairies of English superstition. Less homely than their southern kindred, they were more capricious and susceptible of offence. Generally envious, they were not indisposed to wreck human happiness, especially in connection with infant children.

With the diminutive stature of the Saxon elf the Scottish fairy united the exquisite proportions of the Oriental supernatural. To the female belonged features of seraphic loveliness, with ringlets of yellow hair which descended upon her shoulders, and were bound upon her brow with combs of gold.

Scottish fairies were believed to have bodies of condensed cloud, thinner than air, and into which they could disappear in a moment of time. "Their bodies," writes Mr Robert Kirk, "be so plyable through the subtilty of the spirits that agitate them, that they can make them appear or disappear att pleasure. Some have bodies or vehicles so spongious, thin, and defecat that they are fed by only sucking into some fine spirituous liquors that peirce lyke air and oyl: others feid more gross on the foyson or substance of corne and liquors or come itself that brows on the surface of the earth, which these fairies steal away, partly invisible, partly preying on the grain as do crowes and mice; wherefore in this same age, they are sometimes heard to bake bread, strike hammers, and do such lyke services within the little hillocks they most haunt."

Like the kindred supernatural of England, the Scottish fairy disported invisibly on the upper surface of the earth; hence the description in the ballad of "Young Tamlane"—

We sleep in rosebuds soft and sweet,
We revel in the stream;
We wanton lightly on the wind
Or glide in a sunbeam.

As their permanent abodes they were believed to occupy Balls within round or rocky eminences. A conical hill at Strachur in Argyleshire is called "Sien Shuai"—that is, the fairy dwelling of a multitude. Other haunts were at Coirshian, above Loch Con, and near the source of the Forth, and at Cassius Dounans, certain rocky green hills in Carrick, celebrated by Burns in his "Halloween." In a letter addressed to the author of "Pandaemonium, or the Devil's Cloisters," published in 1684, Captain George Burton remarks that he had ascertained that the elves of Edinburgh occupied spacious halls under the Calton Hill, which they entered through a great pair of sates which opened invisibly.

Scottish fairies had a king and queen and a royal court. The queen first held the government, but having chosen Thomas the Rhymer as her consort, she (rave him a share of the royal dignity. The fairy queen's offer to the Rhymer is thus celebrated in ballad:-

"An' I will give to thee luve Thamas
My han' but an' my crown,
An' thou shalt reign owre Fairylan'
In joy and gret renown;
An' I will gi'e to thee luve Thamas
To live for evermair.
Thine arm sall never feckless grow,
Nor hoary wax thy hair.
Nae clamorous grief we ever thole,
Nae wastin' pine we dree
An endless life's afore thee placed
O' constant luve an' lee."

The fairy court found diversion in various sports, of which hunting was the most conspicuous. In hunting they rode in three bands—the first mounted on brown horses, the second on grey, and the third consisting of the king, queen, and chief nobles on steeds of snowy whiteness. Upon a black charger rode Kilmaulie, prime councillor of the fairy court. The hunt was prosecuted on the hill-sides, at spots denoted by old thorns and boulder-stones. All rode invisible, but their presence was revealed by the shrill ringing of their bridles. They snatched horses from terrestrial stables; when in the morning horses were found in their stalls panting and fatigued, it was held that these had taken part in a fairy procession. At hunts the fairies assumed a splendid attire. Each male wore silver sandals and green pantaloons, buttoned with bobs of silk, while a mantle overlaid with wild flowers covered his shoulders and reached to his middle; its colour was green or heath-brown, produced by the dye of the lichen. From his left arm was suspended a bow formed of a man's rib, dug up at spots where three lands met ; also a quiver of adder's skin, with arrows of the bog reed, pointed with flint, dipped in the dew of the hemlock and tipped in flame. In processions and other mystic celebrations the female fairy wore a mantle of green silk inlaid with eider down, and bound round her waist with garlands of wild flowers. Thus accoutred, the male and female fairies rode on horses of which the manes bore silver bells, which rangy with the zephyr, and whose feet fell so softly as not to bend the wild rose or dash time dew from the hare-bell. They were attended with exquisite music emitted from unseen harps. The fairies of the Calton Hill held rendezvous each Thursday evening, when a boy from Leith acted as drummer. During this weekly demonstration the fairy assemblage would transport themselves into France and Holland, always returning before dawn.

Fairies danced nightly upon the meadows, imprinting in green rings their footsteps upon the sward. The unfortunate wight who with the ploughshare turned up a fairy-ring became the victim of a wasting sickness.

"He wha tills the fairy green
Nae luck again sall hae,
An' he wha spills the fairy-ring
Betide him want and wae
For weirdless days and weary nichts
Are his till his deein' day."

The protector of the fairy-ring was proportionately recompensed.

"He wha gaes by the fairy green
Nae dule nor pains sall see,
An' he wha cleans the fairy ring
An easy death sall dee."

Northern fairies were of two classes—the "gude fairies" and the "wicked wichts;" they were otherwise described as the "seelie court" and the "unseelie court." The members of "the seelie court" were benefactors of mankind ; they gave bread to the poor, and supplied them with seed-corn; they cheered the afflicted and comforted the mourner. Upon those mortals who propitiated their favour they bestowed loans and (rifts. Hence the rhyme:-

Meddle an' moll
Wi' the fien's o' hell,
An' a weirdless wicht ye'll be.
But tak' an' len'
Wi' the gude fay men,
Ye'll thrive until ye dee."

Upon mankind the "wicked wichts" were ever ready to inflict skaith or damage. Shaving persons with loathsome razors, they eradicated every vestige of whiskers and beard. When in a fit of temper anyone commended himself to Satan, "the unseelie court" took the speaker at his word, and forthwith on a dark cloud transported him into the air, and thereafter consumed him to charcoal. The "wicked fairies" feasted on viands which they abstracted from. human habitations,—especially on the food and liquor provided for those who assembled at funerals,—while by means of hair-tethers they conveyed their stolen dainties unseen to their viewless abodes. They were believed to seize healthy children from the cradle, and in their stead to substitute brats, sickly and loathsome. When in the Highlands a child had ceased to thrive, the mother assumed that she nursed a changeling, and had recourse to the barbarous rite of burning with live coal the toes of the little sufferer. The "wicked wichts" were also supposed to seize youths who for misconduct were denounced by their parents. To their dismal abodes they bore herds who fell asleep on the pastures; they also devastated sheepfolds and destroyed cattle. Bestial suddenly seized with cramp were believed to be elf-shot, for the "wicked fairies" were hold to barb their shafts with flint arrow-heads, and with their to smite down flocks and herds. Though the cattle wounds of the elf-shot were invisible, there were persons so skilled in the art of detection as to be able to extract the arrows by chafing the animal with the blue bonnet of a herdsman. "There are still," writes Sir Walter Scott, "traces of a belief in the worst and most malicious order of fairies among the Border wilds." He quotes in illustration these verses from Leyden's "Court of Keeldar."

"The third blast that young Keeldar blew
Still stood the limber fern,
And a wee man of a swarthy hue
Upstarted by a cairn.

"His russet weeds were brown as heath
That clothes the upland fell,
And the hair of his head was frizzly red
As the purple heather-bell.

"An urchin clad in prickles red
Clung cow'ring to his arm;
The hounds they howl'd and backward fled,
As struck by fairy charm.

"'Why rises high the sta,hound's cry
Where staahound ne'er should be?
Why wakes that horn the silent morn,
Without the leave of me!

"Brown dwarf, that o'er the moorland strays,
Thy name to Keeldar tell!
The brown man of the moors, who stays
Beneath the heather-bell.

"'Tis sweet beneath the heather-bell
To live in autumn brown,
And sweet to hear the lav'rock's swell
Far, far from tower and town.

"But woe betide the shrilling horn,
The chase's surly cheer!
And ever that hunter is forlorn
Whom first at morn I hear."

The "wicked fairies" revenged themselves upon those who had shown them disrespect by seizing their wives and transporting them to fairyland. To members of their court the miller of Menstrie had given offence, and they consequently deprived him of his helpmate. The miller's distress was aggravated on hearing his wife singing in the air:-

"Oh ! Alva woods are bonny,
Tillicoultry hills are fair,
But when I think o' the bonny braes o' Menstrie,
It mak's my heart aye sair."

After many fruitless efforts to procure her restoration, the miller chanced one clay, in riddling some stuff at the mill-door, to use a posture of enchantment, when the spell was dissolved, and the matron fell into his arms. The wife of the blacksmith of Tullibody was by the "wicked wichts" carried up the chimney, the abductors singing as they bore her off:-

"Deidle linkum dodie,
We've gotten drucken Davie's wife,
The smith o' Tullibody."

Those who were borne to fairyland might be recovered within a year and a day, but the recovery spell was potent only when the fairies made their procession on Hallow Eve. In his "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border" Sir Walter Scott relates the following:-

"The wife of a Lothian farmer had been snatched by the fairies. During the year of probation she had repeatedly appeared on Sundays in the midst of her children combing their hair. On one of these occasions she was addressed by her husband, when she revealed to him how to rescue her at the next Hallow Eve procession. The farmer conned his lesson carefully, and on the appointed clay proceeded to a plot of furze to await the arrival of the procession. It came, but the ringing of the fairy bridles so confused him that the train passed ere he could sufficiently recover himself to use the intended spell. The unearthly laughter of the wicked wichts, and the passionate lamentation of his wife, informed him that she was lost to him for ever."

A woman conveyed to fairyland was warned by one whom she had known as a mortal to avoid for a time eating or drinking with her new companions.Actin; upon the suggestion, she at the expiry of the period named found herself on earth, restored to human society. A matron carried to fairyland to nurse her newborn child, which had previously been abducted, was not long in her enchanted dwelling when she furtively anointed one of her eyes with the contents of a cauldron ; she now discovered that what had seemed a gorgeous palace was but a gloomy cavern. Having discharged her office, she returned to earth. But retaining through her medicated eye the faculty of discovering everything that was done in her presence, she chanced to remark amidst a crowd of people the fairy with whom she had left her child, when, prompted by maternal affection, she enquired of her after the child's welfare. Vexed at the recognition, the fairy demanded how she had perceived her. Overcome by her penetrating gaze, she acknowledged what she had done, whereupon the indignant fairy cast saliva into her eye and extinguished it for ever.

On the tradition of the removal to fairyland of a labourer's daughter at Traquair, and her restoration a few weeks afterwards, James Hogg conceived his exquisite ballad of "Kilmeny." The following is his description of fairy land:—

"Kilmeny had been where the cock never crew,
Where the rain never fell, and the wind never blew;
But it seemed as the harp of the sky had run,
And the airs of heaven played round her tongue,
When she spake of the lovely forms she had seen,
And a. land where sin had never been
A land of love and a land of light,
Withouten sun, or moon, or night
Where the river swa'd a living stream,
And the light a pure celestial beam
The land of vision it would seem
* * * * *
A still, an everlasting; beam
They lifted Kilmeny, they led her away,
And she walked in the light of a sunless day
The sky was a dome of crystal bright,
The fountain of vision and fountain of light
The emerald fields were of dazzling blow,
And the flowers of everlasting blow.
Then deep in the stream her body they laid,
That her youth and beauty never might fade;
And they smiled on heaven when they saw her lie
In the stream of life that wandered bye."

Toshach, chief of Clan Mackintosh, occupied a small castle near the stream of the Turret. He held nocturnal interviews with a female fairy who had accompanied him from abroad. The mode of his reaching the place of meeting and the nature of his companion were long a mystery. Curious as to his frequent departures, and unable to discover whither he proceeded, his wife resorted to the scheme of attaching a piece of worsted to his button. Thus guided, she followed him down a subterranean passage under the bed of the river, where, after various windings, she discovered him in conversation with a beautiful fairy. Finding that she was discovered, the fairy hastily departed, and "the sun of Toshach set to rise no more."

Scottish fairies, like the brownie, occasionally took up their abode in the immediate vicinity of human dwellings. In this capacity they were known as "good neighbours."

As Sir Godfrey Alacculloch of Galloway was riding on horseback close by his residence, he was accosted by a small old man clothed in green, and mounted on a white palfrey. After a respectful salutation, the stranger informed him that he lived beneath his mansion; he then proceeded to complain of a drain or sewer which emptied itself into his "chamber of dais" or best apartment. Though startled by the complaint, Sir Godfrey courteously replied that the course of the drain would be altered, and he forthwith executed his promise. Many years afterwards Sir Godfrey chanced in a fray to kill a neighbour, and being tried, was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Just as he had on the Castlehill of Edinburgh taken his place upon the scaffold, the old man on his white palfrey rode up, and passing through the crowd, bore off swift as lightning the condemned baron, who was no more seen. There exists a tradition concerning an ancestor of the noble family of Duffus. Walking in a field adjoining his own house, he was suddenly carried away, and was next day found at Paris in the French king's cellar with a silver cup in his hand. Brought into the king's presence, and questioned whence he had come, he stated that when in the field he heard the noise as of a whirlwind, and of voices exclaiming "Horse and Hattock"—a mode of expression used by the fairies when they are bent on a removal. On the impulse of the moment he had responded "Horse and Hattock," when in an instant he was borne aloft and through the, air transported to the place where he was found, and where, after he had drunk heartily, he fell asleep. Satisfied with his story, the king presented him with the cup found in his hand, which became an heirloom in his family.

The enchantments of fairydom were overcome by a series of counter charms. Fire had a potent influence against all elfic arts. When a cow calved, a burning coal was passed round her to avert "fairy wichts." In breweries the influence of "the wicked wichts" was neutralized on a live coal being thrown into the vat. The inhabitants of the Isle of Lewis made an elfic circle around their dwellings, and with a fairy band encompassed a bride before she was churched, and children prior to their being baptized. On the top of Minchmoor, a hill in Peeblesshire, is a spring known as the Cheese Well, because those who passed that way were wont to throw into it a piece of cheese as an offering to the fairies. On a conical eminence in Inverness-shire, there was a fairy well, to which children suffering from any wasting malady were brought for benefit; it was also frequented by adults expecting cure.


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