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Chapter XX. - Sorcery


SIMULTANEOUSLY With the invention of printing and the publication of the Scriptures in the vernacular arose a new persecution. Misinterpreting a passage in the Book of Exodus, in which death is assigned as the punishment of witchcraft, many earnest persons instituted a crusade against those whom credulity had charged with the crime, deeming themselves zealous in the Divine cause, proportionately as they sought to destroy the supposed emissaries of the devil. To these it did not occur that a class of persons might have existed in the early times of Israelitish history, without any successorship, or that the Hebrew word rendered witch in the English versions of the Bible might bear a different interpretation. And whatever construction was put upon certain passages of the Mosaic law, an examination of New Testament Scripture might have shown that the Saviour of mankind did not destroy the victims of demoniacal possession, but expelling the demons, crave comfort to those whom their presence had afflicted. So likewise the apostles with those who practised sorcery and enchantment.

The enormous cruelties perpetrated as in punishment of witchcraft constitute the most revolting chapter of modern history. And persons charged with the supposed crime were pursued by Catholics and Protestants with equal rigour. Bulls against witchcraft were issued by Pope Innocent VIII. in 1484, by Julius II. in 1504, and by Adrian VI. in 1523. Asserting the prevalence of sorcery, provincial councils anathematised those believed to be its votaries. Learned churchmen issued elaborate treatises in order to prove that death was the proper penalty of sorcery, while lawyers and other laymen, who, in their writings, expressed similar opinions, indicated their religious sense by dedicating to ecclesiastical dignitaries the expression of their views. In the Catholic catechism, ascribed to Archbishop Hamilton, is set forth the power of sorcery, and against its use Christians are adjured.

By the Protestant reformers was increased the rigour against sorcery formerly exercised. On those who practised the occult arts, Luther refused to show the slightest compassion. An outburst of persecution against witches and wizards attended the English Reformation. The celebrated Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam, who fearlessly assailed the philosophy of the schools, expressed his belief in sorcery; and another judge, the famous Sir Matthew Hale, pronounced sentence of death upon those deemed guilty of the offence. Addressing a jury in 1664, Sir Matthew Hale remarked that he did not in the least doubt the existence of witches—first, because the Scriptures affirmed it; and secondly, because the wisdom of all nations, particularly of our own, provided laws against sorcery, which implied a belief in such a crime.

The first statute in Scotland against witchcraft was passed in June 1563, by the ninth Parliament of Queen Mary. The statute ruled "That na maner of person nor persons of quhatsumever estaite, degree, or condition they be of, take upon hand in onie times hereafter to use onie maner of witchcraft, sorcerie or necromancie, under the paine of death, alsweil to be execute against the user, abuser, as the seeker of the response or consultation." In his public discourses sorcery was condemned by John Knox; while by the Romanists lie was personally denounced as a wizard and as having through sorcery raised up saints in the churchyard of St Andrews, and persuaded the daughter of Lord Ochiltree to become his wife. From the Reformation down to the abolition of the penal statutes against sorcery in the eighteenth century, the Presbyterian clergy and their elders were the chief informers against witches, and the most persistent in effecting their condemnation. In November 1597 the Kirksession of Perth ordained the magistrates "to travel with his Majesty," so as to obtain a commission for the execution of Janet Robertson, sorceress, who had long been detained in prison. The purpose was ultimately effected, for on the 9th of September 1598, three women condemned for practising sorcery, including Janet Robertson, were, at the instance of a royal commission, burned at Perth.

In the National Covenant, "the conjuring of spirits" is solemnly abjured; and Sir George Mackenzie, the celebrated King's Advocate to Charles II., and the merciless adversary of the Presbyterians, has in a dissertation upon witchcraft strongly affirmed his belief that sorcery is a crime. On one point only he differed from the prevailing belief, by strongly asserting that the devil might not transform one species into another, as a woman into a cat.

Those who practised sorcery were held to have sold themselves, both soul and body, to the devil. The ceremonial of Satanic dedication has been minutely set forth. Kneeling before the arch-enemy, the devotee placed one hand on her own head, and the other under her feet, and in this attitude dedicated all between to the devil's service; and one so self-dedicated to Satan, was believed to be incapable of reformation—no Roman priest would shrive her, and no minister or reformed pastor would attempt to pray for or with her. By every class she was shunned or dreaded, and held as one who ought not to be allowed to live.

On accepting a witch's allegiance, the devil was supposed to set his mark upon her, in like manner as the Romans with their names stigmatised their slaves. The precise character of the devil's mark was, among those who engaged in denlonological enquiries, a subject of debate. By Sir George Mackenzie it is described as a discoloured spot, caused by a nip or pinch, and resembling a farmer's "buist" or mark on his flock of sheep. Writing in 1705, Mr John Bell, minister of Gladsmuir, remarks, "The witch's mark is sometimes like a blow spot, or a little tet, or reel spots like, flea biting; sometimes also the flesh is sunk in and hollow, and this is put in secret places, as among the hair of the head or eye brows, within the lips, or under the armpits." In his "Secret Commonwealth," published in 1691, Mr John Kirk, minister of Aberfoyle, describes the mark "as a small mole, horny, and brown coloured, through which mark when a large brass pill was thrust till it was bowed (bent), the witches, both men and women, neither felt a pain, nor did it bleed."

Undiscoverable by the eye, the devil's mark on the bodies of sorcerers was believed to be a point or speck which might be punctured without pain. Accordingly, persons of pretended skill were appointed as "puckers" or witch-finders. And singularly revolting as was their office, these persons, who were of necessity of the sterner sex, were deemed worthy of municipal honours. In 166 1 John Kincaid, witch-pricker, was, in addition to receiving his professional fee, voted by the Town Council of Forfar the freedom of their burgh. Kincaid occupied a comfortable residence in the village of Tranent, Haddingtonshire. He was "common pricker" to the Court of Justiciary, and his circuit of employment extended from the county of Aberdeen to the English border. His fees of service were augmented as increased his professional reputation. At an early stage of his career, lie received from the Kirksession of Stow in 1649 six pounds for "the brodding of Margaret Denham," a reputed witch. As Kincaid never failed to discover the devil's mark, all who were pricked by him were sentenced to perish at the stake. At length he ventured to prosecute his vocation on his own account, by seizing persons unaccused, and subjecting them to his tortures. This new effort was happily restrained, the Justiciary Court sentencing him to imprisonment. After experiencing nine weeks detention, he was liberated by the Privy Council, on the promise that lie would not prick further without a judicial warrant. George Cathie, witch-pricker at Glasgow, was held by the Church Courts of the west as an expert in his profession, and he continued to retain confidence, even after lie had condemned as witches twelve parishioners of Crawford-Douglas, who were proved at trial to have been charged by a lunatic.

In executing his office, the witch-pricker proceeded in a fashion of refined barbarity. Having stripped his victims, and bound them with cords, lie thrust his needles everywhere into their bodies. When any of the accused fell into a swoon, he relented only till sensation was reproduced by the use of restoratives. When exhausted by an agony too great for utterance, the victim remained silent, the pricker proclaimed that he had effected detection. A witch-pricker who was Banged for malversation, admitted on the jibbet, that he had illegally caused the death of 120 women whom he had been appointed to test for witchcraft.

In the supposed detection of sorcery trial by water was occasionally resorted to. An ordeal of trial by water was anciently granted to the great abbeys as a prerogative of jurisdiction. Such a privilege was by Alexander I. bestowed upon the Abbey of Scone, the place of trial being a small island in the Tay, midway between the abbey and the bridge of Perth. When the practice under the ecclesiastical system fell into disuse, it was revived in connection with trials for sorcery. Into witchpools persons suspected of sorcery were thrown, wrapped up in a sheet, and with the thumbs and great toes fastened together. When the body floated, the water of baptism was held to reject the accused, who was consequently pronounced guilty. Those who sank were absolved of censure, but no attempt was made to restore them to life. A portion of the bay of St Andrews is known as the "witch lake." A sopt bearing this designation, formerly a swamp, existed at Kirriemuir in Forfarshire.

After the judicial sentence, affirming guilt and ordering execution, the miserable victim was not allowed to obtain even momentary rest. This barbarous procedure was enacted on the plea that Satan might in sleep fortify his devotee to further acts of perversity, but the real motive was to induce a confession, better to justify the cruelties of prosecution. Not infrequently the prevention of sleep induced a delirium, of which the incoherent utterances were accepted as evidence of Satanic dedication.

The watchers of condemned witches were generally appointed by the ecclesiastical courts. On the 16th March 1643, the Kirksession of Dunfermline ordained the watchers of certain condemned witches "to begin at six houris at even, and to byd and to continue all that nycht and the day following till 6 at evil againe, quliilk is the space of 24 houris," and that under a penalty of twenty-four shillings.

When confession was deemed positively essential, extraordinary means were resorted to. The victim was fastened to the wall of her dungeon by iron hoops, which passed round her person, enclosing the limbs. About thirty stone weight of hoops and iron chains were often heaped upon the limbs of an aged woman, already enfeebled by the witch-pricker. Instruments of active torture were then applied, until a "confession" was elicited. A common torture was the thrusting of the fingers into the holes of disused harrows, wedges being driven in so as to lacerate the flesh and break the joints. If this failed to induce "confession," the fire-tongs were made hot, and being extended between the shoulders, were applied to each arm till the flesh was burned to the bones. When confession was still resisted, the tongs, heated a second time were made to grasp the body under the arm-pits. The witch-bridle was, as an instrument of torture, applied last. By the bridle was grasped the victim's head; an iron bit was thrust into the mouth with four sharp prongs, two being directed to the tongue and palate, and two pointing outwards, made to pierce the cheeks. The bridle, secured to the back of the neck by a padlock, was by a ring and staple attached to the wall. In localities where a witch-bridle was not kept, the heads of persons charged with witchcraft were wrenched with ropes, while needles were thrust into the tongue and palate. When torture of the person failed to effect their purpose, other atrocities were resorted to. The parents and children of victims were brought into their cells, and in their presence subjected to barbarous cruelties. After the application of each torture, a party of magistrates or ministers was introduced, in order duly to record such depositions as might be offered by the sufferer. The bodies of those who died under torture were usually dragged by horses to the place of execution and there burned. The Kirksession of Dunfermline ordered the remains of those who "died miserablie in ward to be "taken to the witchknowe, and castin into ane hole without ane kist, and yerdit."

The mode of executing witches was singularly revolting. The victims were led to the stake amidst the hootings of an exasperated rabble. '1'lle clergy, who attended officially, then thanked heaven for the immolation of the wretched beings, whom they believed had, by rendering fealty to the devil, renounced every claim to human sympathy. And the executioner handled roughly those whom by his spiritual teachers he was assured were destined to the pit. Raised aloft over a heap of wood and coal, the supposed sorcerer was bound to a stake, surrounded with faggots, while the contents of one or more tar barrels were strewn upon the holocaust. The executioner now tightened a rope about his victim's neck, and, applying fire to the heap, there was in the course of an hour to be found only a heap of ashes.

In rural parishes the resident landowners, and in burghs the Town Councils, co-operated with Kirk-sessions in defraying the cost of witch-burning. When in 1636 a man and woman were burned at Kirkcaldy on the charge of sorcery, the cost of execution was defrayed by the Kirksession and Town Council in accordance with the following statement:--

In the accounts of the burgh treasurer of Dumfries, under the 27th May 1657, the cost of the execution of two women charged with witchcraft embraces the following items:—

"For 38 loads of peitts to burn the two women, 3, 12s. Given to `William Edgar for ane tar barrell, 12s.; for ane herring barrell, 14s. Given to John Shotrick for carrying the twa barrells to the pledge, 6s. Given to the four officers that day that the witches wes brunt at the provost and bayillis command, 24s. Given to Thomas Anderson for the two stoupes and two steaves, 30s."

Witches were charged with a variety of offences. They were held to stop mills; to impede, in the form of boulders, the operations of the plough; to ride upon the winds, and upset fishing-boats; to enter houses by the key-holes, and seize goods or destroy them; to pass through the air on broomsticks, shod with dead men's bones; to transport to desert places, or souse in rivers, those who were opposed to them ; to steal children from their graves, and extract from their bodies an ointment for practices of enchantment; to promote the sweatino-sickness, and by Satanic arts construct a waxen image representing their victim, expose it to a slow fire, and thrust pins into it, so that their victim became attenuated, and at length perished from exhaustion. Upon the inferior animals they cast glamour, or an evil eye, depriving them of strength or life. 'When a do" or a cat became emaciated, or refused to eat, the creature was supposed to suffer from the influence of the sorcerer. Cattle which did not prosper on the pasture, and milch cows which ceased to yield a sufficiency of milk, were held to be under the power of enchantment. By her evil arts a witch was supposed to present to the eye that which was unreal, and to change surrounding objects into aspects strange or unpleasing. An experienced witch:

"Had much of glamour might
Could make a lady seem a knight;
The cobwebs on a dungeon wall
Seem tapestry in lordly hail;
A nutshell seem a gilded barge,
A spieling seem a palace large;
And youth seem age, and age seem youth;
All was delusion, nought was truth."

To those who acknowledged the potency of their arts the weird sisterhood were believed to perform offices of kindness. They removed disease by incantation. In curing persons they operated by expressing the following charm:—

"I forbid the quaking fevers, the sea fevers, the land fevers,
And all the fevers that ever God ordainis,
Out of the head, out of the heart, out of the back,
Out of the sides, out of the knees, out of the tides,
Frae. the points of the fingers to the nebs of the thies,
Out sall the fevers go, some to the hill, some to the hope,
Some to the stone, some to the stock;
In St Peter's name, St Paul's name, and all the saints of Heaven;
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghaist."

In using a phraseology savouring of piety, witches were believed to have in view the complete deception of mankind. With the devil they were supposed to meet each Saturday—that day being consequently known as "the witches' Sabbath." Their places of rendezvous were dismal solitudes or the ruins of churches. To their "covens" or gatherings the foul sisterhood were borne through the air, and each could pass invisibly into the empyrean, when she anointed herself with the salve of enchantment. At each meeting Satan waited their arrival, or if lie was absent, lie could be evoked when the ground was beaten with "ane fir stick," and the words, "Rise up, foul thief " were forcibly expressed. To some of the weird sisterhood the devil seemed as "a pretty boy clothed in green; "others saw him as "a tall man dressed in white;" others as "a meikle black rough man, mounted on ane black horse." When lie assumed the human form lie wore boots, which were at the toes split open to accommodate his hoofs. But he frequently assumed the likeness of the inferior animals; lie preferred the forms of the dog, the goat, or the raven. He commenced the Saturday orgies by preaching "ane mock sermone," his pulpit being surrounded with black candles. In his discourse he commended evil and enjoined devilry. As every witch had renounced her Christian baptism, Satan "with ane wall of his hand" baptized them to himself. After baptism each proselyte saluted the grim visage of her lord. Next a court was held, the devil exchanging the pulpit for the judgment-seat. From every witch was required a statement of her acts. Those who had been indolent were with their own broomsticks scourged and buffeted. With enchanted portions of dead men's bones the industrious were rewarded. A dance followed. The devil led the music; he played on the cittern or bagpipe. As they danced, the -witches screeched diabolic music.

In the "Tale of Tam o' Shanter," Robert Burns has vividly portrayed the Satanic dance:-

"When glimmering thro' the groaning trees,
In Kirk-Alloway seemed in a bleeze;
Thro' ilka bore the beams were glancing,
And loud resounded mirth and dancing.

And wow! Tam saw an unco' sight!
Warlocks and witches in a dance;
Nae cotillon brent new frae France,
But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys and reels
Put life and mettle in their heels.
A winnock bunker in the east,
There sat Auld Nick in shape o' beast.
A townie tyke, black, grim, and large,
To gie them music was his charge.
He screw'd the pipes, and gart them skirl,
Till roof and rafters a' did dirl
Coffins stood round like open presses,
That shaw'd the dead in their last dresses
And, by some devilish cantrip slight,
Each in its cauld hand held a light,
By which heroic Tam was able
To note upon the haly table,
A murderer's banes in gibbet airns
Twa span-lang, wee unchristen'd bairns
A thief, new-cutted frae a rape,
Wi' his last gasp his gab did gape;
Five tomahawks wi' bluid red-rusted;
Five scimitars wi' murder crusted;
A garter which a babe had strangled
A knife a father's throat had mangled,
Whom his ain son of life bereft,
The grey hairs yet stack to the heft;
Wi' mair o' horrible an' awfu',
Which even to name wad be unlawfu'."

By the sisterhood a reception from their Satanic master, of the means of incantation, prepared from mouldering corpses, concluded the weekly orgies. When all was closed, each witch mounted her broonlstick and returned to her place, there to obey the devil and curse her kindred.

Annual witch gatherings were held at Candlemas and Beltane, also on Hallow-eve. On these occasions the witches of all countries were supposed to assemble. When Scottish witches were summoned to meet the Norwegian sisterhood, they crossed the sea in barges of egg-shell. In their aerial journeys they rode goblin horses ruled by enchanted bridles. A witch in Nithsdale possessed a bridle which enabled her to transform her man-servant into a goblin horse. When she purposed to attend a witch assembly, she shook the bridle over the unsuspecting peasant, who instantly received her on his back, and darted with the speed of lightning over woods and wilds. The witches of Galloway held conference with the devil on the hill of Locharbridge. There, as their gathering ode, they sung these words:—

'When the grey howlet has three times hoo'd,
When the grimy cat has three times mewed;
When the tog has yowled three times i' the wode
At the red moon cowering chin' the dud;
When the stars hae cruppen' sleep i' the drift,
Lest cantrips had pyked them out o' the lift;
Up horses a', but mair adowe!
Ryde, ryde for Locher-Lrigg-knowe!"

The legend of Macbeth and the weird sisters has one of the earliest allusions to the practice of soothsaying in Scotland. According to bum shed, Macbeth and Banquho were Journeying towards Forres, when, in a solitary muir, three women accosted them. The foremost exclaimed—"All hail, Macbeth, Thane of Glammis;" "Macbeth, Thane of Cawrdor," shouted the second; "Macbeth, King of Scotland," cried the third. "And is there no weird for me," inquired Banquho. "For you," exclaimed the wise women, "are reserved higher honours; Macbeth shall die unhappily, without a successor in his house, but Banquho's descendants shall govern Scotland by a perpetual descent."

To the poet, Thomas of Ercildoune, who flourished in the reign of Alexander III., was ascribed the art of divination, and many prophecies came to be associated with his name. And of great prominence as a supposed magician and soothsayer was Sir Michael Scott of Balwearie, a Scottish baron of the thirteenth century, who, largely employed in national ' affairs, was also remarkable for his scientific tastes and literary acquirements. Owing to the ignorance which prevailed at his period, and long subsequently, Sir Michael Scott was credited with the power of enchantment, and many tales as to his necromantic achievements linger among the peasantry. In the "Lay of the Last Minstrel " he is, by Sir Walter Scott, celebrated as a sorcerer. According to the legend, the Eildon Hill, formerly a uniform cone, was, through his instrumentality, divided into three. When lie died, his books of magic were deposited in his grave, which was either in Melrose Abbey or at Home Cultrame in Cumberland.

Another alleged sorcerer was the Lord Soulis, who from his castle of Hermitage cruelly oppressed his vassals, invoking by his incantations the aid of fiends in forcing from them cruel exactions and irksome labour. According to the legend, Soulis' reckless tyranny induced his dependants to complain of him so frequently to the king, that the sovereign at length said rashly to the complainers, "I would hear no more of him; boil him in bree." The king's remark was made at random, but the oppressed vassals were only too ready to find excuse for gratifying their revenge. Seizing their oppressor, they dragged hint from Hermitage Castle to a place in the vicinity known as Ninestane Rig, and there thrust him into a huge cauldron, in which be perished. Unable longer to sustain the load of iniquity associated with the owner's sorceries, Hermitage Castle was believed to sink into the soil, while the chamber in which Soulis held his conferences with demons was supposed every seventh year to be opened by one of the diabolic fraternity to whom he had entrusted the keys when he was finally borne from his castle.

By an enchantress the good fortune of King Robert the Bruce was predicted in his adversity; and in a contemporary narrative, which has been published by Pinkerton, it is alleged that an Irish sorceress foretold the assassination of James I., which, in the year 1437, took place at Perth. According to Buchanan, twelve women were burned in 1479 on the charge of having conspired with the Earl of Mar to destroy James III. by incantation. That unfortunate sovereign was himself addicted to the magical arts. Lady Janet Douglas, sister of the Earl of Douglas, widow of John Lyon, Lord Glammis, and wife of Archibald Campbell of Keipneith, was charged with attacking the life of James V. by enchantment or poison. On the 17th July 1537 she was by an assize pronounced guilty, and sentenced to death. With every accessory of cruelty, she was burned on the Castle Hill of Edinburgh.

Lady Buccleuch, celebrated by Sir Walter Scott in his "Lay of the Last Minstrel," was believed through her magical arts to have obtained Queen Mary's consent to the murder of Darnley. A contemporary of Queen Mary, Margaret, Countess of Athole, daughter of Malcolm, third Lord Fleming, is described by Bannatyne, John Knox's secretary, as having by sorcery transferred from herself to another the pains of parturition.

On his assuming the government, James VI. evinced his zeal for religion by granting special commissions for the trial of enchanters. In what he conceived to be the heinous character of sorcery, he endeavoured to enlighten his subjects by publishing his "Dialogue of Daemonologie." In this work lie urges as a reason why women are more addicted to magic than men, that "the sex is frailer, and so is easier to be entrapped in these grosse snares of the divell, as was overwell proved to be trew by the serpent's deceiving of Eve at the beginning, which makes him the homelier with that sex sensine." On the 11th October 1587, James, with the approval of the Privy Council, issued a proclamation appointing his "Courte of Justiciarie to be haldin and begun in the Tolbuith of Edinburgh the xxvii. day of November next to come," for the trial and punishment, among other offences, of "witchecraft or sickaris of responssis, or help at witcheis."

Already had the Justiciary Court been proceeding vigorously towards the suppression of sorcery. On the 8th November 1576, Elizabeth Dunlop, wife of a labourer at Dairy, in Ayrshire, was arraigned on a charge of witchcraft. With the Evil One she had no direct communication, leaving received her skill through "ane Thom Reid, quha deid at Piiikie." But Torn, she owned, had instructed her in preparing medicines for the, cure of various ailments, and had provided her with the power of discovering stolen goods; also the names of the plunderers. Being introduced to "aught women and four men," these invited her to accompany them into fairyland, and "promeist lair geir, horsis, and ky, and vthir graith, gif scho wald denye her Christiudome, and the faith scho tube at the font-stane." This offer she refused, adding she would "sooner be revin at horsis taillis" than renounce her baptism. On admitting her attachment to "the Auld fayth," she was "fylit," condemned and "brynt." A charge against Alison Pearson was actively promoted by the Presbyterians. For sixteen years Alison had practised the art of healing at Boarhills, a village in the parish of St Andrews latterly she had carried her practice into the city, where she had been consulted by Archbishop Adamson. She used no charms or incantations. but "herbis" and "sawis", also a simple regimen,—and it was whom that she had been instructed in the art of healing by her relative, William Sympsoune, a physician at Edinburgh, son of the royal blacksmith at Stirling. But Alison, with a view to surprise the court, or deter the severity of her persecutors, owned that she "had many gude friendis" at the fairy court. The admission sealed her doom. Tried at Edinburgh on the 28th May 1588, the words "convicta et combusto" on the margin of the justiciary record certify the issue. A few months prior to Alison"s trial, the Presbytery of St Andrews resolved to deprive Archbishop Adamson of his ministerial office, and about the time when his protege was condemned to the take, the General Assembly pronounced upon himself the sentence of excommunication.

In July 1590 the Justiciary Court was occupied with the case of Katherine Ross, Lady Foulis, who was indicted for witchcraft at the instance of the king's advocate, and Hector Munro, of Foulis, her son-in-law. In the indictment she was charged with making two clay pictures, one for the destruction of Robert Munro, younger of Foulis, the other for wasting the life of Marjory Campbell, spouse of Ross, younger of Balnagowan, also for shooting elf-arrow heads at her intended victims. She was also charged with several attempts at poisoning. Lady Munro was acquitted. By the Justiciary Court Janet Grant and Janet Clark were, on the 17th August 1590, condemned to "be wirreit at staiks, and their bodies to be burnt in assis" for the "distructioune of saxteene heid of volt," "the rasing of the Deuill," and the "slauchter of Johnne Pantounis wyffe be witchcraft." On the day following the Court considered the case of Bessie Roy. In her indictment occurred these words:-

"Thou are indytit and esteemit for ane notoriouse and commowne wiche in the cuntrie, and can do all thingis, has done all mischiefis that deuilrie or wichcraft can devyse, in abstracting of monis lyffis, wemennes milk, bestis milk, and bewitching of bestis als weill as menne."

In particular, Bessie was charged with having practised an act of sorcery "tuel yeiris syne." She had "maid ane compas in the eird, and ane hoill in the middis thairof," and from this hole had extracted three worms, on seeing which she predicted "that the guidman (her master) sould leve," that a child with which her mistress was pregnant "sould leve," and that ''the guidwife sould dee, quhilk com to pas." As the jury were not satisfied as to her guilt, she was assoilzied.

That persons arraigned on charges of incantation and sorcery should escape death by acquittal was, in Icing James's estimation, sufficient to bring ruin upon the kingdom, and invoke the Divine displeasure upon the Church. At his instance it was arranged that such juries or members of assize courts as permitted sorcerers to escape should be subjected to prosecution for "wilful errour"—that is, be made liable to imprisonment and confiscation. At the trial of twelve jurors for acquitting an alleged witch, in June 1591, James sat with the judges upon the bench. On humbling themselves, and acknowledging "ignorant errour," the jurors were excused.

Connected with James's personal history there is a strange narrative of supposed sorcery, the particulars of which we chiefly derive from a mare black-letter tract of the period, entitled "Newis from Scotland." During his absence in Denmark in the winter of 1589-90, when celebrating his marriage with Anne of Denmark, James entrusted the administration of affairs to Francis, Earl of Bothwell. Subsequently charged with an attempt to overthrow the royal authority, Bothwell was accused of seeking by the art of sorcery to raise a tempest which might destroy the royal squadron while James was returning with his queen. The narrative proceeds:—David Seaton, "deputie bailiffe" of Tranent, had a servant girl named "Geillis Duncane," who of a sudden began to absent herself during night, and to profess the gift of healing. Suspecting that she did not perform her cures "by naturall and lawful menis," and as she refused to make any confession, Seaton proceeded to examine her by torture. He applied the pilniewinks, and wrenched her head with a rope. As she still refused to divulge her secret, she was examined by pricking, when the devil's mark was discovered "in the fore part of her throate." Geillis now emitted "a confession." Alleging that she had made a compact with the devil, she accused several persons of both sexes as sharers in her guilt. Of the males accused by her the most conspicuous was Dr John Cunningham or Fean, schoolmaster at Prestonpans. Among the females were Mrs Barbara Napier, wife of Archibald Douglas, brother to the laird of Carshoble, and Mrs Euphan MacCalzane, daughter and heiress of the late Lord Cliftonhall, and wife of Patrick Moscrop, advocate. But the most culpable of the group, according to her confession, was one Agnes Sampson, midwife at Keith, near Haddington, a woman who hitherto was respected for her generosity, honesty, and intelligence. All whom Duncan accused being seized and incarcerated, James, who had returned from Denmark, resolved to exercise his skill by examining them severally. Brought before him at Holyrood, Agnes Sampson, the eldest of the prisoners, protested her innocence, and maintained that she had nothing to divulge concerning arts of which she was ignorant. James commanded that she should be examined for the devil's mark, and that her head "be thrawn with a rope, according to the custom." After enduring the most excruciating agony, Agnes expressed her willingness to make a confession. Reconducted into the royal presence, she declared that she belonged to a company of two hundred witches who sailed in sieves and riddles along the coast to meet the devil at the kirk of North Berwick.

There the devil imposed upon her the work of accomplishing the king's death. "She took a blacke toade, and did hang the same up by the heeles three daies, and collected and gathered the venom as it dropped and fell from it in ane oister-shell, and kept the same venom close covered until she should obtaine anie parte or peece of foule linen cloth that had appertained to the Kinges majestic, as shirt, handkercher, napkin, or any other thing, which she practised to obtaine by means of ane John Kers, an attendant in his majestie's chamber." When the King was in Denmark, "she tooke a cat and christened it, and afterward bound to each part of that cat the cheefest part of a dead man, and several jointis of his bodie." The creature, thus accoutred was conveyed "into the middest of the sea " by the entire company of witches. The event was followed by the wreck of a vessel crossing between BurntisIand and Leith, which contained "sundrie jewelles and rich giftes," intended for the Queen "at her majesties coming." James, who had not heard of the disaster, began to suspect the confessor, and accused her of telling lies. "Lies?" exclaimed Mrs Sampson, "did not your majesty's ship experience the contrary wind more than the other vessels of the fleet?" James admitted that this was so. "That was the cat," said Mrs Sampson. Agnes now took hold of the King by the sleeve and led him aside. He reported that she had told him "the eerie wordis that passed between him and the Queen the first evening of their marriage."

Rejoicing in his insight into the arts of sorcery, James sent frequently for Mrs Sampson, also for Geillis Duncan. The latter entertained him by performing the dances which were enacted in North Berwick church, at the weekly rendezvous; she also sung snatches of verse which accompanied the dances, such as the following:—

"Commer, goe Ye before, Commer, goe ye,
Gif ye will not goe before, Commer, let me."

By practising on the royal credulity, Mrs Sampson had persuaded herself she would save her life. The king's faith, she said, had enabled him to triumph over Satanic arts. She further assured him that the devil had informed her that his majesty was in the world his most powerful enemy. She named to the king the charms which she used in healing, and sought to make clear that her cures were effected in the name of God, not in that of Satan. Her usual charm, she said, consisted in these lines:-

"All kindlis of illis that ewir may be in Crystis name I conjure ye;
I conjure ye, baith mair and les, with all the vertues of the messe,
And rycht sa, with the naillis sa that naillit Jesus, and na ma,
And rycht sa, be the samen blude that raikit oure the ruitliful ruid
Furth of the flesch and of the bane, and in the eird, and in the stane,
I conjure ye in Goddis name."

Witches were believed not to pray, but Mrs Sampson assured the King that she prayed on every suitable occasion. Her several efforts to excite admiration and sympathy proved unavailing; for when weary of her revelations, James committed her for trial. By the court she was sentenced "to be tane to the castell of Edinburgh, and there bund to ane staik and wirreit, quhill she be died; and thereafter hir body to be brint in asis." Dr John Cunningham, one of the accused, was a considerable scientist; besides giving instruction as a schoolmaster, lie practised medicine. As he continued to protest his innocence of sorcery, he was subjected to tortures singularly revolting. His finger nails were torn off, and needles thrust into the -wounds. Next his fingers were shattered in the pilniewinks, and his limbs crushed in the boot. Pins were forced into his tongue, cheeks, and palate, and his head was wrenched with cords. In the hope of averting further torment, lie at length offered "a confession." It embraced the usual relation as to weekly meetings with the Evil One, and as to the raising of a tempest to destroy the royal fleet. Rejoiced that so obstinate a warlock had succumbed, James summoned an assize. Cunningham was in twenty different articles or counts charged with taking part in a convention of witches who had assembled with the devil to impede the progress of the King's fleet; with opening locks in absence of the keys; with possessing a purse "with moudiewart feet," given him by Satan; and with having accepted the devil's command to deny God, also to destroy mankind both by land and sea. With indignation and scorn Cunningham repelled the charges, and refused to acknowledge a "confession" wrung from him by torture. On the application of the boot his limbs were crushed till "the bluid and marrow spouted forth." And as he persisted in affirming his innocence, he was thrust into a cart, and being first strangled, his body was cast "into a grait fire, being readie provided for that purpose, gild there burned on the Castlehill of Edinburgh." This enormity was perpetrated in January 1591-2.

By the jury Mrs Barbara Napier was acquitted, but the jurors were in consequence subjected to trial for "wilful errour." Mrs MacCalzane of Cliftonhall, whom Geillis Duncan had also accused, was found guilty of attempting to destroy several persons by incantation, including the King and her own husband. She was also convicted of raising the tempest which disturbed the Icing's ship, and of having prepared a waxen image of his Majesty with a diabolic purpose. Her sentence was that she should not be "wirreit" or strangled, but burned alive. This horrible decree was fully carried out, and the forfeited estate of Cliftonhall was conferred on Sir James Sandilands. Geillis Duncan, who, in the hope of saving her own life, had accused others, was also condemned and burned. Another sufferer was Richard Grahame, who, as a supposed accessory, was, on the 29th February 1591-2, strangled and burned at the Cross of Edinburgh. To the last Grahame asserted that the Earl of Bothwell had magical consultations as to the King's death. He set forth that he had personally raised the devil on several occasions, once in the laird of Auchinleck's dwelling-place, and once in the yard of the house in the Canongate belonging; to Sir Lewis Bellenden, the late Justice-Clerk. In his "Staggering State," Sir John Scot, who refers to the devil-raisin in Bellenden's premises, affirms that the judge was so frightened at the spectacle that "he took sickness and thereof died." The laird of Auchinleck had already been charged with sorcery, for on the 5th March 1590 he was expected to appear before the Privy Council to answer to the charge. Of that date the Council minute bears that [John] Boiswell of Auchinleck "not onlie lies oft and divers tymes consulted with witcheis, bot alswa he himselff practized witchcraft, sorcerie, inchantment, and utheris divilishe practizeis, to the dishonour of God, sklender of his worde, and grite contempt of his Hienes, his authoritie and laweis;" and further, having failed to appear when called upon, he was denounced a rebel. From the imputation of compassing the King's death Bothwell eloquently vindicated himself in a letter addressed to the clergy of Edinburgh. In June 1591 he effected his escape from Edinburgh Castle.

Simultaneously with these occurrences other persons of rank were subjected to imputations of sorcery. In the "Faithful Narrative of the Great Victory obtained by George Gordon, Earl of Huntly, and Francis Hay, Earl of Errol, Catholic Noblemen, over Archibald Campbell, Earl of Argyle, at Strathaven, in the north of Scotland, 3d October 1594," Argyle is charged with seeking the companionship of a witch, with the view of discovering through her instrumentality the concealed property of the inhabitants. Several years later, according to the author of the "Staggering State," Lady Elizabeth Stewart, wife of Captain James Stewart, Earl of Arran, and daughter of John, fourth Earl of Athole, was informed by witches that she would become the greatest woman in Scotland, and that her husband would have the highest head in the kingdom, which was fulfilled by her dying of dropsy, and her slain husband having his head elevated on a spear!

On the 24th June 1596, John Stewart, master of Orkney, was indicted for consulting with Alison Barbour, a convicted witch, for the destruction by poison of his brother, Patrick Earl of Orkney. The charge was departed from, and while his brother the Earl was afterwards as a rebel condemned and executed, he personally attained royal favour, and was raised to the peerage as Lord Kinclaven. He subsequently was created Earl of Carrick.

On the 12th of November 1597, Janet Stewart, in the Canongate, and three other women, were in the Justiciary Court tried for healing by enchantment. Their medicines were those ordinarily in use, but they had likewise recourse to charms, such as the washing of their patients' clothing in "south-rynnand water," suspending amulets round their necks and burning straw at the corners of their beds. Declared guilty of demoniacal practices, there was pronounced upon them the usual sentence, that they should be "tane to the Castle Hill of Edinburgh, and there wirreit and brint."

James Reid, in Corstorphinne, was, on the 31st July 1603, burned at Edinburgh. He had acquired his art of healing from the devil, whom he met in "the liknes of a man, quhyles in the liknes of a hors."

Patrick Lowrie, residing at Halrie, Ayrshire, was, in July 1605, arraigned for sorcery in the Justiciary Court. He was charged with "bewitching milky" "bewitching Bessie Sawers coirnis," and "striking a woman blind, and then restoring her to sight." The, indictment further bore that he had held converse with the Evil One "in the liknes of ane woman," receiving from him "ane hair belt, in ane of the endis of the quhilk appeirit the similitude of foure fingeris and ane thombe, nocht fir different from the clawis of the devil." The Lord Advocate having warned the jury to beware of "wilful errour," they returned the usual verdict.

In 1607, Isobel Grierson was burnt for witchcraft. She had, in the house of Adam Clark, at Prestonpans, in the likeness of his own cat, frightened his household, more especially his maid-servant. She had also at Prestonpans disturbed by her enchantments the family of a mail named Brown, to whole she appeared as "ane infant bairn." In December of the same year, Barbara Paterson, in Newbattle, was, at the instance of the Presbytery of Dalkeith, arraigned before the Commissioners of Justiciary for healing diseases by incantation. She had recommended as remedial the water of the Dow Loch, instructing those who used it to say, "I lift this stoup in the name of the Father, Sone, and Haly Gaist, to do quid for thair helth for quhom it is liftit." Barbara was on her trial pronounced a sorceress, and condemned.

In the Sheriff Court of Orkney and Zetland, on the 23rd June 1616, were tried two men and five women on different charges of sorcery. From the Court-book 1 we glean the following details:—

Agnes Scottie was charged "with committing and practiseing the divilishe and abominable cryme of witchcraft, in that she, vpoun ane Sonday befoir the sone rysin; about fastings-evin, came to ane wall besyd James Corrigillis hous, and thair woseh[ed] hir face and certane partis of hir claythis; and Robert Gadie persaveing hir, quha wes servant to the said James, contractit presentlie ane trembling and shuddering in his flesh, tuik seiknes, and thairefter dyit. . . . Item, for that seven yeiris syne or thairby, sche haveing discordit with vmquhill William Tailzeouris sister, quha commn to reprove hir for hir evill speiches aganes hir sister, in iluhais face she spat, being on a Sonday,—the said William immediatlie thairefter conceaveit a great fear and trembling in his flesch, contractit seiknes, and dyit on Weddinsday thairefter. Item, for that Nicoll Smyth havein talon ane cottage fra the gudinan of Brek, quhilk wes in hir possession, and baveing transportit his comes thair, she cam about hallowmes, being washing hir claithes, and laid thame on his come, and nocht on hir awin, and set ane co- full of wvatter in the said Nicollis way, quha iu the cumin; by cust ouir the samen, thairefter contractit ane great seiInes. His vmquhill master, callit Mans llatthes, cumand to reprove hir for his manes seiknes, efter she haicl tuckit him and given him mony injurious wordis, he conceaveit

Twenty-two jurors were sworn, of whom nine were landowners, and as the result of their deliberation they "fylit" the whole of the prisoners. After an adjournment, the judges pronounced on each a sentence of banishment, some being exiled from their parishes, others from "the cuntries."

In August 1623, Thomas Greave, from Kinross, was in the Justiciary Court charged with effecting cures by means of enchantment. By three ministers of the Presbytery of Dunfermline were produced "depositions" in support of the indictment. Greave was charged with passing his patients through "an hesp of yairne," "using inchantit watter," and making crosses and figures on the under garments of those seeking his help. A mode of enchantment which he used in curing a bedridden woman was essentially barbarous. He caused "ane grit ffyre to be put on, and an boill to be maid in the north syde of the lious, and ane quick lien to be put forth thairat at three severell tymes, and taen in at the hous-dur widderschynnes." The lien was now thrust "under the seik woman's okster or airme, and thairfra cayried to the flyre, quhair it was haldon doun and brint quick thairin." Greave was sentenced "to be wirreit at ane stake, and brint in asehes."

According to Sir John Scot, Lilias, daughter of Mark Fier, first Earl of Lothian, and wife of John, eighth Lord Borthwick, was, like her mother, Margaret Maxwell, addicted to "the black art;" he alleges that as a witch she was condemned and burned. By the same gossiping writer we are assured that Robert, second Earl of Lothian, who died in 1624, secretly destroyed in prison at Dalkeith one Playfair, styled a wizard, but who seems to have followed the lawful calling of a physician. In January 1630, Sir John Colquhoun of Luss was charged with abduction by means of sorcery. Not answering to the charge, he was put to the horn.

In 1643 Katherine Craigie was burned at Orkney for using charms in the cure of disease. One of these was unique. Into water wherewith she washed the patient she placed three small stones; these being removed from the vessel, were placed on three corners of the patient's house from morning till night, when they were deposited at the principal entrance. Next morning the stones were cast into water, with which the sick person was anointed. The process was repeated every third day till a cure was effected.

On the 29th July 1640, the General Assembly ordained "all ministers carefully to take notice of charmers, witches, and all such abusers of the people, and to urge the Acts of Parliament to be execute against them." In July 1643 the kirksession of Dunfermline sentenced Robert Shortus to sit in sackcloth upon the public place of repentance "for consulting and seeking charms for his wyff." After he had "twa Sundays" endured the discipline, the brethren of the session make record that "he should have Bitten before the pulpitt, bot he was pittied." At Dunfermline the expense of conducting prosecutions against witches, and of "watching them in ward," fell so heavily upon the funds of the Corporation, that the magistrates, on the 16th July 1643, besought landowners and others to assist in liquidating them.

In the General Register House are preserved the deposition "of John Kincaid, the notorious witch-pricker, also the "confession of Marie Haliburton." In his "deposition" Kincaid relates that, being at the village of Dirleton, "a husband and wife, whose names were Patrik Watson and Marie Haliburton, waited on him, desiring that they might be respectively examined by him, on account of their having long been suspect to be witches." Under the hope of being vindicated from an evil report, both were destined to perish. Making an examination, Kincaid reported that in each he had discovered "the devil's mark." After her husband's execution Marie Haliburton emitted "a confession." She acknowledged that eighteen years before she had an illicit amour with the devil, when she had renounced her baptism. By the local Presbytery Marie was referred to an assize.

On the 5th April 1659 ten women were tried by a commission at Dumfries on different charges of witchcraft. Nine were condemned. Their sentence was thus framed:-

"The commissioners adjudge Agnes Comenes, Janet M'Gowane, Jean Tomson, Margaret Clerk, Janet M'Kendriq, Agnes Clerk, Janet Corsane, Helen Moorhead, and Janet Cullon, as found guiltie of the severall articles of witchcraft mentioned in the dittayes to be tape, upon Wednesday come eight days, to the ordinar place of execution for the burbhe of Dumfries, and ther, betuing 2 and 4 hours of the afternoon, to be strangled at staikes till they be dead, and therefter their bodyes to be burned to ashes, and all tlhr moveable goods to be escheite. Further, it is ordained that Helen Moorhead's moveables be intromitted with by the Sheriff of Nithsdaile, to seize upon and herrie the samin for the King's use."

At a meeting held on the same day, the Presbytery of Dumfries passed the following deliverance:-

"The Presbytery have appoynted Mr Hugh Henrison, Mr Win. M'Gore, Mr George Campbell, Mr John Brown, Mr Jo. Welsh, Mr George Johnston, Mr Win. Hay, and Mr Gabriel Semple, to attend the nine witches, and that they tak their own convenient opportunity to confer with them; also, that they be assisting to the brethren of Dumfries and Galloway the day of execution."

For some time after the Restoration, the Privy Council were much occupied in granting commissions for the trial of persons charged with sorcery. On the 7th November 1661 fourteen commissions were so granted. The members had authority not only to dispose of cases specially submitted to them, but to make trial of all persons accused during their sittings, and to "justify them to the death."

"The confession of Janet Watsone," emitted at her trial before a commission, in June 1661, is contained in a "MS. collection " belonging to the Society of Scottish Antiquaries. Janet alleges that the devil appeared to her in the several forms of "ane black doug," "a great bee," and "ane pretty boy in green clothes." When she renounced her baptism, he gave her the name of "Weill Dancing Janet," and promised her money.

In August 1631, John Ray, the naturalist, being on a visit to Scotland, discovered that during that month 120 women were burnt as witches.

In April and May 1632, several witches were "delated" in the county of Moray. Two were examined by John Innes, notary public, in presence of notable persons, who subscribe as witnesses. The depositions bear that they were emitted voluntarily, "without any compulsitorris," or " pressure." Isobel Couche's "confession" was made at intervals, and her revelations, it is alleged, were confirmed by the testimony of her companion, who was examined elsewhere. Isobel first met the devil on the highway. At this interview she consented to meet him "during night in the kirk of Alderne," and at that meeting she renounced her baptism. Having dedicated herself to the devil's service, one of the weird sisterhood held her up for baptism, when the Evil One made an incision in her shoulder, "suked out" some blood, which he spouted into his hand, and then sprinkled on her head, saying, "I baptise thee to myself in my ain name." Usually the devil appeared as "a very muckle rouche man," but he occasionally resembled a deer. He was always "cold;" and though he wore boots, his feet appeared forked and cloven. At his approach, every witch made an obeisance, saying, "You are welcome, owr lord," or, "How doe ye, my lord?"

The witches were divided into "covens," or companies of thirteen. Each had a spiritual attendant, who bore a distinctive name. One called "Swine" was clothed in grass-green, and attended a witch, nick-named "Pickle neirist the wind." The spirit "Rorie" was clad in yellow, and attended the witch known as "Throw the corne yaird." A third spirit, the "Roaring Lion," was arrayed in sea-green; he waited upon the witch "Bessie Rule." "Max Hector," the fourth spirit, attended the witch whose sobriquet was "Ower the dyk with it." "Robert the Rule" was the fifth spirit; he was clothed in satin and commanded the others. The sixth was "Theiff of Hell." The seventh, "Reid Reiver," was apparelled in black, and waited upon Isobel herself. "Hobert the Jackis," the eighth spirit, was an "aged, glaiked, gowked spirit;" he waited on the witch "Able and Stout."

"Laing," the ninth spirit, attended "Bessie Bauld." The tenth spirit was "Thomas a Fearie." At their unhallowed entertainments, the devil sat at the head of the board, while one of the sisterhood who sat "above a' the rest," waited on him. A wizard "invoked a diabolic grace" in the following rhyme:—

We eat this meat in the devilIis name,
With sorrow and sych and meikle shame;
We sall destroy house and hale
Baith sheip and nowt in the field;
Little good sall corn to the fore,
Of all the rest of the little store."

When the meal was concluded, each of the guests looked steadfastlie to the devill, and exclaimed, "We thank thee, owr lord, for this." Those who absented themselves from the weekly orgies, or otherwise neglected the satanic duties, were "beaten." When the devil was angry, he would "girne lyk a doug." "He wold," said Isobel, "be beatting and scurgeing us all up and douse with cardis (cords), and other sharp scurges, like naked gwhastis, and we wold be still crying, 'Pittie, Pittie! Mercie, Mercie! owr lord.' Pot he wold have neither pittie nor mercie." When in good humour, the devil bestowed on his favourites "the bravest lyk money that euer was coyned; but," added the confessor, "within four-and twenty houris it wold be horse muck."

The "covens" were held on muirs and in churchyards. They were reached on goblin horses, on which the witches flew up "lyk strawes." To her aerial steed Isobel said, "Horse and hattock in the devillis name," whereupon her spiritual charger rose into the air, and "flie quhair schoe wold." The "Queen of Farie," she had seen among the Downie hills, "brawlie clothed in whyt linens, and in whyt and browne cloathes." The fairy king " was a brave man, Weill favoured and broad-faced." Isobel found in fairyland "elf bullis routting and shouting up and doune." Declaring that witches assumed the forms of the lower animals, she remarked that when one of the sisterhood proposed to pass into a hare, she exclaimed:-

"I sall gae intil ane hare,
With sorrow and sych and meikle care;
And I sall gae in the devillis name,
Ay quhill I com hom againe."

That she might resume the human form the witch exclaimed:-

"Hare, hare, God send thee caire,
I am in an hares liknes just now,
But I sal be in a womanis liknes euin now."

When the form of a cat was proposed, the witch exclaimed:-

"I sall gae intil a catt,
With sorrow and sych and a blak strat;
And I sail gae in the devillis name,
Ay quhill I com hom againe."

To raise a tempest, the witch beat on a stone a portion of wet rag with a timber moll, thrice shouting:-

"I knok this rag; wpon this stane,
To raise the win in the devillis name;
It sail not lye vntil I please againe."

To mitigate a storm the rag was dried, and these words expressed:-

"We lay the wind in the devillis name,
It sail not ryse quhill we lyk to raise it againe."

To prevent fishermen from "making speed" the witch exclaimed:-

The fisheris ar gane to the sea,
And they will bring Name fische to me;
They will bring thaim name intil the boat,
Bot they sail gett of thaim got the smaller sort."

When casting enchanting mixtures upon a farmer's stocking, the sisterhood would sing:-

We putt this intil this hame
In our lord the devillis name
The first handis that handles thee,
Brint and scalded sall they be
We sall destroy hous and hall,
With the sheip and nout intil the fald,
And little sall come to the fore
Of all the rest of the little store."

In shooting elf-arrows at the strayed traveller, the witch called out:-

"I shoot you man in the devillis name;
He sail nott win heall hame;
And this sail be also trees,
Thair sall not be ane bit of him blew."

Isobel had seen "the elf-arrows maid." "The devil," she said, "dights them, and the elf-boy es quhy tes (blocks) them." Every witch received a handful for destructive purposes. Isobel enumerated a list of persons whom she and her witch-sisterhood had killed with elf-shot. But in causing death, figures were used more than elf-arrows. Clay "was made eerie small, lyke meall, and sifted with a sieve," then it was fashioned into a representation of the person intended for destruction, and " placed near the fire and weel rostin." This course was enacted daily, till the person whom it represented perished from exhaustion. Mr Harrie Forbes, minister at Auldearn, had rendered himself obnoxious to the witches of his neighbourhood. He was visited with sickness, and, in order that it might be protracted, an infernal mixture was prepared, over which the sisterhood channted these rhymes:-

"He is lying in his bed; he is lying sick and sair;
Let him lye intil his bed two monthis and thrie dayes mair;
Let him lye intil his bed; let him lye intil it sick and sore;
Let him lye intil his bed monthis two and thrie dayes more;
He sall lye intil his bed; he sall lye in it sick and sore;
He sall lye intil his bed two monthis and thrie dayes more."

The pain-inflicting mixture of Isobel and her companions consisted of "ane bagg of gallis, flesh and guttis of toadis, pickles of bear, paringis of naillis, the brainis of ane hare, and bittis of cloutis." Another mixture used by the Satanic sisterhood was composed of an unchristened child "hatched up with nail-parings, pickles of grain, and trail-blades." The ailments of friendly persons were cured by Isobel and her companions.

When they expressed these words, fevers of all sorts were expelled:-

"I forbid the quaking feaveris,
The sea feaveris, the land feaveris,
And all the feaveris that euir God ordained,
Out of the heid, out of the heart,
Out of the bak, out of the sydis,
Out of the kneyis, out of the thies
Fra the pointis of the fingeris
To the nebis of the taes
Out sall the feaver gae;
Som to the hill, som to the hap,
Som to the stane, som to the stak,
In Saint Peteris name, Saint Paullis name,
And all the saintes of heavin,
In the name of the Father, the Sone, and of the Halie Gaist."

The notorious wizard, Major Weir, was executed at the Gallowlee, near Edinburgh, on the 14th April 1676. A native of Clydesdale, he had served in the army, and about the year 1650 was appointed superintendent of tide-waiters at Leith. He was noted for his religious pretentiousness and his facility in prayer. Among his confessions, he declared that his devotional power was derived from his staff, over which he was in the habit of leaning. When Weir was burned, the staff was consumed along with him. His sister was also burned.

In the autumn of 1696, the people of the western counties were disturbed by the strange reports which reached them from Bargarran, in Renfrewshire. Christian Shaw, daughter of the laird of Bargarran, a girl of eleven years, petulantly charged Catherine Campbell, the maid who attended her, of drinking and stealing. Catherine resented the imputations, and a quarrel ensued. Some days afterwards Miss Shaw seemed to undergo violent convulsions. During her paroxysms she appeared to discharge from her mouth egg-shells, orange-peel, hair, feathers, pins, and hot cinders. She also professed to talk with invisible beings, and to see and hear persons who were unseen and unheard by those around her. Claiming the gift of inspiration, she offered a commentary on portions of Scripture. Next she denounced her attendant as a witch, and as the cause of her malady, and emphatically exhorted her to repentance. The entire neighbourhood was moved. For the young maiden and her relatives the brethren of the Presbytery publicly prayed, and the ministers of the neighbouring parishes visiting the house of Bargarran, there watched by turns. As the manifestations actively continued, the Presbytery appointed a day of prayer and humiliation, and on the occasion several preached from texts believed to be appropriate. But the damsel still continued to discharge egg-shells and orange-peel, cinders, and horse hair, to strangely contort her countenance, and upon an. open Bible to talk in rhapsody. Visiting her apartment, the Sheriff made "precognitions," whereon the Privy Council issued a special commission. Among the commissioners were the Lord Blantyre, Sir John Maxwell of Pollok and Sir John Shaw of Greenock, also other gentlemen of the district. Their sittings commenced on the 19th January 1697, and a report was issued in the following March. Encouraged by the attention she had excited, Miss Shaw extended the area of her denunciations. In addition to her nurse, she charged as sorcerers twenty-three others of both sexes, one being a boy of her own age. Not questioning her veracity, the commissioners reported her revelations to the Privy Council. They were consequently re-appointed, with the addition of several lawyers at Edinburgh, and were authorised to "judge and do justice." They condemned seven persons, from five of whom had been elicited "confessions." [The particulars of the Bargarran narrative, with its tragic results, were collected by John MacGilchrist, town-clerk of Glasgow, and embodied in a pamphlet composed by Sir Francis Grant, advocate, afterwards a judge by the title of Lord Cullen, a wan of ardent piety and judicial learning.]

Further to enlighten their fellow-countrymen respecting the nature of sorcery, and the importance of suppressing it, the Privy Council in 1685 granted special protection for eleven years to the copyright of a book which set forth the detection and punishment of those charged with the Satanic arts. This work, entitled "Satan's Invisible World Discovered," was coin-posed by Mr George Sinclair, Professor of Philosophy at Glasgow, and an ordained minister of the Church. Mr Thomas Blackwell, latterly Principal of Marischal College, was, when minister of Paisley,—a charge to which he was ordained in 1694,—conspicuous as an inquisitor in witchcraft. With his Presbytery lie was concerned in preferring an indictment against an alleged wizard at Inverkip, who was accused of instructing John Hunter to scatter sour milk on his field at Beltane, so as to make his own corn grow, and his neighbour's to go back. Hunter was also charged by Mr Blackwell with the curing of convulsion fits by the following charm.:—In a piece of cloth he sewed up nail-parings and hairs from the eyelashes and crown of the head, also a small coin, and so placed the package that it might be picked up by some one, who would forthwith have the malady transferred to him. In spite of Mr Blackwell's activities, Hunter escaped with a sessional rebuke.

Towards the close of the seventeenth century there began to prevail a general reluctance to prefer charges of sorcery, also to act upon commissions for the detection of enchantment. In 1678 Sir John Clark, the antiquary, declined to act as a commissioner for the trial of a witch, with the humorous remark that "lie did not feel himself warlock enough" for such a duty. The parochial and other clergy and some of the rural magistrates vigorously held out. In 1704, Mrs Beatrice Laing, wife of a clothier at Pittenweem, having offended some of her neighbours, they proceeded to denounce her as a witch. She was charged with sorcery along with two other women. One of these, named Janet Cornfoot, was beaten to death by an infuriated rabble. By the magistrates of the burgh Mrs Laing was incarcerated in "the tolbooth," and there needles were thrust into "her shoulders, back, and thighs," while her limbs were crushed in the boot. After being kept five days and nights without sleep, she was cast into a loathsome cell, with only a little coarse food to sustain life. Preferring a, complaint to the Privy Council, she at length experienced protection.' One of those who approved the atrocious cruelties to which she was subjected was the parish minister, Mr Patrick Couper, who himself in pre-Revolution times had suffered grievous persecution, and who was well-esteemed for his personal virtues.

In the year 1705 many witches were burned on the top of Spott Loan. Thereafter witch-executions became rare. On the 3rd May 1709 Elspeth Rule was, at the Dumfries Circuit Court, charged with being "habite and repute a witch;" also with using threats against several persons, who afterwards sustained the loss of cattle, the death of friends, or deprivation of reason. By the jury the indictment was found proven, and the judge, Lord Anstruther, sentenced the prisoner to be burned in the cheek and sent into exile.

In 1718, the house of Mr Robert M'Gill, minister of Kinross, was believed to be under the influence of sorcery. Some silver spoons and knives, which belonged to Mr M`Gill, were found in the manse barn, broken or "nipped to pieces." Thereafter pins were on the premises found everywhere. In eating an egg, Mr M'Gill discerned a pin within the shell, and from every dish presented at table pins were picked up. Besides the plague of pins, stones and other missiles were thrown about by an invisible hand, while the silver spoons of the family were cast into the fire and melted.

In December 1718, William Montgomerie, a mason in Burnside of Scrabster, represented to the Sheriff Depute of Caithness that during the preceding month his house had been infested with cats, several of which he had killed or wounded. Thereafter a woman in Owst, named Margaret Ni-Gilbert, professed to drop one of her limbs, and made "confession" that she had appeared to Montgomerie in the likeness of a cat, and that by a stroke received from him her leg had been broken. Subsequently examined in presence of the minister of Halkirk and others, Margaret declared that the devil had appeared to her in the several forms of "a black horse," "a black cloud," and "a black hen." Two weeks after emitting this confession she died in prison, but several women whom she had denounced as witches were detained for trial. About this stage—namely, on the 5th March 171 9—Mr Robert Dundas, the Solicitor-General, subsequently Lord President, communicated with the Sheriff in regard to accounts he had received "of very extraordinary if not fabulous discoveries of witchcraft." Mr Dundas asked copies of the depositions, and referring to a rumour that the Sheriff intended to "make a kind of tryall of it in his own court," warned him that it is the special duty of his Majesty's counsel " to advise both as to the proper method and court before which these things are to be prosecute, and to take care that crimes neither be shifted nor too rashly prosecute." Thereupon proceedings seem to have closed.

At Dornoch, in the county of Sutherland, a fatuous old woman of the parish of Loth was, in 1722, condemned as a witch by Captain David Ross of Little Dean, the Sheriff Substitute. The poor creature, when led to the stake, was unconscious of the stir made on her account, and warming her wrinkled hands at the fire kindled to consume her, said she was thankful for so food a blaze. For his rashness in pronouncing the sentence of death the Sheriff was emphatically reproved.

The reign of superstition was approaching a close. In 1723 the magistrates of Selkirkshire declined to give credit to "a confession" of witchcraft, though attended with circumstances which, in times not long preceding, would have led to a holocaust. On the 11th November 1723, the ferry-boat at the Boldside passage of the Tweed, near Melrose, was freighted with thirty-three persons and a riding horse. As the river was much swollen, the boat on reaching the opposite shore struck heavily against the bank, when sixteen passengers were thrown into the water and drowned. Not long afterwards a woman who lived in the adjoining hamlet offered "the confession" that she was invisibly present in the boat accompanied by the devil. When the fatal concussion occurred she said that "she and her lord were sitting on the boat's prow like two, corbies." As her reward for drowning the sixteen persons, "the foul fiend had entertained her to a rich haggis in Selkirk steeple."

A first effort to repress the belief in sorcery as a punitive crime was made in 1672, when Louis XIV. of France prohibited the Chambers of Justice from receiving any information against enchanters. Upwards of sixty years later a bill was introduced into the British Parliament by Lord Chancellor Talbot, for repealing the penal statutes against sorcery. In the House of Commons the bill was in its progress vigorously opposed by the Hon. James Erskine of Grange, who had some time previously resigned his seat as a Scottish judge to represent in Parliament the Stirling Burghs. Erskine's resistance was unavailing, and on the 24th June 1735 the sorcery laws ceased to deface the statute-book. To the change the older clergy were with some difficulty reconciled; and in 1743 the Associate Presbytery of Edinburgh issued an "Address," in which they denounced the repeal of the penal laws against witchcraft as " contrary to the express law of God."

From the year 1479, when the first capital sentence against sorcery was carried out, thirty thousand persons had on the charge of using enchantment been in Great Britain cruelly immolated; of these one-fourth belonged to Scotland. No inconsiderable number of those who suffered on the charge of sorcery laid claim to necromantic arts with intents felonious or unworthy. Others were persons of abandoned lives, addicted to blasphemy, and vendors of poison, who sought to gratify their employers in the base purposes of avarice or revenge. As to the matter of "confessions," the difficulty arising from these has in the light of modern research wholly disappeared. A number of the persons arraigned laboured under delusions incident to cerebral disease, a malady through -which their supposed sorcery bad arisen. By confessing, others sought relief from excruciating tortures, and prepared for the milder sentence of being strangled at the stake, rather than that of being burned "quick," an ordeal to which the non-confessor was subjected. Others believed that by confessing they would cease to be prosecuted, and that through a declaration their lives would be prolonged. When a supposed witch charged others, she was hopeful that by inveigling numbers in a like guilt she would thereby diminish her own culpability, or even obtain as an informer some measure of indemnity. But the chief motive to "confession" was the desire to accelerate a doom, which, on the whole, was coveted ; for she who was accused of witchcraft fell under the dark shadow of a perpetual scorn. Like the leper under the Mosaic law, she was pronounced unclean. Avoided by relatives, shunned by former neighbours, and disowned of mankind, she was denied food and shelter. Under the belief that she had renounced her baptism, sympathy was denied her by those who ordinarily exercised it most. That at, desire to escape from the horrors of a universal outlawry induced many of the "confessions," is no matter of conjecture. Sir George Mackenzie, who was a firm believer in sorcery, writes thus: -- "A condemned witch told me under secrecy that she had not confessed because she was guilty, but being a poor creature who wrought for her meat, and being defamed for a witch, she knew she should starve, for no person thereafter would (rive her meat or lodging, and that all men would beat her, and set dogs at her, and that, therefore, she desired to be out of the world, whereupon she wept most bitter]y, and upon her knees called God to witness what she said." "Another told me," adds the same writer, "that she was afraid the devil would challenge a right to her after she was said to be his servant, and would haunt her, as the minister said when he was desiring her to confess, and therefore she desired to die." In the year 1649, the wife of a landowner in Fife, sister of Sir John Henderson of Fordel, was thrown into prison at Edinburgh under the charge of using enchantment. Overpowered by the horror of her situation, she took poison and died. A fine young woman was on the charge of witchcraft executed at Paisley in 1697. On being censured by some friends, who were convinced of her innocence, for not being sufficiently active in her defence, she said, "They have taken away my character, and my life is not worth preserving." In "Satan's Invisible World Discovered," Professor Sinclair relates the following:—" A woman in Lauder was accused of a compact with Satan, but long denied her guilt. When her companions in prison were removed, being appointed to execution, and she became the occupant of a solitary cell, she offered to make a revelation of her farts. Having so done, she petitioned that she might be put to death with the others on the day fixed for their execution. Unsatisfied with her built, and therefore disregarding her confession, her friends, including her clergyman, entreated her to reconsider her averments, and warned her of the sin of compassing her own death. She persisted, and was condemned. At the stake she spoke these words:-

"Now all you that see me this day, know that I am now to die as a witch by my own confession, and I free all men, especially the ministers and magistrates, of the guilt of my blood. I take it wholly upon myself; my blood be upon my own head ; and as I must make answer to the God of heaven presently, I declare I am as free of witchcraft as any child. But being delated by a malicious woman, and put in prison under the name of a witch disowned by my husband and friends, and seeing no ground of hope of my coming out of prison, or ever coming in credit again through the temptation of the devil, I made up the confession on purpose to destroy nay own life, weary of it, and choosing rather to die than live."

In untutored times a powerful factor is revenge. Probably a third of those who suffered as sorcerers were accused and testified against by those who sought to gratify a personal animosity. And in connection with such charges, calumny was not allowed to be regarded as an offset. At length, in the eighteenth century, when the belief in sorcery was on the wane, indictments for false charges of necromancy were deemed permissible. On the 4th February 1703, William Alexander, in Drum of ! 'Tuckarsie, with consent of the Procurator-Fiscal, prosecuted before the Commissary of Dunkeld, James Grigor, formerly of Airntullie, for calling him "ane witch," and charging him with attempting by enchantment to injure his neighbour's cattle. Found guilty of slander Grigor was adjudged to pay a penalty of 200 Scots, also to appear at the door of his parish church "in tyme of Divine service bare-fitted and bare-headed;" and further, "to do what in him lay to restore the prosecutor to his former good credit."

In outlying districts a belief in the power of enchantment was not readily extinguished. About a century ago the prototype of the witch of Carrick shore, celebrated by Burns in "Tam o' Shanter," an inoffensive old woman at Kirkoswald received from the farmers of the district occasional gratuities of meal and money to propitiate her favour. And till the middle of the eighteenth century, some farmers in Forfarshire, including the great-grandfather of the writer, were content to bestow on the ill-favoured old women of their neighbourhood meal and potatoes, to avert "ill weirds." Writing in 1813, the Ettrick Shepherd relates that he was acquainted with two Border farmers, then living, who seriously assured him that "they had wounded several old wives with shot as they were traversing the air in the shales of moorfowl and partridges."

Enchantment was averted by various modes. "Scoring a witch above the breath will destroy her glamour," was a widely accepted adage. According to Dr Somerville, such scoring or lacerating was actually performed on a poor woman in the parish of Ancrum, about the year 1775. At a period considerably more recent, the cruel rite was enacted in the vicinity of Edinburgh. During the spring of 1831, an elderly woman, residing at Craigmillar, and who was reputed as "uncanny," asked from a neighbouring housewife the loan of a bit of coal. Being refused, she went off muttering her displeasure. Informed of the occurrence, the husband of the woman who had refused the Ioan hastened to the dwelling of the intended borrower, and with a sharp instrument wounded her in the forehead. When called on to answer for his outrage, he pleaded that he had " scored the witch to avert skaith."

It was formerly credited that no enchantment could, subsist in a living stream ; when a water was crossed the power of the sorcerer waned. Burns's Tam of Tam o' Shanter turns upon the circumstance. Potential against skaith was a horse-shoe nailed to the House-door, With a dread of sorcery, Mr Thomas Coutts, the celebrated banker, a native of Scotland, caused two horse-shoes to be affixed to the principal door of Holly Lodge, his suburban residence. In certain localities it was held that an ear of wheat carried in the pocket was a spell against enchantment. A stone from the shore, with one or more natural holes in it, was deemed sufficient to avert the evil eye. In South Uist a Gaelic prayer was, in covering the fire at night, used to secure the general protection. It has by Dr Alexander Stewart been thus translated:

"I will cover up the fire aright,
Even as directed by the Virgin's own Son.
Safe be the house, and safe the fire,
And safe from harm be all the indwellers.
Who is it that I see on the floor?
Even Peter himself, and Paul.
Upon whom shall this night's vigil rest?
Upon the blameless Virgin Mother and her Son;
God's mouth path spoken it.
A white-robed angel shall gleam in the darkness,
An angel (to keep watch and ward) at the door of each house
Till the return of the morrow's blessed light."

In the Hebrides, Malacca beans, a variety of white nuts, are used as amulets. When the wearer is menaced with enchantment, the nuts are supposed to turn black. Both in the Highlands and Lowlands women formerly broke the ends of egg shells, lest witches should bet hold of them, and so raise storms and cause shipwrecks. So recently as 1845 a girl at Louisburgh, near Wick, was suspected of witchcraft. To cure her, a neighbour placed her in a basket along with shavings of wood, and in this manner suspended her over a fire. The shavings were ignited, but the girl was removed from the flames uninjured. In handing her to her friends, the operator remarked that the girl was "not half so witch-like since she had been singed."

For the protection of cattle there were numerous charms. After calving, a cow was made to pass over a live coal, to prevent the witches from taking away her milk. With the same object a silver coin was thrown into the milk-pail. Cattle were deemed safe when boughs of the mountain ash and portions of honeysuckle were brought into the cowhouses. When bits of thread were attached to the horns, necks, and legs of milch cows, witches were held powerless to injure the milk. In their clothes cowherds wore sprigs of the mountain ash as a defence against enchantment. When cattle were affected by the arts of sorcery a stalk of four-leaved clover, attached to their stalls, was believed to be remedial. if a cow was in a drooping condition, a special rite was adopted for her recovery. At Easter, certain drops that lie uppermost on the paschal candle were used in forming a candle of small size. This was lighted, and so held that it might drop upon the horns and between the ears of the ailing animal. The remaining portion of the candle was then deposited at the threshold of the cowhouse. An enchantress who inflicted disease upon cattle was discovered by the following method :—An article of wearing apparel belonging to the owner of the bewitched cow was thrown across her horns, when the animal, on being let loose, was supposed to proceed in the direction of the witch's dwelling. The enchantress having been discovered, the heart of a calf was placed on a spit before the fire, a pin being stuck in at every turn till it was completely roasted. This charm subjected the enchantress to a similar operation in her own bosom. The roasted heart was ultimately deposited in the cowhouse.

In the western and northern counties a body of persons known as "witch-doctors" provided the means of counteracting enchantment. Early in the eighteenth century a physician at Lochawe, finding that his patients preferred amulets and charms to the use of medicine, gratified their predilections by dispensing portions of the mountain ash; he in consequence obtained a wide reputation, and greatly prospered. Adam Donald, a notable "witch-doctor" in Aberdeenshire, was styled "the prophet of Bethelnie." Born in 1703, he survived till 1780, and was latterly remarkable for his strange dress and uncouth aspects, also for a persistent reserve, which passed for wisdom. He prescribed both for men and cattle, exacting at each consultation the small sum of sixpence.' At Stromness, which he visited in 1814, Sir Walter Scott held an interview with Bessie Millar, who, on receiving sixpence, guaranteed to sailors favourable winds. Bessie disclaimed any preternatural power, alleging that she prayed for the safety of those who sought her aid, and felt sure that her prayer would be answered. She was Scott's prototype of "Norna of the Fitful Head." A young gentleman who resided in Ross-shire in 1867 has described his interview with "a witch-doctor" in these terms:—

"Sent to him by a matron to inquire whether her husband would recover from an illness, he [the exorcist] took the grey mare and led me into the house, or hut, and telling one of his sons to give a feed of malt to the mare, he invited me to sit down. There were no chairs in the room, but four bags of malt were ranged round the fire. The old man handed me a large wooden cup full of whisky, and as there was no bread or meal in the house, he put five or six eggs in a pot and boiled them, one or two of which he ate himself, and I finished the rest. After another cup of whisky, the old man said I must go to bed, and must sleep with him. Indeed, there was only one bed in the house—a large wooden box with folding doors on it. I slept pretty soundly until the old man called on me to get up quickly, as the sun was rising. He made me stand inside the door, while he went out with a wooden dish or pail, which he filled with fresh water. The pail was then placed under the lintel, or on the door-step, and I was enjoined to keep quiet. Taking up an old rusty sword, he waved it three times over the water-pail, and at each time repeated—'In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.' He now took a half-round piece of crystal or glass, and dropped it in the water, and took what he called the water-kelpie's bridle, and shook it over the pail, repeating the same words. He then filled a wine bottle with the water, and gave it to me, with instructions to sprinkle the invalid's clothes with it. A black-Haired woman, I was told, had bewitched the man, but he would get better. This did not turn out to be true, for the man died a few days afterwards. I gave the witch-doctor half a guinea, and five shillings for the bottle of water."

In the "Lady of the Lake" Sir Walter Scott refers to Taghairm, a species of soothsayer, who became qualified for his art under peculiar surroundings. Wrapped up in the skin of a newly slain bullock, and ensconsed beside a waterfall, or at the bottom of a precipice, or in some other strange and wild situation, where the scenery might suggest nothing but objects of horror, he there meditated on any question proposed, and whatever was impressed upon him by his environments passed as the inspiration of the spirits who haunted the locality.


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