Page images

vince of Picardy; they numbered among their descendants the celebrated Due de Sully; and the name was accounted among the most noble in France, while aught noble remained in that country. The family of Bethune, or Beatoun, in Fife, produced three learned and dignified prelates; namely, Cardinal Beaton, and two successive archbishops of Glasgow, all of whom flourished about the date of the romance. Of this family was descended Dame Janet Beaton, Lady Buccleuch, widow of Sir Walter Scott of Branksome. She was a woman of masculine spirit, as appeared from her riding at the head of her son's clan, after her husband's murder. She also possessed the hereditary abilities of her family in such a degree, that the superstition of the vulgar imputed them to supernatural knowledge. With this was mingled, by faction, the foul accusation, of her having influenced Queen Mary to the murder of her husband. One of the placards, preserved in Buchanan's Detection, accuses of Darnley's murder " the Erle Bothwell, Mr James Balfour, the persoun of Fliske Mr David Chalmers, black Mr John Spens, wha was principal deviser of the murder; and the Quene, assenting thairto, throw the persuasioun of the Erie Bothwell, and the witchcraft of Lady Buck* leuch."

Note X. He learned the art, that none may name, In Padua, far beyond the sea.—P. 24. Padua was long supposed, by the Scottish peasants, to be the principal school of Necromancy. The Earl of Gowrie, slain at Perth, in 1600, pretended, during his studies in Italy, to have acquired some knowledge of the cabala, by which, he said, he could charm snakes, and work other miracles; and, in particular, could produce children without the intercourse of the sexes. —See the Examination of Wemyss of Bogie before the Privy Council, concerning Gowrie's conspiracy.

Note XI. Hisform no darkening shadow traced Upon the sunny wall.—P. 24. The shadow of a necromancer is independent of the sun.— Glycas informs us, that Simon Magus caused his shadow to go before him, making people believe it was an attendant spirit.—Heywood's Hierarchie, p. 475. The vulgar conceive, that when a class of students have made a certain progress in their mystic studies, they are obliged to run through a subterraneous hall, where the devil literally catches the hindmost in the race, unless he crosses the hall so speedily, that the archenemy can only apprehend his shadow. In the latter case, the person of the sage never after throws any shade; and those, who have thus lost their shadow, always prove the best magicians.

Note XII. The viewless forms of air.—P. 24. The Scottish vulgar, without having any very defined notion of their attributes, believe in the existence of an intermediate class of spirits residing in the air, or in the waters; to whose agency they ascribe floods, storms, and all such phenomena as their own philosophy cannot readily explain. They are supposed to interfere in the affairs of mortals, sometimes with a malevolent purpose, and sometimes with milder views. It is said, for example, that a gallant baron, having returned from the Holy Land to his castle of Drummelziar, found his fair lady nursing a healthy child, whose birth did not by any means correspond to the date of his departure. Such an occurrence, to the credit of the dames of the crusaders be it spoken, was so rare, that it required a miraculous solution. The lady, therefore, was believed, when she averred confidently, that the Spirit of the Tweed had issued from the river while she was walking upon its bank, and compelled her to submit to his embraces; and the name of Tweedie was bestowed upon the child, who afterwards became Baron of Drummelziar, and chief of a powerful clan. To those spirits were also ascribed, in Scotland, the

—" Airy tongues, that syllable men's names,
On sands, and shores, and desert wildernesses."

When the workmen were engaged in erecting the ancient church of Old Deer, in Aberdeenshire, upon a small hill called Bissau, they were surprised to find that the work was impeded by supernatural obstacles. At length, the Spirit of the River was heard to say,

It is not here, it is not here,

That ye shall build the church of Deer;

But on Taptillery,

Where many a corpse shall lie.

The site of the edifice was accordingly transferred to Taptillery, an eminence at some distance from the place where the building had been commenced.—Macfarlane's MSS. I mention these popular fables, because the introduction of the River and Mountain Spirits may not, at first sight, seem to accord with the general tone of the romance, and the superstitions of the country where the scene is laid.

Note XIII. A fancied moss-trooper, &c.—P. 29. This was the usual appellation of the marauders upon the Borders; a profession diligently pursued by the inhabitants on both sides, and by none more actively and successfully than by Buccleuch's clan. Long after the union of the crowns, the moss-troopers, although sunk in reputation, and no longer enjoying the pretext of national hostility, continued to pursue their calling.

Fuller includes, among the wonders of Cumberland, "The Moss-troopers; so strange is the condition of their living, if considered in their Original, Increase, Height, Decay, and Ruine.

1." Original. I conceive them the same called Borderers in Mr Cambden; and characterised by him to be, a wild and warlike people. They are called Moss-troopers, because dwelling in the mosses, and riding in troops together. They dwell in the bounds, or meeting, of the two kingdoms, but obey the laws of neither. They come to church as seldom as the 29th of February comes into the kalendar.

2. " Increase. When England and Scotland were united in Great Britain, they that formerly lived by hostile incursions, betook themselves to the robbing of their neighbours. Their sons are free of the trade by their fathers' copy. They are like to Job, not in piety and patience, but in sudden plenty and poverty; sometimes having flocks and herds in the morning, none at night, and perchance many again next day. They may give for their mottoe, vivitur ex rapto, stealing from their honest neighbours what they sometimes require. They are a nest of hornets: strike one, and stir all of them about your ears. Indeed, if they promise safely to conduct a traveller, they will perform it with the fidelity of a Turkish janizary; otherwise, woe be to him that falleth into their quarters!

3. " Height. Amounting, forty years since, to some thousands. These compelled the vicinage to purchase their security, by paying a constant rent to them. When in their greatest height, they had two great enemies—the Laws of the Land, and the Lord William Howard of Naworth. He sent many of them to Carlisle, to that place where the officer doth always his work by day-light. Yet these Moss-troopers, if possibly they could procure the pardon for a condemned person of

« PreviousContinue »