Page images
PDF
EPUB

Note XIV. The words, that cleft Eildon Hills in three, And bridled the Tweed with a curb of stone.—P. 52. Michael Scott was, once upon a time, much embarrassed by a spirit, for whom he was under the necessity of finding constant employment. He commanded him to build a cauld, or' dam-head, across the Tweed at Kelso; it was accomplished in one night, and still does honour to the infernal architect. Michael next ordered, that Eildon hill, which was then a uniform cone, should be divided into three. Another night was sufficient to part its summit into the three picturesque peaks which it now bears. At length the enchanter conquered this indefatigable demon, by employing him in the hopeless and endless task of making ropes out of sea-sand.

Note XV.

That lamp shrill burn unquenchably.—P. 54. 'Baptista Porta, and other authors who treat of natural magic, talk much of eternal lamps, pretended to have been found burning in ancient sepulchres. Fortunius Licetus investigates the subject in a treatise, De Lucemis antiquorum reconditis, published at Venice, 1621. One of these perpetual lamps is said to have been discovered in the tomb of Tulliola, the daughter of Cicero. The wick was supposed to be composed of asbestos. Kircher enumerates three different receipts for constructing such lamps; and wisely concludes, that the thing is nevertheless impossible.—Mundus Subterraneus, p. 72. Delrio imputes the fabrication of such lights to magical skill.—Disguisitiones Magic*, p. 58. In a very rare romance, which " treateth of the lyfe of Virgilius, and of his deth, and many marvayles that he dyd in his lyfe-time, by wyche-crafte and nygramancye, throughe the help of the devyls of hell," mention is made of a very extraordinary process, in which one of these mystical lamps was employed. It seems, that Virgil, as he advanced in years, became desirous of renovating his youth by his magical art. For this purpose he constructed a solitary tower, having only one narrow portal, in which he placed twenty-four copper figures, armed with iron flails, twelve on each side of the porch. These enchanted statues struck with their flails incessantly, and rendered all entrance impossible, unless when Virgil touched the spring, which stopped their motion. To this tower he repaired privately, attended by one trusty servant, to whom he communicated the secret of the entrance, and hither they conveyed all the magician's treasure. "Then sayde Virgilius, my dere beloved friende, and he that I above alle men truste and knowe mooste of my secretand then he led the man into a cellar, where he made a fayer lamp at all seasons burnynge. And then sayd Virgilius to the man, " Se you the barrel that standeth here ?" and he sayd, yea: " Therein must you put me: fyrste ye must slee me, and hewe me smalle to pieces, and cut my bed in iiii pieces, and salte the heed under in the bottom, and then the pieces there after, and my herte in the myddel, and then set the barrel under the lampe, that nyghte and day the fat therein may droppe and leak; and ye shall is dayes long, ones in the day, fyll the lampe, and fayle nat. And when this is all done, then shall I be renued, and made yonge agen." At this extraordinary proposal, the confidant was sore abashed, and made some scruple of obeying his master's commands. At length, however, he complied, and Virgil was slain, pickled, and barrelled up, in all respects according to his own direction. The servant then left the tower, taking care to put the copper thrashers in motion at his departure. He continued daily to visit the tower with the same precaution. Meanwhile, the emperor, with whom Virgil was a great favourite, missed him from the court, and demanded of his servant where he was. The domestic pretended ignorance, till the emperor threatened him with death, when at length he conveyed him to the enchanted tower. The same threat extorted a discovery of the mode of stopping the statues from wielding their flails. "And then the emperour entered into the castle with all his folke, and sought all aboute in every corner after Virgilius; and at the last they soughte so longe, that they came into the seller, where they sawe the lampe hang over the barrell, where Virgilius lay in deed. Then asked the emperor the man, who had made hym so herdy to put his mayster Virgilius so to dethe; and the man answered no word to the emperour. And then the emperour, with great anger, drewe out his sworde, and slewe he there Virgilius' man. And when all this was done, then sawe the emperour, and all his folke, a naked childe iii tymes rennynge about the barrell, sayinge these wordes, ' Cursed be the tyme that ye ever came here!' And with those wordes vanyshed the chylde awaye, and was never sene ageyn; and thus abyd Virgilius in the barrell deed." Virgilius, bl. let. printed at Antwerpe by John Doesborcke. This curious volume is in the valuable library of Mr Douce; and is supposed to be a translation from the French, printed in Flanders for the English market. See Goujet Biblioth. Franc, ix. 225. Catalogue de la Bibliotheque Nationale, tom. II. p. 5. De Sure, No. 3857.

Note XVI.

He thought, as he took it, the dead man frown'd.—P. 58.

William of Deloraine might be strengthened in this belief by the well-known story of the Cid Ruy Diaz. When the body of that famous Christian champion was sitting in state by the high altar of the cathedral church of Toledo, where it re* mained for ten years, a certain malicious Jew attempted to pull him by the beard; but he had no sooner touched the formidable whiskers, than the corpse started up, and half unsheathed his sword. The Israelite fled; and so permanent was the effect of his terror, that he became Christian. HkyWoods's Hierarchie, p. 480, quoted from Sebastian Cobarruvias Crozee.

Note XVII.
The Baron's Dwarf his courser held.—P. 64.

The idea of Lord Cranstoun's Goblin Page is taken from a being called Gilpin Horner, who appeared, and made some stay, at a farm-house among the Border-mountains. A gentleman of that country has noted down the following particulars concerning his appearance:—

"The only certain, at least most probable account, that ever I heard of Gilpin Horner, was from an old man, of the name of Anderson, who was born, and lived all his life, at Todshawhill, in Eskedale-muir, the place where Gilpin appeared and staid for some time. He said there were two men, late in the evening, when it was growing dark, employed in fastening the horses upon the uttermost part of the ground, (that is, tying their forefeet together, to hinder them from travelling far in the night,) when they heard a voice, at some distance, crying, ' Tint! tint! tint f * one of the men, named Moffat, called out, ' What de'il has tint you? Come here.' Immediately a creature, of something like a human form, appeared. It was surprisingly little, distorted in features, and mis-shapen in limbs. As soon as the two men could see it plainly, they ran home in a great fright, imagining they had met with some goblin. By the way Moffat fell, and it run over him, and was

* Tint, signifies lest.

« PreviousContinue »