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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


The West Bow.] MAJOR WEIR?S HOUSE. 3 13 an extraordinary quantity of yarn, in the time that it would have taken four women to do so. At the place of execution in the Grassmarket a frenzy seized her, and the wretched old creature began to rend her garments, in order, as she shrieked, that she might die ?? with all the shame she could ! ? Undeterred by her fate, ten other old women were in the same year burned in Edinburgh for alleged dabbling in witchcraft. flaming torches, as if a multitude of people were there, all laughing merrily. ?This sight, at so dead a time of night, no people being in the windows belonging to the close, made her and her servant haste home, declaring all that they saw to the rest of the family.? ?For upwards of a century after Major Weir?s death he continued to be the bugbear of the Bow, and his house remained uninhabited. His apparition,? says Chambers, ?? was frequently seen at MAJOR WEIR?S LAND. (Fmm a Measrrrrd Drawing by Thomas HamiZton, #idZiskcd in 183a) The reverend Professor who compiled ? Satan?s Invisible World,? relates that a few nights before the major made his astounding confession, the wife of a neighbour, when descending from the Castle Hill towards the Bow-head, saw three women in different windows, shouting, laughing, and clapping their hands. She passed on, and when abreast of Major Weir?s door, she saw a woman of twice mortal stature arise from the street. Filled with great fear, she desired her maid, who bore a lantern, to hasten on, but the tall spectre still kept ahead of them, uttering shouts of ?unmeasurable laughter,? till they came to the narrow alley called the Stinking Close, into which the spectre turned, and which was seen to be full of 40 night, flitting like a black and silent shadow about the street. His house, though known to be deserted by everything human, was sometimes observed at midnight to be full of lights, and heard to emit strange sounds, as of dancing, howling, and, what is strangest of all, spinning. Some people occasionally saw the major issue from the low close at midnight, mounted on a black horse without a head, and gallop off in a whirlwind of flame. Nay, sometimes the whole inhabitants of the Bow would be roused from their sleep at an early hour in the morning by the sound of a coach and six, first rattling up the Lawnmarket, and then thundering down the Bow, stopping at the head of the terrible close for a few minutes, and then rattling and
Volume 2 Page 313
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