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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


Merchiston. ? THE WARLOCK NAPIER.? 37 men, and others felL Of the queen?s men, only one lost his life by a shot from the battlements of Merchiston. When peace came the philosopher returned to his ancestral tower, and resumed his studies with great ardour, and its battlements became the observatory of the astrologer. Napier was supposed by the vulgar of his time to possess mysterious supernatural powers, and the marvels attributed to him, with the aid of a devilish familiar, in the shape of a jet-black cock, are preserved grain, he ihreatened to poind them, ?? Do so, if you can catch them,? said his neighbour; and next morning the fields were alive with reeling and fluttering pigeons, which were easily captured, from the effect of an intoxicating feed of saturated peas. The place called the D:o Park, in front of Merchiston, took its name from this event. The warlock of the tower, as he was deemed, seems to have entertained a perfect faith in the possession of a power to discover hidden treasure. Thus, there is still preserved among the Merchis- GILLESPIE?S HOSPITAL, FROM THE EAST. (From an Engrauing Sy R. &oft in the ?Scots Mugazilrc,? 1805.) among the traditions of the neighbourhood to the present day. He impressed all his people that this terrible chanticleer could detect their most secret doings. Having missed some valuables, he ordered his servants one by one into a dark room of the tower, where his favourite was confined, declaring that the cock would crow when stroked by the hand of the guilty, as each was required to do. The cock remained silent during this ceremony ; but the hands of oiie of the servants was found to be entirely free from the soot with which the feathers of the mysterious bird had been smeared. The story of how he bewitched certain pigeons is still remembered in the vicinity of Merchiston. Having been annoyed by some that ate up his ton papers a curious contract, dated July, 1594, between him and Sir Robert Logan of Restalrig -a Gowrie conspirator-which sets forth : ? Forasmuch as there were old reports and appearances that a sum of money was hid within Logan?s house of Fast Castle, John Napier should do his utmost diligence to work and seek out the same.? For his reward he was to have the third of what was found-by the use of a divining rod, we presume. ? This singular contract,? says Wilson, ?? acquires a peculiar interest when we remember the reported discovery of hidden treasure, with which the preliminary steps of the Gowrie conspiracy were effected.? In 1608 we find the inventor of logarithms appearing in a new light. In that year it was
Volume 5 Page 37
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