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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


Volume 10 Page 368
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THE WEST BOW AND SUBURBS. 337 and he’died as he had lived. When bound to the stake, and with the rope about his neck, he was urged to say, ‘‘ Lord, be merciful to me j ” but he answered, “ Let me alone, I will not ; I have lived as a beast, and I must die as a beast.” The Rev. Mr Fraser adds :-‘‘ His black staff was cast into the fire with him. Whatever incantation was in it, the persons present aver yt it gave rare turnings, and was long a burning, as also himself.” The reverend author of “ Satan’s Invisible World Discovered,” declines, with mysterious assumptions of propriety, to discuss what incantation was in the black staff that sufered along with him. On one of the ministers returning to the Tolbooth to inform Grizel Weir that her brother was burnt, ‘‘ She believed nothing of it ; but, after many attestations, she asked where his staff was? for it seems she knew that his strength and life lay therein. He told her it was burnt with him; whereupon, notwithstanding of her age, she nimbly, and in a furious rage, fell on her knees, uttering words horrible to be remembered.” The Major’s mother appears to have set the example of witchcraft, as his sister, while in prison, declared, ‘‘ She was persuaded her mother was a witch ; ‘ for the secretest thing that either I myself, or any of the family could do, when once a mark appeared on her brow, she could tell it them, though done at a distance.’ Being demanded what sort of a mark it was? she answered, ‘ I have some such like mark myself, when I please, on my forehead.’ Whereupon she offered to uncover her head for visible satisfaction ; the minister refusing to behold it, and forbidding any discovery, was earnestly requested by some spectators to allow the freedom ; he yielded. She put back her headdress, and seeming to frown, there was seen an exact horse-shoe shaped for nails in her wrinkles, terrible enough, I assure you, to the stoutest beholder.” This wretched being had unquestionably been driven mad by the cruelty of her brother, and to her ravings may be traced many of the strangest traditions of the West Bow. 8he described a fiery chariot that came for them, and took her and her brother on unearthly errands, while it remained invisible to others ; and confessed to her enchanted wheel, by means of which she could far surpass any ordinary spinner. She was condemned to be hanged, and at the execution conducted herself in the same insane manner, struggling to throw off her clothes, tliat, as she expressed it, she might die with aZ2 the shame she could. There were not lacking, however, credible witnesses to confirm the most extraordinary confessions of Grizel Weir. The Rev. George Sinclair relates, on the authority of a gentlewoman, a substantial merchant’s wife, and a near neighbour of the Major, that ‘‘ some few days before he discovered himself, this gentlewoman coming from the Castlehill, where her husband’s niece was lying in of a child, about midnight, perceived about the Bowhead three women in windows, shouting, laughing, and clapping their hands. The gentlewoman went forward, till just at Major Weir’s door there arose, as from the street, a woman about the length of two ordinary females, and stepped forward. The gentlewoman, not as yet excessively feared, bid her maid step on, if by the lanthorn they could see what she was ; but haste what they could, this long-legged spectre was still before them, moving her body with a vehement cahination-a ‘great unmeasurable laughter. At this rate the two strove for place, till the giantess came to a narrow lane in the Bow, commonly called the Stinking Close, into which she turning, and the gentlewoman looking after her, perceived the close full of flaming torches, and as it had been a great multitude of people, Nevertheless, he tells us enough to show it was no ordinary stick. 2n
Volume 10 Page 369
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