Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


head,? and without the aid of which he could perform nothing, was cast in also, and it was remarked by the spectators that it gave extraordinary twistings and dthings, and was as long in burning as the major himself. The place where he perished was at Greenside, on the sloping bank, whereon, in 1846, was erected the new church, so called. If this man was not mad, he certainly was a singular paradox in human nature, and one of a TRINITY CHURCH AND HOSPITAL, AND NEIGHBOURHOOD. (From Curdon of Rothiemas Map.) 57, Halkerston?s Wynd ; 58, Leith Wynd ; 6. St. Ringan?s Suburbs, or the Beggar Row ; 27, the North Craigs, or h?eil?s Craigs ; 24, the Correction House ; p, the Colh qe Kirk ; i, Trinity Hospital j i, Leith Wynd Port ; s. St. Paul?s Work. ing to the Tolbooth from Greenside, she would not believe that her brother had been burned till toldthat it had perished too ; ? whereupon, notwithstanding her age, she nimbly, and in a furious rage, fell upon her knees, uttering words horrible to be remembered.? She assured her hearers that her mother had been a witch, and that when the mark of a horse-shoe-a mark which she herself displayedcame on the forehead of the old woman, she could kind somewhat uncommon-outwardly he exhibited tell of events then happening at any distance, and the highest strain of moral sentiment for years, and to her ravings in the Tolbooth must some of the duringall that time had been secretly addicted to every degrading propensity ; till evenhially, unable to endure longer the sense of secret guilt and hypocrisy, With the terrors of sickness and age upon him, and death seeming nezr, he made a confession which some at first believed, and on that confession alone was sentenced to die. If Weir was not mad, the ideas and confessions of his sister show that she undoubtedly was. She evidently believed that her brothefs stick was one possessed of no ordinav power. Professor Sinclair tells us, that on one of the ministers returndarkest traditions of the West Bow be assigned. She confessed that she was a sorceress, and among other incredible things, said that many years before a fiery chariot, unseen by others, came to her brother?s house in open day j a stranger invited them to enter, and they proceeded to Dalkeith. While on the road another stranger came, and whispered something in the ear of her brother, who became visibly affected ; and this intelligence was tidings of the defeat of the Scottisl army, that very day, at Worcester. She stated, tow, that a dweller in Dalkeith had a familiar spirit, who span for her
Volume 2 Page 312
  Enlarge Enlarge     Pictures Pictures
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
  Enlarge Enlarge     Pictures Pictures