Two or three of these are peculiarly interesting ; one, from the difference between its details and those which form the usual materials of the witch trials ; the others, from the high rank of some of those involved in them, and the strange and almost inexplicable extent of the delusion. The first to which we allude is that of Bessie Dunlop*, convicted on her own confession ; the peculiarity in this case is that, instead of the devil himself in propria persona, the spiritual beings to whom we are introduced are our old friends the fairies, the same sweet elves whom Paracelsus defends, and old Aubrey delighted to honour. Bessie's familiar was a being whom she calls Thorn Reed, and whom she describes in her judicial declarationf as "an honest weel elderlie man, gray bairdit, and had ane gray coitt with Lumbard sleeves of the auld fassoun, ane pair of gray brekis, and quhyte schankis gartarrit abone the kne." Their first meeting took place as she was going to the pasture, "gretand (weeping) verrie fast for her kow that was dead, and her husband and child that were lyand sick in the land-ill (some epidemic of the time), and she new risen out of gissane (childbed)." Thom, who took care that his character should open upon her in a favourable light, chid her for her distrust in Providence, and told her that her sheep and her child would both die, but that her husband should recover, which comforted her a little. His true character, however, appeared at a second "forgathering," when he unblushingly urged her " to denye her Christendom and renounce her baptism, and the faith she took at the fount stane." The poor witch answered, that " though she should be riven at horse-tails she woidd never do that/' but promised him obedience in all things else,-a qualified concession with which he rather grumblingly departed. His third appearance took place in her own house, in presence of her husband and three tailors (three !). To the infinite consternation of this trio and of the gudeman, he took her by the apron and led her out of the house to the kiln-end, where she saw eight women and four men sitting; the men in gentlemen's clothing, and the women with plaids round about them, and "very seemly to see." They said to her, " Welcome Bessie, wilt thou go with us ?" but as she made no answer to this invitation, they, after some conversation among themselves which she could not understand, disappeared of a sudden, and "a hideous ugly sough of wind followed them." She was told by Thorn, after then' departure, that these "were the gude wights that wonned in the Court of Elfane," and that she ought to have accepted their imitation. She afterwards received a visit from the Queen of Elfane in person, who con-descendingly asked a drink of her, and prophesied the death of her child and the recovery of her husband. The use which poor Bessie made of her privileges was of the most harmless kind, for her spells seem to have been all exerted to cure, and not to kill. Most of the articles of her indictment are for cures performed, nor is there any charge against her of exerting her powers for a malicious purpose. As usual however she was convicted and burnt.
* Nov. 8, 1576. Pitcairn, vol. i. p. 48. t Ibid. p. 51.