James, it appears, from his singular piety, and the active part which, long before the composition of his 'Demonologie' he had taken against Satan and his invisible world, had been, from the first, most obnoxious to his servants upon earth. On one occasion, when an unsuccessful attempt had been made against his life, the fiend pleaded (though we do not see why a Scotch devil should speak French) that he had no power over him, adding, " Il est homme de Dieu*." The visit which, in a sudden fit of romantic gallantry, he paid to Norway, to bring over his queen, was too favourable an opportunity for the instruments of Satan to be neglected; and accordingly it was resolved by the conclave that every exertion should be made to raise such a tempest as should infallibly put an end to the greatest enemy (as Satan himself confidentially admitted to one of the witches) whom the devil ever had in the world. The preparations were therefore commenced with all due solemnitv. Satan undertook, in the first . instance, to raise a mist so as to strand the King on the English coast, but, more active measures being thought necessary, Dr. Fian, as the devil's secretary, or register, as he is called throughout these trials, addressed a letter to a distinguished witch, Marion Linkup, and others of the sisterhood, directing them to meet their master on the sea within five days, for the purpose of destroying the King*. On All-hallowmas Eve the infernal party, to the number of about two hundred, embarked, " each in a riddle or sieve, and went into the same very substantially." In what latitude they met with Satan is not stated, but after some cruizing about he made his appearance, and delivered to Robert Grierson a cat, which it appears had previously been drawn nine times through the cruikt, giving the word to " cast the same into the sea! Hola!" And this notable charm was not without its effect, for James, whose fleet was at that time clearing the Danish coast, afterwards declared that his ship alone had the wind contrary, while all the other vessels had a fair one.
* Sir James Melville, p. 294.
* Pitcairn, vol. i. p. 211.
+ Crook-the hook from which pots are hung over a Scottish kitchen fire.
The charm npon the water being finished, the witches landed, and after enjoying themselves with wine, which they drank out of the same sieves in which they had previously sailed so " substantially," they moved on in procession towards the kirk of North Berwick, which had been fixed on as their place of rendezvous with their master. The company exceeded one hundred, of whom thirty-two are enumerated in Agnes Sampson's confession. And they were preceded by Gellie Duncan, playing upon the Jew's-harp the following ditty:
" Cummer, goe ye before, Cummer, goe ye, Gif ye will not go before, Cummer, let me!"
Here their master was to appear in a character less common in Scotland than on the Continent, that of a preacher. Doctor Fian, who, as the devil's register, took the lead in the ceremonies at the kirk, blew up the doors, and blew in the lichts, which resembled black candles sticking round about the pulpit, while another of the party, Grey Meill, acted as door-keeper. Suddenly the devil himself started up in the pulpit, attired in a gown and hat, both black. The sketch of his appearance given in Sir James Melville's Memoirs has something of the power and picturesqucness of Dante. " His body was hard lyk yrn, as they thocht that handled him; his faice was terrible, his nose lyk the bek of an egle, gret bournyng eyn " (ocelli di bragia) ; " bis handis and leggis were berry, with clawis upon his handis, and feit lyk the Griffin, and spak with a how voice." He first called the roll of the congregation, to which each answered by name; he then demanded of them whether they had been good servants, what they had done since the last time they had convened, and what had been the success of their conjurations against the King. Gray Meill, the doorkeeper, who was rash enough to remark, that " naething ailet the King yet, God be thankit," was rewarded for this mal-apropos observation by a great blow. The devil then proceeded to admonish them to keep his commandments, which were simply to do all the evil they could ; on his leaving the pulpit, the whole congregation, male and female, did homage to him, by saluting him in a way and manner which we must leave those who are curious in such ceremonies to ascertain from the original indictments.