Such is the strange story in which all the criminals examined before James and the Council substantially agree; and unquestionably the singular coincidence of their narratives remains at this day one of the most difficult problems in the philosophy of Scottish history. The fate of the unfortunate beings who confessed these enormities could not, in that age of credulity, be for a moment doubtful. Fian, to whom, after the inhuman tortures to which he had been subjected, life could not be of much value, was condemned, strangled, and burnt. Agnes Sampson underwent a similar fate. Barbara Napier, another person said to have been present at the convention, though acquitted of this charge, was condemned on certain other charges of sorcery in the indictment; but so strongly was the mind of James excited, that, though he had secured a conviction against her, he actually brought the assize to trial for wilful error in acquitting her on this point of dittay.
But the most distinguished victim connected with this scene of witchcraft was Euphcmia Mac-alzean, the daughter of an eminent judge, Lord Cliftonhall, a woman of strong mind and licentious passions, a devoted adherent to the Roman Catholic faith, a partisan of Bothwell (who was accused by several of the witches as implicated in these practices against the King's life), and a determined enemy to James and to the Reformed religion. Whatever may have been the precise extent of this lady's acquirements in sorcery, there can be no doubt that she had been on terms of the most familiar intercourse with abandoned wretches of both sexes, pretenders to witchcraft, and that she had repeatedly employed their aid in attempting to remove out of the way persons who were obnoxious to her, or who stood in the way of the indulgence of her passions. The number of sorceries, poisonings, and attempts at poisoning, charged against her in the indictment, almost rivals the accusations against Brinvilliers ; and, though the jury acquitted her of several of these, they convicted her of participation in the murder of her own godfather, of her husband's nephew, and of Douglas of Pennfrastone ; besides being present at the convention of North Berwick, and various other meetings of witches, at which the King's death had been contrived. Her punishment was the severest which the court could pronounce : instead of the ordinary sentence, directing her to be first strangled at a stake and then burned, the unhappy woman was doomed to be " bund to ane staik and burnt in assis, quick, to the death," a fate which she endured with the greatest firmness, on the 25th of June, 1591. So deep and permanent was the impression made by these scenes upon the King's mind, that we owe to them the preparation of an Act of Parliament anent the form of process against witches, mentioned among the imprinted acts for 1597, and more immediately the composition of that notable work of the Scottish Solomon, the c Demonologie'.