Another instance of the skill of a sorcerer being traced to the instructions of the elves is found in the confession of John Stewart, called a vagabond, but professing skill in palmistry and jugglery, and accused of having assisted Margaret Barclay, or Dein, to sink or cast away a vessel belonging to her own good-brother. It being demanded of him by what* means he professed himself to have knowledge of things to come, the said John confessed that the space of twenty six years ago, he being travelling on All-Hallow-Even night, between the towns of Monygoif (so spelled) and Clary, in Galway, he met with the King of the Fairies and his company, and that the King of the Fairies gave him a stroke with a white rod over the forehead, which took from him the power of speech and the use of one eye, which he wanted for the space of three years. He declared that the use of speech and eyesight was restored to him by the King of Fairies and his company, on a Hallowe'en night, at the town of Dublin, in Ireland, and that since that time he had joined these people every Saturday at seven o'clock, and remained with them all the night •, also, that they met every Hallowtide, sometimes on Lanark Hill (Tintock, perhaps,) sometimes on Kilmaurs Hill and that he was then taught by them. He pointed out the spot of his forehead on which, he said, the King of the Fairies struck him with a white rod, whereupon, the prisoner being blindfolded, they pricked the spot with a large pin, whereof he expressed no sense or feeling. He made the usual declaration that he had seen many persons at the Court of Fairy whose names he rehearsed particularly, and declared that all such persons as are taken away by sudden death go with the King of Elfland. With this man's evidence we have at present no more to do, though we may revert to the execrable proceedings which then took place against this miserable juggler and the poor women who were accused of the same crime. At present it is quoted as another instance of a fortune-teller referring to Elfland as the source of his knowledge.
* Pitcairn's Trials, vol. i. pp. 191, 201.
At Auldearn, a parish and burgh of barony, in the county of Nairn, the epidemic terror of witches seems to have gone very far. The confession of a woman called Isobel Gowdie, of date April 1662, implicates, as usual, the Court of Fairy, and blends the operations of witchcraft with the facilities afforded by the fairies. These need be the less insisted upon in this place as the arch-fiend, and not the elves, had the immediate agency in the abominations which she narrates. Yet she had been, she said, in the Dounie Hills, and got meat there from the Queen of Fairies more than she could eat. She added, that the queen is bravely clothed in white linen, and in white and brown cloth —that the King of Fairy is a brave man ; and there were elf-bulls roaring and shilling at the entrance of their palace, which frightened her much. On another occasion this frank penitent confesses her presence at a rendezvous of witches, Lammas 1659, where, after they had rambled through the country in different shapes—of cats, hares, and the like—eating, drinking, and wasting the goods of their neighbours, into whose houses they could penetrate, they at length came to the Dounie Hills, where the mountain opened to receive them, and they entered a fair big room, as bright as day. At the entrance ramped and roared the large fairy bulls, which always alarmed Isobel Gowdie. These animals are probably the water bulls, famous both in Scottish and Irish tradition, which are not supposed to be themselves altogether canny, or safe to have concern with. In their caverns the fairies manufactured those elf-arrow-heads with which the witches and they wrought so much evil. The elves and the arch-fiend laboured jointly at this task, the elves forming and sharpening the dart from the rough flint, and the fiend perfecting and finishing, or, as it is called, dighting it. Then came the sport of the meeting. The witches bestrode either corn straws, bean stalks, or rushes, and calling " Horse and Hattock, in the Devil's name!" which is the elfin signal for mounting, they flew wherever they listed. If the little whirlwind which accompanies their transportation passed any mortal who neglected to bless himself, all such fell under the witches' power, and they acquired the right of shooting at him. The penitent prisoner gives the names of many whom she and her sisters had so slain, the death for which she was most sorry being that of "William Brown, in the Milntown of Mains. A shaft was also aimed at the Reverend Harrie Forbes, a minister who was present at the examination of Isobel, the confessing party. The arrow fell short, and the witch would have taken aim again, but her master forbade her, saying the reverend gentleman's life was not subject to their power. To this strange and very particular confession we shall have occasion to recur when witchcraft is the more immediate subject. What is above narrated marks the manner in which the belief in that crime was blended with the fairy superstition.
To proceed to more modern instances of persons supposed to have fallen under the power of the fairy race, we must not forget the Rev. Robert Kirke, minister of the Gospel, the first translator of the psalms into Gaelic verse. He was, in the end of the seventeenth century, successively minister of the Highland parishes of Balquidder and Aberfoyle, lying in the most romantic district of Perthshire, and within the Highland line. These beautiful and wild regions, comprehending so many lakes, rocks, sequestered valleys, and dim copse woods, are not even yet quite abandoned by the fairies, who have resolutely maintained secure footing in a region so well suited for their residenee. Indeed, so much was this the case formerly, that Mr. Kirke, while in his latter charge of Aberfoyle, found materials for collecting and compiling his Essay on the " Subterranean, and for the most part Invisible People, heretofore going under the name of Elves, Fawnes, and Fairies, or the like."* In this discourse, the author, " with undoubting mind," describes the fairy race as a sort of astral spirits, of a kind betwixt humanity and angels—says, that they have children, nurses, marriages, deaths, and burials, like mortals in appearance ; that, in some respect, they represent mortal men, and that individual apparitions, or Double-men, are found among them, corresponding with mortals existing on earth. Mr. Kirke accuses them of stealing the milk from the cows, and of carrying away what is more material, the women in pregnancy, and new-born children from their nurses. The remedy is easy in both cases. The milk cannot be stolen, if the mouth of the calf, before he is permitted to suck, be rubbed with a certain balsam, very easily come by; and the woman in travail is safe, if a piece of cold iron is put into the bed. Mr. Kirke accounts for this, by informing us, that the great northern mines of iron, lying adjacent to the place of eternal punishment, have a savour odious to these " fascinating creatures." They have, says the reverend author, what one would not expect, many light toyish books, (novels and plays, doubtless,) others on Rosycrucian subjects, and of an abstruse mystical character; but they have no Bibles, or works of devotion. The essayist fails not to mention the elf arrow-heads, which have something of the subtility of thunderbolts, and can mortally wound the vital parts, without breaking the skin. These wounds, he says, he has himself observed in beasts, and felt the fatal lacerations which he could not see.