All this time the ghost afforded no indication as to the nature and object of her frequent appearances. " But one day the said David going over a Hedge into the Highway, she came just against him, and he cry'd out, ' Lord bless me, I would I were dead ; shall I never be delivered from this misery ?' At which, ' And the Lord bless me too,' says she. ' It was very happy you spoke first, for till then I had no power to speak, though I have followed you so long. My name,' says she, ' is Margaret -. I lived here before the War, and had one son by my Husband ; when he died I married a soldier, by whom I had several children which the former Son maintained, else we must all have starved. He lives beyond the Ban-water ; pray go to him and bid him dig under such a hearth, and there he shall find 28s. Let him pay what I owe in such a place, and the rest to the charge unpay'd at my Funeral, and go to my Son that lives here, which I had by my latter Husband, and tell him that he lives a very wicked and dissolute life, and is very unnatural and ungrateful to his Brother that nurtured him, and if he does not mend his life God will destroy him.'"
David Hunter told her he never knew her. " No," says she, " I died seven years before you came into this Country " ; but she promised that, if he would carry her message, she would never hurt him. But he deferred doing what the apparition bade him, with the result that she appeared the night after, as he lay in bed, and struck him on the shoulder very hard ; at which he cried out, and reminded her that she had promised to do him no hurt. She replied that was if he did her message ; if not, she would kill him. He told her he could not go now, because the waters were out. She said that she was content that he should wait until they were abated ; but charged him afterwards not to fail her. Ultimately he did her errand, and afterwards she appeared and thanked him. " For now," said she, " I shall be at rest, and therefore I pray you lift me up from the ground, and I will trouble you no more." So Hunter lifted her up, and declared afterwards that she felt just like a bag of feathers in his arms ; so she vanished, and he heard most delicate music as she went off over his head.
An important witch-case occurred in Scotland in 1678, the account of which is of interest to us as it incidentally makes mention of the fact that one of the guilty persons had been previously tried and condemned in Ireland for the crime of witchcraft. Four women and one man were strangled and burnt at Paisley for having attempted to kill by magic Sir George Maxwell of Pollock. They had formed a wax image of him, into which the Devil himself had stuck the necessary pins ; it was then turned on a spit before the fire, the entire band repeating in unison the name of him whose death they desired to compass. Amongst the women was " one Bessie Weir, who was hanged up the last of the four (one that had been taken before in Ireland and was condemned to the fyre for malifice before; and when the hangman there was about to cast her over the gallows, the devill takes her away from them out of their sight ; her dittay [indictment] was sent over here to Scotland), who at this tyme, when she was cast off the gallows, there appears a raven, and approaches the hangman within an ell of him, and flyes away again. All the people observed it, and cried out at the sight of it".
A clergyman, the Rev. Daniel Williams (evidently the man who was pastor of Wood Street, Dublin, and subsequently founded Dr. Williams's Library in London), relates the manner in which he freed a girl from strange and unpleasant noises which disturbed her ; the incident might have developed into something analogous to the Drummer of Tedworth in England, but on the whole works out rather tamely. He tells us that about the year 1678 the niece of Alderman Arundel of Dublin was troubled by noises in her uncle's house, " as by violent Sthroaks on the Wainscots and Chests, in what Chambers she frequented." In the hope that they would cease she removed to a house near Smithfield, but the disturbances pursued her thither, and were no longer heard in her former dwelling. She thereupon betook herself to a little house in Patrick Street, near the gate, but to no purpose. The noises lasted in all for about three months, and were generally at their worst about two o'clock in the morning. Certain ministers spent several nights in prayer with her, heard the strange sounds, but did not succeed in causing their cessation. Finally the narrator, Williams, was called in, and came upon a night agreed to the house, where several persons had assembled. He says : " I preached from Hebrews ii. 18, and contrived to be at Prayer at that Time when the Noise used to be greatest. When I was at Prayer the Woman, kneeling by me, catched violently at my Arm, and afterwards told us that she saw a terrible Sightóbut it pleased God there was no noise at all. And from that Time God graciously freed her from all that Disturbance." 1
1 Law's Memorialls.
1 Baxter, Certainty of the World of Spirits.
Many strange stories of apparitions seen in the air come from all parts of the world, and are recorded by writers both ancient and modern, but there are certainly few of them that can equal the account of that weird series of incidents that was seen in the sky by a goodly crowd of ladies and gentlemen in co. Tipperary on 2nd March 1678.1 "At Poinstown in the county of Tepperary were seen divers strange and prodigious apparitions. On Sunday in the evening several gentlemen and others, after named, walked forth in the fields, and the Sun going down, and appearing somewhat bigger than usual, they discoursed about it, directing their eyes towards the place where the Sun set ; when one of the company observed in the air, near the place where the Sun went down, an Arm of a blackish blue colour, with a ruddy com-plection'd Hand at one end, and at the other end a cross piece with a ring fasten'd to the middle of it, like one end of an anchor, which stood still for a while, and then made northwards, and so disappeared. Next, there appeared at a great distance in the air, from the same part of the sky, something like a Ship coming towards them ; and it came so near that they could distinctly perceive the masts, sails, tacklings, and men ; she then seem'd to tack about, and sail'd with the stern foremost, northwards, upon a dark smooth sea, which stretched itself from south-west to north-west. Having seem'd thus to sail some few minutes she sunk by degrees into the sea, her stern first ; and as she sunk they perceived her men plainly running up the tacklings in the forepart of the Ship, as it were to save themselves from drowning. Then appeared a Fort, with somewhat like a Castle on the top of it ; out of the sides of which, by reason of some clouds of smoak and a flash of fire suddenly issuing out, they concluded some shot to be made. The Fort then was immediately divided in two parts, which were in an instant transformed into two exact Ships, like the other they had seen, with their heads towards each other. That towards the south seem'd to chase the other with its stem [stern ?] foremost, northwards, till it sunk with its stem first, as the first Ship had done ; the other Ship sail'd some time after, and then sunk with its head first. It was observ'd that men were running upon the decks of these two Ships, but they did not see them climb up, as in the last Ship, excepting one man, whom they saw distinctly to get up with much haste upon the very top of the Bowsprit of the second Ship as they were sinking. They supposed the two last Ships were engaged, and fighting, for they saw the likeness of bullets rouling upon the sea, while they were both visible. Then there appear'd a Chariot, drawn with two horses, which turn'd as the Ships had done, northward, and immediately after it came a strange frightful creature, which they concluded to be some kind of serpent, having a head like a snake, and a knotted bunch or bulk at the other end, something resembling a snail's house. This monster came swiftly behind the chariot and gave it a sudden violent blow, then out of the chariot leaped a Bull and a Dog, which follow'd him [the bull], and seem'd to bait him. These also went northwards, as the former had done, the Bull first, holding his head downwards, then the Dog, and then the Chariot, till all sunk down one after another about the same place, and just in the same manner as the former. These meteors being vanished, there were several appearances like ships and other things. The whole time of the vision lasted near an hour, and it was a very clear and calm evening, no cloud seen, no mist, nor any wind stirring. All the phenomena came out of the West or Southwest, and all moved Northwards ; they all sunk out of sight much about the same place. Of the whole company there was not any one but saw all these things, as above-written, whose names follow :
1 William Turner, Compleat History of Most Re?narkable Providences (London, 1697).
" Mr. Allye, a minister, living near the place.
Lieutenant Dunsterville, and his son. Mr. Grace, his son-in-law. Lieutenant Dwine. Mr. Dwine, his brother. Mr. Christopher Hewelson. Mr. Richard Foster. Mr. Adam Hewelson. Mr. Bates, a schoolmaster.
Mr. Larkin. Mrs. Dunsterville. Her daughter-in-law. Her maiden daughter. Mr. Dwine's daughter. Mrs. Grace, her daughter".