« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
same place, and at the same hour, they were again seen with far greater tumult, fighting in the manner aforementioned, for four hours, or very near, and then vanished. Appearing again on Sunday night, and performing the same actions of hostility and bloodshed, so that Mr. Wood and others, whose faith, it should seem, was not strong enough to carry them out against these delusions, forsook their habitations thereabout, and retired themselves to other more secure dwellings; but Mr. Marshall stayed, and some other; and so successively the next Saturday and Sunday the same tumults and prodigious sights and actions were put in the state and condition they were formerly. The rumour whereof coming to His Majesty at Oxford, he immediately dispatched thither Colonel Lewis Kirke, Captain Dudley, Captain Wainman, and three other gentlemen of credit, to take full view and notice of the said business, who, at first hearing the true attestation and relation of Mr. Marshall and others, stayed there till the Saturday night following, wherein they heard and saw the fore-mentioned prodigies, and so on Sunday, distinctly knowing divers. of the apparitions, or incorporeal substances, by their faces, as that of Sir Edmund Varney, and others that were there slain, of which upon oath they made testimony to His Majesty. What this doth portend God only knoweth, and time perhaps will discover; but doubtlessly it is a sign of His wrath against this land, for these civil wars, which He in His good time finish, and send a sudden peace between His Majesty and Parliament.”
About the beginning of the eighteenth century stood a grand mansion near the head of the Canongate, the site of which now, however, is covered with buildings of a very different character. With this old mansion is connected a tale of terror, the circumstances of which were well known and talked about no longer ago than the beginning of the present century. A friend of Sir Walter Scott, in whose early life the story was still current, furnished him with the account from which the following version of the tradition is derived.
At the period referred to, a divine of great sanctity was summoned in the middle of a certain night, to come and pray with a person at the point of death. This was no unusual summons, but the consequences which followed were very terrifying. He was forced into a sedan chair, and, after having been carried for a considerable distance, was set down in a remote part of the city, where, at the muzzle of a cocked pistol, he was compelled to submit to being blindfolded. In the course of the discussion which his remonstrances caused, he heard enough, and, indeed, saw enough of their garb, to make him conjecture that the chairmen were greatly above the menial position they had assumed.
After many turnings and windings the sedan was carried up-stairs into an apartment, where the bandage was removed from his eyes, and whence he was con
ducted into a bed-chamber, where he found a lady recently delivered of an infant. He was commanded by one of those who had brought him to this place to say such prayers by the lady's bed-side as were suitable for a person not expected to survive a mortal disorder. The divine ventured to remonstrate, observing that the lady's appearance warranted a more hopeful condition. He was sternly commanded to obey his instructions, and so, but with much difficulty, recollected himself sufficiently to acquit himself of the duty enjoined him.
As soon as his ministrations were deemed performed, the divine was again blindfolded; replaced in the chair, and hurried off, but, as he was being carried down-stairs, he heard the ominous report of a fire-arm. He was taken home safely, and a purse of gold forced upon him ; but, at the same time, he was warned that the least allusion to the affair which had just transpired would cost him his life. He betook himself to his bedchamber, but was speedily aroused by his servant with the information that a most furious fire had just broken out in the house of ..., near the head of the Canongate, and that the proprietor's daughter, a lady eminent for her beauty and accomplishments, had perished in the flames.
Our divine had his suspicions, but to have made them public would have availed nothing but to jeopardise his own safety. He was timid, and the family was one of power and distinction, so he soothed himself with the reflection that the deed was done and could not be undone. Time fpassed on, and with it carried away some of his fears. He became unhappy at being the sole custodian of so dark a secret, and, therefore, gradually told it to some of his brother clergy, so that by degrees the whole story leaked out.
In due course the divine died, and his terrible tale had become nearly forgotten, when it so happened that a fire broke out again on the very same site where the house of ... had formerly stood, but where now stood buildings of an inferior style. When the flames were at their height, the tumult which usually attends such a scene, was suddenly suspended by a marvellous apparition. A beautiful female, in an extremely rich, but very antique style of night-dress, appeared in the very midst of the fire, and in an awful voice uttered these terrifying words :—“Once burned ! twice burned! the third time I will scare you all !”
“The belief in this story,” says our authority, “was formerly so strong, that on a fire breaking out, and seeming to approach the fatal spot, there was a good deal of anxiety testified lest the apparition should make good her denunciation."
EDINBURGH: GILLESPIE HOSPITAL.
On the site where Gillespie Hospital now stands, formerly stood an ancient mansion that some years after the conclusion of the American War of Inde
pendence, was used by the late Lieutenant-General Robertson of Lawers, who had served through the whole of the said war, as his town residence. The General, on his return to Europe, brought with him a negro called “Black Tom,” who remained in his service as a servant. Tom's own particular room was on the ground floor of the residence, and he was frequently heard to complain that he could not rest in it, for every night the figure of a headless woman, carrying a child in her arms, rose up from the hearth and frightened him terribly.
No one paid much attention to poor Tom's trouble, although the apartment had an uncanny reputation, as it was supposed to be the result of dreams caused by intoxication, the negro's character for sobriety not being very remarkable. But a strange thing happened when the General's old residence was pulled down to make way for James Gillespie's Hospital. There under the hearthstone which had caused “Black Tom" so many restless nights, was discovered a box containing the body of a woman, from which the head had been severed, and beside her lay the remains of an infant, wrapt in a pillow-case trimmed with lace. The unfortunate lady appeared to have been murdered without any warning; she was fully dressed, and her scissors were yet hanging by a ribbon to her side, and her thimble was also in the box, having apparently dropped from the shrivelled finger of the corpse.