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The scene, with which the ballad opens, was suggested by the following curious passage, extracted from the Life of Alexander Peden, one of the wandering and persecuted teachers of the sect of Cameronians, during the reign of Charles II. and his successor, James. This person was supposed by his followers, and perhaps really believed himself, to be possessed of supernatural gifts ; for the wild scenes which they frequented, and the constant dangers which were incurred through their proscription, deepened upon their minds the gloom of superstition, so general in that age.
“ About the same time he (Peden) came to Andrew Normand's house, in the parish of Alloway, in the shire of Ayr, being to preach at night in his barn. After he came in, he halted a little, leaning upon a chair back, with his face covered; when he lifted up his head, he said, “There are in this house that I have not one word of salvation unto;' he halted a little again, saying, • This is strange, that the devil will not go out, that we may begin our work! Then there was a woman went out, ill-looked upon almost all her life, and to her dying hour, for a witch, with many presumptions of the same. It escaped me, in the former passages, that John Muirhead (whom I have often mentioned) told
me, that when he came from Ireland to Galloway, he he was at family-worship, and giving some notes upon the Scripture, when a very ill-looking man came, and sate down within the door, at the back of the hallan (partition of the cottage): immediately he halted and said, “There is some unhappy body just now come into this house. I charge him to go out, and not stop my mouth!' The person went out, and he insisted (went on,) yet he saw him neither come in nor go out.”The Life and Prophecies of Mr Alexander Peden, late Minister of the Gospel at New Glenluce, in Galloway, Part II, $ 26.
The Pope he was saying the high, high mass,
All on Saint Peter's day, With the power to him given, by the saints in heaven,
To wash men's sins away.
The Pope he was saying the blessed mass,
And the people kneeld around ;
As he kiss'd the holy ground.
And all, among the crowded throng,
Was still, both limb and tongue, While through vaulted roof, and aisles aloof,
The holy accents rung.
At the holiest word he quiver'd for fear,
And falter'd in the sound-
He dropp'd it on the ground.
“ The breath of one, of evil deed,.
Pollutes our sacred day;
No part in what I say.
“ A being, whom no blessed word
To ghostly peace can bring;
Recoils each holy thing.
“ Up, up, unhappy! haste, arise !
My adjuration fear!
No longer tarry here!"
Amid them all a Pilgrim kneeld,
In gown of sackcloth gray ; Far journeying from his native field,
He first saw Rome that day.
For forty days and nights so drear,
I ween, he had not spoke, And, save with bread and water clear,
His fast he ne'er had broke.
Amid the penitential flock,
Seem'd none more bent to pray; But, when the Holy Father spoke,
He rose, and went his way.