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Third, as to things in general. On the 10th December, 1648, "the Covenant, and ane publick acknowledgement of the sinnes of the land, were publickly read before the blessing and a fast for this effect intimated, to be keeped on Thursday first, and the next Sunday immediatelie following; and the Covenant intimated to be renewed on ye said Lord's day." Witchcraft, and other "abominable sinnes," seem to have been the cause of other fasts being appointed by the Kirk :"August 16th, 1649. The same day there was intimat and read causes of a solemne fast, appointed by ye Generall Assemblie to be kept throughout all the congregations of the kingdom upon ye last Sabbath of this instant;" the causes whereof were, inter alia, the following:-I. “We are to mourne for the continuance and increase of sinne and profanitie, especiallie of the abominable sinne of Witchcraft. II. We are to afflict our souls before ye Lord for ye sad interruption of the Lord's work in England and in Ireland, &c. III. Because our king hath graunted unto the Irish rebells the full libertie of Poperie," &c. Another fast was ordained on the 14th November following, one of the causes of which was stated to be "ye pregnant scandall of witchcraft and charming within this part of ye land ;" and again on 26th May, 1650, solemn thanksgiving is intimated "to be keeppit upon the 2d of June, the next Lord's day, for that wonderful victorie over James Grahame and his associates of late in the north." On the 10th October 1652, intimation is given of a collection "for the sadd condition of the toune of Glasgow, being half burnt." It would appear the members of Session drew the sword of war when occasion required, for under the date of 12th November 1653, it is intimated that there was "na sessione, in respect the elders were withdrawn in attending some of Glencairne's souldiers who were ranging throw the paroch." A meritorious act on the part of the Session must close these interesting extracts, viz:- February 17, 1650. Given this day to Sir Robert Mubray, sometyme Laird of Barnbougall, now become through indigence, ane poor supplicant, twentie-foure shillings."
Join glad the poet's rhyme
Roll on the joyous chime
Of these sweet village bells.
WE shall now cross the Ericht to the parish of Rattray, on our way to Alyth and the Den of Airlie. Although the etymology of the name be somewhat obscure, the probability is, that as there are records which bear the name of Rattray as early as 1066, that name had been transferred to the parish in general, the Castle of Rattray, on the Hill of Rattray, having anciently been the residence of the family of that name. As a place of greater security during the troublous times of intestine wars, the family, it would appear, removed from this hill to Craighall. With the exception of a few standing stones supposed to be the ruins of a Druidical temple, and the remains of the old Castle of Rattray, there are no antiquities of any note in the parish.
Of eminent men connected with the parish, Mr Donald Cargill-from whom maternally the writer is lineally descended, as he is, fraternally, from Mr James Guthrie, another no less celebrated martyr-deserves a distinguished place, as one of the ministers who lived and suffered in the troubled and unhappy reign of Charles II. He was born about the year 1610, at Hatton, in this parish, of which estate his father was proprietor. He studied at the University of St Andrews, and on being licensed to preach, was ordained minister of the Barony parish of Glasgow, where he remained till the
establishment of episcopacy in 1662. He was at the battle of Bothwell and received several wounds. The boldness of his nature was exhibited in his excommunication of the king and his principal officers in 1680. Shortly after, he was apprehended, tried and condemned by the Justiciary Court for high treason. The sentence was immediately carried into effect, and he was executed at Edinburgh, on the 27th of July 1681.
As we proceed on our way, how sweet to listen to the distant sound of these fondly cherished village bells, whose dreamy ethereal music now swelling up from the valley below and softly floating on the balmy summer air, carries our wandering thoughts, with traditionary swiftness, far away to the time, when, as Pliny informs us, small bells (tintinnabula) were suspended by chains in a monumental edifice erected by Porsenna, King of Etruria, near Clusium, five centuries before the Christian era. Suetonius also informs us that Augustus Cæsar hung bells of the same kind round the temple of Jupiter Tonans, at Rome. It is difficult, and perhaps impossible to ascertain, however, when bells were first used in religious edifices. The inventor of bells of that kind is generally reputed to be Paulinus, Bishop of Nola, in Campania, the invention dating from the beginning of the fifth century. Bells and bell-towers are repeatedly mentioned in the eighth century. One of the earliest of these bell-towers is the Campanile of St Peter at Rome. Mr Gunn says:- "The first bell-tower we hear of belonging to the Basilica, was built either by Adrian I., or by Stephen III. Anastasius assigns it to the latter. The date of this tower is, however, by Pompeius Sarnellus, placed higher, and perhaps justly. From a coin of Heraclius, found in the ruins of the latter, in the seventeenth century, he conjectures it was constructed about 610."
In his life of Eloy, written in 650, St Ouen, Archbishop of Rouen, mentions (Campana) bells. They appear to have been known in England, at the time of Bede, for the Arch
bishop, in giving an account of the death of Hilda, Abbess of Whitby, represents the event as being miraculously made known to a nun of the monastery of Hakeness "by the familiar sound of a bell."
Coming down to the nineteenth century, we all know the intense effect which the distant sound of cathedral bells had on the iron mind of the great Napoleon, in the midst of his sanguinary career of boundless ambition and heroic victories.
In Scotland, however, we know little of the exquisite pleasure experienced in listening to the sweet music of the village and city bells of our more favoured sister, England. On a still Sabbath morning, every hamlet and town, every valley and hill, is vocal with the hallowed sounds of musical reverberating chimes, ringing out harmoniously from every ivy-covered belfry and lofty cathedral tower, till the outspreading landscape, far and near, is filled with divinest melody. And yet after all, dear reader, it is not the richness of the music, but the tender associations encompassing the sound of the "Sabbath bell," that is so dear to a Scotman's heart, whether he lovingly lingers at home among his native hills, or boldly braves the dangers of distant lauds, where
"No Sabbath bell
Awakes the Sabbath morn,
Among the yellow corn!"
Very solemn and sweet at all times to the sensitive mind, are the sounds, of whatever kind, of distant music, but chief at balmy summer eventide, when it softly dies away among the distant hills, more dearly loved the farther from us it recedes, more sweet the fainter it becomes, like dying song, low breathed, of some pure sainted spirit gone to rest in the land o' the leal!
Oh! whither shall we roam, my love,
CRAIGHALL and Rattray, with their romantic surroundings, having already been described, there is nothing more of sufficient importance to detain us longer on our way to the braes of Angus. We shall, therefore, at once proceed thither, taking the ancient town of Alyth on our way, not forgetting to cast a loving and admiring gaze on the beautiful Howe on our right with its many towns and villages, its churches, castles, woods, and streams; bounded grandly on the south by the undulating range of the Sidlaws, now clothed to their summits with hanging sylvan woods, or waving fields of golden grain; anon diversified by grassy uplands, and richly purpling heather hills.
Here comes the creaking, heavy laden waggon, slowly along the white and dusty road, and by it proudly walks the stalwart peasant, cracking his long whip loudly in the summer air, while cheerily whistling some favourite rustic air dear to his manly heart. There goes the fresh and rosy shepherd boy, with his fleecy flock of ewes and lambs, and his ever faithful collie dog keeping diligent watch and ward over the numerous, yet obedient flock committed to his charge. See how his canine sagacity is exercised in carefully tending, yet gently chiding yon little bleating lamb that, tired and bewildered, laggs wearily in the rear! While admiring the patient