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three houres end night and day." The "Witches Howe," where these poor creatures were put to death is situate a little north of the town, but is now occupied by works of industry and commerce. The branks or witches bridle, however, is still preserved in the county hall. It is a small circle of iron, consisting of four parts, connected by hinges, and adapted as a collar for the neck. Behind is a short chain, and in front, pointing inwards, is a gag which entered the mouth, and pressed down the tongue for preventing speech or cries amidst the tortures of the flames. This infamous instrument was usually found amongst the mingled ashes of the body and the faggots, after the infernal incremation was
Shortly after the last execution for witchcraft, the town and neighbourhood of Forfar, was the stirring scene of a raid, or foray, between the Farquharsons and the M'Comies, two brave, yet revengeful Highland clans; the former of Brochdarg in Glenshee, and the latter of Forther in Glenisla. The immediate cause of quarrel seems to have been a dispute in regard to a right of forestry in the forest of Glascorie. As usual in those days, a fatal conflict was the consequence. The opposing parties met near the muir of Forfar, on the 28th of January 1673. In the encounter M'Comie was severely wounded, the same shot killing his brother Robert, while ultimately the Farquharsons, savagely despatched John "with their durks and swords." Brochdarg, afraid of the consequences to himself, precipitately took flight, but the M'Comies pursuing, soon overtook him, and killed him in cold blood at the extremity of the moss. Those who survived
the fight were all outlawed.
Traditional stories of this conflict at Forfar, are still fresh and rife in Glenshee, and Glenisla, in which the great personal strength and gallantry of the M'Comies are dwelt upon with the greatest enthusiasm. The chief of the clan was named "The big M'Comie." He delighted in wielding the claymore, and in popular feats of strength, such as
"Putting the Stone," "Throwing the Hammer," and other Highland games, where great muscular power was indispensable to secure success.
His natural daring and undaunted courage, M'Comie sedulously endeavoured to impart to his seven sons, the eldest of whom he supposed to have inherited the least of the courageous spirit of his ancestors. For the purpose of testing his powers, Mr Jervise graphically relates, that "the old man waylaid him one dark night, at a large stone in the solitude of Glenbaynie, known at this day as "M'Comie's Chair," and pouncing upon him unawares, a dreadful tulzie took place between the father and the son. The father, finding his son's strength and courage fully a match for his own, at length discovered himself, upon which his astonished son is said to have allowed the sword to drop insensibly from his hand."
A favourite resort of the old highlander was Camlochan, or "the Crooked loch," a beautiful sequestered spot on his property in Glenisla. Here, he is said to have had frequent interviews with a Mermaid, who revealed some wonderful stories to him; and on one occasion, like "witch Maggie," with Tam o' Shanter, it is traditionised, "that she took advantage of his horse in a trip down Glenisla, by leaping on behind him!"
The big M'Comie was a severe disciplinarian, and the Cateran whom he ruled with despotic sway, instead of lamenting his death, regarded that event as a happy deliverance from his tyranny. One of the clan returning from the Lowlands at the time, on being asked the usual question"What News?" with great rapture exclaimed-" What News News! and good news! Blessed be the Virgin Mary! The great M'Comie in the head of the Lowlands is dead, for as big and strong as he was!"
THE VILLAGE CLUB,-1870.
"A change we have found there and many a change,
ON the morning of Auld Yule, 1870, one, who had been long absent from these parts, might have been seen emerging from the Lowlands at the Sidlaw Hills, and taking his solitary way to the Glen of Ogilvy in the direction of Glamis. Although past the meridian of life, scarcely a grey hair yet silvered his forehead; the bloom of health was on his cheek, the light of intelligence beamed in his eye, and his step was as firm and elastic as in the days of his sunny youth.
As the well-remembered scene burst suddenly upon his view he paused on the verge of the Sidlaws overlooking the wild yet peaceful glen, with the feelings of one who had just left the outer world behind and entered a sequestered Elysium of quiet rest and peace. Was it so? Alas! no resting-place for the foot of the weary wanderer but that of the ancient churchyard of his fathers, to which he was now instinctively approaching. With tearful eye he looked round on the once familiar scene. Here was Dryburns at his feet; there was the Milton in the centre of the glen, and Middleton and Woodend to the north; with little and muckle Kilmundie in the far east, and reposing, as of old, under the shadow of the Hunter Hill, the mill and farm of Airniefoul, with the mountain rivulet still meandering through the glen with its unforgotten silver sound, just as it leaped and babbled in the days of yore. But where were the dwellers of the glen in his early youth where the loved friends, the dear companions of
his boyhood? where the sweet merry voices that once stirred to its deepest core the golden harp-strings of his young and innocent heart? All, all were gone-" the once familiar faces." Hushed for ever on this earth the dearly cherished voices he once loved, and still, in his memory, loves so well.
He had now reached the very spot where his venerated parent had bade him farewell on his leaving the home of his fathers to fight the battle of life in the great restless world beyond. Had the visions of fame which then flitted across his youthful vision like the golden dreams of a blissful Elysium been in part, or in full realized? Realized or not, the healthy pulsations of his heart beat true, as they ever had done, to the dearly cherished scenes of his early youth; and the words he had uttered a decade of life before, he could, with as much truth and warmth of feeling, utter now :
Dear spot! though changed to me thou be,
My wandering thoughts still turn to thee,
Oh! when amidst the city's throng,
My native glen! my heart's been thine,
When first love thrilled its magic tone,
Or charmed the cold false-hearted one;
Throughout each scene of grief or joy,
My wearied heart e'er turned to thee!
He now in sadness mused by the old homestead and "Ancient Mill:"
There stood the house, the old apple tree,
And there was the steading, the stack'd farm-yard,
The mill and the burn, and the dark Hunter Hill,
It is said the dread, unbroken silence which ever pervades the vast forests of the American continent are more eloquently impressive than their vastness of extent, or their unrivalled prodigality of luxuriant beauty. And so, with the keenest edge of that saddening and painfully oppressive feeling, did the hushed silence which now reigned around his birth-place pierce the innermost recesses of the traveller's soul, until a welcome flood of tears obscured from his vision the landmarks of his fathers, as he, with overpowering emotion, exclaimed: "Oh! for the wings of a dove, that I might flee away and be at rest!"
Having crossed the burn, our traveller now took his way by the well-known by-path through the Hunter Hill:
And onwards, how sadly! through copeswood he wander'd,
Yet feeling a deep solemn joy,
For these were the pathways, zigzag in the woodland,
Where rambled he free when a boy.
He entered at last the village of Glamis; and, standing on