Note to Chapter 28

Fairy Superstition (p. 328).

The lakes and precipices amidst which the Avon-Dhu, or river Forth, has its birth, are still, according to popular tradition, haunted by the Elfin people, the most peculiar, but most pleasing, of the creations of Celtic superstitions. The opinions entertained about these beings, are much the same with those of the Irish, so exquisitely well narrated by Mr. Crofton Croker. An eminently beautiful little conical hill, near the eastern extremity of the valley of Aberfoil, is supposed to be one of their peculiar haunts, and is the scene which awakens, in Andrew Fairservice, the terror of their power. It is remarkable, that two successive clergymen of the parish of Aberfoil have employed themselves in writing about this fairy superstition. The eldest of these was Robert Kirke, a man of some talents, who translated the Psalms into Gaelic verse. He had formerly been minister at the neighbouring parish of Balquidder, and died at Aberfoil in 1688, at the early age of forty-two.

He was author of the Secret Commonwealth, which was printed after his death, in 1691, an edition which I have never seen, and was reprinted in Edinburgh, 1815. This is a work concerning the fairy people, in whose existence Mr. Kirke appears to have been a devout believer. He describes them with the usual powers and qualities ascribed to such beings in Highland tradition.

But what is sufficiently singular, the Rev. Robert Kirke, author of the said treatise, is believed himself to have been taken away by the fairies, in revenge, perhaps, for having let in too much light upon the subject of their commonwealth. We learn this catastrophe from the information of his successor, the late amiable and learned Dr. Patrick Grahame, also minister at Aberfoil, who, in his Sketches of Perthshire, has not forgotten to touch upon the Daoine Shie, or men of peace.

The Rev. Robert Kirke was, it seems, walking upon a little eminence to the west of the present manse, which is still held a Dun Shie, or fairy mound, when he sunk down, in what seemed to mortals a fit, and was supposed to be dead. This, however, was not his real fate.

“Mr. Kirke was the near relation of Graham of Duchray, the ancestor of the present General Graham Stirling. Shortly after his funeral, he appeared in the dress in which he had sunk down, to a medical relation of his own, and of Duchray. ‘Go,’ said he to him, ‘to my cousin Duchray, and tell him that I am not dead. I fell down in a swoon, and was carried into Fairyland, where I now am. Tell him, that when he and my friends are assembled at the baptism of my child (for he had left his wife pregnant), I will appear in the room, and that if he throws the knife which he holds in his hand over my head, I will be released, and restored to human society.’ The man, it seems, neglected, for some time, to deliver the message. Mr. Kirke appeared to him a second time, threatening to haunt him night and day till he executed his commission, which at length he did. The time of the baptism arrived. They were seated at table; the figure of Mr. Kirke entered, but the Laird of Duchray, by some unaccountable fatality, neglected to perform the prescribed ceremony. Mr. Kirke retired by another door, and was seen no more. It is firmly believed that he is, at this day, in Fairyland.”—(Sketches of Perthshire, p. 254.)

  By PanEris using Melati.

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