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generation to the geography of our possessions, which is so little known in the highest quarters, that Berbice is marked (printed) in an official document of the House of Commons as an island, and placed among the Bahamas !" It may be convenient to add, for the information of the people's representatives, that Berbice, one of the three divisions of British Guiana, is a portion of the South American Continent.
SUPERNATURAL FOOTPRINTS IN ROCKS
AND STONES. The similarity or the identity of the superstitions of nations has recently attracted considerable attention. Many books on the subject have appeared on the continent, and a few in our own land, among which the pleasing works of Mr Keightley deserve prominent notice. He alludes to “the marks which natural causes have impressed on the solid and unyielding granite rock, but which, according to the popular creed, were produced by the contact of the hero, the saint, or the god.”2 I have collected some instances of the almost universal diffusion of this superstition.
Montgomery Martin's Hist. of the British Colonies, vol. ii. p. ii. Lond. 1834.
Keightley's Fairy Mythology, vol. i. p. 5. Lond. 1833.
We meet it in every district of SCOTLAND, at Maidenkirk and beyond John o'Groat’s. According to old Andrew Symson, “Kirkmaiden in Galloway is so called, because the kirk is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the print of whose knee is fabulously reported to be seen on a stone, where she prayed somewhere about a place in this parish called Mary Port, neer to which place there was a chapel long since, but now wholy ruined.”? In our Lady's
Though, perhaps, it may be permitted to doubt the legend of his many-sided table, John o' Groat is no mythological personage. He obtained a charter of certain lands in Dungsby or Duncansby from the Earl of Caithness in 1496 ; and he figures in a legal instrument of the year 1525 as an “ honourable man, John Grot, in Dongasby, chamberlain and bailie in that part of a noble and potent lord John Earl of Caithness ;" and in that character gives seisin to a religious house of a perpetual annuity of ten merks, to be levied from the lands of Stroma, an islet in the Pentland Firth. I think it is Barry who says, that a dispute whether it belonged to Caithness or to Orkney, was determined by ascertaining that poisonous animals would live on it. As none will subsist in Orkney, it was assigned to the continent. Selden, in his learned notes to Drayton's Poly-Olbion (song ix.), remarks, that “ there was long since a controversy, whether the Isle of Man belonged to Ireland or England, and this by reason of the equal distance from both. To decide it they tried if it would endure venomous beasts, which is certainly denied of Ireland ; and finding that it did, adjudged it to our Britain. Topograph. Hibern. dict. 2, cap. 15.”
2 Symnson's Description of Galloway, p. 65. Edinb. 1823. Kirk in South Ronaldsha, in Orkney, Brand saw “ a stone lying, about four feet long and two feet broad, but narrower and round at the two ends; upon the surface of which stone is the print of two feet, concerning which the superstitious people have a tradition that Saint Magnus, when he could not get a boat on a time to carry him over Pightland Firth, took this stone, and setting his feet thereupon, passed the firth safely, and left this stone in this church, which hath continued here ever since.”l Martin adds, that “ others have this more reasonable opinion, that it has been used in time of popery for delinquents, who were obliged to stand bare-foot upon it by way of penance."2 The Reverend George Forbes, in the Statistical Account of the Parish of Leochel in Mar, informs us that “ the castle of Corse, now in ruins, was built in 1581 by William
* Brand's Description of Orkney, p. 60. Edinb. 1703. The good saint seems to have loved miraculous voyages. Three centuries after his death (which fell on Monday the 16th April 1104, according to Orkneyinga Saga, p. 505, Hafn. 1780), on the day of the battle of Bannockburn, he suddenly appeared in the streets of Aberdeen, clad in shining armour, and told the glad tidings of the Bruce's great victory : he was seen riding northwards until he vanished from the sight of men, as urged his steed across the Pentland Firth.-Boetii Scot. Hist. lib. xiv. fol. 304, edit. 1575.
2 Martin's Description of the Western Islands, p. 367. Lond. 1716.
Forbes, father of Patrick Forbes, bishop of Aberdeen. Tradition bears, and the common people still believe, that the devil visited the bishop in this castle ; that they differed (quarrelled]; and that the devil on his departure carried away with him the broad side of the castle ; on the stone-stairs whereof they still pretend to point out his footsteps." In describing the vitrified site of the Top of Noth in Strathbogie, Dr Hibbert speaks of “ a lofty upright stone on the westerly flank of the hill, connected with which is a monstrous traditional story of its having been placed there by a giant, the print of whose heel in it is still visible.”2 In Stratherne the marks of Saint Fillan's knees are shown in a rock on which he used to kneel in his frequent devotions. In
· Statistical Account of Scotland, vol. vi. p. 220. Bishop Forbes died in 1635; he is the author of several valuable works, which are enumerated in Dr Irving's Lives of Scotish Writers, vol. ii. p. 46. A memoir of the worthy prelate is prefixed to the edition of his son's works, printed at Amsterdam by Henry Wetstein in 1703, in two volumes folio. A collection of sermons, letters, and poems on his death was published under the title of “ Funeralls of a Right Reverend Father in God, Patrick Forbes of Corse, Bishop of Aberdene. Aberdene, imprinted by Edward Raban, 1635.” 4to. pp. 429. The few verses in our vernacular are singularly bad. One example may suffice :
“ Some for their David dool'd, most for the Temple grat:
Some for Josias shouted in the valley of Josaphat.” 2 Archaeologia Scotica, vol. iv. p. 297. 3 Descript. of Coast between Aberdeen and Leith, p. 102.
Glenalmond tourists are taken to see a stone on which are the marks of people's feet, and the hoofs of horses, cows, and sheep.”! And a ballad of Galloway assures us, that
66 Tho' the Brownie o' Blednoch lang be gane, The mark o' his feet's left on mony a stane.”2
The popular legend of the building of Stonehenge shows that the belief maintains in ENGLAND. The story is thus told by a local writer:
“ The prophet Merlin, desirous of having a parcel of stones which grew in an odd sort of form in a back-yard belonging to an old woman in Ireland, transported thence to Salisbury Plain, employed the devil upon the work, who, the night after, dressing himself like a gentleman, and taking a large bag of money in his hand, presented himself before the good woman as she was sitting at her table, and acquainted her of the purchase he was come to make; the fiend at the same time pouring out his money on the board before her, and offering her as much for the stones as she could reckon while he should be taking them away. The money was all in odd sorts of coins, such as fourpenny-halfpenny pieces, ninepenny
1 The Scotish Tourist, p. 89. Edinb. 1838. 2 Chambers' Popular Rhymes of Scotland, p. 276.