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9th of December

The Seven Martyrs at Samosata, 297. St Leocadia, virgin and martyr, 304.

Born. – Gutsavus Adolphus the Great, of Sweden, 1594; Philip V. of Spain, 1683, Versailles.
Died. – Pope Pius IV., 1565; Sir Anthony Vandyke, painter, 1641, London; Pope Clement IX., 1669; John Reinhold Forster, naturalist, and voyager, 1798, Halle; Charles Macfarlane, historian, 1858, London; John O’Donovan, LL.D., Irish historical antiquary, 1861, Dublin.

On this Day in Other Sources.

This same year, [1165,] also, about the [9th] of December, died that holy and noble King Malcolm IV. At his castle of Jedburgh, about the 25th year of his age, after he had governed the realm 13 years and 6 months, and was interred at Dunfermline, [next to] his grandfather King David.

– Historical Works, pp.14-19.

Repeated instances occur of the presbytery dealing with parties who had used violence in churches. On one occasion “Andro Granger grantis yt he drew his quhinzeir vilfully in ye queer, ye preiching place of Glasgow, aganis Arthur Allan burges of Glasgw.” He expresses his regret, and is appointed to make public repentance.1

– Old Glasgow, pp.189-215.

1  9th Dec. 1595.

We find the presbytery taking cognisance of a case where an individual in the parish of Lenzie1 had used the very old practice of divination by “turning the riddle” to discover the guilty party in cases of theft. The practice was to place the riddle or sieve on a pair of tongs held and lifted up by only two fingers. The name of the suspected party being mentioned, if the sieve trembled or was moved round he was held to be guilty.2 In the case referred to in the Presbytery of Glasgow the minute is as follows: “Quhilk daye compeirit Jon Robeson in Leinzie paroche and grantis yt riddell upone yame yt had tane away his cleithes: ye said Kate come, ye said Jon braid being afield, ye said Kate turnit ye riddell for his cleithes yt he wantitt.” For this “greit and heynous sin” John Robeson is decerned to make his repentance on the pillar and to ask pardon at God and his kirk, – and Katherine Hopkin, for turning the riddle, is subjected to the same penance.3

– Old Glasgow, pp.189-215.

1  Kirkintilloch.
2  Weirus de Magis Infamibus, c. 12, p. 134.
3  9th December, 1601.

Dr Bembridge, ‘a very profound and learned mathematician,’ obliged the king with an account of this comet. He told him it was as far above the moon as the moon is above the earth, and not less than 2,300,000 English miles! Rushworth speaks of it as followed by, first, the Bohemian wars, then the German and Swedish, &c. ‘Dr Bembridge observed it to be vertical to London, and to pass over it in the morning; so it gave England and Scotland in their civil wars a sad wipe with its tail.’ – Foun. Hist. Ob. 

This notable comet was observed in Silesia, Rome, and Ispahan [in Iran]. From Skipton’s observations, Halley afterwards computed its orbit. It passed its perihelion on the 8th of November, at little more than a third of the earth’s distance from the sun. On the 9th of December [1618], its tail was 70º in length, being, according to Kepler, the longest that had been seen for a hundred and fifty years. 

This comet is also remarkable as the only one, besides another in 1607, which was observable by the naked eye in the first half of the seventeenth century; whereas in other spaces of time of the same extent, as many as thirteen have been detected. The comet of 1607, which is the same with that seen in 1682, 1759, and 1835, and usually known as Halley’s comet, is not mentioned by any of our contemporary chroniclers as having been visible in Scottish skies. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.177-227.

The winter 1634-5 is described by a contemporary as ‘the most tempestuous and stormy that was seen in Scotland these sixty years past, with such abundance of snow and so rigid a frost, that the snow lay in the plains from the 9th of December to the 9th of March.’ – Bal

– Domestic Annals, pp.228-256.

On a later occasion the presbytery ordains Agnes Gourlay “to mak publick repentance in sekclaith for charming kine.”1 The object in this case was to produce good cream, and for the information of those who may wish to repeat the experiment, I may state that the modus operandi practised by Agnes was “casting some of the milk into the grup, and putting of salt and bread into the cow’s lugs.” The grup is the trench for carrying off the sewage of the byre.

– Old Glasgow, pp.189-215.

1  9th Dec. 1650.

On the departure of the Prince the Castle was crowded with those persons who had fallen under the suspicion of Government; among these were Alexander Earl of Kellie, and upwards of sixty gentlemen, all of whom were heavily ironed, closely confined in damp vaults, and treated by the irritated soldiers with every indignity and opprobrium. To these were soon added a multitude of prisoners of all ranks, belonging to the regiments of Buckley, Berwick, and Clare, of the Irish Brigade in the French service, captured by the Milford Haven (40 guns), on board the Louis XV., off Montrose. On the 9th December, [1745,] Lord John Drummond, en route to join the Prince in England, marched through Edinburgh, with 800 men and a train of 18-pounders. He sent a drummer to the Castle to effect an exchange of these prisoners, without avail; and sixteen who were proved to have been deserters from our army in Flanders were thrown into the Castle pit, from whence four were taken to the gallows in the Grassmarket. In the same month young Macdonald of Kinlochmoidart, aide-de-camp to the Prince, was treacherously captured in the night, near Lesmahago, by the Reverend Mr. Linning, who, as the price of his blood, received the incumbency of that parish, according to “Forbes’s Memoirs”; and from the Castle he was taken to Carlisle, where he was hanged, drawn, and quartered.   

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.329-334.

Mr. Ross’s first legitimate performances as a licensed manager took place in the old theatre, which opened unusually late in the season, owing to a dreadful riot that happened in January, and the repairs incident to which occupied ten months, during which there were no representations whatever. Ross opened then, with the patented company on the 9th of December, 1767, with the tragedy of the Earl of Essex. He spoke the prologue, which was written by James Boswell, who, in the following lines, referred to the new theatre as the first one licensed in Scotland:- 

“Whilst in all points with other lands she vied, 
The stage alone to Scotland was denied: 
Mistaken zeal, in times of darkness bred, 
O’er the best minds its gloomy vapours spread; 
Taste and religion were opposed in strife, 
And ’twas a sin to view this glass of life! 
When the muse ventured the ungracious task, 
To play elusion with unlicensed mask, 
Mirth was restrained by statutory awe, 
And tragic greatness feared the scourge of law; 
Illustrious heroes errant vagrants seemed, 
And gentlest nymphs were sturdy beggars deemed.” 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.340-348.

Mr. Carmichael has also referred to many of the printed authorities quoted by me above, to prove that, shortly before MacPherson’s time, collections of poetry attributed to Ossian had been made in the Highlands of Scotland.  

In a letter dated December 9th, [1861,] the writer of the above able paper [Alexander A. Carmichael] gives an amusing account of a walk through rain and storm to visit an old dame, Catrina nic Mhathain, who is seventy-six, and fully confirms what has been said above. She is a capital singer of Ossianic lays, and praises the singing of a certain catechist, Donald MacIain ic Eoghain, of whom frequent mention is made, and who died many years ago. It was his wont to gather crowds of people by chanting these old lays. I have heard the same account of a Sutherland reciter. It seems that preachers and missionaries did not formerly condemn Gaelic poetry, and the minority who do so now are not of the best educated, so far as my experience goes. 

– Popular Tales, Vol.4, pp.209-227.

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