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delegated authority of the privy-council, for the purpose of persecuting, torturing, and finally consigning to the flames, those who were accused of witchcraft or sorcery. But superstitions of this nature pass through two stages ere they become entirely obsolete. Those supposed to be possessed of supernatural powers, are venerated in the earlier stages of society. As religion and knowledge increase, they are first held in hatred and horror, and are finally regarded as impostors. Scotland was in the second state the fear of witchcraft was great, and the hatred against those suspected of it intense. Zetland was as yet a little world by itself, where, among the lower and ruder classes, so much of the ancient northern superstition remained, as cherished the original veneration for those affecting supernatural knowledge and power over the elements, which made a constituent part of the ancient Scandinavian creed. At least if the natives of Thule admitted that one class of magicians performed their feats by their alliance with Satan, they devoutly believed that others dealt with spirits a different and less odious class the ancient dwarfs, called, in Zetland, Trows or Drows, the modern fairies, and so forth.
Ainong those who were supposed to be in league with disembodied spirits, this Norna, descended from, and representative of a family which had long pretended to such gifts, was so eminent, that the name assigned to her, which signifies one of those fatal sisters who weave the web of human fate, had been conferred in honour of her supernatural powers. The name by which she had been actually christened was carefully concealed by herself and her parents ; for to the discovery they superstitiously annexed some fatal consequences. In these times, the doubt only occurred whether her supposed powers were acquired by lawful means. In our days, it would have been questioned whether she was an impostor, or whether her imagination was so deeply impressed with the mysteries of her supposed art, that she might be in some degree a believer in her own pretensions to supernatural knowledge. Certain it is, that she performed her part with such undoubting confidence, and such striking dignity of look and action, and evinced, at the same time,
such strength of language, and such energy of purpose, that it would have been difficult for the greatest sceptic to have doubted the reality of her enthusiasm, though he might smile at the pretensions to which it gave rise.
" If, by your art, you have
The storm had somewhat relaxed its rigour just before the entrance of Norna, otherwise she must have found it impossible to travel during the extremity of its fury. But she had hardly added herself so unexpectedly to the party whəm chance had assembled at the dwelling of Triptolemus Yellowley, when the tempest suddenly resumed its former vehemence, and raged around the building with a fury which made the inmates insensible to any thing except the risk that the old mansion was about to fall above their heads.
Mistress Baby gave vent to her fears in loud exclamations of “the Lord guide us— this is surely the last day -- what kind of a country of guisards and gyre-carlines is this !- and you, ye fool carle,” she added, turning on her brother, for all her passions had a touch of acidity in them, “ to quit the bonny Mearns land to come here, where there is naething but sturdy beggars and gaberlunzies within ane's house, and heaven's anger on the outside on't!"
“ I tell you, sister Baby,” answered the insulted agriculturist, “ that all shall be reformed and amended, excepting,” he added betwixt his teeth," the scaulding humours of an ill-rratured jaud, that can add bitterness to the very storm."
The old domestic and the pedlar meanwhile exhausted themselves in entreaties to Norna, of which, as they were couched in the Norse language, the master of the house understood nothing.
She listened to them with a haughty and unmoved air, and replied at length aloud, and in English -** I will not. What if this house be strewed in ruins before morning-where would be the world's want in the crazed projector, and the niggardly pinch-commons, by which it is inhabited? They will needs come to reform Zetland customs, let them try how they like a Zetland