The Occult Laboratory: Magic, Science, and Second Sight in Late Seventeenth-Century Scotland

By Michael Hunter | Go to book overview

1.

Robert Boyle's notes on his interview with Lord Tarbat, 3 October 1678 (Royal Society Boyle Papers 39, fols. 216—17)

London October 3
1678.

This afternoon I ‹(R.B.)› received the honnour of a visit from my Lord of Tarbot, accompanied with a very ingenious gentlman of his acquaintance and mine. a After some discourse about some rare particulars of the natural History of his Lo[rdship's] contrey Scotland, occasion was given me, to take notice, that I had been told, that no man was better able than he, to gratify the curiosity I had, to receive some credible information about those, who are said in Scotland to have, what they call The Second Sight, which information invited me to beg his Lo[rdship] to let me know what I might beleive and especially what he had observed about a thinge, that not only is not to be meet with in the course of Nature bot is not to be matched in the books of Magick, I have hitherto read:

In compliance with this request his Lo[rdship] told me, that he was att first much indisposed, to beleive any such sto‹r›ys, as those that went about in Scotland, touching the Second sight yet he was afterwards convinced that many of them might be true, and tho he had known divers persons endowed with that scarce credible gift, yet the two things that satisfied him first or most, were things that happened to himself the former whereof was this.

Whilest dureing the late troubles Cromwels armie was in Scotland he and Leutenant Colonel Menro: who is 1 now in town, b retired them selfes to a remote part of the Contrey very far from the English forces, where one morning walking abroad early in the beginning of May, they espyed a Contrey fellow who's back was almost turned to them that had a Turf Spad in his hand and yet as they passed by ‹him› seem'd to look very attentivly at the midle of a very high hill that was not 2 far

____________________
a
For George MacKenzie, Lord Tarbat (1630—1714), see Introduction, above, pp. 2, 26. The identity of his companion is unclear; one possibility is Alexander Bruce, 2nd Earl of Kincardine (c. 1629—80).
b
Alexander Munro was Major (1666) and subsequently Lieutenant Colonel (1673) in the Scottish regiment of foot commanded by Lord George Douglas (1636?—92), created 1st Earl of Dumbarton in 1675. Originally part of the French army, after 1678 it served in the English establishment as the First Royal Regiment of Foot or Royal Scots: Childs, Army of Charles II, p. 244.

-51-

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