The Song I Came to Sing:The Misadventures of Archibald Campbell

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  2. Roderick W. MacIver (Author of The Song I Came to Sing)
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Aubrey has said, viz. The Seer knows neither the Object, Time nor Place of a Vision before it appears, and the same Object is often seen by different Persons, living at a considerable distance from one another.


As an Object appears in the Day or Night, it will come to pass sooner or later accordingly. Examples of this kind were shown the Author, when the Persons, of whom the Observations were made, enjoy'd perfect Health. If a Woman be seen standing at a Man's left Hand, it's a Presage that she will be his Wife, whether they are married to others, or unmarried, at the Time of the Apparition.

If the Person so appearing be one of the Seer 's Acquaintaince, he can tell by his Countenance whether he comes in good or bad Humour. It's ordinary with them to see Houses, Gardens, and Trees, in Places void of all Three, and this in process of Time uses to be accomplish'd; of which he gives an Instance in the Island of Skye. To see a Seat empty at the time of one's sitting in it, is a Presage of that Person's Death quickly after. When a Novice, or one, that has lately obtain'd the Second Sight, sees a Vision in the Night-time without Doors, and comes near a Fire he presently falls into a Swoon.

But they know nothing concerning the Corpse. There is the way of fore-telling Death by a Cry, that they call Taisk, which some call a Wrath in the Low-land. They hear a loud Cry without Doors, exactly resembling the Voice of some particular Person, whose Death is foretold by it, of which he gives a late Instance, which happen'd in the Village Rigg in Skye Isle.

Things are also fore-told by smelling sometimes, as follows.

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That Children see it, it is plain, from their crying aloud at the very Instant, that a Corpse or any other Vision appears to an ordinary Seer: Of which he gives an Instance in a Child, when himself was present. That Horses likewise see it's very plain, from their violent and sudden starting, when the Rider, or Seer in Company with them, sees a Vision of any kind by Night or Day.

That Cows have the Second Sight, appears from this; that if a Woman milking a Cow happens to see a Vision by the Second Sight, the Cow runs away in a great fright at the same time, and will not be pacify'd for some time after. In Reference to this Paracelsus, Tom.

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Here in the next place the Author answers Objections that have lately been made against the Reality of the Second Sight. There are no Madmen among them, nor any Instance of Self-murther. Secondly, It's objected, that there are none among the Learned able to oblige the World with a satisfactory Account of these Visions; therefore they are not to be believed. Every Vision that is seen, comes exactly to pass, according to the rules of Observation, though Novices and heedless Persons do not always judge by those Rules; concerning which he gives Instances.

There are Visions seen by several Persons, in whose Days they are not accomplish'd; and this is one of the Reasons, why some Things have been seen, that are said never to have come to pass; and there are also several Visions seen, which are not understood till they are accomplish'd. It's observable, that it was much more common Twenty or Thirty Years ago, than at present; for One in Ten does not see it now, that saw it then.

She sees a Smoak about one's Face, which is the fore-runner of the death of a Person so seen, and she actually foretold the deaths of several that lived there. She was living in that Town a few Winters ago. Sacheverel tells us in his late Description of the Isle of Man. Note, that this is like the Sight of the Corpse-candles in Wales, which is also well attested.

Here the Author adds many other Instances concerning the Second Sight of which I shall set down only a few. A Man in Knockow, in the Parish of St. Mary 's, the northermost Part of Skye, being in perfect Health, and sitting with his fellow Servants at Night, was on a sudden taken ill, drop'd from his Seat backward, and then fell a vomiting; at which the Family was much concern'd, he having never been subject to the like before; but he came to himself soon after, and had no sort of Pain about him.

One of the Family, who was accustomed to see the Second Sight, told them that the Man's Illness proceeded from a very strange Cause, which was thus. This Woman had a Fancy for the Man, but was like to be disappointed as to her marrying of him. He answer'd it was the Butler, but this seem'd more strange, for it was generally thought he could not play at Tables. Upon this Sir Norman ask'd him how long it was since he had learn'd to play? And the Fellow own'd that he had never play'd in his Life, but that he saw the Spirit Brownie a Spirit usually seen in that Country reaching his Arm over the player's Head, and touching the Part with his Finger, where the Table-man was to be placed.

This was told the Author by Sir Norman, and others, who happen'd to be present at the Time. The Ropes and Mast of that very Boat were made use of to hang those Criminals.


This was told the Author by several, who had this Instance related to them by the Boat's Crew. Archibald Mack Donald of the Parish of St. This Harper was a poor Man, who made himself a Buffoon for his Bread, and was never seen before in those Parts, and at the Time of the Prediction he was in the Isle of Barray, which is about Twenty Leagues distant from that Part of Skye. One Daniel Nicholson, Minister of St. I had, said he, as serious Thoughts as my Neighbours in time of hearing a Sermon to Day, and even then I saw a Corpse laid on the Ground close to the Pulpit; and I assure you it will be accomplish'd shortly, for it was in the Day-time.

Yet when Mr. Nicholson return'd to preach in the said Chappel, a Fort-night or three Weeks after, he found one buried in the very Spot, named by Archibald.

Roderick W. MacIver (Author of The Song I Came to Sing)

This Story is vouch'd by Mr. Nicholson the Minister, and several of the Parishioners still living. But I shall hereafter show that this Opinion cannot be entirely true. Sir Norman being told of this, called for the Seer and examin'd him about it. This Instance was told the Author by Sir Norman himself. Four Men from the Isle of Skye and Harries, went to Barbadoes, and staid there some Years; who, though they had wont to see the Second Sight in their native Country, never saw it in Barbadoes; but upon their Return to England, the first Night after their landing, they saw the Second Sight; as the Author was told by several of their Acquaintaince.

A Spirit, by the Country People called Brownie, was frequently seen in all the most considerable Families in the Isles, and North of Scotland, in the Shape of a tall Man, having very long brown Hair: But within these Twenty Years past he has been seen but rarely. All these Accounts, the Author says, he had from Persons of as great Integrity, as any are in the World.

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So far Mr. May, in his History, Lib. He said, dead, and that he was a Ghost; and told him that within Three Days he should escape, and he did so, in his Wife's Cloaths; when he had done his Message he gave a frisk and said Givanni Givanni, 'tis very strange In the World to see so sudden a Change. And then gather'd up and vanished. Shall his Obstinacy confute the Learned? Shall his Want of Faith be thought justly to give the Lye to so many Persons of the highest Honour and Quality, and of the most undoubted Integrity?

Marten a very good and credited Writer assures us, in his History of the Western Islands dedicated to the late Prince George of Denmark, is a Spirit usually seen all over that Country. Now Mr. Things are also foretold by Smelling sometimes: For Example Fish or Flesh is frequently smelt in the Fire, when at the same time neither of the Two are in the House, or, in any probability, like to be had in it, for some Weeks or Months.

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  6. Campbell came acquainted that the Death of the beautiful young Lady, Mrs. Marten, that when a Shroud is perceiv'd about one, it's a sure Prognostick of Death; the Time is judg'd according to the Height of it, about the Person; for if it be not seen above the Middle, Death is not to be expected for the space of a Year or longer, but as it comes nearer to the Head it is expected sooner; if to the very Head, it is concluded to be at Hand within a few Days, if not Hours. Of this we have an Example of which Mr.

    Campbell might predict this of Irwin likewise by the force of the Second Sight. Thirdly, As to Mr. Vide the Eight Observation of the Second Sight. Fourthly, As to the Predictions deliver'd by Mr. Campbell to the Merchant, which are set down at length in the foregoing Chapter, I know no better way at guessing the manner how the Second Sight operated in him at that Time, than by comparing them to these Two Instances, which I briefly repeat, because they are set down at length before, in this Chapter. And first it may be ask'd how did the Second Sight operate in Mr.

    Campbell, when it gave him to know, that the Merchant's Ships, which repeated Intelligences had in appearance confirm'd to be lost, were at that time safe, and would return securely home into the Harbour designed? In this Light, these mighty and famous Seers seem to be born for the Benefit and Felicity of others, but at the same time to be born to Unhappiness themselves. He had I know follow'd it pretty closely from the time I first saw him in London, which was I think in the beginning of the Year , till the Year , with very good Success; and in those few Years he had got together a pretty round Summ of Mony.

    Now inasmuch as he had thus taken a Disgust to Business and Application, and was surfeited as I may say with the Perplexities of it, it must be as natural for him, we know, to search for Repose in the contrary extream, viz. Recreation and Idleness, as it is for a Man to seek Rest after Toil, to sleep after a Day's Labour, or to sit down after a long and tiresome Walk. There are some Sorts of Recreations too, that are mean, fordid, and base; others, that are very innocent, though very diverting, and that will give one the very next most valuable Qualifications of a Gentleman, after those, which are obtained by a more serious Application of the Mind.

    And just, accordingly, as my Readers would naturally judge before-hand in his Case, so it really happened. But when will young Men, by so much the more head-strong as they have less of the Beard, be guided and brought to learn, and when shall we see that happy Age, in which the grey Heads of old Men shall be clapp'd upon the Shoulders of Youth?

    I am very well assured, young Man, you think me, that am Old to be a Fool; but I, that am Old, absolutely know you who are a young Fellow, to be a down-right Fool, and so I leave you to follow your own ways, till sad and woful Experience teaches you to know it your ownself, and makes you come to me to own it of your own accord. Into many of these Calamities Mr. Campbell had brought himself, before it was long, by his heedlesness, and running, according to the wild Dictates of Youth, counter to all sound and wholesome Advice.

    But at last he got free from them all, and was going away as fast as he could, not knowing what Consequences might ensue. In short, Duncan Campbell was carry'd off as their Prisoner; but the Bayliff, that was wounded, was led back to the Coffee House where he pretended the Wound was Mortal, and that he despair'd of living an Hour. Two of his Benefactors were Officers, and were just then going over to Flanders. Accordingly in a few Days afterwards they went on Board, and having a speedy and an easy Passage, arrived soon at Rotterdam.

    But some Scotch Gentlemen, who had been in Company with Mr. Campbell at Mr. But on the Third Night he got very much in Drink; and as he went very boisterously and disorderly along, a Sentry challeng'd him; and the want of the Sense of Hearing had like to have occasion'd the Loss of his Life.