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The Reverend John Dennistoun, in his once-famous work, Satan’s Artifices against the Elect (written in the year 1719, but not published till 1821, when the manuscript came into the hands of Sir Walter Scott), has a chapter on the disturbances in Woodilee. In his pages can be found the tradition which established itself during the next fifty years. He has heard of the doings in Melanudrigill, but he lays no blame for them on the parish. The power of the Kirk has been sufficient to sanctify Chasehope; in Mr. Dennistoun’s pages he appears as an elder of noted piety, who was the chief mark for the enmity of the Adversary, and who was, as that Adversary’s last resort, driven crazy by hellish assaults on his person till his life ended in a fall from the rocks in the Garple Linn. There is no mention of Reiverslaw, and Amos Ritchie is treated with respect, for Amos carried his grandfather’s matchlock to Rullion Green, played a notable part in the Killing Time, was an ally of the Black Macmichael, and has a paragraph to himself in Naphtali. Mr. Dennistoun represents the trouble as a deliberate campaign of the Devil against a parish famed for its godliness, and David as an unwitting instrument. The minister of Woodilee he portrays as a young man of good heart but of small experience, unstable, puffed up in his own conceit. He records that there was a faction in the place that took his side, and that his misfortunes, justly deserved as they were, were not unlamented. He mentions as a foolish fable the belief of some that he had been carried off by the Fairies; he notes, too, without approval, the counter-legend that he had been removed bodily by the Devil.

On one matter Mr. Dennistoun has no doubts. Mark Kerr is the villain of his pages: the lieutenant of Satan, or, as many believed, Satan himself; one at any rate who was sold irrevocably to evil. Of the real Mark Kerr’s antecedents he is aware, but he is inclined to the belief that the figure that appeared in Woodilee was not Montrose’s captain but another in his semblance. He makes a sinister tale of Mark’s doings — his uncanny power over the minds of the people, his necromancy in the case of the witch-pricker, his devilries during the pest (these are explained as mere purposeless cruelties), his crowning blasphemy in the kirk, when he outfaced two godly ministers and spoke words of which the very memory made honest folk tremble. He is inclined to attribute to him also the warlockries of the Wood. When he disappeared on that April day he returned to the place whence he had come.

On this point Mr. Dennistoun reflected faithfully the tradition in Woodilee. Old folks for generations, with sighs and a shaking of the head, would tell of the dep............
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