Sir Francis Drake--who appears to have been especially befriended by his
demon--is said to drive at night a black hearse drawn by headless
horses, and urged on by running devils and yelping, headless dogs,
through Jump, on the road from Tavistock to Plymouth.
Sir Francis, according to tradition, was enabled to destroy the Spanish
Armada by the aid of the devil. The old admiral went to Devil's Point, a
well-known promontory jutting into Plymouth Sound. He there cut pieces
of wood into the water, and by the power of magic and the assistance of
his demon these became at once well-armed gunboats.
Queen Elizabeth gave Sir Francis Drake Buckland Abbey; and on every hand
we hear of Drake and his familiars.
An extensive building attached to the abbey--which was no doubt used as
barns and stables after the place had been deprived of its religious
character--was said to have been built by the devil in three nights.
After the first night, the butler, astonished at the work done, resolved
to watch and see how it was performed. Consequently, on the second
night, he mounted into a large tree, and hid himself between the forks
of its five branches. At midnight the devil came, driving several teams
of oxen; and as some of them were lazy, he plucked this tree from the
ground and used it as a goad. The poor butler lost his senses, and never
Drake constructed the channel, carrying the waters from Dartmoor to
Plymouth. Tradition says he went with his demon to Dartmoor, walked into
Plymouth, and the waters followed him. Even now--as old Betty
Donithorne, formerly the housekeeper at Buckland Abbey, told me,--if the
warrior hears the drum which hangs in the hall of the abbey, and which
accompanied him round the world, he rises and has a revel.
Some few years since a small box was found in a closet which had been
long closed, containing, it is supposed, family papers. This was to be
sent to the residence of the inheritor of this property. The carriage
was at the abbey door, and a man easily lifted the box into it. The
owner having taken his seat, the coachman attempted to start his horses,
but in vain. They would not--they could not move. More horses were
brought, and then the heavy farm-horses, and eventually all the oxen.
They were powerless to start the carriage. At length a mysterious voice
was heard, declaring that the box could never be moved from Buckland
Abbey. It was taken from the carriage easily by one man, and a pair of
horses galloped off with the carriage.
Next: The Spectre Bridegroom
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