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The Dog O' Mause

Account of an apparition that appeared to William Soutar, {145a} in
the Mause, 1730.

[This is a copy from that in the handwriting of Bishop Rattray,
preserved at Craighall, and which was found at Meikleour a few years
ago, to the proprietor of which, Mr. Mercer, it was probably sent by
the Bishop.--W. W. H., 3rd August, 1846.]

"I have sent you an account of an apparition as remarkable, perhaps,
as anything you ever heard of, and which, considered in all its
circumstances, leaves, I think, no ground of doubt to any man of
common-sense. The person to whom it appeared is one William Soutar, a
tenant of Balgowan's, who lives in Middle Mause, within about half a
mile from this place on the other side of the river, and in view from
our windows of Craighall House. He is about thirty-seven years of
age, as he says, and has a wife and bairns.

"The following is an account from his own mouth; and because there are
some circumstances fit to be taken in as you go along, I have given
them with reference at the end, {145b} that I may not interrupt the
sense of the account, or add anything to it. Therefore, it begins:--

"'In the month of December in the year 1728, about sky-setting, I and
my servant, with several others living in the town (farm-steading)
heard a scratching (screeching, crying), and I followed the noise,
with my servant, a little way from the town (farm-steading
throughout). We both thought we saw what had the appearance to be a
fox, and hounded the dogs at it, but they would not pursue it. {146a}

"'About a month after, as I was coming from Blair {146b} alone, about
the same time of the night, a big dog appeared to me, of a dark
greyish colour, between the Hilltown and Knockhead {146c} of Mause, on
a lea rig a little below the road, and in passing by it touched me
sonsily (firmly) on the thigh at my haunch-bane (hip-bone), upon which
I pulled my staff from under my arm and let a stroke at it; and I had
a notion at the time that I hit it, and my haunch was painful all that
night. However, I had no great thought of its being anything
particular or extraordinary, but that it might be a mad dog wandering.
About a year after that, to the best of my memory, in December month,
about the same time of the night and in the same place, when I was
alone, it appeared to me again as before, and passed by me at some
distance; and then I began to think it might be something more than

"'In the month of December, 1730, as I was coming from Perth, from the
Claith (cloth) Market a little before sky-setting, it appeared to me
again, being alone, at the same place, and passed by me just as
before. I had some suspicion of it then likewise, but I began to
think that a neighbour of mine in the Hilltown having an ox lately
dead, it might be a dog that had been at the carrion, by which I
endeavoured to put the suspicion out of my head.

"'On the second Monday of December, 1730, as I was coming from
Woodhead, a town (farm) in the ground of Drumlochy, it appeared to me
again in the same place just about sky-setting; and after it had
passed me as it was going out of my sight, it spoke with a low voice
so that I distinctly heard it, these words, "Within eight or ten days
do or die," and it thereupon disappeared. No more passed at that
time. On the morrow I went to my brother, who dwells in the Nether
Aird of Drumlochy, and told him of the last and of all the former
appearances, which was the first time I ever spoke of it to anybody.
He and I went to see a sister of ours at Glenballow, who was dying,
but she was dead before we came. As we were returning home, I desired
my brother, whose name is James Soutar, to go forward with me till we
should be passed the place where it used to appear to me; and just as
we had come to it, about ten o'clock at night, it appeared to me again
just as formerly; and as it was passing over some ice I pointed to it
with my finger and asked my brother if he saw it, but he said he did
not, nor did his servant, who was with us. It spoke nothing at that
time, but just disappeared as it passed the ice.

"'On the Saturday after, as I was at my own sheep-cots putting in my
sheep, it appeared to me again just after daylight, betwixt day and
skylight, and upon saying these words, "Come to the spot of ground
within half an hour," it just disappeared; whereupon I came home to my
own house, and took up a staff and also a sword off the head of the
bed, and went straight to the place where it used formerly to appear
to me; and after I had been there some minutes and had drawn a circle
about me with my staff, it appeared to me. And I spoke to it saying,
"In the name of God and Jesus Christ, what are you that troubles me?"
and it answered me, "I am David Soutar, George Soutar's brother.
{148a} I killed a man more than five-and-thirty years ago, when you
was new born, at a bush be-east the road, as you go into the Isle."
{148b} And as I was going away, I stood again and said, "David Soutar
was a man, and you appear like a dog," whereupon it spoke to me again,
saying, "I killed him with a dog, and therefore I am made to speak out
of the mouth of a dog, and tell you you must go and bury these bones".
Upon this I went straight to my brother to his house, and told him
what had happened to me. My brother having told the minister of
Blair, he and I came to the minister on Monday thereafter, as he was
examining in a neighbour's house in the same town where I live. And
the minister, with my brother and me and two or three more, went to
the place where the apparition said the bones were buried, when
Rychalzie met us accidentally; and the minister told Rychalzie the
story in the presence of all that were there assembled, and desired
the liberty from him to break up the ground to search for the bones.
Rychalzie made some scruples to allow us to break up the ground, but
said he would go along with us to Glasclune {149a}; and if he advised,
he would allow search to be made. Accordingly he went straight along
with my brother and me and James Chalmers, a neighbour who lives in
the Hilltown of Mause, to Glasclune, and told Glasclune the story as
above narrated; and he advised Rychalzie to allow the search to be
made, whereupon he gave his consent to it.

"'The day after, being Friday, we convened about thirty or forty men
and went to the Isle, and broke up the ground in many places,
searching for the bones, but we found nothing.

"'On Wednesday the 23rd December, about twelve o'clock, when I was in
my bed, I heard a voice but saw nothing; the voice said, "Come away".
{149b} Upon this I rose out of my bed, cast on my coat and went to the
door, but did not see it. And I said, "In the name of God, what do
you demand of me now?" It answered, "Go, take up these bones". I
said, "How shall I get these bones?" It answered again, "At the side
of a withered bush, {150} and there are but seven or eight of them
remaining". I asked, "Was there any more guilty of that action but
you?" It answered, "No". I asked again, "What is the reason you
trouble me?" It answered, "Because you are the youngest". Then said
I to it, "Depart from me, and give me a sign that I may know the
particular spot, and give me time". [Here there is written on the
margin in a different hand, "You will find the bones at the side of a
withered bush. There are but eight of them, and for a sign you will
find the print of a cross impressed on the ground."] On the morrow,
being Thursday, I went alone to the Isle to see if I could find any
sign, and immediately I saw both the bush, which was a small bush, the
greatest stick in it being about the thickness of a staff, and it was
withered about half-way down; and also the sign, which was about a
foot from the bush. The sign was an exact cross, thus X; each of the
two lines was about a foot and a half in length and near three inches
broad, and more than an inch deeper than the rest of the ground, as if
it had been pressed down, for the ground was not cut. On the morrow,
being Friday, I went and told my brother of the voice that had spoken
to me, and that I had gone and seen the bush which it directed me to
and the above-mentioned sign at it. The next day, being Saturday, my
brother and I went, together with seven or eight men with us, to the
Isle. About sun-rising we all saw the bush and the sign at it; and
upon breaking up the ground just at the bush, we found the bones,
viz., the chaft-teeth (jaw-teeth-molars) in it, one of the thigh
bones, one of the shoulder blades, and a small bone which we supposed
to be a collar bone, which was more consumed than any of the rest, and
two other small bones, which we thought to be bones of the sword-arm.
By the time we had digged up those bones, there convened about forty
men who also saw them. The minister and Rychalzie came to the place
and saw them.

"'We immediately sent to the other side of the water, to Claywhat,
{151} to a wright that was cutting timber there, whom Claywhat brought
over with him, who immediately made a coffin for the bones, and my
wife brought linen to wrap them in, and I wrapped the bones in the
linen myself and put them in the coffin before all these people, and
sent for the mort-cloth and buried them in the churchyard of Blair
that evening. There were near an hundred persons at the burial, and
it was a little after sunset when they were buried.'"

"This above account I have written down as dictated to me by William
Soutar in the presence of Robert Graham, brother to the Laird of
Balgowan, and of my two sons, James and John Rattray, at Craighall,
30th December, 1730.

"We at Craighall heard nothing of this history till after the search
was over, but it was told us on the morrow by some of the servants who
had been with the rest at the search; and on Saturday Glasclune's son
came over to Craighall and told us that William Soutar had given a
very distinct account of it to his father.

"On St. Andrew's Day, the 1st of December, this David Soutar (the
ghost) listed himself a soldier, being very soon after the time the
apparition said the murder was committed, and William Soutar declares
he had no remembrance of him till that apparition named him as brother
to George Soutar; then, he said, he began to recollect that when he
was about ten years of age he had seen him once at his father's in a
soldier's habit, after which he went abroad and was never more heard
of; neither did William ever before hear of his having listed as a
soldier, neither did William ever before hear of his having killed a
man, nor, indeed, was there ever anything heard of it in the country,
and it is not yet known who the person was that was killed, and whose
bones are now found.

"My son John and I went within a few days after to visit Glasclune,
and had the account from him as William had told him over. From
thence we went to Middle Mause to hear it from himself; but he being
from home, his father, who also lives in that town, gave us the same
account of it which Glasclune had done, and the poor man could not
refrain from shedding tears as he told it, as Glasclune told us his
son was under very great concern when he spoke of it to him. We all
thought this a very odd story, and were under suspense about it
because the bones had not been found upon the search.

"(Another account that also seems to have been written by the bishop
mentions that the murderer on committing the deed went home, and on
looking in at the window he saw William Soutar lying in a cradle--
hence it was the ghaist always came to him, and not to any of the
other relations.)"

Mr. Hay Newton, of Newton Hall, a man of great antiquarian tastes in
the last generation, wrote the following notes on the matter:--

"Widow M'Laren, aged seventy-nine, a native of Braemar, but who has
resided on the Craighall estate for sixty years, says that the
tradition is that the man was murdered for his money; that he was a
Highland drover on his return journey from the south; that he arrived
late at night at the Mains of Mause and wished to get to Rychalzie;
that he stayed at the Mains of Mause all night, but left it early next
morning, when David Soutar with his dog accompanied him to show him
the road; but that with the assistance of the dog he murdered the
drover and took his money at the place mentioned; that there was a
tailor at work in his father's house that morning when he returned
after committing the murder (according to the custom at that date by
which tailors went out to make up customers' own cloth at their own
houses), and that his mother being surprised at his strange
appearance, asked him what he had been about, to which inquiry he made
no reply; that he did not remain long in the country afterwards, but
went to England and never returned. The last time he was seen he went
down by the Brae of Cockridge. A man of the name of Irons, a
fisherman in Blairgowrie, says that his father, who died a very old
man some years ago, was present at the getting of the bones. Mr.
Small, Finzyhan, when bringing his daughter home from school in
Edinburgh, saw a coffin at the door of a public house near Rychalzie
where he generally stopped, but he did not go in as usual, thinking
that there was a death in the family. The innkeeper came out and
asked him why he was passing the door, and told him the coffin
contained the bones of the murdered man which had been collected, upon
which he went into the house.

"The Soutars disliked much to be questioned on the subject of the Dog
of Mause. Thomas Soutar, who was tenant in Easter Mause, formerly
named Knowhead of Mause, and died last year upwards of eighty years of
age, said that the Soutars came originally from Annandale, and that
their name was Johnston; that there were three brothers who fled from
that part of the country on account of their having killed a man; that
they came by Soutar's Hill, and having asked the name of the hill,
were told 'Soutar,' upon which they said, 'Soutar be it then,' and
took that name. One of the brothers went south and the others came
north." {155a}

The appearance of human ghosts in the form of beasts is common enough;
in Shropshire they usually "come" as bulls. (See Miss Burne's
Shropshire Folklore.) They do not usually speak, like the Dog o'
Mause. M. d'Assier, a French Darwinian, explains that ghosts revert
"atavistically" to lower forms of animal life! {155b}

We now, in accordance with a promise already made, give an example of
the ghosts of beasts! Here an explanation by the theory that the
consciousness of the beast survives death and affects with a
hallucination the minds of living men and animals, will hardly pass
current. But if such cases were as common and told on evidence as
respectable as that which vouches for appearances of the dead,
believers in these would either have to shift their ground, or to
grant that

Admitted to that equal sky,
Our faithful dog may bear us company.

We omit such things as the dripping death wraith of a drowned cat who
appeared to a lady, or the illused monkey who died in a Chinese house,
after which he haunted it by rapping, secreting objects, and, in
short, in the usual way. {155c} We adduce

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