The History of Leith

May 20, 2012

The incantations of witches

In October, 1589, James VI. embarked at Leith
for Norway, impatient to meet his bride, Anne of
Denmark, to whom he had been married by proxy.
She had embarked in August, but her fleet had
been detained by westerly gales, and there seemed
little prospect of her reaching Scotland before the
following spring. Though in that age a voyage to
the Baltic was a serious matter in the fall of the
year, James, undaunted, put to sea, and met his
queen in Norway, where the marriage ceremony was
performed again by the Rev. David Lindsay, of
Leith, in the cathedral of St. Halvard at Christiania,
and not at Upsala,
as some assert. After remaining
for some months
in Denmark, the royal pair
on the 6th of May, landed
at the pier of Leith (where
the King’s Work had been
prepared for their reception),
amid the booming
of cannon, and the discharge
of a mighty Latin
oration from Mr. James
Elphinstone.
It is remarkable that
James, whose squadron
came to anchor in the roads
on the ist of May, did
not land at once, as he
had been sorely beset by
the incantations of witches during his voyage ;
and it is alleged that the latter had declared ” he
would never have come safely from the sea had not
his faith prevailed over their cantrips.” They were
more successful, however, with a large boat coming
from Burntisland to Leith, containing a number of
gifts for the young queen, and which they contrived
to sink amid a storm, raised by the remarkable
agency of a christened cat, when all on board
perished.

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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