The History of Leith

September 18, 2012

The Magic Mirror

Lady Eleanor Campbell, widow of the great
marshal and diplomatist, John Earl of Stair, was
by paternal descent related to one of the most
celebrated historical figures of the seventeenth
century, being the grand-daughter of the Lord High
Chancellor Loudon, whose talents and influence on
the Covenanting side procured him the enmity Qf
‘Charles I.
In her girlhood she had the misfortune to be
united to James Viscount Primrose, of Castlefield,
who died in 1706, a man of dissipated habits and
intolerable temper, who treated her so barbarously
that there were times when she had every reason to
fear that her life was in peril. One morning she
was dressing herself before her mirror, near an open
window, when she saw the viscount suddenly appear
in the room behind her with a drawn rapier in his
hand. He had softly opened the door, and in the
mirror she could see that his face, set white and
savage, indicated that he had nothing less than
murder in his mind. She threw herself out of
window into the street, and, half-dressed as she
was, fled, with great good sense, to Lord Primrose’s
mother, who had been Mary Scott of Thirlstane,
and received protection ; but no attempt was made
to bring about a reconciliation, and, though they
had four children, she never lived with him again,
and soon after he went abroad.
During his absence there came to Edinburgh a
certain foreign conjurer, who, among other occult
powers, professed to be able to inform those present
of the movements of the absent, however far they
might be apart; and the young viscountess was
prompted by curiosity to go with a lady friend to
the abode of the wise man in the Canongate, wearing
over their heads, by way of disguise, the-tartan
;plaid then worn by women of the lower classes.
After describing the individual in whose movements
she was interested, and expressing a desire
to know what he was then about, the conjurer led
her before a large mirror, in which a number of
colours and forms rapidly assumed the appearance
of a church with a marriage party before the altar;
and in the shadowy bridegroom she instantly
recognised her absent husband ! She gazed upon
the delineation as if turned to stone, while the
ceremonial of the marriage seemed to proceed, and
the clergyman to be on the point of bidding the
bride and bridegroom join hands, when suddenly a
gentleman in whose face she recognised a brother
of her own, came forward, and paused. His face
assumed an expression of wrath ; drawing his sword
he rushed upon the bridegroom, who also drew to
defend himself; the whole phantasmagoria then
became tumultuous and indistinct, and faded completely
away. When the viscountess reached home
she wrote a minute narrative of the event, noting
the day and hour. This narrative she sealed up in
presence of a witness and deposited it in a cabinet.
Soon after this her brother returned from his travels
abroad—which brother we are not told, and she
had three : Hugh the Master of Loudon, Colonel
John Campbell of Shankeston, and James, who was
Colonel of the Scots Greys, and was killed at
Fontenoy. She asked him if he heard aught of
the viscount

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