The Broken Fiddle
The Borken Fiddle is a tale of a latter day Robin Hood, played out around Baff, of a vagabond called MacPherson.
MacPherson was convicted of being "repute an Egyptian and Vagabond, and oppressor of his majesty's free lieges, in a bangstree manner, and going up and down the country around and keeping markets in a hostile manner." Only eight days intervened between the dates of his trial and execution, and the magistrates, tradition asserts, hurried the hanging early in the morning, so that the condemned man suffered several hours before the specified time, the motive of this indecent haste being a desire to defeat a reprieve which they knew or suspected to be on the way. When brought to the place of execution, on the Gallows Hill of Banff (16th November), the bold outlaw played on his violin the stirring tune he had so recently composed in the condemned cell, and then asked if any friend was present who would accept the instrument as a gift at his hand. No one coming forward, he indignantly broke the violin on his knee, and threw away the fragments, after which he submitted to his fate. The traditionary accounts of MacPherson's immense prowess are justified by his sword, which is still preserved in Duff House, at Banff, and is an implement of great length and weight - as well as by his bones, which were found not very many years ago, and were allowed by all who saw them to be much stronger than the bones of ordinary men. He was assuredly no ordinary man that could so disport himself on the morning of his execution. Death, we presume, has rarely been faced with such perfect contempt. Sir Walter Scott says that he offered the violin to any of his clan who would undertake to play the tune over his body at his lykewake, and none answering, he dashed it to pieces on the executioner's head, and flung himself from the ladder.