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seventeenth century, on no better liar temper arose entirely from this grounds. But what is worthy of par- cause or from original disposition, it ticular notice in their case, is the vi- appears at least to have displayed itsible conflict between statute-law sup- self at a very early age; and his faported by the obstinate credulity of ther used to observe, that “ he was the lower classes, on theone hand,--and born either to slay or be slain." He the dawn of a purer day which was was never more than a few months at then rising upon our rulers, and had school, but he had learned to read already begun to dispel the illusions of English very well. He was sent to the most detestable fanaticism, on the Edinburgh when young to learn the other. Yet it is a melancholy thing trade of a brush-maker ; but his exto reflect how long the night had last- traordinary figure attracted so much ed, and how deep had been its dark- notice, that he soon left this city in ness ; nor is it less lamentable to per- disgust, and retired to his native hills. ceive how ineffectually the influence How he subsisted on his return to of true religion and of science is op- the country we have not heard, but posed, in our own days, to the invete- some time afterwards, probably on the rate credulity of a large proportion of death of his father, he attracted the our countrymen.
notice of Sir James Nasmyth ; and being now settled in the parish of
Manor, he formed the plan of erectDAVID RITCHIE, THE ing a cottage for himself on the ORIGINAL OF THE BLACK DWARF. grounds of that gentleman, whose
permission he seems to have readily The singular person of whose real obtained. He fixed upon a spot of history and condition we now propose ground at the bottom of a steep bank to detail a few particulars, has al- on the farm of Woodhouse. The beready excited the curiosity and con- nevolent proprietor directed his sertributed to the entertainment of the vants to lend him what assistance he public in no ordinary degree, under might require, and gave him possesthe fictitious character of the Black Sion of the ground rent-free. The Dwarf. Of Ritchie's being the real dwarf required but little assistance. prototype of that marvellous misan- With incredible labour and perseverthrope, we do not profess to entertain ance, he first cleared the space to be even the shadow of a doubt. Under occupied by his hut and a small garthat view he has been already de- den ; scooping out for that purpose a scribed, evidently from high authori- large recess in the side of the hill, ty, in the Quarterly Review-and al- which, rising abruptly, formed on the so in the Edinburgh Monthly Maga- one side a natural wall to the garden. zine for June, by a correspondent who The rest of it was inclosed partly by has since communicated to us some a wall of considerable height, and further curious and well authenticated partly by the cottage, which occupiinformation, which corroborates in ge- ed another of the sides. The walls neral his former account, and which, both of the garden and the hut were with materials from other sources, chiefly built by Davie himself, of enables us to present our readers with such materials as the spot afforded. the following details.
Though without mortar, they were David Ritchie, commonly called very solid, and were formed of alterBowed Davie, was born at Easter Hap- nate layers of large stones and turf. prew, in the parish of Stobo, Peebles- Having covered the cottage with a neat shire, about the year 1740. His fa- thatch-roof, and constructed a small ther, William Ritchie, a labouring man, door, and a few rude pieces of housewas employed for many years in the hold furniture, he proceeded to the slate quarries at that place, as was cultivation of his garden, in which he also one of his sons, who was older displayed very considerable taste, as than David. The name of our hero's well as industry. In a short time he mother was Niven. David used to contrived to stock it with a few fruitsay, that his deformity was owing trees, and with all sorts of flowers, to ill-guiding in his childhood ; but herbs, and culinary vegetables which this was not credited, and he is un- could be procured in the neighbourderstood to have been mis-shapen hood. His manner of working is de from his birth. Whether his pecu- scribed, by persons who used to visit
him, as exceedingly laborious. Being quarrelled, a sort of estrangement took unable to make any use of his feet in place between these two lonely beings. digging, he had a spade so contrived, The sister, though no way deformed that he could force it down with his in her person, was never capable of breast; the rest of the labour was per- regular employment, from a degree of formed entirely by means of his arms mental aberration. They were long and hands, in which he possessed great the only persons in the parish, who strength. He also procured some bee- received support from the poor's funds. hives, and planted a bower of willows The dwarf, however, derived the and rowan-tree; and by degrees his chief part of his subsistence from the little hermitage exhibited very gratuitous contributions of the neighstriking contrast to the slovenly kail- bouring farmers and gentry, most of yards of the neighbouring peasants, whom he occasionally visited. Daand looked more like a fairy bower vie's meal-pock also hung constantly in than a wizard's den. It soon came to the mill, and every person who had a be resorted to by visitors, being account- melder ground allotted a small portion ed, with its inhabitant, one of the most of it for his use. These resources, tointeresting curiosities of the country. gether with occasional presents from The late venerable Professor Fergu- strangers who visited his dwelling, and son used sometimes to visit Davie, and the vegetables which he produced by also, it is said, some other individuals his horticulture, sufficed for all his of high literary celebrity. The cul- little wants. The pecuniary donations tivating, ornamenting, and shewing- he received were chiefly expended off this little spot, formed his chief on snuff, which was almost his only occupation and greatest pleasure. He luxury, and one in which he indulged reared a great profusion of flowers to excess. He kept a whisky bottle, for his more elegant visitors, and cha- too, and occasionally sold a little for momile, rhubarb, and other medicinal some years, but was never known to herbs, for his homely neighbours. be too free in the use of it himself. He also supplied the tables of some He died in December 1811, after an gentlemen in the neighbourhood with illness of three days. According to honey. His bees, along with a dog and his own account, he was about 71 cat, of all which he was very fond, for years of age at the time of his death ; med the whole of his live stock. This but it is believed that he was several original cottage falling into disrepair, years older. He had become very Sir James Nasmyth ordered a new one, penurious in the latter part of his life. consisting of two separate dwellings Although subsisting entirely on chariunder one roof, to be erected for him ty, about L. 20 was found in his and his sister, in 1802, at a short dis- chest at his death, the half of which tance from the former.
This was was restored to the parish. constructed by masons under Davie's The garden still retains marks of directions, but he built the new gar- its original neatness, but is now toden wall almost entirely with his own tally unpruned. His sister, who is hands. His sister wished to have one younger than Davie by some years, outer door common to ooth apart- has become a good deal inore deranged ments; but he insisted on having two in her mind since his death. She separate ones, as they appear at pre- never passes the night in the cottage, sent. The house was, accordingly, but resides there through the day, and divided by a complete partition. Da- sleeps at the farmer's, Mr Ballantyne vie's door is about three feet and of Woodhouse. Of late a great many a half high, and he could stand up- strangers call at the cottage, from whom right below the lintel. It has a small she has received many charitable ofchink for a window, with wooden ferings. She cannot understand the shutters. He would not admit of cause of their great curiosity concernglass in it. Mr Ballantyne, the pre- ing her brother's history. She said to sent farmer of Woodhouse, enlarged a friend of ours who visited the place the garden at the same time, which a few weeks ago—" What gars folk addition it took Davie a whole year speer sae mony questions about us ? to put in order to his liking. He turn- Our parents were mean, but there ed up the soil two feet and a half was nae ill anent them.” deep, clearing it of large stones, &c. We are enabled to present our readHis sister and he having frequently ers with the following sketch of
Davie's singular physiognomy, from of his person no accurate sketch, we an original drawing taken some time believe, has ever been taken. It was before his death by a very accomplish- still more remarkable, however, than ed person who lived for many years in his visage, and after many minute inhabits of frequent and familiar inter- quiries, we have no hesitation in course with him, and which we be adopting, almost without variation, lieve is a striking likeness. It will the words of his fictitious historian, be found to differ in some slight who, in the following description, is particulars from the description of the allowed to have given a pretty exnovelist, who, of course, was under no act and unexaggerated portrait. “His obligation to adhere rigidly or uni- body, thick and square, like that of formly to bis original materials in the a man of middle size, was mounted delineation of either mental or physi- upon two large feet ; but nature seemcal qualities; yet the force and felici- ed to have forgotten the legs and the ty with which he has in general trans- thighs, or they were so very short as ferred to his glowing canvas, not only to be hidden by the dress which he the more striking characteristics, but wore. His arms were long and brawny, often the minutest details, is alto-furnished with two muscular hands, gether wonderful. So far as regards and, when uncovered in the eagerness personal beauty, however, poor Davie of his labour, were shagged with
no great cause to complain of the coarse black hair. It seemed as if appearance he exhibits, when arrayed nature had originally intended the in the wizard mantle of the Black separate parts of his body to be the Dwarf. The couplet in which Pope members of a giant, but had afterdescribes Sir Richard Blackmore, seems wards capriciously assigned them to no longer hyperbolical when applied the person of a dwarf, so ill did the to Bowed Davie.
length of his arms, and the iron " He was so ugly and so grim,
strength of his frame, correspond with His shadow durst not follow him.”
the shortness of his stature.'
His height was about three feet and His eyes, however, which were black, a half. His skull, which was of an are said to have been fine. Of the rest oblong and rather unusual shape, was
of such strength that he could strike it what injured by the caterpillars. wi'h ease through the pannel of a Davie observing one of the ladies door or the end of a tar-barrel. His smile, instantly assumed his savage laugh is said to have been quite hor- scowling aspect, rushed among the rible; and his screech-owl voice, shrill, cabbages, and dashed them to pieces uncouth, and dissonant, corresponded with his kent, exclaiming, "I hate well with his other peculiarities. the worms, for they mock me."
There was nothing very uncom- Another lady, likewise a friend and mon about his dress. He usually old acquaintance of his, very uninwore an old slouched hat when he tentionally gave him mortal offence went abroad ; and when at home, a on a similar occasion. Throwing sort of cowl or nightcap, such as he is back his jealous glance, he fancied he here represented with. He never wore saw her spit at him. “Am I a toad, shoes, being unable to adapt them to woman ! that ye spit at me that ye his mis-shapen fin-like feet, but al. spit at me!” he exclaimed with fury, ways had both feet and legs quite con- and without listening to any answer, cealed, and wrapt up with pieces of he drove her out of his garden with cloth. He always walked with a sort imprecations and insult. When irriof pole or pike-staff considerably taller tated by persons for whom he enterthan himself.
tained little respect, his misanthropy His habits were in many respects displayed itself in words and somesingular, and indicated a mind suffi. times aetions of still greater rudeciently congenial to its uncouth taber- He would then utter the most nacle. A jealous, misanthropical, and shocking imprecations, swear he would irritable temper, was his most promi
“ cleave them to the 'harn-pans”nent characteristic. The sense of his “if he had but his cran fingers on deformity haunted him like a phantom; them,” &c. and the insults and scorn to which this A farmer in the neighbourhood went exposed him, had poisoned his heart one night, out of a frolic, to frighten with fierce and bitter feelings, which, Davie, but paid pretty dearly for his from other traits in his character, do joke. He had assumed the character not appear to have been more largely of a robber, and pretended to be breakinfused into his original temperament ing into his hut. The Dwarf, after than that of his fellow men. He reconnoitring him from a small undetested children, on account of their glazed window, which he had near his propensity to insult and persecute him. chimney, wrenched a large stone out To strangers he was generally reserve of the wall, dashed it down upon the ed, crabbed, and surly, and though he assailant, and knocked him to the by no means refused assistance or ground, where he lay for a while sensecharity, he, on many occasions, neither less and very severely hurt. expressed nor exhibited much grati- The lady to whose information we tude. Even towards persons who had have just referred, mentions another been his greatest benefactors, and who anecdote which came within her own possessed the greatest share of his good knowledge, and which may serve will, he frequently displayed much ca- to illustrate the resolute and dogged price and jealousy. A lady, who knew perseverance of the Dwarf. He had him from her infancy, and who has fur- applied to Mr Laidlaw of Hallyards nished us in the most obliging manner for a branch of a tree which grew with some particulars respecting him, in the neighbourhood, to serve some says, that although Davie shewed as purpose of his own. Mr Laidlaw much respect and attachment to her was always very ready to oblige Dafather's family as it was in his nature vie—but told him, that, on the preto shew to any, yet they were always sent occasion, he could not grant his obliged to be very cautious in their request, as it would injure the tree. deportment towards him. One day Davie made no reply, but went away having gone to visit him with another grumbling to himself. Next mornlady, he took them through his gar- ing, some of Mr Laidlaw's servants den, and was shewing them, with happened to be going from home so much pride and good humour, all his early as two o'clock, when, to their rich and tastefully-assorted borders, surprise and terror, they perceived when they happened to stop near a through the grey twilight a strange plot of cabbages which had been some- figure struggling and dancing in the
air below the said tree. Upon going occasionally, but very seldom went up to the place they found it was to church. He was supposed to enDavie, who had contrived by some tertain some very peculiar notions on means to fasten a rope to the branch religious subjects, but those who were he wanted, and was swinging with intimate with him say that he would all his weight upon it to break it down. now and then speak concerninga future They left him, and before he was a- state, with great earnestness and good gain disturbed, he succeeded in bring- sense; and on such occasions, when ing it to the ground, and carried it his feelings were excited, would somehome with him.
times burst into tears. He had a sort of strange pleasure Davie would rather appear to have in wandering out in the dark, and is had some ambition of posthumous said to have sometimes spent whole honours. Perhaps Tooke's Pantheon nights among the ruins of old build- might have inspired him with a thirst ings, and other places where spectres of immortality, or perchance he had were believed to haunt; and he used some presentiment of his approachto vaunt much of his courage and in- ing apotheosis, under the plastic trepidity in these adventures. With hands of a mighty magician,-a still all this bravery he is known to have more extraordinary and mysterious been extremely superstitious; and, to personage than himself-one who has protect himself from witchcraft, he not only raised up the spirits of the had planted a great deal of the rowan- departed, but, by disrobing them of tree, or mountain ash, around his the more vulgar and prosaic rays of dwelling. Upwards of forty of these their mortal state, and investing them trees were cut down in his garden af- with imposing and poetical qualities, ter his death. It does not appear that has restored them to the world in a he made any pretensions to warlockry, guise a thousand times more pleasing or that there was any strong suspicion and picturesque, and yet searcely less of that nature respecting him among true to nature, than the reality itself, his neighbours, although a knowledge But, whether poor Davie possessed of his revengeful disposition impressed the second sight or not, it is certain both young and old with a certain de- that he long expressed a desire to be gree of fearful respect and awe of him. buried on a particular spot which he Davie spent much of his time in soli- pointed out, and not in the churchtude, and when his garden did not re- yard among the “ common brush,” as quire bis care, would lie whole sum- he expressed it. One of the motives mer days by the side of a well, poring assigned by him for this singular into the water. He also read a good wish, was his aversion to have the deal when he could get books, and clods clapped down upon him “ by what is remarkable, was very fond of such a fellow as Jock Somerville the some parts of Shenstone's PastoralBal- bell-man.” This person he always delals, which he could repeat by heart. tested, and would scarcely stay in his The sort of reading, however, in company, probably from a secret feelwhich he took greatest delight, was ing of disgust, or disagreeable reministhe adventures of Wallace and Bruce, cence, suggested by a certain resemand other popular tracts about Scot- blance which the grave-digger bore to tish beroes, the Highland clans, &c. himself in personal deformity. He possessed a copy of Milton's Pa- He appears to have displayed no radise Lost, some parts of which he small portion of taste in the selecread with much interest. He had tion of his burial ground. It is dealso got hold of “ Tooke's Pantheon," scribed in a little tract now beand had his head confusedly stored fore us, as a " beautiful mount calwith the stories of the Heathen My- led the Woodhill, which rises from thology. His information, such as it a plain nearly in the centre of the was, appeared to great advantage when parish of Manor, skirted with a numhe mingled with the peasantry at the ber of venerable old trees, and enmill or smithy. He was very satiri- circled by an amphitheatre of steep al in his conversation; and his harsh and lofty mountains, covered to the ereaking voice was there frequently tops with heath, and having their heard much higher than the sound sides broken and diversified by deep of the clapper, or the fore-hammer. ravines, and rocky precipices. This He visited Peebles, the county town, picturesque little hill, rising abruptly