Sir Walter Scott’s ‘Bowed Davie’

Yet another snippet from Highways & Byways n the Border:

Near the junction of the Tweed and Manor Water was a cottage made famous by Sir Walter Scott:

Bowed Davie” [is] the original of Scott’s “Black Dwarf” of Mucklestane Muir. Sir Walter was staying at Hallyards, on Manor Water, in 1797 with his friend Adam Ferguson and it was on that occasion that he first saw Davie Richie, a poor misshapen dwarf, embittered by he derision which his extraordinary personal appearance everywhere brought on him, and who had retired tooth’s unfrequented valley, where he built himself a cottage of dimensions in keeping with his own stature. The cottage still stands, “where from this bole the awesome form peer’d grim on passer-bye,” but at last the exterior has been modernised, and an addition has been made; his garden wall, with its ponderous stones, is much as Bowed Davie left it. The “Black Dwarf” was not written till a good  many years after Ritchie’s death. His grave is in Manor Kirkyard, not, as he himself originally meant it to , in a secluded spot of his own choice, surrounded by the rowan-trees that it comforted him to think could be relied on to keep witches and evil spirits generally at a respectable distance. Poor davie! There were worse things than witches to be taken into account. It is said – Dr John Brown mentioned it – that his body proved a temptation too great to be resisted by resurrectionists. They dug him up, and carried the poor “thrawn” frame to where it could be sold. Perhaps in death he still excites that derision or pity which in life so angered him; his bones may now lie in some city anatomical museum.

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