« AnteriorContinuar »
of their own curious little figures, amused by dressing and decorating them, and inclined, like a conceited woman, preposterously attired, to mistake the stare of astonishment for that of admiration. On the score of intellect they feel equally comfortable: every thing they say is listened to with attention, and its merit, by an almost unavoidable mistake, magnified by the smallness of their stature. Compliments, witticisms, and remarks, which would be considered very common-place if they issued from a mouth five feet from the ground, are highly applauded when they proceed from one at half the distance.
Indeed, in our opinion, there is a set of very short men who are more pitiable and unhappy than the race of undoubted Dwarfs, who possess almost all the inconveniencies without the advantages of real pigmies; who are stared at and quizzed, without being fondled and Hattered; who are too short for the army or navy, the pulpit or the bar, and yet too tall to be shown for sights, or pensioned by monarchs; who are a foot too low to obtain kisses of affection, and a foot too high for those of compassion.
The Count Boruwlaski, of whom every one has heard, has given his memoirs to the world, a singular specimen of pigmy auto-biography, from which considerable entertainment might be expected. They are preceded by an eulogy from the pen of one of his friends, who affirms that “Nature has endowed the Count with a mind superior to the generality of men,” and that having "seen much of mankind in various stations of life, though considered more as a plaything than a companion, he had omitted no opportunity of making remarks.” On perusing the book, we confess ourselves unable to discover any proof of either of these assertions : we see no glimpses of superior mind, we find no traces of a habit of observation. No one would be disposed to judge harshly the composition of a Dwarf and a foreigner, whose education was neglected, and who reprints and continues his memoirs (for we believe they have been previously published abroad) at a very advanced age ; but the ques. tion of his superior intellect is one of peculiar interest, it would form an isolated and curious fact in the history of man, and will now be decided by the test by which authors are tried, a test tolerably accurate, their own writings. The Count Boruwlaski was a great traveller, he visited nearly the whole of Europe, and a considerable part of Asia; his pecuniary circumstances opened the middle and lower classes to his inspection, while his size admitted him into palaces, and introduced him to the most distinguished characters; yet we hear nothing new or entertaining of either persons or places, and the compliments and repartees which gained him rings and caresses, appear to lose all their merit when transferred to paper. Neither have we any particulars as to the workings of his own mind under the circumstances of his very peculiar fate;
and over the most interesting relations of his life, he has thrown a veil of pride, of prudence, or of delicacy, at once tantalizing and impolitic, which provokes the curiosity it refuses to gratify, and occasions suspicions and conjectures for which there may possibly be no foundation.
His days appear to have glided on, if not in a very happy, in a very similar manner, without any of the fatal celebrity which attended Jetfery Hudson, the Dwarf of whom England makes her boast. This
curious little creature was born in 1619 at Oakham, in Rutlandshire, as a compliment, we suppose, to the size of the county. At seven vears old he was eighteen inches high, and continued in all the preeminence of this extraordinary elevation till the age of thirty, when he shot up to the comparatively gigantic stature of three feet nine inches. By his fair mistress, Henrietta Maria, this progressive increase must have been watched with unmixed vexation; while Jeffery himself was perhaps divided between his love of consequence and his dislike of ridicule, between his desire of escaping the jests and insults of the courtiers and attendants, and his fear of losing the perquisites and privileges of Dwarf to the Queen. He stopped, bowever, far below the height where wonder ends and insignificance begins, revelled in former favour, and fretted under former scoffs. Šis introduction to her Majesty was curiously managed. He was served up in a cold pie at an entertainment given by the Duke of Buckingham to Charles I. and his Queen soon after their marriage, and presented to Henrietta Maria by the Duchess, his former mistress. Royal favour and caresses gave him high notions of his own importance, and thus, increasing the natural waspishness of his disposition, rendered bim little able to bear with patience the inevitable consequences of his pigmy stature; and he was once so provoked by a young gentleman named Crofts, that he immediately sent him a challenge. His antagonist, in contemptuous wantonness, came to the appointment armed with a squirt, which so angered the Lilliputian that a duel absolutely ensued. It has been said, in defence of that honourable system of deliberate murder called duelling, that it is the only security men of inferior stature possess from the insolence of brutal strength; and that it may fully answer this purpose was fatally proved by the event of this extraordinary contest. The parties met on horseback, and armed with pistols, in order to equalize, as much as possible, their advantages. The Dwarf fired, and Mr. Crofts fell dead at his feet. Nor was this the only important adventure of Jeffery's life. He was once taken prisoner by the Dunkirkers on his return from France, whither he had been to fetch a midwife for the Queen ; and again, on another occasion, he became the captive of a Turkish pirate. He followed his mistress when she took refuge in France, and returned with her at the Restoration; and at length, in 1682, being suspected of a concern in the Popish plot, was imprisoned in the Gatehouse, Westinipster, where he died soon afterwards, in the 63d year of his age.
Count Boruwlaski, both from his own memoirs, and from common report, appears in a much more advantageous light than his English rival; and, while we doubt the superiority of his intellect, we readily credit all that has been said of the kindliness of his disposition, of his gratitude, his vivacity, and we can ourselves speak to the gentlemanly, the courtly polish of his manners.
He was born in Polish Russia, the son of a gentleman of respectability, who, dying early in life, left his widow and family in straitened circumstances. The Count's parents were both of middle height, and had six children alternately tall and short, three shooting into manly proportions, while the rest kept each other in countenance as Dwarfs. One of the Count's brothers, six feet four in height, was of a very delicate constitution, while the little gentle,
man himself, born at the almost invisible size of eight inches, and taking thirty years to accomplish his ultimate elevation of three feet three, and his eldest brother, who was only three inches taller, enjoyed robust health, and in infancy gave their mother no greater trouble than, one may suppose, must always be occasioned by chil. dren of the Tom Thumb species, who may be drowned in a basin of milk, trodden to death by a cat, concealed in the folds of a rumpled pocket-handkerchief, lost in a bed of spinage, and carried away in a lady's reticule. We may remark, en passant, that dwarfs are, in general, superior to giants, both in health and longevity, which appears to overthrow the hypothesis of Adam's having exceeded the present race of men in stature, as in age. Surely, as man approached nearer to those dimensions which belonged to him in the energy and freshness of recent creation, his physical powers would be more likely to improve than to deteriorate, and his life to approx. imate more closely to antediluvian length.
The Count was taken from his mother by her friend, the Starostin de Caorlix, and, on that lady's second marriage, passed into the favour of the Countess Humiecka, of distinguished family, rank, and beauty. With her he travelled through a considerable part of Europe, his size every where procuring him much attention and many privileges. Even the jealousy of a Turkish Pasha found no food for suspicion in his diminutive person, and Joujou (as the Count was then called) was admitted into the innermost apartments of a seraglio. He was clasped in the arms, and seated on the lap of Maria Theresa, who placed on his tiny finger a ring drawn from the hand of the unfortunate Marie Antoinette, then only six years old. At Luneville he was honoured by the notice of Stanislaus, the titular King of Poland, at whose court he was introduced to one of his fraternity, in the person of the renowned Bebe, dwarf to that monarch. Joujou, however, on being measured with his rival, had the proud satisfaction of finding himself three inches the superior in littleness, but in inental stature he far surpassed Bebe, whose understanding was little beyond the intelligence of a well-taught pointer. At Paris Joujou was most kindly received. M. Bouret, the farmergeneral, gave him an entertainment, at which all the plates, knives, forks, &c. were proportioned to the size of his guest, and the eatables were ortolans, beccaficos, and other dainties of Lilliputian dimensions. It was this Bouret who, having invited some person of distinction to dine with him early in the spring, treated him with peas at a guinea a quart. The following year, at the same season, the visiter received a second invitation, and begged M. Bouret not to purchase peas again at this exorbitant price, as he could make a very good dinner without them. His host bowed in acquiescence, and the first thing his guest saw on entering M. Bouret's grounds, was a red cow feasting on a pailful of the dainty vegetables he had refused.
From Paris the Countess Humiecka repaired to Holland, while Joujou “sequitur,non passibus æquis," and from thence to Warsaw, the capital of their native country. Here the Count Boruwlaski, by his own confession, became a little irregular in his habits, frequented the theatre, and was guilty of a few indiscretions. A little good advice and reflection,
however, speedily stopped him in his career
of dissipation, and he regained the favour of the Countess, who
mission of love into his hitherto peaceful bosom. The object of his
ess Humiecka's family, but in what capacity we are not informed,
“ The course of true love never yet ran smooth ;” and, notwith-
The Count observes a most mysterious silence on all the subsequent events of his matrimonial life; and it is impossible to avoid suspecting that they two who with so many thousand sighs did
buy each other," did not live in the harmony that might have been expected, or that the lovely, lively Isalina disappointed the fond anticipations of her little husband. However this may be, whether he thought with the prudent Italian proverb, “E meglio dir poveretto me, che poveretti noi,” or whether he found, on experiment, that he had no taste for the connubial felicity described by Boileau :
“Quelle joie en effet, quelle douceur extrême !
Certain it is that, finding his pension unequal to his wants, he took the advice of his friend, Prince Casimir, and resolved to revisit the different Courts of Europe; and that from the 57th page of his "Memoirs,” where he says, “ the idea of seeing my beloved Isalina in misery did not permit me long to enjoy the bappiness of possessing her," to the 383d, which concludes the volume, the name of his " beloved Isalina” is not again mentioned, nor is there the slightest allusion to his matrimonial ties. He evidently travelled alone; and amidst all his cares and comforts, those of the husband and the father remain unnoticed : yet his wife bore him several daughters; and we can remember reading in some old newspaper, or magazine, an account of the christening of one of them, born, we suppose, in this country, to whom several persons of distinction acted as sponsors.
To return to the Count's travels. Provided, by order of the King, with a convenient coach, such a one, perhaps, as appears in the pantomime of Gulliver, he left Warsaw, and proceeded to Vienna, where he gave a concert. Disappointed by its indifferent success, he seems to have directed all his hopes towards the most uncivilized countries; and considering that he declares his travels had profit, not amusement or information for their object, we cannot but feel astonished at the route he chose to select. He visited Hungary, Turkey, Arabia, Syria, Astracan, Finland, Lapland, and Nova Zembla. His friends strongly dissuaded him from visiting the latter place, and foretold that a concert would not thrive on so barbarous a soil; but the Count was obstinate, and confesses that he afterwards repented his pertinacity. He appears to have been once in some danger from the impetuous curiosity of the natives, who surrounded the house in which he was, and insisted on his coming forth. Like Blucher, he obeyed, and the savages devoutly" thanked the Sun for showing them such a man;" which “ flattering compliment," as the Count fortunately considered it, induced him to play them a tune on his guitar. The wondering auditors returned this civility by the gift of some sables. The rambling Lilliputian next visited Tobolsk and Kamschatka, and proceeded as far as Behring's Straits, occasionally procuring a lucrative concert to defray his travelling expenses. On his return towards Europe, he stopped at Catherineburg, where the Director of the Siberian mines resided, who paid the Count considerable attention. This director must have been a wonderful man, not only