‘Bodkin Spends a Night with the Wizard’ (18 April, 1863)

The following is William D. Latto’s Scots satirical column on the return of the ‘Wizard of the North’, John Henry Anderson, to Dundee. Anderson was a pioneer in bringing magic shows into theatres and was a direct predecessor and inspiration to the likes of Houdini. This is the advertisement for his show that appeared in the edition of the 4th of April.

“The Wizard of the North.”—It will be observed that the world-renowned Professor Anderson is to be in Dundee on Wednesday, after an absence of eight years, during which he has been all the world over exhibiting his wonderful feats of magic, and reaping golden opinions everywhere. We have no doubt that many will embrace this opportunity of seeing the tricks of this famous magician.

See below for the review of Anderson’s show that appeared in the ‘Journal’ in the 11th April edition.


Maister Editor,—Ae day towards the hinderend o’ last week, Mrs Davidson comes in wi’ a lang palaver aboot hoo John an’ her had been doon on the previous nicht seein’ that great “ambidextrous prestidigitator” man, the Wizard o’ the North, an’ hoo he had wrocht miracles nearly as wonderfu’ as ony we read aboot in holy writ. I was juist sittin’ takin’ an after-dinner blast o’ my cutty, when her leddyship made her appearance, an’ so I was privileged to participate in the conversation. Mrs Davidson was lip fou o’ the mervels she had seen, an’ said that Tibbie an’ me wad be losin’ an opportunity we micht never hae again, if we didna gang doon an’ pay oor twa shillins. Of coorse, I never yet despaired o’ Tibbie fa’in in wi’ opportunities enoo o’ spendin’ her twa shillinses withoot gaen doon to the Corn Exchange to pay for gettin’ hersel’ imposed on by Wizards; but as Mrs Davidson assured us that every body wi’ the sma’est pretensions to be thocht genteel had either been there, or were to be, it was oot o’ the question to suppose that we were to be ahent oor neebors in that or in ony ither respect. A weel ye see, the lang an’ the short o’ the story is, that I agreed to accompany Tibbie to see the Wizard; an’ as Willie is perfectly competent to manage the business in my absence, I left him at the helm o’ affairs, wi’ a promise that if he behaved himsel’, I wad gie him an’ Mary Ann tickets apiece for the next performance, whilk I fulfilled to the very letter, as baith o’ them can testifee.

Awa’ we went an’ secured a seat as near the lug o’ the law as possible, so that we micht baith see an’ hear to the full value o’ oor siller. Tibbie was a wee thocht uneasy when she saw the muslin coortins, an’ pictured in her ain mind what wad be gaen on ahent them. She whispered into my lug—an’ I could hear the teeth rattlin’ in her head when she said sae—”Losh, Tammas, he’s no a richt man that, or he wadna need to hae recoorse to the warks o’ darkness. Folk sid aye be open an’ aboon boord wi’ whatever they do.” Continue reading “‘Bodkin Spends a Night with the Wizard’ (18 April, 1863)”