« AnteriorContinuar »
Among the pieces intitled Philosophy and Natural History we find the following remarkable instance of female loquacity.
Mr. Boddington, Turkey merchant, at Ipswich, communicated this extraordinary fact to the Royal Society, July 1, 1742, who thought it worthy of an exact inquiry, which was made by Mr. Boddington, the Rev. Mr. Norcutt, and Mr. Hammond, a skilful anatomist, who attested the following circumstances.
April 9, 1742, We saw Margaret Cutting, who informed us she was about 24 years old; that when she was but 4 years of age a cancer appeared on the upper part of her tongue, which soon eat its way to the root. Mr. Scotchmore, surgeon, at Saxmundham, used the best means he could for her relief, but pronounced the case inOne day when he was injecting some medicine into her mouth, her tongue dropped out; the girl immediately saying, to their great surprise, Don't be frighted Mamma! 'twill grow again. In a quarter of a year afterwards she was quite cured. In examining her mouth we found not the least appearance of any tongue remaining, nor any uvula; but we observed a fleshy excrescence under the left jaw, extending itself almost to the place where the uvula should be, about a finger broad. This did not appear till some years after the cure; it is not moveable. The passage to the throat, where the uvula should be, is circular, and will admit a small nutmeg. She performed the swallowing of solids and liquids as well as we could; she discoursed as well as other persons do, but with a little tone through the nose. Letters and syllables she pronounced very articulately, and vowels perfectly; as also those consonants that require most the help of the tongue, d, l, t, r, n. She read to us in a book very distinctly, and sung very prettily. What is still more wonderful, notwithstanding her loss of this organ, she distinguishes all tastes very nicely. To this certificate may be added the attestation of Mr. Dennis, tobacconist, in Aldersgate street, who has known her many years, and upon frequent inspections had found the case, before recited, true. Some few instances of the like nature have occurred, particularly one related by Tulpius, of a man he himself examined, who having had his tongue cut out by the Turks, after. three years could speak distinctly.' Vol. II. pp. 404-405.
As a companion to this, though of rather more suspicious credit, we may extract the following account of unusual appe
The beginning of May, 1769, was brought to Avignon, a true lithophagus or stone-eater. He not only swallowed flints of an inch and a half long, a full inch broad, and half an inch thick; but such stones as he could reduce to powder, such as marble, pebbles, &c. he made up into paste, which was to him a most agreeable and wholesome food I examined this man with all the attention I possibly could, I found his gullet very large, his teeth exceedingly strong, his saliva very corrosive, and his stomach lower than ordinary, which I imputed to the vast number of flints he had swallowed, being about tive and twenty one day with another. Upon interrogating his
keeper, he told me the following particulars." This stone-eater," says he, "was found three years ago in a northern inhabited island, by some of the crew of a Dutch ship, on Good Friday. Since I have had him, I make him eat raw flesh with his stones; I could never get him to swallow bread. He will drink water, wine, and brandy; which last liquor gives him infinite pleasure. He sleeps at least twelve hours in a day, sitting on the ground with one knee over the other, and his chin resting on his right knee. He smokes almost all the time he is not asleep, or is not eating. The flints he has swallowed he voids somewhat corroded and diminished in weight, the rest of his excrements resemble mortar." The keeper also tells me, that some physicians at Paris got him blooded; that the blood had little or no serum, and in two hours time became as fragile as coral If this fact be true, it is manifest that the most diluted part of the stony juice must be converted into chyle. This stoneeater, hitherto is unable to pronounce more than a few words, Oui, non, caillou, bon. I shewed him a fly through a microscope; he was astonished at the size of the animal, and could not be induced to examine it. He has been taught to make the sign of the cross, and was baptised some months ago in the church of St. Côme at Paris. The respect he shews to ecclesiastics, and his ready disposition to please them, afforded me the opportunity of satisfying myself as to all these particulars; and I am fully convinced that he is no cheat.'. Vol. II. p. 501.
The third volume of this work consisting of Letters and Anecdotes, is perhaps the most amusing of the whole. As it is impracticable to apply any principle of selection to so miscellaneous an assemblage, we shall take a few quotations as they turn up.---The following letter of consolation from Bishop Horne, seems to us distinguished by great tenderness and beauty.
'My dear Madam-Little did I think a letter from afflict my soul, but yours received this morning has indeed done it. Seeing your hand, and a black seal, my mind forboded what had happened: I made an attempt to read it to my wife and daughters, but it would not do I got no further than the first sentence, burst into a flood of tears, and was obliged to retreat into the solitude of my study, unfit for any thing, but to think on what had happened; then to fall upon my knees, and pray, that God would evermore pour down his choicest blessings on the children of my departed friend, and as their father and their mother had forsaken them," that he would take them up," and support them in time and eternity. Even so! Amen.
You ask comfort of me, but your truly excellent letter has suggested comfort to me, from all the proper topics; and I can only reflect it back to you again. All things considered, the circumstance which first marked the disorder may be termed a gracious dispensation. It at ouce rendered the event, one may say, desirable, which otherwise carried so much terror and sorrow in the face of it. Nothing
else in the world could so soon, and so effectually, have blunted the
'Do not apologise for writing; but let me hear what you do, and what plan of life your brother thinks of pursuing. With kindest compliments from the sympathising folks here, believe me, ever, my dear Madam, your faithful friend and servant, G. HORNE." Vol, III. p. 180.
At p. 386 we find a letter from Mr. Dutens giving a description of a singular piece of mechanism.
During my stay in this city, (Presburg) I have been so happy as to form an acquaintance with M. de Kempett, an Aulic Counsellor and Director-General of the salt mines in Hungary. seems impossible to attain to a more perfect knowledge of mechanics, than this gentleman hath done. At least no artist has yet been able to produce a machine, so wonderful in its kind, as what he constructed about a year ago. M. de Kempett, excited by the accounts he received of the extraordinary performances of the celebrated M. de Vaucanson, and of some other men of genius in France and England, at first aimed at nothing more, than to imitate those artists. But he has done more, he has excelled them. He has constructed an Automaton, which can play at chess with the most skilful players. This machine represents a man of the natural size, dressed like a Turk, sitting before the table which holds the chess-board. This table (which is about three feet and a half long, and about two feet and a half broad) is supported by four feet that roll on castors, in order the more easily to change its situation; which the inventor fails not to do from time to time, in order to take away all suspicion of any communication. Both the table and the figure are full of wheels, springs, and leavers. M. de Kempett makes no difficulty of shewing the inside of the machine, especially when he finds any one suspects a boy to be in it. I have examined with attention all the parts both of the table and figure, and I am well assured there is not the least ground for such an imputation. I have played a game
at chess with the Automaton myself. I have particularly remarked, with great astonishment, the precision with which it made the various and complicated movements of the arm, with which it plays. It raises the arm, it advances it towards that part of the chess-board, on which the piece stands, which ought to be moved; and then by a movement of the wrist, it brings the hand down upon the piece, opens the hand, closes it upon the piece in order to grasp it, lifts it up, and places it upon the square it is to be removed to; this done, it lays its arm down upon a cushion which is placed on the chessboard. If it ought to take one of its adversary's pieces, then by one entire movement, it removes that piece quite off the chess-board, and by a series of such movements as I have been describing, it returns to take up its own piece, and place it in the square, which the other had left vacant. I attempted to practise a small deception, by giving the Queen the move of a Knight; but my mechanic opponent was not to be so imposed on; he took up my Queen and replaced her in the square she had been removed from. All this is done with the same readiness that a common player shews at this game, and I have often engaged with persons, who played neither so expeditiously, nor so skilfully as this Automaton, who yet would have been extremely affronted, if one had compared them to him. You will perhaps expect me to propose some conjectures, as to the means employed to direct this machine in its movements. I wish I could form any that were reasonable and well-founded; but notwithstanding the minute attention, with which I have repeatedly observed it, I have not been able in the least degree to form any hypothesis which could satisfy myself.' Vol. III. p. 336—337.
Of the last or Biographical portion much of what we might otherwise have extracted, has been inserted in a more correct form by Mr. Nichols in his Literary Anecdotes. From each of the volumes indeed, many curious and interesting extracts might be taken, but considering that the work is only a republication of what has been very long and extensively before the public, we shall content ourselves with commending it, in general terms, to the attention of our readers.
Art. VIII. A Series of Plays: in which it is attempted to delineate the stronger Passions of the Mind. By Joanna Baillie.
Art. IX. Miscellaneous Plays. By Joanna Baillie.
FROM the consideration of the preface, we proceed immediately to that of the plays themselves; and if our remarks should extend themselves to a greater length than we usually allow ourselves upon such a subject, we must, by way of apology, entreat our readers to recollect, that they relate to four volumes of poetry-and that the poetry of Miss Baillie.
Miss Baillie is decidedly of the good old school of the English
drama: and, therefore, we must warn all the admirers of the monotonous declamation of French tragedy, all the lovers of Melpomene in hoop-petticoats, and high-heeled shoes, to look elsewhere. They will find little to their taste here. The personages are not always ranting or whining, in the extasies of love, or the agonies of despair, or the madness of rage: they really do talk, (we do not blush for our fair author,) like men and women of this world,-men and women who have some other bond of connection with the reader besides speaking the same language, and acknowledging the same rules of prosody.
From the old school, however, in which she has studied, Miss B. has not adopted the abundance and variety of incident, which characterize their drama. This appears, from her introduction, to be owing to the notion she entertains, that a busy plot is unfavourable to the developement of character. Undoubtedly a plot may be so busy as to draw off our attention entirely from the persons engaged to the business they are engaged in. A plot like this,-a plot which takes up all our diligence to unravel its intricacies, and which employs the dramatis personæ only as some ingenious gardeners employ trees and shrubs, -to make a labyrinth of them, in the windings of which the mind may wander up and down in inextricable confusion, assuredly we neither recommend nor admire! Indeed we cannot but lament the quantity of splendid poetry which has been lost in fables so involved as the Mourning Bride or Don Sebastian, and would henceforth wish to see all masks and disguises, all contests of hot and cold poisons, and murderings of one person in the dress of another, for ever banished from tragedy. Still, however, a fullness of plot, and a brisk succession of incidents, are necessary not only to keep alive the interest of the reader, but even to draw forth naturally, and without any appearance of artifice, the characters of the piece. When thrown into a variety of situations, the character seems to unfold itself. In set dialogues, it may be shewn indeed, but it is shewn by the author.
As a kind of repose, therefore, for the mind of the reader, which she very justly supposes may be wearied by continual attention to the propriety of sentiments and speeches, Miss Baillie introduces as many scenes of shew as possible into her dramas-banquets and dances and masquerades and processions. Of these expedients we have no wish to deprive her: but when she gets on to sieges, and ruined cities, and fields of battle covered with the dying and the dead, we cannot help : stopping to ask what she intends by this? Are such things as
The scene draws up and discovers the British and Mercian armies engaged. Near the front of the stage they are seen in close