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were perfectly secured from falling by the spike of iron which rose above the fane, around which the whole made their revolutions; and as on one side the nest was higher than on the other, that part being .always to windward, by this ingenious contrivance of the feathered architects the inside of the nest was continually kept in a proper degree of warmth. I never recollect these various circumstances without being lost in admiration at the extraordinary sagacity of these birds. While I am on birds, I will relate another odd circumstance that happened not far from Moorfields : in the summer of 1781, in a burialground near Peerless Pool, there was one corner where human bones were piled up, and in one of the skulls a blackbird made her nest, and hatched five young ones; three or four of which being cocks, were kept by the neighbours, and turned out fine singers.

In Newcastle however I met with a greater curiosity, as well as a more amiable subject of it, than a crow's nest, to excite my astonishment.

In my first journey, Mr Fisher the bookseller intryduced me to his daughter, a charming young lady, who being unfortunately born deaf, was consequently dụmb, till a gentleman a few years since taught her to understand what was said to her by the notion of the lips.. I had the pleasure of conversing with her several times, and found that she had much of the Scotch accent, which, as Mr Fisher informed me, she acquired of the gentleman who taught her not only to understand the conversation of others but to speak, he being a native of that country; he remarked also, that she never had spoken the Newcastle dialect. This young lady, I was also informed, dances exceedingly well, keeping exact time with the music, whether it is played slow or quick. When it is considered what an intense application must have been used, both on the part of the teacher and his fair pupil, to produce such a happy effect, it surely reflects great credit on each of the parties.

In the year 1790, when I again visited Newcastle with Mrs Lackington, this young lady became the first object of inquiry, and we were both introduced to her.

I have lately been informed of a lady now in London, who, although she is deaf, takes great delight in music, and when asked how she is affected by it, she answers that she feels it at her breast and at the bottom of her feet.

Being on the subject of curiosities, and having just related the pleasure I experienced on account of a lady acquiring the use of speech, permit me now to present you with another rarity indeed !-somewhat connected with the former, no doubt, but intended as an effectual remedy (temporary at least) for an opposite complaint of the same organs, viz. too great a volubility of speech, with which (as it is said) many females are so infected, as sometimes to lead them to exceed the bounds of due moderation and female decorum, and even display itself in the utterance of such harsh (though frequently inarticulate) terms as tend too much to disgrace the unhappy patient, and violently affect the auditory nerves of all persons within a considerable distance.—To quit metaphor.

At the town hall I was shewn a piece of antiquity, called a brank. It consists of a combination of iron fillets, and is fastened to the head by a lock fixed to the back part of it; a thin plate of iron goes into the mouth, sufficiently strong however to confine the tongue, and thus prevent the wearer from making any use of that restless member. The use of this piece of machinery is to punish notorious scolds. I am pleased to find that it is now considered merely as a matter of curiosity, the females of that town happily having not the smallest occasion for the application of so harsh an instrument : whether it is that all females apprehensive of being included in that description, have travelled southward, to avoid the danger of so degrading an exhibition, or whatever other reason is

assigned, I forgot to enquire. It however affords me pleasure to reflect, that the ladies of Newcastle are left at liberty to adopt a head-dress of their own choosing, confident that they possess a more refined taste than to fix upon one by no means calculated to display their lovely countenances to advantage ; as I am persuaded the brank would cast such a gloom on the fairest of them as would tend much to diminish the influence of their charms, and give pain to every beholder. It may be prudent, notwithstanding, still to preserve it in terrorem, as who knows what future times may produce? As I esteem it a very ingenious contrivance, and as there may be parts of the country still to be found where the application of such a machine

may

be useful in some Christian families (I will not say in all, having sufficient grounds for asserting the contrary) I here present you with an accurate sketch of it.

[graphic]

together with the manner of its application : that if any ingenious artist should be applied to, he may not

be at a loss how it is to be made. I would however advice such a one to be cautious in offering them to public sale, and by no means to advertise them (especially if a married man, or having any views towards matrimony.)

I am, dear friend, yours.

LETTER XLIII.

“ Oh, land of cakes! how oft my eyes
Desire to see thy mountains rise !
How Fancy loves thy steeps to climb,
So wild, so solemn, so sublime."
“ All the stage-coaches that travel so fast,
Must get now and then an unfortunate cast."

DEAR FRIEND, IN

my first journey to Scotland I sometimes travelled post, but often entered the different stagecoaches, &c. for a stage or two, when I happened to see any setting out so as to suit my time and inclination : but at last I had pretty nearly paid dear for it, as the driver of the diligence from Darlington to Durham happened to be much inebriated, and before his quitting Darlington had almost overset us : not observing the man was drunk, we attributed the fault to the horses; we were however very speedily undeceived in that respect by many concurrent circumstances, so that we were one minute nearly in the ditch on the right hand, and the next but just escaping that on the left ; at other times we experienced striking proofs of the inability of our conductor against the number of one-horse coal carts, not to mention their frequently running foul of us for being

on the wrong side of the road ; (for drivers of coaches and carts can be to the full as savage towards each other in the country as in London): however, notwithstanding all these “hair-breadth escapes,” we retained our seats till we arrived within three quarters of a mile of Durham, when at length the specific gravity of the driver's head preponderating over all the other parts of his frame united, precipitated him with violence from the elevated station, he had, till then (though with difficulty) possessed, to his parent earth. There were three unfortunate passengers in the carriage, left to the discretion of the horses, viz. a gentleman, an innkeeper's wife, and your humble servant; the lady in strict compliance with the practice of her sex in similar situations, on seeing the rapid descent of our charioteer, immediately honoured us with a loud and shrill shriek ; the quadrupeds, not accustomed to this pretty female note so much as the sonorous voice of a coachman, mistook for a signal to mend their pace, and they, habituated to pay

all due obedience to the commands of their superiors of the biped creation, when understood by them, and finding no check, instantly proceeded to a full gallop ; and we, however reluctantly, followed them down a gentle descent, not at a gentle rate, but with prodigious velocity. As I was quite calm and collected, I coolly reconnoitred the road before us, and observing that it was perfectly clear, as for half a mile not a çoal-cart was to be seen, although we had lately passed several score, I began to reason with my companions, and they speedily became calm enough to assist in holding a council what was best to be done in our critical situation. Our debates were quickly ended, as we were unanimous in opinion that, if we once entered the city of Durham, the carriage must inevitably be torn to pieces, owing to the variety of turnings and obstructions we should have to encounter, we therefore entered into an immediate resolution, nem. con. that to open the doors and exhibit our agility in

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