« AnteriorContinuar »
some moments. He published some dramatic p.eces, chiefly taken from old authors, and died April 28, 1710. He was buried in Westminster abbey.—For further particulars, see Cibber's Apology, and Tatler, No. 167. BIGG (john), the celebrated Dinton hermit, was born in 1699, and baptised April 22 of the same year. He was clerk to Simon Mayne, of Dinton, one of the judges who passed sentence of death on king Charles I. He afterwards lived in a cave at Dinton, in Buckinghamshire, though he had once been; man of considerable property. He was not deficient either in learning or understanding. Upon the restoration he began to grow melancholy, and soon alter betook himself to a recluse. life.— He supported himself by the charitable donations of those who were' curious enough to go to see him; though he never asked for any thing but leather, which he would nail or tack to his clothes. He kept three bottles constantly hanging to his girdle, viz. one for strong beer, another for small beer, and the third for milk. His shoes are still preserved; they are very large, and made up of about a thousand patches of leather: one of them is in the Bodlein repository the other in the collection of Sir John •Vanhatt'en, of Dinton, who had his cave dug up some years ago, in hopes of discovering something relative to him, but without success. The hermit was buried April 4, 1696. The above particulars of John Bigg are taken from an original letter written to Brown Willis; by Thomas Horne, and dated Oxon, Feb. 12, 1712.
BISSET (S.) remarkable for his patience and eccentricity in teaching docility to the dumb creation, was born at Perth, in Scotland, about the year 1721. He was bred a shoe-maker, and had the reputation of being an excellent hand at what is called woman's work. He afterwards went to London, where he married a woman who brought him some property, turned broker, and continued to accumulate money till the notion of teaching the quadruped kind attracted his attention in the year 1739.— Reading an account of a remarkable horse sliewn at the fair of St. Germains, curiosity led him to try his hand on a horse and dog, which he bought in London, and he succeeded beyond all expectation. Two monkies were the next pupils he exercised his art upon, one of which he taught to dance and tumble on the rope, and the other held a candle, with one paw, for his companion, and with the other played a barrel-organ. He also taught these antic-animals to perform several other curious tricks, such as drinking to the company, going through several regular dances with the dog, &c. Three young cats were the next objects of his tuition. He instructed those domestic tygers to strike their paws in such directions on the dulcimer as to produce several regular tunes, having music books before them, and squalling at the same time in different keys or tones, first, second, and third, by way of concert. These performances exciting general curiosity, his house was every day crouded, and his business much interrupted. Being advised to make a public exhibition uf bis animals, he readily assented to the
proposal-; and the well known Cats' O/iera was advertised to be represented in the Haymarket, where a horse, a dog, the monkeys, and the cats, went through their several parts with uncommon applause, to crouded houses; and in a few days Bisset found himself a gainer of almost a thousand pounds, as a reward for his ingenuity. This success created a desire of extending his dominion over other animals. He procured a leveret, and taught it to beat several marches on a drum on its hind-legs, till it became a full grown hare. He taught canary birds, linnets, and sparrows, to spell the name of any person in company, to distinguish the hour and minute of time, and play many other
: surprising feats. He trained six turkey-cocks to go through a regular dance y b*it, to accomplish this, he acknswledged to have adopted the eastern method by which camels are made to dance, by heating the floor. In the course of six months' teaching, he enabled a turkey to
■ . fetch and carry like a dog; and having chalked the floor, and blackened its claws, could direct ■it to trace out any given name of the company. At length, not meeting with the encouragement he had for some years received, he found himself constrained to make an itinerant exliibitionof part of his groupe,and to sell the rest. After shewing his animals in the city of London, to the great astonishment of thousands, in 1775 be took the/north-west circuit of the kingdom, and afterwards went to Belfast, where he established himself irv a public-house> resolving in luture to deal only with the rational part of animated nature; But the habits aad, the
amusements of life cannot be all at once abandoned. He trained a dog and cat to perfdrm, many amazing exploits. A doubt being started to him, whether the obstinacy of a pig could be conquered, his usual patient fortitude was exercised to try the experiment. He bought a black sucking pig in the market of Belfast for three shillings, and trained it to lie undec the stool or kit on which he sat at his work!— At various intervals during six or seven months he tried in vain to bring the young boar to his purpose, and despairing of every kind of success, lie was on the point of giving it away, when it struck him to adopt a new mode of teaching; in consequence of which, in the course of six months, be made an animal, supposed the most obstinate and perverse in nature, to become the most tractable. In August, 1783, he again turned itinerant, and took his learned pig to Dublin, where it was shewn for two or three nights at Ranelagh. It was perfectly under command, and appeared as pliant and good natured as a spaniel. When the weather had made it necessary that Bisset should remove his animal to the city, he obtained the permission of the chief magistrate, and advertised it to be seen in Dame-street. It was exhibited two or three days to many persons of distinction, when it could spell, without any apparent direction, the name or names of those in company, cast up accounts, and point out even the words thought of by persons present. It told exactly the hour, minutes, and seconds; pointed out the married and unmarried, kneelE ed
ed, and made his obeisance to the company, &c. &c. Poor Bisset was thus in a fair way of " bringing his pig to a good market," when a fellow broke into the room without any sort of pretext, and, armed with that brutality which the idea of power gives, what Shakespeare calls "a pelting officer," he assaulted
.. the inoffensive man, broke and destroyed every thing by which the performance was directed, and even menaced vengeance on the
. poor pig. In vain the injured Bisset pleaded the permission he had obtained from the chief magistrate: he was threatened to be dragged to prison, if he was found again offending in the same manner; in consequence of which he was compelled to return home, but not be
. fore the agitation of his mind had thrown him into a fit of illness, from which he never effectually recovered, and died a few days after at Chester, on his way to London.
BLOOD (thomas), an extraordinary English adventurer, who rendered himself famous by two daring exploits. The first was that of
. seizing the duke of Ormond, with an intention of hanging him at Tyburn, from which his grace's servants delivered him. The second was, that of stealing the crown, and other regalia from the Tower; and he was actually taken with the crown in his possesion, disguised as a clergyman. Charles II. directed that Blood should be brought into his presence, where he confessed that he once formed a design against his life, but the sight of his majesty awed him from the execution of it. The