A True Narrative of a Prodigious Toad, seen at the Devils-Arse-o'th-Peak, in Darby-Shire.
THere is nothing so common as Natures variation through luxury or poverty of matter, and some concurrent accidents, which taking the opportunity of time and place, assist in producing such an Animal Mineral, or Vegetine, as because of it's rarity will seem strange to the world.
For Barnicles some years ago, nay now, are not believ∣ed by the ninth part of ten of the Nation, though several Authours have writ, and many thousands seen the manner nature has contrived for them; they therefore that can have little belief for any thing, of which they have not had an occular demonstration are not expected to give cre∣dit to this ensuing Relation.
HAlf a Dozen of the meaner sort of Darby∣shire designed a Hunting, Coursing or Potching rather, having for that purpose got Beagles, Grey-hounds, and a Peece or two, thus furnished, they beat about the Peak, where they started a Hare as some held, others a Rabbet, which they eagerly followed, until that frightned Crea∣ture Page 3 ran into a hollow in the earth; at the entrance of which stood the Dogs, not daring to go in; but when the company came together, and had consul∣ted a while, they resolved to enter and drive out the prey, the cavity being large enough, the most couragious went in a good way, but one whose heart or weariness had caused to stay behind, sat him down on a great stone loose and moveable; and whether by fitting down he stirred the Stone, he presently conceived his fellows were gone too far, he called them back, telling them, that what they looked for was under the stone he sat on: up∣on which they returned, carrying a Beagle or two in, which durst not voluntarily approach, then ve∣ry circumspectly they turned the stone, but found their expectations jilted, for which they called the Informer a silly Coxcomb, who had hindred their further search; but he confidently aver'd he per∣ceived something move, and laying his hands an∣gerly upon the stone, laid his fingers upon a round hole in't, into which he try'd to thrust his hand, but failing, cry'd, he would lay his Soul to a Pot of Dar∣by-Ale, that the prey got in at that hole, upon which they all try'd, and one whose hand was slenderer, thrust it in, arm and all, and finding his utmost fin∣ger to touch a hairy live body, swore bloodily, and curst himself to the Devil, it was a Rabbit, for he Page 3 felt it; upon which the Inventor reply'd, I knew I could not be deceived, then they all agreed to roul the stone out, being near to the mouth, but they were never the better to further their design.
The most ingenious of them cut a Bryer, slitting the end of it a cross, and afterwards cut it to point towards the middle, and gently thrust it in, until he found it stopt upon something that was soft, then he began tenderly to turn it, and drew out a hoary furr, which they concluded to be the belly of the Rabbet; after many essays, finding themselves dis∣appointed, they resolved rather then loose their ex∣pectations, to get some Iron Mawls and Barrs, and so break the stones to pieces; which they borowed, and presently fell to Work, and after considerable pains they split the stone, in the midst of which to their amazement and great disappointment, they found a Toad of prodigious shape and size.
After their astonishment was something over, their an∣ger took place, which they intended to vent against the in∣nocent poor creature; when by meer accident a Stranger came by, and seeing in what confusion they stood, drew near and was equally surprized, but finding that they had prepared to brain the poor Creature with part of his own Castle, entreated them to forbear, and to recompence their pains in some measure, he would gratifie their Civility with a Dozen of Ale, which they gladly accepted of, and Page 4 immediately went to Drink, whilst he had the liberty of viewing this monstrous creature, which he found to have all the parts of a Toad and more; therefore having com∣petent skill in Limning, and having the advantage of Pen∣cil and Paper about him, did with all exactness Draw this strange Animal, which from his own hands came to mine, whose Description you shall now have, and when the En∣graver with whom the figure is, has finished it, that shall be also presented to you.
This Creature was in Length exactly Fourteen Inches: as it Sat it was Ten Inches and a Half over; upon the hinder parts of his Back, and the fore-part eight and a Barley Corn, how high it might stand he knew not, for it sat all the while crooling down; its nose was as black as jet, proportionable to the rest of its body, and of each side adorn'd with Bri∣stles; under his Eyes was a perfect Seaming made Cistern-fashion, of a Green colour, whilst his eyes most delicately beautiful, seem'd to drop that way; over which were placed bristles of a muddy green; under his Gills were Flapps like two scollop shells, of the Colour of a Gurnets fins, admirably blew and shining, & always expanded; under them were two Pouches or Bladders, of a deep Orange colour, larger then the Fins, being a big as ordinary Pear∣plumbs, and something of that figure▪ the head had a Sea-Green scaly Armour on, which ran along its Page 6 back within four Inches of its tail; the hinder-part was covered with perfect Hair, but dusky, hoary co∣loured, of the same manner was that as went along the sides and feet. But what is yet most strange, is his Tail, which was thrice as long as its body, which it wore on its back, somthing like the True-Loves∣knot, and tho' it seem'd so intricate, yet when he of∣fred to turn this creature on its back to view its bel∣ly, it flung its Tail as sudden as the jirk of a Coach∣mans Whip, & had not he stood sideways, he might have had too much cause to have repented his cu∣riosity; but as it hapned it's tail fell into a slit of that stone which was its former Mansion, and though the poor Creature strove hard, yet it could not re∣lease it thus engag'd; upon which there appeared as close as might be, onely reckonable, a hundred ninety seaven scaly rings, jetty, black, and shining, which he made a shift by this means to reckon, and may be guess'd to be the indications of its Annual extension; at the end of the Tail was a forked sting, within an Inch of which was a small Pouch, of the colour of Gum Bugiae.
The Gentleman finding his Over-grown Toad in this posture, would have gagg'd the Toad, but no sooner had he touch'd its Nose, but it recoil'd back∣wards, even off the Stone, which it seem'd so to Hatch, and Cherish before. But there being an un∣fortunate Page 7 hollow or miss of ground, where this rare Animal falling, & not coming quick enough to the ground, the said Satchel or Pouch neer the sting broke, out of which there issued the most Diapha∣nous Yellow Liquor as ever was seen, deeply stain∣ing the stone, upon which the Toad that then hung above-ground fell down, his Tail freely coming to him; which he had not enjoy'd above three Mi∣nutes e're he departed this scurvy world: but before it received its change, it gave three such shrieks that the stranger was not onely forc'd to stop his ears: But this Lamentable Dirge, forc'd the Neigbours out of their Houses: He perceiving the Creature quite dead, took a fresh resolution, and turn'd it up∣on its back, and found its belly to be as white as the driven snow; cover'd with a most delightful down: about that time when he was busie viewing this pleasing Object, his Nose was surpriz'd with a most ungrateful Stench, which he found to proceed from that Limpid Yellow substance that the Toad had spilt, in which (it seems) its Seal of Life was plac'd. Just at its Departure its Head mov'd, and it vomited forth a Triangular Stone, being an Inch from each Angle, and in Depth according, which he drew to him with a Staff, keeping his Fingers upon his Nose: and when he had got it at a Convenient Distance, he Doubled some Page 8 Paper and took it up, folding it in several folds of the same Paper, and after lapt it carefully in his Handkerchief, and presented it me, with the Figure: And tho' before, I was in the num∣ber of the Incredulous, and so far from giving credit to the many Excellencies of this Stone, that I question'd its Existence, and guess'd it to be onely the off-spring of some pregnant, yet imposing fancy: Yet now upon my short ex∣perience, I dare assure the World, that the vertues ascribed by Authors to it, come far short of its performance: And questionless had some curious Virtuosus of our times been present at this Prodigious Accident, they might have pre∣pared Medicines of equal Memory with their Fame.