The greatest wonder I ever saw (says Mr. Hutton, of Birmingham) was Phebe Brown. She is five feet six inches in height, is about thirty, well proportioned, round face, and ruddy; has a dark penetrating eye, which, the moment it fixes upon your face, sees your character, and that with precision. Her step (pardon the Irishism) is more manly than a man’s, and can cover forty miles a day. Her common dress is a man’s hat, coat, with a spencer over it, and men’s shoes. She is unmarried.
She can lift one hundred weight in each hand, and carry fourteen score; can sew, knit, cook, and spin, but hates them all, and every accompaniment to the female character, that of modesty excepted. A gentleman at the New Bath had recently treated her rudely: “She had a good mind to have knocked him down.” She assured me she never knew what fear was. She gives no affront, but offers to fight any man who gives her one. If she never has fought, perhaps it is owing to the insulter having been a coward, for the man of courage would disdain to offer an insult to a female.
Phebe has strong sense, an excellent judgment, says smart things, and supports an easy freedom in all companies. Her voice is more than masculine, it is deep toned. With the wind in her favour, she can send it a mile; she has neither beard nor prominence of breast; she undertakes any kind of manual labour, as holding the plough, driving a team, thatching the barn, using the flail, &c. but her chief avocation is breaking horses, for which she charges a guinea a week each. She always rides without a saddle, is thought to be the best judge of a horse or cow in the country, and is frequently employed to purchase for others at the neighbouring fairs.
She is fond of Milton, Pope, and Shakspeare, also of music; is self-taught, and performs on several instruments, as the flute, violin, and harpsichord, and supports the bass viol in Mallock church. She is a markswoman, and carries the gun on her shoulder. She eats no beef or pork, and but little mutton. Her chief food is milk, which is also her drink, discarding wine, ale, and spirits.
From The cabinet of curiosities, or, Wonders of the world displayed,
London, Printed for J. Limbird, 1824.