Thursday, December 22, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Friday, December 2, 2011
The earliest account that we have seen of a learned pig is to be found in an old Bartholomew Fair bill, issued by that Emperor of all conjurors, Mr Fawkes, which exhibits the portrait of the swinish pundit holding a paper in his mouth, with the letter Y inscribed upon it. This ‘most amazing pig’ which had a particularly early tail, was the pattern of docility and sagacity: the ‘Pig of Knowledge, Being the only one ever taught in England’. He was to be visited ‘at a Commodious Room, at the George, West-Smithfield, During the time of the Fair’ and the spectators were required to ‘See and Believe!’ Three-pence was the price of admission to behold ‘This astonishing animal’ perform with cards, money and watches, &c. &c. The bill concluded with a poetical apotheosis to the pig, from which we extract one verse:A learned pig in George’s reign,To Æsop’s brutes an equal boast;Then let mankind again combine,To render friendship still a toast.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
‘Then,’ replied the doctor, his great face a-bloom with ruddy indignation, ‘is the Pig a race unjustly calumniated! Pig has, it seems, not been wanting to man, but man to pig. Why, we hardly allow time for his education, killing him at a year old!’Seward was the author of a novel, Louisa. as well as a considerable volume of poetry. She was best known for her elegies, including those on David Garrick, Major André, and Captain Cook; so strongly was she associated with them that Sir Walter Scott, who edited her Poetical Works, was said to be unwilling to start his work while she lived, lest he die first and she end up writing his elegy.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
As a complement to my learned Colleague, the Georgian Gentleman's account of a visit to the Museum in 1760, I thought I'd post a brief excerpt from Pyg: The Memoirs of a Learned Pig, where a visit in 1784 is described:
Dr Adams had written, with great flourish, to Joseph Banks, the President of the Royal Society, whose offices were but a short distance away at Montagu House in Great Russell street. We were a little abashed to call upon such a Luminary, but were assured he would receive us; the other letters were addressed to John Sheldon, a leading Anatomist, Richard Kirwan, the Chemist, and William Aiton, the superintendent at Kew Botanical Gardens. I declared then and there that I would rather meet with Banks than with any of the others, having no desire as yet to be Autopsied, Analysed, or served up with a Garnish; besides, were Banks to take my case in hand, surely the others would follow, whereas if I had my first audience with lesser men, their fellows might still require Persuasion.
Having no other pressing Business, we headed out on foot the next morning, which we were relieved to see had dawned clear and crisp, the pestilent Fog having lifted, and autumnal breezes scoured the City of its effects. it was but a walk of perhaps ten minutes to Montagu House, which was home to the British Museum as well as the Royal Society; we ascended the front steps, and my Benefactor handed his Card to the uniformed doorman, mentioning that he had with him an introduction to Mr Banks.
"Very well, sir, you may go in—but your pig must remain outside," added that gentleman, as we moved to enter.
"He’s not my pig, sir—he is entirely his own—and it is he, specifically, that Mr Banks will most want to see," Sam insisted.
"Is he then a Specimen?"
"Certainly not! I’ll have you know Toby is an Educated pig; he has just completed a year of study at Oxford."
This was too much for the doorman, who concluded that our visit must be some sort of Prank; he laid his hands on both of us, and forcibly escorted us down the stairs and out of the gate. I urged Sam to make the attempt alone, assuring him that I would not be in the least inconvenienced to Wait for him outside, but a glance from the doorman seemed to threaten even that attempt, and we backed off and slunk away down the street.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Give pensions to the Learned PigOr the Hare playing on a TaborAnglus can never see PerfectionBut in the Journeymans Labour.