Black Dwarf,  1 (1817), 299–302.

Letters of the Black Dwarf. Notice of Trial—Lament Over Strange Disappointments. From the Black Dwarf in the King's Bench, to the Yellow Bonze at Japan

The Black Dwarf, pseud.  [Thomas J Wooler] *


Regular Feature, Letter, Spoof


Menageries, Wonder, Reason, Government, Cruelty, Medical Practioners, Animal Behaviour, Naturalists

    Observes that by being incarcerated, he (that is, Wooler, who was arrested for seditious libel in early May 1817) loses 'a great variety of amusements, and much opportunity of information' (299). Regrets that he cannot see the 'sapient professor of the most astonishing philosophy' who is currently in the metropolis, and whom all those who 'have not been committed for telling truth' are 'running to see' (299–300). If his powers are as described, he should be 'employed by the Government to discover the philosopher's stone'. It transpires that the philosopher 'is a pig! a learned pig! and all the town are daily assembling to hear him grunt problems, solve state policy, and divine the thoughts of those who never had any'. Various matters of government policy are attributed to the pig. Reports: 'A committee, consisting of all those who have consulted him, is now framing a bill for the better protection of four-legged brutes; and a general association for the peculiar protection of asses is in a state of much forwardness.' (300) Speculates about the preferential treatment under law of four-legged over two-legged animals. 'A Grand Council will shortly determine how wise a pig must be, or how much philosophy he must understand, before he is exempt from the hands of the butcher. The president of this assembly will be the R——t [i.e. the Regent], whose accurate definition and knowledge of philosophy was so excellent, before it was "so frittered away, that he could make nothing of it"'. Records that there has been a 'royal birth of twins' and observes: 'If thou art desirous of being remembered to them, thou must address thyself to the Grand Chamberlain of Exeter Change, where the royal father, the royal mother, and the royal twins, are to be seen all alive, in the shape of royal lions, that old and legitimate race of the monarchs of the wood'. (301) In a political allegory, refers to the current fashion for 'ass-driving': 'Politician, divine, lawyer, and physician all mounted their asses [...]. Some are very cruelly used. [...] Some naturalists have been recently asserting, however, that ill-usage continued too long, will change even the temper of an ass; and that he will not bear beyond a certain limit of endurance' (302).

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