Cornhill Magazine,  9 (1864), 69–74.

Respecting Asses

[Archer Polson]




Natural History, Breeding, Animal Behaviour, Anthropomorphism, Ancient Authorities, Medical Treatment, Homeopathy, Astrology, Nutrition

    Defends the 'cruelly maligned ass' against the 'ribald jests launched at the luckless animal' throughout history and in nearly all cultures (70), and insists that it is, at the very least, superior to the 'pompous and conceited mule' which ought to be recognized as merely an 'undutiful, graceless hybrid' (74). In fact, 'Fuller, of Worthies' celebrity, contends that mules are not creatures at all' (69). Asses, on the other hand, have long been known as creatures eminently serviceable to man. In the 'opinion of the learned Van Helmont', for instance, 'asses milk contributes to longevity', and 'Gaule [...] in his Mag-Astromancers Posed and Puzzled, enumerates amongst the different kinds of divination "cephaleonomancy by brayling (sic) of an ass's head"', although the author remarks that such astrological lore is 'a matter into which we are not disposed to enter' (70). Observes that throughout history very few people have recognized 'the close resemblance of mankind to the innocent creature they then, and have since, persecuted so cruelly' (71). Additionally, the 'gentle docile ass, cleanly in his habits, cleanly in his diet, and destitute of all gluttonous propensities whatever' provides meat which is of far higher quality than that of the 'ill-mannered, grubbing, fetid pig, wallowing in filth and finding in filth his food' (72).

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