Punch,  34 (1858), 165.

The Zoological Nemesis of Faith



Letter, Spoof


Reading, Menageries, Representation, Zoological Gardens, Animal Behaviour, Heroism, Faith

People mentioned:

David W Mitchell

    Identifying himself as 'an elderly man', the narrator describes his childhood pursuits in natural history, including his reading of William Bingley's Anecdotes and Oliver Goldsmith's Animated Nature, his memories of the lions in the Tower of London, and of Edward Cross's Exeter Exchange Royal Menagerie, where he saw wild animals, including Chuny the elephant, the 'massacre' of which caused him 'bitter [...] suffering'. He relates how Cross's collection was moved to new premises at King's Mews, Charing Cross, and how, with the latter location giving way to the National Gallery, Cross's animals were replaced by 'wonderful works of art'. Having joined the Zoological Society and being a frequenter of the Zoological Society Gardens, he found the latter institution inferior to Cross's menagerie. Agrees that the animals are better kept, but stresses that his 'faith in the animals is shaken'. His reverence for elephants as the 'best and wisest of brutes' has evidently been undermined by novelist Charles Reade's unfavourable portrait in Reade 1858, his reverence for the camel has been shattered by the criticisms of William H Russell in The Times, and his faith in the lion had been ruined by the accounts of Roualeyn G G Cumming and David Livingstone. Finally, he notes his loss of faith in the hyena and complains that his zoological beliefs 'are turned topsy-turvy'.

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