Punch,  50 (1866), 181.

Paper to be Read at the Forthcoming Meeting of the British Association at Nottingham. On Ovis Mercenaries, a New Species of British Sheep

Mr O'Dear


Paper, Spoof


Zoology, Anatomy, Human Development, Animal Behaviour, Animal Development, Evolution, Darwinism, Morality, Politics

    Begins by explaining how this 'highly uninteresting addition to the British Fauna' was revealed during an inquiry into procedures at the recent election in Nottingham. This inquiry was prompted by allegations of bribery and corruption, and scenes of rioting and criminal damage. According to a report in The Times, the candidates had hired 'lambs' to intimidate and threaten voters for rival parties (Anon 1866). Explains that this species of lamb has 'remarkable precocity', a 'physical development in the inverse ratio to that of their mental faculties', but none of the 'amiable and gentle disposition' found in the young of 'the ordinary species'. Compares their 'powers of aggression' to those of the gorilla 'as depicted by Mr. Du Chaillu', and notes that such powers are particularly evident during 'a contested election'. Explains that shepherds (political candidates) have to control this tendency with 'the lavish administration of stimulants [money]'. Distinguishes the species from sheep, pointing out that it has 'an undoubted Hippocampus minor and overhanging posterior lobes', and suggests that Charles R Darwin and Thomas H Huxley would be interested in this because it suggests a link between 'Ruminantia and Bimana' (i.e. a link between cud-chewing animals and man). Notes the robustness of the cranium in the species, the 'enormous' muscular power, the 'adaptation of the anterior members [...] as organs of offence' (a reference to weapons carried by voters), and 'pouches' for storing stones. Concludes by noting that, when specimens of the animal were brought before 'the Committee', surprise and disgust was felt owing to the fact that the animals resembled humans and yet lacked 'Honesty and Truth'.

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