Punch,  53 (1867), 119.

A Plea for Vermin

Whitybrown de Selborne


Letter, Spoof


Hunting, Disease, Natural History, Cruelty, Animal Behaviour, Nutrition

People mentioned:

Gilbert White

Publications cited:

Tristram 1867

    Begins by reminding Mr Punch of some remarks made by Henry B Tristram at the recent meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. Presents an extract from Tristram's address in which the 'reverend naturalist' accused gamekeepers of being the 'most destructive of all vermin' because their extirpation of birds of prey had 'engendered disease among game'. The author emphasises similarities between the positions of Tristram and Mr Punch, and presents another extract from Tristram's address which describes how falcons destroy their diseased brethren and are thus able to prevent the now 'epidemic' grouse disease. Concludes that this legitimates the need to punish people for killing birds of prey as severely as for slaying game. Broadening his argument with examples of how spiders destroy flies, insists that one creature that is 'in some degree mischievous serves to keep the other under', although he cannot understand how this applies to fleas, since he cannot conceive the usefulness of these vermin. Concludes by noting that while he will continue to kill fleas with insect powder, he will endeavour to save birds of prey from 'powder and shot'.

© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020

Printed from Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical: An Electronic Index, v. 4.0, The Digital Humanities Institute <http://www.sciper.org> [accessed ]