Here is the thirteenth weekly digest for Animal History Daily, which I'm running on Twitter (@hannahvelten) every day for 2014. Using the #AHD tag, I find random titbits of animal history from the British Newspaper Archive (@BNArchive) on the appropriate day, from any year (generally the 1800s).
However, this week I have taken each entry from 1852, for no particular reason other than I fancied a change… and what a gut-wrenching week I’ve found (not for the faint-hearted).
IMAGE OF THE WEEK
from Dundee Courier
08 January 1898
‘A Strange Cure’ – It is said that in Australia there is a hotel where rheumatic patients congregate. Whenever a whale has been taken the patients are rowed over to the works in which the animal is cut up, the whalers dig a narrow grave in the body, and in this the patient lies for two hours as in a Turkish bath, the decomposing blubber of the whale closing around his body and acting as a huge poultice. This is known as the ‘whale cure for rheumatism’.
This week's #AHD offerings: disposal of body by pig, bitten off fingers, broken legs, tiger attack on horse, rapacious animals we hate, a fire ball on a cat’s tale and a skinned puppy…
26th March: 1852: master & servant accused of wilfully murdering new-born illegitimate baby by feeding it to a pig - witnesses tried to save baby (London Standard)
27th March: 1852: Boy had two fingers cleanly bitten off by a horse after offering it a turnip - injuries were dressed at a doctor's shop (Herts Guardian)
28th March: 1852: Pavilion Theatre, Mile End Road - groom's leg broken when horse he training to lie down on stage fell on him. Sent to London Hosp (The Era)
29th March: 1852: A horse pulling menagerie caravan killed by escaped tiger - mass of ropes thrown over ferocious beast and put back in cage (Cork Examiner)
30th March: 1852: Rapacious animals we hate / Kites, hawks, and wolves, deserve their fate; / Do we not just abhorrence find / Against the toad and serpent kind? (Kentish Gazette)
31st March: 1852: Some miscreants fastened a fire ball to the tail of a butcher's cat - it was caught trying to run into a stable full of straw (Worcestershire Chronicle)
1st April: 1852: pauper couple accused of deception after skinning puppy to look like aborted foetus & claiming ‘protection’ from Parish board (Morning Post)
Stories beyond the 140-characters:
1) The lines 'Rapacious animals we hate...' originally come from John Gay's fable - The Shepherd and the Philosopher (published 1727) - used in the Peelite general election campaign of 1852.
2) The magistrate in the skinned puppy case asked whether it was possible for the human foetus to turn into that of a canine after the pregnant woman had been frightened by a dog (she had been bitten by a dog in the supposed early stages of her pregnancy)... this has shades of Mary Tofts' case in 1726 when she supposedly gave birth to rabbit parts after being fascinated by the sight of a rabbit while in early pregnancy.
Hannah Velten - author of