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A perfect example of how something published almost two hundred years ago can be just as relevant now as back then.Mankind, says a Chinese manuscript, which my friend M.
Charles and Mary pottered along, living brother and sister.
Despite both being blighted by bouts of insanity, they must have had quite a fun time, hanging out with best friend and renowned opium-fiend, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, as well as Wordsworth, Percy Shelly, Lord Byron and the rest of English Romantic gang. Lots of eccentricities and excess, within such a pithy and drunk crowd – all contributing to a sort of Blackadder-esque scene of carnage. What I do want to laud are my two-favourite essays from Lamb’s book.
The townspeople initially fashion a gridiron to cook the pig on, and finally a spit. Nonsense-creation-myth aside, Lamb touches on greed and generosity in the most humorous and eloquent way: “thin, devotional tone as they say the grace – and how the most sincerest of graces are often said from those who have the least to thank for.
For five academic years I said grace twice a day, before leaving school and – unquestioningly – have never said a grace since.
Much less did it resemble that of any known herb, weed, or flower.
A premonitory moistening at the same time overflowed his nether lip. He next stooped down to feel the pig, if there were any signs of life in it.Together with the cottage (a sorry antediluvian make-shift of a building, you may think it), what was of much more importance, a fine litter of new-farrowed pigs, no less than nine in number, perished.China pigs have been esteemed a luxury all over the East from the remotest periods that we read of.The manuscript goes on to say, that the art of roasting, or rather broiling (which I take to be the elder brother) was accidentally discovered in the manner following.The swine-herd, Ho-ti, having gone out into the woods one morning, as his manner was, to collect mast for his hogs, left his cottage in the care of his eldest son Bo-bo, a great lubberly boy, who being fond of playing with fire, as younkers of his age commonly are, let some sparks escape into a bundle of straw, which kindling quickly, spread the conflagration over every part of their poor mansion, till it was reduced to ashes.He burnt his fingers, and to cool them he applied them in his booby fashion to his mouth.Some of the crums of the scorched skin had come away with his fingers, and for the first time in his life (in the world’s life indeed, for before him no man had known it) he tasted —! It did not burn him so much now, still he licked his fingers from a sort of habit.The truth at length broke into his slow understanding, that it was the pig that smelt so, and the pig that tasted so delicious; and, surrendering himself up to the newborn pleasure, he fell to tearing up whole handfuls of the scorched skin with the flesh next it, and was cramming it down his throat in his beastly fashion, when his sire entered amid the smoking rafters, armed with retributory cudgel, and finding how affairs stood, began to rain blows upon the young rogue’s shoulders, as thick as hail-stones, which Bo-bo heeded not any more than if they had been flies.The tickling pleasure, which he experienced in his lower regions, had rendered him quite callous to any inconveniences he might feel in those remote quarters.was obliging enough to read and explain to me, for the first seventy thousand ages ate their meat raw, clawing or biting it from the living animal, just as they do in Abyssinia to this day.This period is not obscurely hinted at by their great Confucius in the second chapter of his Mundane Mutations, where he designates a kind of golden age by the term Cho-fang, literally the Cooks’ holiday.