It's back here, on "Enough with the pigs, fish, snakes, and lambs... here come the wolves!"
To Professor Althouse.
As the Ghost of a Gentleman, dead these 260 Years & more, you may imagine the Insults & Calumnies to which I have been witness. Nothing more stabs the Conscience, and arouses tender Feelings of Sympathy in a gallant Gentleman, than Slanders & Libels direct'd without Justice against a Member of the Fair Sex, especially if Comparisons be made with Beasts.
Mr. Obama's late Jest upon Pigs in a Political Oration would at first appear to be such a thing. The careful Observer will see, however, only a small Slander grown out of Proportion. The Intent was to paint a Picture of Mrs. Palin in the Mind of the Audience as a Sow. Such a crude Jape, unworthy of a Gentleman of Mr. Obama's Reputation, should not, in itself, arouse excessively chivalrous & gallant Sentiments in her male Admirers; 'twas but a passing Jest upon Mrs. Palin's own Words. Mr. Obama also made it with no little Indirection, as befits a Gentleman who would perhaps insult a Lady, altho' the Audience wanted no Hint to take his Meaning.
Yet, Madam, there remains another View of such petty Barbs. Habitual vehement Jesting against Women renders the Conscience of both the Teller & Hearer insensible by Degrees to very real Wrongs, nay mortal Injuries, that may in the end be done. Such crude & unfeeling Sentiments seem to well up naturally in brutish Men of poor Breeding & little Sense. They reqire strong Correction, lest the noblest Impulses of the human Heart be utterly extinguish'd and Society corrupt'd.
By way of Example, the following Account is from a London News-paper in my Day, shewing where ill-temper'd Designs of mix't Pigs & Women may lead:—
The London Journal* * * * * * * *
22nd August 1730.
We hear that at the late Assizes held at Bridgwater, an Indictment was preferred against a Sow-Gelder, for attempting to spay his Wife; but she refused to prosecute, and acknowledged her Forgiveness of him, and desired the Court would do the same: However, the Court remanded him back to Prison, and, for the sake of the good Women in general, ordered him to remain there 'till he could give 400l. Security for his good Behaviour during Life.
The Occasion of this vile Attempt, was this: The Sow-Gelder being in Company with several other married Men over a Pot of Ale, they all join’d in Complaint of the Fruitfulness of their Wives, because of the Charges brought upon them thereby; and asking him, whether he could not do by their Wives as by other Animals, he said he could; and they all agreed their good Women should undergo the Operation, provided he would begin with his own: This, with a great Oath, he undertook; and going Home, by Violence gagg’d and bound his Wife, and laying her on a Table, made a transverse Incision on the side of her Belly; but after much Puzzling, and putting the poor Woman to great Torment, he found there was some Difference between the Situation of the Parts in the rational & irrational Animals, and so, sewing up the Wound, he was forced to give up the Experiment. The Woman in her first Agonies appear'd strenuously against him, but being Recovered by the Time of the Trial, was so generous as to forgive him, and plead for his Pardon, as above.
I remember to have read one Instance (if I mistake not) of the Duke of Cleve’s Sow-Gelder, who actually perform’d this Operation on his Daughter, whom he suspect'd to be young with Child by an inveigling Courtier; but as he went through-stitch with his Work, so his Prince wen through-stitch with him, putting him to a cruel & exemplary Death for so inhuman an Action.
This Account ravels several Strands that may be pull'd from the Life Story of Mrs. Palin. Nay, they are some of the Warp & Woof of the Stuff of a modern Civilized Society, where Children are count'd as an Expense, and being rid of them the Provenance of Physick. Our Sow-Gelder wanted only Knowledge of Modern Chiurgeury to compleat his Task, and so excuse himself from the Bother & Expense of Parenthood, continuing, as he would, Relations with his Wife.
Mrs. Palin & her Family have woven a pretty Tapestry, after their Fashion, from these Threads. The Sow-Gelder and his poor Wife made a very different Picture; shewing that Selfishness and ill-regard for Women, indeed, clownish Disrespect for the very Act of Procreation, are not the especial Possession of this Age.
Beggging your Pardon for the excessive Length of my Epistle, but praying that rational & sensible Persons will be reminded thus of the Difference between a Woman & a Pig, and so Men & Beasts, I am,
Your humble & obt. Servant,