Woe to the fattest

In Friday’s post we looked at Edward Carpenter’s political tract England’s Ideal, part of a bound collection of thirty miscellaneous pamphlets we recently acquired from Modern First Editions of Ilkley.

Sadly, few of the other authors represented in this volume are anything like as perceptive or relevant as Carpenter. Most of the works consist of the usual anti-Roman Catholic polemics (“Protestantism v Popery: a catechism”), interminable pieces attacking other churchmen (“What is it all about?, or an inquiry into the statements of the Rev. C.H. Spurgeon”) and almost certainly some of the worst poetry ever written, of which J.F. Sparke’s 1865 offering is a prime example. His seasonal verse entitled ‘A Merry Christmas’ somehow fails quite spectacularly to get you in the Christmas mood:

“Woe to the fattest and the best,
Struck by the annual “rinderpest.” [Cattle Plague]
And great and wide-spread thus you see
The quadruped mortality.
The poultry too, are sure to die,
They are too ponderous to fly,
And after eating corn – some pecks,
The knife is pushed right through their necks.
So let it be, may every sinner,
On Christmas-day enjoy his dinner.”


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