June 19: Puppies! or, The Rewards Of Patient Reading


There's nothing to be said about Holinshed on English Dogs, in fact it was slow going for a little while. And then, by patiently slowing down and tuning my mind to its 16th-century style ("eftsoones," for example, but also the sentences are much longer), I began to find it delightful So today is a blockquote festival as I just pull out my favorite passages.

It's okay to enjoy this archaic style. I give you permission. It doesn't mean you want to work at a Rennaissance Faire or anything. Just don't walk around saying "good morrow" -- that would be going too far.

NOTE: parts I particularly enjoyed in italics.

The third sort of dogs of the gentle kind is the spaniel gentle, or comforter, or (as the common term is) the fistinghound...These are little and pretty, proper and fine, and sought out far and near to falsify the nice delicacy of dainty dames, and wanton women’s wills, instruments of folly to play and dally withal, in trifling away the treasure of time, to withdraw their minds from more commendable exercises, and to content their corrupt concupiscences with vain disport—a silly poor shift to shun their irksome idleness....It is thought of some that it is very wholesome for a weak stomach to bear such a dog in the bosom, as it is for him that hath the palsy to feel the daily smell and savour of a fox.
The Caspians make so much account sometimes of such great dogs that every able man would nourish sundry of them in his house of set purpose, to the end they should devour their carcases after their deaths thinking the dog’s bellies to be the most honourable sepulchres. The common people also followed the same rate, and therefore there were tie dogs kept up by public ordinance, to devour them after their deaths: by means whereof these beasts became the more eager, and with great difficulty after a while restrained from falling upon the living. But whither am I digressed?
Divers of them [mastiffs] likewise are of such jealousy over their master and whosoever of his household, that if a stranger do embrace or touch any of them, they will fall fiercely upon them, unto their extreme mischief if their fury be not prevented. Such a one was the dog of Nichomedes, king sometime of Bithynia, who seeing Consigne the queen to embrace and kiss her husband as they walked together in a garden, did tear her all to pieces, maugre his resistance and the present aid of such as attended on them.
Moreover they [whippets] bite very sore, and love candles exceedingly, as do the men and women of their country; but I may say no more of them, because they are not bred with us. Yet this will I make report of by the way, for pastime’s sake, that when a great man of those parts came of late into one of our ships which went thither for fish, to see the form and fashion of the same, his wife apparelled in fine sables, abiding on the deck whilst her husband was under the hatches with the mariners, espied a pound or two of candles hanging on the mast, and being loath to stand there idle alone, she fell to and eat them up every one, supposing herself to have been at a jolly banquet, and shewing very pleasant gesture when her husband came up again unto her.
I'm a little skeptical of the candle-eating queen, myself.

UPDATE: My wife points out that candles used to be made of beef tallow. This takes the tale from the realms of the improbable into the merely gross.

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