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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

elizabethan doggie dis

William Harrison was a British natural historian of the 16th century. He, like other natural historians of this time, hadn't much to say for the tiny lapdogs so popular with gentlewomen at this time. Rather, he thought they were fluffy evidence of lax moral fibre, as his comment from 1588 below makes quite clear (in original spelling):
...little and prettie, proper and fine, and sought out far and neere to sastifie
the nice delicacie of dainty dames, and wanton womens willes; instruments of
follie to plaie and dallie withall, in trifling away the treasure oftime, to
withdraw their minds from more commendable exercises, and to content their
corrupt concupiscenceswith vaine disport, a sillie poore shift to shun their
irksome idleness. These Sybariticall puppies, the smaller they be. . . the
better they be accepted, the more pleasure also they provoke, as meet
plaiefellowes for minsing mistresses to beare in their bosoms, to keepe companie
withall in their chambers, to succour with sleepe in bed, and nourish with meat
at bord, to lie in their laps, and licke their lips as they lie. . . in their
wagons and coches.

-- Jesse, G.R., History of the British Dog, 2 vols. (London, 1856), 2.228; quoted in MacDonogh, Katharine, Reigning Cats and Dogs (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999), pp. 77-78.

I love that line about how they "licke their lips as they lie".

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