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  • Pig in a Rock August 18, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback


    This story recalls those rather tedious tales about toads being dug out of rocks but with a much more interesting animal. Perhaps it could be true…

    On the 14th of December, 1810, several considerable falls of the cliffs, both east and westward of Dover, took place; and one of these was attended by a fatal domestic catastrophe. A house, situated at the base of that part of the cliffs between Moat’s Bulwark and where the Dover Gas Company’s works are built, was buried, with its inmates, consisting of the father, mother, and five of their children, and a sister’s child. The father only was dug from the ruins alive. All his family perished with the ruin of his household property. Behind the house, which stood just clear of the cliffs’ base, in an excavation, was a pig-sty which, when the cliff fell, was inhabited by a solitary and very fat hog, supposed to weigh about eight score. In the midst of his distress, the unfortunate owner of the quadruped forgot this animal; and when it occurred to his recollection, so much time had passed since the accident, that the pig was numbered with the dead.

    Now the mystery.

    In the ensuing summer, on the evening of the 23d of May, some workmen of the Ordnance department, going home from labour, stopped, as they had sometimes done before, to contemplate the yet remaining ruin. While thus engaged, a sound broke the silence of the moment. It seemed like the feeble grunting of a hog. The men listened, and the sound was repeated, till it ceased to be matter of doubt. One of them immediately went to the commanding officer of the Ordnance, and returned with a party of the miners, who set to work; and as soon as they had cleared away the chalk from before the chasm, the incarcerated animal came staggering forth, more like the anatomy of a pig than a living one. Its skin was covered with a long shaggy coat: the iris had disappeared from its eyes; and the pupils were pale, and had almost lost their colour. Nothing beyond these particulars was apparent externally. With great attention to its feeding, the creature recovered from its debility, and its coat fell off, and was renewed as before.

    We now discover that the author is an eyewitness. Note the ‘great profit’, is this the explanation for this tale.

    When I saw this hog in the following November, the eyes were of a yellowish tint, and the iris only discoverable by a faint line round the pupil; no defect showed itself in the vision of the organ: and, but for being told that the pig before me was the one buried alive for six months, there was nothing about it to excite curiosity. To the owner it had been a source of great profit, by its exhibition, during the summer season, at the neighbouring towns and watering-places; and, finally, it ended its existence in the way usual to its race, through the hands of the butcher. I have stated the supposed weight of this long-buried quadruped at the time of its incarceration, to be about eight score, or twenty stone; when liberated, it was weighed, and had lost half of its former quantity, being then four score. A peculiar character of the pig is its indiscriminate gluttony and rapid digestion. The means by which the life of this particular animal was sustained during the long period of its imprisonment, may be worth the consideration of the zootomist.

    Source The Table Book (1827), 731-732 (Regrettably this doesn’t appear in the digitised British papers for 1811)

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