Smoking dope with the poets

I started reading Black Beauty to Moomin tonight. I remebered it as a sweet, intense horse book with a few sad parts. My grandma read it to me when I was about 4 years old and I certainly re-read it many times – though not as an adult. I was a little bit in love with Ginger.

Well, wow. So far, it’s kind of scary. Beauty, or “Darkie” as he is called in youth,
given lessons by his mother in how to obey and please a master, and how to be a good horse.

My master often drove me in double harness with my mother, because she was steady and could teach me how to go better than a strange horse. She told me the better I behaved the better I should be treated, and that it was wisest always to do my best to please my master; “but,” said she, “there are a great many kinds of men; there are good thoughtful men like our master, that any horse may be proud to serve; and there are bad, cruel men, who never ought to have a horse or dog to call their own. Besides, there are a great many foolish men, vain, ignorant, and careless, who never trouble themselves to think; these spoil more horses than all, just for want of sense; they don’t mean it, but they do it for all that. I hope you will fall into good hands; but a horse never knows who may buy him, or who may drive him; it is all a chance for us; but still I say, do your best wherever it is, and keep up your good name.

!!!

Darkie describes in detail (and with acceptance) the process of being broken in. It’s absolutely chilling.

Do you suppose Anna Sewell was just talking about animal rights, or is she commenting here on women’s status, on slavery, on the status of workers? I was overcome with suspicion. It seems an intensely radical book.

I’m sure she was completely sincere about animal rights but no one could write this book and not be also thinking about people!

Sewell’s Wikipedia entry contained this totally fascinating sentence, about the middle of her life,

While seeking to improve her health at European spas, Sewell encountered various writers, artists, and philosophers, to which her previous background had not exposed her.

That could mean ANYTHING.

I’m going to have to read Dark Horse, a recent biography of Sewell, to find out a little more about her life!

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2 Responses to “Smoking dope with the poets”

  1. Foxessa



    Black Beauty and Beautiful Joe — my mom read both of these aloud to us a chapter at time when we were very tiny. I learned to read by age 5 so I could find out what happened next. I cannot say how often I sobbed over these, and other, books — books like Lad: A Dog, when the dog or the horse dies. Or is separated. Or any of the terrible things that happen as a matter of course in the life of a powerless being that has sense and sensibility to whatever degree.
    My favorite in BB was Merrylegs. I gave tribute to that plump, sly pony in my own first novel, The Horsegirl. Merrylegs would dump off the kids who were mean and who didn’t take riding seriously.
    Ginger was so sad. So very sad.
    The scenes early with the training to accept trains in BB, echo to a degree the scenes describing the coming of the railroad to the environs of Middlemarch, it felt, later, when I read Middlemarch.
    Love, c.

  2. Foxessa



    Black Beauty and Beautiful Joe — my mom read both of these aloud to us a chapter at time when we were very tiny. I learned to read by age 5 so I could find out what happened next. I cannot say how often I sobbed over these, and other, books — books like Lad: A Dog, when the dog or the horse dies. Or is separated. Or any of the terrible things that happen as a matter of course in the life of a powerless being that has sense and sensibility to whatever degree.
    My favorite in BB was Merrylegs. I gave tribute to that plump, sly pony in my own first novel, The Horsegirl. Merrylegs would dump off the kids who were mean and who didn’t take riding seriously.
    Ginger was so sad. So very sad.
    The scenes early with the training to accept trains in BB, echo to a degree the scenes describing the coming of the railroad to the environs of Middlemarch, it felt, later, when I read Middlemarch.
    Love, c.

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