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“New Sensibilities? Attitudes to Wildlife and Nature in Nineteenth century Britain PolecatRed KiteBarn Owl.

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Presentation on theme: "“New Sensibilities? Attitudes to Wildlife and Nature in Nineteenth century Britain PolecatRed KiteBarn Owl."— Presentation transcript:

1 “New Sensibilities? Attitudes to Wildlife and Nature in Nineteenth century Britain PolecatRed KiteBarn Owl

2 First Stage of Cruelty 2nd Stage of CrueltyThe Reward of Cruelty Cruelty in Perfection “In Tudor England the artificial preservation of uncultivated hilltops would have seemed as absurd as the creation of sanctuaries for wild birds and animals which could not be eaten or hunted. Man’s task, in the words of Genesis (i.28) was to: ‘Replenish the earth and subdue it’: to level the woods, till the soil, drive off the predators, kill the vermin, plough up the bracken, drain the fens’ (K Thomas 1983)

3 ‘Over the fence’ (W Williams 1890) “The love of the chase may be said to be screwed into the soul of man by the noble hand of nature” (R Dorvill 1833) “Hunting was at the same time a mark of the fitness of the dominant race, a route to health strength, and wealth, an emblem of imperial rule, and an allegory of human affairs” (J Mackenzie 1989)

4 Victoria & Albert stag hunting 1853 “The House of Commons representing none but the rich and powerful, protects a barbarous and bloody sport from which every enlightened and amiable mind shrinks in abhorrence and disgust, persons of great property nurture animals on their estates for the sake of destroying them that they may kill and torture living beings for their sport” (Shelley, Polemic against hunting) “The poor hart toils along the mountainside I will not stop to tell how far he fled, Nor will I mention by what death he died; But now the Knight beholds him lying dead (William Wordsworth 1800) Hart Leap-Well

5 Shooting as ‘Sport’ on Landed estates in the Nineteenth century The Prince of Wales on a pheasant shoot at Chatsworth, late 19 th Century ‘One of the largest ‘bags’ of birds took place on a Yorkshire estate where just 9 guns killed 3,824 pheasants, 15 partridges, 526 hares, 92 rabbits and 3 various making a grand total of 4,460 birds and mammals killed’

6 19 th Century ‘Vermin’ Control Burley Estate Rutland Red Kite183 Buzzard285 Hawk340 Owl386 Polecat206 Pine Marten 9 Red Squirrel197 Woodpecker103 Killing of Wildcats on Scottish Estates 1874 – 1902 Wildcats killed Ross & C – Inverness – Argyll Sutherland Total297

7 Murderous Millinery? Snowy Egret A hat and muff set made in the 1890’s using the feathers of a Great crested Grebe At the London Commercial Sales rooms in 1902 there were sold 1,608 packages of heron’s plumes. A package is said to average in weight 30 ounces, this makes a total of 48,240 ounces. It requires 4 birds to make an ounce of plumes, these sales meant that 192,960 herons were killed at their nests, with two or three times that number of young or eggs destroyed

8 Victorian Caged Songbirds and the fascination for Taxidermy A variety of bird cages The poor selling caged birds in London A glass dome of stuffed and mounted songbirds

9 “Animals, whom we have made our slaves we do not like to consider our equals” (Charles Darwin)

10 Primary Darwin C, (1839) The Voyage of the Beagle Howitt W, (1838) The Rural Life of England Jeffries R (1879) The Gamekeeper at Home: Sketches of Natural History and Rural Life Johnson T B (1851) The Gamekeepers Directory Mayhew H (1861) London Labour and the London Poor Whittaker J (1904) Scribblings of a Hedgerow Naturalist Secondary Coates P, (1998) Nature, Western Attitudes Since Ancient Times Grove R H (1995) Green Imperialism, Colonial Expansion, Tropical Island Edens and the Origins of Environmentalism Lovegrove R (2007) Silent Fields, The long decline of a nations wildlife Martin B P (1987) The Great Shoots, Britain’s Best – Past and Present Thomas K (1983) Man and the Natural World, Changing Attitudes in England

11 Journals David Perkins, ‘Wordsworth and the Polemic Against Hunting: “Hart Leap Well”, Nineteenth Century Literature, Vol. 52, No. 4, (Mar. 1998) pp Rob Boddice, ‘Manliness and the “Morality of Field Sports”: E. A. Freeman and Anthony Trollope,


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