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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/48

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THE MAN WHO LAUGHS.

sculpture living human flesh; this is consequent on the loss of the art of torture. Men were once virtuosos in that respect, but are so no longer; the art has become so simplified that it will soon disappear altogether. In cutting off the limbs of living men, in opening their bellies and dragging out their entrails, phenomena were grasped on the moment and discoveries made. We are obliged to renounce these experiments now, and are thus deprived of the progress which surgery made by the aid of the executioner.

The vivisection of former days was not limited to the manufacture of phenomena for the market-place, of buffoons for the palace, and eunuchs for sultans and popes. It abounded in varieties. One of its triumphs was the manufacture of cocks for the King of England.

It was the custom, in the palace of the kings of England, to have a sort of watchman who crowed like a cock. This watcher, awake while all others slept, ranged the palace, and raised from hour to hour the cry of the farmyard, repeating it as often as was necessary, and thus supplying the place of a clock. This man had in childhood undergone an operation of the pharynx, which was part of the art described by Dr. Conquest. Under Charles II. the salivation caused by the operation having disgusted the Duchess of Portsmouth, the appointment was indeed preserved, so that the splendour of the crown should not be impaired; but they got an unmutilated man to represent the cock. A retired officer was generally selected for this honourable employment. Under James II. the functionary was named William Sampson, Cock, and received for his crow 9l. 2s. 6d. annually.[1] The memoirs of Catherine II. inform us that at St. Petersburg, scarcely a hundred years since,

  1. See Chamberlayne's "Present State of England," part i. chap, xiii., p. 179. 1688.