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Dead Cats








Lifeless cats have been from time immemorial suggestive of foolish
hoaxing, a parcel being made up, or a basket with the legs of a hare
projecting, directed to some one at a distance, and on which the charge
for carriage comes to a considerable sum, the fortunate recipient
ultimately, to his great annoyance, finding "his present" was nothing
else but "a dead cat." Dead cats, which not infrequently were cast into
the streets, or accidentally killed there, were sometimes used as
objects of sport by the silly, low-minded, and vulgar, and it was
thought a "clever thing" if they could deposit such in a drawing-room
through an open window, or pitch the unfortunate animal, often crushed
and dirty, into a passing carriage; but "the time of times" when it was
considered to be a legitimate object to use was that of either a borough
or county election, cats and rotten eggs forming the material with which
the assault was conducted in the event of an unpopular candidate for
honours attempting to give his political views to a depreciatory mob
surrounding the hustings. An anecdote is recorded in Grose's "Olio" of
Mr. Fox, who, in 1784, was a candidate for Westminster, which goes far
to show what dirty, degrading, disgusting indignities the would-be
"people's representative" had to endure at that period, and with what
good humour such favours of popular appreciation, or otherwise, were
received:

"During the poll, a dead cat being thrown on the hustings, one of Sir
Cecil Wray's party observed it stunk worse than a fox; to which Mr.
Fox replied there was nothing extraordinary in that, considering it was
a 'poll cat.'"

This is by no means the only ready and witty answer that has been
attributed to Mr. Fox, though not bearing on the present subject.





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Previous: The Law On Cat Killing



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