Charles Lamb - A Dissertation upon Roast Pig

So what about the new format? I have to admit that when I first heard about it, I equated it to “burning down the house to roast a pig”. It reminded me of a story I read a long time ago called “A dissertation on roast pig”. Written in the 19th century, by Charles Lambe, it is a humorous account of how a Chinese farmer accidently burns down his barn with all his pigs inside.

Carey's other major literary achievement is a contribution to the kind of political satire which became a specialty of the eighteenth century. A Learned Dissertation on Dumpling appeared in 1726, followed the next year by Pudding and Dumpling Burnt to Pot. Or, A Compleat Key to the Dissertation on Dumpling. Although both were published anonymously, there is little doubt that they are the product of Carey's agile sense of wit. Carey does not waste words; A Learned Dissertation on Dumpling is only twenty-five pages long, the key only thirty-one. Dumpling is apparently a history of English dumpling making and eating, from Julius Caesar through King John to the present. Allegorically, it is an attack on Sir Robert Walpole and Charles Spencer, later duke of Marlborough, and their appetite for dumpling and pudding, that is, bribery and perquisites. Pudding and Dumpling Burnt to Pot is somewhat more openly an attack on and the possibility (which Carey obviously considered real, even imminent) of an entente between Swift and Walpole that he felt was dangerous if not disastrous. Samuel Macey, in his introduction to the Augustan Reprint Society facsimile, states, "The pamphlets are distinguished by the fact that the author's level of imagination and writing makes them delightful reading even today. In Dumpling the author displays a considerable knowledge of cooks and cookery in London; by insinuating that to love dumpling is to love corruption, he effectively and amusingly achieves a satiric indirection against a number of political and social targets, including Walpole. The Key is in many ways a separate pamphlet in which Swift is the central figure under attack after his two secret visits to Walpole during 1726. Dumpling had a long life for an eighteenth-century pamphlet and was published as late as 1770. Dr. F. T. Wood has even suggested that it may have influenced Lamb's Dissertation on Roast Pig; readers might wish to test this for themselves."


Charles Lamb A dissertation upon roast pig

A Dissertation upon Roast Pig.

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