Thursday, April 24th, 2014
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1777 / New Zealand

Dog Eat Dog


When we were in New Zealand, Neddy Rhio, one of my messmates, had got hold of a New Zealand dog, as savage a devil as the savages from whom he got it, and this same dog he intended to bring home to present to the marchioness of Townsend, his patroness. But one day, when Neddy was on shore on duty, a court-martial was held on the dog, and it was agreed unanimously that, as the dog was of cannibal origin, and was completely a cannibal itself, having bit every one of us, and shown every inclination to eat us alive if he could, that he should be doomed to death and eaten in his turn, we being short of fresh provisions at the time.

The sentence was immediately executed, the dog cooked, dressed, and eaten, for we could have eaten a horse behind the saddle, we were all so confoundedly hungry; but, considering that Neddy had the best right to a share, we put past his portion in a wooden bowl, and by way of having some sport, we cut a hole in the dog’s skin, and as Neddy came up the side, I popped his own dog’s skin over his head with the tail hanging down behind, and the paws before. He looked the grin horrid, told us we were all a set of d—-d cannibals, as bad as the New Zealanders we were among, and dived down below quite in the sulks.

I had locked up his share, and went down after him to see if hunger would overcome his delicacy, and sure enough, after growling and grumbling and swearing a reasonable time, he looks at me very woefully and says, “D—-n you, did you not even leave me a share?” “That I did,” says I, “Neddy my boy, and here it is for you.” So poor Rhio munched up his dog, cursing all the while as heartily as we were laughing at him. Ah! Those were the glorious days, but we are all going now. Rhio, poor fellow, came to be a post captain, and fell at the taking of Copenhagen.

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About the Author

Alexander Home, from his son’s Memoirs of an Aristocrat. Home served as a master’s mate aboard the Discovery on Captain Cook’s third and final voyage in the Pacific Ocean. The dog belonged to the Maori, some of whom had apparently killed and eaten members of the Adventure three years earlier. Cook observed that the natives had always been of a “brave, noble, open, and benevolent disposition” although they “never put up with an insult.”

American table manners are, if anything, a more advanced form of civilized behavior than the Europeans, because they are more complicated and further removed from the practical result, always a sign of refinement.
Miss Manners, 1982
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Lewis H. Lapham is Editor of Lapham's Quarterly. He also serves as editor emeritus and national correspondent for Harper's magazine.
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