1794
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Examples of Safe Printing.

Pig's Meat, or Lessons for the Swinish Multitude 2 (1794) 14-15.

Thomas Spence


The anonymous pamphleteer quotes from the Legend of Justice in Faerie Queene 5.9.1-8 in a vain protest against abuses of the sedition laws, followed by an original fragment of Aesop. The writer is doubtless the radical bookseller and publisher of Pig's Meat, Thomas Spence (1750-1814). The protests were in vain: Spence was incarcerated for seven months in 1794 under the suspension of habeas corpus, and again in 1798; in 1801 he was convicted of sedition and spent a year in jail. In Pig's Meat Spence projected "Spensonia: A Country in Fairyland situated between Utopia and Oceana," which had originally appeared as a pamphlet in 1782 published in Spence's own system of phonetic spelling.

G. I. Gallop: "Twice Spence issued his own penny periodical: Pig's Meat; or Lessons for the Swinish Multitude (1793-1795) and Giant-Killer, or Anti-Landlord (1814). In them he printed articles, songs and poems of his own plus extracts from other writers. The single writer most quoted was James Harrington; More, Milton, Locke, Sidney, Fletcher, Trenchard, Swift, Price, and Barlow also appeared frequently. It is worth noticing with Caroline Robbins that 'the exponent of a new egalitarianism looked not to levelling tracts, but to the great Whig canon for support.' By taking the natural rights doctrine literally and infusing it with social and communitarian content Spence took the 'Real Whig' tradition into the world of socialism" Pig's Meat: The Selected Writings of Thomas Spence, Radical and Pioneer Land Reformer (1982) 16.

Among the materials collected in Pig's Meat are Gray's Elegy and three stanzas from Gilbert West's On the Abuse of Travelling (1739), a Spenser burlesque on political themes.



To prevent misrepresentation in these prosecuting times, it seems necessary to publish every thing relating to Tyranny and Oppression, though only among brutes, in the most guarded manner.
The following are meant as Specimens:—

That tyger, or what other salvage wight
Is so exceeding furious and fell,
As WRONG,
[Not meaning our most gracious Sovereign Lord the King, or the Government of this country]
when it hath arm'd himself with might;
Not fit 'mong men that do with reason mell,
But 'mong wild beasts and salvage woods to dwell;
Where still the stronger
[Not meaning the Great Men of this country]
doth the weak devour,
And they that most in boldness doe excell,
Are draded most, and feared by their powre.
SPENCER.

Let us, O ye Britons, shew what we not not mean, that the Attorney General may not, in his Indictments, do it for us.

THE LION AND THE OTHER BEASTS.
FROM AESOP'S FABLES.

The Lion [not meaning our Sovereign Lord the King] and several other beasts, [not meaning the continental Kings and Powers] entered into an alliance, offensive and defensive, and were to live very socially together in the forest [not meaning in Europe]. One day having made a sort of an excursion, [not meaning in France] by way of hunting, they took a very fine, large, fat deer, [mot meaning Dunkirk, Toulon, or any other place taken from the French] which was divided into four parts; there happening to be then present, his majesty the Lion, [not meaning as said before, our Sovereign Lord the King] and only three others. After the division was made, and the parts were set out, his majesty [not meaning the King of England] advancing forward some steps, and pointing to one of the shares, was pleased to declare himself after the manner following: "This I seize and take possession of as my right, which devolves to me, as I am descended by a true, lineal, hereditary, succession from the Royal Family of Lion [not meaning in the least to vilify our Sovereign Lord the King, or the divine indefeasible right of hereditary succession:] That (pointing to the second) I claim by, I think, no unreasonable demand, considering that all the engagements you have with the enemy turn chiefly upon my courage and conduct [not meaning to reflect on the military conduct or courage of our Sovereign Lord the King]; and you very well know that wars are too expensive to be carried on without proper supplies [not meaning among other wars to reflect on the war now carrying on against France.] Then (nodding his head towards the third) that I shall take by virtue of my prerogative, [not meaning to reflect on the King's prerogatives] to which, I make no question, but so dutiful and loyal a people [not meaning to reflect on the runners or people of Bow-street, and other police officers, or the people of a press-gang] will pay all the deference and regard that I can desire. Now, as for the remaining part, the necessity of our present affairs [not meaning to reflect on the state of the British finances] is so very urgent, our stock so low, and our credit [not meaning to reflect on the numerous bankruptcies of late in this country] so impaired and weakened, that I must insist upon your granting that without any hesitation or demur; and hereof fail not at your peril [not meaning to insinuate that our Sovereign Lord the King would take all to himself, and leave nothing to others].

[pp. 14-15]