Sunday, June 16, 2013


Freaks and Fancies of Nature

Sydney Smith (1771-1845), review of Charles Waterton, Wanderings in South America, in his Works, Vol. II (London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts, 1859), pp. 74-84 (at 78):
How astonishing are the freaks and fancies of Nature! To what purpose, we say, is a bird placed in the woods of Cayenne, with a bill a yard long, making a noise like a puppy dog, and laying eggs in hollow trees? The toucans, to be sure, might retort, to what purpose were gentlemen in Bond street created? To what purpose were certain foolish prating Members of Parliament created?—pestering the House of Commons with their ignorance and folly, and impeding the business of the country? There is no end of such questions.

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