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198Victorian Review Moira Ferguson. Animal Advocacy and Englishwomen, 1780-1900: Patriots, Nation, and Empire. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1998. 174. $42.50 US (cloth). That the English are a nation of animal lovers is a cliché, but current debates in England about animal rights and about what it is to be English find sources in the late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century texts that Moira Ferguson examines in her book, Animal Advocacy and Englishwomen, 1780-1900: Patriots, Nation, and Empire. Her study is a welcome addition to critical work on historical and literary animal advocacy produced by critics such as E.S. Turner, James Turner, Coral Lansbury, and Harriet Ritvo from whose The Animal Estate Ferguson takes one of her epigraphs. Ferguson's book is less interested in a purely animal-centered or "humanitarian" examination of animal advocacy than the work of some of these earlier critics and is in this way fresh. The book is clearly structured with each of its chronologicallyordered chapters devoted to "landmark" animal advocacy texts written by one of five non-canonical woman writers: Sarah Trimmer, Elizabeth Heyrick, Susanna Watts, Anna Sewell, and Frances Power Cobbe. The texts are from various genres: moral stories for children, pamphlets, essays, poems, a novel. Ferguson argues that the writers were "insisting that issues of domesticity, gender, empire, and national identity were connected with the protection of animals" (6). Chapter one examines Sarah Trimmer's popular late eighteenthcentury moral story for children, Fabulous Histories: Designedfor the Instruction of Children Respecting their Treatment ofAnimals, which tells of a family of robins who nest in the kind, upper-class Benson family's orchard and was written to teach children to treat birds humanely. Ferguson discusses both the human and the bird worlds of the story and includes a fascinating reading of the bird hierarchy which places the "quintessential English" robins at the top above lower birds of English origin, beneath which are foreign birds some of whom are housed, together with English insurgents, in an insurrection-preventing and enslaving aviary. Ferguson argues that the "xenophobic robins — metonymized British redcoats during the Revolutionary War — insist on foreign birds knowing their place" (125-26). The story, Ferguson argues, reveals the fears of Trimmer "and her class about an industrial revolution in ascendance and its repercussions" (7). The next two chapters examine respectively friends Elizabeth Heyrick and Susanna Watts of Leicester, who wrote in the early nineteenth century. Heyrick, a "radical Quaker" (27) and staunch pacifist who "opposed slavery and inequitable labor practices" (27), and campaigned against "savagery . . . from boxing to pigeon shooting, Reviews199 cattle torture, and buUbaiting" (27-28), wrote among otiier pamphlets two that denounced buUbaiting, connecting it with the country's downward moral slide. Ferguson examines the importance of class interests in determining the animals whose rights are advocated and argues that in Heyrick's texts the bull's rights "emblematize the freedom of England itself. John Bull is England" therefore the baiting of bulls turned people into an inhumane and therefore un-English mob (35). Heyrick's works, she suggests, "cleared the way for a future genderbased discourse and a réévaluation of the status of workers and the condition of Englishness itself (51). Susanna Watts, an activist and abolitionist like Heyrick, did not share her pacifist views. She wrote poetry and prose including Insects in Council a poem which attacked cruelty to insects and involved a "revolt led by a handsome male butterfly" (126). Ferguson effectively shows that the poem "intertextualizes the discourse of antislavery" (60) and that the insects can be "metonymically linked to slaves, middle-class white women, laboring men, and animals alike" (72). Her attention to Anna Sewell in chapter four utilizes ideas in Ferguson's earlier (oddly unmentioned) article on Black Beauty. Ferguson terms Black Beauty "the most celebrated gendered subaltern in the long history of animal protection" (128) and examines the novel as an indictment of the Crimean (and other) war. She provides persuasive and various readings of the horse characters as: slaves, women, invalids, Sewell herself, and shows that Sewell "linked slavery to cruelty and helped to rechart the map of Englishness along gendered lines" (76). Surprisingly, she does not use Peter...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 198-200
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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