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29 1 Legal and Legible Breed Regulation in Law and Science On the twentieth of May 1722, Alexander Pope’s brother-­ in-­law, Charles Rackett, was arrested for poaching in Windsor Forest. Rackett, his son Michael, and two servants had with them some horses and dogs.1 The circumstances of the arrest, its consequences for the Rackett family, and its effect on Pope’s poetry all remain unclear. It has generally been understood within the context of anti-­ Catholicism, with its fear of insurrection against the Hanoverian reign; these political antagonisms found an immediate and effective image in the conflict over poaching, which in Rackett’s case merely meant encroachment on the royal forest by a person whose rank did not qualify him to hunt, or to approach within ten miles of the forest with large dogs. As Pope’s Windsor Forest makes plain, the notorious laws regulating who could enter the forest, and who could keep hounds, had long been part of the English countryside. These had been relaxed during Anne’s reign, and then reinforced by George I. Such restrictions took different forms over the next century and reflected the broader drive to restrict the discord that had supported Pope’s aesthetics. That desire for control led not only to various calls to regulate dogs, but also to the technological innovations that eventually took over as the Agricultural Revolution and the push for “improvement” in which the Foxhound was created as the first dog breed. Of course many people in Britain kept dogs, and many—­ like Pope—­ even kept large dogs within the restricted ten-­ mile range of a royal forest, but the law prohibiting people from officially keeping and owning their dogs was in place and could be used whenever those of the proper rank might wish; and, in fact, throughout the eighteenth century the Game Laws were enforced often enough for their existence to be felt as a fact. These laws, extensions of the old Forest Laws written by Canute, existed well before natural historians began to divide the world into genera and species, and it would be specious to suggest that they gave rise to the technological manipulation of the countryside. But the process of modernizing them, to regulate the large number of dogs kept by all classes of people, reflected a significant shift from Pope’s allowance for concordant discord in favor of a unified landscape in which populations of humans and dogs were not so much excluded as managed. That such management sustained a certain privilege can be seen in the fact that the parliamentary debates over strategies of regulation occurred alongside delineations of relatedness among humans and animals by taxonomists like Buffon. The taxonomies established concrete analogies between canine appearance and human appearance at the same time that they divided humans into races. And the taxonomists employed much of the same aesthetic rhetoric as the lawmakers. 30| Chapter One Thus it is that this chapter will link together the laws regulating dogs, and the natural histories that began organizing the discordant and fluid varieties of dogs into stable types. Special attention was given to dogs by the natural historians because the prominent aesthetic doctrine replacing concordia discors bonded dogs and humans as mutual reflections, evident in literary works like Gay’s Fables and in numerous portraits pairing humans and dogs.2 Even after all the laws restricting dog companionship and ownership were repealed, the divisions they enforced endured through the efforts of natural historians who created their classifications as reflections of them. The different laws framing and narrowing modern relations between humans and dogs sought to institutionalize the comprehensive vision of the privileged subject through the surveillance of threatening political forces that appeared as insurrectionists, or merely as interlopers accompanied by dogs. Later in the century these unpopular laws shifted to a call for regulation through taxation that claimed more benign motives in hygienic control of rabies and in the moral concern over the mistreatment of dogs by the lower classes. During this same time, the legalistic enforcement of class difference was transposed into a comprehensive knowledge of dogs and humans through taxonomies. These taxonomies organized dogs into breeds, and changed discordant variability into set and preservable character traits that linked different individuals into similar members of a breed. Once stabilized and enforceable, breed differences gave rise to narratives of breed origin and purpose, and served as naturalizing analogies to the human racial taxonomies intertwined with canine categories. The development of breed...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781609175405
Related ISBN
9781611862584
MARC Record
OCLC
990618932
Pages
182
Launched on MUSE
2017-06-25
Language
English
Open Access
No
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