Friday, August 12, 2011

Holy Mackerel


‘Cambridge is a delight of a place, now there is nobody in it.  I do believe you would like it, if you knew what it was without inhabitants.  It is they, I assure you, that get it an ill name and spoil it all.  Our friend Dr. Chapman (one of its nuisances) is not expected here again in a hurry.  He is gone to his grave with five mackerel (large and full of roe) in his belly.  He ate them all at one dinner; but his fate was a turbot on Trinity Sunday, of which he left little for the company besides bones.  He had not been hearty all the week; but after his sixth fish he never held up his head more, and a violent looseness carried him off.  They say he made a very good end.’

Friday is a good day for a fish story.  Above is text from a letter written to John Clerke by poet Thomas Gray, on August 12, 1760.  The Cambridge University Press arm of the venerable institution that Dr. Chapman was such an integral part of currently offers several works with Sir Walter Scott’s name in the author line.

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