Sunday, November 4, 2007

In the morning of his days he was handsome - sleek as a raven, sprightly and spirited, and was then much caressed and happy. [...] It was once his hard lot to fall into the hands of Skinflint, a horse-keeper - an authorised wholesale and retail dealer in cruelty - who employed him alternately, but closely, as a hack, both in the chaise and for the saddle; for when the traces and trappings used in the former had peeled the skin from off his breast, shoulders, and sides, he was then, as his back was whole, thought fit for the latter [...] He was always, late and early, made ready for action - he was never allowed to rest.[...] It is amazing to think upon the vicissitudes of his life. [...] But his days and nights of misery are now drawing to an end; so that, after having faithfully dedicated the whole of his powers and his time to the service of unfeeling man, he is at last turned out, unsheltered and unprotected, to starve of hunger and of cold.

[From the descriptive text written by Bewick to accompany the print Waiting for Death. The full text is in Robert Robinson, Thomas Bewick: His Life and Times, p. 163-4.]