Venery

Quotations concerning pigs
rising to the hounds’ call

boar arch

We might get somewhat angered on a weekend afternoon at the sound of approaching hounds, baying at the tingling rush of our own scent in their nostrils.

But harried hogs have obligingly risen to the hounds’ call and run off into the undergrowth of obliteration for hundreds of years. Let us speak of them now with honor.


What have we here? Singular to designate a group of anything? Singular is obviously an English scribe’s transliteration ofsanglier, the French word for “boar,” which was, in its turn, a French transliteration of “boar” in Latin,singularis porcus. Now, singularis porcus certainly seems to imply that the boar travels alone, hence needs, and deserves, no group term — until one recalls that in Latin, as in English, the word “singular” means both “solitary” and “extraordinary,” whereas the exclusive sense of “solitary” or “single” was usually consigned to singulus. A “single” look at the illustration on this page unravels the riddle. Singularis, sanglier and singular all mean “extraordinary.”

James Lipton
Actor, author and producer of plays films and television. An Exhaltation of Larks, or the Venereal Game (1968).

England, of Oxen, sheepe, horse, thou haste thy parte
Likewise, with hartes, hindes, buckes; enricht thou art
Plentie of these thou haste: but I doe muse
Noe more wild-bores with in thy boundes doe vse
If Bores of hogges doe come, thou shouldst haue store
Noe land of truer hogs had euer more
    Search courte, or country; woodes or Fenny boggs
    All’s one, all places yeildes gruntling hoggs.

William Goddard (fl. 1615)
A Neaste of Waspes (1615).

In the Ngong Forest I have also seen, on a narrow path through thick growth, in the middle of a very hot day, the Giant Forest Hog, a rare person to meet.

Isak Dinesen (1885-1962)
Pen name of Baroness Karen Blixen, a Danish writer who lived in Kenya from 1914 to 1933. Out of Africa (1937).

“…surely, fair sir, I would be content to say that I had seen a number of lions, if indeed I could say aught after so wondrous an adventure.”

“Nay, Nigel, a huntsman would have said that he had seen a pride of lions, and so proved that he knew the language of the chase. Now, had it been boars instead of lions?”

“One says a singular of boars.”

“And if they be swine?”

“Surely it is a herd of swine.”

“Nay, nay, lad, it is indeed sad to see… No man of gentle birth would speak of a herd of swine; that is the peasant speech. If you drive them it is a herd. If you hunt them it is other. What then, Edith?”

“Nay, I know not.”

“But you can tell us, Mary?”

“Surely, sweet sir, one talks of a sounder of swine.”

The old Knight laughed exultantly. “Here is a pupil who never brings me shame!”

Sir Arthur Conon Doyle (1859-1930)
Scottish physician and author. Sir Nigel (1906).

I once lived in northwestern Louisiana, and on my tramps through the woods, often found good-sized square pens made with fence rails which had a funnel-shaped opening. These were used to corral the pigs once a year to mark the ears of the young, so that some kind of ownership could be claimed. The wild pigs fiercely resent the presence of dogs, and of course it is almost impossible to drive them. A dog is consequently trained to run from the drove of pigs and lead them into the corral. He can then easily escape their clashing tusks by jumping over the rails; and the men, who have been hidden beside the wings of the V-shaped opening, fall in behind the pigs and close the gate.

Karl Patterson Schmidt (1890-1957)
U.S. zoologists affiliated with the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Friendly Animals (1947).

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A random image of a pig, hog, boar or swine from the collection at Porkopolis.