The Learned Pig

Travelling entertainments were common in the late eighteenth century.  This one featured an amazing pig which, picking numbers and letters depicted on cards, could spell names and tell the time!

“Among the infinite number of curiosities hitherto offered to the inspection and attention of the Public, there are none which lay so great a claim to our attention and approbation, as the wonderful and astonishing performance of the

L E A R N E D   P I G,

Now exhibiting at the George and Angel Inn, in this place.

This most singular Phaenomenon is one of the many surprising instances of the ingenuity of Mr NICHOLSON, a man who is possessed of an exclusive and peculiar power over the most irrational part of animated nature. – Many of the first personages in the three kingdoms have been witnesses to his persevering temper and patience in the tuition of Beasts, Birds, &c. in a degree that has seldom fallen to the lot of human infirmity; to evince this, we need only mention his having in his life taught a TURTLE to fetch and carry; his overcoming the timidity of a HARE by making her beat a drum; his perfecting six TURKEY COCKS in a regular country dance; his compleating a small BIRD in the performance of many surprising feats; his having taught three CATS to strike several tunes on the dulcimer with their paws, and to imitate the Italian manner of singing; but above all, his conquering the natural obstinacy and stupidity of a PIG. by teaching him to unite the letters of any person’s name, the number of persons in the room, the hour and minutes by any watch, &c. &c.

This singular creature may justly be deemed the greatest curiosity in the kingdom; and the Proprieter make no doubt but he will give that satisfaction, and receive that approbation from the Ladies and Gentlemen of this town, &c. which he has done in London and Edinburgh.”

Stamford Mercury, 8th February, 1788.

Pig