They wrote it this week: Guess what gave the comedian such pain ...

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They wrote it this week: Guess what gave the comedian such pain in his bum

Extracts from diaries and letters written between February 10 and February 16

Journalist

February 10

1786, London

[To the Countess of Ossory. Walpole was telling her a story that could have been plucked straight from a rococo painting. It concerned a French woman, Madame de Choiseul, who was given a parrot by one lover and a monkey by another. The monkey had been trained to pluck chickens in its previous owner’s kitchen.] Her [Madame de Choiseul’s] caresses were distributed equally to the animals, and her thanks to the donors. The first time she went out, the two former were locked up in her bed-chamber; how the two latter were disposed of, history is silent. Ah! I dread to tell the sequel. When the lady returned and flew to her chamber, Jackoo [the monkey] received her with all the empressement possible – but where was Poll? – found at last under the bed, shivering and cowering – and without a feather, as stark as any Christian. Poll’s presenter concluded that his rival had given the monkey with that very view, challenged him, they fought, and both were wounded; and an heroic adventure it was!..

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