A wonderfully involved tail of a pig’s escape and eventual recapture.
Firstly, a protracted endeavour to find him, eventually discovered resting in a barn, engaged in ‘thinking unutterable things’.
Secondly, the vain boast of an Irishman who was sure he could get a hold of the elusive pig, and the miserable failure of he and other men to drive the obstinate porcine philosopher back to his sty.
Finally, psychology came to the rescue when some clever chap realized the solution was to drive the pig away from the sty, realizing it wasn’t avoiding the sty itself, but was rather resisting the imposition of authority and coercion on its free will. As soon as they drove him away from where they wanted him, he went in the desired direction.
A lesson for life? Take heed.
And never underestimate a pig. You cannot know what its thoughts are.
‘I learned to my chagrin that Father’s pig was gone. He had leaped out of the pen some time since his breakfast, but his dinner was untouched. Here was an ugly duty not to be shirked, – a wild shoat that weighted but ninety to be tracked, caught, and penned.
Pig story continues…
At this stage an Irishman was engaged to assist. “I can catch him,” says he, with Buonapartean confidence…
They find the pig in a barn:
The rope is at length obtained; the windows are barred with carriages lest he bolt through. He is resting quietly on his belly in the further corner, thinking unutterable things …
You may drag him, but you cannot drive him …
All progress in driving at last was made by facing and endeavoring to switch him from home. He rushed upon you and made a few feet in the desired direction.’
Source: Henry David Thoreau, 8 August 1856, The Journal 1837-1861, Damion Searls (ed.), preface by John R. Stilgoe (New York: New York Review Books, 2009), p. 394-98
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