Cobbett’s Questions for Christians

I am currently reading yet another classic of English literature, William Cobbett’s Rural Rides, in which this passionate writer on country matters rides round the farmland near London, he calls it the Wen, in the early 19th century. The book has a lot of ranting about incompetent government, corrupt officials, and in particular, mismanagement of land, and the costs to poor people in the depopulation of the countryside But I love this list which he tried out to test devout Christians:

  1. Whence comes the White Clover that comes up and covers all the ground in America, where had wood trees after standing for thousands of years, have been burnt down?
  2. Whence come (in similar cases as to self-wood) the wortleberries in some place, and raspberries in others?
  3. Whence come fish in new made places where no fish have ever been put?
  4. What causes horse-hair to become living things?
  5. What causes frogs to come in drops of rain or those drops of rain to turn to frogs, the moment they are on the earth?
  6. What causes musquitoes (sic) to come in rain water caught in a glass covered over immediately with oil paper tied down so kept till full of these winged torments?
  7. What causes flounders real little flat-fish brown on one side, white on the other, mouth sideways, with tail, fin, and all, leaping alive, on the INSIDE of a rotten sheep, and on every rotten sheep’s LIVER?

I can figure out most of them, but 4 stumps me. I have no idea what’s he’s on about there. He’s just wrong on 7 – they are clearly parasites not fish. So I guess I’m not quit God. I find that comforting.


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