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The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
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Text for Page 078

              [newspaper clipping]
  CANNIBALISM is happily an unknown practice in this
country, and although some persons who are �coarse
feeders� will eat almost anything that is placed before
them in the shape of meat, yet they would probably
decline to patronise even the most accommodating
�slink butcher� if he were convicted on evidence that
left no room for doubt of palming off human flesh on
his customers as genuine meat.    It seems to us
incomprehensible that a diet of this nature should
exercise an actual fascination over those who have
once indulged in it;  such, however, seems to be a
fact, and a man whose executioa is recorded by the
American papers is a case in point.    The culprit was an
Indian known as �Swift Runner,� and he was hanged
at Fort Saskatchewan on the 20th December, ^|1879 [handwritten by Gunn]| this being
the first legal execution in the North-West Territory.
�Swift Runner,� in other respects an estimable
character,  had an irrepressible appetite for his
fellow-creatures.  He was a cannibal, not from neces-
sity but from preference, and nothing pleased him
more than cooking and eating his own immediate rela-
tions.    He was convicted on his own confession of
having killed and eaten his mother, his wife, and seven
children last winter.    Under these circumstances, and
making every allowance for the hardness of the season, it
was felt that �Swift Runner� had forfeited all claim
to merciful consideration;  and his untimely fate
seems to have called forth no general sympathy.
We should have looked upon him here as a thorough
barbarian, but we ought not to forget that cannibalism
was once not an uncommon practice even in Europe.
St. Jerome states that when he was a little boy living
in Gaul he beheld the Scots, a people of Britain, eat-
ing human flesh, and though there were plenty of cattle
and sheep at their disposal, yet they would prefer a ham
of the herdsman as a luxury.    Saints, however, were
sometimes rather �wild� in their statements.
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