1765 Archive piece

Ravages of the Wild Beast in France

Although we have taken care not to stuff our magazine with the many accounts we have had of the ravages committed among the people in the South of France by a wild beast, to which they have not as yet given any proper name; yet as we have in this month given a representation of that voracious creature, we think it necessary to give at least one of the most remarkable accounts that have been communicated to the public by the foreign newspapers, as follows:

Montpellier, Feb. 8. On the 12th ult. the wild beast attacked seven children, five boys and two girls, none of whom exceeded eleven years of age. The beast flew at one of the boys; but the three eldest of them by beating him with stakes, the ends of which were iron, obliged him to retire, after having bitten off a part of the boy’s cheek, which he ate before them. He then seized another of the children, but they pursued him into a marsh which was close by, where he sunk up to his belly. By continually beating him, they rescued their companion, who, though he was even under his paw for some times, received only a wound in his arm, and a scratch in the face. A man at last coming up, the creature was put to flight. He afterwards devoured a boy at Mazel, and on the 21st flew on a girl, who however, escaped with some dangerous wounds. The next date he attacked a woman and bit off her head. Capt. Duhamel of the dragoons is in pursuit of him, who has caused several of his men to dress themselves in women’s apparel and to accompany the children that keep cattle. The king has promised 2000 crowns, as a reward to any one who shall kill him.

“The king having been informed of the bravery with which the young Portefaix attacked the beast the 12th of January last at the head of his companions, and being willing to reward such gallant behaviour, as given him a recompense of 400 livres, and has ordered 300 to be distributed among his companions.”

Ravages of the Wild Beast in France was a piece published in the 1765 edition of the London Magazine, which was recently uncovered in a church rectory in Heathfield, rural Sussex.

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