Study Guide

Black Beauty Chapter 19

By Anna Sewell

Chapter 19

Only Ignorance

  • Beauty's illness worsens, and Mr. Bond, the horse doctor, visits often. "One day he bled me; John held a pail for the blood. I felt very faint after it, and thought I should die, and I believe they all thought so too" (19.1). This probably doesn't sound like a familiar medical procedure, but "bleeding" people and animals was believed to cure diseases at the time. (And sometimes, it worked.)
  • Joe Green's father, Thomas, comes in to help John one night, and asks if John would speak to Joe about Beauty. Joe is apparently distraught over what's happened to Beauty and blames himself.
  • John says he knows Joe isn't a bad boy, but John himself is having a hard time with the situation; he genuinely loves Beauty, and he's been deeply worried. He says, "That horse is the pride of my heart […] and to think that his life may be flung away in this manner is more than I can bear" (19.5).
  • When Thomas comments that it was only ignorance, John launches into a startling, angry rant, saying, "Don't you know that it is the worst thing in the world, next to wickedness?" (19.7). Whoa—and here we thought ignorance was bliss.
  • Beauty starts to feel better, but often remembers John's tirade later.

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