The Scientist Who Ate A King’s Heart

By Morris M. on Friday, October 11, 2013
heart
“[Buckland] was incited more by a craving for notoriety, which sometimes made him act like a buffoon, than by a love of science.” —Charles Darwin

In A Nutshell

William Buckland was a respected English geologist and palaeontologist, who just so happened to have a strange and slightly disgusting hobby. It was his dream to eat one of everything in existence . . . including the heart of a former French king.

The Whole Bushel

These days, William Buckland is mostly remembered for his contributions to theology, geology and for being famously declared a “buffoon” by Charles Darwin. However, Buckland has a far more disgusting claim to fame than that: At some point during his lifetime, he became obsessed with the idea of eating everything.

Yeah—everything. Among accounts of his bizarre dining habits, we have people describing his devotion to mice on toast, to roasted hedgehog, to potted ostrich, to porpoises, puppies, alligators and panthers . . . anything, in fact, that wasn’t the common garden mole (which Buckland thought would be disgusting). He even once happily ingested bat urine, but none of this compares to his “greatest” achievement. According to several sources, Buckland once ate the heart of a French King.

The story goes that he was visiting Lord Harcourt, when Harcourt produced a small, shrivelled item believed to be the preserved heart of Louis XIV. Depending on what source you read, Buckland either snatched the heart and gobbled it down, or was asked to taste it and “accidentally” swallowed it. Supposedly, he was heard to remark “I have eaten many strange things, but have never eaten the heart of a king before,” before wolfing it down. Lord Harcourt’s response to the his prized possession has sadly been lost to history.

Show Me The Proof

LA Times: Forklore — Dining on alligators, mice, and the occasional king
The Guardian: The man who ate everything