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augury which the

Carthagenians despite the refusal of the sacred chickens to eat-an

courage of the warrior led him to despise. Another Roman general, Claudius Pulcher, provoked at the obstinacy of the chickens, commanded them to be thrown into the sea, exclaiming, “ If they will not eat they shall drink.” He engaged the enemy, but his defeat riveted the superstition in the minds of his credulous countrymen. Cicero, in his work on divination, has ridiculed the absurdity.

The MAGPIE, busy, prying, impudent, pert, loquacious, mischievous for mere mischief's sake, has ever been accounted the symbol of a gossipping, slanderous busy-body; and has been viewed as a bird of ill omen. No wonder, when the character it typifies is the most dangerous in the world. To hear a magpie chattering was, among the ancients, a sinister omen. The Irish peasant considers it an unlucky bird to meet, but, nevertheless, bows to it over his left shoulder most punctiliously, to gratify it by this show of respect, and thus avert the evil dreaded from the rencontre. Just so in the world do people bow, and smile, and give courteous greeting to human magpies, in the idea of conciliating them, and blunting the keen edge of their tongue. Apropos of “ tongue, we incline to think that, from the proverbial expression, “a double tongue,” applied to deceitful gossips, originated the cruel and useless custom of slitting magpies' tongues, in order to make the bird speak better, which it does not do.

Tradition declares the magpie to be under the special protection of Satan, and the parallel with its human imitators still holds good, for these, as well as being the most mischievous, enjoy the most impunity of all other evil-doers, by some defect in the human morale. The Scandinavian witches, at their initiation, were required to curse earth, air, and water, and all their inhabitants, except the magpie, the protegeé of their master.

But we really feel a latent superstition stirring in the Celtic half of our blood, and are waxing fearful of provoking Mrs. Magpie—so, like our peasant countrymen, we haste to appease her with a little homage, and, accordingly, we here declare that we consider the magpie a very handsome bird (notwithstanding the adage, “handsome is that handsome does "). The brilliant white, the shining black, the rich purple of its plumage, the elegance of its shape, and the vivacity of its movements render it an ornament to the landscape. Now, with this grain of incense to its beauty, we hope to avert its ill-will. We have learned a lesson from the anecdote of the two French ladies (under the old regime) who fell out, and loaded each other with aggravating epithets utterly

, proscribed by bon-ton. The quarrel was à l'outrance, quite un-make-up-able-the most zealous mediators failed. At last a noble relative of the belligerents came forward, first taking care to be fully assured that in the wordy war neither of them had called the other uglythat, he knew, was alone the unpardonable sin, and, as it had not been committed, he did not despair of a reconciliation. He saw arch of the fair combatants apart, and persuaded each that the other wa jealous of her charms, which she saw and acknowledged. They met, embraced, and became thenceforward models of female friendship

In the palace at Cintra, near Lisbon (which was first a Moorish castle, and then a content, of which John I. of Portugal made a royal residence), is a hall called Sala das Pegas, the Hall of Magpies. The frieze and ceiling are painted all over with magpies, each bird holding in its beak a scroll with the words, Por bemi.e., " for good” (meaning "for no harm”), a fancy which originated thns : John the First, a valiant king of the fifteenth century, who, on the death of King Fernando without a son, saved Portugal from the grasp of Spain by his signal victory at Aljubarrota, was married to an English princess, Philippa of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt (“ time-honoured Lancaster”) by his first wife, and sister of our Henry the Fourth. Once it happened that his queen, coming suddenly into the hall

, surprised his Majesty kissing one of her maids of honour ; but he excused himself to Philippa by assuring her it was por bem, which was almost equivalent to the Honi soit qui mal y pense” of the English Order of the Garter. The anecdote transpired; the court ladies chattered like magpies; and the king, in order to rebuke them, caused the hall to be painted with the birds they imitated, each bearing the king's apology in her mouth, and thus making him an amende honorable.

There was in the time of the old wars, in the days of Napoleon I., a camp anecdote current among French and German soldiers, which is now perhaps almost, if not quite forgotten; for we do not think History's muse has condescended to keep the record, though it relates to no less a personage than Prince Joseph Poniatowski, nephew of the last King of Poland, a brave general in the French army, and a great favourite with Napoleon. During the French campaign in Germany, in 1813, a German or Polish gipsy used frequently to come to the camp to cast nativities, and tell soldiers their fortunes

. One day, Poniatowski came upon a group listening to the sybil, and he chid them for their superstition. The gipsy looked up, gazed steadily at him for some moments, and then told him, that from the lines in his physiognomy she perceived that it was his fate to die by an elster,” which word sig. nifies, in German, a magpie. The prince ridiculed a prediction so little in character with a soldier engaged in a hot campaign, and rode away. Shortly afterwards the battle of Leipsic was fought (October the 19th). Poniatowski displayed his usual valour and military skill ; but when he saw that the French were totally beaten, and that neither courage nor conduct could retrieve the day, he galloped to the swampy banks of the river that watered the scene of strife, intending to swim his horse across. He plunged in-man and horse were swept away by the current, and both perished. The name of that river is The Elster. Thus the prediction, like the Pagan oracles, bore a double meaning, and was fulfilled in a sense different from that in which it was understood.

A near relative of the magpie, the pragmatic JACKDAW, is quite as noisy as her cousin, but not so handsome; neither is she so unlucky, nor so audacious. Once upon a time (saith mythology) she was a Grecian lady. Minos, King of Crete, made war upon Egeus, King of Athens, who had slain his son, and invaded his territory. Arne, an Athenian of noble birth, but ignoble disposition, was bribed by the gold of Minos to betray to him an important citadel, of which her father was the governor. The gods, in punishment for her treachery to her country, transformed her into a jackdaw, which still betrays an innate desire to appropriate any thing that glitters like metal. Its Latin name, monedula, is said to be derived from moneta, money, on account of its propensity.*

The Guinea Fowl was (according to mythologists) another Greek lady, an unfortunate mother named Combě, whose unnatural sons conspired together to kill her; but the deities in pity metamorphised her into a guinea fowl, that she might escape from them by flight ; and to this day she incessantly proclaims aloud her name,

« Com-be, Com-be, Com-be !” but English ears mistake it for “Come back, Come back!”

In ancient sculptures February is personified as a female pouring water out of an urn, and holding a Duck and a fish, to denote the wet weather usual in that month.

On the occasion of Sir Francis Drake defeating the Spanish Armada, some wit of Queen Elizabeth's Court wrote the following quatrain, punning on the victor's name:

EPIGRAM.
“ Fortune! to England friendly still,

Continue these mistakes;
Still give us for our Kings such Queens,

And for our { Ducks } such Drakes."

Esacus, the eldest son of old King Priam, tenderly loved the nymph Hesperia, who did not reciprocate his affection. When flying from his presence one day she trod on a serpent, was bitten, and died, and Esacus was so much afflicted that he cast himself into the sea, where he was changed into a wild duck. Some mythologists say, a didapper; but we suppose the point is not very material.

What a strange and almost magic charm dwells in the voice of summer's ever welcome harbinger, the Cuckoo. It is hut monotonymonotony dwelt on and prolonged ; yet we hear it not only without weariness, but with a delight deepening at every repetition. Let the human voice repeat the same tones, or the same words, be what they may, but for a few times, and how impatient we become. It is not so with the voice of Nature (nature apart from human life)—that has,

perhuman spelì. We not only endure but love its monotony. We listen to the measured chaunt of the cuckoo, to the gurgling of the brook, the murmurs of the ocean, the rustling of the trees, not merely unwearied, but soothed, lulled, enchanted. The name of the cuckoo is, in many, we might say most, languages derived from the beloved sound of his flute-like call-as, coucou, French ; cuculo, Italian ; kukkuk, German ; cuclillo, Spanish ; cuco, Portuguese ; cuae, Irish ; cuculus, Latin ; kokkux, Greek, &c.

The cuckoo was one of the “ Almanack Birds” of the ancients.

Impia prodidit arcem
Sithonis, accepto, quod avara poposcerat, auro
Mutata est in avem, quæ nunc quoque diligit aurum,
Nigra pedem, nigris velata monedula pennis." -Ovid Metam.

His pleasant voice commanded the commencing of harvest in countries with warmer skies, and more early seasons, than ours. Aristophanes, in his drama of “The Birds," says—“The cuckoo was once king of all Egypt and Phænicia; for whenever he cried cuckoo ! then the Phænicians would set to reaping their corn.”

The great thunderer, Jove, did not disdain, once upon a time, to take the form of this bird, in order to interest the feelings of Juno when he was wooing her for his wife. During a violent storm he assumed the shape of a cuckoo, trembling with fear and wet with rain, and flew for refuge to Juno, who, filled with compassion, cherished the fugitive ; and her heart, thus softened by pity, was prepared for love, when Jupiter presented himself as her suitor in his own proper figure. We must understand this story as an allegory, viewing Jupiter in his human and historical character as king of Greece and its Isles, who employed the good offices of a confidant (typified as a cuckoo) to coneiliate Juno after some lover's quarrel, symbolised by the storm, from which the suitor was represented, by his friend, as having suffered so much grief and distress that he was again taken into favour by the offended fair.

The Raven, on account of its sepulchral-sounding voice, was one of the sinister birds of the Greeks and Romans. Its effigy was sufficiently malefic to Great Britain and Ireland when it flew on the banbers of those ruthless invaders, the heathen Danes. Hence it became in these Isles a bird ominous of death and mourning. The Danes revered it, because they believed that their chief deity, Odin, was attended by two ravens, named Hugin and Munin (Thought and Memory), who informed him of everything passing on earth—a beautiful poetic idea. Thus, among the classic ancients, the raven was dedicated to Apollo on account of its supposed supernatural wisdom, and its skill in divination. According to an old northern superstition, if an infant were fed out of a raven's skull, when he grew up he would understand the language of birds.

When St. Vincent, a deacon of the Church of Osca, now Huesca, in Spain, suffered martyrdom, about A.D. 303, in the persecution by Diodetian, his corpse was exposed outside the walls of Valentia, where he suffered, but a raven (as attested by various writers of the time) protected it from the ravages of beasts and birds of prey. When the Moors conquered Spain the Valentians fled from them, and carried away the relics of the martyr to that Spanish promontory called from him, Cape St. Vincent. In the eleventh century Alfonso Henriquez, by his decisive victory at Ourique, broke the power of the Moors, and founded the kingdom of Portugal, and then caused the remains of the martyr to be transferred to Lisbon by sea. Two ravens were observed to follow the vessel the whole way ; in consequence of which they were adopted into the civic arms, and two tame ravens were always kept at the Sé, or ancient Cathedral of Lisbon.

Pliny relates that a tailor in Rome had a raven, which he taught to pronounce the names of the Emperor Tiberius and the members of the imperial family, and to perform many tricks, which attracted a crowd of customers to his shop. A neighbour, envious of the tailor's good fortune, killed the unfortunate and too-accomplished bird; but the Romans, indignant at the mean and cruel act, inflicted chastisement on the perpetrator, whom they compelled to compensate the tailor for his loss; and they gave the raven a magnificent funeral.

The raven is a long-lived bird : Hesiod says it lives nine times the life of man. Some ingenious collector (or inventor) of Irish bulls has related that a Paddy, having heard that a raven would live for two centuries, procured one and kept it, in order to see “if it really would live so long.” But, unfortunately, the story is not Irish but Greek, and is as old as the fifth century ; it is told by Hierocles, the Alexandrian, in his “Facetiæ,” and the hero of the jest is the Scholasticus, or silly buffoon.

The saucy, vivacious SPARROW enjoys, notwithstanding the homeliness of its plumage, the mythological honour of ranking among the birds dedicated to Venus, and of being employed to draw her car. The Persians taught sparrows to hawk for butterflies.

These pert little birds figure in an old legend of the town of Cirencester, in Gloucestershire. This place (saith the legend) was a stronghold, well walled and well guarded, in the days of King Brute, an era so remote that we do not pretend to date it. The inhabitants lived at their ease, believing their town impregnable. A foreign prince, said to be from Africa, bearing the name of Gormund (a very Saxon-like appellation for an African), came and besieged Cirencester, (which for seven years defied all his assaults. At length he observed (and his perceptions seem to have been rather slow) that the roofs of all the houses were thatched, and numerously peopled by sparrows.

He commanded his soldiers to catch as many of these birds as possible, to fasten lighted combustibles upon them, and then to let them go. The poor little sufferers flew at once to their nests, and of course set the town on fire; and, in the confusion and dismay that ensued, the besiegers entered and took the place. The stratagem might be clever, but was too cruel ; and, we are well pleased to say, that there is great reason for doubting the truth of the story.

A philosopher in the first century, Apollonius Tyaneus, professed to understand the language of birds (perhaps he had been fed from a raven's scull). As he was one day sitting with some friends, a sparrow came and chattered to a number of birds before the window. The sage affirmed that it was inviting its companions to repair to a particular spot where a mule had just overturned a cart of corn. The visitors hastened to the place mentioned by Apollonius, and found the load of corn scattered about as he had asserted.

The Heron was, among the Romans, a kind of second-rate phenix. When Æneas and his followers burned Ardea, the chief city of Turnus and the Rutilians, the heron sprang from its ashes. But as a burnt child dreads the fire, so it seems does a singed heron ; for ever since its birth of fire, the bird delights in the opposite element, and lives in the vicinity of waters.

The WAGTAIL was once a nymph, and a somewhat designing onethe daughter of Suadela, or Persuasion. She practised on the affections of Jupiter by magic arts, but Juno turned her would-be rival into a wagtail. In all incantations relating to love and jealousy, the Greeks

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