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biographies that have been puffed into public notice by the egotism of authors, or the speculation of intriguing booksellers.”
At this observation my every feather stood an end; I shuddered and screamed. I had heard many foolish and many conceited persons say on my lady's blue and grey parties, (for she had parties of every colour,) that they hoped Lady Titmouse would not put them in her book ;” and though I did not exactly know what this meant, yet as it seemed (on their own evidence) to be a punishment reserved for the silly and the vain, I expressed my aversion to the process so clearly, that the little blue cap exclaimed, “ But you see the macaw declares off; yet we understand each other so well, and we have lived so much in the same set, that I should like to write her life under her own dictation.” My lady seemed much amused by the fancy; and they both said so many odd and amusing things on the subject, and ran over so many names and anecdotes with which I was acquainted, that the idea of writing my own life grew upon me amazingly. Authorship is the most fashionable passe par tout to notoriety; and, to say the truth, I had long been jealous of certain Honorable and Right Honorable Personages, whose conversational powers were far below my own; but who, by putting the shreds and patches which their parroty memory supplies into black and white, had rather cut me out with the dispensers of ton. So watching my opportunity to ensure co-operation and secrecy from my co-biographer, I opened my proposition. We were soon agreed; and perched together one summer's morning, when the weather was wet and the town empty, we proceeded to business. I narrated in my own way; and she translated and prepared for press in her's. For the style, therefore, I beg not to be answerable; but for the events and their circumstances I stand or fall by their truth; and, by the honor of a macaw, I have neither suppressed nor altered a tittle of it.
“ I am a native of one of the most splendid regions of the earth, where nature dispenses all her bounties with a liberal hand; and where man and bird are released from half the penalties to which, in other climes, their flesh is heir. I was born in one of those superb forests of fruit and flowers so peculiar to the Brazils, which stood at no great distance from an Indian village, and was not far removed from an European settlement. This forest was impervious to human footsteps. A nation of apes occupied the interior; and the dynasty of the Psittacus Severus, or Brazilian queen macaw, inhabited the upper regions. Several subject-states of green and yellow parrots constituted our colonial neighbours. My family held the highest rank in the privileged classes of our oligarchy; for our pride would not admit of a king, and our selfishness (so I must call it) would allow of no rights. We talked nevertheless in our legislative assemblies of our happy constitution, which by tacit agreement we understood to
happy for ourselves ;' but the green and yellow parrots too plainly showed a strong disposition to put another interpretation on the phraseology. My paternal nest was situated in the hollow of one of the most ancient and lofty trees in the forest. It had once been rich in fruit and flowers, gums and odours, and all in the same season ; and though it was now scathed at the top, hollow in the trunk, and was threatened with total ruin from the first hurricane, we still preferred it, because it was the oldest. I owed all my early impressions, and much of my acquired superiority, to my great grandfather, who lived to an extreme old age, and attained a celebrity, of which we were ourselves at that time unaware. He was the identical bird wbich was brought from Marignan to Prince Maurice, Governor of the Brazils, and whose pertinent answers to many silly questions are recorded in the pages of the greatest of English philosophers. My great grandfather was soon disgusted with the folly and cruelty of what is called civilised life; and having seen an Indian roasted alive for a false religion's sake, he thought that some day they might take it into their heads to do as much by a macaw, for the same reason. So he availed himself of an early opportunity of retiring without leave from the service, and returned to his native forest, where his genius and learning at once raised him to the highest honors of the Psittacan aristocracy. Intluenced by his example, I early felt the desire of visiting foreign countries. My mother too, (who though fond and indulgent, like all the mothers of our race, was as vain and foolish as any that I have since met with in human society,) worked powerfully on my ambition, by her constant endeavours to push me up the tree,' as she called it, in her way. I was already a first-rate orator, and a member of the great congress of macaws; while in our social re-upions I left all the young birds of fashion far behind me: and as I not only articulated some human sounds picked up from the Indians, but could speak a few words of Portuguese and Dutch, learned by rote from my great grandfather, I was considered a genius of high order. With the conceit, therefore, of all my noble family, I was prompted to go forth and visit other and better worlds, and to seek a sphere better adapted to the display of my presumed abilities, than that afforded by our domestic senate and homespun society. On one of those celestial nights, known only in the tropical regions, 1 set forth on my travels, directing my course to the Portuguese settlement, which the youthful vigor of my wing enabled me to reach by the break of morning. Having refreshed myself with a breakfast of fruit, after the exhaustion of my nocturnal flight, I ascended a spacious palm tree, which afforded an admirable view of the adjacent country, and a desirable shelter from the ardors of the rising sun. My first impulse was to take a bird's-eye view of the novel scene which lay before me, and I gazed around for some minutes with intense delight; but fatigue gradually obtained the mastery over curiosity, and, putting my head unconsciously beneath my wing, I fell into a profound sleep. How long this continued, I know not; but I was suddenly awakened by a strange muttering of unknown voices. I looked, and beheld two creatures whose appearance greatly surprised me. They had nothing of the noble form and aspect of our Indian neighbours. One of them considerably resembled the preacher-monkey in countenance and deportment: his head was denuded of bair, and his person was covered by a black substance, which left po limb visible except his ancles and feet, which were very much like those of an ape. The other had all the air of a gigantic parrot: he had a hooked bill, a sharp look, a yellow head; and all the rest of his strange figure was partycoloured, blue, green, red, and black. I classed him at once as a specimen of the Psittacus Ochropterus. The ape and the parrot
seemed to have taken shelter beneath the palm tree, like myself, for the
purposes of shade and repose. They had beside them a basket filled with dead game, fruit, and honey; and the parrot had a long instrument near him on the ground, which I afterwards learned was a fowling-piece. They talked a strange jargon of different intonation, like that of the respective chatter of the green and the grey parrots. Both seemed to complain, and, by the expression of their ugly and roguish faces, to interrogate each other. As soon as they went away, I endeavoured to mutter to myself the sounds they had uttered, but could retain only two phrases. The one had been spoken by the ape and ran thus : “ Shure it was for my sweet sowl's sake, jewel :” the
Eh, Sirs, it was aw' for the love of the siller.” I was extremely amused by my acquisition; and, being convinced that I was now qualified to present myself at the settlement, was about to descend from my altitude, when the two strangers returned. They had come back for the gun, which they had left behind them. picked it up, it went off, and I was startled into one of my loudest
The strangers looked at me with great delight; he whom I likened to the parrot, exclaiming “ Weel, mon, what brought you here?” I answered in his own words, for want of better, “ Eh, Sirs, it was aw for the love of the siller.” He dropped his piece and fled in consternation, calling lustily “ Its auld clooty himsen, mon, its auld Horny I tell ye; come awa, come awa.”
His friend, who seemed more acquainted with our species, encouraged him to return; and offering me some fruit from his basket said, Why, Poll, you cratur, what brought you so far from home ?” I endeavoured to imitate his peculiar tone, and replied, “ Why thin it was for my sweet sowl's sake, jewel.” Why then,” said my interlocutor coolly, (for I never forgot his words,) " that bird bates cockfighting.” They now both endeavoured to catch me. It was all I wanted, and I perched on the preaching-monkey's wrist; while he took
the basket in his left hand, and in this easy and commodious style of travelling, we proceeded. On approaching the settlement, a fierce dispute arose between the friends; of which, by each tearing me from the other, I was evidently the object; and I am quite sure that I should have been tor to pieces between them, but for the timely approach of a person who issued from a lofty and handsome edifice on the road side, attended by a train of preacher-monkies, of which he was the chief. He was quite a superior looking being to either of my first acquaintance, who cowered and shrunk beneath his eagle look. They seemed humbly to lay their case before him; when, after looking contemptuously on both, he took me to himself, caressed me, and giving me to an attendant, said, “ This bird belongs to neither, it is the property of mother church :" and the property of mother church I remained for some years. Of my two friends of the palm tree, one, the preacher-monkey, turned out to be a poor Irish lay brother of the convent of which my new master (an Irishman too) was the superior. My yellow parrot was a Scotch adventurer, who came out to give lectures on poleetical economy to the Brazilians : and who, finding that they had no taste for moral science, had become a servant of all-work to the brotherhood. My dwelling was a missionary house of the Propaganda, established for the purpose
of converting (i. e. burning) the poor Indians. The Superior, Father Flynn, had recently arrived from Lisbon with unlimited powers, He was clever, eloquent, witty, and humorous; but panting for a bishopric in his native country, he was principally employed in theological writings, which might bring him into notice and hasten his recall to Europe.
• Next to the servant's ball of a great English family, the first place in the world for completing the education of a macaw of genius, is a convent. Its idleness and ennui render a monkey, or a parrot, a valuable resource; and between what I picked up, and what I was taught by the monks of the Propaganda, my acquirements soon became stupendous. Always following my kind master from the refectory to the church, assisting at mess or at mass, being near him in the seclusion of the oratory, and in the festivities, he frequently held with his more confidential friends; I had loaded my astonishing
scraps of theology and of fun. I could sing French drinking song, taught me by the sub-prior Frère Jacques, and intonate a “ Gloria in Excelsis” with a true nasal twang. I had actually learned the Creed in English ; 1 and could call all the brothers by their name. I had even learned the Savoyard's dance from my friend Frère Jacques, and sung “ Gai Coco" at the same time, like Scaliger's parrot, from whose history Frère Jacques took the idea of teaching me. I did this, it must be acknowledged, with great awkwardness, turning in my toes, and often tumbling backwards in a clumsy and ludicrous way. But this amused my religious friends more than all the rest ; for, like the great, they loved a ridicule quite as well as a talent; and, provided they were amused, were not nice as to the means. My fame soon began to spread on all sides, and the anecdotes told of the macaw of the Propaganda soon reached the circles of the Governor of the Brazils, who wrote to request the pleasure of my company for a few weeks at the palace. This was a compliment which he had never paid to the learned superior of the order, and my master was evidently hurt. He declined therefore the invitation for me, on the plea that he would soon visit Rio Janeiro himself, when I should accompany him into the vice-regal presence.
• This visit shortly took place, not for the object supposed by the community, (who parted with me, even for a short time, with great regret,) but for another purpose. The British Ambassador, Lord
who had recently arrived at Rio, was a countryman of Father Flynn's. He enjoyed eminent literary celebrity, was a delightful poet, and well acquainted with the Portuguese language. The superior had no doubt that his own literary and theological merits were equally known to his excellency, whom he visited with a view to negociating a passage in the British man of war; for he had been called on a secret mission to Ireland, and wished to depart without notifying his intention to the subalterns of the Propaganda. I was not included in the muster-roll of this expedition ; but, anxious to lose no opportunity of seeing the world, and desirous of beholding the Governor, who had shown his taste and politeness by inviting me to
Rhodoginus mentions a parrot which could recite correctly the whole of the Apostle's Creed.”- Animal Biography, by the Rev. W. Bingley.
his court, I contrived to nestle myself in the carriage without the superior's knowledge, and followed his steps to the very anti-room of the embassy. It was too late to send me back; for I was instantly seized by a company of pretty young animals, the very reverse in appearance of the preacher-monkies of the Propaganda ; they all seemed to find in me a kindred soul : my master was ushered into the cabinet, and I was left with my new acquaintance, who were called “ attachés,” but whom I at once classed with the secretary-birds, while here and there, I thought, was mingled among them a specimen of the booby, or Pelicanus Sula.' Two of these mischievous creatures seemed to delight in tormenting me from mere idleness and ennui, which I bore for some time with great patience, as I saw the boobies pay them much respect. One was called Lord Charles, and the other the Hon. Mr. Henry. I learned these names with facility, and contrived to repeat them, as they had been taught me, by the frequent iteration of oue of the boobies. Meantime Father Flynn, with a jesuit's adroitness, was endeavouring to gain his object, as I afterwards learned ; but on alluding to his works and celebrity, he discovered that the ambassador had never so much as heard of him, though he had heard wonders of his parrot, which he requested might be sent for. I was immediately ushered into the cabinet as the superior went out, and I never saw my dear master more. Perhaps he could “ bear no rival near the throne;” perhaps, in his pre-occupation, he forgot to reclaim me. Be that as it may, he sailed that night, in a Portuguese merchantman, for Lisbon; and I became the property of the representative of his British Majesty. After the first few days of favoritism, I sensibly lost ground with his excellency; for he was too deeply occupied, and had too many resources of his own, to find his amusement in my society. During the few days I sat at his table, I entertained his diplomatic guests with cracking nuts, extracting the kernels, peeling oranges, talking broad Scotch and Parisian French, chaunting the “Gloria,” dancing “Gai Coco," and, in fact, exbibiting all my accomplishments. I however, soon sent to the secretary's office to be taught a new jargon, and to be subjected to new tricks from the underlings of the embassy.
· Here I picked up but little, for there was but little to pick up. I learned, however, to call for “ Red tape and sealing-wax,”—to cry “ What a bore !” “ Did you ever see such a quiz,”—to call Lord Charles,” “ Mr. Henry,” and pronounce "good for nothing,” a remark applied by the young men to the pens, which they Aung away by hundreds, and which the servants picked up and sold, with other perquisites of office incidental to their calling. Whenever I applied these acquisitions with effect, it was always attributed to chance; but I was so tormented and persecuted by Lord Charles and Mr. Henry, who being unpaid attachés, had nothing to do, and helped each other to do it, that I took every opportunity to annoy them. One day, when the anti-room was filled with young officers of the British frigate, one of the boobies, pointing to Lord Charles,
“ The Dutch," says Le Vaillant. “ give this bird the name of Secretary, on account of the bunch of quills behind its head."-Bingley, Animal Biography.