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MAGPIES, GEESE, PEACOCKS, DOVES, JACKDAWS, &c.
prognosticate a great famine or mortality when great flocks of Jays and Crows forsake the woods; because these melancholy birds, bearing the characters of Saturn, the author of famine and mortality, have a very early perception of the bad disposition of that planet.”
In the “Secret Memoirs of Mr. Duncan Campbell,” p. 60, it is said: “Some will defer going abroad, though called by business of the greatest consequence, if, happening to look out of the window, they see a single Crow.”
Ramesey, in his “Elminthologia," 8vo. Lond. 1668, p. 271, says: “If a Crow fly but over the house and croak thrice, how do they fear, they, or some one else in the family, shall
In the Dialogue of “ Dives and Pauper," fol. 1493, first precepte, 46th chapter, we read : “ Some bileve that yf the Kyte or the Puttock fle ovir the way afore them that they should fare wel that daye, for sumtyme they have farewele after that they see the Puttock so fleynge; and soo they falle in wane by leve and thanke the Puttocke of their
welfare and nat God, but suche foles take none hede howe often men mete with the Puttok so fleynge and yet they fare nevir the better: for there is no folk that mete so oft with the Puttoke so fleynge as they that begge their mete from dore to dore."
☺ Naslı, in his “ Christ's Teares over Jerusalem,” 4to. Lond. 1613, p. 185, speaking of the plague in London, says, “ The vulgar menialty conclude therefore it is like to encrease, because a Hearnshaw (a whole afternoone together) sate on the top of Saint Peter's church in Cornehill. They talk of an Oxe that told the bell at Wolwitch, and how from an Oxe he transformed himselfe to an oli man,
and from an old man to an infant, and from an infant to a young man. Strange prophetical reports (as touching the sicknes) they mutter he gave out, when in truth they are nought els but cleanly coined lies, which some pleasant sportive wits have devised to gull them most grossely."
Werenfels says, p. 6, “If the superstitious man has a desire to know how many years he has to live, he will enquire of the Cuckow.”
MAGPIES, GEESE, PEACOCKS, DOVES, JACKDAWS,
DUCKS, CORMORANTS, AND SEA-GULLS.
The chattering of a Magpie is ranked by nald Scot, in his “ Discovery of Witchcraft," Bourne, p. 71, among Omens.(^) It is un p. 95, says, that to prognosticate that guests lucky, says Grose, to see first one Magpie, and approach to your house, upon the chattering then more : but to see two, denotes marriage or of Pies or Haggisters (Haggister in Kent sigmerriment; three, a successful journey ; four, nifies a Magpie) is altogether vanity and an unexpected piece of good news; five, you superstition, will shortly be in a great company.
In Lancashire, among the vulgar, it is acThe ancient augurs foretold things to come counted very unlucky to see two Magpies by the chirping or singing of certain birds, (called there Pynots, in Northumberland Pythe Crow, the Pye, the Chough, &c.: hence anots) together: thus, iu Tim Bobbin's '“ Lavperhaps the observation, frequent in the mouths cashire Dialect,” 8vo. 1775, p. 31, “I saigh of old women, that when the Pye chatters we two rott'n Pynots (hongum) that wur a sign o shall have strangers.
bad fashin; for I heard my gronny say hoode It is very observable, that, according to os leef o seen two owd Harries (Devils) os Lambarde, in his “ Topographical Diction two Pynots." ary,” p. 260, Editha persuaded her husband The Magpie continues to be ominous in to build a monastery at (seney, near Oxford, Scotland. The Glossary to the Complaynt upon the chattering of Pies. Maypies are of Scotland,” 8vo. Edinb. 1801, v. Piert, u ranked among Omens by Shakspeare. (*) Regi- | Magpie, observes that “it is, according to
popular superstition, a bird of unlucky omen. We read in Willsford's “Nature's Secrets," Many an old woman would more willingly p. 132, that “the offspring or aliance of the see the Devil, who bodes no more ill luck than capitolian guard, when they do make a gaghe brings, than a Magpie perching on a neigh- gling in the air more than usual, or seem to bouring tree.” The same Glossary, v. Thues. fight, being over greedy at their meat, expect NEK, the cry of the Lapwing, tells us that then cold and winterly weather." “in the south and west of Scotland this bird is Also, ibid. p. 134: “PEACOCKS crying loud much detested, though not reckoned ominous. and sbrill for their lost lo does proclaim an As it frequents solitary places, its haunts were approaching storm." (3) frequently intruded upon by the fugitive As also, ibid. : “ Doves coming later home Presbyterians, during the persecution which to their houses than they are accustomed to do they suffered in the disgraceful and tyrannical presages some evil weather approaching." reigns of Charles the Second and James the So, ibid. p. 133: “JACK-Daws, if they Second, when they were often discovered by come late home from foraging, presages some the clamours of the Lapwing."
cold or ill weather neer at hand, and likewise The quaint author of “ A strange Metamor when tlaey are seen much alone.” phosis of Man transformed into a Wildernesse, So, ibid. p. 132: “Ducks, Mallards, and deciphered in Characters,” 12mo. Lond. 1634, all water-fowls, when they bathe themselves speaking of the Goose, says: “She is no much, prune their feathers, and flicker, or clap witch, or astrologer, to divine by the starres, themselves with their wings, it is a sign of rain but yet bath a shrewd guesse of rainie wea ind.” The same vith “ Cormorants and ther, being as good as an almanack to some Gulls." () that beleeve in her."
NOTES TO MAGPIES, GEESE, PEACOCKS, DOVES, JACKDAWS, DUCKS,
CORMORANTS, AND SEA-GULLS.
() In the Dialogue of " Dives and Pau-
Henry VI. act v. sc. 6.
I neither tattle with Jackdaw
Or Maggot-pye on thatch'd house straw.'" Magot-pie is the original name of the bird; Magot being the familiar appellation given to Pies, as we say Robin to a Redbreast, Tom to a Titmouse, Philip to a Sparrow, &c. The modern Nag is the abbreviation of the ancient Magot, a word which we had from the French. See Reed's edit. of Shaksp. 1803, vol. x. p. 187.
In the Supplement to Johnson and Steevens's Shakspeare, 8vo. Lond. 1780, vol. ii. p. 706, it is said that the Magpie is called, in the West, to this hour, a Magatipie, and the import of the
augury is determined by the number of the birds that are seen together: “ One for sorrow; two for mirth; three for a wedding; four for death.” Mr. Park, in a note in his copy of Bourne and Brand's “Popular Antiquities,” p. 88, says that this regulation of the Magpie Omens is found also in Lincolnshire. He
adds that the prognostic of sorrow is thought Skjura, forté a garritu, ut etiam Latiné Garto be averted by turning thrice round.
rulus nuncupabatur.” Such is the opinion of Gaule, in his “ Mag-astromancers posed the common people in Sweden. and puzzel’d," p. 181, notices among vain (3) We read in the eleventh book of “NotaObservations, “the Pyes chattering about the ble Things,” by Thomas Lupton, 8vo. Lond. house."
1660, No. 10, p. 311, that “the Peacock, by Dr. Nathaniel Home, in his “ Dæmonolo his loud and harsh clamor, prophesies and gie," 8vo. Lond. 1650, speaking of popular foretells rain, and the oftener they cry, the Superstitions, p. 59, tells us : “By the chat more rain is signified.” Theophrastus and tering of Magpies they know they shall have Mizaldus are cited :-" and Paracelsuz saies, strangers. By the flying and crying of Ravens if a Peacock cries more than usual, or out of over their houses, especially in the dusk even bis time, it foretells the death of some in that ing, and where one is sick, they conclude family to whom it doth belong." death : the same they conclude by the much (1) In Sir John Sinclair's “Statistical Accrying of Owles in the night, neer their houses, count of Scotland,” vol. iii. 8vo. Edinb. 1792, at such a time.”
p. 478, the minister of Arbirlot, in the county Alexander Ross, in his Appendix to the of Forfar, informs: “ The Sea-Gulls are con“ Arcana Microcosmi," p. 219, tells us that
sidered as ominous. When they appear in the " in the time of King Charles the Eighth of fields, a storm from the south-east generally France, the battle that was fought between the follows; and when the storm begins to abate, French and Britans, in which the Britans were they fly back to the shore." overthrown, was foreshewed by a skirmish be Ibid. vol. i. p. 32, parish of Holywood, Dumtween the Magpies and Jackdaws."
friesshire : “During the whole year the SeaThe following is from “ Glossarium Suio Gulls, commonly called in this parish SeaGothicum, auctore I. Ihre," fol. Upsaliæ, 1769, Maws, occasionally come from the Solway v. Skata, tom. ii. p. 565 :
Frith to this part of the country; their arrival “SKATA, Pica. Quum illius plurimus in seldom fails of being followed by a high wind Auguriis usus fuerit, v. Plinii Hist. Nat. lib. and heavy rain, from the south-west, within x. 18, interque aves sinisterioris Ominis sem twenty-four hours; and they return to the per locum invenerit, unde etiam videmus, Frith again as soon as the storm begins to veteris Superstitionis tenacem plebem nostram abate.” volucrem hanc Stabulorum portis expansis Willsford, in his “Nature's Secrets," p. alis suspendere, ut, quod ait Apuleius, suo 134, says : “ Sea-Mews, early in the morning corpore luat illud Infortunium quod aliis por making a gaggling more than ordinary, foretendit: arbitror a scada nocere, A.S. scathian, token stormy and blustering weather." nomen illi inditum fuisse. Vocatur alias
COCKS, HOOPOE, GREAT AUK, STORMY PETREL,
EAGLE, BITTERN, AND KING-FISHER.
MORESIN ranks the unseasonable crowing of the Cock among Omens. As also the sudden fall of Hens from the house top.(1) These Fowl Omens are probably derived to us from the Romans, at whose superstitions on this account Butler laughs in his “Hudibras."(?)
Pennant, in his “ Zoology,” vol. i. p. 258,
speaking of the HooPoE, tells us that the
us that the GREAT AUK is a bird observed by and cautions the seamen of the approach of a seamen never to wander beyond soundings, tempest, by collecting under the sterns of the and according to its appearance they direct ships. (8) their measures, being thien assured that land In Lloyd's “ Stratagems of Jerusalem," is not very remote. Thus the modern sailors p. 290, we read, “ Aristander the soothsayer, pay respect to auguries in the same manner in the battell at Arbela, being the last against as Aristophanes tells us those of Greece did Darius, was then on horsebacke hard by above two thousand years ago: see Aves, Alexander, parelled all in white, and a 1. 597.
crowne of golde upon his head, encoura zing Προερεί τις αει των ορνίθων μαντευομένω περι
Alexander, by the flight of an Eagle, the vic
tory should be his over Darius. Both the του πλού, Νυνί μή πλεϊ, χειμών έσαι νυνι πλεί, κέρδος
Greekes, the Romaines, and the Lacedemoεπέςαι.
nians, had theyr soothsayers hard by them in
their warres." Thus translated :
Bishop Hall, in his “ Characters of Vertues “ From birds in sailing men instructions
and Vices,” speaking of the superstitious man, take,
says, “ If a BITTOURN fly over his head by Now lie in port, now sail and profit night, he makes his will.” make."
În Wild's “ Iter Boreale," p. 19, we read :
“ The peaceful King-fishers are met together Pennant further observes, ibid. p. 554, that
About the decks, and prophesie calm weathe STORMY PETREL presages bad weather,
NOTES TO COCKS, HOOPOE, GREAT AUK, STORMY PETREL,
EAGLE, BITTERN, AND KING-FISHER. () Gallorum Gallinaceorum cucurri. it is answered: tum intempestivum.-Gallinarum subitum
6 With crowing of your Hens we will not e Tecto casum.” p. 2. Gaule, in his “ Magastromancers posed and puzzel?d," p. 181,
Since here tliey every day crow in the enumerating vain Observations and supersti
city; tious Ominations thereupon, has not over
Thence thought no omen." looked " The Cock's crowing unseasonably." In Willsford's “ Nature's Secrets," 8vo.
Park, in his “ Travels in the Interior of Lond. 1658, p. 132, we read, “ The vigilant Africa,” has the following passage:
6 While Cock, a bird of Mars, the good housewife's
journeying on, Johnson, the interpreter, disclock' and the Switzer's alarum, if he crows
covered a species of tree for which he had in the day time very much, or at sun-setting, made frequent inquiry. He tied a white or when he is at roost at unusual hours, as at chicken to the tree by its leg to one of the nine or ten, expect some change of weather,
branches, and then said that the journey and that suddenly, but from fair to foul, or would be prosperous. He said the ceremony the contrary; but when the Hen crows, good
was an offering or sacrifice to the Spirits of men expect a storm within doors and without.
the Woods, who were a powerful race of beIf the Hens or Chickens in the morning come
ings, of a white colour, with long flowing late from their roosts (as if they were con hair." strained by hunger) it presages much rainy Werenfels, in his “ Dissertation upon Superweather.”
stition, p. 7, says, speaking of a superstitious In the “ British Apollo," fol. 1708, vol. i.
man, "When he returns home, he will often No. 64, to a query,
be in fear, too, lest a cockatrice should be “ When my Hens do crow, hatched from his cock's egg, and kill him Tell me if it be ominous or no ?".
with its baneful aspect." He had given the
following trait of his character before : “ When Ibid. p. 289 : “ 'The Arabians, Carians, he goes out of doors, he fears nothing so much Phrygians, and Cilicians, do most religiously as the glance of an envious eye.”
observe the chirping and flying of birds, as“ Mischiefs are like the cockatrice's eye;
suring themselves good or bad events in their If they see first, they kill; if seen, they die.”
Ibid. p. 290 : “So superstitious grew the Dryden.
Gentils, with such abhominable idolatry, that (2)“ A flam more senseless than the roguery
in Persia by a Cock, in Egypt by a Bull, in Of old aruspicy and aug’ry,
Æthiope by a Dog, they tooke soothsaying; That out of garbages of cattle
in Beotia by a Beech Tree, in Epyre by an Presag'd th’ events of truce or battle ;
Oake, in Delos by a Dragon, in Lycia by a From flight of birds or chickens pecking Wolfe, in Ammon by a Ramme, they received Success of great’st attempts would
their oracles, as their warrant to commence any reckon."
warre, to enter any battell, or to attempt any P. ii. canto iii. 1. 29. enterprize."
The Earl of Northampton's " Defensative I recollect nothing at present which seems against the Poison of supposed Prophecies,” to have been derived into modern superstition 4to Lond. 1583, signat. T 2 b, says, “ The from the ancient mode of deducing omens from Romaines tooke the crowing of a Cocke for the inside of animals, unless it be that con an abode of victory, though no philosopher be cerning the Merry Thought, thus noticed by the ignorant that this proceedeth of a gallant “ Spectator.” “I have seen a man in love turn lustinesse
the first digestion." pale and lose his appetite from the plucking In Morier's “ Journey through Persia," of a Merry Thought.”
4to. Lond. 1810, p. 62, we read, “ Among In the “ British Apollo," fol. Lond. 1708, the Superstitions in Persia, that which devol. i. No. 81, is the following query : “ For pends on the crowing of a Cock is not the what reason is the bone next the breast of a least remarkable. If the Cock crows at a fowl, &c., called the Merry Thought, and when proper hour, they esteem it a good omen ; if was it first called so?-A. The original of at an improper season, they kill him. I am that name was doubtless from the pleasant told that the favourable hours are at nine, fancies that commonly arise upon the break both in the morning and in the evening, at ing of that bone, and 'twas then certainly first noon, and at midnight.”
when these merry notions were first (3) “ Halcyon,” says Willsford, ut supra, started.”
p. 134, “ at the time of breeding, which is In Lloyd's “Stratagems of Jerusalem," | about fourteen days before the winter solstice, p. 285, we are told, “ Themistocles was as foreshows a quiet and tranquil time, as it is sured of victory over King Xerxes and his observed about the coast of Sicily, from huge army by crowing of a Cocke, going to whence the proverb is transported, the Halthe battle at Artemisium, the day before the cyon Days. Pliny." battell began, who having obtained so great Dallaway, in his “ Constantinople, Ana victory, gave a Cocke in his ensigne ever cient and Modern,” 4to. Lond. 1797, p. 137, after.”
speaking of the Bosphorus, says, “Scarcely Ibid. we read : “ The first King of Rome, a minute passes but flocks of aquatic birds, Romulus, builded his kingdom by_flying of resembling Swallows, may be observed flying Fowles and soothsaying. So Numa Pompilius | in a lengthened train from one sea to the was chosen second King of Rome flying of other. As they are never known to rest, they Fowles. So Tarquinius Priscus, an Eagle tooke are called Halcyons, and by the French ‘Ames his cappe
from his head and fled up on high damnées. They are superstitiously considered to the skies, and after descended, and let his by all the inhabitants.” cappe fall on his head againe, signifying In Smith's Travels, 8vo. Lond. 1792, thereby that he should be King of Rome." p. 11, it is said, “ On sailing along the coasts