Philemon Holland, translator (1601): C. Plinius Secundus The Historie of the World. Book X. (Pages 270-309)
THE TENTH BOOKE OF
THE HISTORIE OF NATVRE,
WRITTEN BY C. PLINIVS
The nature of Birds and Foules.
IT FOLLOWETH now that wee should discourse of the nature of foules. And first to begin with Ostriches. They are the greatest of all other foules, and in manner of the nature of foure footed beasts: (namely, those in Affricke and Æthyopia) for higher they bee than a man sitting on horsebacke is from the ground: and as they bee taller than the man, so are they swifter on foot than the very horse. For to this end onely hath Nature given them wings, even to helpe and set them forward in their running: for otherwise, neither flie they in the aire, ne yet so much a rise and mount from the ground. Cloven houfes they have like red deere, and with them they fight; for good they be to catch up stones withall, & with their legs they whurle them back as they run away, against those that chase them. A wonder this is of their nature, that whatsoever they eat (and great devourers they bee of all things, without difference and choise) they concoct and digest it. But the veriest fooles they be of all others. For as high as the rest of their bodie is, yet if they thrust their head and necke once into any shrub or bush, and get it hidden, they thinke then they are safe ynough, and that no man seeth them. Now two things they doe affoord, in recompence of mens paines that they take in hunting and chasing them: to wit, their egs, which are so big, that some use them for vessels in the house: and their feathers so faire, that they serve for pennaches to adorne and set out the crests and morions of souldiors in the warres.
Of the Phoenix.
THE BIRDS of Æthyopia and India, are for the most part of diverse colours, and such as a man is hardly able to decipher and describe. But the Phœnix of Arabia passes all others. Howbeit, I cannot tell what to make of him: and first of all, whether it be a tale or no, that there is never but one of them in the whole world, and the same not commonly seen. By report he is as big as an Ægle: for colour, as yellow & bright as gold; (namely, all about the necke;) the rest of the bodie a deep red purple: the taile azure blew, intermingled with feathers among, of rose cornation colour: and the head bravely adorned with a crest and pennache finely wrought; having a tuft and plume thereupon, right faire and goodly to be seene. Manilius, the noble Romane Senatour, right excellently well seene in the best kind of learning and litterature, and yet never taught by any, was the first man of the long Robe, who wrote of this bird at large, & most exquisitely. Hee reporteth, that never man was knowne to see him feeding: that in Arabia hee is held a sacred bird, dedicated unto the Sunne: that hee liveth 660 yeares: and when hee groweth old, and begins to decay, he builds himselfe a nest with the twigs and branches of the Canell or Cinamon, and Frankincense trees: and when he hath filled it with all sort of sweet Aromaticall spices, yeeldeth up his life thereupon. He saith moreover, that of his bones & marrow there breedeth at first as it were a little worme: which afterwards prooveth to bee a pretie bird. And the first thing that this yong new Phœnix doth, is to performe the obsequies of the former Phœnix late deceased: to translate and carie away his whole nest into the citie of the Sunne neere Panchæa, and to bestow it full devoutly there upon the altar. The same Manilius affirmeth, that the revolution of the great yeare so much spoken of, agreeth just with the life of this bird: in which yeare the starres returne againe to their first points, and give signification of times and seasons, as at the beginning: and withall, that this yeare should begin at high noone, that very day when the Sunne entreth the signe Aries. And by his saying, the yeare of that revolution was by him shewed, when P. Licinius and M. Cornelius were Consuls. Cornelius Valerianus writeth, That whiles Q. Plautius and Sex. Papinius were Consuls, the Phœnix flew into Ægypt. Brought he was hither also to Rome in the time that Claudius Cæsar was Censor, to wit, in the eight hundred yeare from the foundation of Rome: and shewed openly to bee seene in a full hall and generall assembly of the people, as appeareth upon the publicke records: howbeit, no man ever made any doubt, but he was a counterfeit Phoenix, and no better.
Of all the birds which we know, the Ægles carie the price both for honour and strength. Six kinds there be of them. The first, named of the Greekes * Melænaetos, and in Latine, Valeria: the least it is of all others, and strongest withall, blacke also of colour: In all the whole race of the Ægles, she alone nourisheth her young birds: for the rest (as wee shall hereafter declare) doe beat them away: she only crieth not, nor keepeth a grumbling and huzzing as others doe: and evermore converseth upon the mountaines. Of the second sort is ** Pygargus. It keepeth about townes and plaines, and hath a whitish taile. The third is Morphnos, which Homer calls also Perenos: some name it Plancus and *** Anataria: and she is for bignesse and strength, of a second degree: loving to live about lakes and meeres. Ladie Phœmonæ, who was supposed & said to be the daughter of Apollo, hath reported, that this Ægle is toothed: otherwise mute, as not having any tongue: also, that of all others she is the blackest, and hath the longest taile. With her accordeth Boethus likewise. Subtile shee is and wittie: for when shee hath seazed upon Tortoises, and caught them up with her tallons, she throweth them downe from aloft to breake their shels. And it was the fortune of the Poët Æschylus to die by such a meanes. For when hee was foretold by wisards out of their learning, that it was his destinie to die upon such a day by some thing falling on his head: hee thinking to prevent that, got him forth that day into a great open plaine, far from house or tree, presuming upon the securitie of the cleare and open skie. Howbeit, an Ægle let fall a Tortoise, which light upon his head, dasht out his braines, and laid him asleepe for ever. Of the fourth kind is Percnopterus, the same that Oripelargus, fashioned like to a Geire or Vulture: it hath least wings, a bodie bigger than the rest: but a very coward, fearefull and of a bastard and craven kind, for a raven will beat her. Besides, she hath a greedie and hungrie worm alwaies in her gorge and craw, and never is content, but whining and grumbling. Of all Ægles she onely carrieth away with her the dead prey, & feedeth thereupon in the aire: whereas others have no sooner killed, but they prey over them in the place. This bastard buzzard kind maketh that the fifth, (which is the roiall Ægle) & is called in Greek Gnesios, as one would say, true and kindly, as descended from the gentle and right airie of Ægles. This Ægle roiall, is of a middle bignesse, and of a reddish colour, a rare bird to bee seene. There remaineth now the sixt and last sort, and that is Haliartos. This Ægle hath the quickest and clearest eie of all others, soaring & mounting on high: when she spieth a fish in the sea, downe she comes with a power, plungeth into the water, and breaking the force thereof with her breast, quickly she catcheth up the fish, and is gone. That Ægle which wee named in the third place, haunteth lakes, fennes, and standing waters for to prey upon water-foule: who, to shift from her, are driven otherwhile to dive under the water: but she presseth so hard upon them, that they be wearied and astonied in the end, and then shee catcheth them up, and carieth them away. A worthie sport it is to see the manner of their scuffling: whiles the sillie river bird maketh means to gaine the banke side for refuge, (especially if it be wel growne with thicke reeds) and the Ægle for her part drives her from thence with the clap and stroke of the wing: whiles, I say, as the Egle striketh, and therewith plungeth her selfe downe into the water, the poore foule that swimmeth underneath, seeing the shaddow of the Ægle hovering about the banke side, riseth up againe in another place, far ynough off from the Ægle, & where she imagined that she should be least looked for. Which is the cause that these wild-foule of the water, commonly swim in flockes. For when they are many together, they are not much troubled and annoied, by reason that with fluttering their pinnions, with dashing and flapping the water with their wings, they dazle the sight of their enemie. Oftentimes also the very Ægles, not able to weld the prey that they have seazed upon, are together with it drawne under the water, and so drowned. Now as touching the Haliartos, or the Osprey, she onely before that her little ones bee feathered, will beat and strike them with her wings, and thereby force them to looke full against the Sunne beames. Now if shee see any one of them to winke, or their eies to water at the raies of the Sunne, shee turnes it with the head forward out of the nest, as a bastard, and not right; nor none of hers: but bringeth up and cherisheth that whose eie will abide the light of the Sunne as she looketh directly upon him. Moreover, these Orfraies or Ospreies are not thought to be a severall kind of Ægles by themselves, but to be mungrels, and engendred of divers sorts. And their young Ospraies bee counted a kind of Ossifragi: from them come the lesser Geires, they againe breed the greater, which engender not at all. Some reckon yet another kind of Ægle, which they cal Barbatæ; and the Tuscanes, Ossifrage.
But of the six kinds before rehearsed; the three first, and the fift, have in their nest a stone found named Æëtites, which some call Gagates, and it is therein engendred. This stone is medicinable and singular good for many diseases: and if it bee put into the fire, it will never a whit consume. Now this stone (as they say) is also with child. For if a man shake it, he shall heare another to rattle and sound within, as it were in the bellie or wombe of it. But that vertue medicinable abovesaid, is not in these stones, if they be not stollen out of the very nest from the airie. Build they doe and make their nests upon rockes and trees. Three egs commonly they lay: whereof two onely they use to hatch: howbeit, sometimes they have been seene to have three young ones. But lightly one of them they turne out of the nest, because they would not bee troubled with feeding and nourishing it. And verily, Nature hath well provided, that at such a time the old Ægles, should not be able to purvey sufficient for meat: for otherwise, if they should reare they birds, they were ynough to destroy the young breed of deere and wild beasts in a whole countrey, that there should be no venison nor game at all for gentlemen. Moreover, by the same providence of Nature, all that while their tallons or clees hooke and turne inward very much: also for very hunger their feathers waxe grey and white, so as they have good cause not to abide their young. But when they have cast them off, the Ossifrages which are neere of kin unto them, are readie to take them and bring them up with their owne birds. But the old Ægles their dammes, not content therewith, persecute them still when they are growne to bee big ones, beating and chasing them away farre off, as their very concurrents, and who would entercommune with them, and rob them of their prey. And were it not so, certainly one airie of Ægles needeth the reach of a whole countrey to furnish them with venison sufficient to their full. They have therefore their severall coasts and walkes, and without those limits and usuall haunts they raven not. When they have seazed of any prey, they carie it not away presently, but first lay it downe, peruse and peise the weight therof, and then away they flie with it amaine, but not before. They die not for age, nor upon any sicknesse, but of very famine, by reason that the upper beake of their bill is so farre overgrowne, and turneth inward so much, that they are not able to open it to feed themselves. Their manner is ordinarily to go to their businesse (namely to flie and seek their prey) after noon. For all the forenoone they are perched up, and be idle and doe nothing, waiting the time when men be not stirring abroad, but about their markets within the citties and townes, or otherwise busie in their civile affaires. The quils or feathers of Ægles laid among those of other foules, will devour and consume them. Men say, that of all flying foules the Ægle onely is not smitten nor killed with lightening: whereupon folke are wont to say, that she serveth Iupiter in place of his squire or armour-bearer.
When the Ægles began to be the ensignes and standards of the Romane legions: and what foules they be that war with Ægles.
Caius Marius in his second Consulship ordained, that the Legions of Romane souldiour onely should have the Ægle for their standard; and no other ensigne, For beforetime the Ægle marched formost indeed, but in a ranke of foure others, to wit, of Wolves, Minotaures, Horses, and Bores, which were borne each one before their owne severall squadrons and companies. Not many yeares past, the standard of the Ægle alone began to be advaunced into the field to battell: and the rest of the ensignes were left behind in the campe. But Marius reiected them altogether, and had no use of them at all. And ever since this is observed ordinarily, that there was no standing or campe wintered at any time, without a paire of Ægle standards.
Of Ægles, the first and second kind prey not only upon the lesse foure footed beasts, but also maintaine battell with the red Deere, even the Stag and the Hind. The manner of the Ægle is, after she hath wallowed in the dust and gathered a deale among her feathers, to settle upon the hornes of the Deere beforesaid, to shake the same off into his eies, to flap and beat him about the face with his wings, untill she drive him among the rockes, and there force him to fall downe from thence headlong, and so to breake his necke. Moreover, the Ægle hath not ynough of this one enemie, but she must warre with the Dragon also: howbeit the fight betweene them is more sharpe and eager: yea, and putteth her to much more daunger, albeit otherwhiles they combate in the aire. The Dragon of a naturall spight and greedie desire to doe mischeefe to the Ægle, watcheth evermore where the airie is, for to destroy the egges, and so the race of the Ægles. The Ægle againe, wheresoever she can set an eie upon him, catcheth him up and carieth him away: but the serpent with his taile windeth about his wings, and so entangleth and tieth them fast, that downe they fall both of them together.
A strange and wonderfull accident of an Ægle.
THERE HAPPENED a marvellous example about the citie Sestos, of an Ægle: for which in those parts there goeth a great name of an Ægle, and highly is she honored there. A young maiden had brought up a young Ægle by hand: the Ægle againe to requite her kindnesse, would first when she was but little, flie abroad a birding, and ever bring part of that shee had gotten unto her said nurse. In processe of time, being growne bigger and stronger, would set upon wild beasts also in the forrest, and furnish her yong mistresse continually with store of venison. At length it fortuned that the damosell died: and when her funerall fire was set a burning, the Ægle flew into the mids of it, and there was consumed into ashes with the corps of the said virgine. For which cause and in memoriall hereof, the inhabitants of Sestos, and the parts there adjoining, erected in that very place a stately monument, such as they call Heroüm, dedicated in the name of Iupiter and the virgin, for that the Ægle is a bird consecrated unto that god.
Of Vultures, or Geires.
The Blacke Vultures are the best of that kind. No man ever could meet with their nests: whereupon some have thought (but untruly) that they flie unto us out of another world, even from the Antipodes, who are opposite unto us. But the truth is, they build in the highest rockes they can find: and their young ones have many times been seene, two together and no more. Umbricius, who was counted the most skilfull Aruspex of our age, saith, That usually they lay three egges; whereof they take one of them to sacre and blesse (as it were) the other egges and the nest: and then soone after they cast it away. Also that the manner of the Geires is to fore-see a carnage, and to flie two or three dayes before unto the place where there will be any carions or dead carkasses.
Of the Sangualis, and Immußulus.
AS TOUCHING the Sangualis and the Immussulus, our Augurs at Rome are in a great doubt and make much question, what they should be. Some are of opinion, that the Immussulus is the chicke of the Vulture; and the Sangualis, likewise the young Ossifraga. Massurius saith, that the Sangualis and Ossifraga be both one: and as for the Immussulus, it is the young bird of the Ægle, before it come to have a white taile. Some have affirmed confidently, that after the death of Mutius the Augure, there was never any of them seene at Rome: but I rather am of this mind (and methinks it soundeth more like a truth, such is the supine negligence and carelesnesse of men in all things else) that no marveile it is if they know them not, although they see them.
WEE FIND in Faulconrie sixteen kinds of Hawkes or foules that prey. Of which, the Circos (which is lame and limpeth of one legge) was held in auncient time for the luckiest Augurie, in case of weddings, and of cattell. Also the Hawke called Triorches (of three stones or cullions that it hath) is reputed a bird of good presage: and in Augurie, lady Phemonoe hath given unto it the honour of the best simply and most fortunate. The Romanes call it Buteo, i. a Buzzard. And there is a worshipfull house & familie in Rome of that surname; by occasion that a Buzzard setled and perched upon the Admirall ship where Fabius himselfe (one of that house) was, presaging a boon-voyage and happie successe, according as it fell out indeed. As for the Hawke which the Greekes name Æsalo, i. the Merlin, shee alone is ever seene at all times of the yeere: whereas the rest are gone when winter commeth. In generall, Hawkes are divided into sundrie and distinct kinds, by their greedinesse more or lesse, and their manner in chase and preying: for some there be that never seize on a foule but upon the ground: others againe never assaile any birds, but when they spie them flying about some tree. There be also, that take a bird perched and sitting on high: and yee shall have of them, that overtake them as they flie in the wide and open aire. The doves therefore and pigeons, knowing the danger of flying aloft, so soone as they espie them, either light upon the ground and settle, or else flie neere the earth; and thus helpe themselves in taking a contrarie course to the hawkes nature, for to avoid their talons. There is in the Ocean of Affricke an Iland called Cerne, wherein all the hawks of the coasts of the Massesyli, build upon the very ground, and there breed: and being so accustomed to those countries, ye shall not find an airie of them elsewhere. In a part of Thracia, somwhat higher in the countrey beyond Amphipolis, men and hawkes joine in fellowship and catch birds together: for the men drive the woods, beat the bushes and reeds to spring the foule; then the hawkes flying over their heads, seize upon them, and either strike or bear them to the ground fit for their hands. On the other side, the hawkers and foulers when they have caught the foule, divide the bootie with the hawkes; and by report, they let such birds flie againe at libertie aloft into the aire, and then are the hawkes readie to catch them for themselves. Moreover, when the time is of hawking, they will by their manner of crie and flying together, give signe to the faulconers that there is good game abroad, and to draw them forth to hawking for to take the opportunitie. It is said, that the wolves doe the like, about the lake Mœotis: for unlesse they may have their part with the fishers, they will rend and teare their nets, when they find them stretched forth. Faulcons or Hawkes willingly eat not the heart of any bird. There is an hawke called Cymindis, which preyeth in the night: sildome is she seene in the woods, and by day-light seeth little or nothing. There is deadly warre between it and the Ægle; and oftentimes they be both taken, entangled one with the other.
Of the Cuckow, which usually is killed by birds of her owne kind.
AS TOUCHING the Cuckow, it seemeth that he commeth of some hawke chaunged into his shape at one certaine time of the yeere: for then those other hawkes are not to be seene, unlesse some very few daies. Hee sheweth himselfe also but for a small season in summer time, and afterwards appeareth no more. It is the only hawke that hath no talons hooked downward, neither is he headed as other hawkes, nor like unto them, but in colour: and for bill, he resembleth rather the dove. Nay more than that, the hawke will prey upon him and devoure him, if haply they be seene both togither: and it is the onely bird of all other that is killed by those of the owne kind. He altereth his voice also. In the spring, he commeth abroad, and by the beginning of the dog-daies, hideth himselfe. These lay alwaies in other birds nests, and most of all in the Stock-doves, commonly one egge and no more (which no other bird doth besides) and seldome twaine. The reason why they would have other birds to sit upon their egges and hatch them, is because they know how all birds hate them: for even the verie little birds are readie to warre with them: for feare therefore that the whole race of them should be utterly destroyed by the furie of others of the same kind, they make no nest of their owne (being otherwise timorous and fearefull naturally of themselves) and so are forced by this craftie shift to avoid the daunger. The Titling therefore that sitteth, being thus deceived, hatcheth the egge and bringeth up the chicke of another bird. And this young Cuckow beeing greedie by kind, beguiling the other young birds and intercepting the meat from them; groweth hereby fat and faire-liking: whereby it commeth into speciall grace and favor with the dam of the rest, and nource to it. She joieth to see so goodly a bird toward: and wonders at her selfe that she hath hatched and reared so trim a chicke. The rest, which are her owne indeed, shee sets no store by, as if they were changellings: but in regard of that one, counteth them all bastards and misbegotten: yea, and suffereth them to be eaten and devoured of the other even before her face: and this she doth so long, untill the young cuckow being once fledge and readie to flie abroad, is so bold as to seize on the old Titling, and to eat her up that hatched her. And by that time there is not another bird againe for goodnesse and sweetnesse of meat, comparable to the young Cuckow.
Of Gleedes, Kites, or Puttocks.
THE KITES or Gleeds are of the same kind of Hawkes or birds of prey, onely they bee greater. This hath been noted & observed in them: that being a most ravenous bird, and evermore hungrie, yet were they never knowne to snatch any viands ordained at funerall feasts for the dead, out of the platters; ne yet the flesh of beasts slaine in sacrifice, from off the altar of Iupiter in Olympia. Nay, it was never seene that a Puttocke would catch flesh out of their hands that served at such feasts: but if it did, a great presage it was of some dolefull & heavie misfortune which should fall upon the whole towne, that made these solemn sacrifices. These Gleeds or Puttocks, seeme by the winding and turning of their tailes to & fro as they flie, to have taught pilots the skil of steering, and use of the helme. See how Nature hath shewed that in the aire above, which is so necessary in the deep sea beneath! Kites likewise are not commonly seen abroad in the dead time of winter: yet go they not away for all together before the Swallowes. Moreover, it is said, that after the Sunsteeds, alwaies in summer-time, they be troubled with the gout in their feet.
A generall division of Foules.
THE FIRST and principall difference and distinction in birds, is taken from their feet: for they have either hooked tallons, as Hawkes; or round long clawes, as Hennes; or else they be broad, flat, and whole-footed, as Geese and all the sort in manner of water-foule. Those that have hooked tallons, for the most part feed upon flesh and nothing else.
Of unluckie birds, and namely, the Crow, Raven, and Scritch-owle.
THE CROW liveth not altogether of carion, for the Rooke eateth of other food. The Crowes and Rookes have a cast by themselves: for when they meet with an hard nut which they be not able to cracke, nor breake their shales with their bills, they will flie aloft and fling it against some rock or tyle-house once or twice, yea & many times togither, untill it be so crushed and bruised, that they may easily breake it quite, and then they eat up the kernell. These birds all of them keepe much pratling and are full of chat; which most men take for an unluckie signe and presage of ill fortune: although some there be who thinke otherwise, that it is a good bird, and highly esteeme of her. Observed it is, that from the going down or occultation of the starre Arcturus, unto the comming of the Swallow, the Crow is not to be seene else-where but about the groves and temples of Minerva (and that is but very sildome) and namely, neere to Athens. Moreover, this bird only feedeth her yong cadowes for a good while after they are able to flie. Shee is most unluckie at breeding time and cooving, that is to say, after the Sunsteed in summer. All other birds, which be as it were of the same race, drive their young ones out of the nest when they be once flidge, and put them to it, forcing them to flie abroad: like as the Ravens also, who likewise feed not on flesh only: and they likewise when they perceive their young once to be strong, chase and drive them away farre off. Therefore about little villages and hamlets, there commonly be not above two paire of them at once. And about Cranon verily in Thessalie, yee shall never see above one paire of them: for the old ones give place unto the yong, and fly away. There are some divers and different properties in this bird, and that before-named: for the Ravens engender before the Sunsteed, and for sixtie daies are somwhat ill at ease, and troubled with a kind of drought or thirstines especially, untill such time as the figges be ripe in Autumne: and then from that time forward, the Crow beginneth to be diseased and sick. Ravens for the most part lay five egges: and the common sort are of opinion, that they conceive and engender at the bill, or lay their egges by it: and therefore if women great with child chaunce to eat a Ravens egge, they shall be delivered of their children at the mouth: and generally shall have hard labour, if such an egge be but brought into the house where such great bellied women be. Aristotle denieth this and saith, that the Ravens conceive by the mouth, no more than the Ægyptian Ibis: and he affirmeth, that it is nothing else but a wantonnesse which they have in billing and kissing one another, which we see them to doe oftentimes; like as the Doves and Pigeons also. The Ravens of all other foules, seeme to have a knowledge of their owne significations in presages and fore-tokens: for when the mercenarie hired souldiers of Media were all massacred under a colour of entertainment and hospitalitie, the Ravens flew all away out of Peloponnesus and the region of Attica. The worst token of ill luck that they give, is when in their crying they seeme to swallow in their voice as though they were choked.
The night-birds have also crooked tallons, as the Owles, Scritch-owle, and Howlets. All these see but badly in the day time. The Scritch-owle betokeneth alwaies some heavie newes, and is most execrable and accursed, and namely, in the presages of publick affaires: he keepeth ever in deserts: and loveth not onely such unpeopled places, but also that are horrible and hard of accesse. In summe, he is the verie monster of the night, neither crying nor singing out cleere, but uttering a certaine heavie grone of dolefull mourning. And therefore if he be seene to flie either within citties, or otherwise abroad in any place, it is not for good, but prognosticateth some fearfull misfortune. Howbeit I my selfe know, that hee hath sitten upon many houses of privat men, and yet no deadly accident followed thereupon. He never flieth directly at ease, as hee would himselfe, but evermore sidelong and byas, as if he were carried away with the wind or somewhat else. There fortuned one of them to enter the very secret sanctuarie within the Capitoll at Rome, in that yeere when Sext. Papellio Ister and L. Pedanius were Consuls: whereupon at the Nones of March, the citie of Rome that yeere made generall processions to appease the wrath of the gods, and was solemnly purged by sacrifices.
Of the bird Incendiaria.
THIS FIRE-BIRD Incendiaria is likewise unluckie, and as our Chonicles and Annales do witnesse, in regard of her the citie of Rome many a time hath made solemne supplications to pacifie the gods, and to avert their displeasure, by her portended: as for example, when L. Caßius and C. Marius were Consuls: in that very yeere when by occasion of a Scritch-owle seene, the citie likewise was purged by sacrifice, as is abovesaid, and the people fell to their prayers and devotions. But what bird this should be, neither doe I know, nor yet finde in any writer. Some give this interpretation of Incendiaria, to be any bird whatsoever, which hath been seene carrying fire either from altar or chappell of the gods. Others call this bird Spinturnix. But hitherto I have not met with any man who would say directly unto me, That he knew what bird this should be.
Of the bird Clivina, or Cluina.
LIKEWISE the bird named in old time Clivina, or Cluina, which some call Clamatoria, and which Labeo describeth by the name of Prohibitoria, I see is as little knowne as the other. Nigidius also maketh mention of a bird called Subis, which useth to squash Ægles egges.
Of other unknowne birds.
IN THE AUGURES bookes which the Tuscanes have composed, there be many birds described and set out in their colours, which have not been seene some hundreds of yeeres past. And I muse and marvaile much, that they should be now extinct and the race of them cleane gone, considering that the kind of those foules is not lost, but continueth still in great abundance, which men eat daily at their tables, and consume so ordinarily.
Of night flying birds.
OF STRAUNGERS and forrein writers, Hylas is thought to have written best and most learnedly as touching Auguries and the nature of Birds. He reporteth in his booke, that the Howlet, Scritch-owle, the Spight that pecketh holes in trees, the Trogone, and the Chough or Crow, when they be hatched come forth of their shells with their tailes first: and that by reason of their heads so heavie, the egges are turned with the wrong end downward, and so the hinder part of the bodie lieth next under the hen or the dam, to sit upon and cherish with the heat of her bodie.
Of Owles, or Howlets.
IT IS A PRETIE SIGHT to see the wit and dexteritie of these Howlets, when they fight with other birds: for when they are overlaid and beset with a multitude of them, they lie upon their backs and with their feet make shift to resist them: for gathering themselves into a narrow compasse, there is nothing in a manner to be seene of them, save only their bill and talons, and those cover the whole bodie. The Faulcon (by a secret instinct and societie of nature) seeing the poor Howlet thus distressed, commeth to succour and taketh equall part with him, and so endeth the fray. Nigidius writeth, that Howlets for sixtie daies in winter, keepe close and remaine in covert, and that they chaunge their voice into nine tunes.
Of the Spight, or Woodpecker.
SOME LITTLE BIRDS there are also that have hooked clees, as the Spights, which are knowne by the surname of Martius, and be therefore called Pici Martij. These are of great account in Auspices, and presage good. They that job and pecke holes in trees, and will climbe upright like cats, are of this race. As for them, they will rampe up with their bellies to the tree, bending backward: and when they peck with their bills against the barke, they know by the sound thereof that there be wormes within for them to feed upon. These birds alone of all others feed and nourish their young ones in cranies and chinkes of trees. And if it chance that a shepheard or some such doe pin or wedge up their holes, it is thought commonly that they will unstop the same againe by the meanes of a certaine hearb, which no sooner they touch the stopple with, but it will out. Trebius writeth, that let a man drive a spike and great naile, or else a wedge and pin of wood, as hard as ever he will into that tree wherein this bird hath a nest, and incontinently as she percheth and setleth upon the tree, it will presently flie out with such a force, that the tree will give a cracke again therewith. Throughout all Latium, these birds beare the name for effectuall signification of good or bad fortune, by reason of that King or Prince [i. Picus] who gave them that name. And one presage of theirs above the rest, I cannot passe over: It fortuned that one of them light upon the head of L. Tubero L. chiefe Iustice of the citie of Rome, as he was sitting upon the judgement seat in the open face of the court ministring justice, and there rested so gently, that it suffered him to take it with his hand. The Soothsayer beeing asked his advice in this case, answered out of his booke, That if the bird were let goe, it would portend the ruine and overthrow of the whole state and Empire: but if it were killed, it denounced the death of the foresaid Pretour or L. chiefe Iustice then in place. But the Pretour Tubero immediatly upon this answer, plucked the bird in peeces. It was not long after, but the presage of this bird took effect indeed, and was fulfilled in his person. Moreover, there be of this kind many that feed upon mast, acorns, nuts, apples, and such like fruits: but they be such as live in manner upon flesh onely. And yet I must except the Kite, for that propertie in him, is noted to be in all Augurie an unluckie signe and presage of some heavie and deadly misfortune.
Of birds that have hooked talons, and round long clawes like fingers.
WHAT FOULES SOEVER have crooked clawes, sort not together in flockes, but prey ech one apart for it self. And lightly all such flie aloft, unlesse it be the night-birds beforesaid; and the greater sort especially. They are all of them great winged, little bodied, and heavie in their gate upon the ground. Seldome or never they sit and perch upon a rock: for why? their nails bowing and hooking inward, will not give them leave. It remaineth now that we speak of the second kind or rankes of birds; which also is divided into two sorts: to wit, Oscines that sing, and Alites that flie onely. For the singing of the one, and the bignes of the other, maketh the difference and distinction betweene them. These therefore that are greater bodied, wee will by order treat first of.
Of Peacockes: and who was the first that killed them for the table.
THE PEACOCKE far surpasseth all the rest in this kind, as well for beautie, as also for the wit and understanding that he hath; but principally for the pride and glory hee taketh in himselfe. For perceiving at any time that he is praised and well liked, he spreadeth his taile round, shewing and setting out his colours to the most, which shine againe like precious stones: and namely, when he turneth them against the sunne (as his manner is) for so hee giveth them a more radiant and glittering lustre. And for the same purpose also with his taile, representing fish shells, hee giveth a certaine shadow to the rest of his feathers, which seeme the brighter when they be a little shadowed: and withall he setteth all those eyes of his feathers togither in a ranke, and gathered them round, knowing full well, that he is the more looked on for them; and therin he taketh no small joy and pleasure. On the other side, when he hath lost this taile (which usually he moulteth everie yeere when trees shed their leaves) untill such time that trees blossome new and his taile be growne againe, he hath no delight to come abroad, but as if hee were ashamed or mourned, seeketh corners to hide himselfe in. The Peacocke ordinarily liveth 25 yeeres. At 3 yeers of age he beginneth to put forth that varietie of colours in his feathers. Authors who have written of him, say that he is not onely a proud and vainglorious creature, but also as malicious and spightfull, as the Goose is bashfull and modest: for so have some of them observed these properties and qualities in these birds. But I for my part like not to make such similitudes.
The first that killed Peacockes for to be served up as a dish at the table, was Hortensius the great Oratour, in that solemne feast which he made when he was consecrated high Priest. And M. Aufidius Lurco devised first to feed them fat: by which invention of his, he might dispend by yeerely revenue 60000 Sesterces. And this was about the time of the last Pirats war.
Of Cocks: how they be cut and made Capons. Also of a dunghill-cock that spake.
NEXT TO PEACOCKS, these birds about our house which are our sentinels by night, and whom Nature hath created to breake men of their sleepe, to awaken and call them up to their worke, have also a sense and understanding of glorie: they love (I say) to be praised, and are proud in their kind. Moreover, they are Astronomers, and know the course of the starres: they divide the day by their crowing, from three houres to three houres: when the sunne goeth to rest, they go to roost: and like sentinels that keepe the reliefe of the fourth watch in the camp, they call men up to their carefull labour and travaile: they will not suffer the sunne to rise and steale upon us, but they give us warning beforehand: by their crowing, they tell us that the day is comming; and they foretell their crowing likewise, by clapping their sides with their wings. They are commaunders and rulers of their owne kind, be they Hens, or other Cocks; and in what house soever they be, they will be masters and kings over them. This soveraigntie is gotten by plaine fight one with another; as if they knew, that naturally they had spurs (as weapons) given them about their heeles, to trie the quarrell: and many times the combat is so sharpe and hot, that they kill one another ere they give over. But if one of them happen to be conqueror, presently upon victorie he croweth, and himselfe soundeth the triumph. Hee that is beaten, makes no words, nor croweth at all, but hideth his head in silence; and yet nevertheles it goeth against his stomack to yeeld the gantlet and give the bucklers: hardly can he brook to be under another. And not only these cocks of game, but the very common sort of the dunghill, are as proud and high minded: ye shall see them to march stately, carrying their neck bolt upright, with a combe on their head like the crest of a souldiers helmet. And there is not a bird besides himselfe, that so often looketh aloft to the sun and skie: and then up goeth the taile withall, which he beareth on high, turning backward again on the top like a hook. And hereupon it is, that marching thus proudly as they doe, the very Lions (which of all wild beasts be most courageous) stand in feare and awe of them, and will not abide the sight of them.
Now of these Cocks, some of them are made for nothing els but war and fighting, and never are they well but in quarrels, brawls, and fraies; and these be cocks of the kind: and the countries from whence they come, are grown into name and be much renowmed for their breed: as namely, Rhodus and Tenagra, in the first and highest degree. In a second ranke and place, be those of Melos and Chalcis. Unto these birds (for their worth and dignitie) the purple robe at Rome, and all magistrates of state, disdaine not to give honour. These be they that by their tripudium solistinum, [i. their heartie feeding] observed by the pullitiers, shew good successe. These rule our great rulers every day: and there is not a mighty L. of1 state of Rome, that dare open or shut the dore of his house, before he knoweth the good pleasure of these fouls: and that which more is, the soveraigne magistrate in his majestie of the Romane Empire, with the regall ensigns of rods and axes caried before him, neither setteth forward nor reculeth backe, without direction from these birds: they give order to whole armies to advance forth to battell: they again command them to stay and keepe within the campe. These were they that gave the signall, and foretold the issue of all those famous foughten fields, whereby we have atchieved all our victories throughout the whole world: and in one word, these birds command those great commaunders of all nations upon the earth: as acceptable to the gods in sacrifice with their smal fibres and filaments of their inwards, as the greatest and fattest oxen that are killed for sacrifice. Over and besides, their crowing out of order, too soone before their houre, or too late, and namely in the evening, portendeth also and presageth somewhat by it selfe. For well knowne it is, that by their crowing at one time all night long, they fore-signified to the Bœotians, that noble victorie of theirs atchieved over the Lacedæmonians. For this interpretation and conjecture was given thereupon of a fortunate day, because that bird never croweth if he be beaten or overcome. If they be once carved and made capons, they crow no more. And this feat is practised upon them two manner of waies: namely, either by burning their loynes toward their kidneys with a red hot yron, or else by cauterizing their legges beneath, and their spurres, and then presently applying a plaister unto the exulcerate and blistered place, made of potters white clay or chalkie earth. And beeing thus served, they will sooner feed and be fat. At Pergamus, everie yeere there is a solemne shew exhibited openly to the people, of Cock-fighting, as if sword-fencers were brought within the lists to fight at outterance. We find in record among our Annales, that within the territorie of Ariminum, in that yeare when Marcus Lepidus and Quintus Catulus were Consuls, there was a dung-hill cocke did speake: and it was about a ferme-house in the countrey belonging to one Galerius. But this happened never but once, for ought that I could ever heare or learne.
Of Geese: and who first eat the Goose liver. Also of the leafe of a Goose of Comagena.
THE GOOSE likewise is very vigilant and watchfull. Witnesse the Capitoll of Rome, which by the meanes of Geese was defended and saved: whereas at the same time, through the default of dogs, (who should have given warning) all had like to have been lost. And therfore the first thing that the Censors doe by vertue of their office, is to take order for the Geese of the Capitoll, and to appoint some one man of purpose to see unto them that they have meat ynough. Moreover, they are said to be given much to love: For at Argos there was a Goose that was wonderously enamoured of a faire boy named Olenus: as also of a Damosell, whose name was Glauce, who used to play on the Lute before king Ptolomæus: and by report at the same time a Ram made court unto the said wench, and was in love with her. It may be credibly thought also, that this creature hath some sparkes (as it were) of reason, understanding, and learning. For Lacydes the Philosopher had one of them about him, which would never leave him night nor day, neither in the open street abroad, nor in private house at home: but would follow him even to his close and secret baines where he used to bath. But our countrymen and citizens of Rome (beleeve me) are wiser now adaies: who know forsooth how to make a daintie dish of their liver. For in those Geese that are kept up and crammed fat in coupe, the liver groweth to bee exceeding great: and when it is taken forth of the bellie, it waxeth bigger still, if it be steeped in milke and sweet mead together. Good cause therefore it is, that there be some question and controversie about the first inventor of this great good and singular commoditie to mankind: whether it were Scipio Metellus, a man who lately was called to be Consull: or M. Sestius who in those daies was by his birth a gentleman of Rome. But to leave that still undecided, this is for certaine knowne, that Messalinus Cotta, sonne to that Messala the Orator, found out the secret to broile and frie the flat broad feet of geese, and together with cockes combes to make a savorie dish of meat thereof betweene two platters. For surely I for my part will give every man his due and right: and will not defraud them of their singular praise and honour who have been benefactors to the kitchin, and proceeded maisters in cookerie. A marvellous thing of these birds, that a flocke of them should come all the way bare foot, from ¶ Terwin and Torney in France as farre as to Rome. Their order was, who had the conduct of them in this large voiage, to bring those forward that were wearie and lagged behind, into the vaward and forefront: and so the rest by a certaine thick united squadron, (which naturally they make they go together) drive the others before them. A second commoditie that Geese yeeld, (especially those that be white) is their plume and downe. For in some places their soft feathers are pluckt twice a yeare: and yet they carie feathers again, and be as well covered with plume as before: and evermore the neerer to the skin and flesh, the softer is the downe. But of all other, the finest and best is that which is brought out of Germanie. The Geese there, be all white; but lesse of bodie than from other parts: and there they be called Ganzæ. And in truth, a pound of such feathers be worth ¶¶ 5 deniers. Hereupon it is, that so many complaints are made of Colonels and Captaines over companies of auxiliarie souldiours for their disorders. For whereas they should keepe them together in a standing corps de guard, to watch and ward night and day: they license many times whole bands to straggle abroad, to hunt and chase Geese for their feathers and downe. And now forsooth the world is growne to be so delicate and daintie, that not onely our fine smooth dames, but also our men, cannot take their repose and sleepe without this ware, but complaine of a paine in their neckes & heads, unlesse they may lay them upon bolsters and pillowes of goose feathers, and their soft downe.
Now to that part of Syria called Comagena, we are beholden for another proper invention of theirs. They take me the leafe and grease of Geese and Cinamon together, which they put into a brazen pot, and cover it all over with good store of snow, wherein they let it lie in steepe, well infused in this cold humor, to use in that notable composition and sweet ointment, which of that countrey is called Comagenum.
Of the Geese kind are the Birganders named Chelanopeces: and (than which there is not a daintier dish knowne in England) the Chenerotes, lesse than wild Geese.
As for the Fesant Bustards, they have a trim shining brightnesse that becommeth and graceth them exceeding well in their perfect and absolute blacke hew: and their eie-browes painted red as it were with deepe Scarlet.
Another kind there is of them, bigger than Vultures, but in a feather and colour much resembling them. And there is not a Foule (setting the Ostrich aside) that poiseth and weigheth more heavie than they. For they grow to that bignes, that a man can hardly lift them from the ground. These breed in the Alpes and the North countries. If they bee mued up and kept in a pen, they loose their pleasant tast, and are no good meat: nay, they grow so sullen and selfe-willed, that they will die with holding their breath. Next to these are those which in Spaine they cal the Slow-birds, and in Greece Otides: but their meat is naught: for the marrow within their bones, if it be let run out, hath such a stinking smell, that a man cannot abide it, but shall be readie to vomite.
Of Cranes, Storkes, Swans, Quailes, the Glotis, and strange birds of other countries.
THE NATION of the pretie Pigmies enjoy a truce and cessation from armes, every yeare (as we have said before2) when the Cranes, who use to wage warre with them, be once departed and come into our countries. And verily, if a man consider well how far it is from hence to the Levant sea, it is a mightie great journey that they take, and their flight exceeding long. They put not themselves in their journey, nor set forward without a counsell called before, and a generall consent. They flie aloft, because they would have a better prospect to see before them: and for this purpose a captain they chuse to conduct them, whom the rest follow. In the rereward behind there be certaine of them set and disposed to give signall by their manner of crie, for to raunge orderly in rankes, and keepe close together in array: and this they doe by turnes each one in his course. They maintaine a set watch all the night long, and have their sentinels. These stand upon one foot, and hold a little stone within the other, which by falling from it, if they should chaunce to sleepe, might awaken them, and reprove them for their negligence. Whiles these watch, all the rest sleep, couching their heads under their wings: and one while they rest upon the one foot, and otherwhiles they shift to the other. The captain beareth up his head aloft into the aire, and giveth signall to the rest what is to be done. These Cranes if they be made tame and gentle, are very playfull and wanton birds: and they will one by one dance (as it were) and run the round with their long shankes staulking full untowardly. This is for certain known, that when they mind to take a flight over the sea Pontus, they will flie directly at the first to the narrow streights of the said sea, lying between the two capes Criu-Metophon and Carambis, and then presently they ballaise themselves with stones in their feet, and sand in their throats, that they flie more steadie and endure the wind. When they be halfe way over, down they fling those stones: but when they are come to the continent, the sand also they disgorge out of their craw.
Cornelius Nepos, who died in the daies of Augustus Cæsar Emperour, in that chapter where he wrote, That a little before his time men began to feed and cram Blackbirds and Thrushes in coupes, saith moreover, That in his daies Storkes were holden for a better dish at the bourd than Cranes. And yet see, how in our age now, no man will touch a Storke if it bee set before him upon the bourd: but every one is readie to reach unto the Crane, and no dish is in more request. From whence these Storkes should come, or whether they go againe, is not yet knowne. No doubt, from farre remote countries they visite us, and in the same manner as the Cranes do: only this is the difference, that the Cranes are our guests in Winter, and the Storkes in Summer. When they bee minded to depart out of our coasts, they assemble all together in one certaine place appointed: there is not one left out nor absent of their owne kind, unlesse it be some that are not at libertie, but captive or in bondage. Thus (as if it had been published before by proclamation) they rise all in one entire companie, and away they flie. And albeit well knowne it might be afore, that they were upon their remove and departure, yet was there never any man (watched he never so well) that could perceive them in their flight: neither do wee at any time see when they are comming to us, before wee know that they bee alreadie come. The reason is, because they doe the one and the other alwaies by night. And notwithstanding that they flie too and fro from place to place, and make but one flight of it, yet are they supposed never to have arrived at any coast but in the night. There is a place in the open plaines and champion countrey of Asia, called Pithonos-Come: where (by report) they assemble all together, and being met, keepe a jangling one with another: but in the end, looke which of them lagged behind and came tardie, him they teare in peeces, and then they depart. This also hath been noted, that after the Ides of August they be not lightly seene there.
Some affirme constantly, that Storkes have no tongues. But so highly regarded they are for slaying of Serpents, that in Thessalie it is accounted a capitall crime to kill a Storke, and by law he is punished as a Fellon in the case of manslaughter.
After the same manner wild Geese and Swans do sort together, when they be passengers from countrey to countrey: but all these are seene when they flie. They make way forcibly in a pointed squadron, like as it were the stemme of a foist at sea, armed with a sharp beakehead (for by this meanes they breake and cut the aire better, than if they drave it before with a streight, even, and square front.) And thus wedge-wise by little and little they spread broader and broader behind, and beare a great length besides with them: by which meanes also they gather more wind to heave them up and set them forward. In this their flight they rest their heads upon the former: and ever as any one that leadeth the way is wearie with bearing his head, hee retireth behind to ease himselfe upon him that flieth next before. Storkes keepe one nest still from yeare to yeare, and never chaunge: and of this kind nature they are, that the yong will keepe and feed their parents when they be old, as they themselves were by them nourished in the beginning.
Some say that the Swans sing lamentably a little before their death, but untruly, I suppose: for experience in many hath shewed the contrarie. Howbeit, these foules use to eat and devour one another.
But since wee are entred into this discourse of those foules that make voiages by whole flocks over sea and land to see straunge countries, I cannot put off to speake of lesser birds also, which are of the like nature. For those beforenamed may seeme in some sort to bee induced to such great travell, so big they are of bodie, and so strong withall. As touching Quailes therefore, they alwaies come before the Cranes depart. A little bird it is, and whiles she is among us here, mounteth not aloft in the aire, but rather flieth below neere the ground. The manner of their flying is like the former, in troupes: but not without some daunger of the sailers when the approch neer to land. For oftentimes they settle in great number upon their sailes, and there perch; which they doe evermore in the night, and with their poise beare downe barkes and small vessels, and finally sinke them. These Quailes have their set gists, to wit, ordinarie resting and baiting places. When the Southwind bloweth, they never flie: for why? it is a moist, heavy, and cloggie wind, and that they know well ynough. And yet they willingly chuse a gale whensoever they flie, by reason that their bodies are too weightie (in comparison of their wings) to beare them up: and besides, their strength is but small. And hereupon it is, that as they flie, they seeme by their manner of crie to complaine, as though they flew with paine. Commonly therefore they chuse a Northerne wind to flie with: and they have one mighty great Quaile called Ortygometra, to lead the way and conduct them, as their captaine. The formost of them, as hee approcheth neere to land, paieth toll for the rest unto the hawke, who presently for his welcome preieth upon him. Whensoever at any time they are upon their remoove and departure out of these parts, they persuade other birds to beare them companie: and by their inducements, there goe in their traine the Glottis, ¶¶¶ Otis, and the Cychramus. As for the Glottis, he putteth forth a long tongue, whereupon he hath that name. This bird is very forward at the first setting out (as being desirous to be a traveller, to see farre countries, and to change the aire:) and the first daies journey he undertaketh with pleasure: but soone finding the tediousnesse and paines in flying, he repents that ever he enterprised the voiage. To go backe againe without companie, he is ashamed: and to come lag behind he is as loth: howbeit, for that day he holdeth out so so, and never goeth farther: for at the next resting place that they come unto, hee faire leaveth the companie and staieth there; where lightly he meeteth with such another as himselfe, who the yeare before was left behind. And thus they doe from time to time, yeere by yeere. As for the Cychramus, he is more staied and resolute to endure the travell: he maketh hast and hath an earnest longing to come into those parts which he so much desireth: and therfore in the night season he is as good as a trumpet to awake the rest, & put them in mind of their journey. The Otis is a bird lesse than the Like-Owle, bigger than the Howlet, having two plumed eares standing up aloft, whereupon he tooke that name Otis in Greeke. But in Latine some have called him Asio. This bird besides, hath certain qualities by her selfe, & is skilful to counterfet and make gestures like a flattering parasite: she can foot it, turne and trip, mount and capre, as if she were a professed dauncer. Easie she is to bee taken like as the Howlet, for whiles she is amused and looking wistly upon one that goeth about her, another commeth behind and soone catcheth her. But to return unto our Quailes aforesaid. If a contrarie wind should chaunce to arise and begin to drive against them, and hinder their flight: to prevent this inconvenience, they be well provided. For they flie well ballaised either with small weightie stones within their feet, or else with sand stuffed in their craw. The seed or graine of the white Elebore (a very poyson) they love passing well, and it is their best meat. But hereupon it is, that they are not served up as a dish to the table. Moreover, they are wont to fome and slaver at the mouth, by reason of the falling sicknesse, unto which they only of all other creatures, but man againe, are subject.
Of Swallowes, Ousles, or Merles, Thrushes, Stares or Sterlings, Turtles, and Stockdoves.
THE SWALLOWS likewise (the birds alone of all those that have not crooked claws, which feed upon flesh) are gone from us all Winter time. Howbeit, they depart not far off, but seeke only the Sunne-shine nowkes, betweene hils neere at hand, and follow the warmth. Where many times they are found naked, and without feathers altogether, as if they had moulted. It is said, that they will never build their neasts under any house in Thebes: because that cittie had beene many times forced and taken by the enemie. Neither in Bizia, a cittie of Thrace, by reason of those detestable parts practised by Tæreus there. Cæcina of Volaterræ, a gentleman of Rome by calling (Governour and maister of the coaches and coach-horses that used to run for the prise and best game) was woont to bring with him into the citie, a number of these Swallowes, which he had gotten in diverse places where hee came, out of his friends houses wherin they were bred. And when the horses which he had in charge obtained at any time victorie in the race, hee would take the birds, and paint them with that colour which betokened victorie, and so with that liverie (as it were) let them flie to his friends, for to carrie tidings unto them of the good successe which hee had obtained: knowing right well, that every one would home to the same neast from whence they came. And thus in small space could hee enforme his consorts and well-willers of his goodspeed. Also Fabius Pictor reporteth in his Annales, That when a fort (which the Romane garrison held) was besieged by the Ligustines; there was a shee Swallow newly taken out of her neast within that fort, from her little ones as she sat over them, and brought to him with this watch-word, That by a linnen thred tied to her foot in steed of a letter, hee should advertise them within the fort, by so many knots tied in the said thred, as there would daies passe before aid could come from him unto them, to the end that they also might be readie upon that day to sallie forth.
Ousles, Throstles, Blackbirds, and Stares, after the same manner depart aside from us, but goe not farre. Howbeit, these cast not their feathers, nor lie altogether hidden: but are seene oftentimes in places, from whence they fetch meat to serve them in the Winter. And therefore it is, that Black birds are common in Germanie, and specially in Winter time.
The Turtle more properly and truly is said to hide her selfe, and to shed her plume and moult.
Stock-doves likewise depart from us, but whether they goe, no man knoweth.
As touching Sterlings, it is the propertie of the whole kind of them to flie by troupes, and in their flight to gather round into a ring or ball, whiles every one of them hath a desire to bee in the middest.
Of all birds, the Swallow alone flieth bias, and windeth in and out in his flight: hee is most swift of wing, and flieth with ease: and therefore not so readie to bee surprised and taken by other birds. To conclude, he never feedeth but flying, and so doth no other bird besides.
What birds continue with us all the yeare long: which be halfe yeares birds, and which be but for three moneths.
GREAT DIFFERENCE there is in the seasons and times of birds. Some abide the whole yeare, as house-Doves: others halfe the yere, as Swallowes: and some againe but a quarter, as Blackbirds and Turtle doves. And there be again that are gone so soone as they have hatched and trained their young abroad into the open aire. Such bee the Hu-holes, and Houpes [or Lapwings as some thinke.]
Strange stories of birds .
WRITERS there be who affirme, That every yeare certaine birds come flying out of Æthyopia to Ilium, and there, about the tombe or sepulchre of Memnon, skirmish and fight a battell. For which cause men call them Memnonides. And Cremutius avoucheth upon his owne knowledge, That every fift yeare the same birds do the like in Æthyopia, even before the roiall palace sometime of the said king Memnon.
Semblably, the birds named Maleagrides, doe fight a field in Bœotia. Now are these Meleagrides a kind of Turkey-cockes, and hens of Affricke, having a bunch on their backe, and bespotted with feathers of sundrie colours. Of all strange birds, comming out of forraine parts, these are last received and admitted to serve the table, by reason of a certaine harsh and unpleasant strong tast that they have. But it is the monument and tombe of Meleager which have given them that name and credite which they have.
Of birds surnamed Seleucides.
THE BIRDS called Seleucides, come to succour the inhabitants of the mountaine Casius, against the Locusts. For when they make great wast in their corne and other fruits, Iupiter at the instant praiers and supplications of the people, sendeth these foules among them to destroy the said Locusts. But from whence they come, or whether they goe againe, no man knoweth: for never are they seene but upon this occasion, namely, when there is such need of their helpe.
Of the bird Ibis.
THE ÆGYPTIANS likewise have recourse in their praiers and invocations to their birds named Ibis, what time as they be troubled and annoied with serpents comming among them. And in like case the Eleans seeke unto their god Myiagros, for to be rid of a multitude of flies which pester them so, that they breed a pestilence among them. But looke upon what day they find that Idoll appeased and pacified by their sacrifice, all the flies die forthwith.
What birds they be, which will not abide some places: also which be they that change colour and voice: and then of the Nightingale.
BUT THAT which wee should have said when wee wrote of the departure and going aside of birds: the Howlets also are reported to lie hidden some few daies. Moreover, this is known for a truth, That in the Island Candie there be none at all of them: and in case that any one be thither brought, it will die there. A wonderfull thing, that Nature should make difference of birds and other creatures in that respect. But sure it is, she hath not brought forth all creatures in all places, but hath priviledged this countrey more than that: and denied that to one which she hath given unto another. And thus hath shee dealt not onely by fruits of the earth, trees, and plants, but also by living creatures. That in some parts this or that should not grow or breed, is a thing commonly seene & knowne; but, that those things should die so soon as they are brought thither, is very straunge and wonderfull. What should that bee which is so contrarie unto one kind and no more, as that it will not suffer it to live? What envie is this of Nature, thus to hinder the breeding or life of any creature? or why should birds be restrained within any limits and bounds in the whole earth? And yet see! In all the Island of Rhodes a man shall not find one Airie of Ægles. In that tract of Italie beyond the Po, and neere unto the Alpes, there is a lake which they call there Larius; the place about it is right pleasant and delectable, enriched with goodly trees that beare fruit, and faire fields for pasturage: and yet a man shall never see any Storke to come thither, no nor within eight miles of it. And yet in the neighbor quarters of the § Insubrians neere adjoining, ye shall have infinite and innumerable flockes and flights of choughes and jack-dawes: the veriest theeves, nay the onely theeves of all other birds, especially for silver and gold, that it is a wonder to see what meanes they will make to steale and filtch it. Men say that in the territory of Tarentum there be no wood-pecks or tree-jobbers. It is but of late daies, since that from the mountaine Apennine toward the cittie of Rome there have been seene Pyannets with long tailes, partie coloured and flecked, whereupon they bee called Variæ: and yet such are not common, but very geason to be found. Their propertie is to be bald every year, what time as men sow rapes or navewes. The Partridges in the territory of Attica, flie not over into the marches of Bœotia. And there is not a bird within the compasse of the sea Pontus, and namely, in the Island wherein Achilles was buried, that will passe beyond the temple consecrated unto him. In the territory of Fidenæ neere to Rome, Storkes build no neasts, neither shall a man find a yong Storke there. But into the parts about Volaterræ, there is not a yeare but one shall see a world of Stockdoves flying from beyond sea. At Rome yee shall not have a flie or dog that will enter into the chappell of Hercules standing inthe beast-market. In a word, I could alleadge many such like examples; which of purpose I passe over, because I would not be tedious in my discourses: seeing that Theophrastus reporteth, how all the Doves, Peacockes, and Ravens which are in Asia, have been brought thither from other parts: like as all the Frogs in Cyrenaica, which doe crie, whereas their owne be mute all.
As for singing birds, this is another strange and wonderous thing observed in them. For at certain times of the year they change their colour in feathers, and alter their voice in singing: and that in such sort, as of a suddaine a man would say they were other birds. A thing that happeneth not to the great foules abovesaid, save only unto Cranes: for they with age waxe black. And to begin with the Merle or Blackbird, which naturally is blacke, he turneth to be reddish. In summer he singeth cleare and tunably, in winter he stutteth and stammereth: but about the sun-stead in December, hee is mute and dumbe altogether. After they bee once, a yeare old, I meane the cockes or males onely of that kind, their bils turne to be white like yvorie. The Throstles or Mavisses all Summer be painted about the necke with sundry colours, but in Winter they be all of a colour.
The Nightingale for fifteene daies and nights together, never giveth over but chaunteth continually, namely, at that time as the trees begin to put out their leaves thicke. And surely this bird is not to be set in the last place of those that deserve admiration: for is it not a woonder that so lowd and cleere a voice should come from so little a bodie? Is it not as straunge that shee should hold her wind so long, and continue with it as shee doth? Moreover, shee alone in her song keepeth time and measure truely; shee riseth and falleth in her note just with the rules of musicke and perfect harmonie: for one while, in one entire breath she draweth out her tune at length treatable; another while shee quavereth, and goeth away as fast in her running points: sometime she maketh stops and short cuts in her notes, another time shee gathereth in her wind and singeth descant between the plaine song: she fetcheth her breath againe, and then you shall have her in her catches and divisions: anon all on a sodaine, before a man would think it, she drowneth her voice, that one can scarce heare her: now and then she seemeth to record to her selfe; and then shee breaketh out to sing voluntarie. In summe, she varieth and altereth her voice to all keyes: one while, full of her largs, longs, briefes, semibriefes, and minims; another while in her crotchets, quavers, semiquavers, and double semiquavers: for at one time you shall heare her voice full and lowd, another time as low; and anon shrill and on high: thicke and short when she list; drawne out at leisure againe when she is disposed: and then (if shee be so pleased) she riseth & mounteth up aloft, as it were with a wind-organ. Thus she altereth from one to another, and singeth all parts, the Treble, the Meane, and the Base. To conclude, there is not a pipe or instrument againe in the world (devised with all the Art and cunning of man so exquisitely as possibly might be) that can affourd more musicke than this pretie bird doth out of that little throat of hers. So as no doubt there was fore-signified most excellent and melodious musicke, by an excellent presage of a nightingale which setled upon the mouth of Stesichorus the Poët, and there sung full sweetly: who afterwards prooved to be one of the most rare and admirable musitians that ever was. And that no man should make a doubt that there is great Art and cunning herein, doe but marke, how there is not one Nightingale but hath many notes and tunes. Againe, all of them have not the same, but every one a speciall kind of musick by her selfe: nay, they strive who can do best, and one laboureth to excel another in varietie of song and long continuance: yea and evident it is, that they contend in good earnest with all their will and power: for oftentimes she that hath the worse and is not able to hold out with another, dieth for it, and sooner giveth she up her vitall breath, than giveth over her song. Ye shall have the young Nightingales studie and meditate how to sing, by themselves: yee shall have them listen attentively to the old birds when they sing, and to take out lessons as it were from them, whom they would seem to imitate staffe by staffe. The scholler, when shee hath given good eare unto her mistresse, presently rehearseth what she hath heard; and both of them keep silence for a time in their turnes. A man shall evidently perceive when the young bird hath learned well, and when againe it must be taught how to correct and amend wherein it did amisse: yea and how the teacher will seeme to reproove and find a fault. No marveile therefore if one of these Nightingales carrie the price (in the market) of a bondslave; yea and a higher too, than a man might in old time have bought a good page and harnesse-bearer. I my selfe have knowne one of them (mary it was white, which was a rare thing and not commonly seene) to have been sold for 6000 Sesterces, for to be given as a present unto the Empresse Agrippina, wife of Claudius Cæsar late Emperour of Rome. And now of late we have known many of them taught to begin to sing, only when a man would have them: and keepe there responds in course after others, in good concent and harmonie. As also there have been found men, who by a devise of a reed or cane had out of the water, put crosse overthwart their mouth, and by putting their tongue into an hole made of purpose in it, and blowing withall, could counterfeit the Nightingale so perfectly, that one might not discern and distinguish the one from the other. Well, these little Nightingales, so great chaunters as they be, so cunning and full of their conceits, after fifteen daies begin to abate and slake their musicke; yet so, as a man cannot say, they were either wearie, or satisfied with singing: for soone after, when the weather groweth hotter, their voice is cleane altered: for neither are they musicall and tuneable in their measures with varietie as before, but onely sing plaine-song and keepe them to one tune. And more than so, they chaunge their colour in processe of time: and last of all, when winter comes, be no more seene. Tongued they are not like other birds, with a thin tip before. They begin to breed with the first, in the prime of the spring, and commonly lay six egges.
The Gnatsnapper, Ficedula, a bird somewhat like unto the Nightingale, doth otherwise: for at one time, it chaungeth both colour, forme, and song. They have not that name Ficedulæ properly but in the Autumne, as one would say, figge-feeders: for when that season is once past, they be called Melancoryphi, i. Black-heads.
In like sort, the bird which is named Erithacus, [i. Robin, or Redbreast] in winter; the same is Phœnicurus, [i. Red-taile] all summer long.
The Houpe or Upupa (as Æschylus the Poët saith) chaungeth also her hew, voice, and shape. This is a §§ nastie and filthie bird otherwise, both in the manner of feeding, and also in nestling; but a goodly faire crest or combe it hath, that will easily fold and be plaited: for one while shee will draw it in, another while set it stiffe upright along the head.
As for the bird Oenanthe, it also for certaine daies lyeth close and unseen; and namely, when the Dog-starre ariseth, it is hidden: but after the occultation thereof, commeth abroad & sheweth her selfe: a straunge thing, that in those daies it should doe both. Last of all, the §§§ Witwall or Lariot, which is all over yellow, being not seen all winter time, appeareth about the sunsteeds.
Of the Merles.
ABOUT CYLLENE in Arcadia, and no where els, ye shall find white Merles or Ousles. And Ibis, about Pelusium onely in Ægypt, is blacke; in all places else of Ægypt, white.
The kind of birds breeding and hatching.
ALL SINGING BIRDS, save onely those that are excepted before, lightly breed not nor lay their egges before the spring Æquinoctiall in mid-March, or after the Autumnall, in mid-September. And those that they hatch before the Sunstead, [i. mid-Iune] hardly come to any perfection: but after that time, they doe well enough and live.
Of the Halcyones, or Kings-fishers: and the daies good for navigation which they shew. Of the Sea-guls and Cormorants
AND IN THIS REGARD especially, namely for breeding after the summer Sunsteed, the Halcyones are of great name and much marked. The very seas, and they that saile thereupon, know well when they sit and breed. This very bird so notable, is little bigger than a sparrow: for the more part of her pennage, blew, intermingled yet among with white and purple feathers, having a thin small neck and long withall. There is a second kind of them breeding about the sea side, differing both in quantitie and also in voice; for it singeth not as the former do which are lesser: for they haunt rivers, and sing among the flagges and reeds. It is a very great chaunce to see one of these Halcyones, and never are they seene but about the setting of the starre Virgiliæ, [i. the Brood-hen:] or else neere mid-summer or mid-winter: for otherwhiles they will flie about a ship, but soone are they gone againe and hidden. They lay and sit about mid-winter when daies be shortest: and the time whiles they are broodie, is called the Halcyon daies: for during that season, the sea is calme and navigable, especially in the coast of Sicilie. In other ports also the sea is not so boisterous, but more quiet than at other times: but surely the Sicilian sea is very gentle, both in the streights and also in the open Ocean. Now about seven daies before mid-winter, that is to say, in the beginning of December, they build; and within as many after, they have hatched. Their nests are wonderously made, in fashion of a round bal: the mouth or entrie thereof standeth somewhat out, and is very narrow, much like unto great spunges. A man cannot cut and pierce their nest, with sword or hatchet; but break they wil with some strong knocke, like as the drie fome of the sea: and no man could ever find of what they be made. Some thinke they are framed of the sharpe pointed prickes of some fishes, for of fish these birds live. They come up also into fresh rivers within-land: and there doe lay ordinarily five egges.
As touching the Guls or Sea-cobs, they build in rockes: and the Cormorants both in them, and also in trees. They usually lay foure egges apeece. The Guls in summer time, but the Cormorants in the beginning of the spring.
The industrie and wit of birds in building their nests. Of the Swallow, the Argatilis, Cinnamologi, and Partridges.
The Architecture and building of the Halcyones nest, hath put me in mind of other birds dexteritie in that behalfe: and surely in no one thing is the wit of sillie birds more admirable. The Swallows frame their nests of clay and earth, but they strengthen and make them fast with straw. In case at any time they cannot meet with soft and tough clay, for want thereof they drench and wet their feathers with good store of water, and then bestrew them over with dust. Now when they have made and trimmed their bare nest, they floore it in the bottom within, and dresse it all over with downe feathers or fine floxe, as well to keepe their egges warme, as also that their young birds should lie soft. In feeding of their little ones, they keepe a very good order and even hand, giving them their pittance and allowance by course one after another. Notable is their care in keeping them neat and cleane; for ever as they meut, they turne the excrements out of the nest: but be they once growne to any strength and bignesse, they teach them to turne about and lay their tailes without.
Another kind there is of Swallowes, that keepe in the countrey villages and the fields, which seldome nestle under mens houses: and they likewise build of the same matter as the former do, namely, of clay and straw, but after another fashion: for their nests are made turning all upward, with the hole or mouth that leadeth unto it, stretched out in length streight and narrow, but the capacitie within is verie large; in such sort, as it is a wonder to see how provident and skilful they should be to frame them in this manner, so handsome and convenient to cover their yong ones; so soft againe, for their couch and bed. In the mouth of Nilus neare Heraclea in Ægypt, there is a mightie banke or causey raised onely of a continuall ranke and course of Swallows nests, piled one upon and by another thicke, for the length almost of halfe a quarter of a mile; which is so firme and strong, that being opposed against the inundations of Nilus, it is able to breake the force of that river when it swelleth, and is it selfe inexpugnable: a peece of work that no man is able to turne his hand unto. In the same Ægypt neere unto the town Coptos, there is an Iland consecrated unto the goddesse Isis, which every yeere these Swallowes doe rampier and fortifie, for feare least the same Nilus should eat the bankes thereof and breake over into it. In the beginning of the spring, for three nights togither, they bring to the cape of that Iland, straw, chaffe, and such like stuffe, to strengthen the front thereof: and for the time, they plie their businesse so hard, that for certaine it is knowne, many of them have died with taking such paines and moiling about this worke. And verily every yeere they goe as daily to this taske againe, as the spring is sure to come about: and they faile not, no more than souldiers that by vertue of their militarie oth and obligation, goe forth to service and warfare.
A third sort there is of these Swallowes or Martinets, which hollow the bankes of rivers, and so nestle within between. The young birds of these Martins, if they be burnt into ashes, are a singular and soveraign remedie for the deadly squinancie,3 and helpe many other diseases of mans bodie. These build not at all, but if they perceive that the river Nilus when it swelleth, will rise as high as their holes, they are gone many daies before.
There be certaine birds of the kind of Parræ, which of drie mosse make a nest, resembling so perfectly a round ball, that unneth or hardly a man can see which way they should goe in. And another there is called Argatilis, which contriveth her nest after the same forme, but it is of hurds and flaxe.
There is a kind of Woodpecker, maketh a nest in manner of a cup or goblet, and hangeth it at a twig upon the uppermost boughes and braunches of a tree, that no four-footed beast should reach it. And as for the birds called Galguli, men say for a truth, that they take their sleepe hanging all by their legges to some braunch, thinking by that meanes they are in more safetie. True it is indeed and commonly knowne, that all these birds in great forecast and providence, chuse some crosse boughes instead of rafters, to support and beare up their nests; and then to save them from the raine, either vaut them over with an arched roofe, or else cover them close and thicke with leaves.
A bird there is in Arabia called Cinnamologus, which with the twigs and braunches of the Cinamon tree buildeth her nest. The inhabitants of that countrey being ware thereof, shake the same downe by shooting arrowes headed with lead, for to make a commoditie thereby. In Scythia, there is a bird of the bignesse of an Otis, which commonly layeth two egges, & when they are lapped within a hares skin, alwaies hangeth them upon the top of tree boughes. The Pyannets, when they perceive (by a watching eye that they have) that a man hath spied their nest, presently build in another place; and remoove their egges thither. Now for those birds which have no hooked nailes, how they should translate their egges from one place to another, considering their feet are not made to claspe them, it is a wonderfull thing, and reported after a straunge manner: for they lay a sticke over two egges, and souder it fast to them with a certaine viscositie which commeth forth of their owne guts when they meut: which done, they put their necks under the sticke betweene both egges, which hanging equally poised of either side, they carrie easily whither they would.
No lesse industrious are they that make their nests in the ground, as beeing not able to flie into the aire by reason of their weightie bodies. Among which, there is one called Merops, that useth to feed her parents, lying hidden within the earth. The inside of her feathers in the wing is pale, the outside blew; and yet those above about their necke, are somewhat red. She maketh her nest in an hole six foot deepe within the ground. Againe, the Partridges doe so fortifie and empale their nests with thornes and twigges of shrubs and bushes, that they be sufficiently fensed against the invasion of wild beasts. They cover their egges with a soft carpet or hilling as it were of fine dust: neither doe they sit where they laid them first, nor yet in a place which they suspect to bee much frequented with resort of passengers, but convey them to some other place. The hennes verily of this kind, hide themselves from their males the cockes; for so leacherous they be and given to intemperate lust, that they would squash their egges, because they should not be amused and occupied about sitting. Then, for want of the females, the males goe togither by the eares: and (as they say) he that is overcome, suffereth himselfe to be troden like an hen. Trogus verily reporteth the very same of the Quailes; yea and of dunghill cockes otherwhiles. Hee saith moreover, that tame Partridges use to tread the wild: also that those which are new taken or beaten, be troden of others indifferently one with another. This libidinous heat of theirs is such, and maketh them so quarrelsome, that oftentimes they are taken by the meanes. For when the Fouler commeth with his pipe or call (resembling the female) to allure and traine them forth, out goeth the captaine of the whole flocke directly against him: and when he is caught, another followeth after, and so the rest one after another, one by one. In like manner, they use to take the females, at what time as they seeke the male to tread them: for then, foorth they go against the Foulers chanterell or watch which calleth them out, that with their quarrelling and brawling which they make, they might chace and drive it away. In summe, there is not to bee found in any other living creature, the like againe for lust and leacherie in the act of generation. If the hens doe but stand directly overagainst the cocks, the very wind and aire that passeth from them, will cause them to conceive as well as if they were troden. For so hot they be in that season, that they gape again for aire, and hang the tongue out of their heads. And if the males do but flie over them, with the very breath and aire that commeth from them, they will be ready to conceive: yea and many times, if they doe but heare their call. And that which more is, so leacherous they are, that setting aside the naturall affection and love to their yong covie, when they are broodie, (and in which regard they steale from the cock, & sit apart in some secret and blind corner) yet if they hear once the Foulers chanterell comming toward the male, and that he doth call, presently they will leave the nest and suffer the egs to chill, and for very jealousie crie again and call back the males, and offer themselves to be troden, for feare they would goe to others. Nay more than that, their furie and rage that way many times is such, that otherwhiles in this blind fit and fearfull lust, not knowing where they are nor what they doe, they will light and settle upon the verie head of the Fouler. Also, if he chaunce to approach the nest of the brood-hen, she will run forth and be about his feet, she will counterfeit that shee is verie heavie and cannot scarse goe, that she is weake and enfeeblished: and either in her running, or short flight that shee taketh, she will catch a fall, and make semblance as if she had broken a legge or a wing: then will she run out againe another way, and when he is readie to take her up, yet will she shift away and escape, and so put him besides his hope. And all this doth she to amuse the Fouler after her, untill she have trained him a contrarie way from the covey. Now by that time that shee is past that feare, and freed of the motherly care she had of her young ones, then will shee get into the furrow of some land, lie along on her backe, catch a clot of earth up with her feet, and therewith hide her whole bodie, and so save both her selfe and her couvey. To conclude, Partridges (by report) live sixteene yeeres.
NEXT AFTER PARTRIDGES, the nature of Doves would be considered, since that they have in a manner the same qualities in that respect: howbeit, they bee passing chast, and neither male nor female chaunge their make, but keepe togither one true unto the other. They live (I say) as coupled by the bond of marriage: never play they false one by the other, but keep home still, and never visit the holes of others. They abandon not their owne nests, unlesse they be in state of single life or widdowhead by the death of their fellow. The females are verie meeke and patient: they will endure and abide their emperious males, notwithstanding otherwhiles they be very churlish unto them, offering them wrong and hard measure; so jealous be they of the hennes, and suspicious, though without any cause and occasion given: for passing chast and continent by nature they are. Then shall ye heare the cocks grumble in the throat, quarrell and complaine, and all to rate the hens: then shall ye see them pecke and job at them cruelly with their beakes; and yet soone after, by way of satisfaction and to make amends againe for their curst usage, they will fall to billing and kissing them lovingly, they will make court unto them and woo them kindly, they will turne round many times togither by way of flatterie, and as it were by praiers seeke unto them for their love. As well the male as the female be carefull of their young pigeons, and love them alike: nay ye shall have the cocke oftentimes to rebuke, yea chastise the hen, if she keepe not the nest well; or having been abroad, for comming no sooner home againe to her young. And yet, kind they be to them, when they are about to build, lay, and sit. A man shall see how readie they be, to helpe, to comfort and minister unto them unto them in this case. So soone as the egges be hatched, yee shall see them at the very first, spit into the mouthes of the young Pigeons salt brackish earth, which they have gathered in their throat, thereby to prepare their appetite to meat, and to season their stomacks against the time that they should eat. Doves and Turtles have this propertie, in their drinking not to hold up their bills between-whiles, and draw their necks backe, but to take a large draught at once, as horses and kine doe.
SOME AUTHORS we have, who affirme that Stockdoves live ordinarily thirtie yeeres, and some untill they be fortie yeeres old. In which time, they find no infirmitie nor discommoditie at all but only this, That their clawes be overgrowne, which is a signe of their age: howbeit they may be pared without daunger. They have all of them one and the same manner of tune in their singing; and commonly they make three rests in their song, besides the fa-burden in the end, which is a kind of grone. All winter they be silent: in spring, they are lowd enough, and the woods resound with them. Nigidius is of opinion, that if a man call unto a Stockdove within-house as she is sitting upon her egs, she will leave her nest, and come at the call. They doe lay after midsummer. These doves and Turtles live eight yeeres.
CONTRARIWISE, the Sparrow is but short lived, howbeit as leacherous as the best. The cocke Sparrow (by report) liveth but one yeare: the reason why men so thinke, is, because in the spring, there is not one of them found with a blacke bill, and yet in summer before, it began to be blacke. The Hens live somewhat longer. But to come againe to Doves, it is generally held, that they have a certaine sense and feeling of glorie: and a man would verily thinke, that they have a knowledge of their gay feathers, and how they are chaungeably coloured as a man looketh upon them and as they stand. Moreover, they seem to take a pride in their flying, whiles they keepe a clapping of their wings and cutting of the aire every way, as if they had a pleasure to be flying abroad. In which braverie of theirs, whiles they flap with their wings and keepe a glorious noise (which cannot be without the beating of their verie pinions togither) they are exposed to the Faulcon and other hawkes, as prisoners fast bound and tied: for otherwise if they would flie at libertie and ease, without keeping such adoe with their clapping, they were much more swift of wing, than the verie hawkes that prey upon them. But the hawke like a verie theefe, lieth hidden among the boughes and braunches of trees, marketh the Dove how hee fetcheth his flight and taketh his pleasure in the aire; and when he seeth his time (in all this glorie of his and the mids of his braverie) seizeth upon him and carieth him away.
Of the Kestrell.
TO PREVENT this daunger therefore, the Doves need to have with them the bird which is called Tinnunculus, i. a Kestrill, or Stannell: for she defendeth them, and (by a certaine naturall power that she hath) skareth and terrifieth all other hawkes: insomuch, as they cannot abide either to see her, or to heare her crie. Wherupon Doves above all others, love these birds. And (as men say) pigeons will not leave their owne dovecote to flie unto another, if in the foure corners thereof there be enterred four Kestrils abovesaid, in foure new earthen pots well nealed, and never used before. But others have used meanes to keepe pigeons in their dovehouse (for otherwise they be birds that love to be raunging and wandring abroad) namely, by slitting and cutting the joynts of their wings with some thin sharpe peece ofgold: for if you do not so, their wounds will fester and be dangerous. And in verie truth, these birds be soone seduced and trained away from their owne homes: and they have a cast with them to flatter and entise one another: they take a great delight to inveagle others, and to steale away some pigeons from their owne flockes, and evermore to come home better accompanied than they went foorth. Moreover, Doves have served for posts and courriers betweene, and been emploied in great affaires: and namely, at the siege of Modenna, Decimus Brutus sent out of the towne letters tyed to their feet, as farre as to the campe where the Consuls lay, and thereby acquainted them with newes, and in what estate they were within. What good then did the rampier and trench which Antonius cast before the towne? To what purpose served the streight siege, the narrow watch and ward that he kept? Wherefore served the river Po betweene, where all passages are stopped up as it were with net and toile, so long as Brutus had his posts to fly in the aire over all their heads? To be short, many men are growne now to cast a speciall affection and love to these birds: they build turrets above the tops of their houses for dovecotes. Nay they are come to this passe, that they can reckon up their pedigree and race, yea they can tell the verie places from whence this or that pigeon first came. And indeed one old example they follow of L. Axius a gentleman sometime of Rome, who before the civill warre with Pompey, sold every paire of pigeons for foure hundred deniers, as M. Varro doth report. True it is, that there goeth a great name of certaine countries where some of these pigeons are bred: for Campanie is voiced to yeeld the greatest and fairest bodied of all other places. To conclude, their manner of flying induceth and traineth me to thinke and write of the flight of other foules.
Of the gate and flight of birds.
ALL OTHER living creatures have one certaine manner of marching and going, according to their severall kind, unto which they keepe and alter not. Birds onely varie their course, whether they goe upon the ground or flie in the aire. Some walke their stations, as Crows and Choughs: others hop and skip, as Sparrows and Ousels: some run, as Partridges, Woodcocks, and Snites: others again cast out their feet before them, staulke and jet as they go, as Storks and Cranes. Now for flying, some spread their wings broad, stirring or shaking them but now & then, hanging and hovering with them all the while [as Kites:] others againe plie them as fast; but the ends only of their wings, or the utmost feathers are seen to move [as the Chaffinch.] Ye shall have some birds to stretch out their whole wings and sides, mooving them as they flie [as Ravens,] and others a man shall see in their flight to keepe them in, for the most part close [as the Woodpeckers.] Some of them are knowne to give one or two claps with their wings at first, and then glide smoothly away, as if they were caried and borne up with the aire [as Linnets,] and others are seene (as if they kept still the aire within their wings) to shoot up aloft & mount on high, to flie streight forward, and to fall down again flat [as Swallowes.] Ye would think and say that some were hurled out of a mans hand with violence [as the Partridge,] and others againe to fall down plumb from on high [as Larkes,] or els to leape and jumpe [as the Quailes.] Duckes, Mallards, and such like, spring presently from the ground up aloft, and suddainly mount into the skie, even out of the very water: which is the cause, that if they chance to fall into those pits wherein we take wild beasts, they alone will make good shift to get forth and escape. The Geires or Vulturs, and for the most part all weightie and heavie foules, cannot take their flight and flie, unlesse they fetch their run and biere before, or els rise from some steepe place with the vantage. And such are directed in the aire by their tailes. Some looke about them every way, others bend and turne their neckes in flying: and some flie with their prey within their tallons, and eat it as they flie. Most birds crie and sing as they flie, yet some there bee contrariwise, that in their flight are ever silent. In one word, some flying carie their breasts and bellies halfe upright: others againe bear them as much downward. Some flie sidelong and bias: others directly forward, and follow their bils: & last of all there be that bend backward as they flie, or els bolt upright. In such sort, that if a man saw them all together, he would take them, not to bee one kind of creature, so divers and different are they in their motions.
MARTINETS, which the Greekes call Apodes (because they have little or no use of their feet) and others, Cypseli, are very good of wing, and flie most of all others without rest. And in very truth, a kind of Swallowes they be. They build in rocks and stonie cliffes. And these be they and no other, that are seene evermore in the sea: for bee the ships never so remote from the land, saile they never so fast and farre off, yee shall have these Martinets alwaies flying about them. All kinds else of Swallowes and other birds, do sometime light, settle, and perch: these never rest, but when they bee in their neast. For either they seeme to hang, or else lie along: and a number of shifts and devises by themselves they have besides, and namely when they feed.
Of the bird Caprimulgus, and the Shovelar.
THE CAPRIMULGI (so called of milking goats) are like the bigger kind of Owsels. They bee night-theeves; for all the day long they see not.Their manner is to come into the sheepeheards coats and goat-pens, and to the goats udders presently they goe, and suck the milke at their teats. And looke what udder is so milked, it giveth no more milke, but misliketh and falleth away afterwards, and the goats become blind withall.4
There be other birds named Plateæ, i. Shovelars. Their manner is to flie at those foule that use to dive under the water for fish: and so long will they pecke and bite them by the heads, untill they let go their hold of the fish they have gotten, and so they wring it perforce from them. This bird when his bellie is full of shell-fishes that he hath greedily devoured, and hath by the naturall heat of his craw and gorge in some sort concocted them, casteth all up again: and at leasure picketh out the meat, and eateth it againe, leaving the shels behind.
The naturall wit of some birds.
THE HENS of countrey houses have a certaine ceremonious religion. When they have laid an egge, they fall a trembling and quaking, and all to shake themselves. They turne about also, as in procession, to be purified, and with some festive or such-like thing, theykeepe a ceremonie of hallowing, as well themselves as their egs.
Of the Linnet, Poppinjay or Parrat, and other birds that can speake.
THE LINNETS be in manner the least birds of all others: howbeit they be very docible. Doe they will whatsoever they are taught and bidden, not onely in their voice, but also with their feet and bils, as if they were hands. In the territorie about Arelate, there is a bird called Taurus (because it loweth like a Bull or Cow, for otherwise a small bird it is.) There is another also named Anthus, which likewise resembleth the neighing of horses: and if haply by the approch of horses they be driven from their grasse wherof they feed, they will seeme to neigh; and flying unto them, chase them away, and so be revenged of them again. But above all other birds of the aire, the Parrats passe, for counterfeiting a mans voice: insomuch, as they will seeme to parle and prate our very speech. This foule commeth out of the Indies, where they call it Sittace. It is all the bodie over greene, onely it hath a collar about the necke of vermilion red, different from the rest of her feathers. The Parrat can skill to salute Emperours, and bid good morrow: yea, and to pronounce what words she heareth. She loveth wine well, and when she hath drunke freely, is very pleasant, plaifull, and wanton. She hath an head as hard as is her beake. When she learnes to speake, she must be beaten about the head with a rod of yron: for otherwise shee careth for no blowes. When shee taketh her flight downe from any place, shee lighteth upon her bill, and resteth thereupon, and by that meanes favoureth her feet, which by nature are but weak and feeble, and so carieth her owne weight more lightly.
There is a certaine Pie, of nothing so great reckoning and account as the Parrot, because she is not farre set, but here-by neere at hand: howbeit, shee pronounceth that which is taught her more plainely and distinctly than the other. These take a love to the words that they speake: for they not onely learne them as a lesson, but they learne them with a delight & pleasure. Insomuch that a man shall find them studying thereupon, and conning the said lesson: and by their carefull thinking upon that which they learne, they shew plainely how mindfull and intensive they bee thereto. It is for certaine knowne, that they have died for very anger and greefe that they could not learne to pronounce some hard words: as also, that unlesse they heare the same words repeated often unto them, their memorie is so shittle, they will soone forget the same againe. If they misse a word, and have lost it, they will seeke to call it againe to remembrance; and if they fortune to heare the same word in the meane time, they will wonderfully joy thereat. As for their beautie, it is not ordinarie, although it be not very lovely. But surely amiable ynough they are in this, that they can so well resemble mans speech. It is said, that none of their kind are good to bee made schollers, but such onely as feed upon mast: and among them, those that have five toes to their feet. But even these also are not fit for that purpose, after the first two years of their age. And their tongue is broader than ordinarie: like as they bee all that counterfeit mans voice, each one in their kind: although it be in manner generall to all birds whatsoever to be broad tongued. Agrippina the Empresse, wife to Claudius Cæsar, had a Blackbird or a Throstle, at what time as I compiled this booke, which could counterfeit mans speech; a thing never seene nor knowne before. The two Cæsars also, the young princes (to wit, Germanicus and Drusus) had one Stare, and sundrie Nightingales, taught to parle Greeke and Latine. Moreover, they would studie upon their lessons, and meditate all day long: and from day to day come out with new words still, yea, and were able to continue a long speech and discourse. Now for to teach them the better, these birds must be in a secret place apart by themselves, where they can heare no other voice: and one is to sit over them, who must repeat often that which hee would have them to learne, yea, and please them also with giving them such meat as they best love.
The understanding and wit that Ravens have.
LET US NOT defraud the Ravens also of their due praise in this behalfe, considering, that the whole people of Rome hath testified the same not onely by taking knowledge, but also by a publicke revenge and exemplarie punishment. And thus stood the case. In the daies of Tiberius the Emperor, there was a yong Raven hatched in a neast upon the church of Castor and Pollux, which, to make a triall how he could flie, took his first flight into a shoomakers shop just overagainst the said church. The maister of the shop was well ynough content to receive this bird, as commended to him from so sacred a place, and in that regard set great store by it. This Raven in short time being acquainted to mans speech, began to speak, & every morning would fly up to the top of the Rostra or publicke pulpit for Orations, where, turning to the open Forum and market place, he would salute and bid Good morrow to Tiberius Cæsar, and after him, to Germanicus and Drusus the yong princes, both Cæsars, every one by their names: and anon the people of Rome also that passed by. And when hee had so done, afterwards would flie againe to the shoomakers shop aforesaid. This duty practised he and continued for many years together, to the great wonder and admiration of all men. Now it fell out so, that another shoomaker, who had taken the next corviners shop unto him, either upon a malicious envie that hee occupied so neere him, or some suddaine splene and passion of choller (as he would seeme to plead for his excuse) for that the Raven chaunced to meute a little, and set some spot upon a paire of his shoes, killed the said Raven. Whereat the people tooke such indignation, that they rising in an uprore, first drove him out of that street, and made that quarter of the city too hote for him: and not long after murdered him for it. But contrariwise, the carkasse of the dead Raven was solemnely enterred, and the funerals performed with all ceremoniall obsequies that could bee devised. For the corps of this bird was bestowed in a coffin, couch, or bed, and the same bedecked with chaplets and guirlands of fresh floures of all sorts, carried upon the shoulders of two blacke Mores, with minstrels before, sounding the haut-boies, and playing on the fife, as farre as to the funerall fire; which was piled and made in the right hand of the causey Appia, two miles without the cittie, in a certain plaine or open field called Rediculi. So highly reputed the people of Rome that readie wit and apt disposition in a bird, as they thought it a sufficient cause to ordaine a sumptuous buriall therefore: yea, and to revenge the death thereof, by murdering a cittizen of Rome in that citie, wherein many a brave man and noble person died, and no man ever solemnized their funerals: in that citie I say which affoorded not one man to revenge the unworthie death of that renowned Scipio Æmylianus, after he had woon both Carthage and Numantia. This happened the fifth day before the Calends of Aprill, in the yeare when M. Servilius and C. Cestius were Consuls of Rome. Moreover, even at this very present, when I wrate this historie, I saw my selfe a Crow belonging to a certaine knight of Rome, who brought him out of the realme of Grenado in Spaine, which was a very strange and admirable bird, not onely for the exceeding black colour of his feathers, but also for that he could pronounce and expresse so perfectly many words and sentences together, and learned still new lessons every day more than other. It is not long since that there went a great bruit and fame of a notable hunter in Erizena a countrey of Asia, whose name was Craterus Monoceros: that used to hunt by the meanes and helpe of Ravens. His manner was to carrie with him these Ravens into the forrest, perching upon his shoulders and his hunting hornes: and these would seeke out and put up other wild ones, and bring them to him. Thus by custome & use he brought his hunting to this good passe, that when he returned homeward out of the forest, the wild as well as the tame would accompanie him. Some have thought it worth the setting downe upon record, how there was a Raven seene in time of a great drought when water was hard to come by, for to cast stones into the bucket belonging to a sepulchre, wherein there was some raine water remaining toward the bottome, but so deepe, that hee could not reach unto it: and being afraid to go downe into it, by heaping up many stones, he brought the water to rise so high, as he might drinke sufficient with ease.
Of Diomedes his birds.
NEITHER will I overpasse the birds called Diomedeæ, which king Iuba nameth Cataractæ. Toothed they are, as hee saith; and they have eies as red and bright as the fire: otherwise their feathers be all white. Who also affirmeth, that they evermore have two captains, the one for to lead the vaward, and the other for the reregard. With their bils they dig little trenches and gutters in the ground: over which from side to side they lay stickes acrosse like hurdles, very artificially, and then cover the same over with the earth they cast forth before: under which they breed. Every one of these trenches hath two dores: the one regarding the East, at which they goe forth to their meat: and the other looking toward the West, by which they come in again after their returne. Whensoever these birds would meute, they flie ever full into the wind, because they would not file themselves. Found they be in one place of the world, and but in one, namely in a certaine Island, ennobled, as we have written before, for the tombe and temple of Diomedes, and it lieth upon the coast of Apulia. These birds are like unto the white Sea mewes with a black cop. Their manner is to crie with open mouth uncessantly at any strangers that come aland, save onely Grecians, upon whom they wil seeme to fawne and make signes of love and amitie, in all flattering wise. A wonderfull thing that they should discerne one from another, and give such friendly welcome to them, as descended from the race of Diomedes. Their manner is every day to charge their throat and wings full of water, and all to drench therewith the said temple of Diomedes, in signe of purification. And hereupon arose the fabulous tale, That the companions of Diomedes were turned into these birds.
What Birds are not apt to learne, and will not be taught.
AND NOW that we are in this discourse of wit and capacitie, I must not omit to note, That of birds, the Swallow; and of land beasts the Mouse and the Rat, are very untoward, and cannot be brought to learne. Whereas we see great Elephants readie to doe whatever they are commanded: the furious Lions brought to draw under the yoke: the Seales within the sea, and so many sorts of fishes grow to be tame and gentle.
The manner of birds in their drinking.
BIRDS drinke sucking, and those that have long necks, make staies between, and every while hold up their bill from the water, as if they would poure the water downe their throat. The bird Porphyrio alone seemeth to bite the water as he drinketh. And this bird hath this propertie by himselfe, to dip and wet all his meat ever and anon in water, and then with his foot in lieu of an hand, to reach it unto his bill. The best of this kind are in Comagene. Their bils and long shankes that they have, be red.
Of the foule Himantipus, the Onocrotali, and other strange foules.
LIKE IN THAT RESPECT unto the Porphyrio, is the Himantipus: a bird farre lesse in bodie, but full as long legged, and stalking as high. They are bred in Ægypt: and go upon three toes to a foot. Their most feeding is upon flies. In Italie they live not many daies. All great and heavie foules live of seeds and corne. They that flie on high prey upon flesh. Among water-fouls the Cormorants use to devour that which other birds either disgorge or meute. The Onocrotali much resemble Swans, and surely they might bee thought the very same and no other, but that they have within their throat another kind of gizzer besides their craw: in which, these foules being unsatiable, bestow all that ever they can get; whereby it is of a wonderfull great capacitie, and will receive very much. Now when they have done their ravening, & filled this poke, soone after they conveigh it from thence by little and little into their mouth, and there chew the cud, untill after it bee well prepared, they swallow it downe into the verie craw and bellie indeed. These foules are to bee found in the parts of Picardie and Normandie in Fraunce, lying upon the North Ocean. In Hercinia, a forrest of Germanie, wee have heard that there bee strange kinds of birds, with feathers shining like fire in the night season. In other respects, I have nothing to say of them worth the writing, save only they are of some name, for beeing farre fetched.
The names and natures of many birds.
OF WATER FOULES, the Phalerides are thought in Seleucia of the Parthians, and also in Asia, to be the daintiest. Likewise, the Fesant Hens of Colchis, which have two eares (as it were) consisting of feathers, which they will set up and lay downe as they list. The Ginnie or Turkey Hens, in a part of Affricke called Numidia be in great request, as also throughout all Italie now adaies. Apicius, the most roiotous glutton and bellie-god of his time, taught men first, that the tongue of Phœnicopterus, was a most sweet and delicate peece of meat. The Moore-hen of Ionia is much commended and in highly estimation. This bird so soone as she is taken prisoner, looseth her voice, and is mute: for otherwise she is vocall and lowd ynough: and in old time was reputed a rare and singular bird. But now there be caught of them in Fraunce and Spaine, yea and among the Alpes: where also the Plungeons or bald-Ravens bee, which heretofore were thought proper & peculiar to the Baleare Islands: like as the Pyrrhocorax [i. the red Raven] with the yellow bill, was supposed to breed onely among the Alpes; and with it the Lagopus, a daintie bird and most pleasant in the dish. And this name it tooke in Greeke, because it is rough-footed and haired like the Hares foot: otherwise all over white, and as big as a Pigeon. Have her out of the ground, under which she breedeth, you shall hardly get her to feed, neither will she be made tame, live she never so long: kill her once, the bodie presently wil rot and putrifie. There is another besides of that name, and differeth from Quailes onely in bignesse, for it is greater than the Quaile: and with a yellow sauce of saffron it is a most delicate peece of meat. M. Egnatius Calvinus governour of the parts about the Alpes, reporteth, that hee hath seene there the Ibis, a bird proper to the land of Ægypt.
Of new Birds, and such as are holden for fabulous.
DURING THE CIVILE WARRES between Otho and Vitellius, and namely, about the time of the journey or battell at Bebriacum, beyond the Po: there were these new-birds (for so they be called still at this day) brought into Italie. Like they be to Thrushes or Mavisses, somewhat lesse than House doves, pleasant in the eating. The Baleare Islands sends us another Porphyrio, better than that before named, Chapter 46. Where the Buzards also, a kind of Hawke, are held for excellent meat, and served up at the table. Likewise the Vipio, for so they call the lesse kind of Crane. As for the foules called Pegasi, headed like horses; and the Griffons, which are supposed to have long eares, and a hooked bill, I take them to be meere fables: and yet they say, that the Pegasi should be in Scythia, and the Griffons in Æthyopia. Moreover, I thinke the same of the Tragopanades, which many men affirme to bee greater than the Ægle; having crooked hornes like a Ram on either side of the head, of the colour of yron, and the head onely red. As touching the birds Syrenes, I will never beleeve there be any such, let Dino the father of Clitarchus that renowmed writer, say what he will: who avoucheth for a truth, that they be in India: and that with their singing they will bring folke asleepe, and then flie upon them and teare them in peeces. He that will give credite to these fables, may even as well beleeve that dragons forsooth taught Melampus by licking his eares, how to understand the language of birds when they chaunt and sing upon trees, or crie and chirp in the aire:5likewise the tales that Democritus telleth, who nameth certain birds, of whose bloud mingled together, and suffered to corrupt, there is engendered a serpent, which whosoever eateth, shall know what birds say one to another in their speech: and namely, the strange things that hee telleth of the Larke above the rest.6 For verily without these fabulous lies, mens heads be occupied ynough, and too much to, about the Auguries onely and presages of birds, that they have no need to busie and trouble their braines about these toies. Homer maketh mention of certaine birds called Scopes:7 but I cannot conceive those Satyricall gesticulations of theirs like Antikes when they are perched, which so many men talke of: neither doe I thinke otherwise, but that these birds are out of knowledge now adaies. And therefore better it is farre to write of those which we know.
Who first devised to cram Hens. Who invented Mues and Coupes to keepe foule in.
THEY of the Island Delos began the cramming of Hens and Pullein first. And from them arose that detestable gourmandise and gluttonie to eat Hens and Capons so fat and enterlarded with their owne grease. Among the old statutes ordained for to represse inordinate feasts, I find in one act made by C. Fannius, a Consull of Rome, eleven yeares before the third Punicke warre, an expresse prohibition & restraint, That no man should have his table served with any foule, unlesse it were one Hen, and no more, and the same a runner onely, and not fed up and crammed fat. The braunch of this one statute was afterwards taken forth and inserted in all other acts provided in that behalfe, & went currant through all. Howbeit, for all the law so well set down, there was a starting hole found to delude and escape the meaning therof, namely, to feed Cockes and Capons also with a past soked in milk & mead together, for to make their flesh more tender, delicate, and of sweeter tast: for that the letter of the statute reached no farther than to Hens or Pullets. As for the Hens, they onley bee thought good and well ynough crammed, which are fat about the necke, and have their skin plumpe and soft there. Howbeit, afterwards our fine cookes began to looke unto their hind-parts about the rumpe, and chuse them thereby. And that they should make a greater shew in the platter, they slit them along the chine, and lay their legs out at large, that they might take up the whole dresser bourd. The Parthians also have taught our cooks their own fashions. And yet for all this fine dressing and setting out of meat, there is nothing that pleaseth and contenteth the tooth of man in all respects; whiles one loveth nothing but the leg, another liketh and praiseth the white brawne alone, about the breast bone. The first that devised a Barton and Mue to keepe foule, was M. Lenius Strabo, a gentleman of Rome, who made such an one at Brindis, where he had enclosed birds of all kinds. And by his example we began to keep foules within narrow coupes and cages as prisoners, to which creatures Nature had allowed the wide aire for their scope and habitation.
Of Æsopes proud platter.
BUT IN THE RELATION and report of this argument, notorious above all the rest in our memorie is that platter of Clodius Æsopus, the plaier of Tragedies, which was esteemed worth sixe hundred Sestertia. In this one charger he served up at the bourd all kind of birds that either could sing or say after a man: and theycost him sixe hundred Sesterces apeece. And surely it was no delight and pleasure that he sought herein to content the tooth, but only that he would have the name to eat the resemblers of mans voice: without any consideration and regard that hee had of all that great riches and revenues of his owne, which himselfe had gotten byhis tongue, and by counterfeiting the speech of others. A father verily worthie such a son, who as we said before,8 devoured those precious pearles. And to speake a truth, it is hard to judge whether of them twaine plaied the beast more, the father or the sonne. But that it seemeth lesse pride and prodigalitie to swallow downe the throat the greatest riches of Nature, than to chaw and eat at a supper mens tongues, that is to say, those birds that could pronounce our language.
The engendring of birds: and what foure-footed beasts lay egges as well as they.
THE GENERATION of birds seemes alwaies to be after one and the same manner. And yet therein is to be found some straunge and extraordinarie worke. Like as there be four footed beasts knowne also to have egs, namely, the Chamæleons, Lizards, and such as we named among Serpents. Of foules, those that have hooked clawes and tallons, are but barren that way, and lay few egs. Only the Kestrell laieth foure at a time. And verily Nature hath well provided in all the kind of foules, That the mightier should be lesse fruitfull than the weaker and those that flie from the other. The Ostriches, Hens, Partridges, and Linnets, are great laiers. As touching the manner of their engendring, it is perfourmed two waies: for either the female coucheth downe, as doe our hens; or else stand up on their feet, as doe the cranes. Of egs, some be white, as those of Doves and Partridges; others, be pale and yellowish, as those of water-foule: some be spotted, as those of Turkie-hens: others againe red; and such egs Feasants lay, and Kestrils.
All birds egges within the shell, are of two colours. In water-foules, the yolke is more than the white, and the same is more wan and duskish than in others. The egges of fishes are of one colour, and therein is no white at all. Birds egges are brittle shelled, by reason of their heat. Serpents eggs are more tough because of cold: but they of fishes are more soft and tender, for that they be so liquid. Those of fishes and such creatures as live in water, have round egges ordinarily: others be long and pointed at one end in the top. Birds lay their egges with the rounder end comming forward: their shell is soft whiles they be warme and a laying, but presently they harden by peecemeale as they come forth. Horatius Flaccus is of opinion, that the longer the egge is, the better tast it hath.9 The rounder egge prooves to be the hen commonly, the rest will be cockes. There is found in the ¶ top or sharper end of an egge within the shell, a certain round knot resembling a drop or a navill, rising above the rest, which they call a Kinning.10
The engendring of egges: the sitting of birds, and their manner of generation.
SOME BIRDS there be, that tread all times of the yeare; and lay egs but only two moneths in mid winter: and of those, pullets lay more than old hennes, but they be lesse, especially the first and last of one laiter. So fruitfull they be, that some of them will lay threescore egs ere they give over: some, everie day; others, twice in one day: and some will over-lay, untill they be so wearie and feeble withall, that they will never lay more, but die withall. The little short legged grig hens, called Hadrianæ (that came from Hadria) are counted best. Doves lay and couvey ten times in the yeere, some of them eleven: and in Ægypt there are found that give not over in the twelvemoneth, even at mid-winter in December. Swallowes, Ousels, Quoists or Ringdoves, and Turles, lay and sit twice in the yeare: other birds ordinarily but once. Thrushes and Blackbirds build their nests of mud and clay, in trees and bushes one by another, so neere as if they were linked togither: and lightly they engender in some corner out of the way. After the hen is troden, within ten daies commonly the egs knit within her bellie, are come to perfection and readie to be laid. Howbeit if hens have some wrong done unto them, or if a man chaunce to pluck a feather or quill from a pigeon at that time, or doe them some such injurie, it will bee longer ere they lay.
All egges have within them in the mids of the yolke, a certaine drop as it were of blood, which some thinke to be the heart of the chicken, imagining that, to bee the first that in everie bodie is formed & made: and certainly a man shall see it within the very egge to pant and leape. As for the chick, it taketh the corporall substance, and the bodie of it is made of the white waterish liquor in the egge: the yellow yolke serveth for nourishment: whiles the chick is unhatched and within the egge, the head is bigger than all the bodie besides: and the eies that be compact and thrust togither, be more than the verie head. As the chick within groweth bigger, the white turneth into the mids, and is enclosed within the yolke. By the twentie day (if the egs be stirred) ye shall heare the chicke to peepe within the verie shell: from that time forward, it beginneth to plume and gather feathers: and in this manner lieth it within the shell, The head resting upon the right foot, and the same head under the right wing: and so the yolke by little and little decreaseth and faileth. All birds are hatched with the feet forward, contrarie to other creatures. Some hens there be, that lay all their egs with two yolkes; and of them be hatched two chickens otherwhiles, as Cornelius Celsus writeth: but the one of them is bigger than the other. Howbeit, others say, it is impossible that of one egge should come two chickens. Moreover, it is held for a rule, that there should not be put under a brood-hen above 25 egs at one time to sit upon. After the midwinter, hens begin to lay and sit. The best brood is before the spring Æquinoctiall. Those that be hatched after midsummer, never come to their full and kind bignesse: and evermore the later the lesser.
The infirmities and impediments incident to Brood-hens, and the remedies.
THE BEST EGGES that can be put under hens when they sit, are they that were laid ten daies before at the utmost; for neither old egs, nor yet verie new laid, be good for that purpose. After that the hen hath sitten foure daies, take an eg from under her, hold it in one hand by the narrow end, and look between you and the light with the other over it; if it be cleare through and of one colour, it is supposed to be naught, and will never proove a chicke, and therefore put another in place therof. Another experiment there is by water: The addle egge will flote above, as emptie; the sound and good, will sinke to the bottome: and such therefore beeing full, are to be set under the hen. When ye would try whether an egge be good or bad in this case, our countrey wives say, you must not shake them in any hand, for if the vital veines and parts be broken and blended togither, they will never proove. Moreover, this must alwaies be looked unto, that yee begin to set an hen after the change of the moone: for if you set her in the waine, the egges will be addle and never come to be chickens. The warmer the weather is, the sooner will she hatch: and therefore it falleth out, that in summer ye shall have her abroad with her brood upon the nineteenth day; in winter many times it will be 25 daies first. If it thunder while she is broodie, the egges will proove addle: yea and if the hen chaunce but to heare an hawke crie, they will be marred. The remedie against thunder, is to put an iron naile under the straw of the hens nest, or else some earth newly turned up with the plough. Over and besides, there be some egs that will come to be birds without sitting of the hen, even by the worke of Nature onely, as a man may see the experience in the dunghils of Ægypt. There goeth a pretie jeast of a notable drunkard of Syracusa, whose manner was when he went into the taverne to drinke, for to lay certaine egges in the earth, and cover them with mould: and hee would not rise nor give over bibbing, untill they were hatched.11 To conclude, a man or woman may hatch egges with the very heate onely of their bodie.
The Auguries and Presages of Egges.
Livia Augusta the Empresse, wife somtime of Nero, when she was conceived by him, and went with that child [who was afterwards prooved to be Tyberius Cæsar,] being very desirous (like a young fine ladie as she was) to have a jolly boy, practised this girlish experiment to foreknow what she should have in the end: Shee tooke an egge, and ever carried it about her in her warme bosome. and if at any time she had occasion to lay it away, she would convey it closely out of her owne warme lap unto her nources, for feare it should chill. And verily this presage prooved true: the egge became a cock-chicken, and she was delivered of a sonne.12 And hereof (it may well be) came the devise of late, to lay egs in some warme place, and to make a soft fire underneath of small straw or light chaffe to give a kinde of moderate heat; but evermore the egs must be turned with a man or womans hand, both night and day; and so at the set time, they looked for chickens and had them. It is reported besides of a certaine poulter, who had a secret by himselfe, wherby he could tell surely and never misse, which egge would be a cock-chicken, which a hen: also of many hens that hee kept, which was every hens egge if he did but see it. We have heard moreover, that when a brood-hen chaunced to die, the cockes that used to tread her, were seen to go about with the chickens one after another by turnes, and to do every thing like to the very hen indeed that hatched them: and all that while to forbeare once to crow. But above all it is a sport alone, to see the manner of an hen that hath sitten upon ducks egges and hatched them, how at the first she will wonder to have a teeme of ducklings about her, and not acknowledge them for her owne: but soone after, she will clucke and call this doubtfull brood to her, verie carefully and diligently: but at the last, when shee perceiveth them (according to their kind) to take the water and swim, how she will mourne and lament about the fish-poole, that it would pittie ones heart to see them what mone they will make.
Which be the best Hens.
A MAN shall know a good and kindly hen by her comb, when it is streight and upright: otherwhiles also double crested: also by the pinion feathers blacke, the upper plume reddish. Such a hen will be red also about the head and and bill; and have an odde toe to her feet, yea and somtime that odde one to lie crosse overthwart the other foure. In case of sacrifices and religious use, they are not thought good nor allowable, which have becke and feet, yellow. For divine service and secret mysteries celebrated in covert to the goddesse Ops, the black are allowed for good.There is also a dwarfish kind of hens, [i. grig hens] that are extraordinarie little, and yet fruitfull, (a thing not seene in any other kind of foule) they lay and misse not, but sildome sit they on any egs: and if they doe, it is hurtfull for them.13
The maladies that hens be subiect unto, and the remedies.
THAT WHICH TROUBLETH all the kind of them, is a certaine distillation of a phlegmaticke humour, which causeth the pip; and most of all between harvest time and vintage. The cure is, to keepe them hungry and long fasting: also to let them lie or perch in a smokie place, especially where the fume is made of bay leaves, and the hearb Savine. It is good moreover, to draw a little quill or feather through their nosthrils acrosse; and to remoove or shift it every day. As for their meat, let it be some cloves of garlicke shred among their corn, or else let their meat be well infused and steeped in water, wherein an owle hath washed and bathed her selfe; or else sodden with the seed of Brionie, or the wilde white vine: besides such other medicines as are daily in use.
The manner how foules do conceive, and what number of young ones they commonly doe hatch.
DOVES have this propertie by themselves, to bill one another and kisse before they tread. They doe lay for the most part two egges. Thus Nature hath disposed, that some should breed often, and few: others, should hatch many togither at once. The Ringdoves or Quoists, and Turtles, ordinarily lay three egs; and lightly they sit and hatch but twice a yeer: and that is, if their first brood come not to perfection, but miscarried and was not reared up. And albeit they lay three egges, yet they never hatch but twaine: the third that is addle, they call in Latine Urinum. The female Ringdove sitteth ever from noon untill the next morning; the male maketh up the rest of the day. House-doves breed evermore one cocke pigeon, and another hen. The male is hatched to day, and the female to morrow. In that kind they sit both, the cocke all day, and the hen by night: and usually upon the twentieth day they hatch. They lay within five daies after they be troden. And in summer time verily, yee shall have them in the space of two moneths bring three paire of pigeons; for then they use to hatch by the 18 day: and presently they conceive againe. So that a man shall oftentimes find new-laid egges even among the yong pigeons: and otherwhiles it is seen, that whiles some are readie to flie, others peepe newly out of their shell. And these young birds, within five moneths will laie themselves. Now the nature of these hen-doves is (if they want a cocke) to tread one another, and hereof they come to laie barren egges, whereof nothing will be engendred: and such the Greekes call Hypenemia, id est, wind-egges.
Of the Peacocke, and Geese.
THE PEA-HEN falleth to laie and breed after she is three yeeres old. In the first yeere, she begins with one or two egs: the yeere following, she riseth to foure or five: in the rest, she reacheth to twelve and no more. When she laieth, her manner is to rest two or three daies between everie egge. And thrice a yeare she doth keepe this order, namely, if her egges be taken from her, and put under hens to be sitten upon: for why, the Peacockes will breake them if they can meet with them, because they cannot misse and spare the Peahens companie whiles they are broodie and sitting: which is the cause they are wont to lay by night, or in some secret corner out of the way, and that from an high place where they pearch: and then, unlesse there be good heed taken that the egges be latched in some soft bed underneath, they are soone broken. One Peacocke is sufficient to goe with five wives: for when there is but twaine [the villaine is so leacherous] with overmuch treading he hindereth their laying, and marreth the knot of egges which is engendred within them. The Peahen hatcheth in 28 daies, or in thirtie at the farthest.
Ganders and Geese engender togither in the very water. Geese lay ordinarily in the spring: or if they were troden about mid-winter, then ye shall have them lay after the winter Sunsteed, some fortie daies or very neere. They have usually two laiters in the yeere, namely, if hens hatched their former egges. The most that they hatch at one sitting, is sixteen; and the fewest, seven. If a man steale their egges from them, they lay still, and never give over till they be ready to burst with laying. No birds egges but their own will they hatch. The most profitable way, is to set them upon nine or eleven. The females onely sit, and that for the space of thirtie daies, unlesse it be warme weather, and then they will have done by 25. If one of their goslings be stung never so little with a nettle, it will die of it. Their owne greedie feeding also is their bane; for one while they will eat untill they burst againe, another whiles kill themselves with straining their owne selves: for if they chaunce to catch hold of a root with their bill, they will bite and pull so hard for to have it, that many times they breake their own necks withall, before they leave their hold. Against the stinging of nettles, the remedie is, that so soone as they be hatched, there be some nettle roots laid under their nest of straw.
Of Herons and Bittours: and the best way to keepe egges long.
OF HERONS be three sorts, ¶¶ Leucon, ¶¶¶ Asterias, and Pellon. These last engender with much paine and difficultie. And as for the males verily, they crie againe for anguish, and the blood starts out of their eyes in the act of treading. And with as much adoe and trouble doe the females lay, after they be knit with egge. The Ægle and the most part of greater fouls, sit thirtie daies: whereas the lesse continue but twentie, as the Kite and the Hawke. The Kite usually hatcheth but one at a time, and never above three: but that kind which is called Ægolios, sometimes foure. The Raven also now and then, five: and those coove as many daies. Whiles the female Crow sitteth, the male feedeth her. The Piot, ordinarily bringeth for nine Piannets: the fig-pecker Melancoryphus, above twentie, but evermore an odde one: and there is not a bird that goeth therin above her. Lo how Nature is willing to multiply the race of little birds! The young Swallowes are at the first, blind, and so are all such as are hatched many in number. Wind-egs, which we call Hypenemia, come either by the mutuall treading of hens one another, by an imaginarie conceit of the male, or else by dust. And such egs not only Doves do bring, but house Hens also, Partridges, Peahens, Geese, and Brants, or the female Barganders. Now these egs are barren as one would say, and never proove birds, lesse than others, not so pleasant in tast, and besides more moist. Some are of opinion, that the wind will engender them: for which cause also they are called Zephyria [i. West-wind-egs:] and verily such egs are seen only in spring, when that wind bloweth. Addle egges, which some called Cynosura, are they that chill upon the nest, when the hen is gone and giveth over sitting. Egges steeped in strong vinegre will come to be so soft, that they will passe and be drawne through the ring of a mans finger. The best way to keepe egs, is in bean-meale or floure; and during winter, in chaffe, but for summer time, in bran. It is thought, if they lie in salt, their substance will wast and consume to nothing within the shell.
What bird alone bringeth forth a living creature, and feedeth it with milke.
THE REREMOUSE or Bat, alone of all creatures that flie, bringeth forth young alive: and none but she of that kind hath wings made of pannicles or thin skins. She is the onely bird that suckleth her little ones with her paps, and giveth them milke: and those she will carrie about her two at once, embracing them as she flieth. It is said also, that she hath no more but one joint of the haunch, without any in the knee or feet: & that they take greatest delight to feed upon gnats.
Of Vipers: their manner of generation and bringing forth young: and what land beasts doe lay egges.
MOREOVER, among creatures of the land, Serpents lay egges: whereof as yet we have not written. As they engender togither, they clip and embrace, and so entangled they be and enwrapped one about the other, that a man who saw them, would thinke they were one serpent with two heads. In the very act of generation, the male viper thrusteth his head into the mouth of the female; which she (for the pleasure and delectation that she taketh) gnaweth and biteth off. No land creature els but shee hath egs within her bellie, of one colour and soft, like as fishes have. Now after three daies they be quick, and then come forth as they be hatched; but no more than one at once everie day:14 and twentie commonly she hath. When she is delivered of the first, the rest (impatient of so long delay) eat through the sides of their dam , and kill her. As for other serpents, they lay their egges linked and chained togither, and so sit upon them on the land: but they hatch them not untill the yeere following. The Crocodiles sit by turnes, the male as well as the female. But I thinke it good to treat also of the generation of other land creatures.
The generation of living creatures upon the land.
OF ALL LIVING CREATURES two-footed, a woman only bringeth forth her young quicke. Men and women both, and none but they, repent at first the losse of their maidenhead. A very presage (no doubt) of a life to ensue full of trouble and miserie, that thus should begin with repentance. All other creatures have their set times and certaine seasons in the yeare when they engender, as hath been shewed before: but all is one with us, and no houre of day or night comes amisse. Other creatures know when they have enough, and rest satisfied: we only are insatiable that way, and cannot see to make an end. The Empresse Messalina, wife of Claudius Cæsar, thinking it the onely victorie for a Ladie and Queene to excell in this feat, chose the most gallant curtisan and commonest strumpet in all Rome, to trie masteries and to contend with for the best game: and in verie truth, she woon the prize: for in the space of 24 houres she outwent her [a beastly thing to be written] no fewer than 25 times.15 As for men, they have devised in the practise of this filthie act, even to abuse some parts against kind: and women (unnaturall as they be) have the cast16 to destroy within them the unripe and untimely fruit of their owne bodie. Certes in this behalfe, how much worse and hurtfull be we, than the wild & savage beasts of the field? Hesiodus writeth, that men are more given to lust in winter than in summer, and women contrariwise.17 Elephants, Camels, Tigers, Onces, Rhinoceros, Lions, Hares, Cunnies, and generally all beasts which have their genitall parts from-ward, turne taile to taile to the female in the act of generation. As for Camels, they go into the desert, or at leastwise seeke some corner, when they would engender: and daungerous it is for one to take them in the manner. They continue in this action one whole day togither, and so doe none els that are whole hoofed. In foure-footed beasts, the males are set into the heat of lust by senting and smelling. Dogs and Bitches, Seales, and Wolves, likewise turne away, and in the mids of the action bee tied one to the other, even against their wills, and cannot helpe it. The females of the most of these before-named, begin to ride the males first, for to provoke their lust: but of the rest, the males leape the females at the first. Beares (as we said before) lie along both, as man and woman. Hedgehogs stand both upright and claspe one another when they engender. The hee-Cat standeth on his feet, and the shee lieth under him. Foxes lie upon their sides, and so the bitch embraceth the male Fox. Kine and Hinds cannot well endure the violence of the Bulls and the Stags in this busines, and therefore they are ever going when they doe engender. Stags go from one Hind to another, and then come againe to the first; and this doe they in course. Lizards, as all other creeping creatures that have no feet, wind one about another as they engender. The greater that any beasts be, the lesse fruitfull they are of their bodie. Elephants, Camels, and Horses, get but one at once, neither do the females beare any more at a time: whereas the Goldfinch or Linnet, a verie little bird, bringeth forth a dozen commonly at once. Such as bring most, are least while in breeding. The greater that any creature is, the longer time it requireth to be formed in the mothers wombe. And such as live long, be longer also ere they have their perfection and come abroad into the world. The growing age is not meet for generation. Beasts that are whole houfed, never bring but one at a time: such as be cloven footed in twaine, may also have twins. But as many as have their feet parted and divided into many toes, are fit to beare many at ones. And wheras all the former rehearsed, bring forth perfect creatures with all parts, some have their young ones imperfect and but halfe made: in which number Lionesses, she Beares, bitch Foxes, are to be reckoned: but specially the shee Beares, whose whelpes are more unshapen than the rest: and a rare thing it is to see them a whelping. Howbeit such females when they be delivered of them, with their licking do chase and heat them, and so by little and little bring them to some forme and fashion by this meanes. Such for the most part beare foure whelpes. As for Bitches, Wolves, Panthers, and Thoes, kindle their young before they can see.18
Of Dogges and Bitches there be many kinds. They of Laconia, as well the male as the female, be apt to engender after they be eight moneths old. They be with whelpe threescore daies and three, ordinarily. As for other Bitches, they goe proud at sixe moneths, and may be lined. They be all the sort of them, sped at the first lining. Bitches that go assaut and take the dog before the full time, namely when they be verie young, such bring a litter that will be longer ere they see: neither go they: but all the whelpes will not be blind so many daies. Dogs commonly when they be halfe yeere old, are thought to lift up their leg when they pisse; and that is a signe they are come to their full strength and perfection: but bitches all that time pisse sitting upon their buttocks. They have twelve whelpes when they bring most, but ye shall see them commonly with a litter of sixe or five: and sometime they come with just one, but that is thought to be a prodigious signe; as also if the whelpes be all Dogges, or all Bitches. The first usually that they whelpe, be Dogs; for the rest, they be one with another, a Dog and a Bitch: namely, if they were lined in the due season, and at the just moneth. And commonly they go proud sixe moneths after their former litter. The Bitches of Laconia ordinarily bring eight at a time. The Dogs of this race have a propertie with them, that the more they be travailed, the more lustie and fresh they are, yea and the hotter after salt-bitches. They live ten yeares, and the Bitches twelve. Of other kinds, ye shall have them continue fifteen yeares, yea and otherwhiles twentie: but they engender not so long, but give over commonly at twelve.
Cats and Rats of Inde, called Ichneumones, in all other respects follow the nature of Dogs, save that they live but six yeares. Conies kindle everie moneth, and albeit they be bagged, yet will they take the bucke againe, and conceive upon it; like as the Hares also will doe the same: for as soone as ever they have kindled, they go to bucke and are presently sped: and say that the Leverets or Rabbets lie sucking at them, yet wil they be with yong. When they be new kindled, they cannot see.
Elephants (as we have alreadie said) never bring but one at once, and that commonly is as big as a Calfe a quarter old. Camels goe a whole yeare. After they be three yeares old, they are sufficient for to engender: and commonly they come in the spring: and it is a yeare after before they be covered againe. As for Mares, if there be three daies betweene, or but one, after theyhave foled, it is thought they may very well be covered againe; yea and they are brought perforce to the stallion for this purpose. It is supposed also, that the shee Asse within seven daies after, will soonest conceive. It is a rule, to share and clip a Mares maine, before shee will abide the covering of an Asse, so vile and base a beast: for so long as the haire of her maine is well growne, shee is so proud and glorious, that shee will not abide the Asse to come neare her. So soone as they be covered and sped, they run full into the South or North-wind, according as they be conceived either with male or female: a thing that no other beast besides, doth. And then, suddainly they chaunge their colour; for their haire will be redder, or at leastwise fuller and deeper, what colour soever it be. By which signe it is knowne they are with fole, and then they will admit no stallions unto them, would they never so faine. And say, that some of them have foles running by their sides, they will doe their deed at worke neverthelesse: nay when they be with fole, they will labour as well as they did before: in so much, as many times they steale a foling, before their maister beware that they are with fole. We have read in Chronicles, that Echecratides the Thessalian had a Mare, which even then when shee was gone farre with fole, woon the best game in the Olympian race. They that have sought more narrowly into the secrets of Nature, say, That stone-Horses, Dogs, and Bores, desire the females in a morning: but Mares, Bitches, and Sowes make meanes to the male after noone. Mares that are kept within house at racke and manger with hay and provender, desire to be covered threescore daies before those that goe abroad in the heard. Swine alone of all creatures when they be brimming, froth and fome at the mouth. And as for the Bore, if he heare the grunting of a Sow that seekes to be brimmed, unlesse he may come to her, will forsake his meat, untill he be leane and poore: and she againe will be so far enraged, that she will be readie to run upon a man and all to teare him, especially if his cloths be white. But this rage and woodnesse of hers is assuaged and allaied, onely with bathing her share behind with vineger. Some thinke there be certaine meats will provoke beasts to fleshly lust, namely, Onions given in meat to a beast; like as Rocket to a man or woman. Moreover, it is supposed, that whatsoever is made tame, which by kind was wild, the same will not breed, as Geese and Ganders. In like manner, wild Swine and red Deere, if they be tamed; or if they doe, it is very long first: and such onely as were brought to hand even from the time that they were very young. Finally, this one thing is straunge and wonderfull, that all foure-footed beasts, save onely the Mare and the Sow, if they find themselves to be with yong, drive the male from them. But the Connie and the Hare alone will conceive againe when they be gone with young.
The varietie in living creatures, as touching their comming into the world.
WHATSOEVER have quicke creatures within them, bring the same forth with the head forward. For when the time is come, the young thing turneth about a little before, which otherwise lay streight out at length in the bellie. Fourefooted beasts, whiles their dams goe with them, lie with their legs stretched along, close unto their own bellies. An infant whiles it is in the mothers wombe, gathereth round into a ball, and hath his nose lying just betweene his two knees. As for false conceptions or Moone-calves (wherof wee spake before) some thinke they are engendred of the womans seed onely: namely, when she is not conceived by a man, but by her selfe: and hereupon it is, that the said conception hath no vitall nor animall life, because it proceedeth not of the conjunction of male and female both. True it is, that it is endued with a certain vegetative power, to bee nourished and to grow, like as wee see in trees and many other plants.
The breed of Mice and Rats.
OF ALL CREATURES that bring forth their young perfect, Swine onely farrow one Pig and two Pigs at a time, yea, and sometimes a number of them. Also they alone contrarie to the nature of all those that either be whole hoofed, or cloven footed in twaine, bring a number of young ones at one farrow. But above all, Mice and Rats for fruitfulnesse doe passe. And therefore I cannot put off the discourse of them any longer: and yet therin I must follow Aristotle for mine author,19 and the report withall of the souldiours that served under Alexander the great. It is said that they engender by licking, without any other kind of copulation: and that one of them hath brought sixe score at a time: also that in Persia there have been young Mice found with young, even in the bellie of the old dam. And some are of opinion, that they will bee bagged, if they tast but of a little salt. Why should wee then wonder any more how such multitudes of field-Mice and Rats should come to devour whole fields of corne? Howbeit, the reason is not yet knowne, how such numbers of them should all of a suddaine consume away and come to nothing. For neither bee they found lying dead above ground, neither can any man come forth and say, that hee hath turned up any one with his spade as hee digged in the Winter. The countrey of Troas is exceedingly given to breed great store of them, insomuch, as they have forced alreadie the inhabitants to abandon the place and depart. Men say, that the season proper and agreeable for their breeding in such abundance, is a great drought: also, that when they are toward their end, there be little wormes breeding in their heads that kill them. The Mice and Rats of Ægypt have hard haire and prickie, like to Hedgehogs. They goe also upright on their hinder feet, and walke as if they were two-footed: after the manner of those in the Alpes. Moreover, if beats of diverse kinds doe engender together, they may well breed young betweene themk, in case they doe agree and jumpe in the time, that the females of both should go with young. It is commonly thought and beleeved, that among foure-footed beasts the Lizard hath egges within her, and delivereth them at her mouth; but Aristotle denieth it flatly. Howbeit they sit not upon them when they have so done, as being forgetfull where they laid them, so little or no memorie at all have they. And therefore the young Lizards of themselves breake forth out of the shell.
Of a Serpent engendred of the marrow of a mans backe bone.
I HAVE HEARD many a man say, that the marrow of a mans backe bone will breed to a Snake. And well it may so be: for surely there be many secrets in Nature to us unknowne, and much may come of hidden causes, as we may see even among foure footed beasts.
Of the Salamander.
AS FOR EXAMPLE: the Salamander made in fashion of a Lizard, marked with spots like to stars, never comes abroad and sheweth it selfe but in great showers; for in faire weather he is not seene. He is of so cold a complexion, that if hee do but touch the fire, hee wil quench it as presently, as if yce were put into it. The Salamander casteth up at the mouth a certaine venomous matter like unto milke, let it but once touch any bare part of a man or womans bodie, all the haire will fall off: and the part so touched will change the colour of the skin to the white morphew.
Of those that breed of others which never were engendred. Also of those that being engendred, yet breed not.
SOME CREATURES there be that breed of those that never were engendred themselves; and yet not according to those naturall meanes as others which we have shewed before; and such also as either the Summer or Spring, or some certaine season of the yeare do breed. Among which, some engender not at all, as the Salamanders: for there is no distinction of sex in them no more than in Yeeles, and in all those which neither lay egs, ne yet bring forth any living creatures. Oisters likewise and all such creatures as cleave fast either to rockes or to the shelves, are neither male nor female. As for such as come of themselves, if there be seen in them any distinction of male and female, something verily they engender betweene them: but an unperfect creature verily it is, and not resembling them: neither doth that generation breed ought any more, as wee see the flies that doe engender certaine little wormes. The experience hereof is better to be observed in those creatures which bee called Insects: whose nature is hard to bee expressed, and yet I have appointed a severall treatise for them apart.20 Wherefore I will go forward in the discourse begun alreadie, and namely, as touching the sence and understanding of the fore-named creatures, and then proceed to the rest.
The outward sences of living creatures.
MAN excelleth all other creatures, first in the sence of feeling, and then of tasting: In the rest, many beasts goe beyond him. For Ægles have a clearer eiesight, the Geires a finer smell; and the Moldwarpes, notwithstanding they bee covered over with earth (so heavie, so thicke, and deafe an element as it is) yet their eare is farre better than ours. Moreover, albeit the voice of all them that speake above ground doth ascend upward still from them, yet hear they when they talke: yea, and if a man chaunce to speake of them, some hold, that they understand their speech, and thereupon doe flie from them. A man, who at first lacketh his hearing, wanteth also the use of his tongue: neither are there any deafe borne, but the same likewise bee dumbe. A man would not thinke, neither is it likely, that the Oisters in the sea doe heare: and yet upon any noise and sound, their manner is to sinke downe to the bottome. And therefore when as men doe fish for them in the sea, they are as silent as they may be.
A discourse, That fishes both heare, and also smell.
FISHES verily have no eares, ne yet any holes to serve for hearing: and yet plaine it is that they doe heare. Which we may daily see in certaine fish-ponds and stewes where fishes bee kept: for when those that have the charge of them make a noise with clapping of their hands: as wild as they bee otherwise, they shall have them come in great flockes to take their meat that is throwne into them: and this are they wont to doe daily. And that which more is, in Cæsars fish-pooles a man may see whole skuls of fishes to repaire at their call: yea, and some will sever themselves from the rest of their companie, and come alone to hand, when they be named. Hereupon it is, that the Mullet, sea-Pike, Stockfish, and Chronius,20 are thought to heare best of all others, and therfore live very ebbe among the shelves and shallowes. That fishes have the sence of smelling, it is manifest. For they are not all taken, nor yet delighted with one kind of bait: and this is observed, that before they bite they will smell to it. Some also there bee that lie in holes under rockes: and no sooner hath the fisher besmeared and annointed the mouth and sides of the said rockes inthe very entrance to their holes, but he shall see them come foorth (as it were) to avoid the sent of their owne carion. Let them lie in the very deepe, yet will they resort to certaine odors and smels, namely, to the Cuttill burnt and the Polype, which for that purpose they use to put into their nests. And verily they cannot abide the smell of the sinke and pumpe of a ship; neither will they come neere unto it: but above all things, they may not away with the bloud of fish. The Pourcuttell hardly or not at all can be pulled from the rockes, so fast cleaveth he: howbeit, come neere unto him with the herb Marjarum or Saverie, he will presently leape from the rock and away, for to avoid the sent thereof. Purples also bee caught by the meanes of some stinking bait. And for other creatures, who doubteth but they have a perfect smelling? Serpents are chased away with the smell and perfume of the Harts horne; but above all, with the odour of Styrax. And Pismires are killed with the very fume of Origan, Quicke lime or Brimstone. Gnats love all soure things, and willingly will thither: but to any sweet meats they come not neare.
That the sence of feeling is common to all living creatures.
THERE IS NOT a living creature throughout the world, but hath the sence of feeling, although it have none els. For even oisters and the earth-wormes, if a man touch them, doe evidently feele. I would thinke also that there is none but tasteth as well as feeleth. For what should the reason els be, that some desire to tast this, and others that? And verily herein is seene above all, the singular workmanship of Nature, in the frame of their bodies, and the members thereof. Some yee shall have to seise upon their prey with their teeth; others snatch it with their tallons and clawes. Some pecke and pluck it with their hooked bils; others pudder into their food with their broad nebs. Some with the sharpe point of their beakes worke holes into their meat; others lie sucking at it: some licke, others sup in: to conclude, some chew; others swallow and devour whole as it is. As touching their feet, there is no lesse varietie in the use thereof: in snatching and carrying away; in tearing and plucking a peeces; in holding fast, and in crushing their prey. Some yee shall have to hang by their feet, and others never lin scraping and scratching the earth.
What creatures live of poyson, and what of earth.
ROE BUCKES and Does, yea, and Quailes (as wee have said before) will feed fat with poysons, and yet they are the most meeke and gentle creatures living. Serpents have a great desire and love to egges: wherein the subtiltie of Dragons, is worthie to bee considered. For either they swallow them downe whole (if their throat will receive them) and after they bee within their bodie, breake and squize them in peeces with rolling and winding themselves round together, and then cast up the shels againe: or if they bee but young ones yet, and not so strong as to gobble up whole egges, then they will wind about an egge with their taile by little and little, and bind it so hard, that they will cut off the crowne of it, as it were with a knife, and then sup of the rest which they claspe and hold fast betweene. In like manner deale they with birds. For swallow they will them whole down the gullet, and afterwards straine and struggle so with themselves untill they disgorge againe the feathers and bones that were in their bellies.
Scorpions feed upon earth. And Serpents againe, if they may come handsomely to wine, will make meanes to drinke their fill of it, howsoever otherwise they have but little need of anie drinke. They eat no meat at all, or very little, when they be kept close within any thing: like as the Spiders also, which otherwise naturally live by sucking. And therefore you shall not lightly see anie venomous creature to die either of hunger or thirst. For neither have they store of heat, nor plentie of bloud, ne yet of sweat: all which naturally provoke a stomacke, and give an edge to appetite. And among these venomous creatures, those be evermore daungerous which have eaten some of their owne kind, before they bite or sting. Apes, Monkies, and Marmosets bestow and treasure up the meat that is given them, or that they can come by, within their cheekes, as in a store-house. And when they bee hungrie, they get the same forth by little and little with their hands, and so fall to chew it. Thus practise they in making their provision, for to serve them from day to day, and from one houre to another: which Pismires usually doe from yeare to yeare.
The meat and drinke of some creatures.
OF ALL LIVING CREATURES that have many toes in their feet, the Hare alone feedeth upon grasse and greene corne in the blade. As for those that bee whole hoofed, they live both of the blade, and also of the fruit thereof. Also of such as bee cloven footed, Swine will eat all kind of food, yea, and live of verie roots. It is the propertie of whole hoofed beasts alone, to wallow and turne over and over. All that have teeth endented in like sawes, be naturally devourers of flesh. Beares will feed of corne, brouse trees, eat grapes, live of apples and other fruits, feed upon bees, creifishes, and pismires. Wolves (as we said before) if they be verie hungrie, eat earth. Sheep feed the better and grow fat, if they may drinke: and therfore salt is verie good for them, because it maketh them thirstie. Draught beasts, and such as are used to carriage, albeit they live of corne and grasse, yet according to their drinking they doe feed. Besides those mentioned heretofore, of wild beasts the red and fallow Deere both, doe chew cud when they be made tame and fed by hand: but all chuse rather in so doing, to lie than to stand, and in winter more than in summer, for seven months ordinarily. The Rats and Mice in the country of Pontus, namely, Hermins, & such like after the same manner doe chew cud and goe over their meat againe. What beasts soever are toothed like saw teeth, lap as they drinke. So do also our common Mice and Rats, although they be of another kind, and are not so toothed. They that have broad teeth, plaine, and uniforme, as horses and kine, drinke supping and taking their full draught. Beares in their drinking do neither the one nor the other, but bite at the water and so let it downe. In Affricke the more part of wild beasts drinke not all Summer long, for want of raine water: which is the cause that the Rats and Mice of Ginnie which be taken, if they drinke afterwards upon so long disuse, die therewith. In the deserts of Affricke, where there is no water ever to bee had, there is engendred a certaine wild goat named Oryx, which as by the nature of the place it wanteth drink, so it hath in her bodie a soveraine and singular remedie against drought and thirst. Which the common theeves & robbers by the high way side in Getulia, knowing well ynough, endure a long time with the helpe thereof without drinke: for they use to stanch and quench their owne thirst, with a certain moist holesome liquor found in the bladders of the said beast. In the same Affricke the Leopards lie in await among the thickets of trees, hidden within the braunches; and so seize upon them that passe by, and make spoile even from the place where foules use to perch. As for Cats, marke I pray you how silent they be, how soft they tread when they steale upon the silie birds: how secret lie they in espiall for the poore little Mice to leape upon them. Their owne doung and excrements they will rake up and hide in the earth, knowing full well, that the smell thereof will bewray where they are.
What beasts accord together, and which they bee that disagree one from another.
BESIDES THESE outward sences abovenamed, evident it is also, that brute beasts have other instincts of Nature. For they entertaine friendship and enmitie one with another (which cannot possibly be without affection and passion) over and besides those other warres and enmities which wee have observed in their severall places. Swans and Ægles jarre and warre one with another: so doth the Raven and the Witwall or Loriot, which seeke after one anothers egges in the night. Likewise the Raven and Kite: for the Raven evermore is readie to catch the Kites meat from him. Crowes and Owles are at mortall feaud one with another. The roiall Ægle hateth the Wren, and why? because (if we may beleeve it) he is named Regulus, [i. the petie-king.] Howlets also cannot agree with other little birds. Againe, foules make warre with four-footed beasts. The Weasell and the Crow be at deadly debate. The Turtle with the Creckit (Pyralis) that liveth about the fire.22 The Ichneumons with Waspes: the Phalangia with other Spiders. And among water-foules, Duckes and Drakes with the sea-Guls. The Seamewes with the Buzzard Triorchis. As for the field Rats or Mice, and the dwarfe-Herons, they seeke to prey one upon the others little ones. The bird Ægithus,23 (the least in manner of all others) waiteth the Asse a shrewd turne, for when he rubbeth himselfe against the bushes to scratch where it itcheth, hee therewith breaketh and overthroweth her neast: and therefore this sillie bird is so much afraid of the Asse, that if she heare him but bray, she is readie to throw the egges out of the neast, and those that bee alreadie hatched, will for verie feare fall downe: Then in revenge of this wrong, she will flie upon him, and with her bill pecke where the skin is off and raw with rubbing, yea, and make holes even to the verie bone. Moreover, Foxes and the Yeeles of Nilus cannot abide one another, but are in continuall warre. So be Wezils and Swine. There is an unhappie bird called Æsalon, and but little withall:24 yet will she squash and breake the Ravens egges. And when shee hath young ones, they be much troubled and annoied with the Foxes: she againe to be quit with them, will alike pinch & nip both the Fox and her cubs. The Ravens seeing that, come to aid (as it were) against a common enemie. The Goldfish liveth among bushes and thornes, and therefore she also hateth the Asse, because he eateth up the floures that grow thereupon. The bird Ægithus, so farre hateth another called Anthus,25 that men are verily persuaded the bloud of them both will not mingle together: and hereupon it is, that the sorcerers and witches have brought it into an ill name. The Thoes and the Lions doe foulely jarre and disagree. In summe, the least creatures as well as the biggest, quarell and fight one with another. Rats and field Mice cannot abide to come neare a tree that is full of Ant-nests. The Spider espying a Serpent lying along under the shade of a tree where shee spinneth, slideth downe upon a fine thred to the head of the Serpent, and stingeth him so deepe into the brain, that he falleth a hissing and grinding his teeth: he keepeth a winding and turning about, but hath not the power to breake the thred that hangeth above, ne yet to flie from the Spider: insomuch, as the Serpent lieth there dead in the place. Contrariwise, Peacocks and House-doves be as friendly one to another: so be the Turtles and Popinjaies, the Merles and Turtles likewise. The Crow and the lesse Bittours also: for they joine and hand together against the common enemie the Foxe. Likewise, the bird-Harpe and the Kite against the Buzzard. What will yee say? be there not tokens of affection even in Serpents, the cruellest and fellest creatures of all others in the world? I have written alreadie of the report or tale that goeth in Arcadia of a man, whose life was saved by a Dragon (that was brought up by him) so soone as ever he knew him by his voice. As for the Aspis, Philarchus telleth a strange historie of it. For hee writeth,26 that in Ægypt there was an Aspis used ordinarily to come to the table of a certaine Ægyptian, and there tooke meat at his hand: which Serpent afterwards had yong ones, whereof one chaunced to sting a sonne of the maister of the house, that he died of it. Now when the dame (the old Aspis) came accordingly at the accustomed houre of repast for victuals, and perceived the deed committed by her little one; not only killed it in satisfaction of the former fact, but also forbare the house, and was never knowne to repaire thither againe.
The sleepe of living creatures.
THE QUESTION, Whither living creatures sleepe or no? is not very difficult, but soone decided. For plaine it is, that of land creatures, all that winke and close their eies doe sleep. As for those in the water, that they also sleepe (though but a little) even they are of opinion who otherwise make doubt of the rest. And this they doe not collect and gather by their eies (for lids they have none to shut) but because they are seene to lie so still and quiet, as fast and sound asleepe, stirring no part, but a little wagging their tailes, and seeming to start and bee affright at any suddaine noise made in the water. As for the Tunnies, wee may avouch more confidently of their repose: for they come of purpose to sleepe under the bankes or rockes. And flat broad fishes lie so still sleeping among the shelves, that oftentimes a man may take them up with his hand. The Dolphins and Whales be heard to rout and snort again, they sleepe so soundly. Moreover, as touching Insects, no man need to doubt that they sleepe, so quietly doe they lie & make no noise: nay, if you bring a candle or other light, and set it even before their eies, you shall not have them to awake nor move. An infant after it is borne, sleepeth for certaine moneths at the first, and in manner doth nothing els. But the elder he waxeth, wakefull he is every day more than other. Babes at the very beginning doe dreame. For they will waken and start suddainely in a fright: and as they lie asleepe, keepe a sucking of their lips, as if they were at the breast heads. Some never dreame at all. And if such chaunce contrarie to this custome, for to dreame ones, it hath been counted for a signe of death, as we have seene and proved by many examples and experiments.27 And here in this place there offereth it selfe a great question, and very disputable pro & contra, grounded upon many experiments of both sides: namely, Whether the soule of man while the bodie is at rest, foreseeth things to come? and how it should so doe? or whether this be a thing of meere chaunce and altogither conjecturall, as many others be? And surely if we goe by histories, we may find as many of the one side as the other. Howbeit all men in manner agree in this, That dreames either immediatly upon drinking wine and full stomacke; or els after the first sleepe, are vaine and of no effect. As for sleepe, it is nothing else but a retreat and withdrawing of the soule into the mids of it selfe. Evident it is, that Horses, Dogs, Kine, Oxen, Sheepe, and Goats doe dreame. Whereupon it is credibly also thought, that all creatures which bring forth their young quicke and living, doe the same. As for those that lay egges, it is not so certein that they dreame: but resolved it is, that they all doe sleepe. Now let us passe and proceed to the treatise of Insects.
The running title is "The tenth Booke of // Plinies Naturall Historie. "
* The Saker [Falco sacer, especially the female; a kind of lanner falcon] as some thinke.
** A kind of Faulcon.
*** For killing of duckes and mallards.
The mountaine Storke.
Some take it for the Ospray.
468 lib. 15sh.
1. 1601 has "&"; 1635 "of".
¶¶ 2 sh. 0 d. ob.
2. Pigmies and their battles with cranes are discussed in Book VII, Chap. II, without this particular detail.
¶¶¶ The Bistard or Horn-owle.
§§ For as Arist. reporteth, it nestleth in mans dung. [In History of Animals IX, without editorial comment. As Aristotle also says that she nests in the mountains, she must take the excrement up.]
3. Or quinsy, suppurative tonsillitis.
12. lib. 10. sh.
4. The nightjar. It need hardly be said that the story of its habits in regard to goats is a fable, although a long-lived and interesting fable. It lives mostly on flying insects.
5. Dragons or serpents; see Apollodorus, 1.9.11.
6. "Recitat haec quoque Gellius ex Plinio, lib. X, cap. 12, p. 503; sed fabulosa arbitratur, neque ingenio digna Democriti". Hardouin, in the Paris edition of 1828.
7. Homer Odyssey 5 (E), l. 66; see also the commentary.
i. 600000 Sestertij, 150000 deniers
8. In Book IX, Chap. 35 (sect. 122).
9. Horace, Satires II.4, ll. 12 ff.
¶ Or rather in the crown and broader end, as our Wives say.
10. Or kenning: the tread or cicatricula of the egg. (Obsolete, rare, and of obscure origin.)
11. This story of the drunkard hatching eggs (along with the "dunghills of Egypt" and much of the other information in these chapters) is found in Aristotle, History of Animals.
12. Suetonius tells the story, Tiberius, cap. xiv.
13. That is, harmful to the eggs, not to the hens.
¶¶ A Criell, or dwarfe Heron.
¶¶¶ A Bittor.
A carion Heron.
14. Pliny seems to misread Aristotle (Hist. Animal., V.34), who says that the vipers are born one at a time, and can number up to twenty, but all born within a single day. (The text varies at this point from edition to edition.) The next (also erroneous) statement contradicts this version of Pliny's statement. See Browne's Pseudodoxia Epidemica, III.16 and notes.
15. See Sext. Aurelius Victor, de Caesaribus, 4. (Claudius).
16. That is, contrivance or trick. This use of the word is obsolete.
17. Hesiod, Works and Days, 584-587; cf. Aristotle Problemata IV. qu.26 (879a): "Cur per aestatem viri minus, mulieres magic concubere valeant? Hesiodus quoque poeta inquit: Foemineo venus est usus magis esser a sexu: Mitior illa viris, & saepe accita relanguer" etc.
18. Before the young can see. Thoes (sing. thos), some sort of canine beast, possibly a wolf or a jackal; straight from the Latin.
Resembling our English mastives.
19. Aristotle, Hist. Animal. VI, chap. 37.
Which is found untrue by experience.
20. I.e., Book XI.
21. Sic; sc. "chromis", a fish. Ovid, Halieuticon 121, calls it "immunda".
22. [I.e., the "cricket" pyralis. Hardouin notes "Quae sit autem pyralis, nondum compertum. Qui igniariam, incendiariamve nuncupant, non intelligunt ea augurum artisque nomina, non generis aut formae avium esse, ut ante monuimus cap. 17. Dein e terrestrium esse genere, non volucrum, hanc pyralim, Plinius haud obscure significat, scribens : 'Rursus cum terrestribus mustela et cornix, turtur et pyralis, etc. ' quae terrestria volucribus bellum indicant, recensere nunc videtur, non quae aves avibus inimicae. Vox haec puraliV ad vermem aequivoca est, et ad papilionem" and refers us to Aristotle, The Internet Hist. Animal. IX.1 (609a) [τρυγὼν καὶ πυραλλίς, or πυραλίς as Hardouin has it].
23. On Ægithus, Hardouin notes "Perperam apud Ælianum, Histor. Animal. lib. V., cap. 48, αἰγίϑαλος, quae parus est, scribitur. Ἀνανϑὶς alii nullis idoncis conjecturis ducti reponunt, nam de ipsa posterius. Interim ægithi faciem, formamque, nec ullo in loco Philosophus describit, nec Plinius: magno rei litterariæ detrimento: quare solo nomine cognita avis est. Ridendi sunt qui nulli, ut sæpe, conjecturis ducti, eam esse ægithum contendunt, quam Galli linotte vocant: quum tamen αἴγιϑος claudus sit, χωλὸς, teste Philosopho, lib. IX, cap. 22, pag. 1052 [Hist. Anim. 616b]. Horum tamen conjectorum aciem ducit Bellonius, lib. VII, cap. 16. Cur salum Gaza αἴγιϑον verterit, unde ei errandi ansa oblata, superius diximus in his ipsis notis, num. 65." Probably a linnet or the titmouse.
24. Pliny seems to mistake the nature of his bird, which is a falcon (and not particularly small). Dalechamps: "Falsum hoc. Æsalon enim vel Suida et Gesnero testibus, accipitris genus, quod nos vocamus émérillon, [a merlin] ideoque parvam avem a Plinio dictam putat Gesnerus." Hardouin: "Quæ parva avis dicitur, eademque corvo minor ex Pliniana oratione intelligitur, ea esse non potest, quæ a nostris aucupibus émérillon appellatur, ut Dalecampio visum, Scaligero, et Bocharto. Hæc porro de æsalonis et corvi vulpisque inimicitiis, totidem verbis Philosophus", Hist. Anim. IX.1 (609b).
25. Anthus: possibly the yellow wag-tail. Hardouin quotes Plutarch and Aristotle, to the same effect as Pliny (although Aristotle throws in an "aiunt"), and concludes: " 'Aiunt ægithi et anthi sanguinem non commisceri.' Fortassis, quia sanguis alterius pinguioris sit naturæ." !
26. Phylarchus: the story survives here and in Aelian, XVII.5, where it is said to come from "Book XII". Hardouin notes "Penes auctorem Phylarchum, inquit, sit hujus miraculi fides. Formula est vix credentis, aut certe vadem se minime præferentis."
27. E.g., Suetonius Nero, cap. 46 (mentioned by Tertullian, de Anima, 44).
This page is by James Eason.