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washerwoman, meets one in the way; as also
earthen-pot maker or widow meets us, we interpret it in the worst sense ; when one sprains his foot, falls on his head, or is called back; presently the professors of prognostication are consulted, and they turn to the proper chapter for such a sign, and give the interpretation of it."
“If an Owl,” says Bourne, p. 71, " which | Pennant observes : “ This is what we call the is reckoned a 'most abominable and unlucky Screech Owl, to which the folly of superstition bird, sevd forth its hoarse and dismal voice, it had given the power of presaging death by its is an omen of the approach of some terrible cries."( thing: that some dire calamity and some The Spectator” says that a Screech Owl great misfortune is near at hand.” This omen at midnight has alarmed a family more than occurs in Chaucer :
a band of robbers.(5) And as Grose tells us, a “ The jelous Swan, ayenst hys deth
Screech Owl flapping its wings against the win. that
dows of a sick person's chamber, or screeching singeth, The Oule eke, that of deth the bode bring
at them, portends that some one of the family shall shortly die.
Moresin, in his “ Papatus," p. 21, mentions Assembly of Foules, fol. 235.
among omens the hooting of Owls in passing: It is thus mentioned by Spenser:
“ Bubonum bubulatum in transitu."" “ The rueful Strich still wayting on the beere,
Shakspeare, in his “ Julius Cæsar,” act i. The whistler shril, that whoso beares doth
sc. 6, has the following passage :
“The Bird of Night did sit Pennant, in his “ Zoology,” vol. i. p. 202,
Ev'n at noon-day upon the market-place informs us that the appearance of the Eagle
Houting and shrieking.") Owl in cities was deemed an unlucky omen.
The noise of the Owl, as a foretokening of Rome itself once underwent a lustration, be
ill, is also mentioned in “Six Pastorals, &c., cause one of them strayed into the Capitol. () !
by George Smith, Landscape Painter, at Chic The ancients held them in the utmost abhor
chester, in Sussex,” 4to. Lond. 1770, p. 33: rence, and thought them, like the Screech Owl, the messengers of death. Pliny styles 6 Within my cot, where quiet gave me rest, it, “ Bubo funebris et Noctis monstrum." (3) Let the dread Screech Owl build her hated Thus also Virgil, in the lines already quoted
nest, from Armstrong's “ History of Minorca, in a And from my window oʻer the country send former page.
Her midnight screams to bode my latter Speaking of the tawny Owl, p. 208,
NOTES TO THE OWL.
(1) Thus Butler, in his “ Hudibras," p. ii. | as Isidore sayth. The cryenge of the Owle canto iii. 1. 707 :
by nyght tokeneth deathe, as divinours con“ The Roman Senate, when within
jecte and deme." The city walls an Owl was seen,
Gaule, in his “ Mag-astromancers posed and Did cause their clergy with lustrations
puzzel'd," p. 181, does not omit, in his Cata(Our Synod calls humiliations)
logue of vain Observations and superstitious The round-fac'd prodigy t'avert
Ominations thereupon, “ The Owles scritchFrom doing town and country hurt." “ According to the author of the · Æneid,' O“When Screech Owls croak upon the chimthe solitary Owl foretold the tragical end of
ney tops. the unhappy Dido.” See Macaulay's “St. Kilda," p. 176. “Suetonius," he tells us, It's certain then you of a corse shall hear.'' “ who took it into his head to relate all the
Reed's Old Plays, vol. vi. p. 357. imaginary prodigies that preceded the deaths of his twelve Cæsars, never misses an oppor Alexander Ross informs us, in his Appendix tunity so favourable of doing justice to the to the “ Arcana Microcosmi,” p. 218, that prophetical character of some one bird or “Lampridius and Marcellinus, among other other. It is surprising that Tacitus should prodigies which presaged the death of Valenhave given into the same folly.”
tinian, the Emperor, mention an Owle which (3) Thus " Alex. ab Alexandro," lib. v. c. sate upon the top of the house where he used 13, p. 680 : “ Maxime vero abominatus est to bathe, and could not thence be driven away Bubo, tristis et dira Avis, voce funesta et ge with stones. Julius Obsequens (in his · Book mitu, qui formidolosa, dirasque necessitates of Prodigies,' c. 85) shewes that a little before et magnos moles instare portendit.”
the death of Commodus Antoninus, the EmMacaulay, above quoted, p. 171, observes : peror, an Owle was observed to sit upon the « On the unmeaning actions or idleness of top of his chamber, both at Rome and at Lasuch silly birds; on their silence, singing, nuvium. Xiphilinus, speaking of the prodichirping, chattering, and croaking; on their gies that went before the death of Augustus, feeding or abstinence; on their flying to the says, that the Owl sung upon the top of the right hand or left--was founded an art : which Curia. He shews, also, that the Actian War from a low and simple beginning grew to an was presignified by the flying of Owls into the immense height, and gained a surprising de Temple of Concord. In the year 1542, at Hergree of credit in a deluded world."
bipolis, or Wirtzburg, in Franconia, this un(3) The Owl is called also, by Pliny, “in lucky bird, by his scrieching songs, affrighted auspicata et funebris Avis :" by Ovid, “di. the citizens a long time together, and immerum Mortalibus omen :" by Lucan, “sinister diately followed a great plague, war, and Bubo:" and by Claudian, “infestus Bubo." other calamities. About twenty years ago I In Petri Molinæi“ Vates,” p. 154, we read:
did observe that in the house where I lodged, “Si Noctua sub noctem audiatur, ominosum an Owl, groaning in the window, presaged the
death of two eminent persons, who died there In Bartholomæus, “ De Proprietatibus Re shortly after." rum,” by Berthelet, fol. 166, 6, is the follow (5) In “More Knaves yet. The Knaves of ing: “Of the Oule. Divynours telle that Spades and Diamonds, with new Additions," they betokyn evyll; for if the Owle be seen 4to. Lond. (date cut off), I find the following in a citie, it signifyeth distruccion and waste, account of "The Country Cunning Man:")
“ Wise Gosling did but hear the Scrich Owle / No breath disturbs the quiet of the aire, crie,
No spirit moves upon the breast of earth, And told his wife, and straight a pigge did Save howling Dogs, Night Crowes, and die.
screeching OwLES, Another time (after that scurvie Owle) Save meager Ghosts, Piero, and blacke When Ball, his dog, at twelve o'clocke did
Thoughts." howle, He jogg'd'his wife, and ill lucke, Madge O Upon which Grey, in his Notes on did say,
Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 175, observes : “ RoAnd Fox hy morning stole a Goose away. mani L. Crasso & C. Marcio Coss. bubone Besides, be knowes foule weather, raine, or viso lustrabant." See a remarkable account haile,
of an Owle that disturbed Pope John XXIV. Ev'n by the wagging of his dun Cowe's taile. at a council held at Rome. Fascic. Rer, exWhen any theeves his Hens and Duckes petendar. & fugiendar. p. 402. Brown's edit. pursew,
The following is an answer to a query in the He knowes it by the candles burning blew. “ Athenian Oracle," vol. i. p. 45: “Why Or if a Raven cry just oʻre his head, Rats, Toads, Ravens, Screech Owls, &c., are Some in the towne have lost their maiden ominous; and how they come to foreknow head.
fatal events ?"_“Had the Querist said unFor losse of cattell and for fugitives,
lucky instead of ominous he might easily have He'll find out with a sive and rustie knives. met with satisfaction : a Rat is so, because he His good daies are when'schaffer is well sold, destroys many a good Cheshire cheese, &c. And bad daies when his wife doth braule A Toad is unlucky, because it poisons (later and scold.”
discoveries in natural history deny this). As Willsford, in his “ Nature's Secrets," p.
for Ravens and Screech Owls, they are just as 134, says: “ Owls whooping after sun-set, and
unlucky as Cats, when about their courtship, in the night, foreshews a fair day to ensue ; but because they make an ugly noise, which disif she names herself in French (Huette) ex turbs their neighbourhood. The instinct of pect then fickle and unconstant weather, but
Rats leaving an old ship, is, because they most usually rain."
cannot be dry in it, and an old house, because, Mason, in the “ Anatomie of Sorcerie," 4to. perhaps, they want victuals. A Raven is Lond. 1612, p. 85, ridicules the superstition
much such a prophet as our conjurors or alof those persons of his age, that are “the manack makers, foretelling things after they markers of the flying or noise of foules : as are come to pass : they follow great armies, as they which prognosticate death by the croak Vultures, not as foreboding battle, but for ing of Ravens, or the hideous crying of Owles the dead men, dogs, horses, &c., which (espein the night.”
cially in a march) must daily be left behind Marston, in " Antonio and Mellida;" Works, them. But the foolish observations made on 8vo. Lond. 1633, signat. F, says:
their croaking before death, &c., are for the “ 'Tis yet dead night, yet all the earth is
most part pure humour, and have no grounds
besides foolish tradition, or a sickly imaginacloucht In the dull leaden hand of snoring sleepe :
RAVENS, CROWS, WOODPECKERS, KITES, CRANES,
PENNANT, in his “ Zoology," vol. i. p. 219, / to feed the prophet Elijah, when he fled from says that “a vulgar respect is paid to the the rage of Ahab.” Raven, as being the bird appointed by heaven
Moresin includes the croaking of Ravens. If a Crow cry, says Bourne, p. 70, it poramong Omens.)
tends some evil. Bishop Hall, in his “Characters of Vertues In Willsford's “ Nature's Secrets,” p. 133, and Vices," p. 87, speaking of the superstitious we read : “ Ravens and Crows, when they do man, tells us, “ that if he heare but a Raven make a hoarse, hollow, and sorrowful nise, croke from the next roofe he makes his will." as if they sobbed, it presages foul weather apHe mentions also a Crow crying even or odd. proaching. Crows flocking together in great “He listens in the morning whether the Crow companies, or calling early in the morning crieth even or odd, and by that token pre with a full and clear voice, or at any time of sageth the weather.”
the day gaping against the sun, foreshews hot The following lines are found in Spenser: and dry weather : but if at the brink of ponds “ The ill-fac'd Owle, death's dreadful mes they do wet their heads, or stalk into the senger;
water, or cry much towarıls the evening, are The hoarse night Raven, trompe of doleful signs of rain. (3) dreere." ()
“ The WOOD-PECKER's cry denotes wet. Pennant, in his “ Zoology," ut supra, p.
“Buzards, or Kites, when they do soar 220, speaking of the Carrion Crow, tells us,
very high and much to lessening themselves, “Virgil says that its croaking foreboded rain.
making many plains to and again, foreshews It was also thought a bird of bad omen,
hot weather, and that the lower region of the especially if it happened to be seen on the
air is inflamed, which for coolnesse makes left hand :
“CRANES soaring aloft, and quietly in the Sæpe sinistra caya prædixit ab ilice Cor
air, foreshews fair weather ; but if they do nix.'”
make much noise, as consulting which way to Thus also Butler, in his “Hudibras:”
go, it foreshews a storm that's neer at hand. “ Is it not om'nous in all countries
* Herons, in the evening, flying up and When Crows and Ravens croak upon trees ?'' | down, as if doubtful where to rest, presages
Part ii. canto ji. 1.707. | some evill approaching weather."(5)
NOTES TO RAVENS, CROWS, WOODPECKERS, KITES, CRANES, HERONS.
O “Corvorum crocitatum super tecto.“ Papatus, p. 21. Gay, too, in his pastoral called The Dirge, has noted this omen: , 6 The boding Raven on her cottage sat, And, with hoarse croakings, warn’d us of
our fate." (2) So, in Shakspeare's “Othello :"
- “O it comes o'er my memory As doth the Raven, o'er the infected house, Boding to all."
So, again, in the Second Part of “Antonio and Mellida ;” Marston's Works, 8vo. Lond. 1633, signat. H: “ Now barkes the Wolfe against the full
checkt moone, Now Lyons halfe-clam'd entrals roare for food.
Now croaks the Toad, and Night Crowes
yawnes let loose
The following passages from old English Poets on this subject are found in Poole's “ English Parnassus,” v. OMENS.
- which seldom boding good Croak their black auguries from some
dark wood." And again : “Night Jars and Ravens, with wide stretched
throats, From yews and hollies send their baleful The om'nous Raven with a dismal chear proverbial expression, denoting a preternatural Through his hoarse beak of following sagacity in predicting fortuitous events. In horror tells,
Greece and Italy, Ravens were sacred to Begetting strange imaginary fear,
Apollo, the great patron of augurs, and were With heavy echos like to Passing Bells." | called companions and attendants of that god."
Ibid. p. 176: he says that, “according to some Alexander Ross informs us that “by Ravens, writers, a great number of Crows fluttered both publick and private calamities and about Cicero's head on the very day he was death have been portended. Jovianus Pon- murdered by the ungrateful Popilius Lænas, tanus relates two terrible skirmishes between as if to warn him of his approaching fate; the Ravens and the Kites in the fields lying be , and that one of them, after having made its tween Beneventum and Apicium, which prog- way into his chamber, pulled away his very nosticated a great battle that was to be fought bed-clothes, from a solicitude for his safety.” in those fields. Nicetas speaks of a skirmish Bartholomæus, “ De Proprietatibus," by between the Crowes and Ravens, presignifying Berthelet, 27th Hen. VIII. fol. 168 b, says: the irruption of the Scythians into Thracia.” “ And as divinours mene the Raven hath a Appendix to “ Arcana Microcosmi," p. 219. maner virtue of meanyng and tokenynge of
He adds, p. 220, “Private men have been divination. And therefore among nations, forewarned of their death by Ravens. I have the Raven among fvules was halowed to not only heard and read, but have likewise Apollo, as Mercius saythe." observed divers times. A late example I (3) Gaule, in his “ Mag-astromancers have of a young gentleman, Mr. Draper, my posed and puzzel'd," p. 181, inserts among intimate friend, who, about five or six years vain Observations and superstitious Ominaago, being then in the flower of his age, had, on tions thereupon, “A Crow lighting on the a sudden, one or two Ravens in his chamber, right hand or the left." wbich had been quarrelling upon the top of In the Earl of Northampton's " Defensative the chimney; these he apprehended as mes against the Poyson of supposed Prophesengers of his death, and so they were; for he sies," 4to. Lond. 1583, signat. T 2 b, we read: died shortly after. Cicero was forewarned, by “ The flight of many Crowes uppon the left the noise and fluttering of Ravens about him, side of the campe made the Romans very that his end was near. He that employed a much afrayde of some badde lucke: as if the Raven to be the feeder of Elias, may employ greate God Jupiter had nothing else to doo the same bird as a messenger of death to (sayd Carneades) but to dryve Jacke Dawes others. We read in histories of a Crow in in a flocke together." Trajan's time that in the Capitoll spoke (in Bartholomæus says, fol. 168, of the CroweGreek) all things shall be well.”
“Divynourstell, that she taketh hede of spienges Macaulay, in bis “ History of St. Kilda,"
and awaytynges, and teacheth and sheweth p. 165, tells us : “The truly philosophical wayes, and warneth what shal fal. But it is manner in which the great Latin poet has ac ful unleful to beleve, that God sheweth his counted for the joyful croakings of the Raven
prevy counsayle to Crowes as Isidore sayth. species, upon a favourable chaunge of weather,
Among many divynacions divynours meane will in my apprehension (see “Georgics,' b. that Crowes token reyne with gredynge and i. v. 410, &c.) point out at the same time the true natural causes of that spirit of divination,
cryenge, as this verse meaneth, with regard to storms of wind, rain, or snow,
*Nunc plena Cornix pluviam vocat improba by which the Sea-gull, Tulmer, Cormorant,
voce :' Heron, Crow, Plover, and other birds, are ac that is to understonde, tuated some time before the change comes on.” He observes, p. 174: “Of inspired birds,
Nowe the Crowe calleth reyne with an Ravens were accounted the most prophetical.
eleynge voyce.'” Accordingly, in the language of that district, In the Supplement to the “ Athenian Orato have the foresight of a Raven, is to this daya / cle," p. 476, we are informed that “people