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such a variety of expression and so copious a language as common poultry. Take a chicken of four or five days old, and hold it up to a window where there are flies, and it will immediately seize its prey, with little twitterings of complacency ; but if you tender it a wasp or a bee, at once its note becomes harsh, and expressive of disapprobation and a sense of danger. When a pullet is ready to lay she intimates the event by a joyous soft and easy note. Of all the occurrences of their life that of laying seems to be the most important; for no sooner has a hen disburdened herself, than she rushes forth with a clamorous kind of joy, which the cock and the rest of his mistresses immediately adopt. The tumult is not confined to the family concerned, but catches from yard to yard, and spreads to every homestead within hearing, till at last the whole village is in an uproar. As soon as a hen becomes a mother her new relation demands a new language; she then runs clucking and screaming about, and seems agi. tated, as if possessed. The father of the flock has also a considerable vocabulary ; if he finds food, he calls a favourite concubine to partake; and if a bird of prey passes over, with a warning voice he bids his family beware. The gallant chanticleer has, at command, his amorous phrases and his terms of defiance. But the sound by which he is best known is his crowing; by this he has been distinguished in all ages as the countryman's clock or larum, as the
watchman that proclaims the divisions of the night. Thus the poet elegantly styles him :
the crested cock, whose clarion sounds The silent hours."
A neighbouring gentleman one summer had lost most of his chickens by a sparrow-hawk, that came gliding down between a faggot pile and the end of
his house, to the place where the coops stood. The owner, inwardly vexed to see his flock thus diminishing, hung a setting net adroitly between the pile and the house, into which the caitiff dashed, and was entangled. Resentment suggested the law of retaliation; he therefore clipped the hawk's wings, cut off his talons, and, fixing a cork on his bill, threw him down among the brood-hens. Imagination cannot paint the scene that ensued; the expressions that fear, rage, and revenge inspired were new, or at least such as had been unnoticed before: the exasperated matrons upbraided, they execrated, they insulted, they triumphed. In a word, they never desisted from buffeting their adversary till they had torn him in a hundred pieces.
SELBORNE, Sept. 9, 1778.
TO THE HONOURABLE DAINES BARRINGTON.
Quid tantum oceano properent se tingere soles
(Virg. Georg. ii. 477–482.)
“ How winter suns in ocean plunge so soon,
And what belates the tardy nights of June.”
GENTLEMEN who have outlets might contrive to make ornament subservient to utility; a pleasing
eye-trap might also contribute to promote science: an obelisk in a garden or park might be both an embellishment and a heliotrope.
Any person that is curious, and enjoys the advan, tage of a good horizon, might, with little troublemake two heliotropes; the one for the winter, the other for the summer solstice: and these two erections might be constructed with very little expense ; for two pieces of timber framework, about ten or twelve feet high, and four feet broad at the base, close lined with plank, would answer the purpose.
The erection for the former should, if possible, be placed within sight of some window in the common sitting parlour; because men, at that dead season of the year, are usually within doors at the close of the day; while that for the latter might be fixed for any given spot in the garden or outlet: whence the owner might contemplate, in a fine summer's evening, the utmost extent that the sun makes to the north ward at the season of the longest days. Now nothing would be necessary but to place these two objects with so much exactness, that the westerly limb of the sun, at setting, might but just clear the winter heliotrope to the west of it on the shortest; the whole disc of the sun clearing the summer heliotrope to the north of it at the longest day.
By this simple expedient it would soon appear that there is no such thing, strictly speaking, as a solstice ; for, from the shortest day, the owner would, every clear evening, see the disc advancing, at its setting, to the westward of the object; and, from the longest day, observe the sun retiring backwards every evening at its setting, towards the object westward, till, in a few nights, it would set quite behind it, and so by degrees to the west of it: for when the sun comes near the summer solstice, the whole disc of it would at first set behind the object; after a time the northern limb would first appear, and so every night gradually more, till at length the whole diame. ter would set northward of it for about three nights ; but on the middle night of the three, sensibly more remote than the former or following. When receding from the summer tropic, it would continue more and more to be hidden every night, till at length it would descend behind the object again ; and so nightly more and more to the westward.