emperor, mention an owle which sate upon the top of the house where he used to bathe, and could not thence be driven away with stones. Julius Obsequens in his Book of Pro

( digies, c. 85) shewes that a little before the death of Commodus Antoninus, the emperor, an owle was observed to sit upon the top of his chamber, both at Rome and at Lanuvium. Xiphilinus, speaking of the prodigies that went before the death of Augustus, says, that the owl sung upon the top of the Curia. He shews, also, that the Actian war was presignified by the flying of owls into the Temple of Concord. In the year 1542, at Herbipolis, or Wirtzburg, in Franconia, this unlucky bird, by his scrieching songs, affrighted the citizens a long time together, and immediately followed a great plague, war, and other calamities. About twenty years ago I did observe that in the house where I lodged, an owl, groaning in the window, presaged the death of two eminent persons, who died there shortly after.”

In Rowland's More Knaves yet; the Knaves of Spades and Diamonds, with new Additions, I find the following account of "The Country Cunning Man :"

“ Wise gosling did but hear the scrich owle crie,

And told his wife, and straight a pigge did die.
Another time (after that scurvie owle)
When Ball, his dog, at twelve o'clocke did howle,
He jogg'd his wife, and ill lacke, Madge did say,
And fox by morning stole a goose away.
Besides, he knowes foule weather, raine, or haile,
Ev'n by the wagging of his dun cowe's taile.
When any theeves his hens and duckes pursew,
He knowes it by the candles burning blew.
Or if a raven cry just o're his head,
Some in the towne have lost their maidenhead.
For losse of cattell and for fugitives,
He'll find out with a sive and rustie knives.
His good daies are when's chaffer is well sold,

And bad daies when his wife doth braule and scold."
Willsford, in bis Nature's Secrets, p. 134, says:

- Owls whooping after sunset, and in the night, foreshews a fair day to ensue; but if she names herself in French (Huette) expect then fickle and unconstant weather, but most usually rain.”

Mason, in the Anatomie of Sorcerie, 4to. Lond. 1612, p. 85, ridicules the superstition of those persons of his age, that

“the markers of the flying or noise of foules : as they


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which prognosticate death by the croaking of ravens, or the hideous crying of owles in the night." Marston, in Antonio and Mellida, Works, 1633, says:

“ 'Tis yet dead night, yet all the earth is cloucht

In the dull leaden hand of snoring sleepe:
No breath disturbs the quiet of the aire,
No spirit moves upon the breast of earth,
Save howling dogs, night crowes and screeching owles,

Save meager ghosts, Piero, and blacke thoughts." Grey, in bis Notes on Shakespeare, ii. 175, observes : “ Romani L. Crasso et C. Marcio Coss. bubone viso lustrabant." See a remarkable account of an owle that disturbed Pope John XXIV. at a council held at Rome. Fascic. Rer. expetendar. et fugiendar. p. 402. Brown's edit.

The following is an answer to a query in the Athenian Oracle, i. 45 : Why rats, toads, ravens, screech owls, &c., are ominous ; and how they come to foreknow fatal events ? -Had the querist said unlucky instead of ominous he might easily have met with satisfaction: a rat is so, because he destroys many a good Cheshire cheese, &c. A toad is unlucky, because it poisons (later discoveries in natural history deny this). As for ravens and screech owls, they are just as unlucky as cats, when about their courtship, because they make an ugly noise, which disturbs their neighbourhood. The instinct of rats leaving an old ship is, because they cannot be dry in it, and an old house, because, perhaps, they want victuals. A raven is much such a prophet as our conjurors or almanack makers, foretelling things after they are come to pass : they follow great armies, as vultures, not as foreboding battle, but for the dead men, dogs, horses, &c., which (especially in a march) must daily be left behind them. But the foolish observations made on their croaking before death, &c., are for the most part pure humour, and have no grounds besides foolish tradition, or a sickly imagination."

Speaking of the tawny owl, p. 208, Pennant observes : “This is what we call the screech owl, to which the folly of superstition had given the power of presaging death by its cries." The Spectator says that a screech owl at midnight has alarmed a family more than a band of robbers. And as Grose tells us, a screech owl flapping its wings against the windows of a sick person's chamber, or screeching at them, III.


portends that some one of the family shall shortly die. Moresin, in his Papatus, p. 21, mentions among omens the hooting of owls in passing: “Bubonum bubulatum in transitu.” Shakespeare, in his Julius Cæsar, act i. sc. 6, has the following passage :

“ The bird of night did sit

Ev'n at noon-day upon the market-place

Houting and shrieking." The noise of the owl, as a foretokening of ill, is also mentioned in Six Pastorals, &c., by George Smith, landscape painter, at Chichester, in Sussex, 4to. Lond. 1770, p. 33:

6 Within my cot, where quiet gave me rest,

Let the dread screech owl build her hated nest,
And from my window o'er the country send

Her midnight screams to bode my latter end.” Pennant, in his Zoology, i. 219, says that “a vulgar respect is paid to the raven, as being the bird appointed by heaven to feed the prophet Elijah, when he fled from the rage of Ahab. [And from the following passage, it would seem that the cuckoo was a bird of deadly omen

“ Are you ready? The fatal cuckoo, on yon spreading tree,
Hath sounded out your dying knell already.”

Cowley's Love's Riddle, 1681, p. 111.) Moresin includes the croaking of ravens among omens. “ Corvorum crocitatum super tecto,” Papatus, p. 21. Gay, too, in his pastoral called the Dirge, has noted this omen:

“ The boding raven on her cottage sat,

And, with hoarse croakings, warn'd us of our fate.” Bishop Hall, in his Characters of Vertues and Vices, p. 87, speaking of the superstitious man, tells us,

that if he heare but a raven croke from the next roofe he makes his will." He mentions also a crow crying even or odd. “He listens iu the morning whether the crow crieth even or odd, and by that token presageth the weather.”. The following lines are found in Spenser:

" The ill-fac'd owle, death's dreadful messenger ;

The hoarse night raven, trompe of doleful dreere." So, in Shakespeare's Othello :

. “O it comes o'er my memory As doth the raven, o'er the infected house, Boding to all."

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And again, in the Second Part of Anton.o and Mellida ; 1633:

“Now barkes the wolfe against the full cheekt moone,

Now lyons halfe-clam'd entrals roare for food.
Now croaks the toad, and night crowes screech aloud,
Fluttering 'bout casements of departing soules.
Now gapes the graves, and through their yawnes let loose

Imprison'd spirits to revisit earth.” The following passages from old English poets on this subject are found in Poole's English Parnassus, v. Omens.

« Ravens.

-“Which seldom boding good, Croak their black auguries from some dark wood.” And again :

" Night jars and ravens, with wide stretched throats,

From yews aud hollies send their baleful notes-
The om'nous raven with a dismal chear

Through his hoarse beak of following horror tells,
Begetting strange imaginary fear,

With heavy echoes like to passing bells.” Alexander Ross informs us, that “by ravens, both publick and private calamities and death have been portended. Jovianus Pontanus relates two terrible skirmishes between the ravens and the kites in the fields lying between Beneventum and Apicium, which prognosticated a great battle that was to be fought in those fields. Nicetas speaks of a skirmish between the crowes and ravens, presignifying the irruption of the Scythians into Thracia. Appendix to Arcana Microcosmi, p. 219. He adds, p. 220 : “Private men have been forewarned of their death by ravens. I have not only heard and read, but have likewise observed divers times. A late example I have of a young gentleman, Mr. Draper, my intimate friend, who, about five or six years ago, being then in the flower of his age, had, on a sudden, one or two ravens in his chamber. which had been quarrelling upon the top of the chimney ; these he apprehended as messengers of his death, and so they were; for he died shortly after. Cicero was forewarned, wy the noise and fluttering of ravens about him, that his end was

He that employed a raven to be the feeder of Elias, may employ the same bird as a messenger of death to others. We read in histories of a crow in Trajan's time that in the Capitoll spoke (in Greek) all things shall be well.”


Macaulay, in his History of St. Kilda, p. 165, tells us : “The truly philosophical manner in which the great Latin poet has accounted for the joyful croakings of the raven species, upon a favourable chaunge of weather, will in my apprehension (see Georgics, b. i. v. 410, &c.) point out at the same time the true natural causes of that spirit of divination, with regard to storms of wind, rain, or snow, by which the sea-gull, tulmer, cormorant, heron, crow, plover, and other birds, are actuated some time before the change comes on.” He observes, p. 174: “Of inspired birds, ravens were accounted the most prophetical. Accordingly, in the language of that district, to have the foresight of a raven, is to this day a proverbial expression, denoting a preternatural sagacity in predicting fortuitous events. In Greece and Italy, ravens were sacred to Apollo, the great patron of augurs, and were called companions and attendants of that god.” Ibid. p. 176: he says that, "according to some writers, a great number of crows fluttered about Cicero's head on the very day he was murdered by the ungrateful Popilius Lænas, as if to warn him of his approaching fate; and that one of them, after having made its way into his chamber, pulled away his very bed-clothes, from a solicitude for his safety.''

Bartholomæus, De Proprietatibus, by Berthelet, 27 Hen. VIII. f. 168, says:

“ And as divinours mene the raven hath & maner virtue of meanyng and tokenynge of divination. Ani therefore among nations, the raven among foules was halowed to Apollo, as Mercius saythe.”

Pennant, in his Zoology, ut supra, p. 220, speaking of the carrion crow, tells us : Virgil says that its croaking fore boded rain. It was also thought a bird of bad omen, esper cially if it happened to be seen on the left hand :

Sæpe sinistra cava prædixit ab ilice cornix.'”
Thus also Butler, in his Hudibras :

“ Is it not om'nous in all countries
When crows and ravens croak upon trees?”

Part ii. canto iii. l. 707. “ If a crow cry, says Bourne, p. 70, "it portends some evil.” In Willsford's Nature's Secrets, p. 133, we read : “Ravens and crows, when they do make a hoarse, hollow, and sorrowful noise, as if they sobbed, it presages foul wea


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