THE PEACOCK "AT HOME:"
A SEQUEL TO THE BUTTERFLY'S BALL.
WRITTEN BY A LADY.
THE TWENTY-SEVENTH EDITION, WITH NOTES.
LONDON: PRINTED FOR J. HARRIS, CORNER OF ST. PAUL'S CHURCH YARD. 1815.
J. Swan, Printer, 76, Fleet Street, London.
[p 3] THE PEACOCK "AT HOME."
The Butterfly's Ball and the Grasshopper's Feasts Excited the spleen of the Birds and the Beasts: For their mirth and good cheer—of the Bee was the theme, And the Gnat blew his horn, as he danc'd in the beam. 'Twas humm'd by the Beetle, 'twas buzz'd by the Fly, And sung by the myriads that sport through the sky. The Quadrupeds listen'd with sullen displeasure, But the tenants of air were enraged beyond measure. The PEACOCK display'd his bright plumes to the Sun, And, addressing his Mates, thus indignant begun: "Shall we, like domestic, inelegant Fowls, [p 4] As unpolished as Geese, and as stupid as Owls, Sit tamely at home, hum drum with our Spouses, While Crickets and Butterflies open their houses? Shall such mean little insects pretend to the fashion? Cousin Turkey-cock, well may you be in a passion! If I suffer such insolent airs to prevail, May Juno pluck out all the eyes in my tail? So a Fete I will give, and my taste I'll display, And send out my cards for St. Valentine's Day." —This determin'd, six fleet Carrier-pigeons went out, To invite all the birds to Sir Argus's Rout. The nest-loving TURTLE-DOVE sent an excuse; DAME PARTLET lay in, as did good Mrs. GOOSE. The TURKEY, poor soul! was confined to the rip: For all her young brood had just fail'd with the pip. The PARTRIDGE was ask'd; but a Neighbour hard by Had engag'd a snug party to meet in a Pye; And the WHEAT-EAR declin'd recollecting her Cousins, Last year, to a feast were invited by dozens, But, alas! they return'd not; and she had no taste [p 5] To appear in a costume of vine-leaves or paste. The WOODCOCK preferr'd his lone haunt on the moor; And the Traveller, SWALLOW, was still on his tour. While the CUCKOO, who should have been one of the guests Was rambling on visits to other Birds' Nests.
But the rest all accepted the kind invitation, And much bustle it caused in the plumed creation: Such ruffling of feathers, such pruning of coats; Such chirping, such whistling, such clearing of throats; Such polishing bills and such oiling of pinions Had never been known in the biped dominions. The TAYLOR BIRD offer'd to make up new clothes For all the young Birdlings, who wish'd to be Beaux: He made for the ROBIN a doublet of red, And a new velvet cap for the GOLDFINCH'S head; He added a plume to the WREN'S golden crest, And spangled with silver the GUINEA-FOWL'S breast; While the HALCYON bent over the streamlet to view, How pretty she look'd in her boddice of blue! Thus adorn'd, they set off for the Peacock's abode, [p 6] With the Guide INDICATOR, who show'd them the road: From all points of the compass, flock'd Birds of all feather; And the PARROT can tell who and who were together. There was Lord CASSOWARY and General FLAMINGO, And Don PEROQUETO, escap'd from Domingo; From his high rock built eyrie the EAGLE came forth, And the Duchess of PTARMIGAN flew from the North. The GREBE and the EIDER DUCK came up by water, With the SWAN, who brought out the young CYGNET, her daughter. From his woodland abode came the PHEASANT to meet Two kindred, arrived by the last India fleet; The one, like a Nabob, in habit most splendid, Where gold with each hue of the Rainbow was blended: In silver and black, like a fair pensive Maid, Who mourns for her love, was the other array'd. The CHOUGH came from Cornwall, and brought up his Wife; The GROUSE travell'd south, from his Lairdship in Fife; The BUNTING forsook her soft nest in the reeds, [p 7] And the WIDOW-BIRD came, though she still wore her weeds. Sir John HERON, of the Lakes, strutted in a grand pas, But no card had been sent to the pilfering DAW, As the Peacock kept up his progenitor's quarrel, Which AEsop relates, about cast-off apparel; For Birds are like Men in their contests together, And, in questions of right, can dispute for a feather.
The PEACOCK, Imperial, the pride of his race, Receiv'd all his guests with an infinite grace, Wav'd high his blue neck, and his train he display'd, Embroider'd with gold, and with em'ralds inlaid. Then with all the gay troop to the shrubb'ry repair'd, Where the musical Birds had a concert prepar'd; A holly bush form'd the Orchestra, and in it Sat the Black-bird, the Thrush, the Lark, and the Linnet; A BULL-FINCH, a captive! almost from the nest, Now escap'd from his cage, and, with liberty blest, In a sweet mellow tone, join'd the lessons of art With the accents of nature, which flow'd from his heart. The CANARY, a much admir'd foreign musician, [p 8] Condescended to sing to the Fowls of condition. While the NIGHTINGALE warbled and quaver'd so fine, That they all clapp'd their wings, and pronounc'd it divine! The SKY LARK, in extacy, sang from a cloud, And CHANTICLEER crow'd, and the YAFFIL laugh'd loud. The dancing began, when the singing was over; A DOTTERELL first opened the ball with the PLOVER; Baron STORK, in a waltz, was allowed to excel, With his beautiful partner, the fair DEMOISELLE; And a newly-fledg'd GOSLING, so fair and genteel, A minuet swam with the spruce Mr. TEAL. A London-bred SPARROW—a pert forward Cit! Danc'd a reel with Miss WAGTAIL, and little TOM TIT. And the Sieur GUILLEMOT next performed a pas seul, While the elderly bipeds were playing a Pool. The Dowager Lady TOUCAN first cut in, With old Doctor BUZZARD and Adm'ral PENGUIN, From Ivy bush tow'r came Dame OWLET the Wise, And Counsellor CROSSBILL sat by to advise.
Some birds past their prime, o'er whose heads it was fated, [p 9] Should pass many St. Valentines—yet be unmated, Sat by, and remark'd that the prudent and sage Were quite overlook'd in this frivolous age, When Birds, scarce pen-feathered, were brought to a rout, Forward Chits! from the egg-shell but newly come out: In their youthful days, they ne'er witness'd such frisking, And how wrong! in the GREENFINCH to flirt with the SISKIN. So thought Lady MACKAW, and her Friend COCKATOO, And the RAVEN foretold that no good could ensue! They censur'd the BANTAM for strutting and crowing In those vile pantaloons, which he fancied look'd knowing: And a want of decorum caus'd many demurs Against the GAME CHICKEN, for coming in spurs.
Old Alderman CORMRANT, for supper impatient, At the Eating-room door, for an hour had been station'd, Till a MAGPYE, at length, the banquet announcing, Gave the signal, long wish'd for, of clamouring and pouncing; At the well-furnish'd board all were eager to perch, But the little Miss CREEPERS were left in the lurch.
Description must fail; and the pen is unable [p 10] To recount all the lux'ries that cover'd the table. Each delicate viand that taste could denote, Wasps a la sauce piquante, and Flies en compote; Worms and Frogs en friture, for the web-footed Fowl; And a barbecu'd Mouse was prepar'd for the Owl; Nuts, grains, fruit, and fish, to regale ev'ry palate, And groundsel and chickweed serv'd up in a sallad, The RAZOR-BILL carv'd for the famishing group, And the SPOON-BILL obligingly ladled the soup; So they fill'd all their crops with the dainties before 'em, And the tables were clear'd with the utmost decorum. When they gaily had caroll'd till peep of the dawn, The Lark gently hinted, 'twas time to be gone; And his clarion, so shrill, gave the company warning, That Chanticleer scented the gales of the morning. So they chirp'd, in full chorus, a friendly adieu; And, with hearts beating light as the plumage that grew On their merry-thought bosoms, away they all flew.
Then long live the PEACOCK, in splendour unmatch'd, [p 11] Whose Ball shall be talk'd of, by Birds yet unhatch'd, His praise let the TRUMPETER loudly proclaim, And the GOOSE lend her quill to transmit it to Fame.
Page 4. l. 15. The Rip.] A machine used in poultry-yards, under which it is usual to confine the mother bird with the young brood, till it has acquired strength to follow her. The word is derived from the Saxon, Hrip, meaning a covering, or protection, for the young.
P. 5. l. 13. The Taylor Bird (Motacilla Sutoria).] So called from the singular manner in which it constructs its nest, which is composed of two leaves, sewed together with wonderful skill, by the little taylor, whose bill serves him for a needle, and the fine fibres of leaves furnishes him with a substitute for thread, and by which means he attaches a dead leaf to a living one, growing at the end of a branch. The Taylor Bird is an inhabitant of India.
P. 5. l. 17. The Golden-crested Wren (Motacilla Regulus).] Is the smallest of the British birds; it takes its name from a circle of gold-coloured feathers, bordered with black, forming an arch above its eyes, which it has the power of raising or depressing: it is a native of every part of Europe, and is also to be found in Asia and America.
P. 5. l. 19. Halcyon, or Kingfisher, (Alcedo-irpedo).] Esteemed the most beautiful of our native birds; but its form is clumsy, and its bill very disproportionate to its size. It inhabits the banks of rivers and streams, where it will sit for hours, on a projecting branch, watching for its prey. The ancients relate many fabulous stories of this bird, as that of its laying its eggs in the depth of winter, and that during the time of its incubation the weather remains perfectly calm, whence the expression Halcyon Days.
P. 6. l. 2. Cuculus Indicator.] A Bird of the Cuckoo kind, found in the interior parts of Africa; it has a shrill note, which the Natives answer by a soft whistle; and the Birds repeating the note, the Natives are thereby conducted to the wild Bee-hives, which this Bird frequents.
P. 6. l. 5. Cassowary.] A large singular bird, found in the Island of Java, in Africa, and the southern parts of India. The head of this bird is armed with a kind of natural helmet, extending from the base of the bill to near half way over the head.
P. 6. l. 5. Flamingo Phoenicopterus.] A bird of the Crane kind, but web-footed, whose plumage is of a bright scarlet; when standing erect, it measures above six feet, though its body is not larger than that of a goose, and is a native of Africa, Persia, and South America.
P. 6. l. 8. Ptarmigan (Tetrao).] The white grons, or white game, inhabits the Highlands of Scotland and the Western Islands; it prefers the coldest situations on the highest mountains, where it burrows under the snow. It changes its feathers twice in the year, and about the end of February puts on its summer dress of dusky brown, ash, and orange-coloured feathers; which it loses in winter for a plumage perfectly white, except a black line between the bill and the eye. The legs and toes are warmly clothed with a thick long coat of soft white feathers.
P. 6. l. 17. The Chough (Corrus Graculus).] This bird, which is about the size of the daw, has a long curved bill, sharp at the point, which, as well as the legs and feet, is of a bright scarlet, contrasting beautifully with its black plumage, which varies as the light falls on it, to a deep purple or violet. Its general haunts are the crevices of high cliffs in Devonshire and Cornwall.
P. 7. l. 2. The Widow, or Widah Bird.] Is a species of bunting, a native of Angola and other parts of Africa. And is remarkable for the feathers of its tail. The two middle ones are about four inches long, and ending in a long thread, the two next are thirteen inches in length, broad and narrowing towards the points, from these proceed another long thread.
P. 8. l. 6. Yaffil the Woodpecker (Picus Viridus).] The name Yaffil is provincial, but is so very expressive of the noise it continually makes, that I have preferred it on that account. It is a beautiful bird, and is sometimes called the English parrot; the colour of its plumage, green, yellow, and scarlet, giving it some resemblance to that bird.
P. 8. l. 10. The Numidian Crane, or Demoiselle.] From the elegance of its appearance, and its singular carriage, is called the Demoiselle, which means the young Lady; for this bird walks very gracefully, and sometimes skips and leaps, as though it were trying to dance.
P. 8. l. 15. Guillemot (Colymbus).] A sea bird, of which there are several species numerously spread over the northern world; from whence they come towards winter to the British shores and remain till they have reared their young: it is sometimes called the foolish Guillemot from his stupidity; for when their companions are shot one after another, they have so little sense of danger, that they make a small circuit, and then return and settle in the same place, to share the same fate.
P. 8. l. 17. Toucan (Ramphastos).] A native of America, where it builds in the hollows of trees, and sits at the entrance, ready to peck at the monkeys, who often endeavour to destroy and eat the young. It is about the size of a Magpye, but the head large in proportion, to enable it to support its immense bill, which is six inches and a half in length, but extremely thin. It is a mild inoffensive bird, and easily tamed, but cannot endure the cold of our climate; the feathers of the breast are highly esteemed by the natives.
P. 8. l. 20. Cross-bill (Loxia).] So called because the two mandibles cross each other in different directions: they feed chiefly on the seeds of fir-trees; the singular construction of their bills being admirably adapted to separate the seeds of the cones. The pips of apples are also a favourite food, and to obtain them, they split the apple with one stroke of their bill; they are consequently found to be very injurious to orchards. It has been observed that they have been more frequently seen in England since the fir-tree has been generally more planted, than formerly.
P. 9. l. 8. Siskin (Fringilla Spinus).] A migratory bird, which is seen in the Southern parts of England at the time of the barley harvest, and is sometimes called the Barley-bird. It has a pleasing note, and is sold as a singing bird in the London bird-shops by the name of the Aberdevine. The accusation of its flirtation with the Greenfinch, is to be understood as pure scandal, the most prying naturalist never having discovered any particular attachment between them.
P. 10. l. 9. Razor bill (Alea).] A migratory sea-bird which visits the Northern shores in spring, and leaves them in winter; they lay a single egg on the ledges of the rocks without any nest, and on which it is said to be fixed by a cement.
P. 10. l. 10. Spoon-bill (Platea).] So called from the construction of the bill, which is flat the whole length, but widens towards the end in the form of a spoon or spatula; and it is equally remarkable in its substance, not being hard like bone, but flexible like whalebone; they feed on snakes, worms, frogs, and fish, even on shellfish, which they first break with their bills.
P. 11. l. 3. The Agami, or Trumpeter, a native of America, remarkable for a singular noise, resembling the instrument from which it takes its name.
J. Swan, Printer, 76, Fleet Street, London.