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This species of hawk was also commonly called a “falcongentle," on account of "her familiar, courteous disposition."

Turkey. This bird, so popular with us at Christmas-tide, is mentioned in "I Henry IV." (ii. 1), where the First Carrier says: "God's body! the turkeys in my pannier are quite starved." This, however, is an anachronism on the part of Shakespeare, as the turkey was unknown in this country until the reign of Henry VIII. According to a rhyme written in 1525, commemorating the introduction of this bird, we are told how:

“Turkies, carps, hoppes, piccarell, and beere,
Came into England all in one yeare."

The turkey is again mentioned by Shakespeare in “Twelfth Night" (ii. 5), where Fabian says of Malvolio: "Contemplation makes a rare turkey-cock of him: how he jets under his advanced plumes!"

Vulture. In several passages Shakespeare has most forcibly introduced this bird to deepen the beauty of some of his exquisite passages. Thus, in "King Lear" (ii. 4), when he is complaining of the unkindness of a daughter, he bitterly exclaims:

'O Regan, she hath tied

Sharp-tooth'd unkindness, like a vulture, here."

What, too, can be more graphic than the expression of Tamora in “Titus Andronicus” (v. 2):

"I am Revenge, sent from the infernal kingdom,
To ease the gnawing vulture of thy mind."

Equally forcible, too, are Pistol's words in "The Merry Wives of Windsor" (i. 3): "Let vultures gripe thy guts."

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Johnson considers that "the vulture of sedition" in "2 Henry VI." (iv. 3) is in allusion to the tale of Prometheus, but of this there is a decided uncertainty.

Wagtail. In "King Lear" (ii. 2), Kent says, “"Spare my

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Gentleman's Recreation," p. 19, quoted in Nares's " "Glossary," vol. ii. p. 867.

grey beard, you wagtail?" the word being used in an opprobrious sense, to signify an officious person.

Woodcock. In several passages this bird is used to denote a fool or silly person; as in "Taming of the Shrew" (i. 2): "O this woodcock! what an ass it is!" And again, in "Much Ado About Nothing" (v. 1), where Claudio, alluding to the plot against Benedick, says: "Shall I not find a woodcock too?" In "Love's Labour's Lost" (iv. 3) Biron says:

"O heavens, I have my wish!

Dumain transformed: four woodcocks in a dish."

The woodcock has generally been proverbial as a foolish bird-perhaps because it is easily caught in springes or nets.' Thus the popular phrase "Springes to catch woodcocks" meant arts to entrap simplicity, as in "Hamlet" (i. 3):

“Aye, springes to catch woodcocks."

A similar expression occurs in Beaumont and Fletcher's "Loyal Subject" (iv. 4) :

"Go like a woodcock,

And thrust your neck i' th' noose.”

"It seems," says Nares, "that woodcocks are now grown wiser by time, for we do not now hear of their being so easily caught. If they were sometimes said to be without brains, it was only founded on their character, certainly not on any examination of the fact."" Formerly, one of the terms for twilight was "cock-shut time," because the net in which cocks, i. e., woodcocks, were shut in during the twilight, was called a "cock-shut." It appears that a large net was stretched across a glade, and so suspended upon poles as to be easily drawn together. Thus, in "Richard III." (v. 3), Ratcliff says:

'Dyce's "Glossary,” p. 508.

"Nares's "Glossary," vol. ii. p. 971.

See Willughby's "Ornithology," iii. section 1.
Minsheu's "Guide into Tongues," ed. 1617.

"Thomas the Earl of Surrey, and himself,

Much about cock-shut time, from troop to troop, Went through the army, cheering up the soldiers." In Ben Jonson's "Masque of Gypsies" we read:

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Sometimes it was erroneously written "cock-shoot." "Come, come away then, a fine cock-shoot evening." In the "Two Noble Kinsmen" (iv. 1) we find the term "cock-light." Wren. The diminutive character of this bird is noticed. in "A Midsummer-Night's Dream" (iii. I, song):


'The wren with little quill."

In "Macbeth" (iv. 2), Lady Macbeth says:

"the poor wren,

The most diminutive of birds, will fight,

Her young ones in her nest, against the owl."

Considering, too, that as many as sixteen young ones have been found in this little bird's nest, we can say with Grahame, in his poem on the birds of Scotland:

"But now behold the greatest of this train
Of miracles, stupendously minute;
The numerous progeny, claimant for food
Supplied by two small bills, and feeble wings
Of narrow range, supplied-ay, duly fed—
Fed in the dark, and yet not one forgot."

The epithet "poor," applied to the wren by Lady Macbeth, was certainly appropriate in days gone by, when we recollect how it was cruelly hunted in Ireland on St. Stephen's daya practice which prevailed also in the Isle of Man.'

'See Yarrell's "History of British Birds," vol. ii. p. 178.



As in the case of the birds considered in the previous chapter, Shakespeare has also interwoven throughout his plays an immense deal of curious folk-lore connected with animals. Not only does he allude with the accuracy of a naturalist to the peculiarities and habits of certain animals, but so true to nature is he in his graphic descriptions of them that it is evident his knowledge was in a great measure acquired from his own observation. It is interesting, also, to note how carefully he has, here and there, worked into his narrative some old proverb or superstition, thereby adding a freshness to the picture which has, if possible, imbued it with an additional lustre. In speaking of the dog, he has introduced many an old hunting custom; and his references to the tears of the deer are full of sweet pathos, as, for instance, where Hamlet says (iii. 2), "Let the stricken. deer go weep." It is not necessary, however, to add further illustrations, as these will be found in the following pages.

Ape. In addition to Shakespeare's mention of this animal as a common term of contempt, there are several other allusions to it. There is the well-known phrase, "to lead apes in hell," applied to old maids, mentioned in the "Taming of the Shrew" (ii. 1)—the meaning of this term not having been yet satisfactorily explained.' (It is further discussed. in the chapter on Marriage.)

In "2 Henry IV." (ii. 4), the word is used as a term of endearment," Alas, poor ape, how thou sweat'st."

Ass. Beyond the proverbial use of this much ill-treated animal to denote a silly, foolish person, Shakespeare has said

1 See page 165.

little about it. In "Troilus and Cressida" (ii. 1), Thersites uses the word assinego, a Portuguese expression for a young ass, "Thou hast no more brain than I have in mine elbows; an assinego may tutor thee." It is used by Beaumont and Fletcher in the "Scornful Lady" (v. 4): "All this would be forsworn, and I again an assinego, as your sister left me."" Dyce' would spell the word "asinico," because it is so spelled in the old editions of Shakespeare, and is more in accordance with the Spanish word. In "King Lear" (i. 4), the Fool alludes to Æsop's celebrated fable of the old man and his ass: thou borest thine ass on thy back o'er the dirt."

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Bat. The bat, immortalized by Shakespeare ("The Tempest," v. 1) as the "delicate Ariel's" steed

"On the bat's back I do fly,"

-has generally been an object of superstitious dread, and proved to the poet and painter a fertile source of images of gloom and terror. In Scotland' it is still connected with witchcraft, and if, while flying, it rise and then descend again earthwards, it is a sign that the witches' hour is come-the hour in which they are supposed to have power over every human being who is not specially shielded from their influence. Thus, in "Macbeth" (iv. 1) the "wool of bat" forms an ingredient in the witches' caldron. One of its popular names is "rere-mouse," which occurs in "A MidsummerNight's Dream" (ii. 2), where Titania says:

“Some, war with rere-mice for their leathern wings,
To make my small elves coats."

This term is equivalent to the Anglo-Saxon, hrére-mús, from hrcran, to stir, agitate, and so the same as the old name

'Nares's "Glossary,” vol. i. p. 38.

2 "Glossary to Shakespeare," 1876, p. 20.

3 6

Asinico, a little ass," Connelly's "Spanish and English Dictionary," Madrid, 4to.


English Folk-Lore," p. 115; cf. " Macbeth," iii. 2.

5 Henderson's "Folk-Lore of Northern Counties," 1879, pp. 125,

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