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HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
FRO"A THE LIBRARY OF
SEPTEMBER 28, 1934
PRINTED BY cox (BROTHERS) AND WYMAN, GREAT QUEEN STREET,
THE FIFTH BOOK:
THE PARTICULAR PART CONTINUED.
OF MANY THINGS QUESTIONABLE AS THEY ARE COMMONLY
DESCRIBED IN PICTURES; OF MANY POPULAR CUSTOMS, ETC.
Of the Picture of the Pelican.
AND first, in every place we meet with the picture of the pelican, opening her breast with her bill, and feeding her young ones with the blood distilled from her. Thus is it set forth not only in common signs, but in the crest and scutcheon of many noble families; hath been asserted by many holy writers, and was an hieroglyphick of piety and pity among the Egyptians; on which consideration they spared them at their tables.
1 And first, &c.] These singular birds are said to fish in companies ; they form a circle on the water, and having by the flapping of their huge wings, driven the terrified fish towards the centre, they suddenly dive all at once as by consent, and soon fill their immense pouches with their prey. In order subsequently to disgorge the contents, in feeding their young, they have only to press the pouch on their breast. This operation may very probably have given rise to the fable, that the pelican opens her breast to nourish her
young As to its hieroglyphical import, Horapollo says that it was used among the Egyptians as an emblem of folly; on account of the little care it takes to deposit its eggs in a safe place. He relates that it buries them in a hole ; that the natives, observing the place, cover it with dry cow's dung, to which they set fire. The old birds immediately endeavouring to extinguish the fire with their wings, get them burnt, and so are easily caught.- Horap. Hierogl. cura Pauw, 4to. Traj. ad Rh. 1727, Pp. 67, 68.