The Sparrow, pp.163-165.

[Three Hundred Animals Contents]

   IS, after the robin-red-breast, the boldest of the small feathered tribe, which frequent our barns and houses; he is a courageous little creature, and fights undauntedly against birds ten times bigger than himself. We have seen the Sparrow introducing himself into pigeon-houses, and, in spite of the outraged parents, and unmindful of their wings, with which they endeavour to keep the intruder away, opening with their sharp and short beak the naked craw of the young ones, and feeding on the half-digested grain which it contained. The quantity of corn they consume is so considerable, that in several countries the landlord or farmer puts a price to a Sparrow’s head, and, by that means, rids his lands of this troublesome depredator. This bird is easily tamed, and will hop about the house, and on the table, with great familiarity. They feed on any thing, and are particularly fond of meat cut in small pieces. Their song, if we can call so their chirping, is far from being agreeable. The male is particularly distinguished by a jet black spot under the bill upon a whitish ground. They are found nearly in every country of the world. The Hedge Sparrow is a smaller variety of the bird above described, and is called in French, Friquet. Commentators do not agree whether the Sparrow or Canary was the beloved bird of Catullus’s mistress, on the death of which he composed the famous elegy, beginning by the words:- Lugete Veneres, &c. part of which has been imitated as follows: 

Ye, Cupids, close your silky wings, 

Drop from your heads the festive curl; 

Let freely flow the lucid pearl 

That from the heart of sorrow springs; 

My Lesbia’s bird no longer sings; 

He’s gone, the favourite of my girl! 

No longer will the myrtle grow, 

No longer yonder streamlet purl, 

No more the violet will blow, 

No more young roses will unfurl 

Their damask curtains, since they know 

That to the murky shades below, 

Atropos, last night, durst to hurl 

The little soul that used to glow 

Within the favourite of my girl. 


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