Page images
PDF
EPUB

the inside of the shell, even as the fish of Oisters and Muskles are; the other ende is made fast unto the

[merged small][graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

belly of a rude masse or lumpe, which in time com. meth to the shape and forme of a Bird: when it is perfectly formed, the shel gapeth open, and the first thing that appeereth is the foresaid lace or string; next come the legs of the Birde hanging out; and as it groweth greater, it openeth the shell by degrees, till at length it is all come foorth, and hangeth only by the bill; in short space after it commeth to full maturitie, and falleth into the sea, where it gathereth feathers, and groweth to a foule, bigger then a Mallard, and lesser then a Goose; having blacke legs and bill or beake, and feathers blacke and white, spotted in such manner as is our Magge-Pie, called in some places a Pie-Annet, which the people of Lancashire call by no other name then a tree Goose; which place aforesaide, and all those parts adjoining, do so much abound therewith, that one of the best is bought for three pence: for the truth heerof, if any doubt, may it please them to repaire unto me, and I shall satisfie them by the testimonie of good witnesses."

That this superstition was not confined to England, but believed in by the learned all over Europe, we learn from Sebastian Munster, in his Cosmographia Universalis, 1550, dedicated to Charles V. He tells the same story, without omitting the picture; and though he mentions the sarcastic remark of Æneas Sylvius, about miracles always Aying away to more remote regions, he himself has no misgivings as to the truth of the bird-bearing tree, vouched for, as he remarks, by Saxo Grummaticus. This is what he writes: -" In Scotia inveniuntur arbores, quæ producunt fructum foliis conglomeratum: et is

cum opportuno tempore decidit in subjectam aquam, reviviscit convertiturque in avem vivam, quam vocant anserem arboreum. Crescit et hæc arbor in insula Pomonia, quæ haud procul abest a Scotia versus aquilonem. Veteres quoque Cosmographi, præsertim Saxo Grammaticus mentionem faciunt hujus arboris, ne putes esse figmentum a novis scriptoribus excogitatum.” 1

The next account of these extraordinary geese I shall take from Hector Boece (1465–1536), who in 1527 wrote his history of Scotland in Latin, which soon after was translated into English. The history is preceded by a Cosmography and Description of Albion, and here we read, in the fourteenth chapter :2 —

“ Of the nature of claik geis, and of the syndry maner of thair procreation, And of the Ile of Thule, capitulo xiiii.

“ Restis now to speik of the geis generit of the see namit clakis. Sum men belevis that thir clakis growis on treis be the nebbis. Bot thair opinioun is

And becaus the nature and procreatioun of thir clakis is strange, we have maid na lytyll lauboure and deligence to serche ye treuth and verite yairof, we have salit throw ye seis quhare thir clakis ar bred, and I fynd be gret experience, that the nature of the seis is mair relevant caus of thair procreatioun

vane.

1 Seb. Munster, p. 49.

3" The hystory and Croniclis of Scotland, with the Cosmography and dyscription thairof, compilit be the noble clerk maister Hector Boece channon of Aberdene. Translatit laitly in our vulgar and commoun langage, be maister Johne Bellenden Archedene of Murray, And Imprentit in Edinburgh, be me Thomas Davidson, prenter to the Kyngis nobyll grace" (about 1540).

36

than ony uthir thyng. And howbeit thir geis ar bred mony syndry wayis, thay ar bred ay allanerly by nature of the seis. For all treis that ar cassin in the seis be proces of tyme apperis first wormeetin, and in the small boris and bollis thairof growis small wormis. First thay schaw thair heid and feit, and last of all thay schaw thair plumis and wyngis. Finaly quhen thay ar cumyn to the just inesure and quantite of geis, thay fle in the aire, as othir fowlis dois, as was notably provyn in the yeir of god ane thousand iii hundred lxxxx in sicht of mony pepyll besyde the castell of Petslego, ane gret tre was brocht be alluvion and flux of the see to land. This wonderfull tre was brocht to the lard of the ground, quhilk sone efter gart devyde it be ane saw. Apperit than ane multitude of wormis thrawing thaym self out of syndry hollis and boris of this tre. Sum of thaym war rude as thay war bot new schapin. Sum had baith heid, feit, and wyngis, bot thay had no fedderis. Sum of thaym war perfit schapin fowlis. At last the pepyll havand ylk day this tre in mair admiration, brocht it to the kirk of Sanct Androis besyde the town of Tyre, quhare it remanis yit to our dayis. And within two yeris efter hapnit sic ane lyk tre to cum in at the firth of Tay besyde Dunde wormeetin and hollit full of young geis in the samyn

Siclike in the port of Leith beside Edinburgh within few yeris efter hapnit sic ane lyke cais. Ane schip namit the Christofir (efter that scho had lyin iii yeris at ane ankir in ane of thir Ilis, wes brocht to leith. And becaus hir tymmer (as apperit) failyeit, sho was brokin down. Incontinent apperit (as afore) al the inwart partis of hir wormeetin, and

maner.

all the hollis thairof full of geis, on the samyn maner as we have schawin. Attoure gif ony man wald allege be sane argument, that this Christofer was maid of fir treis, as grew allanerly in the lis, and that all the rutis and treis that growis in the said Ilis, ar of that nature to be fynaly be nature of the seis resolvit in geis, We preif the cuntre thairof be ane notable example schawin afore our ene. Maister Alexander Galloway person of Kynkell was with ws in thir Ilis, gevand his mynd with maist ernist besynes

to serche the verite of thir obscure and mysty, dowtis. And be adventure liftit up ane see tangle hyngand full of mussill schellis fra the rute to the branchis. Sone efter be opnit ane of thir mussyll schellis, bot than he was mair astonist than afore. For he saw na fische in it bot ane perfit schapin foule smal and gret ay effering to the quantite of the schell. This clerk knawin ws richt desirus of sic uncouth thingis, come haistely with the said tangle, and opnit it to ws with all circumstance afore rehersit. Be thir and mony othir reasonis and examplis we can not beleif that thir clakis ar producit be ony nature of treis or rutis thairof, bot allanerly by the nature of the Occeane see, qubilk is the caus and production of mony wonderful thingis. And becaus the rude and ignorant pepyl saw oftymes the frutis that fel of the treis (quhilkis stude neir the see) convertit within schort tyme in geis, thai belevit that thir geis grew apon the treis bingand be thair nebbis siclik as appillis and utbir frutis hingis be thair stalkis, bot thair opinioun is nocht to be sustenit. For als sone as thir appillis or frutis fallis of the tre in the see flude, thay grow first wormeetin. And be schort process of tyme ar alterat in geis."

« PreviousContinue »