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spread itself over the map in a forest of houses and streets, it is impossible to avoid hitting it somewhere. In comes the road from the country as straight as a ruler down to the Marble Arch, and there stops. To get to the City it is necessary to turn sharp to the left, along one of the arms of a crossroad. But putting things back a bit, it is quite easy to see what the Edgware-road originally made for, and at the same time that it is older than London town. Take the time when London had not spread much beyond its walls, and when on the east there was a brook running down from Marylebone to Westminster, and on the west the Serpentine was a crinkly stream running under the Knight's Bridge down to the Thames, where the Grosvenor Canal is. To this day its old course marks the curved line of the boundary of the parish of St. George's, Hanover-square, and determines the fact whether one is a denizen of Belgravia or not. Sweeping away the houses and parks and iron railings, it is seen that the long, straight road pointed not to Charing Cross, where we measure our cab-fares from, but along the high and dry ground to a ferry over the Thames, somewhere above Westminster. Where exactly the ferry was, it is not now possible to say. No one can tell exactly the shifting channel of a tidal river or reconstruct the original form of the marshes of Lambeth. But there, in the bend of the river, would be a good place for a crossing, and there the road went, and probably kept well to the south between the marshes and the wooded hills until it found its continuation in the Doverroad. Of course, when London was a town, and piles were driven into the bed of the Thames and a bridge laid across them, no one would use a dangerous ferry when an extra mile or so would take them safely over London Bridge. So the old trace of the road is lost, as is also lost the way in which Lundonbury passed from the hands of its Romanized British inhabitants into those of the Teutonic invaders.
But if one were to try to scrape the history off the Edgware Road-which is
really the Watling Street-there would be so much that it would fill volumes, for its whole history is nothing less than the tale of British traffic down to the time when the London and Birmingham Railway-which is now called the North-Western-made another straight streak in the same direction across the map. Therefore it was better to begin with a road down in Suffolk, where everything-even conjectural history— is on a modest scale.
From Leisure Hour. CUCKOO: AN ENGLISH IDYLL.
For all his faults, and he stands accused of some criminal offences, the cuckoo, that ne'er do weel of ornithology, is a favorite. Irresponsible parent of city arabs that involve bird communities in heavy liabilities for the maintenance of infant paupers; housebreaker who inveigles respectable birds like the wryneck into aiding and abetting in his raids on the treasure of unprotected homes; villain who is stranger to all chivalrous sentiment as well as to the plain virtues of the good citizen; one whom in sound common sense we should abhor and despiseis the bird above all others who has found the way to our hearts.
It is not too much to say of this gay renegade that souls sigh for his coming when winter's iron rule wearies the northern worlds; that some, exiled, would lay down fame and fortune once more to hear him call across the May flowers in an English lane; that hearts beat high at the sound of his jubilate, and summer, sweet summer, would be shorn of half her hopes if he her herald were struck dumb.
For Cuculus Canorus of the house of Cuculidæ is the modern representative of Freya and Iduna, at whose coming frost and snow vanished, whose smiles strewed the earth with flowers, whose tears stored the sea with pearls. And right well does he fill the office.
"Cooey!" "Cooey!" we cry to the knows that Cornish stories are more songs and the sunshine and the flowers of Spring, and if only the answer comes back from the oaks and the elms, or copses of lesser growth and greater shelter, "Cuckoo!" "Cuckoo" we know that all is well, for they come at his beck and call.
than half legendary. No, the cuckoo must come from some El Dorado where flowers may be had for the picking of them. Perhaps he gathers them on the fertile shores of the Nile, or in some flowery wilderness of Persia, but this is merely a suggestion and not strictly speaking cuckoo lore, that interesting study for much of which I am indebted to Mr. Swainson's book of bird legends.
As he sings the young green blades come up among the grasses, butter. cups and daisies bestrew the meadows, and a daïs of most ancient vair is hung anew over the baby birds that are rocked in the tree tops. Travelling birds come home to sing to us, and all things fair and beautiful fall gently as the dew on the old earth and veil the scars that time and his secrets have graven on her ancient face and form.
There is one story about the cuckoo -it is well known and so should be true that I never can believe. It is about its winter whereabouts, and comes from some corner of still primitive Sussex. It runs thus. When winter approaches all the cuckoos are given into the care of an old woman, who keeps them through the cold weather. When April the fourteenth comes round, she carries them in Ler apron to Heathfield Fair, and there lets them fly. Now I hold two strong arguments against the truth of this tale. My first is that the gifts the cuckoo showers broadcast on his first appearance are not to be gathered in any old woman's cottage. Who ever saw there any wealth of flowers greater than one tightly bound posy stuck in a pickle jar? Not that this is to be despised, but it is no voucher for the tons of daffodils that nod at the brookside, and the cartloads of primroses that rejoice the meadows where the cuckoo has passed by. My second, is that I myself have heard his voice in a Middlesex coppice on April the sixth, showing a discrepancy in dates of eight days.
This story is nearly as ridiculous as the Cornish legend, that he flies out of a burning log in spring, but this it is needless to refute, for every one
But the cuckoo is dear not only for his gift of spring, he answers some of the many questions that harry these inquisitive minds of ours. First he tells all the young people when they are going to be married, and then he tells the old ones how long they have to live. Many refrain from asking this latter question, for it is doubtful whether it be wise to ask it. Most of us like to feel that our billet here below is indefinitely long, and were the cuckoo to measure the small dimension which we divide into two long days, called youth and age, by months and years, it might seem SO appallingly short as to paralyze our senses. On the other hand, perhaps his verdict would so stir the nobler energies of a man, that his short span should prove an era in the world's history.
Lovers, however, never fear to question all the world over. Maidens in England say:—
lands say if he answers with more than ten calls it is because he sits on a bewitched bough; but the old folk who ask the other question, even the most philosophical, will not admit this at all. They consult him in this wise. In England:
Cuckoo, cherry tree,
Come down and tell me,
How many years afore I dee?
Regarde sur ton grand livre,
Guggu, ho, ho,
Wie lang leben i no?
"Ein Kukuk sprach mit einem Staar," so runs the tale, and asked her what folk thought of the nightingale.
"And how about me?"
"I never heard your name," said the starling.
"And what of the lark?"
"Some admire his voice."
1 A boy who robs birds' nests to suck the eggs.
"Then," said the cuckoo, "I must sing my own praises, Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Cuckoo!" and he has said nothing else ever since. When he begins to find it monotonous, as he does about the beginning of June, he changes the tune of his song, that is all.
Was ever such a dastardly trick played on poor mortal bird? It happened thus.
It does not matter much though in what tongue you speak to a cuckoo, for he is accustomed to be addressed in almost every language under the sun. Certainly he is familiar with all the European forms of speech, patios included, but whether The cuckoo, good-natured, generous you talk purest English or broadest fellow that he is, was invited to a Scotch, French, German, Italian, Scan- wedding where the hoopoe was to give dinavian, Swabian, Greek, Polish away the bride; and to lend the alBohemian, he always answers in his ready overdressed bird yet another own tongue. It is not very polite, but fine feather to add to his dignity on so it answers the purpose, and he angreat an occasion, the cuckoo handed questions, for cuckoo him his crown. The hoopoe, not being passes as a lingua franca in all civilized then so proud as he has since become, regions.
It was all through petty rivalry that the cuckoo's vocabulary came to be composed so entirely of homonyms. It took place in a German Städtchen and was just such a tempest in a teapot as gathers in country towns here, there, and everywhere.
accepted the proffered loan; but it was
"The whole town worships her," she hoopoe would naturally not be of the
most charitable description. Even in the summer, when the cuckoo appears in his own character, the smaller birds scarcely know him from their hereditary foe, and when they see him coming they hurry away and hide them
It is fortunate that the law of Madagascar, whereby all the syllables composing a king's name are proscribed for a year at his demise, and only used on pain of death in his domain, does not prevail among the cuckoos, else were our oracle dumb in secula seculorum, for, though it is a fact almost forgotten in these levelling days, the cuckoo comes of a race of kings, though since that rascally hoopoe stole his crown, no outward insignia marks his station.
selves for fear he should pounce and bough to bough, as the children follow carry them off.
This strange resemblance is probably one of those curious instances of mimetic coloring which the exigencies of some creatures' lives seem to require and to produce, for in most lands the native cuckoo resembles the smaller of the native hawks, any variety peculiar to the country in feathering of the hawk being repeated in the color of the cuckoos. Doubtless this makes his winter transformation easier too.
him through the wood pursuing their fruitless search. "Cuckoo" right over head, cuckoo! close at hand, cuckoo! at their very feet, but ever and always this clever play-boy is off to another shelter before they can spy him. And directly the children get home from the woods they throw down their treasures, the bluebells and windflowers killed almost with the clasp of hot hands, and are off to play the game the cuckoo has taught them. Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Cuckoo! how sweetly their voices ring through the house, Cuckoo! Cuckoo! from the cupboards and all possible nooks and crannies. Is there anything so joyous or so pathetic as the unconscious glee of children at play?
It seems a little hard on the cuckoo, particularly since he poses as an oracle, that every awkward lass and clumsy lad, every loon and natural and simple, should be his namesake. He must have done something very foolish in those distracted times when William the Conqueror came over; perhaps he forgot to crown his stag when, with the other nobles of ancient British and Saxon lineage, he led him up to the Norman invader in proud submission; for ever since that time the expressive though ugly words "gowk," "gawk," "gawky" have been popular terms of reproach.
The cuckoo can work, as well as play. He did once build a nest, in a hay field in France, but when he came out to tell the hay-makers what he had done, the wheel of a loaded wagon went over his body, and that is why he flies so heavily. Of course, he gave up building nests after that.
But he has not been idle-indeed, so occupied is he with bringing home the errant spring, and telling fortunes, and showing children his good game, that folk who have never been to France think that is why he is not "seated," though so distinguished an individual.
In the north, where a people more plain-spoken than courteous dwells, the April Fool bears this missive:
The first and second day of April
And his elegant en revanche is this:
The gawk and the titlene sit on a tree,
This use of his name is comprehensible, for the cuckoo was once a "beckerknecht," and bakers' boys have been mischievous and given to practical jokes always, even since the day when that one who stole the dough which God had blessed for the poor was turned into a cuckoo.
There is no doubt about who it is that teaches children to play hide and seek.
"Cuckoo! cuckoo!" cries the little brown bird noiselessly flittering from
Others think it is because he is such a wanderer that the cuckoo is houseless, but some other absentees are the owners of the finest homes in all our trees and meadows. The cuckoo is the first of the travellers to go, so let all who are wise in their generation take advantage of his presence while he is at hand, especially when first you hear him call remember, for it is a tide in your affairs. So sit you down upon a green bank, and, taking off your right stocking, invoke him thus by saying:
May this to me
It is quite simple. And if you would know any important matter such as the color of your future spouse's hair or when to sow your corn (though if
you have put this off till the cuckoo comes you will have but a poor harvest), make haste with your questions, for you cannot keep the cuckoo; he is on the wing and only paying a flying visit to his native land, when he rides in on a kite's back in April.
You cannot keep him, though you bind him with links of gold and a string of pearls. Some have tried, seeing how flowers begin to fade and leaves to wither at his going, but they have only succeeded in making themselves a by-word. Fulke Greville wrote in the sixteenth century: "Fools only hedge the cuckoo in."
You cannot keep him, go he must, back to his favorite haunts in Africa, Persia, and all the far-away lands of the sun. It is quite true what they say who know all about him:
Teuton loved music, and it became his constant companion. So that when the Anglo-Saxons, a Teutonic tribe, migrated to England, they brought with them this passionate love of song. Under the fostering care of religion and patriotism music enjoyed quite as much popularity in Saxon England as on the Continent. Witness the testimonial in its praise from the pen of the Venerable Bede:
Among all the sciences music is most commendable, courtly, pleasing, mirthful and lovely. It makes a man cheerful, liberal, courteous, glad, amiable; it rouses him in battle, excites him to bear fatigue, comforts him in travail, refreshes him when disturbed, takes away weariness of the head and sorrow, and drives away depraved humors and desponding spirits.
Anglo-Saxon music came from two sources-the clergy and the laity; the former brought in a rough system of notation, and chanted their hymns with some uniformity; the latter practised only in ear and in memory, simply handed down the treasures of tradition. And a like difference is to be noted in their musical instruments, for the former used a species of organ, while the latter employed simpler instruments-such as the harp, lyre, crowth, pipe, tabor, and cymbals. Yet the laity often insisted on bringing these instruments to divine service, especially the crowth, and thus accompanying the organ. Much quarrelling was the natural result, and often a "musical case" was appealed to Rome. Finally, a decision came ex câthedra that the choir should be divided into two parts, aid that these parts should sing alternately; moreover, that those who could not sing in tune, or who brought into church an instrument to accompany the organ, should keep silent, or, if not, should be immediately turned out of doors.
The clergy were very active in securing the best musical instructors for their choirs. French and Italians came over, and were heartily welcomed by the Saxons; they received as much care and attention as a travelling English