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note. But from its habits 2 Yes. Though it cannot be said to wash dishes literally, we may see its possible association with the process if we figure to ourselves the manner in which their dishes are washed by the folk who gave the name to the bird. Devon is a land of little streamlets, and beside the little streamlets cottages are frequent, and if you live in a cottage you do not, as a rule, find yourself equipped with a nice scullery sink and a tap of water to turn on to the dirty dish. The obvious thing to do is to take the plates and dishes down to the stream, hold them in the clear bustling water, and so, of its own gravitating force, the water will wash all your dishes for you. The process is simple. And when the waterwagtail, being a frequenter of the streams, and paying constant attention to the aquatic insect life in any case, perceives this washing of dishes going on—his experience having led him to associate it with certain choice morsels afloat in the water—he is quite sure, if he be anywhere on hand, to come and see whether there be some good luck for him in the flotsam which is going down the stream. That, I take it, is how he has come by his name among these people who wash their dishes in the rippling brook. If he is not an active dish-washer himself, he is at least a frequent and interested attendant on the process. That is quite enough to account sufficiently for his name. It has been left for the Americans, perhaps, to achieve the greatest triumph in the way of bird-naming according to the note of the bird as it strikes the human ear. The ‘whip-poor-Will’ is a better suggestion in words of a bird's call than any other that I know, and it carries too, as we think of the suffering of “Will, the unfortunate ‘whipping-boy, just that suggestion of pathos and also of quaintness which the bird's note carries. All that subtle kind of suggestion helps the name immensely, but at the same time the three rather absurd monosyllables do give a wonderful imitation of the avine call. The ‘whip-poor-Will’ is a very near cousin of our own ‘night-jar,’ as we call him sometimes with better significance than that of his alternative name, based on a habit which never was his, of goat-sucker.' No doubt the ‘jar’ by night is intended to convey an idea of the bird's note, which is generally written ‘ chur,” and perhaps this could not easily be improved on. ‘Yaffie ' is distinctly a good local name of the loud-laughing bird, the green woodpecker. He does not precisely appear to say ‘yaffle,” but the word carries a vague suggestion of his note's sound. “Woodpecker,’ of course, gives his most striking habit its right place.
Whether ‘jay’ is a name derived from the bird's note I hardly know, but I should guess it to be so, in whatever language it had its origin at first. The corvines are rather apt to take their names from their hoarse voices. ‘Jack’-daw is, obviously, the daw that says ‘Jack.’ And ‘daw again is doubtless from his call, so that he is also the Jack that says ‘daw.” The fact that two words spelt so differently can both indicate the note shows how arbitrary it all is. The biggest of the whole corvine family, chief of the tribe as he might be called, the raven, no doubt derives his name from a Scandinavian source, as it is rather proper he should, seeing that he is a bird of the North and an ensign which was adopted by some of the Norsemen, especially when they went a-viking. And the nearer you come to the Scandinavian way of saying the name, the more guttural raucousness you give, the closer you arrive at a reproduction of the bird's croak. ‘Rook,” similarly pronounced, seems quite as like the call of that black robber as the more stereotyped ‘caw,’ or the ‘crow’ which gives the name to his nearest cousin. Trace that back to ‘corvus, if you please, and you have the nursery ‘caw again. I hardly know where we get the ‘mag” from in the compound ‘magpie ’—probably it is just a piece of friendly familiarity—but the ‘pie' of this motley bird is one of the names which jumps to the eye, so that it cannot possibly be missed.
It is an unfortunate but a necessary admission of the futility of our written words in the suggestion of sound that so large a majority of the birds which we have named from their call are those which have an unmusical, often a rasping note. We have no difficulty in finding a name for the ‘corn-crake,” which suggests in its first syllable the habits of the bird, and in the second (Latin, crew) the quality of its voice—not strictly of melodious or soft accent—but we have not aimed, and wisely, at naming such songsters as the skylark, nightingale, or thrush by words which attempt the expression of their voice and notes. The ‘whip-poorWill’ perhaps is the longest of all names which have this origin, but we are generally most successful with the names of birds whose note is a monosyllable. Certain little strings of words, or a sentence, we find here and there invented to express an imitation, such as “A little bit of bread and no cheese,’ for the often repeated melody which the yellow-hammer gives us, but it is too long for common use as the name of the bird. We give to a certain large family of birds the descriptive name of warblers, but this contains no attempt at reproducing the warble. It is descriptive, purely. The ‘barking' bird is again merely descriptive, though so aptly that Charles Darwin declares it impossible not to believe that the voice is that of a little dog; but still it makes no attempt at imitation. The case of those which we name ‘chats'—stone-chat, whin-chat, wood-chat—is of course otherwise : the “chat” gives a distinct and quite good suggestion of the note of the birds, the first syllable indicating their respective habitats. In the classic story, when the London street singer began his sentimental ditty of ‘I would I were a bird,” and the ribald street-boy shouted at him, ‘Which yer was— a reg’lar howl,” the candid critic seems to have supposed that by the addition of the aspirate (always achieved with effort and with triumph by those of his kind) he was indicating quite a different idea from that which the unaspirated owl would convey. And so he was, no doubt, so far as the impression given to his audience was concerned, but etymologically there is not the distinction. The two are the same whether with the aspirate or without— owl' or “howl'—both from the ulula—so that when we go a little further in the same direction and call one species of the bird a ‘ screech-owl' we are only tautologically adding an insulting description to insulting imitation, telling the bird twice over what a hideous noise he makes, though really there is much attractiveness in the eery cry of the owl at night. He will forgive us. Oliver Wendell Holmes has a story of a precisely grammatical owl at Boston which said “To-whit, To-whom instead of the uneducated ‘To-whit, To-who of the vulgar bird. But this is exceptional. Looking at these and other instances we find a certain principle running through all the nomenclature. It seems that when the bird's characteristic note was short and could be suggested easily by a word, then that word was taken for its name: then, failing that, a descriptive name was given—descriptive it might be of its colour, as blackbird; or of the striking colour of a certain part, as redbreast; or of a general appearance of colour, as pie; but these possibilities would very soon be exhausted, and for the rest the names have to be as descriptive as they can be made of habit or habitat. And when we consider them all, we are much disposed to agree with the spirit of the child's observation : “What a clever man Adam must have been, to find names for all the animals ' ' Presumably there was spacious leisure in the Garden of Eden.
‘TAKE that there tin can,” said mother, sharp-like, ‘and cut off and feed them two new lambs of the black ewe's. See that the bit of rag's round the spout too, or I'll show yer.’ I could see as mother were a bit roused by something, an’ I shifted quick and laid hold of the can feyther had brought the sheep's milk in, and I went across to the shed to feed them lambs. I seed Miss Primrose then, standin’ in the middle of the yard, with her bicycle leanin' agin th” gate, and her eyes all blue and shining and dark like them periwinkles in the garden, and I stood staring at her all soft-like, and she went on smiling with her eyes, and her mouth was all solemn, and says she to me: “Could you lend me a pump, and oh, are you going to feed the dear little lambs, and may I see ?’ “Theer's to pump,' I said, all dazed-like, pointing to it. Mother were swilling out milk-cans and pumping water like mad. An’ then she laughed again, an’ when I see her teeth—pearls they was, and no error, and I felt all soft agen when she said she meant a bicycle pump, and I said perhaps Higginses had one, up the lane, and I dropped the lambs' can, and run, and mother shouted after me an’ I took no notice, and then Miss Primrose (mother told me at after), she picked up the can and said, What a funny long spout it had, and she was going to feed the lambs while the dear little boy had gone to find the pump, and she made mother stop messin’ with them cans and come and show her where the black ewe was, and she said the ewe's milk looked like honey, and she laughed when the lambs rushed at the can and hurt their silly selves agen it, and she said weren’t they strong little creatures 2 and what fun it was, and she was so glad her tyre had gone down, and didn't mother just love taking care of all these darlings And mother said that was all very well, but wait till you'd fifty of 'em under a fortnight old, and more coming every hour, and how would Miss Primrose like to get up in the middle of the night and tend the weakly ones, and for her part she thanked her Maker when the spring was well over, and all the creatures, calves and VOL. XXV.-No. 149, N.S. 43
chicks and ducklings and goslings and pigs, standing well on their own legs, and if you sent Peter off on an errand you could think yourself lucky if you saw him back in two hours. Just like mother. She's always sayin' things about me behind my back. When I came back, Miss Primrose looked at me in the way that makes me all curl up inside, and send cold water down my back, and then showed me how to pump up her tyre and let me do it all by myself, and she told mother that I was very tall for eleven and that I had a Gainsbrer face. I did wish I knew what she meant by that, and when she'd gone I run in and looked at mysel' in the parlour mirrer to see if there was a smudge on my nose, and it wasn’t no more dirty than usual, and mother said “Come out of that parlour at once, with them boots,” and I went out the front way, not sayin' nothing to nobody, and forgetting what feyther had said about weedin' that there far bed in the garding, and making for the long pasture all in a daze like, with Miss Primrose's smile a-curling me up and upsetting me and making me feel that mother might sauce till she was blue in the face for all I cared. I wanted to run some more errands for 'er, and let her look at me like that agen. I wanted to see her all the time. I’ve never had nobody look at me like that afore—not as if they liked looking at me. Mother always looks at me as if I wanted my face washing, and feyther looks at me as if he was thinkin’ which was the next best place to fetch me a clout on, an’ our William looks at me as if I’adn't ought to be let live at all. I never went home to my dinner, but just stopped out in the pasture and ate some apples I’d happened to pick up in case I needed 'em, when mother sent me to the store room for onions before breakfast. When I went in they was all having their teas, and mother boxed me, and feyther fetched me a clout, and our William put out his foot and tripped me, and I never see such big boots as our William takes, an’ mother said she'd saved me a bit of pie in the oven, and where in mercy's sake had I been off to with all the work and errands wanting doing, and William away fetching home the last lot of ewes and feyther seeing to the calves and all! I seed by his face as feyther were thinking of fetching me another clout, so I told 'em I had a nedache and I’d bin asleep in the field, and mother said it was one of Peter's lies, but feyther mustn't hit me for fear I’d happened to tell the truth for once by accident. And William said, ‘Not likely,” and then they all
began talking about Miss Primrose from the Rectry, and how