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halcyon “beaks With every gale—Turn their,” KING LEAR, ii. 2. 73. “The halcyon is the bird otherwise called the kingfisher. The vulgar opinion was, that [the dead body of] this bird, if hung up, would vary with the wind [turn its breast to the wind], and by that means show from what point it blew” (STEEVENS ,—who compares passages from Marlowe's Jew of Malta, Storer's Life and Death of Wolsey, and Lupton's Notable Things). See also Browne's Vulgar Errors, Book iii. Chap. x., “That a King-fisher, hanged by the bill, sheweth where the wind lay.” (That very pleasing writer, Charlotte Smith—though herself a poetess and well acquainted with English poetry—appears not to have remembered the present line of Shakespeare when she concluded her account of the halcyon as follows: “I have once or twice seen a stuffed bird of this species hung up to the beam of a cottage ceiling. I imagined that the beauty of the feathers had recommended it to this sad preëminence, till on inquiry I was assured that it served the purpose of a weather-vane; and though sheltered from the immediate influence of the wind, never failed to show every change by turning its beak from [to] the quarter whence the wind blew. So that some superstition as to the connexion between the wind and the Halcyon seems, like many other relics of almost forgotten prejudices, to linger still in our cottages.” A Natural History of Birds, p. 88, ed. 1807. )

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