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favour ; but the importation of the pheasant, and later that of the turkey, brought successful rivals for table honours. The peacock is now bred principally to please the eye. The domestic peacock, which is now the pride of our gardens and parks, is indigenous to India and the isles of the Eastern Archipelago. There they still live in large troops in the depths of the forest. They are so abundant in some parts, that it is said the traveller Colonel Williamson counted in one day not less than from twelve to fifteen hundred.
The peacock runs with such rapidity that it often escapes from pursuing dogs; it takes to the wing with difficulty, and flies slowly, though it can prolong its flight to a considerable distance. It feeds upon grain of all kinds, which it swallows without crushing. In the evening, to roost for the night, it perches upon the limbs of the highest trees. In a state of domesticity it retains this fancy for elevated places, and takes pleasure in mounting on the roofs of houses, upon which it struts and excites itself, scattering tiles, or tearing up the thatch, as the case may be, for the devastating instinct appears to be very strongly developed in it when opportunity offers. This bird also commits great ravages in cultivated fields. The peacock at times utters deafening cries, which contrast unpleasantly with its dazzling plumageone wishes for a more harmonious voice with such a magnificent body. At the end of August his beautiful plumage falls off, not to come forth again till the spring. It is said that the peacock is so ashamed of having lost what was his pride, that he then shuns the sight of man. This is better explained by the fact that the period of moulting is for this, as for all other birds, a period of sickness; they consequently retire into solitude.
Adapted from Figuier's "Insect World."
THE PEACOCK AND THE COCK.
Only see,” said the peacock once to the hen, “how haughtily and insolently the cock struts about, and yet men never say, “The proud cock,' but always, 'The proud peacock!””
“ That is,” said the hen, " because man forgives a well-founded pride. The cock is proud of his watchfulness, of his manliness; but of what art thou proud ?—of colours and feathers.” Lessing.
THE PEACOCK AND THE JACKDAW. A vain jackdaw decked himself in the fallen feathers of the gaily-dressed peacock, and when he thought himself enough adorned, attached himself boldly to these brilliant birds of Juno. recognised, and the peacocks fell quickly upon him, with sharp bills, to tear from him the deceitful finery.
Stop!” cried he at length, “ you have now got all your own again."
But the peacock, who had noticed some of the jackdaw's own bright wing-feathers, replied, Be silent, poor fool! even these cannot be thine!' and pecked on.
27.—THE GRASSHOPPER AND THE
in-dus-tri-ous ad-mir-a-tion man-kind
beau-ti-ful-ly “I assure thee,” said the grasshopper to the nightingale, “ that my singing has no lack of admirers."
“ Name them to me,” said the nightingale.
“ The industrious reapers,” replied the grasshopper, “ listen to me with great pleasure, and thou wilt not deny that in the republic of mankind these are very useful people?”
66 That I will not deny,” answered the nightingale; “but I will tell thee why thou must not be proud of their admiration. Worthy people, who have their hands full of their work, must be wanting in all finer feelings. Do not be vain about thy singing until the gentle shepherd, who plays himself beautifully upon the flute, listens to it in silent rapture.
Lessing THE SPARROW. An old church in which the sparrows had built innumerable nests was restored. When it was finished, and stood there in its new splendour, the sparrows came back to seek their old dwellings; but they found they were all built up. “What, " cried they, “can be the use of this great building now?
Come, let us leave this useless heap of stones.
28.-PALISSY THE POTTER.
el-e-gant as-cert-ain fuel
Bernard Palissy was born in France about the year 1510. His parents were poor people too poor to give him the benefit of any school education. “I had no other books,” said he afterwards, “than heaven and earth, which are open to all.” He learnt, however, the art of glass-painting, to which he added that of drawing, and afterwards reading and writing. When about eighteen years old, the glass trade becoming decayed, Palissy left his father's house to seek work. He went into various countries, doing any kind of work which came in his way. Thus passed ten years of his life, after which he married, and ceased from his wanderings. It was the sight of an elegant cup of Italian manufacture which first set Palissy thinking about the art of enamelling earthenware. This siglit disturbed his whole existence; and the determination to discover the enamel with which it was glazed, thenceforward possessed him like a passion. Had he been a single man, he might have travelled into Italy in search of the secret; but he was bound to his wife and children, and could not leave them. So he remained by their side, groping in the dark in the hope of finding out the process.
At first he could merely guess the materials of which the enamel was composed, and he proceeded to try all manner of experiments to ascertain what they really were. He pounded all the substances which he supposed were likely to produce it. Then he bought common earthen pots, broke them into pieces, and spreading his compounds over them, subjected them to the heat of a furnace which he erected for the purpose of baking them. His experiments failed, and the results were broken pots and a waste of fuel, drugs, time, and labour.
For many successive months and years, Palissy pursued his experiments, but never could attain his desire. Though constantly disappointed, he was never defeated, always determining to “ begin afresh.” So he went on, until at last he had one gleam of success. He had sent more than three hundred pieces of pottery covered with his compounds to a glass furnace to bake, and after a long watch one piece came out—white, polished, beautiful ! He ran home with it to his wife, feeling himself, as he expressed it, a creature.” Then he spent eight months in building with his own hands a glass-house near his dwelling. He got a great store of fuel, and placed in the furnace his vessels of baked clay all carefully covered with the enamel compound. At last the fire was lit, and the operation proceeded. All day he sat by the furnace, feeding it with fuel.