The Pelican

The fable of the Pelican "in her piety, vulning herself," as it is

heraldically described--is so well known, as hardly to be worth

mentioning, even to contradict it. In the first place, the heraldic bird

is as unlike the real one, as it is possible to be; but the legend seems

to have had its origin in Egypt, where the vulture was credited with

this extraordinary behaviour, and this bird is decidedly more in

ith the heraldic ideal. Du Bartas, singing of "Charitable

birds," praises equally the Stork and the Pelican:--

"The Stork, still eyeing her deer Thessalie,

The Pelican comforteth cheerfully:

Prayse-worthy Payer; which pure examples yield

Of faithfull Father, and Officious Childe:

Th' one quites (in time) her Parents love exceeding,

From whom shee had her birth and tender breeding;

Not onely brooding under her warm brest

Their age-chill'd bodies bed-rid in the nest;

Nor only bearing them upon her back

Through th' empty Aire, when their own wings they lack;

But also, sparing (This let Children note)

Her daintiest food from her own hungry throat,

To feed at home her feeble Parents, held

From forraging, with heavy Gyves of Eld.

The other, kindly, for her tender Brood

Tears her own bowells, trilleth-out her blood,

To heal her young, and in a wondrous sort,

Unto her Children doth her life transport:

For finding them by som fell Serpent slain,

She rends her brest, and doth upon them rain

Her vitall humour; whence recovering heat,

They by her death, another life do get."