The Swan

The ancient fable so dear, even to modern poets, that Swans sing before

they die--was not altogether believed even in classical times, as saith

Pliny:--"It is stated that at the moment of the swan's death, it gives

utterance to a mournful song; but this is an error, in my opinion; at

least, I have tested the truth of the story on several occasions." That

some swans have a kind of voice, and can change a note or two, no one
/> who has met with a flock or two of "hoopers," or wild swans, can deny.

Olaus Magnus relates the fable--and quotes Plato, that the swan sings at

its death, not from sorrow, but out of joy, at finishing its life. He

also gives us a graphic illustration of how swans may be caught by

playing to them on a lute or other stringed instrument, and also that

they were to be caught by men (playing music) with stalking-horses, in

the shape of oxen, or horses; and, in another page, he says, that not

far from London, the Metropolis of England, on the River Thames, may be

found more than a thousand domesticated swans.