vol II date / index
Sts. Sotor and Caius, Popes, 2d Cent. St. Caius, Pope, A.D. 296. Sts. Azades, Tharba &c., Martyrs in Persia, A.D. 341. Sts. Epipodius and Alexander, 2d Cent. St. Theodorus, of Siceon, Bishop, A.D. 613. St. Opportuna, Abbess, A.D. 770. St. Leonides, A.D. 202. St. Rufus, or Rufin, of Glandaloch.
Amongst the deliramenta of the learned, which have amused mankind, the following instance merits a conspicuous rank. Some years ago, there were several large elm trees in the college garden, behind the ecclesiastical court, Doctors Commons, in which a number of rooks had taken up their abode, forming in appearance a sort of convocation of aërial ecclesiastics. A young gentleman, who lodged in an attic, and was their close neighbour, frequently entertained himself with thinning this covey of black game, by means of a cross-bow. On the opposite side lived a curious old civilian, who, observing from his study, that the rooks often dropt senseless from their perch, or, as it may be said, without using a figure, hopp'd the twig, making no sign, nor any sign being made to his vision to account for the phenomenon, set his wits to work to consider the cause. It was probably during a profitless time of peace, and the doctor having plenty of leisure, weighed the matter over and over, till he was at length fully satisfied that he had made a great ornithological discovery, that its promulgation would give wings to his fame, and that he was fated by means of these rooks to say,
"Volito vivus per ora virum."
His goose-quill and foolscap were quickly in requisition, and he actually wrote a treatise, stating circumstantially what he himself had seen, and in conclusion, giving it as the settled conviction of his mind, that rooks were subject to the falling sickness!* 
Country churchwardens and overseers are encouraged by farmers to offer rewards for the destruction of these merry twitterers, under the notion that they are fell destroyers of their grain. Mr. Bewick has taken some interest in their behalf, by stating a plain fact. He says:
"Most of the smaller birds are supported, especially when young, by a profusion of caterpillars, small worms and insects; on these they feed, and thus they contribute to preserve the vegetable world from destruction. This is contrary to the commonly received opinion, that birds, particularly SPARROWS, do much mischief in destroying the labours of the gardener and husbandman. It has been observed, 'that a SINGLE PAIR OF SPARROWS, during the time they are feeding their young, will destroy about FOUR THOUSAND CATERPILLARS WEEKLY!' They likewise feed their young with butterflies and other winged insects, each of which, if not destroyed in this manner, would be productive of several hundred of caterpillars. Let us not condemn a whole species of animals, because, in some instances, we have found them troublesome or inconvenient. Of this we are sufficiently sensible; but the uses to which they are subservient, in the grand economical distribution of nature, we cannot so easily ascertain. We have already observed that, in the destruction of caterpillars, sparrows are eminently serviceable to vegetation, and in this respect alone, there is reason to suppose, sufficiently re-pay the destruction they make in the produce of the garden or the field. The great table of nature is spread alike to all, and is amply stored with every thing necessary for the support of the various families of the earth: it is owing to the superior intelligence and industry of man, that he is enabled to appropriate so large a portion of the best gifts of providence for his own subsistence and comfort; let him not then think it waste, that, in some instances, creatures inferior to him in rank are permitted to partake with him, nor let him grudge them their scanty pittance; but, considering them only as the tasters of his full meal, let him endeavour to imitate their cheerfulness, and lift up his heart in grateful effusions to HIM, 'who filleth all things with plenteousness.'"
Wood Crowfoot. Rununculus Auricomus
Dedicated to St. Rufus.
Notes [all notes are Hone's unless otherwise indicated]:
1. Morn Chron., Sept. 3, 1818. [return]