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* REFERRED TO BY THE FIGURES IN
Note 1. p. 40.
The carrier is a variety of the common domestic pigeon, and which, from the superior attachment that it shows to its native place, is employed in many countries as the most expeditious courier. The letters are tied under its wing, it is let loose, and, in a very short space, returns to the home it was brought from, with its advices. This practice was much in vogue in the East; and at Scanderoon, till of late years, it was used on the arrival of a ship, to give the merchants at Aleppo a 'more expeditious notice than could be done by any other means. In our own country, these aerial messengers have been employed for a very singular purpose, having been let loose at Tyburn at the moment the fatal cart was drawn away, to notify to distant friends, the departure of the unhappy criminal.
In the East, the use of these birds seems to have been greatly improved, by having, if we may use the expression, relays of them ready to spread intelligence to all parts of the country; thus it is stated by Ariosto (canto 15.) that the governor of Damiata circulated the news of the death of Orrilo. “ As soon as the commandant of Damiata heard that Orrilo was dead, he let loose a pigeon, under whose wing he had tied a letter. This fled to Cairo, from whence a second was despatched to another place, as is usual; so that in a very few hours, all Egypt was acquainted with the death of Orrilo."
But the simple use of them was known in very early times. Anacreon tells us (ode ix.) that he conveyed his billet-doux to Bathyllus by a dove.
Taurosthenes also, by means of a pigeon he had decked with purple, sent advice to his father, who lived in the isle of Ægina, of his victory in the olympic games, on the very day he had obtained it.* And, at the siege of Modena, Hirtius without, and Brutus within the walls, kept, by the help of pigeons, a constant correspondence; baffling every stratagem of the besieger, Antony, to intercept their couriers. In the times of the crusades, there are many more instances of these birds of peace being employed in the service of war: Joinville relates one during the crusade of Saint Louis, and Tasso another, during the siege of Jerusalem. Pennant's British Zoology.
* Ælian. Var. Hist. lib. ix. c. 2. Pliny, lib. X. C. 24. says, that swallows have been made use of for the same purpose.
NOTE 2. p. 46.
The soothsayers attributed many mystic properties to the coral; and it was believed to be capable of giving protection against the influence of Evil Eyes; it was even supposed that coral would drive away devils and evil spirits; hence arose the custom of wearing amulets composed of it around the neck, and of making crowns of it. Pliny and Dioscorides are very loud in the praises of the medicinal properties of this substance, and Paracelsus says that it should be worn round the necks of infants, as an admirable preservative against fits, sorcery, charms, and even against poison. It is a curious circumstance that the same superstitious belief should exist among the negroes of the West Indies, who affirm that the colour of coral is always affected by the state of health of the wearer, it becoming paler in disease. In Sicily it is also commonly worn as an amulet by persons of all ranks, as a security against an evil eye ; a small twisted piece, somewhat resembling a horn, is worn at the watchchain, under the name of Buon Fortuna, and is occasionally pointed at those who are supposed to entertain evil intention. His late Sicilian Majesty was celebrated for his faith in, and frequent use of, the buon fortuna. – But to return to the coral toy usually suspended around the necks of children in our own country. In addition to the supposed virtues of the coral it may be remarked that silver bells are usually attached to it, which are generally regarded as mere accompaniments to amuse the child by
their jingle; but the fact is, that they have a different origin, having been designed to frighten away evil spirits. For the same superstitious objects were bells introduced into our churches, as a species of charm against storms and thunder, and the assaults of Satan.
Note 3. p. 77. This problem is to be found in Hutton's Recreations, · and is stated as follows:
“ A person having in one hand an even number of shillings, and in the other an odd, to tell in which hand he has the even number. .“ Desire the person to multiply the number in the right hand by any even number whatever, and that in the left by any odd number; then bid him to add together the two products, and if the whole sum be odd, the even number of shillings will be in the right hand, and the odd number in the left; if the sum be even, the contrary will be the case. By a similar process, a person having in one hand a piece of gold and in the other a piece of silver, we can tell in which hand he holds the gold, and in which the silver. For this purpose, some value represented by an even number, such as 8, must be assigned to the gold, and a value represented by an odd number, such as 3, must be assigned to the silver ; after which the operation is exactly the same as in the preceding example.
“ To conceal the artifice better, it will be sufficient to ask whether the sum of the two products can be halved without a remainder; for, in that case, the total will be even, and in the contrary case odd.