We then asked what moved those birds to be thus continually chanting and singing. He answered that it was the bells that hung on the top of their cages. Then he said to us, Will you have me make these monk-hawks whom you see bardocuculated with a bag such as you use to still brandy, sing like any woodlarks? Pray do, said we. He then gave half-a-dozen pulls to a little rope, which caused a diminutive bell to give so many ting-tangs; and presently a parcel of monk-hawks ran to him as if the devil had drove ’em, and fell a-singing like mad.
Pray, master, cried Panurge, if I also rang this bell could I make those other birds yonder, with red-herring-coloured feathers, sing? Ay, marry would you, returned Aedituus. With this Panurge hanged himself (by the hands, I mean) at the bell-rope’s end, and no sooner made it speak but those smoked birds hied them thither and began to lift up their voices and make a sort of untowardly hoarse noise, which I grudge to call singing. Aedituus indeed told us that they fed on nothing but fish, like the herns and cormorants of the world, and that they were a fifth kind of cucullati newly stamped.
He added that he had been told by Robert Valbringue, who lately passed that way in his return from Africa, that a sixth kind was to fly hither out of hand, which he called capus-hawks, more grum, vinegar-faced, brain-sick, froward, and loathsome than any kind whatsoever in the whole island. Africa, said Pantagruel, still uses to produce some new and monstrous thing.
How the birds of the Ringing Island were all passengers.
Since you have told us, said Pantagruel, how the pope-hawk is begot by the cardin-hawks, the cardin-hawks by the bish-hawks, and the bish-hawks by the priest-hawks, and the priest-hawks by the clerg-hawks, I would gladly know whence you have these same clerg-hawks. They are all of them passengers, or travelling birds, returned Aedituus, and come hither from t’other world; part out of a vast country called Want-o’-bread, the rest out of another toward the west, which they style Too-many-of-’em. From these two countries flock hither, every year, whole legions of these clerg-hawks, leaving their fathers, mothers, friends, and relations.
This happens when there are too many children, whether male or female, in some good family of the latter country; insomuch that the house would come to nothing if the paternal estate were shared among them all (as reason requires, nature directs, and God commands). For this cause parents use to rid themselves of that inconveniency by packing off the younger fry, and forcing them to seek their fortune in this isle Bossart (Crooked Island). I suppose he means L’Isle Bouchart, near Chinon, cried Panurge. No, replied t’other, I mean Bossart (Crooked), for there is not one in ten among them but is either crooked, crippled, blinking, limping, ill-favoured, deformed, or an unprofitable load to the earth.