¶Of the Swanne. chap. 11.
THe Swan is called Cignus in latin, & Olor in Gréeke, for he is all white in feathers: for no man findeth a black Swan. Olor is Gréeke, and is to vnder∣stand white, as Isid. saith. The Swan is called Cignus, and hath that name of Canendo, singing. For he faineth swéet∣nes of swéet songs, with accord of voice, and he singeth swéetly, for he hath a long neck diuersly bent to make diuers notes. And it is sayd, that in the countries that be called Hiperbores, that the harpers harping before, the Swans birdes flye out of their neasts, and sing full merely, as Isidore saith. And as Marcius and Ambrose say, shipmen trowe, that it be∣tokeneth good, if they méete Swans in perill of shipwracke. Alway the Swan is the most meriest bird in diuinations: shipmen desire this bird, for he doppeth not downe in the waues, and therefore he was hallowed to Apollo as Marcius sayth: and his most strength is in the wings. When the Swan is in loue,* hée seeketh the female, and pleaseth hir with beclipping of the necke, and draweth hir to him ward: and he ioyneth his neck, to the females necke, as it were binding the neckes together. And after the trea∣ding, the female smileth the male, and fli∣eth him, and the male batheth him ofte after the treding, and so doth the female also, ere she take any meate.
Page [unnumbered]And when she shall dye, and that a fea∣ther is pight on the brayne, then she sin∣geth: & against the vsage of other beasts in stéede of groning, the Swan singeth, as Ambrose saith.
The Swan hath most white fethers without any mingling of blacknesse or other colour, and hath blacke flesh, and hard to be digested, and hath a bill with a manner bounching, that distinguisheth the sight from the smell and tast, and the bill is full blacke within, and inwarde full thicke.
The Swan putteth downe his head into the water, and séeketh his meate, & cutteth it: and though he be nourished among fish, yet he eateth them not. Also if bread or other meate be throwen to him, he withdraweth and giueth place to fish that followeth him, and séeketh and gathereth his meale of hearbes, grasse, & rootes. And he hath blacke feete and close, and hole & broad, & full able to swim: and in swimming he vseth that one foote, in stéede of an oare, and the other foote in steede of a stirrer, and ruleth himselfe therewith, and dwelleth in lakes and in pondes, and maketh his neast nigh wa∣ters, where vpon fewe stickes throwen togethers, the Swan sitteth on broode, & bringeth forth birdes, and féedeth them busily, and bringeth them vp, and coue∣reth and defendeth them with winges, bill, and hissing. And if any man come toward the Signets, the Swan putteth hir selfe among the birdes, and prepa∣reth to make resistaunce, and ceaseth not to defend hir birdes, and is a birde of great wayght and heauinesse, and of much flesh in bodie: and therefore shée loueth rest, and flyeth but seldome.
But wilde Swans flye with strong flight, with their neckes strayght for∣warde, and féete straight backwarde: But they are not so great of bodye, nor so fat as tame Swans that be nourish∣ed and fed nigh places thereas men in∣habite in, as Marcius saith.