A PEPYSIAN GARLAND - online book

Black-letter Broadside Ballads Of The years 1595-1639

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24
A battle of birds
Pepys, I, 70, B.L., three woodcuts, four columns.
A more complete account of this marvel in Ireland is given, with some variations in dates and minor details, in a nine-page pamphlet called "The Wonderfvll Battell of Stare lings: Fought at the Citie of Corke in Ireland, the 12. and 14. of October last past. 1621. As it hath been credibly enformed by diuers Noble-men, and others of the said Kingdome, 5Y. London, Printed for N. B[ourne]. 1622" (British Museum, C. 32. e. 7). The preface, referring to this ballad and others now lost, complains "that so many poeticall fictions haue of late passed the print, that they [i.e. readers] haue some cause to suspect almost euery extraordinary report that is printed"; but says that the facts in the pamphlet are confirmed by "Letters, from Right Honorable persons in Ireland where the accident fell out, to Right Honourable persons at Court, and diuers in London at this present: as also by the testimony of Right Honourable and Worshipfull persons, & others of good reputation now in London, who were eye-witnesses." It also adds that "these strange newes out of Ireland had beene printed before this time, but that it hath beene stayed till the truth were fully certified and examined."
To summarize the body of the pamphlet: "About the seuenth of October last, Anno 1621. there gathered together by degrees, an vnusual multitude of birds called Stares, in some Countries knowne by the name of Starlings"; "they mustered together at this aboue-named Citie of Corke some foure or fiue daies, before they fought their battels, euery day more and more encreasing their armies with greater supplies, some came from the East, others from the West, and so accordingly they placed themselues"; "some twenty or thirty in a company, would passe from the one side to the other, as it should seem imployed in embassages." On October 12, Saturday, at nine a.m., the battle began. It continued "till a little before night, at which time they seemed to vanish." On Sunday they were seen fighting "betwixt Grauesend and Wolwigge" but on Monday they returned to Cork for a further battle. There is a contemporary copy (1621) of most of this pamphlet in Richard Shanne's diary (Additional MS. 38,599, fols. 53-54), and the battle of birds is commented on, also, in the Diary of Walter Yonge for September, 1621 (ed. George Roberts, p. 45).
A similar prodigy, and one of equally dire import, happened "Neere Troppaw in Silesia, in the Moneth of February, Anno. 1625. [where] a
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