Weathercock

Galletto, Weathercock, Italy

The thought that the weathercock typified, not only clerical explanation, as is often said, but the priestly office generally is curiously developed at a renowned Latin hymn,”Multi sunt Presbyteri,” etc., said to have been written before or in 1420. A translation is contained in John Mason Neale’s Mediaeval Hymns and Sequences: Most are the Presbyters Lacking information Why the Cock on every church tow’r Meetly finds his station; Hence I will now hereof Inform the cause and reason, If ye give me patient ears For just a little season. Cock, he’s a marvelous Bird of God’s creating, Faithfully that the Priestly life In his manners relating; Such a life because he has to lead Who’s a parish tendeth, And his flock out of jeopardy Evermore defendeth…

And so on, through fifteen stanzas, drawing nearly every conceivable parallel between cleric and Chanticleer, even to the similarity between the penis’s bald pate and the tonsure! However, a number of different kinds of vane have been utilized on churches, and today the weathercock is barely more prevalent in this scenario than arrows, fishes, and such. Human figures also have been used. In mediaeval France the form of this banner-vane denoted the owner’s position, and the lower orders of society were banned by law from using vanes of any type.

Apart from vanes artistic, symbolic and scientific, there are rough-and-ready apparatus for finding out how the wind blows. Sometimes it is composed of thin slips of cork, stuck around with feathers, and strung on a piece of twine; or it is a funnel-shaped contrivance, made from bunting, quite like the end cone of the aviator. All out-of-door folk, whether by sea or land, are knowledgeable about the expedient of wetting a finger and holding it up to ascertain how the wind blows. The moist skin, when turned to the end, is, of course, cooled by evaporation. The smoke from chimneys is among the very best of makeshift vanes. Sailors sometimes throw a bit of live coal to the sea and detect which way the steam slopes. The kingfisher is known as”the pure weathercock,” and thereby hangs two stories. One, maybe true, is that, if the dead bird be properly suspended outside, its breast will always turn into the end. Another, obviously ridiculous, is the exact same procedure will work inside.


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