The Nightingale

The famous epitaph on Sir John Strange compliments him at the expense of the whole legal profession:

Here lies an honest lawyer, and that is Strange.


At last, one day, there came a little package to the Emperor, on the outside of which was written, “The Nightingale.” Inside was an artificial bird, something like a Nightingale, only it was made of gold, and silver, and rubies, and emeralds, and diamonds. When it was wound up it played a waltz tune, and as it played it moved its little tail up and down. Everybody in the court was filled with delight at the music of the new nightingale. They made it sing that same tune thirty-three times, and still they had not had enough. They would have made it sing to tune thirty-four times, but the Emperor said, “I should like to hear the Nightingale sing, now.”

But when they looked about for the real Nightingale, they could not find her anywhere! She had taken the chance, while everybody was listening to the waltz tunes, to fly away through the window to her own greenwood.

“What a very ungrateful bird!” said the lords and ladies. “But it does not matter; the new nightingale is just as good.”

So the artificial nightingale was given the real Nightingale’s little gold perch, and every night the Emperor wound her up, and she sang waltz tunes to him. The people in the court liked her even better than the old Nightingale, because they could whistle her tunes,–which you can’t do with the real nightingales.