Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/269

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WHISTLING.

"Only a little hour ago,
I was whistling to St. Antonio
For a capful of wind to fill our sail,
And, instead of a breeze, he has sent a gale."

Sir Walter Scott, too ("Rokeby," ii, 11), says:


"What gales are sold on Lapland's shore!
How whistle rash bids tempests roar!"

Among the numerous anecdotes connected with whistling, it may be remembered that in the train of Anne of Denmark, when she went to Scotland with James VI, was a gigantic Dane of matchless drinking capacity. He possessed an ebony whistle which, at the beginning of a drinking-bout, he would lay on the table, and whoever was last able to blow it was by general consent considered to be the "champion of the whistle." It happened, however, that during his stay in Scotland the Dane was defeated by Sir Robert Laurie, of Maxwelton, who, after three days and three nights of hard drinking, left the Dane under the table, and "blew on the whistle his requiem shrill." The whistle remained in the family seven years, when it was won by Sir Walter Laurie, son of Sir Robert. The last person who carried it off was Alexander Ferguson, of Craig-darroch, son of "Annie Laurie," so well known. Burns has immortalized the subject in a poem entitled "The Whistle," from which we quote the following stanzas:


"I sing of a whistle, a whistle of a worth,
I sing of a whistle, the pride of the North,
Was brought to the court of our good Scottish king,
And long with this whistle all Scotland shall ring.
Old Loda, still rueing the arm of Fingal,
The god of the bottle sends down from his hall;
'This whistle's your challenge—to Scotland get o'er,
And drink them to hell, sir, or ne'er see me more!'" etc.

The Russians in the Ukraine tell a queer story about a whistling robber of olden times, who evidently was a person of gigantic proportions, for he was in the habit of sitting on nine oak-trees at once. One of the nicknames given to him was "Nightingale," on account of his extraordinary whistling powers. Should an unwary traveler come across his path, he would whistle so melodiously that his victim would quickly faint away, whereupon he stepped forward and killed him outright. At last, however, a well-known hero, by name Ilja Marometz, determined to subdue the robber, and, having shot him with an arrow, took him prisoner, carrying him off to the court of the Grand Prince Vladimir. Even there he proved dangerous, for when the grand prince, merely from curiosity, commanded him to whistle, the grand princess and all the royal children being present, the man commenced whistling in such an overpowering manner that soon Vladimir with his whole family would inevitably have been dead had not