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Having entertained, in the last post, the possibility of transformation into a bird, I pass on to an indisputable instance thereof, with scholarly commentary appended.

“Of a man whom nothing could put out of his way, or dérouter in the least,” Harriet Cavendish reports this anecdote to her mother, the Duchess of Devonshire, in 1804.

To try him one night Lord Somebody and a large party at a house in the country made him dead drunk, rubbed him all over with sirrup, rolled him in a feather bed and then hid themselves in his room to watch his recovery. When he woke he walked slowly up to the glass, and, upon beholding himself, quietly said—“A bird, by God,” and went and sat down again.

“I nearly expired when I heard it,” writes Harriet. (The Oxford Book of Humorous Prose, ed. Frank Muir.)

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In Mackail’s Select Epigrams from the Greek Anthology is the following one, of Demodocus.

Πάντες μὲν Κίλικες κακοὶ ἀνέρες· ἐν δὲ Κίλιξιν
     εἶς ἀγαθὸς Κίνυρης, καὶ Κινύρης δὲ Κίλιξ.

All the Cilicians are bad men; but among the Cilicians
     there’s one good one, Cinyras; but Cinyras too is a Cilician.

(My translation.) Mackail thinks it is imitated from similar epigrams of Phocylides, among which is this, which begins with attribution to the author.

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As far as I know, this literary sub-genre, or sub-literary genre, is new.

A thrifty young thinker named Blaise
Took pains to preserve his pensées,
     But ere the fond hoarder
     Could set them in order,
He’d thoughtlessly spent all his days!

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