Marginalia, no.313

It is a question whether the Cockatrice dye by the sight of himself: some have affirmed so much, but I dare not ascribe thereunto… I cannot without laughing remember the old Wives tales of the Vulgar Cockatrices that have been in England, for I have oftentimes heard it related confidently, that once our Nation was full of Cockatrices, and that a certain man did destroy them by going up and down in Glasse, whereby their own shapes were reflected upon their own faces, and so they dye.

~ Edward Topsell, History of Four-Footed Beasts and Serpents (1607)

We pedestrians no longer look each other in the face when we pass, fearing perhaps that some of our number are secret cockatrices. It would make a nice experiment to cover myself in mirrors and walk back and forth through downtown one day. The service rendered my fellow citizens would be measured in the combined weight of the corpses left here and there on the sidewalk.

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2 Comments

Filed under Marginalia

2 responses to “Marginalia, no.313

  1. If Stendhal’s analogy holds true – “A novel is a mirror carried along a highway” – they might throw away their Kindles and their Nooks and start following you around.

  2. Douglas Dalrymple

    If only.

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