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A magpie, belonging to a barber at Rome, could imitate to a nicety almost
every word it heard. Some trumpets happened one day to be sounded before
the shop, and for a day or two afterwards the magpie was quite mute, and
seemed pensive and melancholy. All who knew it were greatly surprised at
its silence; and it was supposed that the sound of the trumpets had so
stunned it, as to deprive it at once of both voice and hearing. It soon
appeared, however, that this was far from being the case; for the bird had
been all the time occupied in profound meditation, studying how to imitate
the sound of the trumpets; and when at last master of it, the magpie, to
the astonishment of all its friends, suddenly broke its long silence, by a
perfect imitation of the flourish of trumpets it had heard; observing with
the greatest exactness all the repetitions, stops, and changes. The
acquisition of this lesson had, however, exhausted the whole of the
magpie's stock of intellect; for it made it forget everything it had
learned before.





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