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the extreme points of distance within which
carrier pigeons are capable of journeying
with certainty.

Herr Kohl gives no account of these
stations or stages. We once saw one at Montrieul,
the first station beyond Dover, towards Paris.
The town stands on a high eminence, and is
well adapted for the purpose. The cote was
on the roof of a café. It was a square apartment
with a flat ceiling, in which was cut a
small door or trap: on the inside of this was
fixed a small bell. If a Dover pigeon had
alighted on the trap, the bell would have
rung, and called the attention of an attendant
always in waiting. The pigeon would have
been secured, the dispatch taken from under
its wing, and the messenger put into its cage.
In a twinkling the cyphered paper would be
fastened under the wing of the Beauvais or
Amiens pigeon, and it would be sent off. On
arriving at its destination, the same formula
would be gone through, and the Paris pigeon
would take the dispatch to its destination.
Although several pigeons, even in fine weather,
are entrusted with the same message, two
seldom arrive at the common destination at
the same time, so that at each place the
operation we have described is frequently
repeated, in order that at least one of many
dispatches may be certain of arriving at the
destination.

These establishments were costly. Besides
the great number of pigeons necessary to be
kept at each station, some of the single birds
were valuable. Fifty and sixty pounds was
sometimes given for a clever pigeon. Those
between Dover and Montrieul, and vice versa,
were among the most valuable, for none
but sharp-sighted messengers could find their
way across the Channel; few flights were
sent away without some members of it being
lost.

But to return to the Antwerp pigeons
and to Mr. Kohl. Having, he continues,
reached the open, elevated spot before-
mentioned, the flat baskets carried by the servants
were uncovered, and the little voyageurs
rapidly winged their way upwards. The
intelligence they were to convey to Paris was
written in little billets, fastened under their
wings. The pigeons I saw sent off had been
brought in covered baskets from Paris, and
were as yet totally unacquainted with Antwerp
and its environs. Their ignorance of the locality
was manifest in the wavering uncertainty
of their movements when they first took
wing. On rising into the air, they gathered
closely together, like foreigners in a strange
country, and presently they steered their
course along the confines of the city, in a
direction quite contrary to that of Paris.
They then soared upwards, spirally, and after
several irregular movements (during which
they seemed to be looking for the right way,
and hesitating which course to take), they all
suddenly darted olf to south-west, directing
their rapid flight straight to Paris, as if
gladly quitting inhospitable Antwerp, where
they had been scantily fed and carelessly
tended.

As soon as the birds were fairly out of
sight, pigeon-trainers proceeded homeward,
not a little gratified by the conviction
that their fleet messengers, with the
intelligence they bore under their wings, would
outstrip the speed of a railway train which
had started some time before them.

To me the most interesting point in the
whole scene was the interval (about the space
of a quarter of an hour) during which the
pigeons wavered to and fro, seeking their way
in a state of uncertainty. That appeared to
me to be a wonderful manifestation of
intelligence on the part of the birds. It is
frequently affirmed that the carrier pigeon finds
its way without the exercise of intelligence or
observation, and merely by the aid of some
incomprehensible instinct; but, from my own
observations of the Antwerp pigeons, I am
convinced that this is a mistake. Another
circumstance tending to show that the birds
are guided by something more than mere
instinct, is, that during foggy weather the
employment of carrier pigeons is found to be
almost as impracticable as the use of the
optical telegraph. But though it is not the
practice to dispatch carrier pigeons at times
when the atmosphere is very thickly obscured
by fog, yet, owing to the keenness and
accuracy of the visual power of these birds,
which is much more perfect than that of man,
they have an advantage over the telegraph.
The latter is wholly useless when the
atmosphere is only slightly obscured; but carrier
pigeons frequently soar quite above the
region of mist, and are thus enabled to trace
their course without interruption. Stations
of carrier pigeons are established in most of
the principal towns of Belgium.

The members of the Antwerp pigeon-
training society, whom I accompanied on
the occasion above described, were citizens
of the middle class of society. But in
Belgium, pigeon-training has its attractions
even for persons of rank and wealth, many
of whom are enthusiastic pigeon fanciers;
indeed, pigeon-flying is as fashionable an
amusement in Belgium as horse racing in
England. Prizes, consisting of sums of money
as high as sixty thousand francs, are
frequently won in matches of pigeonsto say
nothing of the betting to which those matches
give occasion.

Monthly Supplement of "HOUSEHOLD WORDS,"
Conducted by CHARLES DICKENS.
Price 2d., Stamped, 3d.,
THE HOUSEHOLD NARRATIVE
OF
CURRENT EVENTS.
The Number, containing a history of the past month, was
issued with the Magazines.

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