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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 1 (May 1, 1930)



Believe me, dear reader, Multum in Parvo is not the birthplace of Bernard Sure, nor is it the nom de gargle of a Continental cocktail or a sonorific symbol synonymous with soap or Socialism. To be academically ambiloquous it represents one of those meaty and mellifluous maxims with which the Latin lingo is laced; translated romantically and with intoxication, it means “Baby's got a heart of Oak,” or “You can't keep a good man down.” But, according to Ad Absurdum and Isosceles, the Icicle, the term, when subjected to Anglo-Saxophonious strangulation, resolves itself into “much in little,” and can be applied to many things besides the interim of a pelican, and the infant Samuel after the party. In round terms, but strictly on the square, the phrase fits New Zealand like a saveloy's suit, for who can deny that, speaking with due humidity, New Zealand is merely a mole on the face of Nature? But—mark the “but,” dear reader—although certainly she is Parvo in proportions, she is majestically Multum in the multifariousness of her feathered fauna, fossiliferous fecundity, and thermal therapeutics. What other slab of solidified sediment can boast a bird possessing the parodoxical parking propensities of the mutton bird, who, although of the air airy, is also of the earth earthy; for at certain times of the year she contracts an irresistible golf complex and “holes out in one;” in other words, Nature lays her low with a rabbit hunch, and she parks herself underground for the duration of the sitting; but how many really understand or appreciate this boneheaded bird, who, despite its name, is neither mutt or mutton? How many of us ever pause in our pursuit of luck and lucre to consider the domestic problems of this fugitive fowl; how many of us are too little preoccupied to study “Queer Birds I Have Met,” by Oliver flutter? You, careless reader, regarding the mutton bird as a minor feature in the mural decorations of a fishmonger's mortuary—do you never shed a tear for this frustrated fowl, who flies three thousand miles just to dig a hole, and then flies back another three thousand miles to the Silly Isles or Shepherd's Bush, to spend the summer thinking up improvements for next year's hole?

I know of only one recorded instance of a mutton bird, in full possession of its faculties, being kept in captivity. Let us say it in stanzas.