What Art Thou, Hen?

WHAT IS A HEN?

{The United States court of customs appeals is to rule on the question of whether or not a hen is a bird.}

*****
What art thou, hen? When thou wouldst sit,
Or set, all firmly on thy nest
Thou art, when naught can make thee quit,
A pest.

And when thou cacklest when we’d take
A nap with no disturbing pother
Thou art, we vow and stay awake,
A bother.

In summer when the garden patch
Tempts thee to stroll with cluckings vague
Thou art, whene’er we see thee scratch,
A plague.

The ministers, however, when
They eat thy offspring served with dressing,
Pronounce thee once and yet again
A blessing.

In winter, when we have to pay
Whate’er cold storage men may hint,
Thou art, because of thy fair lay,
A mint.

And when old age hath ended thee
The plot once more begins to thicken —
In market then thou art, we see,
Spring chicken!

— W.D. Nesbit in Chicago Post.

Warren Evening Mirror (Warren, Pennsylvania) Oct 20, 1910

IS A HEN A BIRD?

Customs Court of Appeals Now Has That Question to Determine.

WASHINGTON. Sept. 26. — The new United States Court of Customs Appeals is in the full swing of its first session. The much-disputed question, “Is a hen a bird?” which the Treasury officials passed up as hopeless will probably come before the court at this term. The question is, If birds’ eggs are free under the tariff, and hens’ eggs are taxed 3 cents a dozen, why isn’t a hen a bird? An importer who paid the higher rate of duty wants to know.

Another importer has canned eggs which he want assessed as canned albumen, on which the duty is lower.

There are also Chinese merchants with poultry meats packed in oils which they want the court to pronounce fresh poultry, and many other customs cases which have baffled the Board of General Appraisers at New York.

The New York Times — Sep 27, 1910 PDF LINK

A Hen Not a Bird.

To the Editor of The New York Times:

Referring to the communication from Washington in your issue of the 27th, entitled, “Is a Hen a Bird?” and the statement that the Treasury officials had passed it up as hopeless, permit me to state for the benefit of the Treasury officials and the United States Court of Customs Appeals that a “bird” carries its food to its young; while a “fowl” conducts its young to its food. Under this definition it is at once apparent that hawks, sparrows, and robins are “birds,” while ducks, geese, chickens, partridges, and turkeys, whether wild or domestic, are fowls. In a broad sense, however, all feathered animals with wings and two legs belong to the bird kingdom, from the ostrich to the sparrow or humming bird, and fowls, as designated above, are merely a subdivision, so to speak, of  the bird species.

S.P. FICKLEN.
Washington, D.C., Sept. 26, 1916.

The New York Times — Sep 29, 1910 PDF LINK

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