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as to the zenith of its popularity and reputation; for although it had been introduced into this country as early as the middle of the eighth century, it was, until the commencement of the sixteenth, nearly, if not entirely, confined to the highest rank of society. During the reigns of Elizabeth and James, however, it descended from the nobility to the gentry and wealthy yeomanry, and no man could then have the smallest pretension to the character of a gentleman who kept not a cast of hawks. Of this a ludicrous instance is given us by Ben Jonson, in his “Every Man in his Humour:”
“Master Stephen. How does my cousin Edward, uncle ?
Steph. Uncle, afore I goe in, can you tell me, an' he have ere a booke of the sciences of hawking, and hunting? I would faine borrow it.
know. Why, I hope you will not a hawking now, will you ?
Steph. No, cousse; but I'll practise against next yere, uncle. I'have bought me a hawke, and a hood, and bells, and all; I lacke nothing but a booke to keepe it by.
Knowo. 0, most ridiculous.
Steph. Nay, looke you now, you are angrie, uncle: wby you know, an'a man have not skill in the hawking, and hunting-languages now-a-days, I'll not give a rusb for him. They are more studied than the Greeke, or the Latine. He is for no gallant's company without 'hem.-A fine jest ifaith! Slid a gentleman mun show himselfe like a gentleman!”+
That the character of Master Stephen is not, in this respect, overcharged, but represents faithfully the fashionable folly of the age, is evident from many contemporary writers, and especially from that sensible old author Richard Brathwait, who, speaking of dogs and hawks, says,
“They are to be used only as pleasures and recreations, of which to speake sparingly were much belter, than onely to discourse of them, as if our whole reading were in them. Neither doe I speake this without just cause ; for I have noted this fault in many of our younger brood of Gentry, who either for want of education in learning, or their owne neglect of learning, have no sooner attained to the strength of making their fist a pearch for a hawke, but by the helpe of some bookes of faulconry, whereby they are instructed in the words of art, they will run division upon discourse of this pleasure: whereas, if at any time they be interrupled by occasion of some other conference, these Highflyers are presently to bee mewed up, for they are taken from their element."
Many of the best books on the Art of Falconry were written, indeed, as might be expected, during this universal rage for the amusement, and the hawking coxcombs of the day, adopting their language on all occasions, became necessarily obtrusive and pedantic in a disgusting degree. Of these manuals the most popular were written by George Turberville, Gervase Markham, and Edmund Best. S
But the most detrimental consequence arising from the universality of this elegant diversion, was the immense expense that attended it, and which frequently involved those who were not opulent in utter ruin : a result not to be wondered
* " About the year 750, Winifrid, or Boniface, a native of England, and archbishop of Mons, acquaints Ethelbald, a king of Kent, that he has sent him one hawk, two falcons and two shields. And Hedilbert, a king of the Mercians, requests the same archbishop Winifrid to send him two falcons which have been trained to kill cranes. See Epistol. Winifrid. (Bonifac.). Mogunt. 1605. 1629. And in Bibl. Patr. tom. vi., and tom. xiii. p. 70."-Warton's Hist. of English Poetry, vol. i. p. 221. † Jonson's Works, fol. vol. i. p. 6. act i. sc. 1.
Brathwait's English Gentleman, 2d edit. 1633. p. 220.
“ The Booke of Faulconrie, or Hawking, for the onely delight and pleasure of all Noblemen and Gentemen : collected out of the best aucthors, as wel Italians as Frenchmen, and some English practises witball concernyng Faulconrie, the contentes whereof are to be seene in the next page folowyng.' By Geo. Turberville, Gentleman. Nocet empta dolore voluptas. Imprinted at London for Chr. Barker, ai the signe of the Grashoper in Paules Church-yarde, 1575.".' To this was added, the “ Noble Arte of Venerie or Hunting:" and a re-impression of both, “newly revived, corrected, and augmented with many additions proper to these present times," was published by Thomas Purfoot, in 1611.
Gervase Markham published in 1595 the edition of Dame Julyana Barne's Treatise on Hawking and Hunting, which we have formerly noticed, and which was first printed by Caxton, and afterwards by Winkin De Worde; and in 1615, the first edition of his Country Contentments, which contains a treatise on Hawking; a work so popular, that it reached thirteen or fourteen editions.
Edmund Best, who trained and sold hawks, printed a treatise on Hawks and Hawking in 1619.
at, when we find, that at the commencement of the seventeenth century, a gosshawk and a tassel-hawk were not to be purchased for less than a hundred marks; and that in the reign of James I., Sir Thomas Monson gave one thousand pounds for a cast of hawks. Brathwait, in his usual strain of propriety, advises those who are not possessed of good estates, to give up all idea of this diversion, and exposes its indiscriminate pursuit in the following pleasant manner:
“ This pleasure," observes he, “as it is a princely delight, so il moveth many to be so dearely enamoured of it, as they will undergoe any charge, rather than foregoe it: which makes mee recall to mind a merry tale which I have read, to this effect. Divers men having entered into discourse, touching the superfluous care (I will not say folly) of such as kept dogs and hawkes for hawking; one Paulus a Florentine stood up and spake : Not without cause (quoth bee) did that foole of Millan laugh at these; and being entreated to tell the tale, hee ibus proceeded ; upon a time (quoth hee) there was a citizen of Millan, a physitian for such as were distracted or lunaticke ; who look upon him within a certaine time to cure such as were brought unto him. And bee cured them after this sort: Hee had a plat of ground neere his house, and in it a pit of corrupt and stinking water, wherein he bound such as were mad to a stake, some of them knee deepe, others to the groin, and some others deeper according to the degree of their madnesse, where hee
long pined them with water and hunger, till they seemed sound. Now amongst others, there was one brought, whom he had put thigh-deepe in water ; who after fifteen dayes began to recover, beseeching the physitian that he might be taken out of the water. The physitian taking compassion of him, tooke him out, but with this condition, that he should not goe out of the roome. Having obeyed him certaine days, he gave him liberty to walke up and downe the house, but not to passe the out-gale; while the rest of his companions, which were many, remaining in the water, diligently observed the physitian's command. Now it chanced, as on a time be stood at the gate (for out he durst not goe, for feare he should return to the pit), he beckoned to a yong gentleman to come unto him, who had a hawke and two spaniels, being moved with the novelly thereof; for to his remembrance before he fell mad, he had never seen the like. The yong genUeman being come unto him; Sir (quoth he) I pray you hear meea word or two, and answer mee
I at your pleasure : What is this you ride on (quoth he) and how do you imploy bim? This is a horse (replied he) and I keepe him for bawking. But what call you that you carry on your fist, and how do you use it? This is a hawke (said he) and I use to flie with it at pluver and partridge. But what (quoth he) are these which follow you, what doe they, or wherein do they profit you ? These are dogges (said be) and necessary for hawking, to find and retrieve my game. And what were these birds worth,
for which you provide so many things, if you should reckon all you take for a whole yeere? Who answering, he knew not well, but they were worth a very little, not above six crownes. The man replied; what then may be the charge you are at with your horse, dogges and hawke? Some fiftie crowns, said he. Whereat, as one wondering at the folly of the yong gentleman : Away, away, Sir, I pray you quickly, and fly before our physilian returne home : for if he find you here, as one that is maddest man alive, he will throw you into bis pit, there to be cured with olhers, that have lost their wits; and more than all others, for he will set you chindeepe in the water. Inferring hence, that the use or exercise of bawking is the greatest folly, unlesse sometimes used by such as are of good estate, and for recreation sake.
“ Neither is this pleasure or recreation herein taxed, but the excessive and immoderate expence which many are at in maintaining this pleasure. Who as they should be wary in the expence of their coine, so much more circumspect in their expence of time. So as in a word, I could wish yong gentlemen never to bee so taken with this pleasure, as to lay aside the dispatch of more serious occasions, for a flight of feathers in the ayre.”
The same prudent advice occurs in an author who wrote immediately subsequent to Brathwait, and who, though a lover of the diversion, stigmatises the folly of its general adoption.
" As for hawking,” says he, “I commend it in some, condemne it in others; in men of qualitie whose estates will well support it, I commend it as a generous and noble qualitie; but in men of meane ranke and religious men, + 1 condemne it with Blesensis, as an idle and foolish vanitie; for I have ever thought it a kind of madnesse for such men, lo bestow ten pounds in
* Brathwait's English Gentleman, 211 edit. 1633. p. 201-203. + Henry Peacham, who remarks of Hawking, that it is a recreation "very commendable and befitting a Noble or Gentleman to exercise,” adds, that “ by the Canon Law, Hawking was forbidden unto Clergic." The Compleat Gentleinan, 2d edit. p. 212, 213,
feathers, which at one blast might be blowne away, and to buy a momentary monethly pleasure with the labours and expence of a whole yeare.
It is to be regretted, however, that the use of the gun has superseded, among the opulent, the pursuit of this far more elegant and picturesque recreation. As intimately connected, for many centuries, with the romantic manners and costume of our ancient nobility and gentry, it now possesses peculiar charms for the poet and the antiquary, and we look back upon the detail of this pastime, and all its magnificent establishment, with a portion of that interest which time has conferred upon the splendid pageantries of chivalry. Of the estimation in which it was held, and of the pleasure which it produced, in Shakspeare's time, there are not wanting numerous proofs : he has himself frequently alluded to it, and the poets Tuberville, Gascoign, and Sydney, have delighted to expatiate on its praises, and to adopt its technical phraseology. But the most interesting eulogia, the most striking pictures of this diversion, appear to us to be derived from a few strokes in Brathwait, Nash, and Massinger; writers who, publishing shortly after Shakspeare's death, and describing the amusement of their youthful days, of course delineate the features as they existed in Shakspeare's age, with as much, if not greater accuracy than the still earlier contemporaries of the bard.
“ Hawking,” remarks Brathwait, “ is a pleasure for high and mounting spirits: such as will no! sloop to inferiour lures, having their mindes so farre above, as they scorn to partake with them. It is rare to consider, how a wilde bird should bee so brought to hand, and so well managed as lo make us such pleasure in the ayre : but most of all to foregoe her native liberty and feeding, and returne to her former servilude and diet. But in this, as in the rest, we are laught to admire the great goodness and bounty of God, who bath not only given us the birds of the aire, with their flesh to feede us, with their voice lo cheere us, but with their flight to delight us.”+
“ I have in my youthfull dayes,” relales Nash, “beene as glad as ever I was to come from Schoole, to see a little martin in the dead lime of the yeare, when the winter had put on her whilest coat, and the frosts bad sealed up the brookes and rivers, to make her way through the midst of a multitude of fowle-mouth'd ravenous crows and kites, which pursued ber with more hydeous cryes and clamours, than did Coll the dog, and Malkin the maide, the Fox in the Apologue.
“ When the geese for feare flew over the trees,
Chaucer in his Nunes Priests Tale. and maugre all their oppositions pulled down her prey, bigger than herselse, being mounted aloft, steeple-bigh downe to the ground. And to heare an accipitrary relate againe, how he went forth in a cleere, calme, and sup-sbine evening, about an houre before the sunne did usually maske himselfe, unto the river, where finding of a mallard, he whistled off his faulcon, and how shee flew from him as if shee would never have turned head againe, yet presently upon a shoote came in, how then by degrees, by little and little, by flying about and about, she mounted so high, unlill she had lessened herself to the view of the beholder, to the shape of a pigeon or partridge, and bad made the height of the moone the place of her flight, how presently upon the landing of the fowle, shee came downe like a stone and enewed it, and suddenly got up againe, and suddenly upon a second landing came downe againe, and missing of it, in the downecome recovered it, beyond expectation, to the admiration of the beholder, at a long; and to heare him lell a thirde time, how he went forth early in a winter's morning, to the woody fields and pastures to fly the cocke, where having by the little white feather in bis Layle discovered him in a brake, he cast of a tasel gentle, and how he never ceased in his circular motion, untill he had recovered his place, how suddenly opon the flushing of the cocke be came downe, and missing of it in the downcome, what working there was on both sides, how the cocke mounted, as if he would have pierced the skies ; how the hawke Dew a contrary way, untill he had made the winde his friend, how then by degrees he got up, yet never offered to come in, untill he had got the advantage of the higher gound, how Then he made in, what speed the cocke made to save himselfe, and wbat hasly pursuit the hawke made, and how after two long miles flight killed it, yet in killing of it killed himselfe. These dis
Vide Quaternio, or a Fourefold Way to a Happie Life, set forth in a Dialogue betweenc a Countryman and a Citizen, a Divine and a Lawyer. Per Tbo. Nash, Philopolitean, 1633.
† English Gentleman, p. 200.
courses I love to heare, and can well be content to be an eye-witnesse of the sport, when my occasions will permit.” *
To this lively and minute detail, which brings the scene immediately before our eyes, we must be allowed to add the poetical picture of Massinger, which, as Mr. Gifford has justly observed, “ is from the hand of a great master.”
“ In the afternoon,
for the pye or jay, a sparrow hawk
-Then, for an evening flight,
Proud to be made his quarry."S After these praises and general description of hawking, it will be proper to mention the various kinds of hawks used for this diversion, the different modes of exercising it, and a few of the most interesting particulars relative to the training of the birds.
It will be found, on consulting the “Treatise on Hawking," by Dame Juliana Barnes, printed by Wynkyn De Wordel in 1496, the “Gentleman's Academie,” by Markham, 1595, and the “Jewel for Gentrie," published in 1614, that during this space of time, the species of hawks employed, and the several ranks of society to which they were appropriated, had scarcely, if at all varied. The following catalogue is, therefore, taken from the ancient Treatise :
“ An eagle, a bawler (a vulture), a melown; these belong unto an Emperor.
Quaternio, 1633. It is, perhaps, scarcely necessary to add, that the writer of this work must not be confounded with Thos. Nash'the author of Pierce Penniless, who died before 1606.
+ To bind with is to tire or seize.—Gentleman's Recreation.
# To cancelier. “Cancelier is when a high-flown hawk in her stooping, turneth two or three times upon the wing, to recover herself before she seizeth her prey.”—Gentleman's Recreation.
& Gifford's Massinger, vol. iv. p. 136, 137.— The Guardian, from which this passage is taken, was licensed in October, 1633.
There is an Hoby; and that hauk is for a young man.
And yet there ben more kinds of bawks.
To this list the Jewel for Gentre adds
Many of these birds were held in such bigh estimation by our crowned heads and nobility, that several severe edicts were issued for the preservation of their eggs. These were mitigated in the reign of Elizabeth ; but still if any person was convicted of taking or destroying the eggs of the falcon, gos-hawk or laner, he was liable to sufler imprisonment for three months, and was obliged to find security for his good behaviour for seven years, or remain confined until he did.
Hawking was divided into two branches, land and water hawking, and the latter was usually considered as producing the most sport. The diversion of hawking was pursued either on horseback or on foot : on the former in the fields and open country; on the latter, in woods, coverts, and on the banks of rivers. When on foot, the sportsman had the assistance of a stout pole, for the purpose of leaping over ditches, rivulets, etc. ; a circumstance which we learn from the chronicle of Hall, where the historian tells us that Henry the Eighth, pursuing his hawk on foot, in attempting to leap over a ditch of muddy water with his pole, it broke, and precipitated the monarch head-foremost into the mud, where, had it not been for the timely assistance of one of his footmen, named John Moody, he would soon have been suffocated; "and so," concludes the venerable chronicler, “God of hys goodnesse preserved him." +
The game pursued in hawking included a vast variety of birds, many of which, once fashionable articles of the table, have now ceased to be objects of the culinary art. Of those which are now obsolete among epicures may be enumerated, herons, bitterns, swans, cranes, curlews, sheldrakes, cootes, peacocks; of those still in use, teel, mallard, geese, ducks, pheasants, quails, partridges, plovers, doves, turtles, snipes, woodcocks, rooks, larks, starlings, and sparrows.
Hawking, notwithstanding the occasional fatigue and hazard which it produced, was a favourite diversion among the ladies, who in the pursuit of it, according to a writer of the seventeenth century, did not hesitate to assume the male attire and posture.
“ The Bury + ladies," observes he," that used bawking and hunting, were once in a great vaine of wearing breeches.”'S The same author has preserved a bawking anecdote of some humour, and wbich occurred, likewise, at the same place : “ Sir Thomas Jermin,” he relates, “ going out with bis servants, and brooke hawkes one evening, at Bury, they were no sooner abroad, but fowle were found, and be called out to one of his falconers, Orr with your jerkin; the fellow being into the wind did not heare him; at which he stormed, and still cried out, Off with your jerkin, you knave, off with your jerkin ; now it fell out that there was, at that instant, a plaine towosman of Bury, in a freeze jerkin, slood betwixt him and his falconer, who seeing Sir Thomas in such a rage, and thinking he had spoken to him, upbulloned bimself amaine, threw off bis jerkin, and besought his worshippe not to be offended, for he would off with his doublel too, to give him content.
That the training of hawks was a work of labour, difficulty, and skill, and that the person upon whom the task devolved, was highly prized, and supported at a great expense, may be readily imagined. The Falconer was, indeed, an officer of high importance in the household of the opulent, and his whole time was absorb
* Dibdin's Typographical Antiquities, vol. ii. p. 57,
58. Í Hall's Life of Henry VIII, sub an. xvj. # Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk. Anonymous MS., entitled “Merry Passages and Jeasts." Bibl. Harl. 6395. Art. cccliv. Merry Passages and Jeasts, art. ccxxiii