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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 it 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 inte 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 hee) did that foole of Millan laugh at these; and being entreated to tell the tale, hee thus proceeded; upon a time (quoth hee) there was a citizen of Millan, a physitian for such as were distracted or lunaticke; who took 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 so 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-gate; 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 he 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 novelty thereof; for to his remembrance before he fell mad, he had never seen the like. The yong gentleman being come unto him; Sir (quoth he) I pray you hear meea word or two, and answer mee at your pleasure: What is this you ride on (quoth he) and how do you imploy him? This is a horse (replied he) and I keepe him for hawking. 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. 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 physitian returne home: for if he find you here, as one that is maddest man alive, he will throw you into his pit, there to be cured with others, 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 hawking 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, † I condemne it with Blesensis, as an idle and foolish vanitie; for I have ever thought it a kind of madnesse for such men, to bestow ten pounds in
*Brathwait's English Gentleman, 2 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 Clergie The Compleat Gentleman, 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 not stoop 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 to make us such pleasure in the ayre: but most of all to foregoe her native liberty and feeding, and returne to her former servitude and diet. But in this, as in the rest, we are taught to admire the
great goodness and bounty of God, who hath not only given us the birds of the aire, with their Besh to feede us, with their voice to cheere us, but with their flight to delight us."+
** I have in my youthfull dayes," relates Nash, "beene as glad as ever I was to come from Schoole, to see a little martin in the dead time of the yeare, when the winter had put on her whitest coat, and the frosts had 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 her 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 mangre all their oppositions pulled down her prey, bigger than herselfe, being mounted aloft, steeple-high downe to the ground. And to heare an accipitrary relate againe, how he went forth in a cleere, calme, and sun-shine 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, untill she had lessened herself to the view of the beholder, to the shape of a pigeon or partridge, and had 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 tell 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 his tayle 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 upon the flushing of the cocke he 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 flew 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 bad got the advantage of the higher gound, how then he made in, what speed the cocke made to save himselfe, and what hasty 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 betweene a Countryman and a Citizen, a Divine and a Lawyer. Per Tho 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 we will have variety of delights,
for the pye or jay, a sparrow hawk
A cast of haggard falcons, by me mann'd,
They did turn tail; but with their labouring wings
And by turns bind with her; † the frighted fowl,
With her dreadful beak, awhile defers her death,
--Then, for an evening flight,
To cancelier; ‡ then, with such speed as if
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 Worde 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 bawter (a vulture), a melown; these belong unto an Emperor.
A Gerfalcon: a Tercell of a Gerfalcon are due to a King.
There is a Falcon gentle, and a Tercel gentle; and these be for a Prince.
There is a Falcon peregrine; and that is for an earl.
Also there is a Bastard; and that hawk is for a baron.
There is a Sacre and a Sacret; and these ben for a knight.
There is a Lanare and a Lanrell; and these belong to a squire.
There is a Merlyon; and that hawk is for a lady.
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 li censed in October, 1633.
There is an Hoby; and that hawk is for a young man.
And these ben hawks of the tour and ben both illuryd to be called and reclaimed.
And yet there ben more kinds of hawks.
There is a Goshawk; and that hawk is for a yeoman.
There is a Tercel; and that is for a poor man.
There is a Sparehawk; she is an hawk for a priest.
A Kesterel, for a knave or servant.
Many of these birds were held in such high 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 suffer 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 hawking and hunting, were once in a great taine of wearing breeches." The same author has preserved a hawking anecdote of some humour, and which occurred, likewise, at the same place: "Sir Thomas Jermin," he relates, * going out with his servants, and brooke hawkes one evening, at Bury, they were no sooner abroad, but fowle were found, and he called out to one of his falconers, Off 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 townsman of Bury, in a freeze jerkin, stood betwixt him and his falconer, who seeing Sir Thomas in such a rage, and thinking he had spoken to him, unbuttoned himself amaine, threw of his jerkin, and besought his worshippe not to be offended, for he would off with his doublet 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. Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk.
Hall's Life of Henry VIII. sub an. xvj.
Anonymous MS., entitled "Merry Passages and Jeasts." Bibl. Harl. 6395. Art. cceliv.
ed in the duties of his station. That these were various and incessant may be deduced from the following curious character of a falconer, drawn by a satirist of 1615.*
"A falkoner is the egge of a tame pullett, hatcht up among hawkes and spaniels. Hee hath in his minority conversed with kestrils and yong hobbies: but growing up he begins to handle the lure, and look a fawlcon in the face. Ail his learning makes him but a new linguist; for to have studied and practised the termes of Hawke's Dictionary, is enough to excuse his wit, manners, and humanity. He hath too many trades to thrive; and yet if hee had fewer, hee would thrive lesse. Hee need not be envied therefore, for a monopolie, though he be barber-surgeon, physitian, and apothecary, before he commences hawk-leech; for though he exercise all these, and the art of bow-strings together, his patients be compelled to pay him no further, then they be able. Hawkes be his object, that is, his knowledge, admiration, labour, and all; they be indeed his idoll, or mistresse, be they male or female: to them he consecrates his amorous ditties, which be no sooner framed then hallowed; nor should he doubt to overcome the fairest, seeing he reclaimes such haggards, and courts every one with a peculiar dialect. That he is truly affected to his sweetheart in her fether-bed, appeares by the sequele, himselfe being sensible of the same misery, for they be both mewed up together: but he still chuses the worst pennance, by chusing rather an ale-house, or a cellar, for his moulting place than the hawke's mew."†
The training of Hawks consisted principally in the manning, luring, flying and hooding them. Of these, the first and second imply a perfect familiarity with the man, and a perfect obedience to his voice and commands, especially that of returning to the fist at the appointed signal. The flying includes the appropriation of peculiar game; thus the Faulcon gentle, which, according to Gervase Markham, is the principal of hawks, and adapted either for the field or river, will fly at the partridge or the mallard; the Gerfaulcon will fly at the heron; the Saker at the crane or bittern; the Lanner at the partridge, pheasant, or chooffe; the Barbary Faulcon at the partridge only; the Merlin and the Hobby at the lark, or any small bird; the Goshawk or Tercel at the partridge, pheasant, or hare; the Sparrowhawk at the partridge or blackbird, and the Musket at the bush only. S
The hooding of hawks, as it embraces many technical terms, which have been adopted by our poets, and among the rest, by Shakspeare, will require a more extended explanation, and this we shall give in the words of Mr. Strutt.
"When the hawk," he observes, "was not flying at her game, she was usually hood-winked, with a cap or hood provided for that purpose, and fitted to her head; and this hood was worn abroad, as well as at home. All hawks taken upon the fist,' the term used for carrying them upon the hand, had straps of leather called jesses,* put about their legs; the jesses were made sufficiently long, for the knots to appear between the middle and the little fingers of the hand that held them, so that the lunes, or small thongs of leather, might be fastened to them with two tyrrits, or rings; and the lunes were loosely wound round the little finger; lastly, their legs were adorned with bells, fastened with rings of leather, cach leg having one; and the leathers, to which the bells were attached, were denominated bewits; and to the bewits was added the creance, of
*The Falconer was sometimes denominated the Ostringer or Sperviter: "they be called Ostringers," says Markham, "which are the keepers of Goshawkes or Tercelles, and those which keepe Sparrow-hawkes or Muskets are called Sperviters, and those which keepe any other kinde of hawke being long-winged are termed Falconers." Gentleman's Academie or Book of St. Albans, fol. 8.
Satyrical Essayes, Characters, &c., by John Stephens, 1615. 16mo. 1st edit.
"All hawks," says Markham, "generally are manned after one manner, that is to say, by watching and keeping them from sleep, by a continuall carrying them upon your fist, and by a most familiar stroaking and playing with them, with the wing of a deal fowl, or such like, and by often gazing and looking them in the face, with a loving and gentle countenance, and so making them acquainted with the man.
"After your hawks are manned, you shall bring them to the Lure by easie degrees, as first, making them jump unto the fist, after fall upon the lure, then come to the voice, and lastly, to know the voice and lure so perfectly, that either upon the sound of the one, sight of the other, she will presently come in, and be most obedient; which may easily be performed, by giving her reward when she doth your pleasure, and making her fast when she disobeyeth: short wing'd hawks shall be called to the fist only, and not to the lure; ner ther shall you use unto them the loudnesse and variety of voice, which you do to the long winged hawks, but only bring them to the fist by chiriping your lips together, or else by the whistle." Countrey Contestments. 11th edit. p. 30.
§ Country Contentments, p. 29.
Though it sometimes appears that the jesses were made of silk.
An object stuffed like that kind of bird which the hawk was designed to pursue. The use of the lure was to tempt him back after be