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The despotism of the monarch in all that bore relation to field sports soon began to be imitated by the nobles, on whom was devolved the royal cruelty as well as right, as we learn from a writer of the twelfth century, when the rigour of the law was somewhat abated.
“In our time,” says the author," the nobility think it the height of worldly felicity to spend the whole of their time in hunting and hawking; accordingly they prepare for them with more solicitude, expense, and parade than they do for war; and pursue the wild beasts with greater fury than they do the enemies of their country. By constantly following this way of life, they lose much of their humanity, and become as savage nearly as the very beasts they hunt. Husbandmen, with their harmless herds and flocks, are driven from their well-cultivated fields, their meadows, and their pastures, that wild beasts may range in them without interruption.” And he continues, addressing himself to his unfortunate countrymen ; “If one of these great and merciless hunters shall pass by your habitation, bring forth hastily all the refreshment you have in your house, or that you can readily buy or borrow from your neighbours, that you may not be involved in ruin, or even accused of treason."*
“ Edward III. took so much delight in hunting, that even at the time he was engaged in war with France and resident in that country, he had with him sixty couple of staghounds and as many hare-hounds, and every day amused himself with hunting or hawking.”+ Many of the great lords in the army had hounds and hawks as well as the king, and Froissart, an eye-witness of the fact, tells us that Gaston, Earl of Foix, a foreign nobleman, conteinporary witli King Edward, kept upwards of six hundred dogs in his castle for the purpose of hunting.
This passion for the chase soon extended itself to the clergy, the bishops and abbots of the middle ages going out to hunt in great state, with a large retinue of servants and retainers, and some of them becoming celebrated for their skill in this fashionable pursuit; a propensity for which they are frequently rebuked by contemporary poets and moralists. Chaucer, who lost no opportunity of taunting the priesth yod, frequently accuses the monks of being much
* Job in. Sarisburiensis, lib. i. cap. 4, as cited by Strutt, p. 6.
more addicted to riding, hunting, hawking, and blowing the horn than to the performance of their religious duties. There must have been good ground for this censure, for in the thirteenth year of Richard II. an edict prohibited any priest or other clerk not possessing a benefice to the yearly amount of ten pounds, from keeping a greyhound or any other dog for the purpose of hunting: neither might they use “ferrits, hayes, nets, harepipes, cords, or other engines to take or destroy the deer, hares, or rabbits, under the penalty of one year's imprisonment.” This enactment was in the perfect spirit of the game-laws, for it did not affect the dignified clergy, who retained their ancient privileges, which were so extensive that Henry II., in order to restrain the prerogatives of these sporting ecclesiastics, enforced against them the canon law, by which they were forbidden to indulge in such pastimes. But these haughty and pleasure-loving priests were not to be thus baffled. In their own parks and enclosures they retained at all times the privilege of hunting, and took good care, therefore, to have such receptacles for game attached to their priories. The single see of Norwich, at the time of the Reformation, was in possession of no less than thirteen parks, well stocked with deer and other animals of chase.
It appears that some of the sporting monks of France, perhaps as a salvo to their consciences, contrived to spiritualize the chase, and to render it subservient to the purpose of teaching the ten commandments, and of eschewing the seven deadly sins. This ancient moralization is termed * L* Livre du Roy Modus, et de la Royne Ratio, lequel fait mention comment on doit deviser de toutes manieres de Chasse, &c.”—Chambery, 1486—folio. To judge by the title, this work would seem simply to relate to hunting, hawking, &c., but some of the manuscript copies give, in a more ample rubric, a notion of its nature; thus—"Le Livre du Roy Modus, qui, sous les termes de la Chasse des Bestes de toute Espece, moralise les dites bestes, les dix commandemens de la loy, les sept pechés mortels, &c.” Another French work is cited by Marchand, in which Christ's passion is moralized, and applied to the chase of the stag.
În former times the ladies often joined the hunting parties. Queen Elizabeth was extremely fond of tne chase.
“Her majesty," says a courtier, in a letter dated the 12th of September, 1600—when she had just entered the seventyseventh
year of her age—“ is well and excellently disposed to hunting, for every second day she is on horseback, and continues the sport long.” When she visited Lord Monte. cute at Cowdrey, in Sussex, we are told that “ Her highness tooke horse and rode into the park at eight o'clock in the morning, where was a delicate bowre prepared, under the which were her highnesses musicians placed ; and a crossbow by a nymph, with a sweet song, was delivered into her hands, to shoote at the deere : about some thirty in number were put into a paddock, of which number she killed three or four, and the Countess of Kildare one."*
Fitzstephen, who wrote in the reign of Henry II., says that the Londoners delighted themselves with hawks and hounds, for they had the liberty of hunting in Middlesex, Hertfordshire, all Chilton, and in Kent to the waters of Grey : but towards the close of the sixteenth century these exercises seem to have been discontinued, not for want of taste for the amusemer * says Stow, but of leisure to pursue it. Strype, however, b late as the reign of George I., reckons among the modern amusements of the Londoners “Riding on horseback and hunting with my lord mayor's hounds, when the common hunt goes out.”+ Of these venatorial glories of the citizens nothing more remains but the Easter Monday stag-hunt in Epping Forest, and the civic officer who still retains the functionless name of Mr. Common Hunt.
According to the ancient books of the practice of sportsmen, the seasons for hunting were as follows: The time of grace begins at Midsummer, and lasteth to Holyrood-day (14th of September). The fox may be hunted from the Nativity to the Annunciation of our Lady (25th of March), the roebuck from Easter to Michaelmas; the roe from Michaelmas to Candlemas (2d of February); the hare from Michaelmas to Midsummer; the wolf, as well as the fox, and the bear, from the Nativity to the Purification of our Lady (20 of February).
The birds and animals that were specifically interdicted as game varied according to the caprice of the legislators.
* Nichols's Progresses, vol. ii.
In Scotland the last act of the prohibitory kind before the accession of James to the English crown is found in 1690. It is remarkably minute, and describes by name nineteen sorts of game, which are neither to be bought nor sold, on penalty of one hundred pounds. It closes with a limitation as to the time of beginning “to eat moor poute, or partridge poute."
Field Sports :-Hawking, Archery.
“A thousand vassals muster'd round,
With horse and hawk, and horn and hound;
As hawking can never have been adopted from necessity, or in self-defence, like hunting, it is of course much less ancient. Many ages would doubtless elapse before it was discovered that this species of bird could be trained to pursue and catch game, and the practice therefore does not lay claim to any very remote antiquity. Pliny alludes to something of the sort as having prevailed in Thrace, but his meaning is too obscure to allow us to decide that it was hawking, according to modern notions of that pastime. Where it was first exercised is not exactly known, nor at what precise era it came into vogue ; but it is mentioned by a Latin writer of the fourth century, and is affirmed by soma to have been borrowed by the Romans from the Britons, as early as the reign of Vespasian. About the middle of the eighth century, Boniface, Archbishop of Mons, who was
himself a native of England, presented to Ethelbert, King of Kent, one hawk and two falcons; and a king of the Mercians requested the same Boniface to send him two falcons that had been trained to kill cranes; so that at this period the art must have been better understood in France than in England. Harold, afterward King of England, is painted going on a most important embassy with a hawk on his hanıl, and a dog under his arm; and even females of distinction were occasionally thus represented, as we know from an ancient sculpture in the church of Milton Abbas, in Dorsetshire, where the consort of King Athelstan appears with a falcon in her fist tearing a bird. The Welsh had a saying in very early times, that you may know a gentleman by his hawk, horse, and greyhound. Alfred the Great, who is commended for his proficiency in this, as in all other fashionable amusements, is said to have written a treatise upon the subject, which, however, has not come down to us; from various other sources, nevertheless, we are enabled to assert, that the pastime continued to be in high favour to the end of the Saxon era.
In France hawking seems to have been prosecuted with more ardour, and sustained with still greater state and ceremony than in England. From the capitularies of the eighth and ninth centuries we learn that the grand fauconnier was an officer of great eminence; his annual salary was 4000 forins, he was attended by fifty gentlemen and fifty assistant falconers, was allowed to keep three hundred hawks, licensed every vender of those birds, and received a tax upon all that were sold. We have recorded the number of hounds that our Edward III. carried with him when he invaded France, and we may now add, on the same uthority (Froissart), that be had besides thirty falconers on horseback, who had charge of his hawks; and that every day he either hunted or went to the river to hawk, as his fancy inclined him. From the frequent mention of hawking by the waterside, in the writers of the middle ages, we may conclude that the pursuit of aquatic fowl afforded the most diversion. Falconry appears to have been carried to great perfection, and to have been extensively pursued in the different countries of Europe about the twelfth century, when it was the favourite amusement not only of kings and nobles, but of ladies of distinction, and of the clergy, who