previous next

CHAP. II OF WILD AND TAME FOULES.

ORDER requireth that I speake somenwhat of the foules also of England, which I may casilie diuide into the wild & tame: but alas such is my small skill in foules, that to say the truth, I can neither recite their numbers, nor well distinguish one kind of them from another. Yet this I haue by generall knowledge, that there is no nation vnder the sunne, which hath alreadie in the time of the yere more plentie of wild foule than we, for so manie kinds as our Iland dooth bring foorth, and much more would haue, if those of the higher soile might be spared but one yeare or two, from the greedie engins of couetous foulers, which set onlie for the pot & purse. Certes this enormitie bred great trouble in K. Iohns daies, insomuch that going in progresse about the tenth of his reigne, he found little or no game wherewith to solace himself, or exercise his falcons. Wherfore being at Bristow in the Christmas insuing, he restreined all maner of hawking or taking of wild-foule throughout England for a season, whereby the land within few yeares was throughlie replenished againe. But what stand I vpon this impertinent discourse? Of such therefore as are bred in our land, we haue the crane, the bitter, the wild & tame swan, the bustard, the herron, curlew, snite, wildgoose,. wind or doterell, brant, larke, plouer of both sorts, lapwing, teele, wigeon, mallard, sheldrake, shoueler, pewet, seamew, barnacle, quaile (who onelie with man are subiect to the falling sickenesse) the notte, the oliet or olife, the dunbird, woodcocke, partrich and feasant, besides diuerse other, whose names to me are vtterlie vnknowne, and much more the taste of their flesh, wherewith I was neuer acquainted. But as these serue not at all seasons, so in their seuerall turnes there is no plentie of them wanting, whereby the tables of the nobilitie and gentrie should séeme at anie time furnisht. But of all these the production of none is more maruellous in my mind, than that of the barnacle, whose place of generation we haue sought oft times so farre as the Orchades, whereas peraduenture we might haue found the same neerer home, and not onelie vpon the coasts of Ireland, but euen in our owne riuers. If I should say how either these or some such other foule not much vnlike vnto them haue bred of late times (for their place of generation is not perpetuall, but as opportunitie serueth, and the circumstances doo minister occasion) in the Thames mouth, I doo not thinke that manie will beleeue me: yet such a thing hath there béene seene, where a kind of foule had his beginning vpon a short tender shrub standing néere vnto the shore, from whence when their time came, they fell downe, either into the salt water and lined, or vpon the drie land and perished, as Pena the French herbarian hath also noted in the verie end of his herball. What I for mine owne part haue séene here by experience, I haue alreadie so touched in the chapter of Ilands, that it should be but time spent in vaine to repeat it here againe. Looke therefore in the description of Man or Manaw for more of these barnacles, as also in the eleuenth chapter of the description of Scotland, & I doo not doubt but you shall in some respect be satisfied in the generation of these foules. As for egrets, pawpers, and such like, they are dailie brought vnto 'vs from beyond the sea, as if all the foule of our countrie could not suffice to satisfie our delicate appetites.

Our tame foule are such (for the most part) as are common both to vs and to other countries, as cocks, hens, géese, duckes, peacocks of Inde, pigeons, now an hurtfull foule by reason of their multitudes, and number of houses dailie erected for their increase (which the bowres of the countrie call in scorne almes houses, and dens of theeues, and such like) wherof there is great plentie in euerie farmers yard. They are kept there also to be sold either for readie monie in the open markets, or else to be spent at home in good companie amongst their neighbors without reprehension or fines. Neither are we so miserable in England (a thing onelie granted vnto vs by the especiall grace of God, and libertie of our princes) as to dine or sup with a quarter of a hen, or to make so great a repast with a cocks combe, as they doo in some other countries: but if occasion serue, the whole carcasses of manie capons, hens, pigeons, and such like doo oft go to wracke, beside béefe, mutton, veale, and lambe: all which at euerie feast are taken for necessarie dishes amongest the communaltie of England.

The gelding of cocks, whereby capons are made, is an ancient practise brought in of old time by the Romans when they dwelt here in this land: but the gelding of turkies or Indish. peacocks is a newer deuise: and certeinlie not vsed amisse, sith the rankenesse of that bird is verie much abated thereby, and the strong taste of the flesh in sundrie wise amended. It I should say that ganders grow also to be gelded, I suppose that some will laugh me to scorne, neither haue I tasted at anie time of such a foule so serued, yet haue I heard it more than once to be vsed in the countrie, where their géese are driuen to the field like heards of cattell by a gooseheard, a toie also no lesse to be maruelled at than the other. For as it is rare to heare of a gelded gander, so is it strange to me to sée or heare of géese to be led to the field like shéepe: yet so it is, & their gooseheard carieth a rattle of paper or parchment with him, when he goeth about in the morning to gather his goslings togither, the noise whereof commeth no sooner to their eares, than they fall to gagling, and hasten to go with him. If it happen that the gates be not yet open, or that none of the house be stirring, it is ridiculous to sée how they will peepe vnder the doores, and neuer leaue creaking and gagling till they be let out vnto him to ouertake their fellowes. With vs where I dwell they are not kept in this sort, nor in manie other places, neither are they kept so much for their bodies as their feathers. Some hold furthermore an opinion, that in ouer ranke soiles their doong dooth so qualifie the batablenesse of the soile, that their cattell is thereby kept from the garget, and sundrie other diseases, although some of them come to their ends now and then, by licking vp of their feathers. I might here make mention of other fouled producted by the industrie of man, as betwéene the fesant cocke and doonghill hen, or betwéene the fesant and the ringdooue, the peacocke and the turkie hen, the partrich and the pigeon: but sith I haue no more knowledge of theses than what I haue gotten by mine eare, I will not meddle with them. Yet Cardan speaking of the second sort, dooth affirme it to be a foule of excellent beauties I would likewise intreat of other foules which we repute vncleane, as rauens, crowes, pies, choughes, rookes, kites, iaies, ringtailes, starlings, woodspikes, woodnawes, rauens, &c: but sith. they abound. in all countries, though peraduenture most of all in England (by reason of our negligence) I shall not néed to spend anie time in the rehearsall of them. Neither are our crowes and choughs cherished of purpose to catch vp the woormes that bréed in our soiles (as Polydor supposeth) sith there are no vplandish townes but haue (or should haue) nets of their owne in store to catch them withall. Sundrie acts of parlement are likewise made for their vtter destruction, as also the spoile of other rauenous fouls hurtfull to pultrie, conies, lambs, and kids, whose valuation of reward to him that killeth them is after the head: a deuise brought from the Goths, who had the like ordinance for the destruction of their white crowes, and tale made by the becke, which killed both lambs and pigs. The like order is taken with vs for our vermines, as with them also for the rootage out of their wild beasts, sauing that they spared their greatest beares, especiallie the white, whose skins are by custome & priuilege reserued to couer those planchers wherevpon their priests doo stand at Masse, least he should take some vnkind cold in such a long péece of worke: and happie is the man that may prouide them for him, for he shall haue pardon inough for that so religious an act, to last if he will till doomes day. doo approch ; and manie thousands after. Nothing therefore can be more vnlikelie to be true, than that these noisome creatures are nourished amongst vs to deuoure our wormes, which doo not abound much more in England than elsewhere in other countries of the maine. It may be that some looke for a discourse also of our other foules in this place at my hand, as nightingales, thrushes, blackebirds, mauises, ruddocks, redstarts or dunocks, larkes, tiuits, kingsfishers, buntings, turtles white or graie, linets, bulfinshes, goldfinshes, washtailes, cheriecrackers, yellowhamers, felfares, &c: but should then spend more time vpon them than is conuenient Neither will I speake of our costlie and curious auiaries dailie made for the better hearing of their melodie, and obseruation of their natures: but I cease also to go anie further in these things, hauing (as I thinke) said inough alreadie of these that I haue named.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: