Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/196

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148
THE ELIZABETHAN PEOPLE

Concerning one of the customs alluded to above, Mr. Hilman says: "The hen is hung at a fellow's back, who has also some horse-bells about him; the rest of the fellows are blinded, and have bows in their hands, with which they chase this fellow and his hen about some large covert or small enclosure. The fellow with the hen and bells shifting as well as he can, they follow the sound, and sometimes hit him and his hen; at other times, if he can get behind one of them, they thrash one another well favour'dly; but the jest is, the maids are to blind the fellows, which they do with their aprons, and the cunning baggages will endear their sweet-hearts with a peeping hole, whilst the others look out as sharp to hinder it. After this the hen is boiled with bacon, and store of pancakes and fritters are made. She that is noted for lying in bed long, or any other miscarriage, hath the first pancake presented to her, which most commonly falls to the dogs' share at last, for no one will own it their due."[1]

In the prologue to Hawkin's Apollo Shroving, printed in 1626, we find this quatrain:—

"All which we on this stage shall act or say,
Doth solemnise Apollo's shroving day;
Whilst thus we greet you with our words and pens,
Our shroving bodeth to none but hens."

  1. Quoted by Drake, Vol. I, p. 143.