Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/150

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CHAPTER V

RURAL SPORTS

HAWKING. The sport of hawking as a fashionable and popular pastime reached its zenith about 1600. It was practised at the time by every one who could afford the luxury, and it was considered to be, beyond all others, the proper sport for a country gentleman. The difficulties, and, in fact, the personal danger encountered in capturing wild birds, for no hawk reared in captivity was considered fit for hunting, and the tiresome treatment necessary during the subsequent period of training for the field—all these together rendered the amusement expensive in the extreme. So valuable, indeed, were a hawk and her accompanying trappings that the gift was considered a fit present for a king to make or to receive. The members of the nobility were seldom seen abroad without their hawks and hounds. In earlier times, when bishops as well as lords followed the birds afield, the presence of the hawk was considered almost equivalent to a badge of nobility. One would die rather than give up his hawk, his especial privilege. By the time of Shakespeare, however, a mere gentleman found

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