Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/153

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.


113
RURAL SPORTS

This passage is full of technical allusions to the process of training a hawk. In the first place, there was but one thing to be done to a wild hawk, namely to break her wilful spirit; but there were many ways in which it could be done. One was to keep her hungry to the verge of starvation, tantalizing her by the show of food. This is one of the methods resorted to by Petrucio. Another common mode of training was to keep the hawk awake till exhausted for want of sleep. The Elizabethan word for waking was watching. The word is used in this sense in the passage quoted above—he will watch (keep her awake) as we watch these kites. The word is similarly used in Othello, where Desdemona says, "I'll watch him tame." She means that she will keep Othello awake, give him no peace, till he is more tractable. Another even more cruel procedure consisted of sewing up the eyelids of the hawk for a time. This was called seeling. It suggested the line in Othello,

"To seel her father's eyes up close as oak."

This kind of cruelty can almost be forgiven as sometimes a necessary step in the training of a hawk; but it is painful to record that seelmg was sometimes performed by Elizabethans on harmless doves for the mere sport of witnessing their frantic and helpless misery. We are told in Sidney's