Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/155

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115
RURAL SPORTS

Marmion's motto, "Who checks at me to death is dight." And in the words of Viola:

"To do that well craves a kind of wit:
He must observe their moods on whom he jests,
The quality of persons and the time,
And, like the haggard, check at every feather
That comes before his eye."

Until the hawk had learned to fly properly at the game she was constantly "reclaimed," that is, drawn back by a long string after having been started. The falcons were cared for and trained by the falconer and his assistants, the falconer's boys. When the bird was injured in the hunt it was the falconer who proceeded to imp the wing. This process of mending required the broken wing to be carefully trimmed, and the feather of another bird matched to the broken one. One end of a wet iron needle was thrust into the quill of the new feather, and the other end into the quill of the feather to be imped. The joint was then bound up and the bird kept quiet till the whole had rusted together. Shakespeare refers to the custom literally in Richard II., in the phrase "imp out our country's broken wing," and figuratively in Coriolanus, "Imp a body [i.e. cure,] with a dangerous physic." It was furthermore part of the falconer's duty to understand all ailments of the hawk, and be able to apply the proper remedy. He also accompanied his master and