city" were so fond of game that they brought themselves to ruin by eating flamingoes and pheasants. "Some modern nations, the French amongst others," says Monsieur Soyer, "formerly ate thecrane, crow, stork, swan, cormorant and bittern." The first three especially were highly esteemed; and Laillevant, cook of Charles VII, teaches us how to prepare these meagre, tough birds. "Belon" says that in spite of its revolting taste when unaccustomed to it, the bittern is, however, among the delicious treats of the French. This writer also asserts that a falcon or vulture, either roasted or boiled, is excellent eating, and that if one of these birds happened to kill itself in flying after game, the falconer instantly cooked it. Lebaut calls the heron a royal viand."
The Heron was hunted by the Hawk, and the sport of hawking is usually placed at the head of those amusements that can only be practised in the country. This precedency it probably obtained from its being a pastime so generally followed by the nobility, not in Great Britain only, but likewise on the Continent. In former times, persons of high rank rarely appeared in public without their dogs and their hawks; the latter they carried with them when they journeyed from one country to another, and sometimes even took them to battle with them, and would not part with them when taken prisoners, even to obtain their own liberty. Such birds were esteemed as the ensigns of nobility, and no action was reckoned more dishonourable in a man of rank than that of giving up his hawk.
We have already alluded to the hunting propensities of our own Edward III, and we may also allude to his being equally devoted to hawking. According to Froissart, when this sovereign invaded France, he took with him thirty falconers on horseback, who had charge of his hawks, and every day, as his royal fancy inclined him, he either hunted, or went to the river for the purpose of hawking.
As the inevitable Result of Social Progress is, at least, to limit, if not entirely to suppress, such sports as we have been treating of, much of the romance of the country life has passed away. This is more especially the case with falconry, which had its origin about the middle of the fourth century, although lately attempts have been made with some decree of success to institute a revival of the "gentle art" of hawking. Julius Firmicus, who lived about that time, is, so far as we can find, the first Latin author who speaks of falconers, and of the art of teaching one species of birds to fly after and catch others. The occupation of the functionaries has now all but ceased. New and nobler efforts characterize the aims of mankind in the development of their civilization, and the field sports have, to a large extent, been superseded by other exercises; it may be less healthful and invigorating, but is certainly more elegant, intellectual and humanizing.
The Wild Birds, of which we have now to speak, are protected by the law, and may only be killed or sold during some months of the year.