of men,—to tumble, dance, and perform a variety of tricks.” Anciently he was a most important personage, and filled an office in the royal household until the reign of Elizabeth, when falling into disrepute, he was no longer appointed.

The following account of another and even more ridiculous custom still, is extracted from the FlyLeaves of the London Librarian, though upon what authority the writer gives it, we know not :-“A singular custom, of matchless absurdity, formerly existed in the English court. During Lent an ancient officer of the Crown, styled the KING'S COCKCROWER, crowed the hours every night within the precincts of the palace. On the Ash Wednesday after the accession of the House of Hanover, as the Prince of Wales (afterwards George II.) sat down to supper, that official abruptly entered the apartment, and in a sound resembling the shrill pipe of a cock, crowed past ten o'clock !' The astonished prince, at first conceiving it to be a premeditated insult, rose to resent the affront, but upon ture of the ceremony being explained to him, he was satisfied. Since that period the silly custom has been discontinued."

At Michaelmas-time a custom existed among our fore-fathers of eating a green or stubble-fed goose, -which, it is said, owed its origin to a remarkable historical event. As the story goes, Queen Elizabeth, being on her route to Tilbury Fort, stopped by the way at the ancient seat of Sir N. Umfreville


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to partake of his knightly cheer and loyal hospitality: when, at the “Feast of Saynt Mychell,” whilst enjoying a hearty dinner of “roste goose,” a courier arrived with the joyful news of the loss of the Spanish Armada ; and the queen, calling for a bumper of Burgundy wine to celebrate the event, its anniversary was ever after observed on that day, and is even now commemorated on our tables by a similar dish—the custom surviving whilst its origin is forgotten.

One other practice, as ingenious as it was cruel, at one time prevailed in many country places, of removing the soot from chimneys by tying a line to the legs of a goose, and then, letting it down and pulling it up again, it was compelled, by flapping its wings in its struggles, to supply the place of our modern chimney-sweeping machine.




As we have already seen, the observation of Julius Cæsar places it beyond a doubt that geese and fowls were reared (if not domesticated) for amusement among the primitive inhabitants of this island, at least some eighteen hundred years ago : and the earliest records that we possess, prove that they did not long continue insensible of their value for the purposes of food; as the Druidical injunction against the flesh of those birds does not appear to have been observed long after the Roman invasion. Pliny enumerates among the choicest delicacies of the early Britons, a kind of goose, which he calls Chenerotes, and describes as smaller than the common goose of the Romans. This fowl has ever formed a favourite dish in our country; and at the present day it continues to enjoy unabated popularity.

The Peacock was probably introduced by the Romans, the name bestowed on it by the Saxons


(pawa) evidently betraying its Latin origin (pavo). In the ages of chivalry valorous knights and courtly gallants paid their solemn vows before fair dames and the gorgeous birds of Juno. Formerly the pea-fowl does not seem to have been generally kept, being rather regarded as rara avis ; for it does not appear at any time to have been purchaseable in the markets, although swans and other birds of almost equal scarceness were to be obtained. It was, however, esteemed, and found a place at the sumptuous banquets of the great, rather as an ornament than a viand, on account of the beautiful appearance of its plumage, in which it was always served


Of the manner in which it was cooked and made its entrée on the table, we have the following very singular account from the Form of Cury," a curious roll of ancient cuisine, compiled by the master-cooks (the Soyers of their day) of Richard II. circa 1390; and which is quoted in the Norfolk Archæology, vol. ii. page 276.

“At a feast royall pecokkes shall be dight (prepared) on this manere: take and flee off the skynne with the fedurs, [feathers,] tayle, and nekke with the hed theron; then take the skyn with all the fedurs, and lay hit on a table abrode, and strew theron grounden comyn; then take the pecokke, and roste, and endore [baste) hym with rawe zolkes of egges; and when he is rosted take him of, and let hym coole awhile, and take and sowe hym in

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his skyn, gilde his combe, and so serve hym forthe with the last cours. Nota. Pokok shal be parboiled, larded, and rosted, and eaten with gyngenere."!!

In 1430, at the coronation dinner of Henry VI., the second course comprised “pecocke in hakell.” At the festivities given in honour of the marriage of the Duke of Burgundy and Queen Margaret of England, in 1468, it is said that no less than one hundred of those birds were daily served up for a week! Much later, too, we find peacocks, or Peions, occupying a conspicuous place in the lists of flesh for the table,-occurring frequently in the Household Books of Henry VIII. and his nobles. From Chaucer's allusion to “ Pécocke Arrowes,” it would appear that their feathers not only served to garnish a costly dish, but were sometimes used to fledge those warlike weapons.

Among the moderns the flesh of the pea-fowl is regarded (some writers assert undeservedly) as almost unfit for food; though Sir W. Jardine assures us that in India the native poulterers employ themselves in catching wild pea-chicks, for which they find a market at Calcutta.

Whenever SWANS were first kept, (we will not call their limited intercourse with society domestication,) either for “sight or service,” their naturalization in this country would seem to have been a labour both long and difficult in the accom

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