chapter  XXII
4 Pages

Of Hawking

SEEING that we hunt on the land, let us not overstray ourselves, lest, if we take the sea, we lose our fowls; for the wise man saith that "in vain the net is spread before the eyes of all that have wings" [Prov. i. 17]. If hunting, then, be a noble exercise wherein the very Muses themselves take delight by reason of silence and solitariness, which brings·· forth fair conceits in the mind, in such sort that Diana (saith Pliny) "doth not more frequent the mountains than Minerva" [Bk. i., second Ep. 6J. If, I say, hunting be a noble exercise, hawking is far more noble, because it aimeth at an higher subject, which doth participate of heaven, seeing that the inhabitants of the air are called ill the sacred Scripture volucres cteli, the fowls of the air. Moreover, the exercise thereof doth belong but to kings and to the nobles, above which their brightness shineth as the sun's brightness doth above the stars. And our savages being of a noble heart, which maketh no account but of hunting and martial affairs, may very certainly have right of usage over the birds that their land doth afford them. Which they do likewise, but with much difficulties, because they have not (as we have) the use of guns. They have enough, and too many, birds of prey, as eagles, laynards, falcons, tiercelets,132 sparrow-hawks, and others, which I have specified in my Farewell to New France, but they have neither the use nor industry to bring them to service, as the French gentlemen; and therefore they lose much good fowl, having no other means to seek after them or to take them but only with the bow and arrows, with which instruments they do like unto them who in

France shoot at the geay in time of middle-Lent; or creep along the grass, and go to assail the outards, or wild-geese, which do graze in the spring-time and in summer along the meadows. Sometimes also they carry themselves softly and without making any noise in their canoes and light vessels made with barks of trees, even to the shores where the mallards and other water-fowl are, and there Strike them down. But the greatest abundance they have come from certain islands, where such quantity of them are-to wit of mallards, margaux, roquettes, outards, or wild-geese, curlies, cormorants,133 and others-that it is a wonderful thing-yea, that which Captain James Cartier reciteth will seem to some altogether incredible. When we were upon our return into France, being yet beyond Campseau, we passed by some of those islands, where in the space of a quarter of an hour, we laded our barque with them: we had no need but to Strike down with Staves, and not to go about to gather until one were weary a Striking. If any man doth ask why they fly not away, one must consider that they be birds only of two, three, or four months old, which have been there hatched in the spring-time, and have not yet wings great enough to take flight, though they be well fleshy and in good plight. As for the dwelling of Port Royal, we had many of our men that furnished us with them, and particularly one of Monsieur de Monts his household servants, called Fran~ois Addeni, whose name I insert here to the end he be had in memory, because he always provided for us abundantly with it. During the winter he made us to live only of mallards, cranes, herons, woodcocks, partridges, blackbirds, and some other kinds of that country birds. But in the spring-time it was a sport to see the grey geese and the big outards (a kind of wild-geese) to keep their empire and dominion in our meadows; and in autumn the white geese, of which some did

always remain for a pawn; then the sea-larks flying in great flocks upon the shores of the waters, which also very often were paid home.