The Common Cock, pp.127-130.

[Three Hundred Animals Contents]

IS so well known that it would be lost labour to say much of him. His plumage is various and beautiful, his courage very great and proverbial, his sobriety astonishing, and his inward knowledge of the station which the sun holds in the firmament has baffled the most obstinate researches of naturalists. When of a good breed and well taught to fight, he will rather die than yield to his adversary. The hen lays a great number of eggs and at certain times feels an irresistible propensity to sit upon them. When in the secluded state of incubation she eats very little, and yet is so courageous and strong that she will rise and fight men or animals that dare to approach her nest. It is impossible to conceive how, with so scanty a sustenance as she takes, she can, for twenty one days, emit, constantly from her body, such intense heat as would raise Farenheit’s thermometer to 96 degrees. The flesh of this bird is delicate and wholesome, and given to convalescent people as a nourishing and light kind of food. 

There are several species or families of this fowl. The Hamburgh Cock has a beautiful tuft of feathers about his ears and on the top of his head; and the Bantam have their legs and toes entirely covered, which is more an impediment than an ornament to the bird. The cock is a true emblem of vigilance, and his crowing at certain hours of the day and night made him called not improperly, “The hamlet clock,” as the inhabitants of the hamlet, being too distant to hear the parish clock, have no other means to find the time of the day or night but by the warning voice of chanticleer, 

“- whose clarion sounds 

The silent hours.” 

——————————–PARAD. LOST. 

A modern author, describing the bustle and noise of the metropolis, and wishing for the calm and quietness of country retirement, expresses himself in the following manner, and mentions the crowing of the hamlet Cock as one of the principal inducements to leave town. 

“Oh! lead me to some cool, secreted vales, 

Where, free from smoke, the purest air exhales, 

The wholesome smell of turf, the breath of flow’rs 

And scented shrubs, self-plaited in the bow’rs; 

Where sleep unbought refresh the wearied eyes 

And cloudless days to clear nights yield the skies; 

Where drowsy watchmen, staggering as they go, 

Bawl not the hour they themselves hardly know; 

Bat Chanticleer, true herald of the sun, 

Tells me at once the day’s work is begun; 

Where no hoarse tribes of jews, the butt of scorn, 

Disturb the silence of the peaceful morn; 

But soaring larks, in heavenly melody, 

Call me to share the pleasures of the day.” 

—————————————————-Z. 

The cruel sport of cock-fighting may be traced back to the earliest antiquity. The Athenians seem to have received it from India, where it is even now followed with a kind of phrensy, and we are told that the Chinese will sometimes risk not only the whole of their property, but their wives and children on the issue of a battle. The religion of the Greeks could not see that game with pleasure, and therefore cock-fighting was allowed only once a year; but the Romans, who had given to the bird the name of their earliest enemies, the Gauls, adopted the practice with rapture, and introduced it in this island. Henry VIII. delighted in that sport, and caused a commodious house to be built for the purpose, which, although it is now applied to a very different use, still retains the name of the cock-pit. The part of our ships, so called, seems also to indicate that at other times the diversion of cock-fighting was permitted in order to beguile the tedious hours of a long voyage. It is a great pity that a custom which originated in barbarous times, should still continue to the disgrace of a philosophic and enlightened age. 

The Cock was sacred to Esculapius, son of Apollo; and Socrates, when on the point of drinking the poison, is reported to have immolated this bird upon the altar of the God of Medicine; a singular act of superstition from a man who was persecuted for preaching the religion of one God, and the immortality of the soul. 

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