Of Hunting and Fowling.
AS Fish are taken, so are Birds and Fowl, saving that there is a greater strength and exercise of the Body requir'd in Fowling and Hunting, than in Fishing; and a more industrious search after the Game. Besides several sorts of Nets, there are many sorts of Pitfalls, Traps, and Springes; nor must we omit the great use of Birdlime, Hawks, Hounds, and Grey∣hounds. A most detestable Recreation, a vain Exercise, and unprosperous and unhappy sport, with so much labour and watching Night and Day to rage and make War against the poor Beasts: A pastime cruel, and totally Tragical, chiefly delighting in Blood and Death. And therefore from the beginning it was accompted the chief Exercise of the worst of Men, and greatest Sinners. For Cain, Lamech, Nimrod, Ishmael, Esau, are reported in Scripture to be mighty Hunters: Nor do we read of any one in the New Testament that was given to Hunting; Nor of any Nations that were greatly addicted to the Sport, unless the Ishmaelites, Idumeans, and other People that did not know God. Hunting was the first Original of Tyranny, which can∣not find a fitter Author, than such a one, as by con∣tinually sporting himself in Blood and Murther, has learn'd to despise God and Nature. The Persian Kings however esteem'd it, as an imitation of Warlike Ex∣ercises: For Hunting hath in it self something fierce and cruel, while the Poor Beast overcome at length by the Dogs, becomes a Spectacle of Delight, in having Page 247 its Blood shed and Bowels torn out; at which the Bar∣barous Hunter laughs, while the Foe-Beast rowted with an Army of Dogs, or entangled in a Toyl, is car∣ried home by the Triumphant Huntsman, with a great Troop at his heels; where the fatal Prey is cut up in bloody terms of Art, and proper words of Butchery, other than which it is not lawful to use. A strange madness of such kind of Men, a most renowned War∣fare, where they themselves casting off their Humani∣ty become Beasts, and by a strange perverting of their Manners, like Acteon, are chang'd into Irrational Crea∣tures. Some of these Hunters grow to such a height of Madness, that they become Enemies to Nature, as the Fables relate of Dardames. Now the Inventors of this Fatal Exercise are said to be the Thebans, a Nation infamous for Fraud, Theft, and Perjury, and no less to be detested for Perjury and Incest; from whence the practice thereof was transmitted to the Phrygians, a Nation equally Abominable, Foolish, and Vain, which therefore the Athenians and Lacedaemonians had in great contempt. Afterwards when the Athenians had re∣pealed their Law against Hunting, and that the Exer∣cise was admitted publickly among 'um, then was the City of Athens first Taken; which makes me wonder to find Hunting commended by Plato Prince of the Academicks. Unless the Event, honesty of the Inven∣tion, or Necessity should be occasions of its Commen∣dations. Thus Meleager slew the Caledonian Boar, not for his own pleasure, but to free his Country from a common Mischief. So Romulus hunted Deer not for pleasures-sake, but to get Food.
There is another sort of Hunting, which is call'd Fowling; not so Cruel, but not less Vain. Vlysses is reported to be the first Inventor thereof, who after the taking of Troy was the first that brought into Greece Birds of Prey manur'd for Game, to comfort with Page 248 new Recreations those that had lost their Parents and Acquaintance in the Trojan War. And yet he com∣manded his Son not to make any use thereof. True it is, that these Exercises, so mean and servile in them∣selves, are come to be so far esteem'd, that now the chief Nobility and Gentry, forsaking all other Libe∣ral and Noble Studies, they are become their chief Learning, and no mean helps to Preferment. Now a days the whole Life of Kings and Princes, nay, which is a greater Grief, the very Religion of Bishops, Ab∣bots, and Chief Doctors and Overseers of the Church, is all consum'd in Hunting; wherein they chiefly experience their Ingenuities, and shew their Virtues.