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Christmas carol to the poor shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem. Now, it may be presumed, as the Saviour of the world was then born, and the heavenly host had then descended to proclaim the news, that the angels of darkness would be terrified and confounded, and immediately fly away; and perhaps this consideration has partly been the foundation of this opinion.” It was also about this time when our Saviour rose from the dead. A third reason is, that passage in the book of Genesis, where Jacob wrestled with the angel for a blessing; where the angel says unto him, “Let me go, for the day breaketh.”
Bourne, however, thinks this tradition seems more especially to have arisen from some particular circumstances attending the time of cock-crowing; which, as Prudentius, as before cited, seems to say, is an emblem of the approach of the day of resurrection. “The circumstances, therefore, of the time of cock-crowing,” he adds, “ being so natural a figure and representation of the morning of the resurrection; the night so shadowing out the night of the grave; the third watch being, as some suppose, the time when our Saviour will come to Judgment at; the noise of the cock awakening sleepy man, and telling him, as it were, the night is far spent, the day is at hand; representing so naturally the voice of the arch-angel awakening the dead, and calling up the righteous to everlasting day; so naturally does the time of cock-crowing shadow out these things, that probably some good, well-meaning men might have been brought to believe that the very devils themselves, when the cock crew and reminded them of them, did fear and tremble, and shun the light.”
The ancients, because the cock gives notice of the approach and break of day, have, with a propriety equal to anything in their mythology, dedicated this bird to Apollo. They have also made him the emblem of watchfulness, from the circumstance of his summoning men to their business by his crowing, and have therefore dedicated him also to Mercury. With the lark he may be poetically styled the “Herald of the Morn." In England's Parnassus, 1600, I find the two following lines ascribed to Drayton :
“And now the cocke, the morning's trumpeter,
Played Hunt's-up for the day-star to appear."
“ The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
The following is from Chaucer's Assemblie of Foules, f. 235:
“ The tame ruddocke and the coward kite,
The cocke, that horologe is of Thropes lite."
“ More watchfull than the day-proclayming cocke." The day, civil and political, has been divided into thirteen parts.' The after-midnight and the dead of the night are the most solemn of them all, and have, therefore it should seem, been appropriated by ancient superstition to the walking of spirits.
By a passage in Macbeth, “we were carousing till the second cock," it should seem to appear as if there were two separate times of cock-crowing. The commentators, however, say nothing of this. They explain the passage as follows:
Till the second cock :- Čock-crowing. So in King Lear: “He begins at curfew, and walks till the first cock.” Again, in the Twelve Merry Jestes of the Widow Edith, 1573:
.“ The time they pas merely til ten of the clok,
Yea, and I shall not lye, till after the first cok." It
appears from a passage in Romeo and Juliet, that Shakespeare means that they were carousing till three o'clock :
The second cock has crow'd, The curfew-bell has toll’d; 'tis three o'clock.” Perhaps Tusser makes this point clear,—Five Hundred Pointes of Good Husbandrie, 1585, p. 126 :
“ Cocke croweth at midnight times few above six,
With pause to his neighbour to answer betwix :
1 1. After midnight. 2. Cock-crow. 3. The space between the first cock-crow and break of day. 4. The dawn of the morning. 5. Morning. 6. Noon. 7. Afternoon. 8. Sunset. 9. Twilight. 10. Evening. 11. Candle-time. 12. Bed-time. 13. The dead of the night. The Church of Rome made four nocturnal vigils: the conticinium, gallicinium or cock-crow, intempestum, and antelucinum. Durand. de Nocturnis. There is a curious discourse on the ancient divisions of the night and the day in Peck's Desiderata Curiosa, i. 223 et seq.
The following very curious Old Wives Prayer' is found in Herrick's Hesperides, p. 205 :
“ Holy-rood, come forth and shield
Us i'th'citie and the field;
By the time the cocks first crow." Vanes on the tops of steeples were anciently made in the form of a cock,' (called from hence weathercocks,) and put up, in Papal times, to remind the clergy of watchfulness. “In summitate crucis, quæ companario vulgò imponitur, galli gallinacei effugi solet figura, quæ ecclesiarum rectores vigi. lantiæ admoneat.” (Du Cange, Gloss.) I find the following on this subject, in A Helpe to Discourse, 1633. “Q. Wherefore on the top of church steeples is the cocke set upon the crosse, of a long continuance ? A. The flocks of Jesuits will answer you. For instruction : that whilst aloft we behold the crosse and the cocke standing thereon, we may remember our sinnes, and with Peter seeke and obtaine mercy: as though without this dumbe cocke, which many will not hearken to, untill he crow, the Scriptures were not a sufficient larum." “The inconstancy of the French,” says Dr. Johnson, “was always the subject of satire. I have read a dissertation written to prove that the index of the wind upon our steeples was made in form of a cock to ridicule the French for their frequent changes.” A writer, dating Wisbech, May 7, in the St. James's Chronicle, June 10, 1777, says that "the intention of the original cock-vane was derived from the cock's crowing when St. Peter had denied his Lord, meaning by this device to forbid all schism in the Church, which might arise amongst her members by their departing from her communion, and denying the established principles of her faith. But though this invention was, in all probability, of popish original, and a man who often changes his opinion is known by the appellation of a weathercock, I would hint to the advocates of that unreformed church, that neither this intention, nor the antiquity of this little device, can afford any matter for religious argument.” A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine for Jan. 1737, vii. 7, says: “Levity and inconstancy of temper is a general reproach upon the French. The cock upon the steeple (set up in contempt and derision of that nation on some violation of peace, or breach of alliance) naturally represents these ill qualities.” This derivation, however, seems to be as illiberal as it is groundless. In the Minute Book of the Society of Antiquaries, 1. 105, we read: “29 Jan. 1723-4, Mr. Norroy (Peter Le Neve) brought a script from Gramaye, Historia Brabantiæ, Bruxell. p. 14, showing that the manner of adorning the tops of steeples with a cross and a cock is derived from the Goths, who bore that as their warlike ensign."
1 " The lyon hath an antipathy with the cocke, especially of the game; one reason is, because he sees him commonly with his crowne on his head, while princes commonly are jealous of each other. Some say because he presumes to come into his presence hooted and spurred, contrary to the law in court. But I thinke rather because he meetes with a lyon's heart in so weake a body.” See A Strange Metamorphosis of Man transformed into a Wildernesse, deciphered in Characters, 1634.
Men have long availed themselves of the antipathy which one cock shows to another, and have encouraged that natural hatred with arts that may be said to disgrace human reason. Stubs, in his Anatomie of Abuses, 1585, p. 117, inveighs against Cock-fighting, which in his days seems to have been practised on the Sabbath in England: “They flock thicke and threefolde to the Cock-fightes, an exercise nothing inferiour to the rest, where nothing is used but swearing, forswearing, deceipt, fraud, collusion, cosenage, skoldyng, railyng, convitious talkyng, fightyng, brawlyng, quarrellyng, drinkyng, and robbing one another of their goods, and that not by direct, but indirect means and attempts. And yet to blaunch and set out these mischiefs withall (as though they were virtues), they have their appointed dayes and set houres, when these devilries must be exercised. They have houses erected to that purpose, flags and ensignes hanged out, to give notice of it to others, and proclamation goes out, to proclaim the same, to the ende that many may come to the dedication of this solemne feast of mischiefe.” 1
At the end of the Compleat Gamester, ed. 1680, I find a poem entitled “An excellent and elegant copy of verses upon two cocks fighting, by Dr. R. Wild.” The spirited qualities of the combatants are given in the following most brilliant couplet :
“ They scorn the dunghill; 'tis their only prize
To dig for pearls within each other's eyes." Our poet makes his conquered or dying cock dictate a will, some of the quaint items of which follow:
“ Imp. first of all, let never be forgot,
To him and to his heirs my comb I give." To cry coke is, in vulgar language, synonymous with crying peccavi. Coke, says the learned Ruddiman, in his Glossary to Douglas's Virgil, is the sound which cocks utter, especially when they are beaten, from which Skinner is of opinion they have the name of cock.
Bailey tells us that the origin of this sport was derived from the Athenians on the following occasion. When Themistocles was marching his army against the Persians, he, by the way, espying two cocks fighting, caused his army to behold them, and addressed them as follows: “ Behold, these do not fight for their household gods, for the monuments of their ancestors, nor for glory, nor for liberty, nor for the safety of their chil. dren, but only because the one will not give way unto the other.” This so encouraged the Grecians, that they fought strenuously, and obtained the victory over the Persians ; upon
I In the Statistical Account of Scotland, vi. 614, in the account of Edinburgh, we read: “In 1763 there was no such diversion as public cock-fighting at Edinburgh. In 1783 there were many public cock-fighting matches, or mains, as they were technically termed; and a regular cock. pit was built for the accommodation of this school of gambling and cruelty, where every distinction of rank and character is levelled. In 1790 the cockpit continued to be frequented.”