forcibly reminded me of the conjunction of
the two horse-whip bets, in Hogarth's admir-
able picture of the Cockpit in his day:
except that this extended crutch gave to me
a more poignant moral a more sorrowful
and acute truth !
'' In one part of the place I saw shabby
old men, apparently wanting a meal, yet
showing by their presence that they had
mustered 5s. for an hour's sport here. In
another spot I beheld blunt, sly, coarse York-
shiremen, with brownish-red cheeks, short
uneven features, thick bristly whiskers, and
cold moist bleak-blue eyes looking as though
they were constantly out upon prey.
" 1 was continuing my enquiries into the
characters around me, when a young man of
very slang, slight, but prepossessing appear-
ance, passed me, dressed in tight kerseymeres,
with a handkerchief round his knee, neat
white cotton stockings, small shoes, a blue
check waiter-looking jacket, short about the
waist, and a gay 'kerchief knowingly tied on
his neck. He was really a clean handsome
faced young fellow, with thin but acute and
regular features, small light whiskers, and
with his hair closely cut, and neatly and
'cutely combed down upon his forehead. He
had scarcely passed me before I felt some-
thing rustle and chuckle by my elbow ; and
turning round, saw a stout plump old ostler-
looking man carry a white bag past me, which
by the struggle and vehement motion inside,
I guessed to be one of the brave birds for the
battle. The two men stepped upon the mat,
and the hubbub was huge and instantaneous.
' Two to one on Nash !' ' A guinea on Nash !'
* Nash a crown !' only sounds like these were
heard (for the bets are laid on the setters-to),
till the aoise aroused a low muscular-brooding
chuckle in the bag, which seemed to show
that the inmate was rousing into anger even at
the voice of man !
From the opposite door a similar processijn
entered. The setter-to (Fleming by name)
was dressed much in the same manner, but
he appeared less attractive than young Nas 1
(the name of the young man I have just men-
tioned.) He certainly was not so smart a
fellow, but there was an honesty and a neat-
ness in his manner and look, which pleased
me much. The chuckle of the cock in the
one bag was answered deeply and savagely
from the other and the straw seemed spurned
in the narrow cell, as though the spirit that
struck it would not be contained.
" Nash's bag was carefully untied, and
Nash himself took out one of the handsomest
birds I think I ever beheld. I must have
leave to try my hand at a description of a
game cock !
"He was a red and black bird slim,
masculine, trimmed yet with feathers glossy,,
as though the sun shone only upon his ner-
vous wings. His neck arose out of the bag,
snakelike, terrible as if it would stretch
upward to the ceiling ; his body followed,
compact, strong, and beautiful, and his long
dark-blue sinewy legs came forth, clean,
handsome, shapely, determined, iron-
like ! The silver spur was on each heel, of
an inch and a half in length tied on in the
most delicate and neat manner. His large
vigorous beak showed aquiline, eagle-like ;
and his black dilating eyes took in all around
him, and shone so intensely brilliant, that
they looked like jewels. Their light was
that of thoughtful, sedate, and savage courage !
His comb was put close his neck trimmed
his wings clipped, pointed, and strong. The
feathers on his back were of the very glossiest
red, and appeared to be the only ones which
were left untouched ; for the tail was docked
triangularwise like a hunter's. The gallant
bird clucked defiance and looked as if he
'had in him something dangerous!' Nash
gave him to Fleming, who held him up above
his head examined his beak his wings
his legs while a person read to him the
description of the bird from paper and upon
finding all correct, he delivered the rich
feathered warrior back to Nash, and pro-
ceeded to produce his own bird for a similar
" But I must s^eak of the senior Nash,
the old man, -thf feeder. When again may
I have an opportunity of describing him?
and what ought a paper upon ' cocking' to be
accounted worth, if it fail to contain some
sketch, however slight, of old Nash? He
wore a smock-frock, and was clumsily though
potently built ; his shoulders being ample, and
of a rotundity resembling a wool-pack. His
legs were not equal to his bulk. He was un-
conversational almost to a fault and never
made any the slightest remark that did not
appertain to cocks and cocking. His narrow,
damp, colourless eye, twinkled a cold satis-
faction when a bird of promise made good
work on the mat; and sometimes, though
seldom, he was elevated into the proffer of a
moderate bet but generally he leaned over
the rails of a small gallery, running parallel
PIERCE EGAN'S BOOK OF SPOUTS.
\vith his coop, and stooping attentively to-
ward the pit, watched the progress of the
battle. I made a remark to Tom and Mr.
D , that I thought him extremely like a
cock. Tom was intent upon Fleming, and
could not hear me ; but Mr. D. was delighted
at the observation, which seemed to him one
of some aptitude. Old Nash's beaked nose
drawn close down over his mouth, his red
forehead and gills, his round body, and
blue thin legs ; and his silver-grey, scanty,
feathery hair lying like a plumage over his
head all proved him cock-like ! This man,
thought I, has been cooped up in pens, or
penned up in coops, until he has become
shaped, coloured, mannered like the bird he
has been feeding. I should scarcely have
been surprised y if Mr. D. had told me that
old Nash crowed when the light first dawned
over the ancient houses of Tufton-street, in a
summer morning ! I warrant me he pecked
bread and milk to some tune ; and perchance
slept upon a perch !
" But Fleming lifted his bird from the bag,
and my whole mind was directed his way.
This was a yellow bodied black winged,
handsome cock, seemingly ralher slight.
but elastic and muscular. He was restless at
the sight of his antagonist, but quite silent
and old Nash examined him most carefully
by the paper, delivering him up to Fleming
upon finding him answer to his description.
The setters-to then smoothed their birds,
handled them wetted th*ir fingers and moist-
ened their bandaged ankles where the spurs
were fastened held them up opposite to each
other and thus pampered their courage, and
prepared them for the combat.
" The mat was cleared, of all persons ex-
cept Fleming and young Nash. The betting
went on vociferously. The setters-to taunted
each the birds with other's presence allowed
them to strike at each other at a distance put
them on the mat facing each other encour-
aged and fed their crowing and mantling
until they were nearly dangerous to hold
and then loosed them against each other, for
the fatal fight.
"The first terrific dart into attitude was
indeed strikingly grand and beautiful and
the wary sparring, watching, dodging, for the
first cut, was extremely curious. They were
beak-point to beak-point, until they dashed
up in one tremendous flirt mingling their
powerful rustling wings and nervous heels in
one furious confused mass. The leap, the
fire, the passion of strength, the certaminis
gaudia, were fierce and loud! The parting
was another kind of thing every way. I can
compare the sound of the first flight to no-
thing less than that of a wet umbrella forced
suddenly open. The separation was death
like. The yellow or rather the gin;er
bird staggered out of the close drooping
dismantled bleeding! He was struck.' .
Fleming and Nash severally took their birds,
examined them for a moment, and then set
them again opposite to each other. The hand-
ling of the cocks was as delicate as if they
had been made of foam, froth, or any other
most perishable matter. Fleming's bird stag-
ered towards his opponent but he was hit
dreadfully and ran like a drunken man,
tottering on his breast, sinking back on his
tail ! while Nash's, full of fire and irritated
courage, gave the finishing stroke that clove
every particle of life in twain. The brave
bird thus killed, dropped at once from the
' gallant bearing and proud mien,' to the re-
laxed, draggled, motionless object that lay in.
bleeding ruin on the mat. I sighed and
looked thoughtful when the tumult of the
betters startled me into a consciousness of the
scene at which I was present, and made me
feel how poorly timed was thought amid the
characters around me.
" The victor cock was carried by me in all
his pride slightly scarred, but evidently
made doubly fierce and muscular by the short
encounter he had been engaged in. He
seemed to have grown to double the size !
His eyes were larger.
'The paying backward and forward of
money won and lost, occupied the time until
the two Nashes araiu descended with, another
" Sometimes the first blow was fatal at
another time the contest was long and doubt-
ful, and the cocks showed all the obstinate
courage, weariness, distress, and breathless-
ness, which mark the struggles of experienced
pugilists I saw the beak open, the tongue
palpitate the wing drag on the mat. I
noticed the legs tremble, and the body topple
over upon the breats, the eye grow dim,
and even a perspiration break out upon the
feathers of the back. When a battle lasted
long, and the cocks lay helpless nearer upon
each other, one of the feeders counted ten,
and then the birds were separated and set-to
at the chalk. If the beaten bird does not
fight while forty is counted, and the other
pecks or shows signs of battle, the former
is declared conqueror.
" Such is cockfighting. Tom proposed"
showing me the coops; and ( instantly ac-
cepted his proposal, and followed him up the
" A covering was hung before each pen : so
that I heard, rather than saw, the cocks.
But it was feeding time ; and I beheld innu-
merable rocky beaks and sparkling eyes at
work in the troughs and the stroke of the
beak in taking up the barley was like the
knock of a manly knuckle on a table. Old
Nash was mixing bread and milk for his
feathered family. But I have done!"
At Lima (in South America) the diversion
of COCK-FIGHTING is followed with great
avidity ; there it was not under any regulation
till 1762, the duties of society were not only
neglected by many individuals, but there were
PIERCE EGAN'S BOOK OF SPOUTS.
continual disputes among the amateurs. At
length the little square of St. Catherine, near
the walls of the city, was fixed upon for this
amusement only. It is observed that the
brook running here, and the gardens which
almost surround this spot, the goodness of
air, &c., render the situation most delightful.
The building in which the sport is carried on
forms a kind of amphitheatre ; the seats
naturally ascend, leaving nine open spaces
between them for the spectators, \vho stand.
On the outside of the amphitheatre is a very
commodious stair-case, which leads to the
upper galleries, twenty-nine in number, not
including that of the judge, which is distin-
guished by its decorations and its magnitude.
Here this amusement is permitted not only
two days in the week, but on Saint's days and
on Sundays ; the seats in the corridors are let
at different prices, but the spectators who
stand in the nine open spaces between the
area and the galleries are admitted gratis.
Notwithstanding the crowd is often immense,
no disorders occur, as the judge who decrees
the prizes to the winners has always a guard
with him to enforce his authority.
Dice, and that little pugnacious animal the
COCK, are the chief instruments employed by
the numerous nations of the East to relax their
minds and afford amusement, to which the
Chinese, who are desperate gamesters, add
the use of cards. When all other property is
played away, the Asiatic gambler scruples not
to stake his wife or his child on the cast of
a die, or the courage and strength of a. martial
bird ; if still unsuccessful, the last venture
he stakes is himself !
In the island of Ceylon, COCK-FIGHTING is
carried to a great height. The Sumatrans are
fond of the use of dice. A strong spirit of
play characterizes a Malayan. To discharge
their gambling debts, the Siamese sell their
possessions, their wives, and at length them-
The follow in g^fasft (but rather coarse} CHANT
amongst the COCKERS, was, some years since,
in great request at Wednesbury, vulgarly
At Wednesbury there was a cocking,
A match between Newton and Skrogging ;
The colliers and nailers left work,
And all to Spittles' went jogging
To see this noble sport.
Many noted men there resorted,
And though they'd but little money,
Yet that they freely sported.
Raddle turn ruin turn ra,
Fol de rol la lal la,
Raddle turn mm turn ra>
Fol de rol la lal la.
There was Jeffry and Boburn from Hampton,
And Dusty, from Bilstone, was there,
Frumity he came from Darlaston,
He was as rude as a bear :
And there was old Will from Walsal,
\nd Smacker from West Bromvvish came ;
Blind Dobbin he came from Rowley,
And staggering he went home.
Raddle turn, &c.
Ruff Mory came limping -<lor.g,
j*s though he'd some cripple been mock'ng
To join the blackguard throng
That met at Wednesbury cocking;
He borrow'd a trifle of Doll,
To back eld Tavener's grey,
He laid fourpence half-penny to fourpencc
Lost, and went broken away.
Raddle turn, &c.
But soon he returned to ihe pit,
l-or he borrow'd a trifle more money,
And ventur'd another bet
Along with blubber-mouth Coney ;
When Coney demanded the money,
As was usual upon such occasions,
He cried, " B st you, if you don't hold youi rattle
I'll pay thee as Paul paid the Ephesians."
Raddle turn, &c.
Skrogging's breeches were made of nankeen,
And worn very thin in the groin ;
In stooping to handle his cock,
His linen hung out behind.
Besides, his shirt-tail was be
Which 'casioned a great laughter ;
Skrogging turn'd himself round in a pet,
And cried, " B st you what's the matter ?'
Raddle turn, &c.
The morning's sport being over,
Old Spittle a dinner proclaimed,
That 'each man should dine for a groat,
If he grumbled he ought to be damn'd ;
For there was plenty of beef,
But Spittle he swore by his troth,
The devil a man should dine,
Till he'd eaten his noggin of broth.
Raddle turn, &c.
The beef it was old and tough,
Of a bull that was baited to death ;
Bunny Hide got a lump in his throat,
That had like to have stopped his breath :
The company fell in confusion
To see poor Bunny Hide choke ;
They took him into the kitchen,
And held his head over the smoke,
Raddle turn, &c.
They held him so close to the fire
That he frizzled just like a beef-steak,
Then threw him down on the floor,
And had like to have broken his neck ;
One gave him a kick on the stomach,
Another a thump on the brow ;
His wife cried, "Throw him in the stable.
And he'll be better just now."
Raddle turn, &c.
Then soon they returned to the pit,
And the fighting went on again ;
Six battles were won on each side,
The next was to decide the main ;
For these were two famous cocks
As ever that country bred,
Skrogging's a duck-wing black
And Newton's a s wing red.
Raddle turn, &c.
The conflict was bard on each side,
Till brassy wing blacky was chok'd,
The colliers were nationly vex'd,
And the nailers were all provok'd ;
Peter Stephens he swore a great oath,
That Skrogging had play'd his cock foal
Skrogging gave him a kick in the * * *.
And cried, " Yea, G d damn thy sou!.-"
Haddle turn, &c.
The company rose in disorder,
A bloody fight ensued,
Kick, * * * *, and bite, was the word,
Till the Walsal men subdued ;
Ruff Mory bit off a man's nose,
It's a wonder no one was slain,
They trampled both cocks to death.
And so they made a draw main.
Raddle turn &o
PIERCE EGAN'S BOOK OF SPORTS.
The cock-pit was near to the church,
An ornament to the town,
On one side an old coal-pit,
The other was well goss'd round :
Peter Hadley peep'd through the goss,
In order to see them fight;
Spittle jobb'd his eye out with a fork.
And cried, ' B st thee, it served thec right.'
Raddle turn, &c.
Some people may think this is strange,
Who Wednesbury never knew,
But those who have ever been there
Won't have the least doubt but it's true ;
For they are all savage by nature,
And guilty of deeds the most shocking,
Jack Baker whacked his own father,
And so ended Wednesbury cocking.
Raddle turn, &c.
THE FOX-CHASE OF THE SEA.
The Sport of Sports (observes Captain HALL,
.in his " Fragments of Voyages and Travels" a
most amusing and interesting work, recently
published,) is furnished by JACK'S hereditary
enemy, the SHARK.
" The lunarian, busy taking distances,
crams his sextant hastily into his case ; the
computer, working out his longitude, shoves
his books on one side ; the marine officer
abandons his eternal flute ; the doctor starts
from his nap ; the purser resigns the complete
book ; and every man and boy, however en-
gaged, rushes on deck to see the villain die.
Even the monkey, if there be one on board,
takes a vehement interest in the whole progress
of this wild scene. I remember once observ-
ing Jacko running backwards and forwards
along the afterpart of the poop hammock-net-
ting, grinning, screaming, and chattering at
such a rate, that, as it was nearly calm, he
was heard all over the decks. ' What's the
matter with you, master Mona,' said the quar-
ter-master (for the animal came from Teneriffe,
and preserved his Spanish cognomen). Jacko
replied not, but merely stretched his head over
the railing, stared with his eyes almost burst-
ing from his head, and by the intensity of his
grin bared his teeth and gums nearly from ear
to ear. * Messenger, run to the cook for a
piece of pork,' cries the captain, taking com-
mand with as much glee as if it had been an
enemy's cruiser he was about to engage.
* Where's your hook, quarter-master?' 'Here,
sir, here ! cries the fellow, feeling the point,
and declaring it as sharp as any lady's needle ;
and in the next instant piercing with it a huge
junk of rusty pork, weighing four or five
pounds for nothing, scarcely, is too large or
too high in flavour for the stomach of a shark ;
the hook, which is as thick as one's little
finger, has a curvature about as large as that
of a man's hand when half closed, and is
from six to eight inches in length, with a
formidable barb; this fierce-looking grappling-
iron is furnished with three or four feet of
chain, a precaution which is absolutely ne-
cessary ; for a voracious shark will sometimes
gabble the bait so deep into his stomach, that,
but for the chain, he would snap through the
rope by which the hook is held, as easily as
if he were nipping the head off an asparagus.
" A shark, like a midshipman, is generally
very hungry ; but, in the rare cases when he
is not in good appetite he sails slowly up to
the bait, smells to it, and gives it a poke with,
his shovel-nose, turning it over and over. He
then edges oft* to the right or left, as if he ap-
prehended mischief, but soon returns again to
enjoy the delicious haut-gout, as the sailors
term the flavour of the damaged pork, of which
a piece is always selected, if it can be found.
While this coquetry, or shyness, is exhibited
by Jack Shark, the whole afterpart of the
ship is so clustered with heads, that not an inch
of spare room is to be had for love or money ;
the rigging, the mizen top, and even the gaff,
out to the very peak ; the hammock-nettings,
and the quarters, almost down to the counter,
are stuck over with breathless spectators,
speaking in whispers, if they venture to speak
at all, or can find leisure for any thing but
fixing their gaze on the monster, who as yet
is free to roam the ocean, but who, they trust,
will soon be .in their po^Yer. I have seen this
go on for an hour together, after which the
shark has made up his mind to have nothing
to say to us, and either swerved away to
windward, if there be any breeze at all, or
dived so deep that his place could be detected
only by a faint touch or flash of white, many
fathoms down. The loss of a Spanish galloon,
in chase, I am persuaded, could hardly cause
more bitter regret, or call forth more intem-
perate expressions of anger and impatience.
On the other hand, I suppose the first symp-
tom of an enemy's flag, coming down in the
light, was never hailed with greater joy than
is felt by a ship's crew on the shark turning
round to seize the bait. A greedy whisper of
delight passes from mouth to mouth ; every
eye is lighted up, and such as have not
bronzed their cheeks, by too long exposure to
sun and wind, may be seen to alter their hue
from pale to red, and back to pale again, like
the tints of the dying dolphin.
" When a bait is towed astern of a ship
that has any motion through the water at all,
it is necessarily brought to the surface, or
nearly so. This of course obliges the shark
to bite at it from below ; and, as his mouth is
placed under his chin, not over it, like that of
a Christian, he must turn nearly on his back
before he can seize the floating piece of meat
in which the hook is concealed. Even if he
does not turn completely round, he is forced
to slue himself, as it is called, so far as to
show some portion of his white belly. The
instant the white skin flashes on the sight of
the expectant crew, a subdued cry, or murmur
of satisfaction, is heard amongst the crowd,
but no one speaks, for fear of alarming the
" Sometimes, at the very instant the bait is
cast over the stern, the shark flies at it with
such eagerness, that he actually springs partN
PIERCE EGAN'S BOOK OF SPORTS.
out of the water : this, However, is rare. On
these occasions he gorges the bait, the hook,
and a foot or two of the chain, without any
mastication or delay, and darts off' with his
treacherous prize with such prodigious velocity
and force, that it makes the rope crack again,
as soon as the whole coil is drawn out. In
general, however, he goes more leisurely to
work, and seems rather to suck in the bait
than to bite at it. Much dexterity is required
in the hand which holds the line at this mo-
ment ; for a bungler is apt to be too precipi-
tate, and to jerk away the hook before it has
got far enough down the shark's maw. Our
greedy friend, indeed, is never disposed to
relinquish what may once have passed his
formidable batteries of teeth ; but the hook,
by a premature tug of the line, may fix itself
in a part of the jaw so weak, that it gives way
in the violent struggle which always follows.
The secret of the sport is to let the voracious
monster gulp down the huge mess of pork,
and then to give the rope a violent pull, by
which the barbed point, quitting the edge of
the bait, buries itself in the coats of the vic-
tim's throat, or stomach. As the shark is not
a personage to submit patiently to such treat-
ment, it will not be well for any one whose
foot happens to be accidentally on the coil
of the rope, for, when the hook is first fixed, it
spins out like the log-line of a ship going
" The suddenness of the jerk with which
the poor devil is brought up when he has
reached the length of his tether, often turns
him quite over on the surface of thewaieu
Then commence the loud cheers, taunts, and
other sounds of rage and triumph, so long
suppressed. A steady pull is insufficient to
carry away the line, but it sometimes happens
that the violent struggle of the shark, when
too speedily drawn up, snaps either the
rope or the hook, and so he gets off to digest
the remainder as he best can. It is accord-
ingly held the best practice to play him a little,
with his mouth at the surface, till he becomes
somewhat exhausted. During this operation
one could almost fancy the enraged animal is
conscious of the abuse which is flung down
upon him ; for, as he turns, and twists, and
flings himself about, his eye glares upwards
with a ferocity of purpose which makes the
blood tingle in a swimmer's veins, as he thinks
of the hour when it may be his turn to writhe
under the tender mercies of his sworn foe.
No sailor, therefore, ought ever to think of
hauling a shark on board merely by the rope
fastened to the hook ; for, however impotent
his struggles may generally be in the water,
they are rarely unattended with risk when the
rogue is drawn half way up. To prevent the
line breaking, or the hook snapping, or the