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daughter ; and, to come at once to our own country, greatly did it shine forth at the ancient British festivals, when
“ O'er capon, heron-shaw, and crane,
At the “intronazation” of George Nevell, Archbishop of York (to whom no less a person than Lord Willoughby was carver) in Edward IV's reign, four hundred swans were among the “goodly provision” made for the same ; there were the same number of “ heron-shawes,” and two hundred and four cranes, the same number of bitterns, and no less than a thousand
egrittes,” fit company for the hundred and four oxen, six wylde bulles,” and thousand “muttons,” to say nothing of two thousand “pygges,” ditto geese, ditto chickens, four thousand pigeons, ditto "conyes," fifteen hundred hot pasties of venison, four thousand cold ditto, “stagges, buck, and roes, 500 and mo.,” and twelve “porposes and seals” among a profusion of game (including two hundred “ Fessauntes”), fish, and a wilderness of sweets.
Grand were the doings, albeit upon a somewhat less scale, at the marriage of Sir Gervas Clifton, of Clifton, in the county of Nottingham, with Mary Nevile, third daughter of Sir John Nevile, of Chevet, or Chete, in the county of York. The lastnamed worthy knight seems to have been a careful economist, notwithstanding his open-handed liberality and true old English hospitality; for he appears to have personally superintended the keeping of his household book on such occasions, if he did not enter the items of the account with his own hand, both on this happy occasion, and when Roger, eldest son, and afterwards heir of Sir Thomas Rockley, of Rockley, in the parish of Worsborough, Knight, married Elizabeth Nevile, Sir John's eldest daughter. Every item, even to the bride's most indispensable garment in the last case, is stated with its price ; and if our space would allow a transcript of the whole, it would afford a curious picture of the costume and manners of the period when
“ Bluff King Hal the stocking threw.” Sir John's account of the expence of the dinner at “The marriage of my son-in-law, Gervas Clifton, and my daughter, Mary Nevile, the 17th day of January, in the 21st year of the reigne of our Soveraigne Lord King Henry the VIIIth," includes
Swans, each swan 28., 12s.” Three Hogsheads of Wine, 1 white, 1 red, and l claret, charged at 51. 5s., moistened the swans, the two oxen, two brawns, six calves, seven lambs, six 'withers' (wethers), every wither 2s. 4d.,” ten pigs,
'every one 5d.," forty-six capons, and whole flights of wild fowl, &c. &c. &c., that loaded the board at this marriage-feast; to say nothing of the produce of eight quarters of barley-malt, “every quarter, 14s.”
But the bride's dress ?
We care not to be particular, madam, and therefore will only state that she wore—“A Millen (Milan) Bonnit, dressed with Agletts,” which cost eleven shillings, a large sum in those days, when the price of an ox was only 1l. 158. The “ Wedding-ring of gold” is charged 12s. 4d.
At the marriage “of my son-in-law, Roger Rockley, and my daughter, Elizabeth Nevile, the 14th of January” in the seventeenth year of the same King, we find in the “ First course at
“Imprimis, Brawn with musterd, served alone with Malmsey. "Item, Frumety to pottage. “ Item, a Roe roasted for standert-(a large or standing-dish.)
Item, Peacocks, 2 of a dish. “ Item, Swans, 2 of a dish," &c. &c. &c.
Among the pieces of resistance in the second course was young
Lamb whole roasted,” and For Night” there was · First a Play, and straight after the Play a Mask, and when the Mask was done then the Banckett, which was 110 dishes, and all of meat; and then all the Gentilmen and Ladys danced : and this continued from the Sunday to the Saturday afternoon.”
The Bride Elizabeth wore ".a Bonnit of Black Velvet” which cost fifteen shillings, and “a Frontlet for the same Bonnit” which cost twelve shillings.
" For Frydays and Saturdays there was a splendid display of Fish but no fleshmeats; and the following were
“ Waiters at the said Marriage.
William Barker, for the Ewer,
“ To wait in the Parlour.
The same worthy knight's charges when Sheriff of Yorkshire, in the 19th year of the same king at the Lent Assizes, and in the 20th
year of his reign at Lammas Assizes, bear testimony to the hospitality exercised by that officer in those days. Among the other provisions, we find a charge at the former of these assizes, for five hogsheads of wine, three claret, one white, and one red ; the cost of which was 101. 16s. 4d.; but, though there are quantities of fish, no flesh appears in the account.
At the Lammas Assizes, neither flesh nor fowl was spared ; nine quarters of wheat, twelve quarters of malt, five oxen, twenty-four wethers, six calves, sixty capons of Grease, charged at 258., as many other capons as cost 31. 14s. twenty-four pigs, three hogsheads of wine, and twenty-two swans, carry us a very little way down the ample bill of fare.
It will naturally be inquired how the swan was presented on these
great occasions ? There is reason for concluding, that the Royal Bird was generally roasted, of which more anon; but there were other ways of serving it up. For instance, among the receipts of the master cooks of Richard II., is the following, which we shall attempt to reduce to the English of the present time.
CHAUDRON FOR SWANS.
“ Take the liver and the offal (that is, the giblets) of the swans, put it to seethe in good broth, take it up, take out the bones, and .hewe' the flesh small. Make a mixture of crust of bread and of the blood of the swan sodden, and put thereto powder of cloves and pepper, wine and salt, and seethe it, cast the flesh thereto • hewed,' and ' mess it forth' with the swan.”
When served with this sauce, the dish was called “ with chaudron.”
The bird also not unfrequently came to table “baked in a pye;" but its most usual appearance was as a roast.
The Norwich method is to take three pounds of beef beaten fine in a mortar, adding salt, pepper, mace, and that grand culinary gift, an onion, and stuff the swan (which must not be skinned) with it. The bird must be tied up tight to keep in the juices, and a stiff meal paste should be laid on the breast, the other parts being covered with whited-brown paper ; about a quarter of an hour before the swan “ is enough,” as the cooks say, the paste must be taken off and the breast browned.
It has been said, somewhat oracularly, that port wine should never come into a kitchen. If the word had been seldom, it would have been more germane to the matter; for there are occasions, trust us, reader, when it cannot well be dispensed with, and the gravy for the swan is one of them ; half a pint of that wine added to good, strong, · beef-gravy, should be poured through the swan, which should be presented with hot currant jelly.. A well-fatted cygnet thus cooked, if taken at the proper
moment that is not kept beyond November, after which time the bird falls off both in flesh, fat, and flavour, however well provided with barley—is a very delicious dish, and we have heard it compared, not inaptly, to something between goose and hare.
The foregoing receipt, in printed verse, which will be found in Mr. Yarrell's “ British Birds,” is usually sent with each Norwich bird.
The swan seems never to have appeared except on the tables of the great. Thus the Gild of the Holy Trinity at Luton, in Bedfordshire, appear from old records ranging from 19 Henry VIII., to the beginning of Edward VI., to have lived well at their anniversary feasts ; but we cannot find that they ascended beyond
Geys,” eighty-two of which geese, at a charge of 1l. Os. 7d. were among the multitudinous dishes placed before the Gild at the feast in the nineteenth year of Henry VIII.
The swanherds call a male swan a Cob, and the female a Pen. A fine old male will sometimes reach, when stretched out, five feet in length, and will weigh some thirty pounds. The nail at the termination of the bill, its edges on each side, its base, the naked skin or lore up to the eye, the opening of the nostrils, and the tubercle or berry, are black. The rest of the bill is of a ruddy orange colour. The iris of the eye is brown; the whole of the plumage is of the purest white; and the legs and toes, with their webs, are black.
The female is not so large as the male, and her tubercle is less, her neck is not so thick, and she swims lower in the water than her mate.
In a wild state, this species is found in Russia and Siberia, and almost throughout Europe. In Germany, the cygnets that have not been pinioned, migrate in autumn. Lithuania, Poland, Eastern Prussia, Holland, France, Provence, and Italy, are all recorded as its habitat in an unreclaimed condition; and so are the countries between the Black and Caspian Seas. In winter they have been seen in the Bay of Smyrna.
The swan's nest is a great mass of rushes, reeds, flags, and other coarse water-side plants, pitched on the ground near the water's edge, in some ait, for choice; and on this stack of herbage the Pen deposits some six or seven eggs of a greenish white, rather dull withal, and about four inches in length by two. Six weeks must pass before the young cygnet breaks through its prison-walls into light and life; and during the whole time of incubation the male is most assiduous in his attendance, keeping guard, and ready to do battle against all comers; yet thinking no scorn to take the mother's place occasionally on the eggs.
About July, the colour of the cygnets is dark lead-gray, approaching to sooty grey above, the neck and under parts of the body not so dark, the bill lead-colour, and the line at the margin of the base black. At the end of October, when they almost equal their parents in size, the bill changes to light slate-grey, with a tinge of green. The sooty-greyish brown prevails uniformly over the head, neck, and all the upper surface ; while the lower surface of the body is uniformly of a lighter hue. The grey colour vanishes almost entirely after the second autumn; and when the cygnet has seen two years, the white robe is donned; in the third year the swan celebrates his nuptials.
In their half-domesticated state, the young family keep with their parents during the first winter ; but, on the return of spring, the latter show their cygnets the cold shoulder ; and, if they will not take the hint, fairly drive them away, and compel them to seek their own food, which consists of the tender parts of aquatic plants and roots, water insects, and now and then—but only now and then-small fishes.
Aristotle noticed the pugnacity of the swan, saying, that it will even fight the eagle—not that the swan will begin the quarrel, but he will not brook the attack of the Prince of the Birds of