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Cock-Fighting

Volume I

The Gaming Table by Andrew Steinmetz, Volume II

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Cock-Fighting

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Casino Gambling in history


As to cock-fighting at Rome, Pegge, in the same work, gives his
opinion, that it was not customary there till very late; but that
quails were more pitted against each other for gambling purposes
than cocks. This opinion seems confirmed by the thankfulness
expressed by the good Antoninus--'that he had imbibed such
dispositions from his preceptor, as had prevented him from
breeding quails for the fight.'

'One cannot but regret,' wrote Pegge in 1775, 'that a creature so
useful and so noble as the cock should be so enormously abused by
us. It is true the massacre of Shrove Tuesday seems in a
declining way, and in a few years, it is to be hoped, will be
totally disused; but the cock-pit still continues a reproach to
the humanity of Englishmen. It is unknown to me when the pitched
battle first entered England; but it was probably brought hither
by the Romans. The bird was here before Caesar's arrival; but no
notice of his fighting has occurred to me earlier than the time
of William Fitz-Stephen, who wrote the Life of Archbishop Becket,
some time in the reign of Henry II. William describes the
cocking as the sport of school-boys on Shrove Tuesday. "Every
year, on the day which is called Carnelevaria (Carnival)--to
begin with the sports of the London boys,--for we have all been
boys--all the boys are wont to carry to their schoolmaster their
fighting-cocks, and the whole of the forenoon is made a holiday
for the boys to see the fights of their cocks in their
schoolrooms." The theatre, it seems, was their school, and the
master was the controller and director of the sport. From this
time at least the diversion, however absurd, and even impious,
was continued among us.'

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