April Fool’s Day: Hunt the Gowk Another Mile!


A custom, says The Spectulator, prevails every where amongst us on the first of April, when every body strives to make us as many fools as he can. The wit consists chiefly in sending persons on what are called sleeve-less errands, for the History of Eve’s Mother, for Pigeon’s milk, with similar ridiculous absurdities. The French call the person imposed upon, a “Poisson d’Avril, “an April fish,” who we term an April fool. In the North of England, persons thus imposed upon are called “April Gowks:” Gowk being the word for a cuckoo; metaphorically, a fool. In Scotland, they send silly people from place to place, by means of a letter, in which is written:

“On the first day of April,
Hunt the Gowk another mile!”

Similar fooleries prevail in Portugal, as we learn from Mr. Southey. “On the Sunday and Monday,” says he, “preceding Lent, as on the first of April, in England, people are privileged here (Lisbon) to play the fool. It is thought very jocose to pour water on any person who passes or throw water on his face; but to do both is the perfection of wit.”

–Saturday, April 4, 1829: Portsmouth Journal of Literature and Politics (Portsmouth, NH) Vol XL, Issue 14, Page 2

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One Response to April Fool’s Day: Hunt the Gowk Another Mile!

  1. I’m going to write on my Hogue, Scotish family page, ” Hunt the Gowk another mile!” Right now! Will refer to your blog!

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