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piping like a reede or roaringe like a bull, as some lawyers do, which thincke they do best, when they crye lowdest, these shall never greatly move, as I have knowen manye well learned have done, because theyr voyce was not stayed afore, with learninge to singe. For all voyces, great and small, base and shrill, weake or soft, may be holpen and brought to a good point by learninge to singe."
In enumerating the praises of archery, Ascham takes occasion to compare it with the amusement of gaming, and gives us a fine picture of the gambling arts of that day. If we mistake not, it has all the force and truth which the hand of one who has, in some degree, been a sufferer in the cause, is so well able to give.
"How will they use these shiftes, when they get a plaine man that cannot skill of them? How will they go about, if they perceive an honest man have moneye, which list not playe, to provoke him to playe? They will seeke his companye, they will let him pay noughte, yea, and as I hearde a man ones saye that he did, they will sende for him to some house, and spend perchaunce a crowne on him, and, at last, will one begin to saye: What, my masters, what shall we do? Shall every man playe his twelve-pence whiles an apple roste in the fyre, and then we will drincke and departe? Naye, will an other saye, (as false as he) you cannot leave when you begin, and therefore I will not playe: But if you will gage, that every man, as he hath lost his twelve-pence, shall sit downe, I am contente, for surelye I would winne no manne's moneye here, but even as much as woulde pay for my supper. Then speaketh the thirde, to the honeste man that thoughte not to playe, What? will you playe your twelve-pence? If he excuse him; Tush, man! will the other saye, sticke not in honeste companye for twelve-pence; I will beare your halfe, and here is my
"Nowe all this is to make him to beginne, for they knowe if he be ones in, and be a loser, that he will not stick at his twelve-pence, but hopeth ever to get it againe, whiles perhappes he will lose all. Than everye one of them setteth his shiftes abroache, some with false dyse, some with settling of dyse, some with having outelandish silver coynes guilded, to put awaye at a time for good golde. Than if there come a thinge in controversye, must you be judged by the table, and than farewell the honest man's parte, for he is borne downe on every syde.
"Nowe, Sir, besyde all these thynges, they have certaine termes (as a man woulde saye) appropriate to their playinge; wherebye they will drawe a man's moneye, but paye none, which they calle barres, that surelye he that knoweth them not maye soon be debarred of all that ever he hath, before he learne them. If a plaine man lose, as he shall do ever, or els it is a wonder, than the game is so devilish, that he can never leave: for vaine hope, (which hope, sayth Euripides, destroyeth manye a man and cittye) driveth him on so farre, that he can never return backe, until he be so light, that he neede feare no
theeves by the way. Now if a simple man happen once in his life to winne of such players, than will they eyther entreate him to keepe them companye whiles he hath lost all againe, or els they will use the most devilyshe fachion of all, for one of the players that standeth next him, shall have a payre of false dyse, and cast them out upon the bourde, the honest man shall take them and cast them as he did the other, the thirde shall espye them to be false dyse, and shall crye out harde, with all the othes under God, that he has falsely wonne theyr moneye, and than there is nothinge but houlde thy throte from my dagger; everye man layeth hande on the simple man, and taketh all theyr moneye from him, and his owne also, thinckinge himselfe well that he escapeth with his life."
There are so many highly touched traces of nature, and such a spirited handling of his pen in the detached pictures, in which the Toxophilus abounds, that we have some difficulty in passing over them, even to reach our archer's splendid delineation of the delights and advantages of his art. We cannot afford space for his excellent argument, wherein he proves that "in learninge anye thinge, a man must covete to be best, or els he shall never attayne to be meane." Nor can we give his anathemas against swearing, when he "griselye sets out the horiblenesse of blasphemye;" and we must even restrain ourselves from quoting all the fine panegyrics which he utters in praise of learning, and the high commendations which he bestows on his contemporary Cheke, and his patron Wingfield. It is time that we should harness ourselves for the sport, fasten our bracer on our arm, pull on our shooting glove, draw our bow from its woollen case, and take our station in the field. Perhaps, however, we ought previously to carry the reader to the shops of our Bowyer and Fletcher, and teach him how to choose a good bow and shafts that will fly to the mark. If then he should find a bow that is "small, longe, heavye, and stronge, lying streyhte, not windinge, nor marred with knotte gaull, winde shake, wenn freat or pinch;" let him buy that bow of our warrant. Let him select one, where the back and belly are of the same colour, and it shall prove "like virgin wax or golde." Then let him take it into the fields, and try it, and if perchance it need it, let him take it to a trusty workman who shall "cut him shorter, and pike and dresse him fitter, and make him come compass round every where," and then let it be well rubbed and polished with a waxed woollen cloth. Let the arrows be "round, nothing flat, without gall or wemme," and let them have the ancient and excellent silver-spoon head, "which is good both to keepe a length withall, and also to perche a winde withall." Then let the young archer be careful that the Fletcher set not any other than goose-feathers on his shafts, and let him attend to the distinction between the feathers
of an old goose, and a young goose, a gander, or a goose, a fenny goose and an uplandish goose. But, indeed, with regard to the feather, and the selection, cutting, and fastening of them, there are so many nice points to be observed, that we must beg the reader will consult Toxophilus himself on the subject. We will, however, indulge him with the following finely drawn character of this despised bird, for which Ascham seems to have entertained a sincere affection, especially in a culinary point of view.
"Yet well fare the gentle goose, which bringeth to a man, even to his doore so many exceeding commodities! For the goose is man's comfort in warre and in peace, sleepinge and wakinge. What prayse soever is given to shootinge, the goose may challenge the best part of it. Howe well dothe she make a man fare at his table? How easilye doth she make a man lye in his bedde? How fitte, even as her feathers be only for shootinge, so be her quills for writinge.
"Phil. Indeed, Toxophile, that is the best prayse you gave to a goose yet, and surely I would have sayde you had bene to blame, if you had overskipte it.
"Tox. The Romaynes, I trowe, Philologe, not so much because a goose with crying.saved their capitolium and heade toure, with their golden Jupiter, as Propertius dothe saye very pretely in this verse, Anseris et tutum voce fuisse Jovem.-Prop.
Thieves on a night had stolne Jupiter, had a goose not a kekede;
did make a golden goose, and set her in the toppe of the capitolium, and appointed also the Censores to allow out of the common batche yearely stipendes for the findinge of certaine geese; the Romaynes did not, I saye, geive all this honour to a goose for that good dede onely, but for other infinite mo, which come daily to a man by geese; and surelye if I should declame in the prayse of any maner of best lyvinge, I would chuse a goose. But the goose hath made us flee too farre from our matter."
But let us suppose ourselves fairly in the field, amply provided with all the appointments of a true archer. Now is the time when our author's exhortations shall advantage us most, and now must we put his talents, as a teacher of this noble art, to the test. Imprimis; the Tyro must take good heed of his footing and standing, that they be both "comely to the eye and profitable to his use." Then let him carefully fix his arrow in the string, which, in our author's phrase, is called "knockinge." But drawing well is the best part of shooting, and this must be done easily and uniformly; drawing to the ear, which was the custom with our English archers, is preferable to drawing to the breast, which, it is said, the ancients were used to do. The
dispatching or loosing the arrow is to be particularly attended to; it must not be done too suddenly, but with that due mixture of quickness and gentleness, which, as Ascham says, is as hard to be followed in shooting, as it is to be described in teaching. Indeed in archery, as in all other manual arts, dexterity and skill can only be acquired by long and arduous practice, and we therefore recommend our Toxophilite readers not to place too much credit on the theorie, even of our Prince of Archers, but rather to pursue the practic of the art themselves. Ascham very justly says, that it is easier to tell what an archer should not be, than what it behoves him to be, and accordingly he gives us a catalogue of the errors into which the professors of this art are apt to fall, and really we seldom recollect seeing a collection of more humorous portraits than those which he has drawn. There is an earnest vitality about them which makes us think we behold them in very truth.
"All the discommodityes which ill custome hath graffed in archers, can neyther be quickly pulled oute, nor yet soone reckoned of me, there be so many. Some shooteth his head forwarde, as though he would byte the marke; another stareth with his eyes, as though they should flye out; another winketh with one eye, and looketh with the other; some make a face with wrything theyr mouth and countenance so, as though they were doinge you wotte what; another blereth out his tongue; another byteth his lippes; another holdeth his necke awrye Ones I sawe a man which used a bracer on his cheeke, or else he had scratched all the skinne of the one syde of his face with his drawinge-hande. Another I saw, which, at every shote, after the lose, lifted up his righte legge so far that he was ever in jeopardye of faulinge. Some stampe forwarde, and some leape backwarde Some will give two or three strydes forwarde, daunsinge and hoppinge after his shafte as though he were a madde man. Some with feare to be too farre gone, runne backwarde, as it were to pull his shafte backe. Another runneth forwarde, when he feareth to be shorte, heavinge after his armes, as though he would helpe the shafte to flye. Another wrythes or runneth asyde, to pull in his shafte straight. One lifteth up his heele, and so holdeth his foote still, as long as his shafte flyeth. Another casteth his arme backwarde after the louse, and another swinges his bowe about him, as it were a man with a shafte to make roume in a game place."
However unwilling we may feel to quit this entertaining treatise, which carries us from the "populous city," in which it is our misfortune to be pent, to the retired solitudes of green lanes and fields, and which transports us from these "evil days" to the period of England's pride and happiness, when our yeomen, as Fortescue says, "could easily dispend one hundred pounds by the year and more ;" we must nevertheless be contented to take leave of our symbolical friends, Toxophilus and
Philologus, with our best hopes that they were as successful in entreating the question "de origine anima," as they have been in expounding the mysteries of archery. We shall, however, give the conclusion of their discourse.
"Tox. This communication handled of me, Philologe, as I know well not perfitely, yet, as I suppose trulye, you must take in good worthe, wherein, if divers thinges do not altogether please you, thancke yourselfe, which woulde rather have me faulte in mere follye, to take that thinge in hand, which I was not able for to perfourme, than by any honest shamefastnesse with-saye your request and minde, which I knowe well I have not satisfyed. But yet I will thincke this labour of myne the better bestowed, if to-morrowe, or some other day when you have leysure, you will spende as much time with me here in this same place, in entreating the question de origine anime, and the joyning of it with the bodye, that I maye knowe howe farre Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoycians, have waded in it.
"Phi. How you have handled this matter, Toxophile, I may not well tell you myselfe now, but for your gentlenesse and good will towardes learninge and shootinge, I will be content to shewe you anye pleasure whensoever you will; and nowe the sunne is downe, therefore, if it please you, we will go home and drincke in my chamber, and then I will tell you plainlye what I thincke of this communication, and also what daye we will appointe, at your request, for the other matter to meete here againe."
We would fain hope that this fine old English exercise will be revived, not as the means of destruction, but as a healthy and gallant amusement by which the thews and sinews of our countrymen may emulate those of the Strongbows and Robin Hoods of ancient days; and we are sure nothing is better calculated to infuse a zeal for this sport than the perusal of Toxophilus.
ART. VI. King John and Matilda, a Tragedy; as it was acted, with great applause, by her Majestie's Servants, at the Cockpit, in Drury Lane. Written by Robert Davenport, Gent. London, printed for Andrew Pennycuicke, in the year 1655.
This tragedy is one of a large class of the old dramas which cannot be said to be worth re-printing, and yet contain much worth preserving; which are not likely to be read, but the reading of which would be profitable. For, though we may be frequently disgusted with absurdities and improbabilities during the perusal; striking points in the action, or fine passages of poetry in the composition, are occasionally to be found. We speak of the lowest rank of a race of the most gifted poets,