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Home > Books > Book of archery > Section I: Juvenile Bowmen
Section I
Juvenile Bowmen
Part 4 of 6

Henry the Seventh, his father, showed an equal love for archers, who principally composed the army by which he triumphed over the tyrant Richard. After disembarking at Milford Haven, the Earl of Richmond marched northward, and rested a night at Wern Newydd[38], near Aberaeron, the seat of David Llwyd, Esq., still inhabited by a lineal descendant of that family. His son, Einon Llwyd, was one of those formidable Welsh archers, whose prowess excited as much terror among their English neighbours, as theirs had done among French and Spaniards; and, Richmond being a countryman[39], he readily joined his standard with a party of hardy mountain warriors, brave and skilful like himself.

On his departure, as a testimony of grateful friendship, the Earl presented his hospitable entertainer with a silver flagon, still possessed by the Llwyd family. The apartments and bed in which Henry slept also remain in their original condition; and the following inscription, painted on the wall in old English characters, commemorates that remarkable visit:--

"Hon yw'r Ystafell lle cysgodd Harry Iarll Richmond y VII. yn y flwyddyn 1485, gyda a Inon ap Dafydd Llwyd, Esquire. ar ei daith o Aberdangleddan ir fruydr enwog ar fees Bosworth, yor yr hony lladdwyd Richard y III. a Harry a ærth oddynno i Lundain ac agafodd ei goroniyn frenin Lloegr.,'--"This is the apartment in which the Earl of Richrnond, afterwards Henry VII., slept with Einon, son of David Llwyd, Esquire, when marching to the memorable battle on Bosworth Field, where Richard the Third was slain. Henry went thence to London, and was crowned king of England."

Among the festivities which crowned the union of the two roses, on Henry's marriage with the Princess Elizabeth, archery was not omitted. The king himself took an active part in these shooting matches; a fact thus alluded to in a very ancient ballad:--

Look where he shooteth at the buttes
      And with him lords three;
He weareth a gown of velvet black,
      And 't is coted above the knee [40]

Edward the Sixth is also entitled to notice among the list of England's royal archers. Whilst quite a youth he kept a journal, still preserved among the manuscripts in the British Museum. It contains many allusions to archery, particularly some curious memoranda of the amiable young prince's successes and disappointments at matches in which he took a part.

Prince Henry, and his brother Charles the First, were great admirers of the bow. An engraving of the latter, in archer's costume, forms the frontispiece of Markham's Treatise. As a work of art it is vilely executed, and his majesty is represented drawing his shaft villanously low at the breast.

Charles the Second, on his restoration, did much towards the revival of archery. It is not generally known that the merry monarch, endowed with facile maimers, which readily accommodated themselves to the tastes and habits of all with whom he associated, was a member of an archery society during his exile in the Low Countries. I really forget whether Ghent or Bruges, but his majesty's statue occupies the salon belonging to an ancient fraternity of bowmen in one or the other.

George the Fourth was, in his youth, a magnifcent patron of archery [41], but as the interest he manifested for this, the favourite pastime of his illustrious ancestors, has been fully detailed elsewhere, I merely allude to it here.

And now, my little friends, having done our devoir as regards the achievements of princes and potentates, we will next take a hasty survey of archery as it flourished in a less exalted sphere of life. The famous Earl Pembroke, surnamed Strongbow, would have acquired among the Romans the cognomen of Longæ manus[42], just as the poet Ovid was nicknamed Naso, from the extraordinary dimensions of his nose. This preternatural length of arm gave him an immense advantage over ordinary archers. We may, therefore, conclude contemporary writers have not exaggerated, when they assert that, at the age of eighteen, he was master of a bow in which no other man could draw an arrow to the head. During his expedition for the conquest of Ireland, he frequently resigned sword and lance, the ordinary weapons of knighthood, to fight among his archers, armed with this redoubtable bow.

The young Lord Henry Vesci was remarkable for skill in archery, and his untimely fate. Being indicted by the sheriff of Yorkshire for some trivial offences against the forest laws, a warrant was issued to Henry de Clydnau for his apprehension. To this the refractory noble refused to submit. Catching his bow and shafts, he fled through a wood, pursued by the deputy-sheriff and his men, and would certainly have escaped, had not revenge induced him to slacken his pace, that he might bring his adversaries within bowshot. Then, discharging his cloth-yard shafts with fatal aim, three of the foremost quickly bit the dust.

The outlaw's shot it was so strong,
     That no man might him drive,
And the proud sheriff's men,
     They fled away full blythe,--

dreading the fate of their comrades; and, after retreating some distance, halted to hold a council of war. Naturally suspicious that Vesci would still track and keep them in sight, they resolved to quit the wood altogether, in the hope of lulling their victim into security. And their stratagem had the desired effect; for the young lord, really believing pursuit at an end, for the present, unstrung his bow, and, throwing it on the turf beside him, soon fell asleep beneath the shade of a large tree. In the mean time the sheriff and his followers made a large circuit, and, creeping separately through the thick underwood, they stole upon the defenceless youth, and killed him where he lay. [43]

My next illustration of youthful archery is also taken from England's domestic annals, and exhibits so revolting a picture of society in the fourteenth century, that we might be disposed to question its authenticity, did not our public records furnish many equally atrocious.[44]

Sir John Elland, high sheriff of York, had inherited with his patrimony a fierce family feud against Sir Robert Beaumont, of Crosland Hall, in the same county. Unwilling to expose his schemes of revenge to the hazard of disappointment, he declined engaging in his quarrel those public forces which were at his command by virtue of the shrievalty, but contented himself with a band of trusty neighbours and tenants, whose hearts and hands lay wholly devoted to his pleasure. Possessing the lordship of Elland town, all its inhabitants were his homagers, and, as such, had sworn themselves his doomed servants, according to the ancient phraseology of law.

With this knot of desperadoes, he "most illegally, being himself but a private gentleman, marched, in the middle of the night, to Quarmby Hall, the dwelling of Quarmby of Quarmby, Sir Robert Beaumont's nearest relative; and, having broken into the house, incontinently slew its worthy proprietor, whilst wrapt in the arms of sleep.

Unsatiated with blood, the high sheriff and his followers passed on to the house of Lockwood of Lockwood, a gentleman universally esteemed as the darling and oracle of his county. Him also they murdered, in the midst of his domestic retirement, having no power of armed men to protect him, because neither fearing nor expecting such an assault.

Sir Robert Beaumont being thus deprived of his most trusty friends, the ferocious Elland, ere day had dawned, bent his steps towards Crosland Hall. But that house was deeply moated, and, the drawbridge being up, they were compelled to halt. Evil fortune, however, favoured his designs, for, after an ambush of three hours, a girl, who had occasion to be early stirring, approached and let down the bridge. Rushing from their concealrnent, the Ellanders seized the terrified maid, whom they dragged with them into the house. But her screams had roused the family, and they found Sir Robert in his bedchamber, with as many servants about him as could be assembled upon so sudden an emergency. Resistance, however, availed not against their more numerous and better armed assailants, who seized the poor old knight, and haled him down stairs into the hall, where the murderous Elland, nothing moved by the piteous shrieks of his terrified lady, stood by, whilst they severed his head from his body with the stroke of a sword. He then commanded all the bread and wine in the house to be brought forth, and the party sat down to regale after their bloody tragedy. As he sat, Elland espied the two sons of his victim, and ordered them to approach and eat. The younger complied, but his brother refusing, he furiously exclaimed, "See ye yon lad ! how heinously he cloth take his father's death, and looketh as if meditative of revenge: but fear not ye; Elland's watch and ward shall keep the young spawn of a traitor from being ever able to work us any mischance."

When at sunrise they departed, and were out of sight, the widowed mother, pale but tearless, justly fearing a recurrence of these sanguinary enormities, immediately interred, with decent funeral, the remains of her beloved husband Then, leaving mansion and property to its fate, she took refuge with her boys at the house of Townley of Brereton, her near kinsman, who gave a kind reception, with free and generous entertainment. Having associated themselves with young Lacy of Crumble Bottom, Lockwood of Lockwood, and Quarmby of Quarmby, both whose fathers, as I have already said, perished by Elland's hand, the young Beaumonts spent their time in devising schemes of retaliation. With this view, they laboured to acquire dexterity in such martial exercises as were calculated to render them dexterous in the anticipated game of death; namely, riding, tilting, the sword, and shooting in the long bow, then England's most famous and redoubtable artillery.

Whilst halting between hope and fear, and daily busied with uncertain rumours, Dawson and Haigh, two faithful dependents of their family, suddenly visited them. They brought news that the sheriff-turn would shortly be held at Brigg House, where Elland never failed to appear in person. For many reasons it was unanimously decided that a better opportunity of avenging their slaughtered parents could not be selected The roads, too, at such periods, were usually crowded with uncouth and strange persons, so that none would be likely to question whence they came or whither they went.

Accordingly, taking Dawson and Haigh as guides, and accompanied by a body of picked archers, these adventurous youths commenced their hazardous expedition. They passed unobserved through bye-ways or forest paths, and with vengeful punctuality reached Crumble Bottom Wood, true to the day of the sheriff-turn. Here they placed themselves in ambush, Sir John Elland little dreaming, amidst the pride and gallantry of his shrievalty, and whilst assisting at the execution of meaner criminals, that, in a few short hours, his life would be devoted to expiate his own dark catalogue of crime.

And now the spies placed in Brigg House arrived breathless, to tell that Elland was mounted, and on his journey homewards. Then the Beaumonts arrayed their men upon the hill tops leading from Brookfoot to Brigg House; and then, with countenances changed to fearful ghastliness, compressed lips, and eyes gleaming like those of the vengeful adder, they paced to and fro upon its narrow brow, intently looking towards that distant point which concealed or brought to view all who journeyed along the road. At length, three horsemen abreast rounded it suddenly, followed by a numerous cavalcade, two and two; and, after sweeping quickly along the valley's sinuosities, continued to ascend the narrow hill path at a sharp trot. The appearance of an armed company thus loitering in the road might naturally have excited alarm; but the sheriff evidently suspected nothing, for, riding briskly up at the head of his party, he courteously veiled to them his bonnet. Adam Beaumont fiercely returned his salute. "Thy courtesy, Sir Knight," he exclaimed, "shall avail thee little; I am Adam Beaumont. My father's noble blood staineth thy hands, and to recompense his inhuman death presently shalt thou also be slain."

Thus saying, this little band discharged their arrows against the Ellanders, who for some time made stout resistance, until Beaumont managed to separate the sheriff from his company at the lane's end, and there incontinently slew him.

Their main object being thus accomplished, the young leaders fled away that very night to Furness Fells, a place between forty and fifty miles from the scene of their revenge. In this wild and remote district they took up their winter quarters, to plot new schemes for extirpating the whole male line of Elland. With this view they surrounded the Hall with constant spies, by whose advice, at the opening of spring, the Beaumonts returned to Crumble Bottom, and on Palm Sunday eve, in the silence of midnight, took forcible possession of Elland mill; for, being near the hall, it was well adapted for assaulting the young knight and his family, the following morning, on their way to church. Still the conspirators' arrival was not managed so secretly as to prevent its being observed by the neighbouring cottagers. From them several dark hints reached Sir John, warning him to be on his guard that he was not surprised in his bed. A consciousness of his father's crimes, and his recent expiation of them, tended to strengthen these suspicions. He was unwilling to trust himself abroad, and mentioned to his wife that armed men were reported to have been seen lurking in the vicinity. However, she made light of his fears, and merely answered, "This day is Palm Sunday: we must certainly go to church and serve God on his holy festival."

It so happened that the miller, being in want of some meal, sent his wife to the mill, early on that morning, to fetch it. On her approach she found the door open, and the conspirators in possession, by whom she was straightway seized, bound hand and foot, and laid in a secure place. The woman not returning so soon as her husband expected, he began to be wroth, threatening and severely to chastise her. On repairing to the mill, in great haste, he finds his wife a captive, and the gentlemen present ready to explain the delay, by binding and laying him in a similar posture close by her side.

In the mean while Sir John Elland and his family were preparing for church. The warning he had received lay heavy upon his spirit, and he secretly clad himself in a breastplate of proof. Their usual path was by tile mill-pool side,- but, during low water, a shorter passage lay over the dam stones; and from their hiding-place Beaumont and his associates had a full view of the party, as cautiously and one behind the other they began to cross the stream. Elland came first: no sooner had he reached the centre stone, than the mill door flew open, and Beaumont rushed forth, holding his weapon bent and an arrow ready nocked, which he sped with furious aim, and the knight received it full upon his breast. Repelled, however, by the armour, it-glanced away and dropt harmless. Seeing this, Wilkin of Lockwood ran forward, and exclaiming fiercely, "Cousin, you shoot wide!" drew his shaft to the head, which, though admirably directed, was unsuccessful from the same cause. Thus, for a moment, it seemed destined their victims should escape; but Beaumont, grown wise by experience, fully comprehended the reason of their failure; and, discharging a second-arrow, pierced his victim through the brain. He fell headlong into the mill-stream, whose waters were crimsoned with his gore, and, at the same instant, Lockwood's second arrow mortally wounded his only boy. The affrighted domestics carried him and his swooning mother back to the house, where he almost immediately expired; and so perished the last male branch of Hall.[45]

The Feud of Elland
The Feud of Elland

The crimes of the father being thus visited upon his children with more than Arab retribution, Lockwood and Quarmby made a precipitate retreat; but the Ellanders were already in arms, breathing vengeance and slaughter for the death of their lord. Scarcely, had they gained Aneley Wood ere they distinctly heard the shouts of their pursuers as the foremost viewed their chase. Seeing no hope of escape, the whole party resolutely faced about, and, ranged in a hollow square, made brave resistance, until their arrows were spent: then Quarmby, the strongest and most resolute man of the band, refusing to flee one foot from his ground, fell covered with wounds; and the Ellanders fiercely pursued Lockwood through the wood; but he outstripped them, and, after encountering many hardships and hair-breadth escapes, arrived at Camel Hall, a solitary mansion near Cawthorpe, inhabited by a peasant. It appears he there became deeply enamoured of his host's daughter, a young woman possessing great beauty, united with apparent artlessness. Their place of assignation was the park, for Camel Hall once belonged to a family of distinction. It unfortunately happened that the keeper, in going his evening rounds, observed Lockwood in earnest conversation with this damsel: he recognised him, and quickly conveyed intelligence to Boswell, the under-sheriff, and landlord of Camel Hall. Boswell immediately rode over to his tenant, to contrive some mode of seizing the youth at his next visit. Overawed by threats of being expelled from his farm, and tempted by the offer of a considerable reward, the farmer promised his assistance: accordingly, no sooner did Lockwood again enter into Camel Hall than it was surrounded by his foes. The bold archer, however, who never stirred abroad without his trusty bow, quickly ascended the stairs to an upper room, and appeared at the open window, breathing defiance against his enemies: equally regardless of threats and offers of mercy, he replied to both by launching a deadly arrow, whenever any one of their number ventured within bowshot. Again, his escape was more than probable, had it not been for an act of treachery, which, if rare among the sex, is also unexampled in its atrocity. The woman on whom the heroic Lockwood had placed his affections, far from making suitable return, actually sold herself, as her father had done, to his destroyers. Stealing cautiously behind him, with a sharp knife, as he was in the act of drawing his bow, she suddenly cut the string, and left him defenceless The rest is soon told. No longer kept at bay by the terror of his archery Boswell rushed in, and quickly seized and bound the unfortunate Lockwood He was then led forth, and instantly put to death.

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