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Home > Books > Book of archery > Notes Section VIII
Notes Section VIII
1. Prepare.
1a. Firm and resolute.
2. Persons acquainted with forest matters know, that on cutting through a yew tree, the number of concentric rings visible on the surface of the wood indicates its age. Mr. Jesse, whose unaffected love of nature entitles him to rank as the worthy successor of White of Selbourne, has made some very interesting remarks respecting the growth and age of these trees, of which I regret being unable to extract more than a fragment: --"That there are yew trees in England as old or older than the introduction of Christianity into our island, no doubt can exist. The yew appears to me of all European trees, that which attains the greatest age. I have measured the deposits of one of 70 years, and Veillard measured one of 280. These two measurements agree in proving that the yew grows a little more than one ligne annually, in the first 150 years, and less than a ligne from 150 to 250.

"Those of Fotheringay, in 1770, had a diameter of 2558 lignes, consequently we must reckon them at from twenty-five to twenty-six centuries. Those of Brabourne churchyard in Kent had, in 1660, a diameter of 2810 lignes; and, if still living, must have attained a period of three thousand years!" --See the whole paper in "Gentleman's Magazine" for June 1836.
3. The Linnæn name for yew.
4. Not within consecrated ground only, but even the domainsof the clergy. When Harry V. issued his commission to Nicholas Frost, the royal bowyer, to enter upon the lands of private individuals, and cut down yew and other wood for the public service, he expressly forbids his trespassing on estates belonging to any religious order.-- Sir N. H. Nicholas.

Ne rector prosternet arbores in cemeterio,--is one of the stipulations of Magna Charta.
5. Village churches in Wales have rarely either spire or tower. Many of these simple structures owe their origin to the early British Christians. They generally stand in the midst of fields, and on the banks of rivers, embowered in trees, at a distance from human habitations. The body of the church, and occasionally the tower, are whitened. In some instances the tower is uncoloured, and in others the battlements only are whitewashed, for the natives of the Principality evince a great fondness for the lime brush. Not only are their cottages whitened inside and out, but should a fragment of rock or stone stile lie within their fields, it is sure to receive a coating of lime, which they frequently renew. The practice is of remote antiquity; their earliest bards, and I believe some Roman authors, allude to the snowwhite cottages of the Britons. At one season of the year, generally Easter, the villagers place slips of yew, intermingled with every variety of wild and garden flower, around the edges of their family grave mounds. The bard Davyth ap Gwilym, in describing the beauty and fertility of Glamorganshire, pathetically alludes to the practice here described:--

And thus, 'mid all thy radiant flowers,
Thy thick'ning leaves and glossy bowers,
   The poet's task shall be to glean
Roses and flowers that softly bloom,
The jewels of the forest gloom!
   With trefoils wove in pavement green,
With sad humility to grace
His golden Ivor's resting-place.
s
6. Monmouthshire.
7. Drayton.
8. I take this opportunity to copy the card of one very excellent Swiss bowmaker:--

BOURGOGNE,
Fabricant d'arcs et de Flesches,
Place St. Laurent, No. 14,
Lausanne.

9. A rendezvous, or appointed place of meeting.
10. Monmouthshire.
11. In the records of a Speech Court, held under "Foresters' Oaks," Wentwood, in the year 1688, it is said that Sir William Bandmele claimed to have houseboote and hayboote at his house at Oditton, from the Conquest, &C.--Willet.
12. These are the four evidences by which, according to the old feudal laws, a man was convicted of deer stealing. The first relates to an offender detected in a forest, drawing after a deer with hound in leash; the second, to him caught with bent bow ready to shoot; the third, to bearing away the venison on his shoulders, and the fourth, to him merely found with hands stained with blood of the game. Edward the Confessor's Red Book contains the following caution: --"Omnis homo abstineat a venariis meis, super poenam vitae."-- "Let every man refrain from my hunting grounds on pain of death."
13. In Wales, poetically styled Dialbren, "The Tree of Vengeance."
14. That is, becomes silky, smooth, and takes a fine polish.
15. As you approach the tropics, this characteristic becomes more and more obvious. The Demerara Indian bows have a beautifully fine grain; several in my possession are without flaw or blemish from nock to nock.
16. 1 Richard III. chap. ii.
17. Liverpool was at that period a paltry village, inhabited by a few fisher men.
18. Vide laws and regulations of the Guild of Paris armourers
19. Museum Tradescantium, A. D. 1580.
20. Knight's Tale, line 289.
21. V. 924.
22. Relation d'un Voyage en Perse, A.D. 1598, par un Gentilhomme de la Suite du Seigneur Shirley, Ambassadeur du Roi d'Angleterre
23. Travels, vol. i. p. 253.
24. 33 Henry VIII., c. 9.
25. English Bowman, p. 131., note.
26. Jossleyn's Voyage to New England, A. D. 1644.
27. Sir S. R. Meyrick's Armour; also MSS. Brit. Mus. Titus XIII. folio 220.
28. Armour.
29. What will modest Mr. Humphrey Barwick[1] , the self-styled "gentleman soldier, captain, et encor plus oultre," say to this ?

So much for the "disabilities of the long bow," when used against armour of Spanish steel; but we'll go further, and meet this veracious champion of the musket on his own ground, who scruples not to affirm, that an English steel headed shaft, far from inflicting wounds through a military buff coat, would scarcely penetrate ordinary broad cloth.

Now this is very audacious in one who had repeatedly witnessed the effects of archery on the field of battle; but the whole book is beneath contempt. Nevertheless, I will cite an instance or two in disproof of his assertions, merely because the narrative itself is too amusing to be omitted in a work of this sort. First, then, for "the broad cloth."

"Drawing near to the landing-place," says the author of "Proceedings in New England, A.D. 1638," " the number of Indians that rose from behind the barricado amounted to between fifty and sixty fighting men; straight as arrows, very tall, and of active bodies. Having their arrows nocked, they drew near to the water-side, and let fly at the soldiers as though they meant to have made an end of us all in a moment. They shot a young gentleman in the neck, through a collar, for stiffness, as If it had been an oaken board, and entered his flesh a good depth. Myself received an arrow through my coat sleeve; a second against my helmet on the forehead; so, if God, in his providence, had not moved the heart of my wife, to persuade me to carry it along with me, which I was unwilling to do, I had been slain. Let no man, therefore, despise the council of his wife, though she be a woman."

A little further on, the same author enables us to deal with the buff-coat after a similar fashion.

"Having given fire we approached near to the entrance, which they had stopped full arms of trees or stakes. Myself, approaching the entrance, found the work too heavy for me, to draw out all those that were strongly forced in. We therefore gave orders to Master Hedge and some other soldiers to pull out those stakes. Having thus done, and laid them between me and the entrance, they proceeded of themselves, without order, to the south end of the fort. But it was remarkable to many of us, that men who run before they are sent most commonly have an ill reward. With our carbines, in our left hands and our swords in our right, we approached the fort. Master Hedge was shot through both arms. Captain Mason and myself, entering into the wigwams, he was shot at, and received many arrows against his head-piece, but God preserved him from any wounds. Myself received an arrow through the left hip, through a sufficient buff-coat, that, if I had not been supplied with such a garment, would have pierced me through and through. Another I received through neck and shoulders, hanging in the linen of my head-piece; others of our soldiers were shot, some through the shoulders, some in the face, some in the head, some in the legs, Captain Mason and myself each losing a man. I had twenty wounded."

An Indian chief, named Carrara, requested permission to examine the sword of a Portuguese officer, with whom he was in company. The owner having observed that this weapon would pierce through a double buff-coat, our Indian friend immediately requested to see it done This the Portuguese performed, but sorely bruised his hand with the pomel of the sword, the coat being placed across the back of a chair. When the Indian saw the effects of the sword, he asked for his bow, and, adding a third fold to the leathern garment, made so furious a shot that he pierced it through and through. All present stood astonished at the power of what they had previously considered an insignificant weapon.

The facts here adduced receive additional corroboration from the following return of killed and wounded in a battle with archers. This statement, which is interesting from its rarity, was published by Mons. de la Fueillard, at the siege of Candia, A.D. 1667.

De Torci, of the brigade of St. Paul, before the town; dead.
M. Ourq, wounded by an arrow in the thigh; since dead.
De la Roque, by an arrow in the shoulder.
De Milieu, an arrow-shot in the kidneys.
De Hougre, by an arrow in the head, of which he died.
De Charmon, an arrow-shot in the arm.
De la Coste, by an arrow in the head.
Le Chevalier de Vausel, by an arrow in the arm.
Le Capitaine la Forest, by an arrow-shot in the belly, of which he immediately died.
Le Sergeant Major Pini, by a stone in the shoulder, and an arrow-shot in the belly; dead.

[1] Author of a work entitled, "Disabilities of the Long Bow, in comparison with Weapons of Fire," &c.
30. The reader will probably consider that "the force of pedantry could no farther go."
31. Page 130. note.
32. Page 131.
33. This rule has its exceptions. I once made a beautiful self-bow from a large branch of yew, which was amputated, after two valuable coach-horses had been poisoned by feeding on its leaves.
34. This must be a mistake of the learned doctor. Ash does not grow in that climate, and if it did, the Indians possess too many varieties of excellent wood to resort to one so inferior.
35. The greater portion of this work was written in a mountainous district of Wales.
36. All wood is best seasoned by exposure to the weather, care being taken to protect it from the sun, which would make it shaky, as the woodmen term it, that is, full of cracks. As this process will occupy eighteen months at least, I have recommended the other, lest the archer's patience should evaporate.
37. Archers are not, perhaps, aware that the Welsh word tackl literally means "an arrow." By extension, it is properly applied to the whole shooting apparatus.
38. Steel heads.
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