Anecdotes of Archery
Part 9 of 34
THE revolution which delivered the Swifs Cantons from the Germanic yoke, happened about the year 1307. In which WILLIAM TELL, a renowned Archer and inhabitant of Underwald, was the principal inftrument.
GRISLER, the Governor under ALBERT, the Emperor, exercifed the moft glaring acts of tyranny and oppreffion. Amongft the reft of his experiments to try the patience of the people, it is faid that he placed his hat on the top of a pole, and commanded every one to pay the fame refpect to this infignia in his abfence, they did to his perfon when prefent, on pain of fuch punifhment as he fhould think proper to inflict.
WILLIAM TELL refufing this bafe fubmiffion, was brought before Grisler, who knowing him to be a good marfkman, wantonly ordered him to fhoot an arrow at an apple placed on the head of his own fon ; at the fame time informing him, that if he miffed the mark, he fhould be hanged on the fpot. His fon, then but a child, was placed at the diftance of one hundred and twenty paces from his father; who drawing the bow, with a trembling hand let fly the arrow, which carried away the apple without touching the boy, amidft the fhouts and acclamations of many thoufands of fpectators. The tyrant perceiving he had another arrow concealed under his cloak, afked him,—For what purpofe? as he was only to have one fhot? To which, he boldly replied,
" To have fhot thee to the heart if I had had the
" misfortune to kill my fon."
GRISLER, who had promifed to give him his life on his confeffing the truth, now ordered him to be bound and carried prifoner to a place on the lake of Lucern; but TELL happily efcaping our of the boat, in croffing the lake, retired to the mountains. His fellow-citizens, animated by his fortitude and patriotifm, flew to arms, attacked and vanquifhed GRISLER, who fell by an arrow from the hand of TELL. The confequence was that the affociation for independency took place on the inftant.
AMONGST the numerous levies made by EDWARD II. for the purpofe of invading Scotland, in the year 1314, we find particular mention made of the Northumbrian Archers in HARVEY'S life of KING ROBERT BRUCE, an Heroic Poem, printed in the year 1768.
From Humber's ftreams, whofe tumbling waves refound,
And deafen all the adjoining coafts around,
To where the Tweed in fofter windings flows,
Full fifty thoufand quiver'd warriors rofe:-----
A hardy race, who well experienced, knew
To fit the fhaft, and twang the bended yew
Bred up to danger, and inured to dare
In diftant fight, and aim the feather'd war;
Thefe bands their country's higheft triumphs boaft;
And GLOCESTER and HERTFORD led the hoft.
The country from the Humber to the Tweed, formerly the ancient Deira, was ftill covered with woods and forefts, abounding with vaft quantities of game; a circumftance which would certainly encourage the ufe of the bow.