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Anecdotes of Archery
Part 23 of 34

On the 14th of July, 1681, the London Archers, to the number of one thoufand, under the command of Mr. Edwards and Mr. HENRY WARREN, marched to Hampton-Court, to fhoot for feveral pieces of plate, viz. Two filver cups and three dozen of filver fpoons. The target was placed upon a butt erected on purpofe upon the lawn before the palace. The King was pleafed to honour them with his prefence on the occafion ; ftaid near two hours, and permitted as many of the Archers as pleafed to kifs his hand—A mark of the pleafure he took in viewing their exercife.


On Friday, April 21, 1682, the Archers under the command of SIR. EDWARD HUNGERFORD, COLONEL M. ARNOLD, LIEUTENANT COLONEL J. MOULD, MAJOR H. WARREN, LIEUTENANT E. DUNNE, G. WALKER, and J. MANLEY, Captains, met in the artillery ground and marched through Cornhill, Fleetftreet, and the Strand, to Tothill-Fields. The King and moft of the nobility honoured them with their company. There were at leaft one thoufand Archers in the field. The recreation lafted for fometime, during which three fhowers of whirling arrows were difcharged. The company, the Archers, and the exercife taken altogether, it was fuppofed, exceeded any thing of the kind that had hitherto been feen in England.


IN Scotland little lefs attention, though apparently not with equal fuccefs, was paid to the encouragement of this art. In both kingdoms it was provided that the importers of merchandife fhould be obliged, along with their articles of commerce, to import a certain proportion of bows, bow-ftaves, and fhafts for arrows. In both every perfon was enjoined to hold himfelf provided in bows and arrows: and was prefcribed the frequent ufe of Archery. In both a refraint was impofed upon the exercife of other games and fports, left they fhould interfere with the ufe of the bow; for it was intended that people fhould be made expert in the ufe of it as a military weapon, by habituating them to the familiar exercife of it as an inftrument of amufement.

As there was no material difference between the activity and bodily ftrength of the two people, it might be fuppofed that the Englifh and Scots wielded the bow with an equal vigour and dexterity : But from undoubted hiftorical monuments it appears, that the former had the fuperiority. The Englifh fhot with a very long bow. Thofe who were arrived at their full growth and maturity, being prohibited from fhooting at any mark that was not diftant upwards of two hundred and twenty yards. In the ufe of the bow great dexterity, as well as ftrength, feems to have been requifite. Though we hear of arrows at Cheviot Chafe which were a yard long; yet it is by no means to be fuppofed, that the whole band made ufe of fuch, or could draw them to the head.

The regulation of the Statute of EDWARD IV. viz.

" That the bow fhall not exceed the height of a man,"

is allowed by Archers to have been well confidered; and as the arrow fhould be half the length of the bow, this would give an arrow of a yard in length to thofe only who were fix feet high. A ftrong man of this fize in the pre-fent times, cannot eafily draw above twenty-feven inches, if the bow is of a proper ftrength to do execution at a confiderable diftance. At the fame time it muft be admitted, that as our anceftors were obliged by fome of the old ftatutes, to begin fhooting with the long-bow at the age of feven, they might have acquired a greater flight in this exercife than their defcendants.

Not many years ago, there was a man named TOPHAM, who exhited furprifing feats of ftength, and who happened to be at a public houfe near Iflington, to which the Finfbury Archers reforted after their exercife. TOPHAM confidered the long-bow as a play-thing, only fit for a child; upon which one of the Archers laid him a bowl of punch that he could not draw the arrow two thirds of its length. Topham accepted the propofal with the greateft confidence ; but bringing the arrow to his breaft inftead of his ear, he was greatly mortified by paying the wager, after many fruitlefs efforts.