An Essay on Archery.
Part 2 of 4
Men are reprefented in the moft ancient hiftories, as leading a life little elevated above that of Brutes:—they fpent their time in Hunting and Fifhing, to procure fubfiftence:—they were very much detached, and even folitary. We read in Scripture6 that Ifhmael dwelt in the Wildernefs and became an Archer; from which I underftand, he lived by Hunting, and killing animals with his Bow; at leaft it was his employment, whether for Food or Diverfion is in no ways very material. The fame kind of Life is mentioned by more recent Hiftorians, as fubfifting in the time they themfelves lived, Herodotus makes mention of a people called Iyrcae, inhabiting a country far to the northward of the Palus Maeotis which people, he fays, like others near them, live by Hunting: he defcribes their manner thus;
" Having climbed a Tree,
" (of which there are great abundance in
" that country) they there lie in wait,
" till fortune direct the path of fome
" animal in their way. Each Man has a
" dog and horfe at a little diftance from
" this ambufh, which, in order to be
" more concealed are taught to lie upon
" their bellies on the ground. When the
" perfon in the Tree perceives his Game
" at hand, he fhoots at it with an
" Arrow, and if he ftrike it, immediately
" mounting his Horfe purfues it with his
" dog till taken.7
Strabo makes mention of a people in Arabia, who practife the deftruction of their prey in exactly the fame manner.8 Modem travellers have reported that the Chace is followed much in the fame way at the prefent time, in Afia, Africa, and America.
In the temperate and frigid Zones neceffity will oblige Men to refort to this kind of Life, and give occafion to many ftratagems for the purpofe of drawing Animals into their power, as the productions of the earth, during the colder feafon of the year, could give no fuccour to the hungry inhabitant—It is true that the hunting of wild beads was not always in order to procure food; for that, indeed, in warm climates, is abundantly poured forth by the vegetable world in fruits and herbs, which afford a nourifhment, procured with far more eafe than by the purfuit of animals; but it was more generally followed for the fake of drefs, or ornament; ufes to which fkins have been applied, from the higheft antiquity to the prefent day, among all the different people of the Old and New World. We find, from Herodotus, that the Ethiopians covered themfelves with the fkins of Leopards and Lions : and he fays, the Scythians fewed together pieces of leather prepared from human fkins, and cloathed themfelves with it: and likewife, that they fometimes ftripped the fkin from the right hand of their vanquifhed enemies, and ufed it in ornamenting their quivers.9
It is reafonable to fuppofe thefe fkins, when firft applied as covering, underwent no manual operation, but were removed from the back of one brute to that of another. Such cloathing would foon become exceedingly difagreeable, by the fkin getting hard and ftiff, fo that the body of the perfon wearing it would be rendered fore, by the conftant exercife hunting required. A method of preparing the fkin would not remain long unfought for, and experiment would foon fuggeft the way of preferving the flexibility. Fat from animals has been ufed in fome countries, in order to do this; and various other proceffes are found efficacious, in the different places where this kind of garment is ufed.