On the Englifh Long-Bow.
Part 12 of 12
We find from Arrian and other writers on tactics, that in ancient battles, the flingers, a part of the auxiliary troops, directed their weapons againft the wooden and fmall arms of the enemy, but that the principal ufe of the Archers was in annoying the cavalry. This part of an enemy's army, not only prefented a number of large objects to aim at, but it has fometimes happened alfo, that a Angle flight of Arrows189 has turned all into diforder and confufion. The horfes and their riders were always in compleat armour, and a difcharge of Arrows fometimes darkened the fky by their numbers ; we muft conceive therefore the immenfe and fudden noife thefe muft occafion in falling on the metallic coverings which oppofed them.190
The opening of a battle, accompanied with every horrid noife which could be contrived ; the found of miffive weapons and the cries of the wounded, has thus excited fo much terror among the horfes, as effectually to overcome the difcipline and render the whole fquadron confufed. In Livy, we read that the Cretan Archers compleatly routed the army of Antiochus, and turned his cavalry into flight by a ftorm of Arrows.
The elephants and camels which were by fome nations introduced in battle, proved admirable marks for the fkill of the Archers, and if their Arrows chanced to turn thefe animals into diforder, both the bafe and fuperftructure were ufually overthrown.
We fhall not wonder at the relations we hear of the furious and frantic ads thefe animals have committed, if we confider the excruciating pain a well directed Arrow muft produce.191 They were indeed well protected with armour on the front, but the hinder parts were more expofed ; and when their heads were by any means turned from the enemy, the Arrows and Javelins being directed under their tails, inflicted mortal wounds with the fevereft pain.192
Animals, however, are now no longer the objects of Archery, and as the ufe of fire-arms has expelled the Bow from the field, we may hope in future, to have no reafon of lamenting its cruelties.
Before I clofe this chapter, I cannot forbear faying a few words with refpect to modern Archery, confidered as an amufement.193
The value of agreeable amufements muft be felt by all people, as the moft important advantages in fociety are in fome degree fubject to their influence. If we fay health is interefted and improved by Archery, it will feem a fufficient reafon for its being efteemed an elegible and ufeful amufement ; and if it can be fhewn to poffefs fome valuable qualification which do not accompany other diverfions, the propriety of it will be more confpicuous.
That Archery poffeffes many excellences as an amufement, will require little trouble to prove. It is an exercife adapted to every age and every degree of ftrength, and the blood may be driven with any required velocity, by increafing or diminifhing the power of the Bow made ufe of. It is not neceffarily laborious, as it may be difcontinued at the moment it becomes fatiguing; a pleafure not to be enjoyed by the hunter, who, having finifhed his chafe, perceives that he muft crown his toils with an inanimate ride of forty-miles to his bed. Archery is attended with no cruelty. It fheds no innocent blood, nor does it torture harmlefs animals; charges which lie heavy againft fome other amufements.
It has been faid a reward was formerly offered to him who could invent a new pleafure.194 Had fuch a reward been held forth by the ladies of the prefent day, he who introduced Archery as a female exercife, would have defervedly gained the prize. It is unfortunate that there are few diverfions in the open air, in which women can join with fatisfaction; and as their fedentary life renders motion neceffary to health, it is to be lamented that fuch fuitable amufements have been wanting to invite them. Archery, has, however, contributed admirably to fupply this defect, and in a manner the moft defirable that could be wifhed.
But I do not intend to ling the praifes of this elegant art in their full extent. Fafhion now introduces it to the world, and with far greater fuccefs than that which may probably attend my reafoning and feeble panegyrics. I fubjoin a wifh, however, that this fafhion may be univerfally cultivated and approved; and may we fee the time when (with Statius) it can be faid,
"Pudor eft nefcire fagittas."195