THE FIRST BOOK OF THE SCHOOL OF SHOOTING.
Part 1 of 8
Phi. You study too sore, Toxophile.
Tox. I will not hurt myself over-much, I warrant you.
Phi. Take heed you do not; for we physicians say, that it is neither good for the eyes in so clear a sun, nor yet wholesome for the body so soon after meat, to look upon a man's book.
Tox. In eating and studying I will never follow any physic; for if I did I am sure I should have small pleasure in the one, and less courage in the other. But what news drave you hither, I pray you?
Phi. Small news, truly; but as I came on walking, I fortuned to come with three or four that went to shoot at the pricks; and when I saw not you amongst them, but at the last espied you looking on your book here so sadly, I thought to come and hold you with some communication, lest your book should run away with you. For methought by your wavering pace and earnest looking, your book led you, not you it.
Tox. Indeed, as it chanced, my mind went faster than my feet, for I happened here to read in Phoedro Platonis, a place that entreats wonderfully of the nature of souls; which place, whether it were for the passing eloquence of Plato and the Greek tongue, or for the high and godly description of the matter, kept my mind so occupied that it had no leisure to look to my feet. For I was reading how some souls, being well feathered, flew always about heaven and heavenly matters ; other some, having their feathers mowted away and drooping, sank down into earthly things.
Phi. I remember the place very well, and it is wonderfully said of Plato; and now I see it was no marvel though your feet failed you, seeing your mind flew so fast.
Tox. I am glad now that you letted me, for ray head aches with looking on it ; and because you tell me so, I am very sorry that I was not with those good fellows you spake upon, for it is a very fair day for a man to shoot in.
Phi. And, methinks you were a great deal better occupied and in better company; for it is a very fair day for a man to go to his book in.
Tox. All days and weathers will serve for that purpose, and surely this occasion was ill lost.
Phi. Yea, but clear weather maketh clear minds; and it is best, as I suppose, to spend the best time upon the best things: and methought you shot very well, and at that mark at which every good scholar should most busily shoot at. And I suppose it be a great deal more pleasure also to see a soul fly in Plato, than a shaft fly at the pricks. I grant you, shooting is not the worst thing in the world; yet if we shoot, and time shoot, we are not like to be great winners at the length. And you know also we scholars have more earnest and weighty matters in hand; nor we be not born to pastime and play, as you know well enough who saith.
Tox. Yet the same man in the same place, Philologe, by your leave, doth admit wholesome, honest, and mannerly pastimes, to be as necessary to be mingled with sad matters of the mind, as eating and sleeping is for the health of the body, and yet we be born for neither of both. And Aristotle himself saith, that although it were a fond and a childish thing to be too earnest in pastime and play, yet doth he affirm, by the authority of the old poet Epicharmus, that a man may use play for earnest matter sake. And in another place, that, as rest is for labour, and medicines for health; so is pastime, at times, for sad and weighty study.
Phi. How much in this matter is to be given to the authority either of Aristotle or Tully, I cannot tell, seeing sad men may well enough speak merrily for a merry matter: this I am sure, which thing this fair wheat (God save it) maketh me remember, that those husbandmen which rise earliest and come latest home, and are content to have their dinner and other drinkings brought into the field to them for fear of losing of time, have fatter barns in harvest, than they which will either sleep at noon-time of the day, or else make merry with their neighbours at the ale. And so a scholar that purposeth to be a good husband, and desireth to reap and enjoy much fruit of learning, must till and sow thereafter. Our best seed time, which be scholars, as it is very timely, and when we be young, so it endureth not over-long, and therefore it may not be let slip one hour: our ground is very hard and full of weeds, our horse wherewith we be drawn, very wild, as Plato saith. And infinite other mo lets, which will make a thrifty scholar take heed how he spendeth his time in sport and play.
Tox. That Aristotle and Tully speak earnestly, and as they thought, the earnest matter which they entreat upon doth plainly prove. And, as for your husbandry, it was more probably told with apt words proper to the thing, than thoroughly proved with reasons belonging to our matter. For, contrariwise, I heard myself a good husband at his book once say, that to omit study some time of the day and some time of the year, made as much for the increase of learning as to let the land lie some time fallow, maketh for the better increase of corn. This we see, if the land be ploughed every year,. the corn cometh thin up : the car is short, the grain is small, and, when it is brought into the barn and threshed, giveth very evil fall So those which' never leave poring on their books, have oftentimes an thin invention as other poor men have, and as small wit and weight in it as in other men's. And thus your'. husbandry, methinks, is more like the life of a cove., tons snudge that oft very evil proves, than the labour, of a good husband that knoweth well what he doth. And surely the best wits to learning must needs have much recreation and ceasing from their book, or else, they mar themselves; when base and dumpish wits can never be hurt with continual study, as ye see in luting. that a treble minikin string must always be let down but at such time as when a man must needs play, when the base and dull string needeth never to be moved out, of his place. The same reason I find true in two bows that I have, whereof the one is quick of cast, trick, and trim both for pleasure and profit : the other is a lug, slow of cast, following the string, more sure for to last than pleasant for to use. Now, Sir, it chanced this other night, one in my chamber would needs bend them to prove their strength, but (I cannot tell how) they were both left bent till the next day at after-dinner : and when I came to them, purposing to have gone on shooting, I found my good bow clean cast on the one side, and as weak as water, that surely, if I were a rich man, I had rather have spent a crown; and as for my lug, it was not one whit the worse, but shot by and by as well and as far as ever it did. And even so I am sure that good wits, except they be let down like a treble string, and unbent like a good casting bow, they will never last and be able to continue in study. And I know where I speak this, Philologe; for I would not say thus much afore young men, for they will take some occasion to study little enough. But I say it therefore, 'because I know, as little study getteth little learning, or none at all, so the most study getting not the most learning of all. For a man's wit sore occupied in earnest study must be as well recreated with some honest pastime, as the body sore laboured must be refreshed with sleep and quietness, or else it cannot endure very long, as the noble poet saith :
What thing wants quiet and merry rest, endures but a small while. 
And I promise you shooting, by my judgment, is the most honest pastime of all, and such one, I am sure, of all other, that hindereth learning little or nothing at all, whatsoever you and some others say, which are a great deal sorer against it always than you need to be.
Phi. Hindereth learning little or nothing at all !
that were a marvel to me truly; and I am sure, seeing you say so, you have some reason wherewith you can defend shooting withal ; and as for will, (for the love that you bear towards shooting,) I think there shall lack none in you. Therefore, seeing we have so good leisure both, and nobody by to trouble us, and you willing and able to defend it, and I so ready and g to hear what may be said of it, I suppose we cannot pass the time better over, neither you for the honesty of your shooting, nor I for mine own mind sake, than to see what can be said with it or against it; specially in these days when so many doeth use it, every man, in a manner, doeth commune of it.
Tox. To speak of shooting, Philologe, truly I would I were so able, either as I myself am willing, or yet the matter deserveth; but seeing with wishing we not have one now worthy, which so worthy a thing worthily praise, and although I had rather have an other to do it than myself, yet myself rather than other, I will not fail to say in it what I can. Wherein if I say little, lay that of my little ability, not of the matter itself, which deserveth no little thing to be said of it.
Phi. If it deserve no little thing to be said of it, Toxophile, I marvel how it chanceth then that no hitherto hath written any thing of it; wherein you must grant me, that either the matter is nought, un- worthy, and barren to be written upon, or else some men are to blame which both love it and use it, an yet could never find in their heart to say one good word of it; seeing that very trifling matters hath not I great learned men to set them out, as gnats and nuts, and many other mo like things; wherefore either you honestly lay very great fault upon men, because they never yet praised it, or else I may justly take away no little thing. from shooting because it never yet deserved it.
Tox. Truly, herein, Philologe, you take not so touch from it as you give to it. For great and commodious things are never greatly praised, not because they be not worthy, but because their excellency needeth no man's praise, having all their commendation of them self, not borrowed of other men his lips, which rather praise themselves in speaking much of a little thing, than that matter which they entreat upon. Great and good things be not praised: " For who ever praised Hercules?" (saith the Greek proverb). And that no man hitherto hath written any book of shooting, the fault is not to be laid in the thing which was worthy to be written upon, but of men which were negligent in doing it, and this was the cause thereof, as I suppose. Men that used shooting most and knew it best, were not learned; men that were learned used little shooting, and were ignorant in the nature of the thing, and so few men hath been that hitherto were able to write upon it. Yet how long shooting hath continued, what commonwealths hath most used it, how honest a thing it is for all men, what kind of living soever they follow, what pleasure and profit cometh of it, both in peace and war, all manner of tongues and writers, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, hath so plentifully spoken of it, as of few other things like. So what shooting is, how many kinds there is of it, what goodness is joined with it, is told; only how it is to be learned and brought to a perfectness amongst men, is not told.
Phi. Then, Toxophile, if it be so as you do say, let us go forward and examine how plentifully this is done that you speak; and, first, of the invention of it ; then what honesty and profit is in the use of it, both for war and peace, more than in other pastimes; last of all, how it ought to be learned amongst men, for the increase of it. Which thing if you do, not only I now, for your communication, but many other mo, when they shall know of it, for your labour, and shooting itself also (if it could speak) for your kindness, will can you very much thank.
Tox. What good things men speak of shooting, and what good things shooting brings to men, as my wit and knowledge will serve me, gladly shall I say my mind. But how the thing is to be learned, I will surely leave to some other, which, both for greater experience in it, and also for their learning, can set it out better than I.
Phi. Well, as for that, I know both what you can do in shooting by experience, and that you can also speak well enough of shooting for your learning: but go on with the first part. And I do not doubt but what my desire, what your love toward it, the honesty of shooting, the profit that may come thereby to many other, shall get the second part out of you at the last.
Tox. Of the first finders out of shooting, divers men diversely do write. Claudian the poet saith, that nature gave example of shooting first by the porpentine which doth shoot his pricks, and will hit any thing that fights with it; whereby men learned afterward to imitate the same, in finding out both bow and shafts. Pliny referreth it to Scythes the son of Jupiter. Better and more noble writers bring shooting from a more noble inventor; as Plato, Callimachus, and Galen, from Apollo. Yet long afore those days do we read in the Bible of shooting expressly; and also, if we shall believe Nicholas de Lyra, Lamech killed Cain with a shaft.. So this great continuance of shooting doth not a little praise shooting; nor that neither doth not a little set it out, that it is referred to the invention of Apollo, for the which point shooting is highly praised of Galen: where he saith, that mean crafts be first found out by men or beasts, as weaving by a spider, and such other; but high and commendable sciences by gods, as shooting and music by Apollo. And thus shooting, for the necessity of it, used in Adam's days, for the nobleness of it referred to Apollo, bath not been only commended in all tongues and writers, but also had in great price, both in the best commonwealths in war time for the defence of their country, and of all degrees of men in peace time, both for the honesty that is joined with it, and the profit that followeth of it.
Phi. Well, as concerning the finding out of it, little praise is gotten to shooting thereby, seeing good wits may most easily of all find out a trifling matter. But whereas you say, that most commonwealths have used it in war time, and all degrees of men may very honestly use it in peace time, I think you can neither show by authority nor yet prove by reason.
Tox. The use of it in war time I will declare hereafter. And first, how all kinds and sorts of men (what degree soever they be) have at all times afore, and now may honestly use it, the example of most noblemen very well doth prove.