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Home > Books > Toxophilus > The First Book of The School of Shooting.
The First Book of The School of Shooting.
Part 2 of 8

Cyaxares, the King of the Medes, and great grandfather to Cyrus, kept a sort of Scythians with him only for this purpose, to teach his son Astyages to shoot. Cyrus being a child was brought up in shooting; which thing Xenophon would never have made mention on, except it had been fit for all Princes to have used : seeing that Xenophon wrote Cyrus life (as Tully saith) not to show what Cyrus did, but what all manner of Princes both in pastimes and earnest matters ought to do.

Darius, the first of that name, and King of Persia, showed plainly how fit it is for a King to love and use shooting, which commanded this sentence to be graven in his tomb for a princely memory and praise:

Darius the King lieth buried here,
That in shooting and riding had never peer.

Again, Domitian the Emperor was so cunning in shooting, that he could shoot betwixt a man's fingers standing afar off, and never hurt him. Commodus also was so excellent, and had so sure a hand in it, that there was nothing within his reach and shot, but he would hit it in what place he would; as beasts running, either in the head, or in the heart, and never miss; as Herodian saith he saw himself, or else he could never have believed it.

Phi. Indeed you praise shooting very well, in that you show that Domitian and Commodus love shooting; such an ungracious couple, I am sure, as a man shall not find again, if he raked all hell for them.

Tox. Well, even as I will not commend their illness, so ought not you to dispraise their goodness; and indeed, the judgment of Herodian upon Commodus is true of them both, and that was this: that beside, strength of body and good shooting, they had no princely thing in them; which saying, methink, commends shooting wonderfully, calling it a princely thing. Furthermore, how commendable shooting is for Princes, Themistius, the noble philosopher, showeth in a certain oration made to Theodosius the Emperor, wherein lie doth commend him for three things, that he used of a child; for shooting, for riding of a horse well, and for feats of arms.

Moreover, not only Kings and Emperors have been brought up in shooting, but also the best commonwealths that ever were, have made goodly acts and laws for it : as the Persians, which under Cyrus conquered, in a manner, all the world, had a law that their children should learn three things only from five years old unto twenty; to ride an horse well, to shoot well, to speak truth always and never lie. The Romans (as Leo the Emperor in his book of sleights of war telleth) had a law that every man should use shooting in peace time, while he was forty years old, and that every house should have a bow and forty shafts ready for all needs; the omitting of which law (saith Leo) amongst the youth, hath been the only occasion why the Romans lost a great deal of their empire. But more of this I will speak when I come to the profit of shooting in war. If I should rehearse the statutes made of noble Princes of England in Parliaments, for the setting forward of shooting through this realm, and especially that act made for shooting the third year of the reign of our most dread sovereign Lord King Henry the VIIIth, I could be very long. But these few examples, especially of so great men and noble commonwealths, shall stand in stead of many.

Phi. That such Princes and such commonwealths have much regarded shooting, you have well declared. But why shooting ought so of itself to be regarded, you have scarcely yet proved.

Tox. Examples, I grant, out of histories do show a thing to be so, not prove a thing why it should be so.

Yet this I suppose, that neither great men's qualities, being commendable, be without great authority, for other men honestly to follow them ; nor yet those great learned men that wrote such things lack good reason justly at all times for any other to approve them. Princes, being children, ought to be brought up in shooting, both because it is an exercise most wholesome, and also a pastime most honest; wherein labour prepareth the body to hardness, the mind to courageousness suffering neither the one to be marred with tenderness nor yet the other to be hurt with idleness, as we read how Sardanapalus and such other were, because they were not brought up with outward honest painful pastimes to be men, but cockered up with inward, naughty, idle wantonness to be women.. For how fit labour is for all youth, Jupiter or else Minos amongst them of Greece, and Lycurgus amongst the Lacedemonians, do show by their laws, which never ordained any thing for the bringing up of youth that was not joined with labour; and the labour which is in shooting of all other is best, both because it increaseth strength and preserveth health most, being not vehement but moderate, not overlaying any one part with weariness, but softly exercising every part with equalness, as the arms and breasts with drawing, the other parts with going, being not so painful for the labour as pleasant for the pastime, which exercise, by the judgment of the best physicians, is most allowable. By shooting also is the mind honestly exercised, where a man always desireth to be best (which is a word of honesty), and that by the same way that virtue itself doth, coveting to come nighest a most perfect end, or mean standing betwixt two extremes, eschewing short, or gone, or either side wide; for the which causes Aristotle himself saith, that shooting and virtue be very like. Moreover, that shooting of all other is the most honest pastime, and hath least occasion to naughtiness joined with it, two things very plainly do prove, which be, as a man would say, the tutors and overseers to shooting : day-light, and open place where every man doth come, the maintainers and keepers of shooting from all unhonest doing. If shooting fault at any time, it hides it not, it lurks not in corners and huddermother; but openly accuseth and bewrayeth itself, which is the next way to amendment, as wise men do say. And these thing., I suppose, be signs not of naughtiness for any man to disallow it, but rather very plain tokens of honesty for every man to praise it. The use of shooting also in great men's children, shall greatly increase the love and use of shooting in all the residue of youth. For mean men's minds love to be like great men, as Plato and Isocrates do say. And that every body should learn to shoot when they be young, defence of the commonwealth doth require when they be old, which thing cannot be done mightily when they be men, except they learn it perfectly when they be boys. And therefore shooting of all pastimes is most fit to be used in childhood ; because it is an imitation of most earnest things to be done in manhood. Wherefore shooting is fit for great men's children, both because it strengtheneth the body with wholesome labour and pleaseth the mind with honest pastime, and also encourageth all other youth earnestly to follow the same. And these reasons (as I suppose) stirred up both great men to bring up their children in shooting, and also noble commonwealths so straitly to command shooting. Therefore seeing Princes, moved by honest occasions, hath in all commonwealths used shooting, I suppose there is none other degree of men, neither low nor high, learned nor lewd, young nor old--

Phi. You shall need wade no, further in this matter, Toxophile ; but if you can prove me that scholars and men given to learning may honestly use shooting, I will soon grant you that all other sorts of men may not only lawfully, but ought of duty, to use it. But I think you cannot prove but that all these examples of shooting brought from so long a time, used of so noble Princes, confirmed by so wise men's laws and judgments, are set afore temporal men only to follow them; whereby they may the better and stronglier defend the commonwealth withal; and nothing belongeth to scholars and learned men, which have another part of the commonwealth, quiet and peaceable, put to their cure and charge, whose end, as it is diverse from the other, so there is no one way that leadeth to them both.

Tox. I grant, Philologe, that scholars and laymen have divers offices and charges in the commonwealth, which requires divers bringing up in their youth, if they shall do them as they ought to do in their age. Yet as temporal men of necessity are compelled to take somewhat of learning to do their office the better withal, so scholars may the boldlier borrow somewhat of laymen's pastimes to maintain their health in study withal. And surely, of all other things, shooting is necessary for both sorts to learn. Which thing, when it hath been evermore used in England, how much good it hath done, both old men and chronicles do tell, and also our enemies can bear us record. For if it be true as I have heard say, when the King of England hath been in France, the priests at home, because they were archers, have been able to overthrow all Scotland. Again, there is another thing, which above all other doth move me, not only to love shooting, to praise shooting, to exhort all other to shooting, but also to use shooting myself; and that is our King [Henry the Eighth] his most royal purpose and will, which in all his statutes generally doth command men, and with his own mouth most gently doth exhort men, and by his great gifts and rewards greatly doth encourage men, and with his most princely example very often doth provoke all other men to the same. But here you will come in with temporal man and scholar. I tell you plainly, scholar or unscholar, yea if I were twenty scholars, I would think it were my duty, both with exhorting men to shoot, and also with shooting myself, to help to set forward that thing which the King's wisdom, and his Council, so greatly laboureth to go forward; which thing surely they do, because they know it to be in war the defence and wall of our country; in peace an exercise most wholesome for the body, a pastime most honest for the mind, and, as I am able to prove myself, of all other most fit and agreeable with learning and learned men.

Phi. If you can prove this thing so plainly, as you speak it earnestly, then will I not only think as you do, but become a shooter, and do as you do. But yet beware, I say, lest you, for the great love you bear toward shooting, blindly judge of shooting. For love, and all other too earnest affections, be not for nought painted blind. Take heed (I say) lest you prefer shooting before other pastimes, as one Balbinus, through blind affection, preferred his lover before all other women, although she were deformed with a polypus in her nose. Arid although shooting may be meet some time for some scholars, and so forth, yet the fittest always is to be preferred. Therefore, if you will needs grant scholars pastime and recreation of their minds, let them use (as many of them doth) music and playing on instruments, thinks most seemly for all scholars, and most regarded always of Apollo and the Muses.

Tox. Even as I cannot deny but some music is fit for learning, so I trust you cannot choose but grant that shooting is fit also, as Callimachus doth signify in this verse:

Both merry songs and good shooting delighteth Apollo.

But as concerning whether of them is most fit for learning and scholars to use, you may say what you will for your pleasure; this I am sure, that Plato and Aristotle both, in their books entreating of the commonwealth, where they show how youth should be brought up in four things, in reading, in writing, in exercise of body, and singing, do make mention of music and all kinds of it; wherein they both agree, that music used amongst the Lydians is very ill for young men which be students for virtue and learning, for a certain nice, soft, and smooth sweetness of it, which would rather entice them to naughtiness than stir them to honesty.

Another kind of music, invented by the Dorians, they both wonderfully praise, allowing it to be very fit for the study of virtue and learning, because of a manly, rough, and stout sound in it, which should encourage young stomachs to attempt manly matters. Now whether these ballads and rounds, these galiards, pavanes, and dances, so nicely fingered, so sweetly tuned, be liker the music of the Lydians or the Dorians, you that be learned judge. And whatsoever ye judge, this I am sure, that lutes, harps, all manner of pipes,barbitons, sambukes, with other instruments every one, which standeth by fine and quick fingering, be condemned of Aristotle, as not to be brought in and used among them which study for learning and virtue.

Pallas, when she had invented a pipe, cast it away; not so much, saith Aristotle, because it deformed her face, but much rather because such an instrument belonged nothing to learning. How such instruments agree with learning, the goodly agreement betwixt Apollo God of learning, and Marsyas the Satyr, defender of piping, doth well declare, where Marsyas had his skin quite pulled over his head for his labour. "Much music marreth men's manners," saith Galen, although some man will say that it doth not so, but rather recreateth and maketh quick a man's mind; yet, methink, by reason it doth as honey doth to a man's stomach, which at the first receiveth it well, but afterward it maketh it unfit to abide any good strong nourishing meat, or else any wholesome sharp and quick drink. And even so in a manner these instruments make a man's wit so soft and smooth, so tender and quaisy, that they be less able to brook strong and tough study. Wits be not sharpened, but rather dulled and made blunt, with such sweet softness, even as good edges be blunter which men whet upon soft chalk stones.

And these things to be true, not only Plato, Aristotle, and Galen prove by authority of reason, but also Herodotus and other writers show by plain and evident example; as that of Cyrus, which, after he had overcome the Lydians, and taken their king Croesus prisoner, yet after, by the means of one Pactyas, a very heady man amongst the Lydians, they rebelled against Cyrus again; then Cyrus had 'by and by brought them to utter destruction, if Croesus being in good favour with Cyrus, had not heartily desired him not to revenge Pactyas fault in shedding their blood. But if he would follow his counsel, he might bring to pass that they should never more rebel against him. And that was this, to make them wear long kirtles to the foot, like women, and that every one of them should have a harp or a lute, and learn to play and sing. Which thing if you do, saith Croesus (as he did indeed), you shall see them quickly of men made women. And thus luting and singing take away a manly stomach, which should enter and pierce deep and hard study.

Even such another story doth Nymphodorus, an old Greek historiographer, write of one Sesostris King of Egypt, which story, because it is somewhat long, and very like in all points to the other, and also you do well enough remember it, seeing you read it so late in Sophoclis commentaries, I will now pass over. Therefore either Aristotle and Plato know not what was good and evil for learning and virtue, and the example of wise histories be vainly set afore us, or else the minstrelsy of lutes, pipes, harps, and all other that standeth by such nice, fine, minikin fingering, (such as the most part of scholaxs whom I know use, if they use any,) is far more fit, for the womanishness of it, to dwell in the Court among ladies, than for any great thing in it, which should help good and sad study, to abide in the University among scholars. But perhaps you know some great goodness of such music and such instruments, whereunto Plato and Aristotle his brain could never attain; and therefore I will say no more against it.

Phi. Well, Toxophile, is it not enough for you to rail upon music, except you mock me too? But, to say the truth, I never thought myself these kinds of music fit for learning ; but that which I said was rather to prove you, than to defend the matter. But yet as I would have this sort of music decay among scholars, even: so do I wish, from the bottom of my heart, that the laudable custom of England to teach children their plain song and prick-song, were not so decayed throughout all the realm as it is. Which thing how profitable it was for all sorts of men, those knew not so well then which had it most, as they do now which lack it most. And therefore it is true that Teucer saith in Sophocles :

Seldom at all good things be known how good to be
Before a man such things do miss out of his hands. [11]

That milk is no fitter nor more natural for the bringing up of children than music is, both Galen proveth by authority, and daily use teacheth by experience. For even the little babes lacking the use of reason, are scarce so well stilled in sucking their mother's pap, as in hearing their mother sing. Again, how fit youth is made by learning to sing, for grammar and other sciences, both we daily do see, and Plutarch learnedly doth prove, and Plato Wisely did allow, which received no scholar into his school that had not learned his song before. The godly use of praising God, by singing in the church, needeth not my praise, seeing it is so praised through all the scripture; therefore now I will speak nothing of it, rather than I should speak too little of it.

Beside all these commodities, truly two degrees of men, which have the highest offices under the King in all this realm, shall greatly lack the use of singing, preachers and lawyers, because they shall not, without this, be able to rule their breasts for every purpose. For where is no distinction in telling glad things and fearful things, gentleness and cruelness, softness and vehementness, and such-like matters, there can be no great persuasion, For the hearers, as Tully saith, be much affectioned as he is that speaketh. At his words be they drawn ; if he stand still in one fashion, their minds stand still with him; if he thunder, they quake; if he chide, they fear; if he complain, they sorry with him; and finally, where a matter is spoken with an apt voice for every affection, the hearers, for the most part, are moved as the speaker would. But when a man is alway in one tune, like an humble bee, or else now in the top of the church, now down, that no man knoweth where to have him; or piping like a reed, or roaring like a bull, as some lawyers do, which think they do best when they cry loudest, these shall never greatly move, as I have known many well-learned have done, because their voice was not stayed afore with learning to sing. For all voices, great and small, base and shrill, weak or soft, may be holpen and brought to a good point by learning to sing.

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