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Home > Books > Toxophilus > The First Book of The School of Shooting.
The First Book of The School of Shooting.
Part 3 of 8

Whether this be true or not, they that stand most in need can tell best; whereof some I have known, which, because they learned not to sing when they were boys, were fain to take pain in it when they were men. If any man should hear me, Toxophile, that would think I did but fondly to suppose that a voice were so necessary to be looked upon, I would ask him if he thought not nature a fool, for making such goodly instruments in a man for well uttering his words ; or else if the two noble orators Demosthenes and Cicero were not fools, whereof the one did not only learn to sing of a man, but also was not ashamed to learn how he should utter his sounds aptly of a dog ; the other setteth out no point of rhetoric so fully in all his books, as how a man should order his voice for all kind of matters.

Therefore seeing men, by speaking, differ and be better than beasts, by speaking well better than other men, and that singing is an help toward the same, as daily experience doth teach, example of wise men doth allow, authority of learned men doth approve, wherewith the foundation of youth in all good commonwealths always, hath been tempered : surely, if I were one of a the Parliament-house, I would not fail to put up a bill for the amendment of this thing; but because I am like to be none this year, I will speak no more of it at this time.

Tox. It were pity truly, Philologe, that the thing should be neglected; but I trust it is not as on say.

Phi. The thing is too true; for of them that come daily to the University, where one hath learned to sing, six hath not.

But now to our shooting, Toxophile, again wherein I suppose you cannot say so much for shooting to be fit for learning, as you have spoken against music for the same. Therefore as concerning music, I can be content to grant you your mind; but as for shooting, surely I suppose that you cannot persuade me, by no means, that a man can be earnest in it, and earnest at his book too; but rather I think that a man with a bow on his back, and shafts under his girdle, is more fit to wait upon Robin Hood than upon Apollo or the Muses.

Tox. Over-earnest shooting surely I will not overearnestly defend; for I ever thought shooting should be a waiter upon learning, not a mistress over learning. Yet this I marvel not a little at, that ye think a man with a bow on his back is more like Robin Hood's servant than Apollo's, seeing that Apollo himself, in Alcestis of Euripides, which tragedy you read openly not long ago, in a manner glorifieth, saying this verse:

It is my wont always my bow with me to bear.

Therefore a learned man ought not too much to be ashamed to bear that sometime, which Apollo, God of learning, himself was not ashamed always to bear. And because ye would have a man wait upon the Muses, and not at all meddle with shooting; I marvel that you do not remember how that the nine Muses their self, as soon as they were born, were Put to nurse to a lady called Euphemis, which had a son named Erotus, with whom the nine Muses, for his excellent shooting kept evermore company withal, and used daily to shoot together in the Mount Parnassus; and at last it chanced this Erotus to die, whose death the Muses lamented greatly, and fell all upon their knees afore Jupiter their father, and, at their request, Frosts, for shooting with the Muses on earth, was made a sign, and called Sagittarius in heaven. Therefore you see that if Apollo and the Muses either were examples indeed, or only feigned of wise men to be examples of learning, honest shooting may well enough be companion with honest study.

Phi. Well, Toxophile, if you have no stronger defence of shooting than poets, I fear if your companions which love shooting heard you, they would think you made it but a trifling and fabling matter, rather than any other man that loveth not shooting could be persuaded by this reason to love it.

Tox. Even as I am not so fond but I know that these be fables, so I am sure you be not so ignorant but you know what such noble wits, as the poets had, meant by such matters, which oftentimes, under the covering of a fable, do hide and wrap in goodly precepts of philosophy, with the true judgment of things. Which to be true, specially in Homer and Euripides, Plato, Aristotle, and Galen plainly do show; when through all their works (in a manner) they determine all controversies by these two poets, and such like authorities. Therefore, if in this matter I seem to fable and nothing prove, I am content you judge so on me, seeing the same judgment shall condemn with me Plato, Aristotle, and Galen, whom in that error I am well content to follow. If these old examples prove nothing for shooting, what say you to this, that the best learned and sagest men in this realm which be now alive, both love shooting and use shooting, as the best learned bishops that be? amongst whom, Philologe, you yourself know four or five, which as in all good learning, virtue, and sageness, they give other men example what thing they should do, even so by their shooting they plainly show what honest pastime other men given to learning may honestly use. That earnest study must be recreated with honest pastime, sufficiently I have proved afore, both by reason and authority of the best learned men that ever wrote, Then seeing pastimes be leful [lawful], the most fittest for learning is to be sought for. A pastime, saith Aristotle, must be like a medicine. Medicines stand by contraries. therefore, the nature of studying considered, the fittest pastime shall soon appear. In study every part of the body is idle, which thing causeth gross and cold humours to gather together and vex scholars very much, the mind is altogether bent and set on work; a pastime then must be had where every part of the body must be laboured to separate and lessen such humours withal, the mind must be unbent, to gather and fetch again his quickness withal. Thus pastimes for the mind only be nothing fit for students, because the body, which is most hurt by study, should take away no profit thereat. This knew Erasmus very well, when he was here in Cambridge; which, when he had been sore at his book (as Garret our bookbinder has very oft told me), for lack of better exercise would take his horse and ride a-bout the market-hill and come again. If a scholar should use bowls or tennis, the, labour is so vehement and unequal, which is condemned of Galen; the example very ill for other men, when by so many acts they be made unlawful. Running, leaping, and quoiting be too vile for scholars, and so not fit by Aristotle's judgment: walking alone into the field hath no token of courage in it, a pastime like a simple man which is neither flesh nor fish. Therefore, if a man would have a pastime wholesome and equal for every part of the body, pleasant and full of courage for the mind, not vile and unhonest to give ill example to laymen, not kept in gardens and corners, not lurking on the night and in holes, but evermore in the face of men, either to rebuke it when it doeth ill, or else to testify on it when it doth well ; let him seek chiefly of all other for shooting.

Phi. Such common pastimes as men commonly do use, I will not greatly allow to be fit for scholars, seeing they may use such exercises very well (I suppose), as Galen himself doth allow.

Tox. These exercises I remember very well, for I read them within these two days; of the which some be these: to run up and down a hill; to climb up a long pole, or a rope, and there hang awhile ; to hold a man by his arms and wave with his heels, much like the pastime that boys use in the church when their master is away; to swing and totter in a bell-rope ; to make a fist, and stretch out both his arms, and so stand like a rood. To go on a man's tiptoes, stretching out the one of his arms forward, the other backward, which, if he gleaned out his tongue also, might be thought to dance antic very properly. To tumble over and over, to top over tail ; to set back to back, and see who can heave another's heels highest, with other much like; which exercises surely must needs be natural, because they be so childish, and they may be also wholesome for the body; but surely as for pleasure to the mind, or honesty in the doing of them, they be as like shooting as York is foul Button. Therefore to look on all pastimes and exercises wholesome for the body, pleasant for the mind, comely for every man to do, honest for all other to look on, profitable to be set by of every man, worthy to be rebuked of no man, fit for all ages, persons, and places, only shooting shall appear, wherein all these commodities may be found.

Phi. To grant, Toxophile, that students may at times convenient use shooting as most wholesome and honest pastime, yet to do as some do, to shoot hourly, daily, weekly, and in a manner the whole year, neither I can praise, nor any wise man will allow, nor you yourself can honestly defend.

Tax. Surely, Philologe, I am very glad to see you come to that point that most lieth in your stomach, and grieveth you and others so much. But I trust, after I have said my mind in this matter, you shall confess yourself that you do rebuke this thing more than you need, rather than you shall find that any man may spend by any possibility, more time in shooting than he ought. For first and foremost, the whole time is divided into two parts, the day and the night ; whereof the night may be both occupied in many honest businesses, and also spent in much unthriftiness, 'but in no wise it can be applied to shooting. And here you see that half our time, granted to all other things in a manner both good and ill, is at one swap quite taken away from shooting. Now let us go forward, and see how much of half this time of ours is spent in shooting. The whole year is divided into four parts, spring-time, summer, fall of the leaf, and winter. Whereof the whole winter, for the roughness of it, is clean taken away from shooting; except it be one day amongst twenty, or one year amongst forty. In summer, for the fervent heat, a man may say likewise; except it be some time against night. Now then springtime and fall of the leaf be those which we abuse in shooting.

But if we consider how mutable and changeable the weather is in those seasons, and how that Aristotle himself saith, that most part of rain falleth in these two times; we shall well perceive, that where a man would shoot one day, he shall be fain to leave of four. Now when time itself granteth us but a little space to shoot in, let us see if shooting be not hindered amongst all kinds of men as much other ways.

First, young children use not; young men, for fear of them whom they be under too much, dare not; sage men, for other greater business, will not; aged men, for lack of strength, cannot; rich men, for covetousness sake, care not; poor men, for cost and charge, may not; masters, for their household keeping, heed not; servants, kept in by their masters very oft, shall not; craftsmen, for getting of their living, very much leisure have not; and many there be that oft begins, but, for unaptness, proves not; and most of all, which when they be shooters give it over and list not ; so that generally men every where, for one or other consideration, much shooting use not. Therefore these two things, traitness of time, and every man his trade of living, are the causes that so few men shoot, as you may see in this great town, where, as there be a thousand good men's bodies, yet scarce ten that useth any great shooting. And those whom you see shoot the most, with how many things are they drawn, or rather driven, from shooting. For first, as it is many a year or they begin to be great shooters, even so the great heat of shooting is gone within a year or two; as you know divers, Philologe, yourself, which were some time the best shooters, and now they be the best students.

If a man fall sick, farewell shooting, may fortune as long as he liveth. If he have a wrench, or have taken cold in his arm, he may hang up his bow (I warrant you) for a season. A little blain, a small cut, yea a silly poor worm in his finger, may keep him from shooting well enough. Breaking and ill luck in bows I will pass over, with a hundred more serious things, which chanceth everyday to them that shoot most, whereof the least of them may compel a man to leave shooting. And these things be so true and evident, that it is impossible either for me craftily to feign them, or else for you justly to deny them. Then seeing how many hundred things are required altogether to give a man leave to shoot, and, any one of them denied, a man cannot shoot; and seeing every one of them may chance, and doth chance every day; I marvel any wise man will think it possible that any great time can be spent in shooting at all.

Phi. If this be true that you say, Toxophile, and in very deed I can deny nothing of it, I marvel greatly how it chanceth, that those which use shooting be so much marked of men, and oft-times blamed for it, and that in a manner as much as those which play at cards and dice. And I shall tell you what I heard spoken of the same matter. A man, no shooter, (not long ago), would defend paying at cards and dice, if it were honestly used, to be as honest pastime as your shooting; for he laid for him, that a man might play for a little at cards and dice, and also a man might shoot away all that he ever had. He said a pair of cards cost not past two-pence, and that they needed not so much reparation as bow and shafts, they would never hurt a man's hand, nor never wear his gear. A man should never slee [slay] a man with shooting wide at the cards. In wet and dry, hot and cold, they would never forsake a man: he showed what great variety there is in them for every man's capacity; if one game were hard, he might easily learn another: if a man have a good game there is great pleasure in it; if he have an ill game the pain is short, for he may soon give it over and hope for a better; with many other mo reasons. But at the last he concluded, that betwixt playing and shooting, well used or ill used, there was no difference; but that there was less cost and trouble, and a great deal more pleasure, in playing than in shooting.

Tox. I cannot deny but shooting (as all other good things) may be abused. And good things ungodly used are not good, saith an honourable bishop in an earnester matter than this is; yet we must be ware that we lay not men's faults upon the thing which is not worthy, for so nothing should be good. And as for shooting, it is blamed and marked of men for that thing (as I said before) which should be rather a token of honesty to praise it, than any sign of naughtyness to disallow it, and that is because it in every man his sight, it seeketh no corners, it hideth it not; if there be never so little fault in it, every man seeth it, it accuseth itself. For one hour spent in shooting is more seen, and further talked of, than twenty nights spent in dicing, even as a little white stone is seen amongst threehunderd black. Of those that blame shooting and shooters, I will say no more at this time but this, that beside that that they stop and hinder shooting, which the king's grace would have forward, they be not much unlike in this point to Will Somer the king his fool, which smitheth him that standeth always before his face, be he never so worshipful a man, and never greatly looks for him which lurks behind another man's back, that hurt him in deed.

But to him that compared gaming with shooting somewhat will I answer: and because he went before me in a comparison; and comparisons, saith learned men, make plain matters; I will surely follow him in the same. Honest things (saith Plato) be known from unhonest things by this difference: unhonesty hath ever present pleasure in it, having neither good pretence going before, nor yet any profit following after; which saying, describeth generally both the nature of shooting and gaming, which is good, and which is evil, very well.

Gaming hath joined with it a vain present pleasure; but there followeth loss of name, loss of goods, and winning of an hundred gouty, dropsy, diseases, as every man can tell. Shooting is a painful pastime, whereof followeth health of body, quickness of wit, and ability to defend our country, as our enemies can bear record.

Loth I am to compare these things together. And yet I do it, not because there is any comparison at all betwixt them, but thereby a man shall see how good the one is, how evil the other. For I think there is scarce so much contrariousness betwixt hot and cold, virtue and vice, as is betwixt these two things: for whatsoever is in the one, the clean contrary is in the other, as shall plainly appear, if we consider both their beginnings, their increasings, their fructes, and their ends, which I will soon rid over.

The first bringer into the world of shooting was Apollo, which, for his wisdom, and great commodities brought amongst men by him, was esteemed worthy to be counted as a god in heaven.

Dicing surely is a bastard born, because it is said to have two fathers, and yet both naught: the one was an ungracious god, called Theuth, which for his naughtiness, came never in other gods' companies, and therefore Homer doth despise once to name him in all his works. The other father was a Lydian born, which people, for such games and other unthriftiness, as bowling and haunting of taverns, have been ever had in most vile reputation in all stories and writers.

The fosterer of shooting is labour, that companion of virtue, the maintainer of honesty, the increaser of health and wealthiness, which admitteth nothing, in a manner, into his company, that standeth not with virtue and honesty; and therefore saith the old poet Epicharmus very prettily in Xenophon, that God selleth virtue and all other good things to men for labour. The nurse of dice and cards is wearisome idleness, enemy of virtue, the drowner of youth that tarrieth in it, and as Chaucer doth say very well in the Person's Tale, the green path-way to hell, having this thing appropriate unto it, that whereas other vices have some cloak of honesty, only idleness can neither do well nor yet think well. Again, shooting hath two tutors to look upon it, out of whose company shooting never stirreth, the one called Daylight, the other Open Place, which two keep shooting from evil company, and suffers it not to have too much swing, but evermore keeps it under awe, that it dare do nothing in the open face of the world but that which is good and honest. Likewise, dicing and carding have two tutors, the one named solitariousness, which lurketh in holes and corners; the other called night, an ungracious cover of naughtiness, which two things be very inn-keepers and receivers of all naughtiness and naughty things, and thereto they he in a manner ordained by nature. For, on the night time and in corners, spirits and thieves, rats and mice, toads and owls, night-crows and pole-cats, foxes and foumards,[12] with all other vermin and noisome beasts, use most stirring; when in the day-light and open places, which be ordained of God for honest things, they dare not once come, which thing Euripides noteth very well, saying,

Ill things the night, good things the day, doth haunt and use.

Companions of shooting, be providence, good heedgiving, true meting, honest comparison, which things agree with virtue very well. Carding and dicing have a sort of good fellows also going commonly in their company, as blind fortune, stumbling chance, spittle luck, false dealing, crafty conveyance, brainless brawling, false forswearing; which good fellows will soon take a man by the sleeve and cause him take his inn, some with beggary, some with gout and dropsy, some with theft and robbery, and seldom they will leave a man before he come either to hanging or else some other extreme misery. To make an end, how shooting by all men's laws hath been allowed, carding and dicing by all men's judgments condemned, I need not show, the matter is so plain.

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