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“Toxoph. Of the first finders out of shoting, diuers men diuerslye doo wryte. Claudiane the poete sayth that nature gaue example of shotyng first, by the Porpentine; whiche doth shote his prickes and will hitte any thinge that fightes with it ; whereby men learned afterwarde to immitate the same in finding out both bow and shaftes. Plinie referreth it to Schythes the sonne of Jupiter. Better and more noble wryters bringe shoting from a more noble inuentour; as Plato, Calimachus, and Galene, from Apollo. Yet longe afore those days do we reade in the bible of shotinge expreslye. And also if we shall beleve Nicholas de Lyra, Lamech killed Cain with a shafte. So this great continuaunce of shoting doch not a lytle praise shotinge ; nor that neither doth not a lytle set it oute, that it is referred to the inuention of Apollo, for the which poynt shoting is highly praised of Galene ; where he sayth the mean craftes be first found out by men or beastes, as meaning by a spider, and suche other; but high and comendable sciences by goddes, as shotinge and musicke by Apollo. And thus shotinge for the necessite of it used in Adam's days, for the noblenesse of it referred to Apollo, hath not been onelie comended in all tunges and writers, but also had in greate price, both in the best comune wealthes, in warre time for the defence of their countrie, and of all degrees of men in peace tyme, bothe for the honestie that is ioyned with it, and the profyte that followeth of it."
We have heretofore reviewed the Brigades of ancient hunters, as they tramped before us magnificently upon the parade ground of history; from Captain General Nimrod, and stately riding Queen Diana, down to those savage Loco Focos, Robin Hood and Little John.* Something now is due to the vanatical artillery of later days. The hunter tribe is not extinct. Collineomania rages yet. Human nature is still projectilitarian. The same excellent love of destruction that moved the old world to swing the catipult, and scatter javelins and arrows, urges on this modern age of civilization and philanthropy, to throw rockets, hot water, and cold lead.
But our present business is not with human wars, and the Peace Society. Whether the shooting of men be honest and honorable, we leave to the determination of that fighting school of the General Assembly, which shall prove itself to be most meek and most forbearing.
Beasts, and birds, we have an unchallengeable right, and oftentimes, unquestionable duty, to transfix. This birth-obligation of every freeman, was first imposed by that never-to-be-toomuch-prized article in the constitution of human nature, which gave to the lords of the creation, dominion over the fowls of the air, and the fish of the sea. We have the authority from Heaven, and the recommendation from Earth. “ Kill and eat,” was hieroglyphickied upon the shooting jacket of Esau. Peter, the Apostle, saw it in his dream, as the tenth chapter of Acts bears testimony. And now we are all shooters. To be a Collineomaniac, is only to fulfil worthily, and with prudent enthusiasm, a duty, which nature hath allowed, good example hath approved, and honesty, skill, art, health, and happiness, recommend.
To descend, from ancient fashions of contrived death, to Joe Manton, Westley Richards, Miss Nancy Hawker, and percussion caps-is it a fall, my countrymen, or not? That thought suggests gunpowder. Talk of the invention of the printing press, and all its attendant honors of light and knowledge! it has not effected one tithe of the changes in the physical condition of the world, which have been wrought by the discovery of the virtue of combined nitre, sulphur, and granulated charcoal. We fling no more javelins,—we thrust no more spears,-unless it be into a porpoise or a whale, but we kill our lions with four pounders from the back of a welltrained elephant, our buffaloes with Kentucky rifles, and our woodcock with the familiar pills of number Eight. That is a pathetic discourse, which Cervantes reads in Don Quixotte of the death of Chivalrie in the elaborations of Rogers, Pigou and company.
But it is not all true. Strength, muscular excellence, personal skill, and all honorable accomplishments have not lost their recommendation utterly. It is true that the tyrants of the land have been changed from stalworth knights and grim barons, into bank directors, and obtainers of other people's goods under peaceable pretences, for whom it is not necessary to know any thing but arithmetic, and a little criminal law ; but the honest hunter's vocation and the amateur's occasional indulgence, require all the virtues which belonged to a lover of the sport in the olden time. A man must sometimes stand up against a grizzly bear, and use his shooting-knife, after he has put a dozen buck-shot into that “interesting individual.” We have known a well-antlered deer, who did not believe his time had come, to make good fight in the last moment of his translation. Wing-tip a wild gander, and what man-baby can pick him up ?. Then for endurance, patience, steadiness of nerve, a good eye, and a well disciplined heart;—no modification of saltpetre can manufac. ture them. No; we do not believe that true chivalry is gone. It will live until there is not a running buck or a flying bird. When that time arrives, the millennium will be here, shall want to shoot no more.
What good reason have we to doubt that ancient chivalry knew gunpowder, or at least, the expansive force of marine acid, and the oxymuriate of potash, or something else that had the true grit and stuff? Every body has heard of the “ Greek fire." But what was it? Salmoneus, king of Elis, manufactured such capital thunder and lightning, that Jupiter became jealous, and cut him down with an original thunderbolt.—For the place of his residence in the infernal regions, see Lempriere's directory.-Roger Bacon, in his treatise, “ de secretis
operibus artis et nature et de nullitate," speaks of the facility of making thunder and coruscations in the air, and the ease of taking cities thereby. He thinks that Gideon defeated the Midianites, by a similar device.-See Judges, chapter vii.Polydore Virgil refers the detection of the grace of the subtle mixture to a chemist, who accidentally put some of the sublime composition into a mortar and covering it with a stone, was thereby blown into the upper air, and on his dying descent, bequeathed the mysterious cause of his exaltation to his head apprentice. Some attribute the discovery to a monk of Fribourgh. Others say that Swartz was the original patentee, and that he sold his copy-right to the Venetians in 1340, which,-it being war-time-made all Italy cry out against the monstrous innovation as not fair-play. Another author says it was used by the Moors in 1343, when besieged by Alphonso, king of Castile. The bishop of Leon gives an account of a sea-fight between the kings of Tunis and Seville, in which those of 'Tunis, “ threw out of certain tubes, thunderbolts of iron.” We believe, earnestly, that the genuine old sporting men knew the virtue of powder and shot, but kept it private. Witness the cunning, lurking, alternative of “other pastimes of the field" slyly hinted at, for those who knew, in the “ Basilikon Doron," of the learned king James. Here are his own words ;
“ It ever hath been of old antiquitie used in this realme of most noble fame, for all lustye gentlemen to pass the delectable season of summer, after divers manner, and sundry fashions of disports, as in hunting the rede and fal. lowe deer, with houndes, greyhoundes, and with the bowe, also in hawking with hawkes, and other pustimes of the field.”
Those were times, however, when only monopolists shot. Westley Richards could not have sold a gun to a man. His trade would have been confined to paper-title-gentlemen ; and he would have been compelled to contract" by His Majesty's authority.” Those were times, when our fathers,-pure-born —freely-hating-proud-submitted to slavery, because not shut out from hope ; looking to the New America as the Canaan of their liberty, wbere they might dare to keep their own fire-arms, and shoot without fear of encroachment upon the special monopolies of the Norman Game Law. Thank God! we have equal rights, in matters of venation, here. No punyfaced spawn of a title, King or Queen, Duke or Squire, shall tread down our grain, or riot in our meadows, by virtue of a ribbon. We are all noblemen in Columbia, and he is the King who is most eloquent to a bevy of quail getting up, -talking with both barrels in quick succession. Our game laws go for the protection of game, not for the benefit of corporations, individual or collective. Every farmer is master, owner and Sovereign of his own ground. No idle jackass, that is privileged by law to wear a herald's device, at a Queen's coronation, can send his game-keeper into our quiet woodland, to kill birds for him, while he lies by, and luxuriates, and prepares his oath as to the contents of his game bag. Alas! for the slavery of the Welsh and Cornish ;-shall we say, for every county in Old England, -srom which the people have not had knowledge or power to come out Puritan ;—but whose language is a scoff, and whose daughters are a tribute to the protection of Lord Melbourne !
We are off the road. Pull to the right.
Ten thousand blessings upon our republican institutions. The question is not, " At whose preserve shall we stand envious wishers ?” but, “ Boys, where shall we go ?” Shall Nova Cesarea, or Matowacs, ring with funeral vollies, over
* “However, upon the Norman conquest, a new doctrine took place, and the right of pursuing and taking all beasts of chase, or venary, and such other animals as were accounted game, was then held to belong to the king, or to such only as were authorized under him."--Blackstone.