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the lack of teaching to shoot in England causeth very many men to play with the King's acts; as a man did once, either with the Mayor of London or York, I cannot tell whether, which did command by proclamation, every man in the city to hang a lantern, with a candle, before his door; which thing the man did, but he did not light it: and so many buy bows, because of the *act, but yet they shoot not; not of evil will, but because they know not how to shoot. But, to conclude of this matter, in shooting, as in all other things, aptness is the first and chief thing; which if it be away, neither cunning nor use doth any good at all; as ahe Scots and Frenchmen, with knowledge and use of shooting, shall become good archers, when a cunning shipwright shall make a strong ship of a sallow tree; or when a husbandman shall become rich, with sowing wheat on Newmarket heath. Cunning must be had, both to set out and amend nature, and also to oversee and correct use; which use, if it be not led and governed with cunning, shall sooner go amiss than straight. Use maketh perfectness in doing that thing, whereunto nature maketh a man apt, and knowledge maketh a man cunning before. So that it is not so doubtful, which of them three hath most stroke in shooting, as it is plain and evident, that all three must be had in excellent shooting.
Phi. For this communication, Toxophilus, I am very glad, and that for mine own sake, because I trust now to become a shooter. And indeed I thought before, Englishmen most apt for shooting, and I saw them daily use shooting; but yet I never found none, that would talk of any knowledge whereby a man might come to shooting. Therefore I trust that you, by the use you have had in shooting, have so thoroughly marked and noted the nature of it, that you can teach me, as it were by a trade or way, how to come to it.
Tox. I grant I have used shooting meetly well; that I might have marked it well enough, if I had been diligent. But my much shooting hath caused me study little, so that thereby I lack learning, which should set out the art or way in any thing.. And you know that I was never so well seen in the posteriorums of Aristotle, as to invent and search out general demonstrations, for the setting forth of any new science. Yet, by my troth, if
you will, I will go with you
* The statute.
of the prick.
into the fields at any time, and tell you as much as I can; or else you may stand some time at the pricks and look on them which shoot best, and so learn.
Phi. How little you have looked of Aristotle, and how much learning you have lost by shooting, I cannot tell; but this I would say, and if I loved you never so ill, that you have been occupied in somewhat else beside shooting. But, to our purpose ; as I will not require a trade in shooting to be taught me after the subtilty of Aristotle, even so do I not agree with you in this point, that you would have me learn to shoot with looking on them which shoot best, for so I know I should never come to shoot meetly; for in shooting, as in all other things which be gotten by teaching, there must be showed a way, and a path, which shall lead a man to the best and chiefest point which is in shooting; which you do mark yourself well enough, and uttered it also in your communication, when
you said there lay hid in the nature of shooting a certain way which, well perceived and thoroughly known, would bring a man, without any wandering, to the best end in shooting, which you called hitting
Therefore I would refer all my shooting to that end which is best, and so should I come the sooner to
That which is best hath no fault, nor cannot be amended.
So show me best shooting, not the best shooter; which, if he be never so good, yet hath he many a fault, easily of any man to be espied. And therefore marvel not if I require to follow that example which is without fault, rather than that which hath so many faults. And this way every wise man doth follow in teaching any manner of thing. As Aristotle, when he teacheth a man to be good, he sets not before him Socrates' life, which was the best man, but chief
goodness itself; according to which he would have a man direct his life.
Tox. This way which you require of me, Philologus, is too hard for me, and too high for a shooter to talk on; and taken, as I suppose, out of the midst of philosophy, to search out the perfect end of any thing; the which perfect end to find out, saith Tully, is the hardest thing in the world; the only occasion and cause why so many sects of philosophers hath been always in learning. And although, as Cicero saith, a man may imagine and dream in his mind of a perfect end in any
ng, yet there is no experience nor use of it, nor was never seen yet amongst men; as always to
heal the sick, evermore to lead a ship without danger, at all times to hit the * prick, shall no physician, no ship-masters, no shooter ever do; and Aristotle saith, that in all deeds there are two points to be marked, possibility and excellency, but chiefly a wise man must follow and lay hand on possibility, for fear he lose both. Therefore, seeing that which is most perfect and best in shooting, as always to hit the prick, was never seen nor heard tell on yet amongst men, but only imagined and thought upon in a man's mind, methinks this is the wisest counsel, and best for us to follow, rather that which a man may come to, than that which is unpossible to be attained to, lest justly that saying of the wise Ismene in Sophocles may be verified on us :
A fool is he that takes in hand he cannot ende Phi. Well, if the perfect end of other inatters had been as perfectly known as the perfect end of shooting is, there had never been so many sects of philosophers as there be; for in
shooting both man and boy is of one opinion, that always to | hit the prick is the most perfect end that can be imagined,
so that we shall not need greatly contend in this matter. But now, Sir, whereas you think that a man, in learning to shoot, or any thing else, should rather wisely follow possibility, than vainly seek for perfect excellency; surely I will prove that every wise man, that wisely would learn any thing, shall chiefly go about that whereunto he knoweth well he shall never come.
And you yourself, I suppose, shall confess the same to be the best way in teaching, if you will answer me to those things which I will ask of you.
Tox. And that I will gladly; both because I think it is impossible for
to prove it, and also because I desire to hear what you can say
in it. Phi. The study.of a good phycisian, Toxophilus, I trow be to know all diseases and all medicines fit for them.
+ Tox. It is so indeed.
Phi. Because, I suppose, he would gladly, at all times, heal all diseases of all men.
* The prick, at other times called the white, is the white spot or point in the midst of the mark.
+ Here is an example of the Socratic method of disputation, which, by repeated interrogations, confutes the opponent out of his own Tox. Yea, truly.
Phi. A good purpose surely; but was there ever physician yet among so many which hath laboured in this study, that at all times could heal all diseases ?
Tox. No, truly; nor, I think, never shall be. Phi. Then physicians, belike, study for that which none of them cometh unto. But in learning of fence, I pray you what is that which men most labour for?
Tox. That they may hit another, I trow, and never take blow their self.
Phi. You say truth, and I am sure every one of them would fain do so whensoever he playeth. But was there ever any of them so cunning yet, which, at one time or other, hath not been touched ?
Tox, The best of them all is glad sometimes to escape with a blow.
Phi. Then in fence also, men are taught to go about that thing, which the best of them all knoweth he shall never at. tain unto. Moreover you that be shooters, I pray you, what mean you, when you take so great heed to keep your stand. ing, to shoot compass, to look on your mark so diligently, to cast up grass divers times, and other things more you know better than I. What would you do then, I pray you ?
Tox. Hit the mark if we could.
Tox. By my troth I trow so; and, as for myself, I am sure I do.
Phi. But all men do not hit it all times.
Phi. Then belikely, to hit the prick always is un possible. For that is called unpossible which is in no man's power to do.
Tox. Unpossible indeed.
Phi. But to shoot wide and far of the mark is a thing possible.
Tox. No man will deny that.
Phi. Then I am sure those be wiser men which covet ta shoot wide, than those which covet to hit the prick.
Tox. Why so? I pray you.
Phi. Because to shoot wide is a thing possible, and there fore, as you say yourself, of every wise man to be followed And as for hitting the prick, because it is unpossible, it were a vain thing to go about it in good * sadness, Toxophilus thus you see that a man might go through all crafts and sciences, and prove that any man in his science coveteth that which he shall never get.
Tox. By my troth (as you say) I cannot deny but they do so;
but why and wherefore they should do so, I cannot learn.
Phi. I will tell you. Every craft and science standeth in two things : in knowing of his craft, and working of his craft; for perfect knowledge bringeth a man to perfect working : this know painters, carvers, tailors, shoemakers, and all other craftsmen, to be true. Now, in every craft there is a perfect excellency, which may be better known in a man's mind, than followed in a man's deed. This perfectness, because it is generally laid as a broad wide example before all men, no one particular man is able to compass it ; and, as it is general to all men, so it is perpetual for all time, which proveth it a thing for a man unpossible; although not for the capacity of our thinking, which is heavenly, yet surely for the ability of our working, which is worldly. God giveth not full perfectness to one inan (saith Tully) lest if one man had all in any one science, there should be nothing left for another. Yet God suffereth us to have the perfect knowledge of it, that such a knowledge, diligently followed, might bring forth, according as a man doth labour, perfect working. And who is he, that, in learning to write, would forsake an excellent example, and follow a worse? Therefore, seeing perfectness itself is an example for us, let every man study how he may come nigh it, which is a point of wisdom, not reason with God why he may not attain unto it, which is vain curiosity
Tox. Surely this is gaily said, Philologus ; but yet this one thing I am afraid of, least this perfectness which you speak on will discourage men to take any thing in hand, because, before they begin, they know they shall never come to an end.
* Sadness is seriousness, or earnest.