Page images

or of the bole of the tree. The bough commonly is very knotty, and full of pins, weak, of small pith, and soon will follow the string, and seldom weareth to any fair colour; yet for children and young beginners it may serve well enough, The plant proveth many times well, if it be of a good and clean growth; and, for the pith of it, is quick enough of cast, it will ply and bow far before it break, as all other young things do. The bole of the tree is cleanest without knot or pin, having a fast and hard wood, by reason of his full growth, strong and mighty of cast, and best for a bow, if the staves be even cloven, and be afterwards wrought, not overthwart the wood, but as the grain and straight growing of the wood leadeth a man; or else, by all reason, it must soon break, and that in many shivers. This must be considered in the rough wood, and when the bow staves be over wrought and fashioned. For in dressing and piking it up for a bow, it is too late to look for it. But

yet in these points, as I said before, you must trust an honest bowyer, to put a good bow in your hand, somewhat looking yourself to those tokens I showed you. And you must not stick for a groat or twelvepence more than another man would give, if it be a good bow. For a good bow twice paid for, is better than an ill bow once broken.

Thus a shooter must begin, not at the making of his bow, like a bowyer, but at the buying of his bow, like an archer. And, when his bow is bought and brought home, afore he trust much

it, let him try

and trim

it after this sort. Take your bow into the field, shoot in him, sink him with dead heavy shafts, look where he cometh most, provide for that place betimes, lest it pinch, and so fret: when you have thus shot in him, and perceived good shooting wood in him, you must have him again to a good, cunning, and trusty workman, which shall cut him shorter, and pike him and dress him fitter, make him come round compass every where, and whipping at the ends, but with discretion, lest he whip in sunder, or else fret, sooner than he is ware of: he must also lay him straight, if he be cast, or otherwise need require; and if he be flat made, gather him round, and so shall he both shoot the faster for far shooting, and also be surer for near pricking.

Phi. What if I come into a shop, and spy out a bow, which shall both then please me very well when I buy him, and be also very fit and meet for me when I shoot in him; so that he be both weak enough for easy shooting, also quick

you cun

and speedy enough for far casting; then, I would think, I shall need no more business with him, but be content with him, and use him well enough, and so, by that means, avoid both great trouble, and also some cost, which ning archers very often put yourselves unto, being very Englishmen, never ceasing piddling about their how and shafts, when they be well, but either with shorting and piking your bows, or else with new feathering, piecing and heading your shafts, can never have done until they be stark naught.

Tox. Well, Philologus, surely if I have any judgement at all in shooting, it is no very great good token in a bow, whereof nothing when it is new and fresh need be cut away; even as Cicero saith of a young man's wit and style, which you

know better than I. For every new thing must always have more than it needeth, or else it will not wax better and better, but ever decay, and be worse and worse. New ale, if it run not over the barrel when it is new tunned, will soon lose his * pith and his head afore he be long drawn on. And likewise as that colt, which, at the first taking up, needeth little breaking and handling, but is fit and gentle enough for the saddle, seldom or never proveth well: even so that bow, which at the first buying, without any more proof and trimming, is fit and easy to shoot in, shall neither be profitable to last long, nor yet pleasant to shoot well. And therefore as a young horse full of courage, with handling and breaking is brought unto a sure pace and going, so shall a new bow, fresh and quick of cast, by sinking and cutting be brought to a stedfast shooting; And an easy and gentle bow, when it is new, is not much unlike a soft-spirited boy, when he is young. But yet, as of an unruly boy with right handling, proveth oftenest of all a well-ordered man; so of an unfit and staffish bow, with good trimıning, must needs follow always a stedfast shooting bow. And such a perfect bow, which never will deceive a man, except a man deceive it, must be had for that perfect end which you look for in shooting,

Phi. Well, Toxophilus, I see well you be cunninger in this gear than I ; but put the case that I have three or four such good bows, piked and dressed as you now speak of, yet I do remember that many learned men do say, that it is easier to get a good thing, than to save and keep

* Pith is strength, sprightliness, vigour, power of action

ing a bow.

good thing; wherefore, if thou can teach me as concerna ing that point, you have satisfied me plentifully as concern

Tox. Truly it was the next thing that I would have come unto, for so the matter lay. When you have brought your bow to such a point as I speak of, then you must have a harden or woollen cloth waxed, wherewith every day you must rub and chafe your bow, till it shine and glitter withal : which thing shall cause it both to be clean, well favoured, goodly of colour, and shall also bring, as it were, a crust over it, that is to say, shall make it every where on the outside so slippery and hard, that neither any wet or weather can enter to hurt it, nor yet any fret, or pinch, be able to bite upon it; but that

you shall do it great wrong before you break it. This must be done oftentimes, but especially when you come from shooting.

Beware also when you shoot off your shaft heads, dagger, knives, or agglets, lest they rase your bow; a thing, as I said before, both unseemly to look on, and also dangerous for frets. Take heed also of misty and dankish days, which shall hurt a bow more than any rain. For then you must either always rub it, or else leave shooting.

Your bow case (this I did not promise to speak of, because it is without the nature of shooting, or else I should trouble me with other things infinite more: yet seeing it is a safeguard for the bow, something I will say of it) your bow case, I say, if you ride forth, must neither be too wide for your bows, for so shall one clap upon another, and hurt them, nor yet so strait that scarce they can be thrust in, for that would lay them on side, and wind them. A bow case of leather is not the best; for that is oft-times moist, which hurteth the bows very much.

Therefore I have seen good shooters which would have for every bow a sere case, made of woollen cloth, and then you may put three or four of them, so cased, into a leather case if you will. This woollen case shall both keep them in sunder, and also will keep a bow in his full strength, that it never give for any weather.

At home these * wood cases be very good for bows to

* There is no mention of wooden cases before, therefore it should perhaps be wool cases, unless something be left out by the printer.

stand in. But take heed that your bow stand not too near a stone wall, for that will make him moist and weak, nor yet too near any fire, for that will make him short and brittle, And thus much as concerning the saving and keeping of your bow; now you shall hear what things you must avoid, for fear of breaking your

bow. A shooter chanceth to break his bow commonly four ways; by the string, by the shaft, by drawing too far, and by frets. By the string, as I said before, when the string is either too short, too long, not surely put on, with one wap, or just crooked on, or shorn in sunder with an evil nock, or suffered to tarry over-long on. When the string fails the bow must needs break, and especially in the middle; because both the ends have nothing to stop them; but whips so far back, that the belly must needs violently rise up, the which you shall well perceive in bending of a bow backward. Therefore a bow that followeth the string is least hurt with breaking of strings.

By the shaft a bow is broken, either when it is too short, and so you set it in your bow, or when the nock breaks for littleness, or when the string slips without the nock for wideness, then you pull it to your ear and let it go, which must needs break the shaft at the least, and put string and bow and all in jeopardy, because the strength of the bow hạth nothing in it to stop the violence of it. This kind of break ing is most perilous for the standers-by, for in such a case you shall see some time the end of a bow fly a whole score from a man, and that most commonly, as I have marked oft, the upper end of the bow.

The bow is drawn too far two ways. Either when you take a longer shaft than your own, or else when you shift your hand too low or too high for shooting far. This way pulleth the back in sunder, and then the bow flieth in

many pieces.

So when you see a bow broken, having the belly risen up both ways or to one, the string broke it. When it is broken in two pieces, in a manner even off, and especially in the upper end, the shaft nock broke it. When the back is pulled asunder in many pieces, too far drawing broke it. These tokens either always be true, or else very seldom miss.

The fourth thing that breaketh a bow is frets, which make a bow ready and apt to break by any of the three ways


[ocr errors]

said. Frets be in a shaft as well as in a bow, and they be much like a canker, creeping and increasing in those places in a bow, which be weaker than other. And for this purpose must your bow be well trimmed and piked of a cunning man, that it may come round in compass erery where. For frets you must beware if your bow have a knot in the back, lest the places which be next it be not allowed strong enough to bear with the knot, or else the strong knot shall fret the weak places next it. Frets be first little pinches, the which when you perceive, pike the places about the pinches, to make them somewhat weaker, and as well coming as where it pinched, and so the pinches shall die, and never increase further into frets.

Frets begin many times in a pin, for there the good wood is corrupted, that it must needs' be weak; and because it is weak, therefore it frets. Good bowyers therefore do raise every pin, and allow it more wood for fear of fretting.

Again, bows most commonly fret under the hand, not so much as some men suppose for the moistness of the hand, as for the heat of the hand. The nature of the heat, saith Aristotle, is to loose, and not to knit fast, and the more looser the more weaker, the more weaker the readier to fret.

A bow is not well made which hath not wood plenty in the hand. For if the ends of the bow be stiffish, or a man's hand any thing hot, the belly must needs soon fret. Remedy for frets to any purpose I never heard tell of any, but only to make the fretted place as strong, or stronger, than any other. To fill up the fret with little shivers of a quill and glue, as some say will do well, by reason must be stark nought. For, put the case the fret did cease then; yet the cause which made it fret afore, (and that is weakness of the place,) because it is not taken away, must needs make it fret again. As for cutting out of frets, with all manner of piecing of bows, I will clean exclude from perfect shooting. For pieced bows be much like old houses, which be more chargeable to repair than commodious to dwell in. And again, to swaddle a bow much about with bands, very seldom doth any good, except it be to keep down a spell in the back, otherwise bands either need not, when the bow is any thing worth, or else boot not, when it is marred and past best. And although I know mean and poor shooters will use pieced and banded bows sometimes, because they are not able to get better when they would ; yet, I am sure, if they would

« PreviousContinue »