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time as when a man must needs play, when the base and dull string needeth never to be moved out of his place. The same reason I find true in two bows that I have, whereof the one is quick of cast, trick, and trim both for pleasure and profit: the other is a lug slow of cast, following the string, more sure for to last than pleasant for to use. Now, Sir, it chanced this other night, one in my chamber would needs bend them to prove their strength, but (I cannot tell how) they were both left bent till the next day after dinner : and when I came to them, purposing to have gone on shooting, I found my good bow clean † cast on the one side, and as weak as water, that surely, if I were a rich man, I had rather have spent a crown; and as for my lug, it was not one whit the worse, but shot by and by as well and as far as ever it did. And even so, I am sure that good wits, except they be let down like a treble string, and unbent like a good casting bow, they will never last and be able to continue in study. And I know where I speak this, Philologus; for I would not say thus much before young men, for they will take some occasion to study little enough. But I say it therefore, because I know, as little study getteth little learning, or none at all, so the most study getteth not the most learning of all. For a man's wit sore occupied in earnest study must be as well recreated with some honest pastime, as the body sore laboured must be refreshed with sleep and quietness, or else it cannot endure very long, as the noble poet saith:
What thing wants quiet and merry rest, endures but a small while. And I promise you shooting, by my judgement, is the most honest pastime of all, and such one, I am sure, of all other, that hindereth learning little or nothing at all, whatsoever you and some others say, which are a great deal sorer against it always than you need to be.
Phi. Hindereth learning little or nothing at all! that were a marvel to me truly; and I am sure, seeing you say so, you have some reason wherewith you can defend shooting withal; and as for will, (for the love that you bear towards shooting,) I think there shall lack none in you.
* Trick or tricksy, is neat, nice, elegant.
+ Cast is warped. The word is still used by artificers.
If this line was so translated when this treatise was first written, in 1544, it is the oldest English hexameter that I remember.
Therefore, seeing we have so good leisure both, and nobody by to trouble us, and you so willing and able to defend it, and I so ready and glad to hear what may be said of it, I suppose we cannot pass the time better over, neither you for the honesty of your shooting, nor I for mine own mind sake, than to see what can be said with it or against it; and especially in these days when so many doth use it, and every man, in a manner, doth commune of it.
Tox. To speak of shooting, Philologus, truly I would I were so able, either as I myself am willing, or yet as the matter deserveth; but seeing with wishing we cannot have one now worthy, which so worthy a thing can worthily praise, and although I had rather have any other to do it than myself, yet myself rather than no other, I will not fail to say in it what I can. Wherein if I say little, lay that of my little ability, not of the matter itself, which deserveth no little thing to be said of it.
Phi. If it deserve no little thing to be said of it, Toxophilus, I marvel how it chanceth then that no man hitherto hath written any thing of it; wherein you must grant me, that either the matter is nought, unworthy, and barren to be written upon, or else some men are to blame which both love it and use it, and yet could never find in their heart to say one good word of it; seeing that very trifling matters hath not lacked great learned men to set them out, as † gnats and nuts, and many other more like things; wherefore either you may honestly lay very great fault upon men, because they never yet praised it, or else I may justly take away no little thing from shooting because it never yet deserved it.
Tox. Truly, herein, Philologus, you take not so much from it as you give to it. For great and commodious things are never greatly praised, not because they be not worthy, but because their excellency needeth no man's praise, having all their commendation of themselves, not borrowed of other men's lips, which rather praise themselves in speaking much of a little thing, than that matter which they entreat upon. Great and good things be not praised: "For who ever praised Hercules?" (saith the Greek proverb). And that no man hitherto hath written any book of shooting, the fault is not to be laid in the thing which was worthy to
*Honesty is honour.
The Gnat of Virgil, and the Nut of Ovid.
be written upon, but of men which were negligent in doing it, and this was the cause thereof, as I suppose. Men that used shooting most and knew it best, were not learned: men that were learned used little shooting, and were ignorant in the nature of the thing, and so few men have been that hitherto were able to write upon it. Yet how long shooting hath continued, what commonwealths have most used it, how honest a thing it is for all men, what kind of living soever they follow, what pleasure and profit cometh of it, both in peace and war, all manner of tongues and writers, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, have so plentifully spoken of it, as of few other things like. So what shooting is, how many kinds there is of it, what goodness is joined with it, is told; only how it is to be learned and brought to a perfectness amongst men, is not told.
Phi. Then, Toxophilus, if it be so as you do say, let us go forward and examine how plentifully this is done that you speak; and, first, of the invention of it; then what honesty and profit is in the use of it, both for war and peace, more than in other pastimes; last of all, how it ought to be learned amongst men, for the increase of it. Which thing if you do, not only I now, for your communication, but many other more, when they shall know of it, for your labour, and shooting itself also (if it could speak) for your kindness, will con you very much thanks.
Tox. What good things men speak of shooting, and what good things shooting brings to men, as my wit and knowledge will serve me, gladly shall I say my mind. But how the thing is to be learned, I will surely leave to some other, which, both for greater experience in it, and also for their learning, can set it out better than I.
Phi. Well, as for that, I know both what you can do in shooting by experience, and that you can also speak well enough of shooting for your learning: but go on with the first part. And I do not doubt but what my desire, what your love towards it, the honesty of shooting, the profit that may come thereby to many others, shall get the second part out of you at the last.
Tox. Of the first finders out of shooting, divers men diversly do write. Claudian the poet saith, that nature gave example of shooting first by the Porpentine, which shot
his pricks, and will hit any thing that fights with it; whereby men learned afterward to imitate the same, in finding out both bow and shafts. Pliny referreth it to Scythes the son of Jupiter. Better and more noble writers bring shooting from a more noble inventor; as Plato, Callimachus, and Galen, from Apollo. Yet long afore those days we do read in the Bible of shooting expressly; and also, if we shall believe Nicholas de Lyra, Lamech killed Cain with a shaft. So this great continuance of shooting doth not a little praise shooting; nor that neither doth not a little set it out, that it is referred to the invention of Apollo, for the which point shooting is highly praised of Galen: where he saith, that mean crafts be first found out by men or beasts, as weaving by a spider, and such other; but high and commendable sciences by Gods, as shooting and music by Apollo. And thus shooting, for the necessity of it, used in Adam's days, for the nobleness of it referred to Apollo, hath not been only commended in all tongues and writers, but also had in great price, both in the best commonwealths in war time for the defence of their country, and of all degrees of men in peace time both for the honesty that is joined with it, and the profit that followeth of it.
Phi. Well, as concerning the finding out of it, little praise is gotten to shooting thereby, seeing good wits may most easily of all find out a trifling matter. But whereas you say, that most commonwealths have used it in war time, and all degrees of men may very honestly use it in peace time, I think you can neither show by authority nor yet prove by reason.
Tox. The use of it in war time I will declare hereafter. And first, how all kinds and sorts of men (what degree soever they be) have at all times afore, and now may honestly use it, the example of most noblemen very well doth prove.
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's 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 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 judgement 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, methinks, 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 he 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 a 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