Page images

much such games stand with their worship, how great soever they be. What great men do, be it good or ill, mean men commonly love to follow, as many learned men in many places do say, and daily experience doth plainly show, in costly apparel and other like matters.

Therefore, seeing that lords be lanterns to lead the life of mean men, by their example, either to goodness or badness, to whither soever they list; and seeing also they have liberty to list what they will, I pray God they have will to list that which is good ; and as for their playing, I will make an end with this saying of Chaucer :

Lords may find them other manner of play,
Honest enough to drive the day away.

But to be short, the best medicine for all sorts of men, both high and low, young and old, to put away such unlawful games, is by the contrary, likewise as all physicians do allow in physic. So let youth, instead of such unlawful games, which stand by idleness, by solitariness, and corpers, by night and darkness, by fortune and chance, by craft

' and subtilty, use such pastimes as stand by labour, upon the daylight, in open sight of men, having such an end as is come to by cunning, rather than by craft; and so should virtue increase and vice decay. For contrary pastimes must needs work contrary minds in men, as all other contrary things do.

And thus we see, Philologus, that shooting is not only the most wholesome exercise for the body, the most honest pastime for the mind, and that for all sorts of men; but also it is a most ready medicine to purge the whole realm of such pestilent gaming, wherewith many times it is sore troubled and ill at ease.

Phi. The more honesty you have proved by shooting, Toxophilus, and the more you have persuaded me to love it, so much truly the sorrier have you made me with this last sentence of yours, whereby you plainly prove that a man may not greatly use it. For if shooting be a medicine (as you say that it is), it may not be used very oft, lest a man should hurt himself withal, as medicines much occupied do. For Aristotle himself saith, that medicines be not meat to live withal; and thus shooting, by the same reason, may not be much occupied.

Tox. You play your old wonts, Philologus, in dallying

and take away

with other men's wits, not so much to prove your own matter, as to prove what other men can say. But where you think that I take away much use of shooting, in likening it to a medicine; because men use not medicines every day, for so should their bodies be hurt; I rather prove daily use of shooting thereby. For although Aristotle saith that some medicines be no meat to live withal, which is true ; yet Hippocrates saith our daily meats be medicines, to withstand evil withal, which is as true; for he maketh two kinds of medicines, one our meat that we use daily, which purgeth softly and slowly; and in this similitude may shooting be called a medicine, wherewith daily a man may purge all unlawful desires to other unlawful pastimes, as I proved before. The other is a quick purging medicine, and seldomer to be occupied, except the matter be greater; and I could describe the nature of a quick medicine, which should within a while purge and pluck out all the unthrifty games in the realm, through which the commonwealth oftentimes is sick. For not only good quick wits to learning be thereby brought out of frame, and quite marred, but also manly wits, either to attempt matters of high courage in war time, or else to achieve matters of weight and wisdom in peace time, be made thereby very queasy and faint. For look through all histories written in Greek, Latin, or other language, and you shall never find that realm prosper in the which such idle pastimes are used. As concerning the medicine, although some would be miscontent if they heard me meddle any thing with it; yet, betwixt you and me here alone, I may the boldlier say my fantasy, and the rather because I will only wish for it, which standeth with honesty, not determine of it, which belongeth to authority. The medicine is this, that would to God and the Prince all these unthrifty idle pastimes, which be very bugs that the Psalm meaneth on, walking

on the night and in corners, were made felony, and some of that punishment ordained for them which is appointed for the forgers and falsifiers of the King's coin. Which punishment is not by me now invented, but long ago, by the most noble orator Demosthenes, which marvelleth greatly that death is appointed for falsifiers and forgers of the coin, and not as great punishment ordained for them which by their means forges and falsifies the commonwealth. And I suppose that there is no one thing that changeth sooner

the golden silver wits of men into coppery and brassy ways than dicing and such unlawful pastimes.

And this quick medicine, I believe, would so thoroughly purge them, that the daily medicines, as shooting and other pastimes, joined with honest labour, should easilier withstand them.

Phi. The excellent commodities of shooting in peace time, Toxophilus, you have very well and sufficiently declared. Whereby you have so persuaded me, that, God willing, hereafter I'will both love it the better, and also use it the ofter. For as much as I can gather of all this communication of ours, the tongue, the nose, the hands, and the feet, be no fitter members or instruments for the body of a man, than is shooting for the whole body of the realm. God hath made the parts of men which be best and most necessary, to serve, not for one purpose only, but for many; as the tongue for speaking and tasting; the nose for smelling, and also for avoiding all excrements which fall out of the head; the hands for receiving of good things, and for putting of all harmful things from the body. So shooting is an exercise of health, a pastime of honest pleasure, and such one also that stoppeth and avoideth all noisome games, gathered and increased by ill rule, as naughty humours be, which hurt and corrupt sore that part of the realm wherein they do remain. But now if you can show but half so much profit in war of shooting, as you have proved pleasure in peace, then will I surely judge that there be few things that have so manifold commodities and uses joined unto them as it hath. Tox. The

upper hand in war, next the goodness of God (of whom all victory cometh, as Scripture saith), standeth chiefly in three things; in the wisdom of the Prince, in the sleights and policies of the captains, and in the strength and cheerful forwardness of the soldiers. A Prince in his heart must be full of mercy and peace, a virtue most pleasant to Christ, most agreeable to man's nature, most profitable for rich and poor; for then the rich man enjoyeth with great pleasure the which he hath: the poor may obtain with his labour that which he lacketh. And although there is nothing worse than * war, whereof it taketh his name, through

* War is an old word, still used in some counties for worse; and Ascham supposes that war or hostility is so named, because it is war or worse than peace.


the which great men be in danger, mean men without suc

rich men in fear, because they have somewhat; poor men in care, because they have nothing; and every man in doubt and misery : yet it is a civil medicine, wherewith a Prince may, from the body of his commonwealth, put off that danger which may fall, or else recover again whatsoever it hath lost. And therefore, as Isocrates doth say, a Prince must be a warrior in two things, in cunning and knowledge of all sleights and feats of war, and in having all necessary habiliments belonging to the same. Which matter to entreat at large, were over long at this time to declare, and over much for my learning to perform.

After the wisdom of the Prince, are valiant captains most necessary in war, whose office and duty is to know all sleights and policies for all kinds of war, which they may learn two ways, either in daily following and haunting the wars, or else, because wisdom bought with stripes is many times over costly, they may bestow some time in Vegetius, which entreateth such matters in Latin meetly well; or rather in Polyænus, and Leo the Emperor, which setteth out all policies and duties of captains in the Greek tongue very excellently. But chiefly I would wish, and (if I were of authority) I would counsel, all the young gentlemen of this realm, never to lay out of their hands two authors, Xengphon in Greek, and Cæsar in Latin, wherein they should follow noble Scipio Africanus, as Tully doth say; in which - two authors, besides eloquence, a thing most necessary of all other for a captain, they should learn

the whole course of war, which those two noble men did not more wisely write for other men to learn, than they did manfully exercise in the field for other men to follow.

The strength of war lieth in the soldier, whose chief praise and virtue is obedience towards his captain, saith Plato. And Xenophon, being a Gentile author, most Christianly doth say, even by these words, that that soldier which first serveth "God, and then obeyeth his captain, may boldly, with all courage, hope to overthrow his enemy. Again, without obedience, neither valiant man, stout horse, nor goodly harness, doth any good at all; which obedience of the soldier toward the captain, brought the whole empire of the world into the Romans' hands, and, when it was brought, kept it longer than ever it was kept in any commonwealth before or after. And this to be true, Scipio Africanus, the most

noble captain that ever was among the Romans, showed very plainly, what time as he went into Africa to destroy Carthage. For he resting his host by the way in Sicily a day or two, and at a time standing with a great man of Sicily, and looking on his soldiers how they exercised themselves in keeping of array, and other feats, the gentleman of Sicily asked Scipio wherein lay his chief hope to overcome Carthage ? He answered, In yonder fellows of mine whom you see play. And why? saith the other. Because, saith Scipio, that, if I commanded them to run into the top of this high castle, and cast themselves down backward upon these rocks, I am sure they would do it. Sallust also doth write, that there were more Romans put to death of their captains for setting on their enemies before they had licence, than were for running away out of the field before they had fought. These two examples do prove, that amongst the Romans, the obedience of the soldiers was wonderful great, and the severity of the captains, to see the same kept, wonderful strait. For they well perceived that an host full of obedience, falleth as seldom into the hands of their enemies, as that body falleth into jeopardy, the which is ruled by

Reason and rulers being like in office (for the one ruleth the body of man, the other ruleth the body of the commonwealth), ought to be like of conditions, and ought to be obeyed in all manner of matters. Obedience is nourished by fear and love; fear is kept in by true justice and equity; love is gotten by wisdom, joined by liberality. For where a soldier seeth righteousness so rule, that a man can do neither wrong, nor yet take wrong, and that his captain for his wisdom can maintain him, and for his liberality will maintain him, he must needs both love him and fear him, of the which proceedeth true and unfeigned obedience. After this inward virtue, the next good point in a soldier is to have and to handle his weapon well ; whereof the one must be at the appointment of the captain, the other lieth in the courage and exercise of the soldier. Yet of all weapons, the best is, as Euripides doth say, that, where with least danger of ourself we may hurt our enemy most. And that is (as I suppose) artillery. Artillery, now-a-days, is taken for two things, guns and bows; which, how much they do in war, both daily experience doth teach, and also Peter Nannius, a learned man of Lovain, in a certain dialogue doth very well set out; wherein this is most notable,


« PreviousContinue »