Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Roger Ascham, Toxophilus

Roger Ascham, Toxophilus; The School of Shooting, History of Archery Series, Reprint, No Date.

What time as, most Gracious Prince, your Highness, this last year past, took that your most honourable and victorious journey into France, accompanied with such a port of the Nobility and Yeomanry of England, as neither hath been known by experience, nor yet read of in history: accompanied also with the daily prayers, good hearts, and wills, of all and every one of your Grace’s subjects left behind you here at home in England; the same time, I being at my book in Cambridge, sorry that my little ability could stretch our no better to help forward so noble an enterprise, yet with my good will, prayer, and heart, nothing behind him that was foremost of all, conceived a wonderful desire, by the prayer, wishing, talking, and communication, that was in every man’s mouth, for your Grace’s most victorious return, to offer up something, at your home-coming, to your Highness, which should both be a token of my love and duty toward your Majesty, and also a sign of my good mind and zeal toward my country. (Dedication, 1-2)

In our fathers’ time nothing was read but books of feigned chivalry, wherein a man by reading should be led to none other end, but only to manslaughter and bawdry. If any man suppose they were good enough to pass the time withal, he is deceived. (To All Gentlemen and Yeoman of England, 7)

Yet in writing this book, some men will marvel perchance, while that I, being an unperfect shooter, should take in hand to write of making a perfect archer: the same man, peradventure, will marvel how a whetstone, which is blunt, can make the edge of a knife sharp. (9)

Philologus: …we physicians say, that it is neither good for the eyes in so clear a sun, nor yet wholesome for the body so soon after meat, to look upon a man’s book. (Toxophilus, The First Book of the School of Shooting, 11)

Philologus: …wholesome, honest, and mannerly pastimes… (13)

Philologus: …this I am sure, which thing this fair wheat [metaphor; not apropos of farming] (God save it) maketh me remember, that those husbandmen which rise earliest and come latest home, and are content to have their dinner and other drinkings brought into the field to them for fear of losing of time, have fatter barns in harvest, than they which will either sleep at noon-time of the day, or else make merry with their neighbours at the ale. (13)

Toxophilus: …to omit study some time of the day and some time of the year, made as much for the increase of learning as to let the land lie some time fallow, maketh for the better increase of corn. This we see, if the land be ploughed every year, is small, and, when it is brought into the barn and threshed, giveth very evil fall [fall= produce] (14)

Toxophilus: For a man’s wit sore occupied in earnest study must be as well recreated with some honesty pastime, as the body sore labored must be refreshed with sleep and quietness, (15)

Philologus: …I marvel how it chanceth then that… (16)

Philologus: 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. (20)

Toxophilus: … 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 an horse well, to shoot well, to speak truth always and never lie. (21)

Toxophilus: …and the labour which is in shooting of all other is best, both because it increaseth strength and preserveth health most, being not vehement but moderate, not overlaying any one part with weariness, but softly exercising every part with equalness, as the arms and breasts with drawing, the other parts with going, being not so painful for the labour as pleasant for the pastime, which exercise, by the judgment of the best physicians, is most allowable. (22) [italics mine]

Toxophilus: Moreover, that shooting of all other is the most honest pastime, and hath least occasion to naughtiness joined with it, two things very plainly do prove, which be, as a man would say, the tutors and oversees to shooting: day-light, and open place where every man doth come, the maintainers and keepers of shooting from all unhonest doing. (23)

Toxophilus: …Plato and Aristotle both, in their books entreating of the commonwealth, where they show how youth should be brought up in four things, in reading, in writing, in exercise of body, and singing, do make mention of music and all kinds of it; wherein they both agree, that music used among the Lydians is very ill for young men which be students for virtue and learning, for a certain nice, soft, and smooth sweetness of it, which would rather entice them to naughtiness than stir them to honesty. /
Another kind of music, invented by the Dorians, they both wonderfully praise, allowing it to be very fit for the study of virtue and learning, because of a manly, rough, and stout sound in it, which should encourage young stomachs to attempt manly matters. … this I am sure, that lutes, harps, all manner of pipes, barbitons, sambukes, with other instruments every one, which standeth by fine and quick fingering, be condemned of Aristotle, as not to be brought in and used among them which study for learning and virtue. /
Pallas, when she had invented the pipe, cast it away; not so much, saith Aristotle, because it deformed her face, but much rather because such an instrument belongeth nothing to learning. … methink, by reason it doth as honey doth to a man’s stomach, which at the first receiveth it well, but afterward it maketh it unfit to abide any good strong nourishing meat, or else any wholesome sharp and quick drink. And even so in a manner these instruments make a man’s wit so soft… (27)

Toxophilus: Therefore either Aristotle and Plato know not what was good and evil for learning and virtue, and the example of wise histories be vainly set afore us, or else the minstrelsy of lutes, pipes, harps, and all other that standeth by such nice, fine, minikin fingering, (such as the most part of scholars whom I know use, if they use any,) is far more fit, for the womanishness of it, to dwell in the Court among ladies, than for any great thing in it, which should help good and sad study, to abide in the University among scholars. (28)

Philologus: …praising God, by singing in the church, needeth not my praise, seeing it is so praise through all the scripture; therefore now I will speak nothing of it, rather than I should speak too little of it. (29)

Toxophilus: In study every part of the body is idle, which things causeth gross and cold humours to gather together… (33)

Toxophilus: This knew Erasmus very well, when he was here in Cambridge; which, when he had been sore at his book (as Garret our bookbinder has very often told me), for lack of better exercise would take his horse and ride about the market-hill and come again. … Running, leaping, and quoiting to be too vile for scholars, and so not fit by Aristotle’s judgment: walking alone into the field hath no token of courage in it, a pastime like a simple man which is neither flesh nor fish. (34)

Philologus: To grant, Toxophile, that students may at times convenient use shooting as most wholesome and honest pastimes, yet to do as some do, to shoot hourly, daily, weekly, and in a manner the whole year, neither I can praise, nor any wise man will allow, nor you yourself can honest defend. /
Toxophilus: Surely, Philologe, I am very glad to see you come to that point that most lieth in your stomach, and grieveth you and others so much. (35)

Toxophilus: So let youth, instead of such unlawful games, which stand by idleness, by solitariness, and corners, by night and darkness, by fortune and chance, by craft and subtilty, use such pastimes as stand by labours, upon the daylight, in open sight of men, … (48-49)

Philologus: The more honesty you have proved by shooting, Toxophile, and the more you have persuaded me to love it, so much truly the sorer have you made me with this last sentence of yours, (49)

Toxophilus: And although there is nothing worse than war, … yet it is a civil medicine, wherewith a Prince may, from the body of his commonwealth, put off the danger which may fall, or else recover again whatsoever it hath lost. (52)

Toxophilus: After them the Turks… have subdued and bereft from the Christian men all Asia and Africa… a manifest token of God’s high wrath and displeasure over the sin of the world, but specially amongst Christian men, which be on sleep, made drunk with the fruits of the flesh, as infidelity, disobedience to God’s word, and heresy, grudge, ill-will, strife, open battle, and privy envy, covetousness, oppression, unmercifulness, with innumerable sorts of unspeakable daily bawdry; which things surely, if God hold not his holy hand over us, and pluck us from them, will bring us to a more Turkishness, and more beastly blind barbarousness… (71)

Toxophilus: But Christendom now, I may tell you, Philologe, is much like a man that hath an itch on him, and lieth drunk also in his bed, and though a thief come to the door, and heaveth at it, to come in and slay him, yet he lieth in his bed, having more pleasure to lie in a slumber and scratch himself where it itcheth, even to the hard bone, than he hath readiness to rise up lustily, and drive him away that would rob him and slay him. But, I trust, Christ will so lighten and lift up Christian men’s eyes, that they shall not sleep to death, nor that they Turk, Christ’s open enemy, shall ever boast that he hath quite overthrown us. (72)

Toxophilus: But, as for the Turks, I am weary to talk of them, partly because I hate them, and partly because I am now affectioned even as it were a man that had been long wandering in strange countries, and would fain be at home to see how well his own friends prosper and lead their life. [possibility of jealousy upon return: use as rhetorical axis] (73)


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