Page images
PDF
EPUB

She did unroote
* * *
* * * *
Like polish'd ivory doth her fore-head shine;
Her soft silke tresses in meanders twine;
* * et

*
As sparkling diamonds shine her splendent eyes,
Or as bright stars, which twinkle in the skies;

Her nose well featur'd, of the handsom’st mould,
Not long, or peaked, signs that grace a scold:
Her cheekes resemble two fresh flowry banks
Where bright carnations grow in disperst rankes; ,
And in those cheekes the red and white discloses
Such pleasing glimpse, as lawne o'erspreading roses :
Her lips like rubies, which by art are joyn’d,
Doe sweetely close and friendly are combin'd;
And for their colour, they by farre exceede
The rosiate blood, which purple grapes doe bleed;
Who when they move, they presently doe shew
Of orient pearles, a well-ranged row:
Her organ-voyce it well may paralell
The sweete-tun'd notes of pretty Philomel; .

Her breath so fragrant, that it doth surscent
Th’ Arabian spices, those from India sent:
A lovely dimple setteth forth her chin,
And wanton Cupid plais bo-peepe therein.”

After besieging this paragon for a long time with speeches and letters of an unmerciful length, which she relished as little as our readers would do were we to extract them, just as he began to entertain hopes of success, he is overwhelmed by the intelligence of her marriage with his friend Yerso, the confident of his love. Enraged at this deception, he challenges his successful rival to single combat before the king-his invitation is. accepted—the combat commences with due formality.

"our lances being burst,
Which flew to shivers, lying scatter'd round
Upon the verdant grasse and trampled ground.
Our staves thus broke, we quickly did betake
Us to our keen-edg’d swords, that they might make
Good what our speares had fail'd of their pretence:
Then fiercely driving, we did both commence

A fray so bloody, that the crimson gore
Did trickle downe upon the grasse all o'er,
Thund'ring our blowes with fury violent,,
That through our armour they a passage rent,
To make a way unto our vital parts,
That unawares they might surprize our hearts.
We slic'd our shields, we clave our helmets bright,
And were so eager on our bloody fight,
That the spectators weary were to see
The combate last so long; as also we
Grew faint with striking and through losse of blood,
Which flowed from us like a purple flood.
But to be briefe, I gain'd the victory,
And Yerso vanquisht at my feet did lye."

The faithless Yerso expires on the spot, and the' widowed Lucenda retires to a convent, in spite of the renewed courtship of the victor, who, inconsolable for her loss, forsakes his native city, and secludes himself in the desert place where he was found by the traveller. We shall conclude our notice of this very unequal production, with two descriptive extracts.

“a morning which with ruddy lookes
Did drive dim mists from off the silver brookes,
As if Aurora, clad in purple gay,
Had chas'd blacke night, and brought on cheerefull day,
Or that bright Titan in the easterne streames
Began to bathe his fiery-flaming beames.”

“The daie's great king, bright-ey'd Hyperion,
In golden triumph brightly shining runne
His wonted progress o'er and o'er againe
Himself to bathe in the coole westerne maine.

Art. V. Toxophilus, the Schole or Partitions of Shootinge,

contayned in II Bookes. Written by Roger Ascham, 1574, and now newlye perused. Pleasaunt for all Gentlemen and Yomen of Englande. For theyr pastime to reade, and profitable for theyr use to folowe both in warre and peace. Anno 1571. Imprinted at London in Fletestreate, neare to Saint Dunstone's Churche, by Thomas Marshe.

Ascham is a great name in our national literature. He. was one of the first founders of a true English style in prose composition, and one of the most respectable and useful of our

scholars. He was amongst the first to reject the use of foreign words and idioms, a fashion, which in the reign of Henry the Eighth began to be so prevalent, that the authors of that day, by 6 usinge straunge wordes, as Latine, Frenche, and Italian, did make all thinges darke, and harde.” It required some virtue moreover in Ascham, attached as he was to the study of the learned languages, to abstain from mingling them with his English compositions, especially when the public taste countenanced such innovations. But Ascham's mind was too patriotic to permit him to think, that his native tongue. could be improved by this admixture of foreign phrases, an opinion which he illustrates by this comparison;—" but if you put malvesye and sacke, redde wyne and white, ale and beere, and al

in one pot, you shall make a drincke not easye to be knowen, · nor yet holsome for the bodye.” In obedience to the precept

of Aristotle, -to think like the wise, but to speak like the common people; Ascham set a successful example of a simple and pure taste in writing, and we question whether we do not owe more to him on this account, than even for the zeal which he displayed in the cultivation of the Greek language, during its infancy amongst us. . We admire the character of Roger Ascham on three accounts; first, he was a scholar by profession; secondly, he was a chess-player; and thirdly, he was an archer ;-let us use his own word, a shooter. As a scholar, he was acute, learned, and laborious ; attached to literature from his earliest years, and pursuing it with honour to himself and benefit to others, to the termination of his life. At an early age, he entered the university; and in his twenty-first year, when the alumni of our day are only about to enter on their academical education, he was diligently employed in expounding the Greek authors to his fellow students. His talents ensured him that moderate reward which is sufficient to satisfy the honest wishes of a man of letters; he became a fellow of a college; he received a remuneration for delivering a course of lectures on the study of Greek, there being, at that time, no professorship of that language; and to complete the measure of his prosperity, he was presented by his majesty with an ample salary of ten pounds a year. On the cliange of the national religion, his known attachment to Protestantism procured him favour at court; while his high character for learning and integrity, insured him protection during the reign of Mary. The honourable situation which he filled, as tutor to Elizabeth, speaks highly of his talents. The tutor and his royal pupil used occasionally to relax from the severity of their studies, and enjoy the luxury of a game at chess, “ that admirable effort of the human mind,” as Warton calls it; and when a less sedentary amusement was required, the scholar issued forth with his bow in his hand, and his shafts at his back, to breathe the open air, and study the noble art of archery. . It is but too common a practice to cast an ancient servant away with neglect and indifference, when he has been superseded by a more seemly or a more useful successor. The bow has shared this fate in England. In the days of our early glory, much of the success of our arms was owing to the strength of arm, and accuracy of eye, with which the bold yeomen of England “ drew their arrows to the head," and discharged the “iron sleet” against their discomfited enemies. Our history teems with the exploits of the English archers. In Ascham's time, however, their merit was not old enough to be forgotten, and accordingly he does not insist as strongly as might be supposed, on the numerous victories which the shafts of our archers gained. The battles of Cressy, of Poictiers, of Agincourt, and of Flodden, are all the instances which he has selected, of the might of our English bowmen; instances, which, though not very numerous, are certainly conclusive enough.* At the present day, when the bow has not only ceased to be an instrument of war, but even an amusement in time of peace, and when it only survives amongst us in the legends of our ancestors' valor, and in the family names which have descended from the makers of this “ artillerye,” the Bowyers and Fletchers, it cannot but be interesting to listen to a passionate admirer of this ancient and forgotten art.

Toxophilus, first published in the year 1544, was written during its author's residence at the university, and seems to have been intended as an apology for the zeal, with which he studied and practised the art of shooting. It is said, that Ascham’s great attachment to this exercise, and the time he spent upon it, were considered by some as unfitting the character of a grave scholar; and, indeed, in the character of Toxophill, the author confesses that such a charge had been brought against him. From this imputation, therefore, it was his object to free himself, by shewing the honour and dignity of the art, in all nations and at all times, and its acknowledged utility not

.* All the assizes of arms, which regulated the armour and weapons of all persons liable to bear arms in the nation, from the 27 Henry II. to 21 James I. invariably mention bows and arrows, which seem to have been the weapons of those, whose rank and fortune did not enable them to purchase defensive arms. After specifying the different arms to be borne by each, according to the extent of his fortune, there is a general clause directing the use of bows and arrows by the rest; “ omnes item alii qui possunt habere, arcus et sagittas habeant."

only in matters of war, but as an innocent and engaging pastime at more peaceable periods. But his work would have been imperfect if he had not entered into the practical part of the art, and given directions both for choosing and using the bow. Accordingly, his Schole of Shootinge is a complete manual of archery, containing not only a learned history of the art, and the highest encomiums on its excellence and utility; but likewise the most minute practical details, even down to the species of goose, from the wing of which the best feathers are to be plucked for the shaft; and whether a white, a black, or a grey feather is to be preferred. Perhaps, however, the most interesting part of the volume is that in which he enlarges, with evident delight, on the advantages of shooting, and on the great fitness and utility of such an amusement, for those who are compelled to live a sedentary life. He was certainly well qualified for this part of his task, from his double love of study and archery.

A scholar seldom takes much delight in active amusements. The body is always postponed to the mind; and provided the latter has exercise enough, he is too apt to be negligent of the health and comfort of the former. On this account, the amusements of literary men have frequently a degree of mental labour combined with them, which generally defeats the ends they ought to attain; or, as Fuller says, “ they cozen their mind, in setting it to do a double task under pretence of giving it a play day, as in the labyrinth of chess, and other tedious and studious games.” It is difficult to cheat the brain into idleness. Kirke White could not help repeating Greek verses as he took his daily walk. Mere exercise is rather painful than pleasant to studious men, and accordingly we find that they often hasten over it like a disagreeable task. Swift used to run up and down a hill some half dozen times, by way of compressing as much exercise as possible into a given space of time a mode of recreation for which we have the authority of Galen, whose catalogue of amusements, for the studious, we shall give in our author's words, strongly recommending them to the attention of our modern literati.

To runne up and downe an hill, to clyme up a longe powle or a rope, and there hange a while, to hold a man by his armes, and wave with his heeles, muche like the pastime that boyes use in the churche when theyr master is awaye, to swinge and totter in a belrope, to make a fiste, and stretch out both his armes, and so stand like a roode. To go on a man's tiptoes, stretching out the one of his armes forward, the other backeward, which if he blered out his tongue also, might be thought to dance antic very properlye. To tumble over and over, to toppe over tayle, to set backe to backe, and see who can heave an other's heeles highest, wyth other much like.”

« PreviousContinue »