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of an old goose, and a young goose, a gander, or a goose, a fenny goose and an uplandish goose. But, indeed, with regard to the feather, and the selection, cutting, and fastening of them, there are so many nice points to be observed, that we must beg the reader will consult Toxophilus himself on the subject. We will, however, indulge him with the following finely drawn character of this despised bird, for which Ascham seems to have entertained a sincere affection, especially in a culinary point of view.
“ Yet well fare the gentle goose, which bringeth to a man, even to his doore so many exceeding commodities! For the goose is man's comfort in warre and in peace, sleepinge and wakinge. What prayse soever is given to shootinge, the goose may challenge the best part of it. Howe well dothe she make a man fare at his table? How easilye doth she make a man lye in his bedde? How fitte, even as her feathers be only for shootinge, so be her quills for writinge.
“ Phil. Indeed, Toxophile, that is the best prayse you gave to a goose yet, and surely I would have sayde you had bene to blame, if you had overskipte it.
“ Tox. The Romaynes, I trowe, Philologe, not so much because a goose with crying saved their capitolium and heade toure, with their golden Jupiter, as Propertius dothe saye very pretely in this verse, Anseris et tutum voce fuisse Jovem.-Prop.
Id est; Thieves on a night had stolne Jupiter, had a goose not a kekede ; did make a golden goose, and set her in the toppe of the capitolium, and appointed also the Censores to allow out of the common batche yearely stipendes for the findinge of certaine geese; the Romaynes did not, I saye, geive all this honour to a goose for that good dede onely, but for other infinite mo, which come daily to a man by geese ; and surelye if I should declame in the prayse of any maner of best lyvinge, I would chuse a goose. But the goose hath made us flee too farre from our matter."
But let us suppose ourselves fairly in the field, amply provided with all the appointments of a true archer. Now is the time when our author's exhortations shall advantage us most, and now must we put his talents, as a teacher of this noble art, to the test. Imprimis; the Tyro must take good heed of his footing and standing, that they be both “comely to the eye and profitable to his use.” Then let him carefully fix his arrow in the string, which, in our author's phrase, is called “knockinge.” But drawing well is the best part of shooting, and this must be done easily and uniformly; drawing to the ear, which was the custom with our English archers, is preferable to drawing to the breast, which, it is said, the ancients were used to do. The
dispatching or loosing the arrow is to be particularly attended to; it must not be done too suddenly, but with that due mixture of quickness and gentleness, which, as Ascham says, is as hard to be followed in shooting, as it is to be described in teaching. Indeed in archery, as in all other manual arts, dexterity and skill can only be acquired by long and arduous practice, and we therefore recommend our Toxophilite readers not to place too much credit on the theorie, even of our Prince of Archers, but rather to pursue the practic of the art themselves. . Ascham very justly says, that it is easier to tell what an archer should not be, than what it behoves him to be, and accordingly he gives us a catalogue of the errors into which the professors of this art are apt to fall, and really we seldom recollect seeing a collection of more humorous portraits than those which he has drawn.
There is an earnest vitality about them which makes us think we behold them in very truth.
« All the discommodityes which ill custome hath graffed in archers, can neyther be quickly pulled oute, nor yet soone reckoned of me, there be so many. Some shooteth his head forwarde, as though he would byte the marke; another stareth with his eyes, as though they should flye out; another winketh with one eye, and looketh with the other; some make a face with wrything theyr mouth and countenance so, as though they were doinge you wotte what; another blereth out his tongue; another byteth his lippes; another holdeth his necke awrye * * * Ones I sawe a man which used a bracer on his cheeke, or else he had scratched all the skinne of the one syde of his face with his drawinge-hande. Another I saw, which, at every shote, after the lose, lifted up his righte legge so far that he was ever in jeopardye of faulinge. Some stampe forwarde, and some leape backwarde * * *. Some will give two or three strydes forwarde, daunsinge and hoppinge after his shafte as though he were a madde man. Some with feare to be too farre gone, runne backwarde, as it were to pull his shafte backe. Another runneth forwarde, when he feareth to be shorte, heavinge after his armes, as though he would helpe the shafte to flye. Another wrythes or runneth asyde, to pull in his shafte straight. One lifteth up his heele, and so holdeth his foote still, as long as his shafte flyeth. . Another casteth his arme backwarde after the louse, and another swinges his bowe about him, as it were a man with a shafte to make roume in a game place.”
. However unwilling we may feel to quit this entertaining treatise, which carries us from the “populous city,” in which it is our misfortune to be pent, to the retired solitudes of green lanes and fields, and which transports us from these " evil days” to the period of England's pride and happiness, when our yeomen, as Fortescue says, “could easily dispend one hundred pounds by the year and more ;" we must nevertheless be contented to take leave of our symbolical friends, Toxophilus and
Philologús, with our best hopes that they were as successful in entreating the question “ de origine anima," as they have been in expounding the mysteries of archery. We shall, however, give the conclusion of their discourse.
“ Tox. This communication handled of me, Philologe, as I know well not perfitely, yet, as I suppose trulye, you must take in good worthe, wherein, if divers thinges do not altogether please you, thancke yourselfe, which woulde rather have me faulte in mere follye, to take that thinge in hand, which I was not able for to perfourme, than by any honest shamefastnesse with-saye your request and minde, which I knowe well I have not satisfyed. But yet I will thincke this labour of myne the better bestowed, if to-morrowe, or some other day when you haye leysure, you will spende as much time with me here in this same place, in entreating the question de origine anime, and the joyning of it with the bodye, that I maye knowe howe farre Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoycians, have waded in it.
“ Phi. How you have handled this matter, Toxophile, I may not well tell you myselfe now, but for your gentlenesse and good will towardes learninge and shootinge, I will be content to shewe you anye pleasure whensoever you will; and nowe the sunne is downe, therefore, if it please you, we will go home and drincke in my chamber, and then I will tell you plainlye what I thincke of this communication, and also what daye we will appointe, at your request, for the other matter to meete here againe.”
We would fain hope that this fine old English exercise will be revived, not as the means of destruction, but as a healthy and gallant amusement by which the thews and sinews of our countrymen may emulate those of the Strongbows and Robin Hoods of ancient days; and we are sure nothing is better calculated to infuse a zeal for this sport than the perusal of Toxophilus.
Art. VI. King John and Matilda, a Tragedy; as it was acted,
with great applause, by her Majestie's Servants, at the Cockpit, in Drury Lane. Written by Robert Davenport, Gent. London, printed for Andrew Pennycuicke, in the year 1655.
This tragedy is one of a large class of the old dramas which cannot be said to be worth re-printing, and yet contain much worth preserving; which are not likely to be read, but the reading of which would be profitable. For, though we may be frequently disgusted with absurdities and improbabilities during the perusal; striking points in the action, or fine passages of poetry in the composition, are occasionally to be found. We speak of the lowest rank of a race of the most gifted poets, but even in the most inferior writer of the first age of our drama, the faults are not the faults of dullness. The vices of inexperience, audacity, and bad taste, are common enough, but these are redeemed when the true poet falls into the right vein. Dullness—flat, tame, frigid dullness, is alone hopeless and irremediable. Robert Davenport was by no means the most diminutive of a line of heroes. His play has its absurdities, and, perhaps, more than the usual share of wildness and uncouthness; but passages and scenes occur of great beauty, and which, when transplanted into our pages, will, we hope, flourish with a brighter verdure for the removal, and, at any rate, stand a better chance of catching the eye of the general reader of poetry. The subject of this play is the love of King John for Matilda, the daughter of one of his barons, Old Fitzwater, and his various attempts to procure possession of her person, which are intermixed with his contests and disputes with the barons themselves. Soon after the opening, the king is thus made to tempt Matilda, whom he has decoyed into a meeting in his garden.
“ K. John. Fair Matilda,
Mat. Yet let fall your too too passionate pleadings,
K. John. Hear me.
K. John. That may sound like something,
Mat. O how you tempt: remember pray your vows
When kings make vows, and lay their listening ears
K. John. So did Matilda swear to live and die a maid,
Mat. Alas, great sir, your queen you cannot make me;
[Offers violence, she draws a knife.
K. John. Cruell maid,
Act I. scene I.
There is considerable spirit in the following dialogue-the barons are consulting together in Baynard Castle, when the king is announced.