Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
False Flattery of the Scots
By Roger Ascham (15151568)
Toxophilus. And here I must needs remember a certain Frenchman, called Textor,1 that writeth a book which he nameth Officina, wherein he weaveth up many broken-ended matters, and sets out much riffraff, pelfery, trumpery, baggage, and beggary ware, clampered up of one that would seem to be fitter for a shop indeed than to write any book. And, amongst all other ill packed up matters he thrusts up in a heap together all the good shooters that ever hath been in the world, as he saith himself; and yet I trow, Philologe, that all the examples which I now, by chance, have rehearsed out of the best authors both in Greek and Latin, Textor hath but two of them, which two surely, if they were to reckon again, I would not once name them, partly because they were naughty persons, and shooting so much the worse because they loved it, as Domitian and Commodus, the Emperors; partly because Textor hath them in his book, on whom I looked by chance in the book-binders shop, thinking of no such matter. And one thing I will say to you, Philologus, that if I were disposed to do it, and you had leisure to hear it, I could soon do as Textor doth, and reckon up such a rabble of shooters, that be named here and there in poets, as would hold us talking whilst to-morrow; but my purpose was not to make mention of those which were feigned of poets for their pleasure, but of such as were proved in histories for a truth. But why I bring in Textor was this: At last, when he hath reckoned all shooters that he can, he saith thus, Petrus Crinitus writeth, that the Scots, which dwell beyond England, be very excellent shooters, and the best bowmen in war. This sentence, whether Crinitus wrote it more lewdly of ignorance, or Textor confirmeth it more peevishly of envy, may be called in question and doubt, but this surely do I know very well, that Textor hath both read in Gaguinus the French history, and also hath heard his father or grandfather talk (except perchance he was born and bred in a cloister) after that sort of the shooting of Englishmen, that Textor needed not to have gone so peevishly beyond England for shooting, but might very soon, even in the first town of Kent, have found such plenty of shooting, as is not in all the realm of Scotland again. The Scots surely be good men of war in their own feats as can be; but as for shooting, they neither can use it for any profit, nor yet will challenge it for any praise, although Master Textor, of his gentleness, would give it them. Textor needed not to have filled up his book with such lies, if he had read the history of Scotland, which Johannes Major doth write: wherein he might have learned, that when James Stewart, first king of that name, at the parliament holden at Saint Johns town, or Perth, commanding under pain of a great forfeit, that every Scot should learn to shoot; yet neither the love of their country, the fear of their enemies, the avoiding of punishment, nor the receiving of any profit that might come by it, could make them to be good archers which be unapt and unfit thereunto by Gods providence and nature.
Therefore the Scots themselves prove Textor a liar, both with authority and also daily experience, and by a certain proverb that they have amongst them in their communication, whereby they give the whole praise of shooting honestly to Englishmen, saying thus: that every English archer beareth under his girdle twenty-four Scots.
But to let Textor and the Scots go, yet one thing would I wish for the Scots, and that is this; that seeing one God, one faith, one compass of the sea, one land and country, one tongue in speaking, one manner and trade in living, like courage and stomach in war, like quickness of wit to learning, hath made England and Scotland both one, they would suffer them no longer to be two; but clean give over the pope, which seeketh none other thing (as many a noble and wise Scottish man doth know) but to feed up dissension and parties betwixt them and us, procuring that thing to be two, which God, nature, and reason would have one.
How profitable such an atonement2 were for Scotland, both Johannes Major3 and Hector Boetius, which wrote the Scots Chronicles, do tell, and also all the gentlemen of Scotland, with the poor commonalty, do well know; so that there is nothing that stoppeth this matter, save only a few freers4 and such like, which, with the dregs of our English Papistry lurking amongst them, study nothing else but to brew battle and strife betwixt both the people; whereby only they hope to maintain their papistical kingdom, to the destruction of the noble blood of Scotland, that then they may with authority do that, which neither noble man nor poor man in Scotland yet doth know. And as Scottish men and English men be not enemies by nature, but by custom; not by our good will, but by their own folly; which should take more honour in being coupled to England, than we should take profit in being joined to Scotland.