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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
On Study and Exercise
By Roger Ascham (1515–1568)
 
From ‘Toxophilus’

PHILOLOGE—But now to our shooting, Toxophile, again; wherein I suppose you cannot say so much for shooting to be fit for learning, as you have spoken against music for the same. Therefore, as concerning music, I can be content to grant you your mind; but as for shooting, surely I suppose that you cannot persuade me, by no means, that a man can be earnest in it, and earnest at his book too; but rather I think that a man with a bow on his back, and shafts under his girdle, is more fit to wait upon Robin Hood than upon Apollo or the Muses.  1
  Toxophile—Over-earnest shooting surely I will not over-earnestly defend; for I ever thought shooting should be a waiter upon learning, not a mistress over learning. Yet this I marvel not a little at, that ye think a man with a bow on his back is more like Robin Hood’s servant than Apollo’s, seeing that Apollo himself, in Alcestis of Euripides, which tragedy you read openly not long ago, in a manner glorieth, saying this verse:—
  “It is my wont always my bow with me to bear.”
Therefore a learned man ought not too much to be ashamed to bear that sometime, which Apollo, god of learning, himself was not ashamed always to bear. And because ye would have a man wait upon the Muses, and not at all meddle with shooting: I marvel that you do not remember how that the nine Muses their self, as soon as they were born, were put to nurse to a lady called Euphemis, which had a son named Erotus, with whom the nine Muses for his excellent shooting kept evermore company withal, and used daily to shoot together in the Mount Parnassus; and at last it chanced this Erotus to die, whose death the Muses lamented greatly, and fell all upon their knees afore Jupiter their father; and at their request, Erotus, for shooting with the Muses on earth, was made a sign and called Sagittarius in heaven. Therefore you see that if Apollo and the Muses either were examples indeed, or only feigned of wise men to be examples of learning, honest shooting may well enough be companion with honest study.
  2
  Philologe—Well, Toxophile, if you have no stronger defense of shooting than poets, I fear if your companions which love shooting heard you, they would think you made it but a trifling and fabling matter, rather than any other man that loveth not shooting could be persuaded by this reason to love it.  3
  Toxophile—Even as I am not so fond but I know that these be fables, so I am sure you be not so ignorant but you know what such noble wits as the poets had, meant by such matters; which oftentimes, under the covering of a fable, do hide and wrap in goodly precepts of philosophy, with the true judgment of things. Which to be true, specially in Homer and Euripides, Plato, Aristotle, and Galen plainly do show; when through all their works (in a manner) they determine all controversies by these two poets and such like authorities. Therefore, if in this matter I seem to fable and nothing prove, I am content you judge so on me, seeing the same judgment shall condemn with me Plato, Aristotle, and Galen, whom in that error I am well content to follow. If these old examples prove nothing for shooting, what say you to this, that the best learned and sagest men in this realm which be now alive, both love shooting and use shooting, as the best learned bishops that be? amongst whom, Philologe, you yourself know four or five, which, as in all good learning, virtue, and sageness, they give other men example what thing they should do, even so by their shooting they plainly show what honest pastime other men given to learning may honestly use. That earnest study must be recreated with honest pastime, sufficiently I have proved afore, both by reason and authority of the best learned men that ever wrote. Then seeing pastimes be leful [lawful], the most fittest for learning is to be sought for. A pastime, saith Aristotle, must be like a medicine. Medicines stand by contraries; therefore, the nature of studying considered, the fittest pastime shall soon appear. In study every part of the body is idle, which thing causeth gross and cold humors to gather together and vex scholars very much; the mind is altogether bent and set on work. A pastime then must be had where every part of the body must be labored, to separate and lessen such humors withal; the mind must be unbent, to gather and fetch again his quickness withal. Thus pastimes for the mind only be nothing fit for students, because the body, which is most hurt by study, should take away no profit thereat. This knew Erasmus very well, when he was here in Cambridge; which, when he had been sore at his book (as Garret our bookbinder had very often told me), for lack of better exercise, would take his horse and ride about the market-hill and come again. If a scholar should use bowls or tennis, the labor is too vehement and unequal, which is condemned of Galen; the example very ill for other men, when by so many acts they be made unlawful. Running, leaping, and quoiting 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. Therefore if a man would have a pastime wholesome and equal for every part of the body, pleasant and full of courage for the mind, not vile and unhonest to give ill example to laymen, not kept in gardens and corners, not lurking on the night and in holes, but evermore in the face of men, either to rebuke it when it doeth ill, or else to testify on it when it doth well, let him seek chiefly of all other for shooting.  4
 
 
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