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Full text of "Roger Ascham Toxophilus 1545"

Introduction.                            9

country, and his delight, even from childhood, in hia
native tongue overcame all difficulties. " Althoughe to
haue written this boke either in latin or Greeke ....
had been more eafier and fit for mi trade in ftudy, yet
neuertheleffe, I fuppofmge it no point of honeflie, that
mi commodite mould flop and hinder ani parte either
of the pleafure or profite of manie, haue written this
Englifhe matter in the Englilhe tongue, for Englilhe
men." * In fo doing, he has bequeathed to poflerity a
noble fpecimen of Englifh language, expreffmg genuine
Englifh thought, upon a truly Englifh fubjedl.

Of the influence of this deliberate choice of Afcham on
the literature of his time, Dr. N. Drake thus fpeaks:

" The Toxophilus of this ufeful and engaging writer, was writ-
ten in his native tongue, with the view of prefentmg the public
with a fpecimen of a purer and more correct EngltJJi ftyle than that
to which they had hitherto been accuftomed; and with the hope of
calling the attention of the learned, from the exclufive ftudy of
the Greek and Latin, to the cultivation of their vernacular lan-
guage. The refult which he contemplated was attained, and,
from the period of this publication, the Ihackles of Latinity were
broken, and competition in EngliJJi profe became an object of
eager and fuccefsful attention. Previous to the exertions of
Afcham, very few writers can be mentioned as affording any
model for Englifh ftyle. If we except the Tranflation of Froiffart
by Bourchier, Lord Berners, in 1523, and the Hiftory of Richaid
III. by Sir Thomas More, certainly compofitions of great merit,
we lhall find it difficult to produce an author of much value
for his vernacular profe. On the contrary, very foon after the
appearance of the Toxophilus^ we find harmony and beauty in
Englifh ftyle emphatically praifed and enjoined." t

Following Plato both in the form and subtlety of
his work, Afcham writes it after the counfel of Ariftotle.
" He that wyll wryte well in any tongue, mufte folowe
thys councel of Ariftotle, to fpeake as the common
people do, to thinke as wife men do : and fo fhoulde
euery man vnderftande hym, and the iudgement of
wyfe men alowe hym." %

Now, we muft leave the reader to liften to the
pleafant talk of the two College Fellows, Lover of
"Learning and Lover of Archery ; as they difcourfe,
befide the wheat fields in the neighbourhood of Cam-
bridge, throughout the long fummer's afternoon, upon
' the Booke and the Bowe.'

*p. 14.       ^ Shaks^eare and his Times.   1.439    Ed iSif.       J p.  18,