Hope's New Method of Fencing
Use of this work is freely granted subject to the conditions of this Creative Commons Licence.Contents | Dedication | Advertisement | Poem | Introduction | CHAP. I. | CHAP. II. | CHAP. III. | CHAP. IV. | CHAP. V. | CHAP. VI. | CHAP. VII. | Postscript
The following letter being transmitted to me, upon printing this last sheet of the contents, from a professor of the art, who hath a very good taste and judgement in matters relating to true fencing; and who had perused the single sheets as they were printed; I judged that I could not better supply this vacancy in the end of it, than by publishing in it his letter, and consequently his sentiment of this New Method of Fencing; and which I own I did the more willingly, because it is so apposite to the subject matter and design of my book, and also ingeniously enof penned.
If any shall fancy, that I have caused to print this letter, as well as those few verses that are at the beginning of this piece, out of meer ostentation and vanity; I shall only say, that such persons are very little acquainted with either my inclinations or temper: However, seing I have been long ago sensible, that it is as impossible for any author to stop all people's mouths, as it is for him to satisfy and convince all men's judgements; so since ever I attempted to offer my service to the publick in this manner, I have firmly resolved (especially being concious of my own sincerity and innocence) to stand proof, against all such censorious and cavilling assaults whatsoever: Besides, I am of opinion, that honoris argumentum, non levitate & blandiloquentia, sed opere & labore acquirendum est. Follows the letter.
To the much honored,
Sir William Hope of Balcomie, Baronet.
As he who commends what is but poorly done upon any subject, ranks his own judgement with the author's.
But, when he sincerely approves, of what must inevitably gain the esteem and applause of all wise men, proclaims, in a manner, not only his own skill, but pays also a just compliment to the perfomer; so it is to be supposed he must understand good reasoning, and the sword too, who is not only charmed with so great a perfomance, but is also capable of giving his opinion to the purpose, of your New and Easy Method of Fencing for the Hanging Guard in Seconde.
For my own part, tho' by what I have said, I seem to flatter myself when I justly commend my best friend, I dare confidently affirm, that he who seriously reads this book, and is not in love with the art, as you have improv'd it, hath something so very heavy and dull in his temper, that (like the fellow in the Turkish Spy, who had never been in love) he deserves to be delivered by the ears, to any man who has lost his ass.
I have long taught the science of defence; and I may justly term it so, for your labours prove it really such: The closs practice if it hath been chiefly my part; its nicest theory and that too your's; and if at any time during my leisure hours, I studied improvements, for the credit and reputation of my imployment, and the benefit of my scholars; yet by having the honour to reason with you upon the matter, my coarser notions were still refin'd, and I came away, determined to follow those rules I had propos'd to myself confirm'd more by your solid arguments and approbation, than by the chain of conveniencies and inconveniencies, which I had believed I had forseen.
There have been but few pieces of any note publish'd, for near two hundred years, upon the art of fencing, but what I have read; most books of that kind, and which are in any repute, being either written or translated into English, some of them at my own charges, and for my own use: But if all of them were rob'd of their particulsr beauties, and they crowded into one piece, it would be found to fall so far short of what you now impart to the world, as the ordinary homilies of a weak country vicar, compared with the most elaborate discourses of the greatest English divine.
The small-sword or rapier, was formerly confin'd to too narrow bounds; 'twas judged only proper to engage a weapon of its own size and strength; but you have after a most convincing manner undeceived the world, and turn'd it loose, to stand and maintain its ground, both a-foot and on horseback, against the strongest and most bloody weapons, such as sheering sword, sabre, battel-ax, &c. Arms it durst never encounter with until now, without a too too visible disadvantage; all which is wholly removed, by this new and excellent method of yours; for which, everyone who reads it, and is a lover of the art, will pay everlasting respect to your memory.
And in a more particular manner, all fencing-masters are your debtors: You have, sir, left us little or nothing to find out: Practice for the future will be our only task; nor can we possibly miscarry in that, when the rules and method of it, are so distinctly and pointedly express'd, that the meanset capacity (allowing him a little knowledge in the art before) cannot fail of understanding to defend by it, at once, what is dearest to mankind; LIFE and HONOUR. If my letter be too long, impute it to gratitiude, (which when real is not ty'd to common forms) not only for your new and great discoveries in the art of the sword, but also for the many favours conferred upon,
Your most obliged
and most humble servant,