Lover and Well-wisher, not only to the True and Useful Art of the SWORD, but also to the Safety and Security of the Persons of those Brave, Courageous, and Bold Performers in these publick Places, for Trial of Skill in this Gentlemanly Art.
Ea enim tuta est potentia que Viribus suis modum imponit.
Whose Cross, the Blow, as well as Thrust doth ward.
BEING a Lover of all kind of Gentlemany Exercises, particularly that of the Sword, I took the Opportunity (having had One or Two of the
Gladiator's Bills thrust into my Hand, a few Days after I came to Town) to go along with one of my Acquaintance, who takes Delight in that Divertisement, to the Bear-Garden in Marabone-Fields, that I might observe if the Performers made good what they asserted in their publick Bills, viz. That they were Masters of the Science (as they term it) of Defence, or rather, of the true Art of the Sword ; for that includes both the defensive and offensive Part, which are the Whole of the Art.
But, to my great Surprize, these Masters of true Defence, as they call themselves, after they were engag'd, did not above once or twice
Traverse, or go about the Stage ; or, in their own Terms, did not finish One Bout, when they cut one another; the one upon the Head, and the other in the Breast.
Thought I to my self, if this be the Effects of your Dexterity and Skill in the Art of Defence, a Man may be as well without it ; for I am sure, Two who had never before handled a Sword, could not have cut one another sooner, nor more, in so short a Time, as these Two Pretenders to the true Art of Defence did.
This made me conclude, that I had all along been in a Mistake, in fancying that Two dextrous and adroit Sword-men could fight very smartly, and in good Earnest, and not receive, for a considerable Time, any Wound from one another, but what would be slight and no Ways disabling ; and
this Thought prevail'd with me for some Days, during which Time, I run down and undervalu'd in all Companies, nay, even in the publick Coffee-houses, the Art of the Sword, as ot no Use, because I had seen that those, who pretended to be Masters of it, could not, for above one Minute, defend themselves from one another's Blows.
This was the Effect and Consequence of what I observ'd, not only that Day, but also Two or Three Times since, when they likewise very soon cut one another; until being one Day in the City, and turning over some Books in Mr.
Strahan's Shop, opposite to the Royal-Exchange, I by Chance see a Book of Fencing, writ by one Sir William Hope, which he calls his New Method of Fencing; and having the Curiosity to peruse it, I soon begun to alter my Thoughts, and change my Opinion, as to the Insufficiency of the Art, to defend a Man, for a considerable Time, in the Heat of an earnest Engagement, nay, even in a Rencounter or Duel, for one's Life.
For in the Book he makes it plain, that the Uncertainty [of] these Masters Defence, proceeds not at all from the Imperfection and Insufficiency of the Art, but from the Openness and Uncertainty of the Guard they commonly make use of, which is the
MediumGuard; a Guard liable and expos'd to all the Variety of Lessons, and Feints, that any Man can think of; and that it is no wonder, that not only pursuing from that very open Guard, but also drawing their Parades from it, they meet with that Uncertainty in their Defence, which any, who frequent that Place of Publick Tryal of Skill, may easily observe.
For, altho' Sword-men, as he says, are neither infallible, nor invulnerable, more than other People, yet it discovers a great Imperfection in those who profess the Art, when they cannot defend themselves, by their Dexterity, for a few Minutes; which he asserts a true Artist is capable to do, nay, even a great deal longer, if he makes use of such a true Defence, and cunning Dexterity, as Art can furnish him with; and which Defence, he says, he has improv'd to that Perfection to which it is brought in his New Method; and that is, the Defence which he draws from the Hanging Guard in Seconde with a sloping Point; because, from that Guard or Posture, he draws all his Defence or Crosses, as well against Thrusts as blows; (for he lays down as a Foundation, That all true Defence with any Weapon, depends upon the Cross it makes upon the Adversary's Weapon, whatever be the Position of the Sword-hand; and that the greater the Cross is, the more slow is the Adversary's Pursuit, which, by all possible Means, we should endeavour to render so, and consequently the more secure and certain a Man's own Defence, because, without a Cross, there's no true Defence; and to ward a Blow, or turn off a Thrust with the Sword-Hilt, or Shell, shows no more Art, than to do it with a Gauntlet, or Head-Piece, seeing the Blow is by both, not defended by Art, in forming a Cross, but received upon the Metal, which is Sword Proof,) and from hence asserts this seeming Paradox.
That he has brought the Art of Defence, by the right forming of such good Crosses, to the utmost Perfection Humane Nature is capable of, because,
says he, there cannot be a greater than a right Cross or Angle, formed by any Two Weapons; and that this right angled Cross, being frequently in ones Defence, drawn from this Guard in Seconde with a sloping Point, and the greatest Cross, making, as has been said, the most secure and safe Defence, therefore it is impossible for humane Nature to invent a better Defence, than what is drawn from this Guard, because the greatest Cross that can be framed by Two Weapons, for a Man's Defence, is drawn from it; which is indeed a Demonstration, but what I did not so well take at first reading, until I more seriously reflected upon his Argument; whereas most other Guards, says he, particularly those of the Small-Sword in Quarte and Tierce, in framing their Parades, make but small Crosses, which gives to the Adversary frequent Opportunities of making a Variety of Feints or falcifying[falsifying] Motions, whereby a Man's Defence is render'd[rendered] more Uncertain, and consequently his Person more expos'd to his Adversary's Thrusts; the very Reverse of which a Man meets with, who with Cunning and Dexterity makes use of his Defence and Crosses, from this excellent Hanging-Guard in Seconde, as he ought.
For, says he, There is a Cunning and Subtilty, as well as Dexterity, which belongs to the true Art of the Sword, and which but few, professing the Art, are Masters of' Thrusts and Blows being to be avoided several other Ways, by a judicious and agile Artist, than by always meeting with, and obstinately opposing the Adversary's Sword; a Thing not known in the Bear-Gardens, where, at first engaging they come commonly close up to one another, and there with Fury discharge repeated Blows, whereby ensue
Contretemps and grievous Wounds; which does indeed please in the ignorant Mob, but ought to be abominate by all good Artists and Men of Judgement, seeing it is a most scandalous Disparagement to all true Art; which ought to be perform'd, not only with Calmness, but with a cautious Vigour and Judgment, otherwise such foolhardy Persons run headlong to their own Destruction, which, by a true Art is design'd to be prevented; Fencing being at first invented and design'd chiefly for Defending, and not for Offending; that falling in only by the Way, and mostly (except upon Necessity) to be made use of as a Means to effectuate the other main End, which is a Man's Defence and Preservation of his Life, when in good Earnest atack'd.
To which, he says, It may be objected; that what is to be done, had as good be soon done; and that Down-head, Slap, Thrust, and away with it, is much more manly, than to stand Shifting and Dalieing, as if a Man were afraid of his Skin, or could not endure the Sight of his own Blood.
To which he Answers in the Negative, for, says he, Whatever Backsword Masters may venture upon a publick Stage, where they run only the hazard of a few, many Times slight, Cuts in fighting for a Prize; yet the Case is quite different, when a Man has his Life at Stake, and is lyable to both Stroke and Thrust; and which, when gone, cannot be recall'd again; so that, if ever a Man ought to have his Wits about him, and keep himself free from Passion, it is, when he is engag'd for Life; that being his All, nay, his very Self; in respect whereof the Loss of the whole World is not so much as to be named, or put in the Ballance, especially when a Man runs the Hazard, of being in a few Minutes thrust into, and entring Eternity in violent Passion and Blood; A Damping and Dreadful Thought indeed, to any serious thinking Christian! And against which (as Matters go now a-Days amongst those who are call'd Men of Honour, who but too often make Trifles the Ground of bloody Quarrels) the true Art of the Sword is a most excellent Preservative.
For, says he, altho' when the most dextrous Sword-men in the World come to be engag'd, the one will certainly, if they continue a while fighting, have the better of, and Master the other; there being scarcely any such Thing to be found, as a perfect Equality amongst Men; yet, for the most Part, such dextrous Artists as are overcome, are commonly so, either by being commanded, or disarmed, or by receiving several slight Wounds, which, altho' not Mortal, yet are sufficient, at last, to disable them, that they are necessitate to succumb, and yeild to their conquering Adversary; whereas, when People engage without Art, they, commonly with Passion, rush so furiously and headlong upon one another, that the Wounds they receive, or exchange, are for the most Part Mortal; so that the true Benefit all Men reap by Fencing, is, that altho' they cannot always conquer their Adversaries, or even defend themselves from slight Wounds, yet they shall, by their Art, for the most Part, both of them save their Lives, by receiving only such Wounds, as are at first but Sight, altho' disabling; whereas those Coups Fourrez, as the
French Term them, which are receiv'd full Tilt, and wholly Home, by Ignorants and Maladroits, when in Earnest engag'd, prove generally not only Disabling, but Mortal; which Disadvantage alone, ought, he says, to excite and encourage all Gentlemen, not only to the thorough Understanding of this most useful and saving Art, but also to endeavour to put it always in Practice, with Caution, Vigour, and Judgment; without which, a Man loses a great deal of the Benefit, which otherwise he would reap by his Art.
He says, he is also apt to believe, that the first Rise of People's making use of sharp Weapons did proceed from this: That in the first Ages, slender and weak Men found themselves at a great Disadvantage, when they came to engage those who were strong and vigorous, either at Hand-blows or with other blunt Weapons; and to bring themselves to some Equality with such Robust and strong Persons, did invent first the Sabre,
or Broad-Sword, whose Edges are mostly made use of; but still finding themselves at a Disadvantage, by reason of the other's great Strength, overpowering them in the Herculian[Herculean] Way of discharging their Blows against them, which they had not Strength to resist, they did next fall upon the Pointed Weapons, that is Sheering and Small-Sword; well concluding, that if they could but give a Thrust, it would do generally more Execution than the others Blows; to obviate which, the Strong and Vigorous Men did, upon the other Hand, invent the First Method to Cross, and put aside those dangerous Thrusts, which was the True Foundation, and Rise of the Art of Defence.
At Last, when the Generality of People, who were ignorant of this new found out Art, of both Defending and Offending, found themselves also at a great Disadvantage, when they came to be engag'd with those Weapons, against such dextrous Artists; they, to render themselves still in more equal Circumstances with both strong and weak Sword-men, did, after the Invention of Gunpowder, endeavour to determine all their Quarrels with Fire-Arms, whereby they render'd the other Arts with the Sword of no Use; (a Method frequently taken by many even now a-Days) and which, by the way, shows how necessary it is for all Sword-men, to be good Marks-men with the Pistol, as well as dextrous[dexterous] Artists with the Sword, that they may not be surpris'd[surprised] with the Atacks[Attacks] of either, but be in utrumque paratus, as we say, that is equally ready and knowing, to use their Pistol or handle their Sword; so, by what has been said, he thinks it very evident, that the Art did at first consist chiefly in the Defensive Part; by that People, when engag'd falling commonly in Passion, could not rest satisfy'd with only defending themselves, but did also, at the same Time, endeavour to return upon their Adversaries, what their Adversaries intended to put upon them, which was either Blow or Thrust: And thus they join'd, or added the Of-
-fensive Part of both Edge and Point, to the Defensive Part; both which together, do at this Day, contain and make up the whole Art of the Sword.
He also asserts Two other chief Advantages this Hanging-Guard in Seconde hath above all other Guards; which are
First, That it is equally useful a Foot against the Thrust, as against the Blow; and Secondly, the only proper Guard a Horseback, against both small and sheering Sword; for it is hardly possible, says he, to defend a Blow, either a Foot, or Horseback, with any of the ordinary Quart and Tierce Parades of the Small-Sword; and if a Small-Sword Master shall pretend to defend a Blow with the Small-Sword, it will be found that he shall immediately (in Place of making use of a true ordinary Quart, or Tierce Parade) fall in to this in Seconde, which makes good all that this Author asserts of it' so that this Guard in Seconde being in all Cases and Circumstances, a general and most safe Posture, from whence such good Causes may be made, as will ward and defend, the Attacks of all kind of Weapons, whether only edged, as the Back-sword, or both edged and pointed, as the Sheering; he therefore earnestly recommends it to the Publick, and advises all Masters, both of the Back-sword and Small, to refrain from, and wholly quit their open and unsecure Guards, and uncertain and imperfect Parades, which they can only draw from them, and take themselves to this Natural, General, and most secure Guard in Seconde with a sloping Point, from whence may be drawn and formed such good Crosses, as cannot fail, when made use of by a dextrous and judicious Artist, to defend him from the Blows and Thrusts of all Weapons, and that as well on Horse back as a Foot.
And whereas it is commonly asserted by forward Ignorants, that they can easily Beat the best Sword-man from any nice and formal Guard he can put himself in, by a forward and violent Pursuit, he says, that however other Guards may be liable to this, when made use of by half skill'd Sword-men, yet, those forward Naturalists can never pretend to have that Advantage against this
Seconde, because the more vigorously a Sword Man is attack'd, who makes use of it, the more he is forced to the true Posture of it, and so far from being Beat from it, that he is rather in a manner Beat and Forced to it, so safe and natural a Posture is it; so that this Assertion of beating a Sword-man from his Guard or Defensive Posture, is at Bottom false, because, whatever Posture a Sword-man be in, if from that Posture he make and frame good Crosses upon his Adversary's Sword, whatever be the Position of the Sword-hand, he can never be said to be beat off his Defence; for when he is a performing of that, he is always upon his Guard or defensive Posture: A Guard being only the first Position of the Body, into which a Man places himself at first drawing of his Sword, and is always good when the Body is made thereby thin and short; for so soon as ever he enters into Action, he commonly goes from the nice Posture of his Guard, and falls in to the forming of good Crosses for his Defence; which Crosses are his only true Guard, and not the Posture he at first put himself into.
This Author has a great many other common Positions and Directions, quite contrary to what is commonly advised and put in Practice by the Generality of Fencing-Masters; such as, that in making use of the common Small-Sword Parades in
Quart and Tierce, a Man is many Times obliged, for his better Defence, to frame the Cross upon his Adversary's Sword, close almost to his own Body, the better to meet with the foible or weak Part of it, otherwise he will be fair to have the Thrust forced home upon him.
That in thrusting a plain Thrust against the ordinary
Quart or Tierce Guards, especially within the Sword, to make it the more swift, and to take the better, the Sword's Point should be carried Home upon the same Side it is presented, beyond the Adversary's Sword-hand, or Wrist, before ever the Thruster offer to disengage whereby the Thrust, especially by thrusting with the Hand in Tierce, will be a great deal more Surprizing and Swift, than when a Man disengages just as his Sword lyes (without this previous advancing Motion upon the same Side) and thrusting with
his Hand in
Quart upon the Weak of the Adversary's Sword, which is indeed a nice Direction.
That in Thrusting after Feints, and from Binding, a Man should thrust at some little Distance, and evite, or shun his Adversary's Sword as much as possible; which is quite contrary to the common Method, because, says he, As upon the defensive Part, or Parade, a Man ought always to endeavour to meet with, and oppose his Adversary's Sword; so upon the offensive Part, or pursuit, he ought to shun it, the better to prevent his Adversary's forming a Cross upon it; whereby his Defence and Parade will be the more uncertain.
That in planting any Thrust, a Man ought generally, unless the open he is to thrust upon, lye very near to him, so to plant it, that his Sword's Point may be as much as possible upon a Level with the Sword-Arm, near to the Shoulder-Joint; that being the straitest and longest Line, and consequently that which will reach furthest; and if he do it not, that it is the better for him, and more dangerous for his Adversary, to thrust low towards the Belly, as high at the Breast, because the lower Parts of the Body are not only more easily pierc'd and wounded, than those about the Breast, which are better fenced, by the Chests being Cartilagenous and Bony, but also lying so low, more difficult to defend, by the Ordinary Quart and Tierce Parades.
And for preventing of
Contretemps, stragling Thrusts, exchanged Thrusts, Thrusts from the Riposte, and Takeing[Taking] of Time, all which are different: He advises the constant Use of the left Hand, without which, he says, it is very difficult to prevent any of them, when engag'd with a forward half-skill'd Antagonist; upon which Account, he advises all good Sword-men when engaged with such Persons, to become, if possible, the Pursuers, because, when once Ignorants, or half-skill'd Persons, are forc'd to their Defence, they are commonly done with it; and this is the Reason why such Persons generally pursue at first most furiously when engag'd, knowing their own Weakness and Uncertainty in Defending; a very excellent Direction, and which all good Sword-men ought to engrave in their Memories.
That one of the chief Reasons, why the Art of the Sword is so much neglected and undervalued by many, proceeds from People's generally looking upon all Gentlemen, who have been but a few Months at School, to be good and dextrous Sword-men; and when such are engag'd and worsted by forward Ignorants, they immediately impute it to the Imperfection of the Art, and not to the unskillfulness and maladroitness of these young Sword-men; for to become a true and skillful Artist, requires a very frequent, long, and assiduous Practice in School-play, against all Kind of Constitutions and Tempers; a Calmness or Presence of Mind, a vigorous Agility, and what Crowns all, a solid Judgment; to make use, in an earnest Engagement, as well of the Cunning and Subtilty of the Art, as of the most Surprizing and Masculine Lessons, belonging to it; for, says he, by sometimes breaking a little Measure, making a Kind of Circular Motion, or yeilding a Foot or Two of Ground, until the Violence of ones Adversary's Pursuit be over, when a Sword-man has Room for it, he may many Times save his Life; when by obstinately opposing a most violent Pursuit, from a passionate and froward Adversary, by a continued Defending with the Sword, he may be so pressed upon as to fail in his Parade, or Cross, and thereby receive a mortal Wound; for whatever may be the mistaken Notion of some nice People, of breaking of Measure, and reasonably yeilding or giving a little Way upon Occasion; neither Art, nor Honour, oblige a Sword-man to stand an immoveable Butt, for his Adversary to strike and thrust at; notwithstanding of which, he very much disapproves of a too much, or constant going back, or rather timerous retiring. This is also very Good.
That the strong or weak Parts of a Sword, are not to be consider'd, so much with respect to the Ordinary Division of its Blade, into
Fort and Foible, as with respect to the Cross it frames upon the Adversary's Sword, and Pressure it makes upon it; either by its own Weight only, or by the Impulse of the Sword-hand added to it; because, as these are, so, according to the nice Rules of Art, must the Fort or Foible of a Sword, when in Action, be reckon'd; the most Part of a Sword becoming sometimes thereby all Fort, as at other Times
Foible, whereby the Fort and Foible of a Sword, in Place of being fix'd and determin'd, as by the common and ordinary Division thereof, by the Middle, into Fort and Foible, become, in Action, altogether changeable and unfix'd and depend wholly upon the framed Cross, and Pressure or Impulse, or the Agent's Sword-hand; All which, at first View, seem very Odd, and contrary to the true Rules of Art, but upon second Thoughts and solid Reasoning, will be found to be as great Truths in the Art, as they are Niceties unknown to most Masters.
Again, after he has most particularly and convincingly answer'd all the Objections [that] can be made, by the greatest Enemy, and most caviling Ignorant, against the Usefulness of the Art of the Sword, and which discovers this Author's Modesty and Ingenuity; he compares good and dextrous Sword-men to skillful Gamesters, who, altho' they may at first sitting down to any Game, have a bad Run, as they term it, against Bunglers, will certainly at last carry off their Money; so good Sword-men, not pretending to Infallibility, as has been said, may sometimes come to be worsted by bold unskillful Persons, but that upon the Main they have a very considerable Odds to the better, and will not fail, to succeed, once in many Times; which Uncertainty, says he, ought to humble good Sword-men, and prevent their too much presuming upon their Art and Dexterity, and also, rather make them cautious and backwards, as too hasty and forwards in engaging in any Quarrels, which, without impairing their Reputation and Honour, they can possibly prevent, or hansomely decline, at least endeavour to take up and accommodate, by the Interposition of judicious and honourable Seconds; The only true End for which they were at first design'd, and not (according to the unaccountable and most unfriendly present Custom) to encourage their Principals, and excite perhaps intimate Comarads, only disobliged for a rash Expression, or other Trifle, to kill and destroy one another, by engaging them in an illegal Duel, or which is no better, a premeditate Rencounter; This as to the Seconds.
And as to the Principals; he hopes that the unreasonable, as well as ungenerous Custom of suffering Seconds, perhaps
not so much as Witnesses to the Quarrel, to engage with the, will be hereafter prevented, and discharg'd, their Business being only, first to accommodate Matters, and reconcile Parties, if possible, by proposing a just and honourable Satisfaction to the Person injur'd; or if that will not do, secondly, to stand by at a very little Distance, with their Swords drawn, to see fair Play, and that there be no dishonourable or ungentlemany Advantage taken by the Parties engag'd, so long as they are in Fight, and a determining the Quarrel; and always betwixt Bouts or Breathings, to endeavour, by all Means to persuade the Parties to an amicable Reconciliation, to prevent the sheding of more Blood, or perhaps the Loss of one of their Lives; but it is says he, the Work of Principals more than Seconds, to prevent this unreasonable engaging of Seconds, to fight along with them; for a Second, who is a Man of Honor, cannot handomly, nor will not decline engaging with his opposite Second, if he desire it of him; unless the Principals interpose and prevent it.
And for the more effectually taking up of Quarrels, and preventing of Duels and passionate Rencounters, which would be of such Advantage and Benefit to all the
British, who are generally so Bold and Courageous, as to decline no Manner of Battle, when either provoked, or otherwise prompted to it; he lays down a most plain and easie Scheme, not only for establishing a Society of Sword-men, for the greater Encouragement, and better Improvement of the Art; but also, for a Court of Honour, so very necessary and useful; and which is so much desired by all peaceable, well natur'd, and truly honourable Persons of all Ranks, that he hopes it may, in due Time, be offer'd to the Consideration of King and Parliament, by some honourable Member, who is a Lover, not only of the Art of the Sword, but of the Preservation of his Country men's Lives; where he hopes it shall meet with that Encouragement, which the Importance and Nature of so good and honourable a Design may deserve, especially considering how many private Persons have of late lost, or rather thrown away their Lives, in most unaccountable and trifling Quarrels, which such a Remedy might, in all probability, have prevented.
Thus have I not only discover'd[discovered] to you a few of the many uncommon Positions, and Directions, contain'd[contained] in this useful and curious Book, but also given an Account of the Behaviour of most of the Gladiatorsin the Bear-Gardens, and how deservedly they assume to themselves, the Gentlemany[Gentlemanly]and Honourable Title of perfect Masters of the true Science of Defence ; altho'[although] this Author also acknowledges, that there are some of them very pretty and dextrous[dexterous]Sword-men, did they but make use of such a secure Guard, or Posture, as he recommends, from whence they could easily draw and frame good and safe Crosses, for their more certain Defence ; he also approves of Gentlemens frequenting such Places of Tryal[Trial] of Skill, because it accustoms them to the hearing the Clashing of Weapons, and the seeing Wounds given, and Blood drawn ; (altho'[although]I wish this last were seldomer done for the greater Reputation of the Art) which brings a Man, in a little Time, to value as little the Cut of a sharp Sword, as the Blow of a blunt Stick, or Cudgel.
But for the Fisty-Cuff-Battles, or trying of ones Manhood by Boxing, which is of late brought upon the publick Stages, he altogether disapproves of them, as appearing (besides their being Ungentlemany) not only Butcherly, but barbarous and inhuman, and therefore hopes they will be for the future discountinanced and discourag'd, by all Gentlemen of Generosity and Honour, seeing, at best, they can tend to nothing, but to throw those who engage in them, into Decays, or other lingring Diseases, by Reason of the grievous and violent Blows they receive from one another, upon their Heads, Bellies and Stomachs, so that it would grieve and draw Pity from any generous Man's Heart, to see them thus brutishly bruise and maul one another ; nay, even to that Degree, that he says he has seen them sometimes carry'd off the Stage, without any Appearance of Life.
Now, this being so, and this Gentleman so earnestly recommending to all People, the Usefulness and Security of the hanging Guard in
Seconde, from whence, to draw a general Defence, both a Foot and Horseback, whereby he puts the whole Art of the Sword upon a new Foot, as it were, by rendring the acquiring of it, not only plain and easie, but also short ; reducing the defensive Part in a Manner to but Two Motions, for parrying of all Kind of Blows and Thrusts, and the Pursuit to only about half a Dozen very plain and easie Lessons, for offending by both Blow and Thrust. I say, this being so; and that this Author can have no mean or selfish End in it ; but upon the contrary, by improving of the Art, to preserve and save People's Honour and Lives when unfortunately engag'd in an Occasion with Sharps; is it not [a] Matter of Wonder, and most unaccountable, that the Masters, to whose Hands this Book has come, do not either frankly follow this good Advice, which so much tends to the Preservation of Mens Persons, or otherwise offer sufficient Reasons (which I don't believe they well can, if they have seriously and with Attention perused his Book, the Author having answer'd in it all the material Objections
can be brought against it) for discovering the Imperfection and Insufficiency of this new and safe Method of Defence, so generously and earnestly offer'd to them.
I confess, for my own Part, I can give no other Reason for it but this ; That, as in Matters of Religion, Men are commonly fixt in that Persuasion, to which they are educated from their Youth, whether Jewish, Mahometan, or Roman Catholcik ; (for a Mahometan, or Jew, stick as close to, and believe, and depend as much upon the Certainty of their Creeds, as the most precisely head-strong and inflexible Fanatick, of either Whig, or Tory amongst us) and rest satisfy'd, that they are in the right Way to Salvation, without ever examining further, altho' there are other Systems of Religion, lying before them, an open to their View, which, if seriously examined, would be found more consonant and agreeable to both Reason and Scripture : so in all Arts and Employments, particularly, that of the Art of the Sword ; These Masters having been taught the Common Method keep close to it, and never think either of improving it, or falling upon a better and safer, but jog on in the old imperfect and unsecure Road, from Master to Provo, and provided they get but a Livelyhood by it, trouble themselves very little either about the Improvement of the Art, or Safety of their Scholar's Persons ; I always except the more curious Masters out of this Category.
This I take to be the true Reason of their continuing in their old Rot[possibly 'Rote' is meant here], and not thoro'ly examining the Importance and Usefulness of so very considerable and Improvement in the Art of Defence, as is so earnestly offer'd to them by this Gentleman, in his New Method ; in Behalf of which, I could say a great deal more, were not my Letter already too long ; but knowing you to be not only a great Lover of the Art, but also a very knowing and judicious Sword-man, I recommend the serious Perusal of the Book it self to you, with which I am persuaded you will be very well satisfy'd. If you judge these few Observations may be of Use to the Publick, I allow you to print them, and shall conclude with that very apposite Sentence, which the Author has in his Title Page. Gladiatura, non solum ad Honoris, Viteque Conservationem ; sed etiam ad Corporis, atque Anime Relaxationem, perquam necessaria. Which I English thus :
Fencing for Diversion does not only serve,
It Life, as well as Honour, doth preserve ;
The Manly'st Exercise of Heroick Kind,
To chear the Body, and relax the Mind.
I am your Obliged and
very Humble Servant,
N.B. “H.B.” could be Henry Blackwell, plagiarising Hope. On the other hand, this work could be Hope advertising himself. If the former option is true then another of Hope's works is still out there awaiting discovery...