The Linacre School of Defence

The Linacre School of Defence

Studying the historical British martial arts of smallsword, backsword and pugilism.

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William Hope's The Sword Man's Vade Mecum

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Published: 1691

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Vade = mecum:
Against the

Being a Reduction of the most Essential, Necessary, and Practical part of FENCING; ito a few Special Rules, With their Reasons: Which all SWORD-MEN should have in their Memories when they are to Engadge; but more especially if it be with SHARPS.

With some other Remarques and Observations, not unfit to be known.

By W. H. Gentleman.

printed by John Reid, Anno DOM. 1691.

To All
True Artists,

Such who have a Real Respect for, and take Delight in the Art of Fencing.


When I Wrote my Book of Fencing, Entitled The Scots Fencing-Master, I designed it should serve both to instruct the Ignorant, and be a help to Artists; to unstruct the Ignorant by giving them a true and particular Description of the most common Lessons taught in the Fencing schools, that so by it they might come to understand both better and sooner, the Lessons which their Masters were daily to Descrive and Teach them; And I am very confident I have not failed as to that, for I dare appeal to any who ever took the pains to peruse it, if ever they met with a piece upon the same subject, either so plain, or exact in the Directions for the Lessons as it is.

I designed also it should be a help to Artists, in so far as that the looking it over, would bring to their minds such Lessons, as want of Practice for some time might have worn out of their Memories, and also in respect that there is init very good directions, and Rules for their behaviour in practice against either Artists or Ignorants, both with Blunts and Sharps.

But in that Book I gave only a bare Discription of the Rules, without any of the Reasons subjoyned to them upon which they are grounded, which ommission did probably make some Artists judge, that those Rules were not so very infallible, but that as good as might be put in their places; And which it is like hath also been the cause of thier not having so good an Opinion of, and liking for them, as perhaps otherwise they would.

Therefore, that I might both vindicate the certainty and infallibility if my Rules, by showing that they are not grounded meerly upon my own Fancy, but upon the solid Foundations of Art and Reason, and satisfie such persons by publishing the Reasons upon which I ground them; As also, make my Rules more compendious and easier to be kept in their memories, I have in these following sheets made an Abstract of them, and have given the Reasons, why I order such and such a thing in such a Rule.

And although I cannot deny, but a judicious Artist may perhaps make use of some Rules of his own choise, or making, differing somewhat from mine, which may be very good, and have sometimes as good effect against the particular Play of the Person he is to engage against as mine could have; Yet I am confident they cannot be no better than mine are, and that if he observed mine exactly against that same Person, he would find them to have the very same effects with his own, and to be against all humors whatsoever generally the more secure and certain of the two.

But albeit I confess there may be particular Rules invented for particular humors of Play, which may differ from mine, and yet prove very effectual against that particular humor for which they were designed; yet against on of another humor they will be altogether Ineffectual, and prove stark nought, in which doth consist their insufficiency, whereas those which I am to give you will not only prove as effectual against those particular humors, as he particular Rules designed for them, but will be sufficient also against all humors whatsoever, so that there will be no need of particular Ones, mine supplying their place because they are general, in which dothe lye their Worth and Excellency.

For to discover to you the unsufficiency of particular Rules, consider but what difference there is betwixt a Man's playing with a Person whose humor and method of playing he knoweth, and with one whom perhaps he never so much as saw before, certainly there must be Methods taken vastly different to play Advantagiously against either of those Persons as a Man shall be engaged; for if he be Attaqued by a Person whose Play he knoweth, then knowing upon what Lessons his humor runneth; I confess he may safely make use of particular Contrarys and Pursuits which he knows will take effect upon his Adversary, (although undoubtedly to use generalls were a great dale more safe) but if he be Attaqued by one who perhaps he never saw, of if he did, yet knoweth not upon what Lessons his humor runneth, I say such a Case to make use of Particulars were but very bad Judgement.

As for Example, to make a Real and Home Pursuite with a single or double Feint when no such pursuite will take effect upon that Person again whom he is playing, but what is accompanied with binding; or to take himself to any particular Parrade, when he is not certain what Lesson his Adversary is to play home upon him, this I say is but to play at Random, and wholly expose himself to Contretemps, by rendering his Art altogether Ineffectual.

And this bad Custom of using alwise Particulars, is certainly one of the main Reasons, why the French (who are generally of a Brisk and Hot Constitution) are for the most part when they Engage either both Killed, or at least severly wounded, because immediatly after presenting, they commonly Advance within the particular Pursuite of some single or double Feint, without ever offering to secure their Adversarie's Sword, and their Adversary upon the other Hand, not being accustomed to a general Parrade, and finding be is not certain what particular one he should make use of, endeavours to take time upon him, and so they are both wounded: This is the True French Play, which I confess hath a Bonne grace with it at Blunts, and appears Brisk and Courageous at Sharps; but as to its security, I leave that to be judged of by any considering Person, whither Artist or other.

Therefore the only secure way is to make alwise use of Generalls against whatever Persons you Play, whither Artists of not, until you have found out their Constitution and Humour, and what particular Lessins you judge will take effect upon them, and if you think it fit and convenient then to try Particulars, you may, but I would not advise you to do it sooner if you regard your own safety.

You may now perceive the great Advantage General Rules have of Particular ones, and it is the Abstract of those General Rules that are of such admirable use, which I am to set down to you together with their Reasons in the following sheets, but that there may want nothing to make them compleat and easie to be retained, I have also for your greater ease and satisfaction, (at the end of my Rules and and before I give my Reasons) Epitiomized this Abstract, and brought it into so narrow a Compass, that a Man must have no memory at all, if he cannot so fix in his Fancy and Brain what I have there given him, as it shall not be in his power when he presenteth either Fleuret or Sword to get himself ridd of it.

And it is upon that account I call it The Sword-Man's Vade Mecum, not that I would have alwise these Sheets carried about with him in his Pocket; (for that any Ignorant can do as well as be, an be ne're a whitt the wiser of them) but that the Epitome of my Rules which as I said is at the end of them, may be so engraven in his Memory, that when he is any wayes to Engage, he may through its practice all the rest which are as it were lively represented in that Mirror, which must be alwise earned carried about with him, and still represent those Objects (I mean Directions) upon which his Judgement must work.

Now, as my former Book of Fencing was designed for the use borh of Artists and Ignorants, so this Abstract is only for Artists, there being only contained in it the very Marrow and Quintessence of Fencing, which without all debates is not only above the Practice of it all, but capacity of most parts of Ignorants until it be explained to them, and therefore they can have no pretence or claime of Right to it; but if such Persons will be so curious as to take a look of it, its like they may find some things (in my Observations especially) which may be a means to reclaime them, and make them sensible of their Ignorance and folly in contemning and neglecting an Art, by which a Man doth reap so many undenyable Advantages.

And if the reading of this do it not, I assure them I shall not put my self to the trouble so much as to think of doing it any other way, having lost all hopes that any thing will succed if this once fail; for to deal Ingenously, I am resolved never to put Pen more Paper upon this Subject, seing I think what I have said first and last upon it, not only abundantly sufficient to Instruct those, whose gentile Inclinations do dispose them to take delight in, and follow this Useful Art, but also to convince and perswade all who have the leas Drop of generous Blood, of the worth and excellency of it.

But leaving such Persons to follow their foolish Ininclinations, I do really acknowledge, that it is only to such generous Spirits as you are (to whom I have Addressd these following Sheets) that I so earnestly recomend the closs Practice and Observance of thir subsequent Rules, in the rejecting of Approbation of which, I shall wholly submit my self to your Impartial Cencure; earnestly Intreating, that if there shall be found any thing in them Repugnant to the first Principles & true Fundamentals of Art, I may be acquainted with it, that so I may either Vindicate my self, or acknowledge my Faults and Error; in both which I shall most willingly endeavour to satisfie all True Lovers of Art.

And I assure you, were it not that I am Ambitious, this Art (for which I have such an Estime my self, and of which I think I have given sufficient Testimonies) should be both improven and be hereafter had in more Repute amongst the generality of our Gentry then it hath been hitherto, I had never beein either at the Trouble of Charges, to expose my self a second time to the sensure of the Publick by giving you this (I may call it my Master piece upon this Subject) in Print.

I thought to have had the Approbation of most of the Masters prefixed to this Piece; but there being some things in my Observations (especially anent the Abuses committed in Fencing-Schools to which I refer you) in which we differ, and which they would not go alongst with, I have therefore only condescended to Print the Aprobation of one who is of the same Opinion with my self, which I hope will not be thought any Vanity in me, seing I am most sensible the Applause and Commendation he is pleased to bestow upon me, is far above what I really deserve.


William Machrie
Fencing Master,

Judge and Arbitrator of all who make any publick Trial of Skill in the Noble Art of the Sword, within the Kingdom of Scotland.

Right Honourable

I Receive your Papers, and have perused them so narrowly, that there is not one Paragraph or Line that has escaped my strictest Observation; wherein I find nothing but Plain, Undenyable, and Inerrable Truths: And without Complement) beyond any thing that ever I have Read on that Subject; all other Authors being so Abstruse and Intricate, that those who have knowledge of the Sword, cannot reach the understanding of their Writtings; so that in my Opinion, who ever may claime the Honour of being the first Author of the Noble Art of Defence, I am confident there is none who reads what you have Writ on that Subject; but will readily Esteem you one of the most considerable Advancers of it, that any Age or Country hath yet produced.

The Rules of Practice which you have so Clearly and Orderly set down in your Scots Fencing Master, shews you to be a great Master of the Art; and your reducing all these to so small a number, together with the solid Reasons and Demonstratons you have given of them in your Sword-Man's Vade mecum, evidences you to be also in the Judgement of the Sword, a Master of all Artists.

Certainly the Sword was never so much Adepted to the Pen before, as it is now by thatlate Piece of yours, wherein you have done this considerable Honour to the Art, that as formerly (for what of Reasons and Demonstrations of its Rules) it was scarce accounted an Art, and but a Mechanical one at best; Now its Fundamental Rules being digested into good order, founded on firm Reasons, and fortified by solid Demonstrations, it may justly claiim all the priviledges, that any of the Liberal or Mathematical Arts can pretend to.

Proceed then (Worthy Sir) in your Laudable Design or improving the Noble Art of the Sword, which me-thinks does only wait, and hope to receive its outmost Accomplishment, from the Pen & Hands of Sir William Hope. For your pains herein will Infallibly meet with the just Requitable of Praise, Honour and Esteem, from all true Lovers of Armes and Arts, together also with all Imaginable thanks especially from Sword men, whom you cannot either Honour or Oblidge more, then by publishing that Piece; which merits more Applause and Commendation, then can eveer be given it by

Right Honourable, Your most Humble and Obedient Servant, William Machrie.

Aberdeen, April, 30. 1690.

The Sword-Man's Vade Mecum, or A Preservative against the Surprize, of a Sudden Attaque with Sharps, &c.

Being to Direct my Discourse to Persons so knowing and Skilful as You are to whom I have Addressed these Sheet; I think I need to say little (by way of Introduction) in Commendation of this ART, either to Display its Excellencies, or Recommend it to You; the very Tittle of my Dedication supposing you to need neither of these, to excite you to its Practice.

I shall therefore at present only say, that the Generous and Noble Art of Defence (passing by all its other Qualities) may in some Respect be compared to the most Excellent and most Sublime of all Sciencies, I mean that of Divinitie, For as Divinity doth teach us, to defend our Souls from the cruel assaults and attempts of that old Serpent the Devil, the cunning and Subtile alurements of the World, and these pleasants and short, but destroying lusts of the flesh.

So doeth the Art of Fencing teach us to defend our Bodies, from the Assaults and Attaques of all Adversaries, whether Artists or not, who in respect of the cruel designe they have against our Bodies, may in some sense be accounted Devils, it also teaches us not to be deceived by all the fallacious Quirks and Tricks of Artists when we are engaged with them, which do represent the cunning and subtile Allurements of the World.

and lastly, it furnisheth us with directions to defend our selves from the Thrusts and Wounds of our Adversaries, which although they can be said to be pleasant to none but the Giver, yet are short and destroying to the Receiver, short and transitory, because they are swift and given in the twinkling of an eye, or a moment; and destroying, because they seldom faile to dissipate and give a Passage to our Vital Spirits; by which we are sent a packing to our long Home: And therefore they may be justly compared (because of their danger and short continuance) to the pleasures of the World; and the Comparison cometh yet nearer, In so far as they reach not only the Body, but oftimes also endanger the Soul.

Seing then there is such as Annallogie betwixt this Humane Art and that Divine Science, what kind of Persons must those be who undervallow it?... Buth when I reflect a little, I find it no great surprizal that Fencing should meet with so many Opposers and Contemners when even Divinity yea GOD Himself (to speak with Reverence) is by some treated En Ridicule, and I am apt to believe that the dispising and contempt of both, (although there be no equality in the Comparison) may flow from the same Original and Source.

For as it is impossible for any Man who considers the Fabrick of the whole, nay; but the smallest and most inconsiderable part of the Universe, to doubt of a first or supreme Beeing, until from the consciousness of his Sins & Provocations, it become his Interest there should be none; so is it Impossible for any Man who reflects upon, and considers the excellencies of Fencing, to doubt or question the usefulness of it; until from a sence of his own Ignorance, and of the Advantadges he knows Artists will have over him; it doth become his Interest, that there should be no such thing as Art, or at least what is called Art should be of no use: And this is certainly one of the chief Reasons, why the Art of the Sword is so much undervalued, by those who understand it not.

But that I may the better represent such Persons to you: consider in what a Pitiful and Deplorable condition they are, when (after having received a challenge, or being obliged to Fight the Rancounter) they seriously reflect upon the Art, and Androitness of their Antagonists, and their own Maladroitness, & Ignorance, by which they are rendred incapable of either knowing what way to begin their Pursuite, or defend themselves; certainly their thoughts at that time must either abaite and cool their Courage, or make them altogether desperate.

And indeed, to see the most part of them when they are engaged for their Lives, one would judge them to be by their Pursuits, rather out of their Witts, and Madd-men, then Sober and Rational Persons; and they are necessitate to force themselves unto that Furie and Passion, that so their frowardness may somewhat supply their Ignorance; for if they declined to Fight, it would loss them their Reputation and Honour; Therefore to save that they must Fight, and in Fighting is odds but they loss their Life, which to preserve they use all the most usnseemly and desperate Actions in the World; all which will not do against compleat Artists such as you are.

And if it be asked why Ignorance (for I expect they will not take it till I give them this Disignation, seing it is not done out of any Contempt to their Persons, or reflection upon their Judgements which may be very deserving in other things, but meerly because it is the custom amongst Swordmen, to let all who understand not the Art of the Sword go under that Name) are generally more Subject to Passion and Forewardness in their Pursute than Artists.

It is Answered, That in some Extremes there is a Coincidence, and that Art and Ignorance may sometimes act alike, as in the instance of Fear and Courage, for as Desperation which is the height of Fear, doth many times (being sharpened by Necessity) excite Courage, and beget Hope; so Temerity which is the height of Courage, doth often (from experience of Danger) breed Caution, which is a discret Fear;

Now to make the application, Ignorance from a sense it hath of the Hazard and Danger it may receive from Art, begets Fear or Despair, and being sharpened up by this Despair, and being sharpened up by this Despair which is as it were a leaven to make it ferment, it is forced and hoaved up (although contrary to its Nature) to Courage and Forewardness which I may properly enough call, Temeritatis vel Ignorantie audacia, and which should never be esteemed nor made use of, except in a great Extreme or Necessity, because it hath its arise from Ignorance, which is the ground and cause of its being so frequently put in practice by those who have little or no Art, and this I take to be the Reason of Ignorants having generally so hot and violent Puruste.

So by this you may perceive how Ignorance may prompt a Man to be Forward and Ventorious as well as Art: now as Ignorance (which is Diametrically opposite to Art, and which should in reason produce nothing but Fear and Concern) doth excite Courage, so doth Art, which in reason should be Prolifick of nothing but Courage and Heroick Actions, breed somethimes Caution, which may be very well called a discreet and reasonable Fear, or rather Peritæ & experientiæ Cautela, and which is only esteemed and put in practice by Judicious and Understanding Artists, because it proceeds from the experience which Art giveth them of the danger they would run in making a violent and inconsiderate Pursute, which is not carried on with Judgement, and performed by Art; ans this is the Reason why Artists are generally not so foreward and irregular in their Pursutes as Ignorants, but more cautious and slow, and consequently more certain and safe.

Is it not therefore (from what I have been saying) far more commendable, to be dexterous and regular in our Offensive and Defensive motions, them irregular, and as it were out of all Hope, and in Despair, that if we overcome, we may be said to have done it by Art and Judgement, and not at randome, and by chance, more beseeming an irrational than a rationalCreature.

If it be, what Art can teach us better, than this of Fencing? I confess I need not recommend it to you, whose Inclinations have already led you that way, but perhaps it may not prove unreasonable Advice to others who may peruse this & the foregoing Dedication.

I shall therefore say no more in Commendation of this Noble and Gentlemany Art, but shall before I proceed, shew you the Method I intend to follow in Communicating and Discovering the Reasons upon which it is grounded, and the Source from whence all its Worth and Security doth flow; and for the more regular Procedure shall first give you the single Rules, one after another, which you are alwayes to have in your Memory; Then Secondly each particular Rule by it self, with the Reasons subjoyned to it upon which it is grounded; And thirdly, some Remarkes and Observations, all of which will be both Useful, and if I mistake it not, pleasant to the Reader.

First, The RULES.

Before I begin, I shall give you a Fundamental, which in respect of his Excellency, and Universality, I may call the Golden Number, or Rule of Three, both because it is alwayes to be taken alongst with you, and to be made a part, (and that none to the least) of each Particular Rule I am to give you, and also because it consists of Three important Terms or Words which are.

Calmness, - Vigour, - and Judgement.

Now these three Words in general, being the only Foundation upon which all True Fencing is built, and each Word in particular being as it were a Column, or Pillar by which my Rules are to be supported, (for without them all would be but Uncertain and False) I shall begin my Fisrt Rule, which as well as all the rest, is to be supported by those three infallible, and never to be too exactly copied Pillars of the composite Order, because each of then in some measure partake of the Beauty and Excellency of the Other two, and to that end Earnestly and Serioulsy intreats and desires: That.

And then no doubt, you will procure by the foregoing Rules, advantage proportionable to the Art you have acquired to put them in practice.

But that my Reduction may yet better answer my Design, (which was to be short and compendious) and be more easily kept in your Memory, I have brought it into a narrower Compass, by, as it were Epitomizing it as followeth.

A Man must be certainly void both of Art and Memory, if upon all necessary Occasions he cannot furnish himself, with such an Excellent Preservative as this; but seeing the very doubting of it, would be so absurd, and discover so much a Man's Ignorance and weakness, I shall say no more, but desiring to leave it as it were Ingraven in your Memory) proceed to the second thing I proposed, which was.


Each particular Rule, with the Reasons subjoined to it, upon which it is Grounded.

Thirdly, Some Remarkes and Observations, &c.

IN the First place I observe, let Ignorants talk what they please, and undervalue both Art and Artists as much as is in their power; yet still it is an undeniable Truth, that Artists have three considerable Advantages of them, which is, first, The knowing to Parrie, and actually Parreing a plain Thrust, better than they can do; For I shall Engage for what any Man pleaseth, That, set up an Ignorant to me at the Wall, who was never taught any thing of the Art of the Sword; I shall with the Art I have, give him half a Dozen plain Thrusts distinctly one after another, and it shall not be in his power to Parrie, or Defend himself from one single Thrust if all the six, and upon the other Hand, let him Thrust at me twenty plain Thrusts at the Wall, he shall not Touch me with one of them; And if this be true (which may be easily put to a Trial, whether it be so or not) then certainly the Artist as I said, hath this first Advantage of an Ignorant, that he can Parrie and Defend himself better then the Ignorant can do for his Heart.

But perhaps when some Persons are reading this, who have seen me when I have been in the Fencing-schools, receive either plain Thrusts at the Wall, from those who were Thrusting upon me, or in Assault when I was playing as one would judge my best, they will be apt to challenge me, and ask how I come to Assert things, the contrary of which they have seen with their own Eyes; As first, That I have been so far from Parreing twenty plain Thrusts upon end, that they have seen me hit once in three or four; And secondly, That in Assaulting, notwithstanding the many exact Rules I pretend to give to save a Man from Contre-temps; yet they have seen me several times Contre-temped, and it is probable, that if I could not Defend my self with my own Rules from Contre-temps, another will hardly do it: Therefore my Rules will not prove so very infallible as I imagine them to be, and that I should not have been so positive in the Commendation of them, seing that I myself know them to have failed me, in that which I do most commend them for, viz. Their security against Contre-temps.

I know thir will be the Thoughts and Objections of some, who will peruse thir Sheets more out or a Curiosity to get something to Object against me, then a desire to reap any Profit or Advantage by them, and therefore I thought fit to set them down in the is place that so I might Answer them.

As to the first, I do not believe that any Man will say, he ever saw me receive a plain Thrust at the Wall from any Ignorant, which is what I affirmed, I would Defend my self from; for if I were not able with the Art I have certainly to Defend my self at the Wall, from the plain Thrusts of all Ignorants, I should then throw down my Fleuret, and undervalue Fencing so much, that I should never more enquire after it, or any wayes encourage the Professors of it, but should do all that lay in my power to power to discover its insufficiency, that Gentlemen might not be for the Future Imposed upon and Cheated, both out of their Money & Time by it. But although I deny my being hitt at the Wall by the plain Thrusts of Ignorants; yet I confess I have been often hitt by Artists, and I do not almost remember that ever I was hitt with plain Thrusts, since I understood any thing of this Art but what was given me either by those who were actually Scholars at the Time, and therefore were no Ignorants; or those who had been once Scholars, and therefore also no wayes deserved the Name of Ignorants, and for my being hitt with a plain Thrust by such, I do no deny it, neither doth it any wayes reflect upon me, because for one Sword-man to be hitt with a plain Thrust by another, is no Disparagement at all, but a very considerable one it is, if an Artist cannot infallibly Defend himself against the plain Thrusts of any Ignorant, and that I am not able to do that I positively deny, and refers the Probation of it t a Trial, when ever it shall be required by Persons who are worth the giving of Satisfaction to in such a Matter; therefore when such Persons accuse me of being hitt with plain Thrusts, they would do well to be so ingenuous as to confess, that those Thrusts were really given my by Artists, which I shall willingly confess, and not by Ignorants which I positively deny, for if that were, they would indeed have good Reason to laugh both at me, and my Directions.

But as to the second, which is, My receiving Contre-temps in Assaults, notwithstanding of what I could do to prevent them, which not only discovers the insufficiency of my Rules to prevent Contre-temps, but also my disinfenuity in Commending, and Accounting Rules to be Infallible, which I by my own proper Experience have found oftner then once, to be both Fallible and Uncertain.

This Objection I confess cometh somewhat closer to me than the former did, and I believe I have started it so fairely, that none who considers either this or the former, but will confess, I have said as much both against my self, and to make this Art of no Repute, as any Ignorant whatsoever could do, and I the ratherlike to make all the Objections possible against it, that People may be convinced I deal above Board, and that there lyeth no Cheat in the Matter; and that also by Answering all Objections, I may in a manner (by reasoning so fairely with them) force them to confess and acknowledge, that the Art of the Sword is not only a Pleasant, but also an Useful and Necessary Art, worthy of the Study of all, but more especially of the Gentry.

But in Answer to the Objection, although I confess I have received many Contre-temps, and not withstanding of all the Art I do have, do still Fear them when I am Assaulting, and although I might also alledge what I did in the Answer, to the preceeding Objection, that all the Contre-temps I ever received were from Artists, (for I positively deny that any Ignorant can give an Artist a reall Contre-temps, which I sufficiently made appear in my Reasons for the Seventh Rule, to which I refer you) and the most part of the Thrusts, that were Exchanged one for another, were also for the most Part from Artists and not from Ignorants, and consequently no disparagement to me; yet passing by that, and granting these exchanged Thrusts were given by Ignorants, I shall give you two Reasons, the one shewing why any Artist, be he never so Expert, may come to receive one Thrust for another from an Ignorant, and the other shewing that he may receive either a real Contre-temps, or one Thrust for another from an Artist, and yet that it can be be no reflection upon my Rules, which, as I said, will prove still infallible if exactly observed.

And the Reason of the first (which is, any Artist receiving one Thrust for another from an Ignorant) is that when People Assault, it is commonly with Blunts, and when an Ignorant, who undervalueth the Art of the Sword, and trusteth all to his own Forewardness is desired by an Artist to shew his Natural Play, he very well considering that he can receive no prejudice by his being hitt with a blunt Fleuret, Rusheth and Rambleth still forewards (let him receive never so many Thrusts) until he either hitteth the Artist with one of his Rambling Thrusts, or other wayes cometh so closs, that the Artist must inclose with him, and he thinketh, if he hath given the Artist but one Thrust (although he himself should receive three or four in the time they are playing) that he hath carried the Day, and quite run down the Art of Fencing, whereas if they were either to play with Real Sharps, or with Fleurets having a quarter of an Inch of a point beyond the button, I make not the least doubt, but their rambling would be a little slower, and they would take better notice to what they did, it being Natural even for the most Foreward and Boldest of Men, to endeavour to save themselves by putting a little stop to their Pursute, when they perceive a Sharp point opposite to, and ready to wound, them, and without which stop or pause, they are sensible they might run the Risk, if not of losing their Life; yet at least of being hurt, and so smarting for their rash Forewardness; so this is the Reason why Artists may receive one Thrust for another from Ignorants, to wit, Their Assaulting commonly with Blunts; Therefore to prevent this inconbeniency, if I were to play with an Ignorant for a Wager, I would play alwayes with pointed Fleurets, and then in GOD's Name let him Ramble his Belly full; For in that case I would know a way to come at him, which might perhaps cause him repent his Forewardness.

But the Reason of the second, (which is that an Artist may either receive a Real Contre-temps or one Thrust for another, (commonly called Exchanged Thrusts) from another Artist is that although they play never so warrily, yet if they fail in the least, to make use of the exact contraries to Contre-temps and Thrusts from the Respost, which I have given them, they expose themselves to both, and I must confess, the Directions are so Nice and Difficult to be performed, that there are but few Sword-men, who are able to put them exactly in practice; so that it is not the defect of the Rules, but the Fault of the Artist, in not observing them strictly in practice, that is, the cause of his being either Hitt, Contre-temped, or Resposted: The Reason I also give for me receiving any of the Three in Assault from Artists, or the first and last from Ignorants; and I much doubt if it be possible for ordinary Artists to observe them altogether exactly, however, the nearer they come to the exact Observance of them, they are certainly so much the securer; And if it be asked why I give Rules so difficult, that neither, I my self, not other Sword-men when they are even at their greatest perfection can without a great deal of difficulty exactly observe. It is Answered, That in this, I Resemble the Divines, who although they give most excellent Rules for Holy Living and Dying, which cannot but be confessed by all Christians, to be most Rational and Orthodox; yet find great Difficultly themselves to Live up to that pitch of Mortification and Holiness, which they require exactly of others under the pain of Eternal Damnation; and yet none will be so bold as to say, because those Rules are not but with great Difficulty exactly observed, that therefore they are not sufficient, and infallibly certain, to bring Salvation to all who exactly observe and square their Lives and Actions conform to them: The Parallel I confess betwixt thir two Subjects is altogether unequal; yet the Comparison will hold good, that although an Artist may receive a Thrust, or be Contre-temped or Reposted, because of his failing to observe exactly my Directions; yet that the Directions may be, and are in themselves absolutely sufficient and infallible, for the preservation of one who exactly observes them, from all kind of Thrusts whatsoever, I doubt not but what I have said, will be thought to be, by all rational Men, a sufficient Answer, both to the Objections, and for proving the sufficiency of my Rules, therefore I shall proceed to where I left; And shew, that.

The second Advantage Artists have over Ignorants, is, in Planting or Adjusting a Thrust, which no Man will controvert, seing it is not to be imagined, that an Ignorant who perhaps did never Thrust fix Thrusts in his Life-time, can be so certain to hitt the part of the Body the aimeth at, as an Artist will be, who hath been taught how to Plant, and it is now and then practising himself with it.

And the Third is the having of Judgement, for I suppose all Artists to have that, other wayes they are really no Artists but Ignorants in Masquerad, that is to say, they pretend to Art, because they have been some time at the Fencing School, and so under that Cloak of being once a Scholar, they conceal their Ignorance; but if they be real Artists they must have the Judgement of the Sword, and that no Ignorant can have, because it is unseparably joyned to the Art it self, and is only acquired by practising of it, and that not Ignorant can pretend to, who never was at the Pains and Trouble, so much as to enquire after it, let alone to be at the Toile to gain it by practice, which is the only true way to come at it.

Now the Advantage an Artist hath over an Ignorant, by having this Judgement, is that by it he can know when such and such a Part of his Adversaries Body is open to him, and what Lessons are most proper to offend such parts as are exposed, and even although his Adversary should not be Open but upon a Closs Guard, it furnisheth him with means to make him discover himself and give an Open: As also it Teacheth him in some measure to understand and know, when, and at what part of his own Body, his Adversary designes to Attaque him: all this and a great deal more it doth to an Artist, but an Ignorant not having it, he is frustrate of all these preceeding Advantages, and therefore certainly at a great deal of loss for the want of it, so that it cannot be denied, but this of having Judgement is the Third considerable Advantage, that all true Artists have over Ignorants I could give you several other Instances in which Artists have considerable Advantages, but I think what I have said sufficient as to this Particular.

Secondly, I observe that in the Fencing schools (and that not only of this Kingdom, but England and France also) there are several Abuses, and things committed which I would have rectified, both for the Benefit of the Scholars, and Reputation of the Masters; although I know it will be thought somewhat strange, that after having said so much in Commendation of Fencing it self, I should at last reflect upon its Professors and Teachers.

But to that I Answer, That although the Art be Grounded upon undeniable Truths and infallible Reasons; yet that is no Argument, but many who profess it may be subject to Errours, fot I am far from attributing Infallibility to them: And I confess I am sorry, I should be necessitate to differ from many of them, in circumstances so considerably tending to the accomplishment and perfecting of Sword men, but my Opinion being backed with so many, and strong Reasons (the Truth and Weight whereof I earnestly recommend to the serious Reflection of the Reader,) I cannot but maintain and defend it; until by as strong and convincing Reasons as I have given for it, I am perswaded of the contrary.

Seing therefore my Proposals are grounded upon Reason, and not upon other Mens practices, I expect they will convince me by it, for that practice which is against Reason, is but deceitful and false, and as it is to the Eternal Fame of the great Duke of Newcastle, that he was the first who Rectified the Abuses of Riding in the Academies, by finding out a new and infallible Method for dressing Horses, which was not thought of before, and which at first had no doubt many Opposers, until from the reasonableness and great Success it had had, they were necessitate to acknowledge its Excellency and Certainty: So I hope I shall have the Honour to be one of the first who hath publickly proposed the Rectifying of Abuses commonly committed in Fencing schools.

The first whereof is, The giving of Scholars at their very first Entering to the School, heavy Fleurets to take their Lessons with; And the Reason they give is Because (say they) the using a weighty Fleuret strengtheneth their Arms and Wrests, and maketh them when they come afterwards to Assault with light Fleurets, to handle them a great deal more Easily and Nimbly, then they would have done, had they been still accustomed to play with light ones.

All this I grant, for it cannot be denied, but that which I condemn is, their giving these heavy Fleurets to Schollars at their very first entring to them, when they understand not so much as how to give in a Plain Thrust, or to move their Fleuret regularly any way, for it is certain that they never being accustomed to move their Wrests, the first time that they use that Motion it will be a trouble to them, and make their Sinewes Ake, although they had nothing in their Hands at all, let alone a stiff heavy Fleuret, just as a Man when he is first Learning to Elonge or Stretch, the Sinewes of his Thighs will Ake for a Day or two after, although he force not himself to a full stretch: And as it would be thought a little strange for a Master to force a young Schollar the very first or second Day after his first entring to the School to his full Stretch, or before he hath by custome made Elonging familiar and easy to him; so I say, at the beginning a Schollar should make use of a very light Fleuret untill by a little Practice and Use, his Wrest be acquainted with the turns of the Parrades and Motions of the Lessons, and then, and not till then (which is about three Weeks or a Month at most after his first entering) should be given him a weighty Fleuret to strengthen his Wrest and Nerves, and with that he should alwayes take his Lessons, and Parrie his Adversaries plain Thrusts at the wall, the using of which, will undoubtedly make him handle a light Fleuret or Sword, as he shall have occasion for them, a great deal more firmly and nimbly, then if he had alwayes used a light Fleuret.

For (to make a Comparison) as it is the Common Custom for Dancing Masters abroad, to wear plates of Leed betwixt the plies of the Soles of their Ordinary walking Shoes, that to they may feel themselves as it were Lighter, and Cleevrer, when they put on their Light Dancing Shoes; so will the constant using of weightly Fleurets, make Men when they are to assault with Light ones, or to make use of their Sword, to think them a great deal Lighter then really they are, and the very Fancy of that will cause them make both, their Parrades, and Thrusts quicker then otherwayes they would; But, as I said, their Wrests should be alwayes made Supple, and first accustomed with very Light Fleurets, untill they be three Weeks or a Month at School, and then it is a fit time to give them heavy Fleurets to take their Lessons withal and not sooner, unless their Masters designe to weaken and ruine their Wrests and Nerves. And this Leads me to

The Second thing I observe, is not so much Practised in our Scots and English Schools as I could wish (for I acknowledge the French are free of it) which is the constant Parrieing, and Thrusting of Plain Thrusts upon one another at the wall, this is the only thing which maketh a Man to have a Swift Hand upon his Pursute, and a firme and sure Parrade upon his Defence and there is no other Reason for the French and their having so Swift a Hand in giving in their Plain Thrusts, but their constant accustoming themselves to Thrust upon their commarads at the Wall, of sometimes at a Mark in the Wallm when they want the opportunity of having one to Thrust upon; therefore seing the having a Swift Hand is such advantage, and the most certain way to acquire it, is, to to frequent the Thrusting and Parreing of Plain Thrusts at the Wall, and that (as I have Orderd) with heavy Fleurets I think it will be thought but Reasonable that I advise the Rectifying of this, as well as the preceeding abuse.

The Third thing I observe, is, that they burden their Scholars with too many Lessons, especially Offensive ones, whereas if they would teach them fewer Offensive Lessons (for they will come to them Naturally) and keep them closer to the Defensive Part, People would see fewer Contre-temps, and better Sword-men in the Schools, then for the most Part they do.

The fourth, is, the suffering Scholars generally to take their Lessons in their Cloaths, a thing which hindereth a Mans Body to be so soon broken, and made Pliable as otherwayes it would, because a Man cannot stretch so freely in his Coat as he can do in a West-coat, or Vest, & also it spoileth his Cloths, & if he Fenceth much, the sweat maketh him uneasy the whole Day thereafter, whereas Playing in a West-coat a Man is both Nimbler, and more at ease the rest of the Day, his Coat being dry when he goeth from the School, which perhaps otherwayes would be all torn and neastie with the smell of Sweet and dust, which would be both uneasie to him, and unpleasant to those he is going to converse with

Therefore in my humble opinion no Scholar should be suffered to take his Lessons in his Cloaths untill he be well Grounded, and then in opposition to what I have been saying, I am of the opinion that he should for the most part both take his Lessons, and Assaults in his Cloaths and walking Shoes, for this will confirm him in his Play, and make him upon all Encounters ready, without being surprized, to oppose the Pursutes, and Attaques of his Adversary, with as great ease as if he were stript and in his Fencing Shoes, now this being of great Importance to Compleat and Confirme a Swordman in his Play, it should by all means be lookt to, and taken notice of, that Schollars before they be well Grounded both in Lessons and practice do not Play in thier Cloaths, and that afterwards when they are Grounded they should, to strengthen and confirm them in it.

The Fifth is the suffering Schollars to soon to Assault before they be at least two or three Months standing, and this is also one of the Reasons, why People see so many Contre-temps exchanged in the Schools, because when they begin to Assault so soon, they have neither Art nor Judgement to shun or prevent them: and were it for no more but this, I think the Masters should rectifie it, that they would find it for their own particular Profit and Advantage; for when once their Schollars are accustomed to Assaults, they think it almost below them to take any more Lessons, but think they have attained enough of the Art, and so Quite the School, and there is an end of them, and being at the School, they get the Name of Sword-men which is enough to them, but GOD knows, if they really deserve it, whereas if they were kept longer from Assaulting, they would both continue the longer, their Schollars, and at the end prove better Sword-men.

The Sixth and last thing I shall take notice of in Fencing Schools, is the neglect of teaching the Blow as well as the Thrust, and this both the English and French Masters are guilty of, as well as our Scots, And I am apt to think it may proceed from a mistake, in thinking that the teaching of the Blow would be prejudicial to the quick performance of the Thrust, but whoever may be prepossest with this false Opinion; I shall endeavour to convince them of the contrary by what followeth, and of the necessity there is for a Mans being taught, and understanding both Blow and Thrust, to be reputed a Compleat Sword-man.

Now the chief reasons, or objections they give against teaching of the Blow, or Broad-sword, at the same time with the Small, are three; The first is that it doth not teach a Man to stretch himself so much as the small Sword doth, and therefore will not supple and break his Body so well, and consequently not give him that agility of Wrest and Limbs, which the Small Sword doth.

In answer to which, I say first, that it is a great mistake, to think that the Blow doth not teach a Man to stretch, as well as the Thrust, for in Learning the Thrust, there is nothing that maketh a Man to stretch, and to acquire nimbleness and agility in his Limbs, but Advancing, Reteiring, Elonging and sometimes Jumping back after the gibving in of a Thrust, now all this a Man doth when he is taught the Blow, or Broad-sword, and therefore there is no difference betwixt the learning of the Broad-sword, and Small, for the acquiring of agility and nimbleness.

I know some will say, that the chief difference consists in the Elonging, because in learning the small-sword, a Man is taught to Stretch himself a great deal more, then when he is learning the broad, or back-sword, but this is likewise a mistake, because those who teach the true Art of the Broad-sword, cause their Schollars, when they take take their Lessons, make their full Elonges or Stretches, and likewise recover, and jump back off those Stretches, as frequently, as if they were taught the Smal & those Masters who teach not the Broad; or Back-sword after this manner, discover only their own Ignorance, but no imperfection in the Art: and although I am fully perswaded, that the Small-sword hath the Advantage of the Broad, as to the quickness and subtility of its Motions, yet I am convinced it hath no Advantage over it, as to the rendring a Man more Agile and Nimble; And therefore that the teaching of the Blow at the same time with teh Thrust, can be no wayes prejudicial to the quick performance of the Thrust afterwards, as a man shall have occasion for it.

Secondly, I say the teaching of the Blow at the same time with the Thrust, is not only as I have made appear, no wayes prejudical to a Mans stretching his Body and Limbs, but also doth not hinder him to acquire that agility and nimbleness of the Wrest, which is required, to have a swift Hand in the giving in of any Thrust, for let any Man but consider the turns of the Wrest in making any of the Parrades, or playing any of the Lessons belonging to the Small-sword, and the turns of it in performing teh Blows and Flourishes of the Broad, and he will find the turns in the Broad to be a great deal more Circular and difficult,and consequently fitter for the Suppling and Breaking of a Mans Wrest, so that it may become Nimble and Agile, then any Parrade or Lesson of the Small, and there is no great Wonder it should be so, seing it hath its Rise and foundation from the Art of the Broad, for I believe there are but few who are Ignorants of the antiquity of the Art of the Broad-sword, and how that it was long made use of before, ever the Small was found out, or heard of, and I am so far from thinking the Art of the Small-sword a particular Art by it self, that I am fully convinced, it is only the Art of the Broad more refined, and made more perfect, in so far as at the first the Blow was only made use of without any Thrust, and the Art of the Small-sword perfecteth it, by teaching how eth Thrust may be joyned to the Blow without any the least confusion, or hinderance, of the Blow, as occasion shall offer. Now how the teaching of both at one & the same time hath run into destietude, I confess I cannot comprehend, but certainly it is a neglect and omission, which all who desire to be compleat Sword-men, should endeavour to have rectified.

The Second objection is, that grant the teaching of the Blow at the same time with the Thrust, doth not hinder a Mans Stretching, or his acquiring the same agility of Body and nimbleness of Wrest, which he would do if he were only taught the Small; yet say some, there is such a vast difference betwixt the performance of a Blow, and the giving in of a Thrust, that if a Man were taught to do them both at one time, the one would quite confound the other, and make a Man when he is taking his Lesson with the Small, to give a Blow when he should give a Thrust, and when he is taking his Lesson with the broad, to give in a Thrust when he should make a Blow, which would render both the Arts altogether useless to him, and therefore a Man had better perfect himself fully in the one, before he attempt the other, then desire to be taught them both at one, and the same time.

Here is (one would think) a very strong and reasonable objection, but yet ist shall be very clearly and shortly answered, and first, I say betwixt the Parrades and Guards of the Broad-sword, and Parrades and Guards of teh Small, at least the most part of them, there is but little Difference for the Parrades in Quart and Terce of the Medium-guard, so resemble the first Parrades in Quart and Terce of the Smal-sword, & the Parads of the Hanging-guard, do likewise resemble the second second Parrades in Terce of the Smal-sword with a slooping point: thus much for the Parrades, and as for the Guards, the posture of the Medium guard is a little Different from that of the Quart guard in the Small, the outside-guard little different from the Terce, and the Hanging-guard little different from the Terce-guard in the Smal-sword with a slooping point: to that the difference that are betwixt the Parrades and guards of the Small-sword, and Parrades andGuards of the Broad are so inconsiderable, that I am confident no Man who understandeth both, will say, that the teaching the Parrades and Guards of the one can be any wayes Prejudicial to the teaching the Parrads and Guards of the other at the same time.

But Secondly, if there be any considerable difference, it lieth in the offensive part, in that there is as they say, a vast difference betwixt the delivering of a Blow, and the giving in of a Thrust, and this is that which they maintain will so much confound a Man that it will make him Strike when he should Thrust, & Thrust when he should Strike.

For my part, I confess I cannot but admire how People of Judgement can talk at this rate, for can there be a greater Difference betwixt the performance of any Stroak, and the giving in of a Thrust, then there is betwixt the performance of one Lesson in the Smal-sword, and thePlaying of another in the same Art? no certainly, for there is as great, yea more Difference betwixt a Plain Thrust, and a Feint a la rest, or betwixt a Feint a la rest, and Binding, or betwixt Binding & Passing, or betwixt Passing and Quarting and Volting then there can be pretended to be betwixt the giving in of a Thrust, and the making of any Blow whatsomever, so that if upon the one Hand it be Pleaded that the Difference betwixt Blow and Thrust, is the Reason why they should not be taught together, because the one would confound the other, I plead upon the other Hand and for the same Reason, that nothing should be taught of the Small-sword at the same time but a Plain Thrust, because the Difference betwixt it and the other Lessons is as considerable,if not more, and therefore as apt to confound a Man, because when he should Play onel Lesson, he will make use of another as far out of purpose and season, an the making of a Blow would be when he should give a Thrust, but all this is so ridiculous, that I shall say no more of it, for a Man who will maintain this, must also maintain, that a Man cannot learn any two different Exercises at once, as for Ex: the Exercises of the Pick and Musket, or to Play upon the Guittar and Lute, or to Dance a Courant and Minue without confounding the one with the other, because they have all Different Motions, which is a most extravagant opinion, and the contrary of which we see dayly practised not only by Men, but even by Beasts, for I believe there are but few Gentlemen who have been abroad, and have not seen Horses when they have been either Breaking for the Manage, or to confirm them in it, get most different Lessons for that effect in one Morning, as one to supple their Shoulders, another to put them upon their Haunches, one for Passnger, another for the Terra a Terra, one for Carveting, another for Crouppading, and in fine, one for Caprioling, and another for Balotading, and all this (as I said) in one Morning, now the motions of the Horses limbs are different in all those Lessons and Aires, and seeing the difference of the motions doth confound an irrational Horse, not hinder him to perform what ever Lesson or Aire his Rider requireth of him; I conclude, That the difference betwixt Blow and Thrust, will far less confound or hinder a Rational Man to make use of either, as it shall please him, or his Master to demand them of him. But that I may the better both vindicate my Opinion as to this, and perswade you, that it is not meerly a speculative fancy, but a most practicable, and usefull improvement of the Art of the Sword; I do recommend to all who shall not be convinced of it by the reasonable Arguments I have proposed, that they would Repair to William Machries School, where they will see both Blow & Thrust, taught at the same time with a great deal of ease and expedition, and without the least confusion.

The third and last objection, is this, that supposing the Teaching of the Blow at the same time with the Thrust, be no ways prejudicial to the quick performance of the Thrust, and that all I said in favours of the Blow should hold good & true, yet it is altogether unnecessary to teach the Blow, because a Man that is absolutely Master of the Thrust, can supply all the wants of the Blow by it, and seing the Thrust hath so great Advantage over the Blow, as to the danger and deadliness of its wounds, which no Sword-man will deny, and that it can always be made use of in place of a Blow, therefore the Teaching of the Blow is not necessary, but ought to be Foreborn.

You see by this objection they endeavour wholly to condemn and exclude the Blow, not as being any wayes prejudicial to the quick performance of the Thrust, but as being in it self altogether useless, and not to be regarded, in respect of the Advantage the Small-sword hath of it, by the Dangerous Wounds it maketh, which prove for the most part Mortall, whereas commonly the Wounds of the Broad-sword are not so Dangerous, which in my Opinion insinuats as much, as that a Man with a Small-sword should not stand to hazard his Receiving of a Blow for the giving of a Thrust.

I confess I am as much convinced of the Advantage the Thrust hath of the Blow as to its Wound, as any Man can be, as you may see in my Scots Fencing Master, but that which I condemn is that an Artist should trust to the difference of Wounds, and so venture a Contre-temps, and not rather endeavour first to defend himself himself by his Art from the Blow, and then give in his Thrust for a Man may chance to misplant his Thrust after he hath received a very severe Stroak, perhaps near to the loss of his Hand or Arm, and then I am confident, he will think it had been better Judgement, and he would have shewn more of his Art, if he had defended first the Stroak, and then have given in his Thrust: but passing over this,

I assure you there is no Smal-sword-man, be he never so expert, but will find himself at a considerable Disadvantage in offering to defend a Stroak, unless he particularly understand some thing of the defence of the Blow or Broad-sword, and for my own part I found so great a Disadvantage in not being acquainted with the Parrades and Blows of the Broadsword, when I had occasion to Play with the Fleuret against the Cudgell, (for I was once almost of this opinion my self) that I was never at ease untill I found out a particular posture for the Small-sword against the Broad; which I did, and it is also set down in my Scots Fencing Master, but my curiosity not resting there, I resolved to learn a little of the Broad-sword also, which I did in a very short time, and since I find it a great deal more easy to me to defend my self either with a Broad against a Broad, or with a Small against a Broad, then I did at that time; and the reason is, because I now know both the Parrades and Lessons peculiar to the Broad, which before I was ignorant of, and which put me to the trouble, as I said of finding out a particular posture withe the Small-sword for it, which did indeed at that time answer my design, but doth so now much more, because I understand the Art of the Broad Sword better now then I did then.

I tell you this, not out of any Vanity to commend my self, but that you may understand what Advantage there is in being taught both Blow and Thrust, and let any man who doubteth it, and hath only been taught to Thrust, make but a trial, and I am confident he will find the same difficulty I did, and be som of the same opinion I was when I wrot my other Book, to which I Refer him, and of which I am still “That every man who desires tobe a Compleat Sword-man should learn both Blow and Thrust, and unless a Man do it I do not see how he can pretend to the Name if a Compleat Sword-man, for if a Man Understand only the Thrust and not the Blow, then he may deserve the Name of a Compleat Small-Sword-man, but not of a Compleat Sword-man, because he is Ignorant of the Blow.” In likemanner if a Man understand only the Blow and not the Thrust, be may deserve the Name of a Compleat Broad-sword-man, but not of a Compleat Sword-man, because he Understandeth not also the Thrust, so that in my Opinion to deserve the name of a Compleat Sword-man, a Man must understand both Blow and Thrust otherwise that Title doth no wayes belong to him, neither can he with any confidence pretend to it,

But besides what I have said, there is no Sword-man will deny, but that it sometimes so falleth out when Men are Playing together, that it would be more convenient to make a Blow then to give in a Thrust, and upon the other Hand, at other times more convenient to give in a Thrust then to make a Blow, so that if a Man know not how to deliver a Blow as well as a Thrust, he is upon these occasions at a visible loss and disadvantage, whereas if he knew how to perform both, he would alwayes know how to behave himself according to these several circumstances without the least confusion.

But why need I in this Place endeavour to prove the necessity of that, the contrary whereof is condemned by the constant practice of most Nations in the World, for do we not see the generality of the People both Gentle and Simple, when they go to the Warrs, provide themselves fot the most part with Sheering-Swords, and why would they do that, if if were not out of an opinion, that they think they may have occasion to Strike as well as to Thrust, and that they think the Thrust alone would not be so effectual, as when it can be joined to the blow, and that they are, being thus provided, in a better capacity to make use of either at pleasure, and accordingly as occasion shall offer; From all which I conclude, That there is an absolutely necessity for a Man who intends to be a compleat Sword-man, to be taught and understand both Blow and Thrust, and I think it a thing so indispensably necessary that the learning of it by all persons who understand it not, whether Masters or others, at all times, and at any Age whatsoever, can no ways reflect upon their Judgement in the Art they profess, not be any wayes derogatory from the reputation they have already had of being good small-Sword-Men, and the like I say in behalf of the Thrust, to those who profess only the Broad, so that I think neither of them should think it below them to be instructed of other, in what they are ignorant of, and of what is so useful and necessary for the compleat perfecting of the Art of the Sword, and consequently of Sword-mwn.

Seing therefore (as I think I have sufficiently made appear) there is an absoulute necessity for understanding both blow and thrust to be reputed a compleat Sword-Man, I must recommend the use of the Sheering-sword, and I would advise all without exception, who wear now only Rapiers, to wear light and narrow Sheering-swords, at least Rapiers with good edges which will both answer the design of the Small-sword as to thrusting, and of the Broad as to the blow of striking, and to put a Man in a capacity of using either as he shall think fit, when it shall be his misfortune to be engaged, and which will be as light and convenient to carry, as any ordinary walking-sword.

Its like the Fencing Masters in this Kingdom may think I have gone too great a length upon this subject, in so far as I take upon me to play the Doctor, and offer as it were in a Magisterial way, to teach them their Duty, and also in that I seem to tax some of them of ignorance, in not understanding the blow as well as the thrust, because I recommend the learning of the blow to Masters, if they be ignorant of it as well as to others.

But that they may not mistake me, I desire they would consider that this preceding discourse (anent the abuses in Schools) doth not particularly aim at them, but al all Fencing-Mastersin general, both at Home and Abroad, who are guilty of them; and that they are really guilty of them; and that they are really guilty of tehm, I appeal to all who have frequented their Schools; therefore I expect our Masters will not take what I have said as a particular reflection upon them, although I cannot deny but they suffer the same abuses to be committed in their Schools; and therefore must excuse me, if I censure them with the other Masters, untill I find them rectified.

And let them not think it will pass as a suficient reason for them to continue these preceeding abuses in their Schools, by saying it is the custome abroad, and that they suffer nothing to be done in their Schools, but what is done in the Schools of other Kingdoms, and that because it is not the custome for any Small-Sword Master abroad to teach the Blow at the same time with the Thrust, that therefore they will not do it, because they intend not to be the first Beginners and Promoters of any thing which is extraordinary and out fashion, (which to my particular knowledge is the chief Defence and Language of some) this I say is but very weak reasoning, for at that rate there should never have been any Art or Science found out, or improven, if People had been alwayes restricted to the old Root and Footsteps of their Predecessors, so I expect they will either give me as strong Reasons against the Rectifying of these abuses, (especially the teaching the Blow at the same time with the Thrust) as I have given for them, other wayes they most pardon me to differ from them, by recommending my own opinion which is grounded upon reason, and condemning and Rejecting theirs at least untill they produce stonger Arguments and Reasons for it, then hitherto I have heard.

And although this indeed be my Opinion, that Ignorant Masters who understand not the Blows should learn it; yet it doth not conclude that I reckon those who profess the Art of the Sword in this Kingdom to be in that Categorie, no, I am farr from having so bad an Opinion of them, and I am apt to think the only thing they should be condemned for, and for which I do indeed condemn them, is not that understand the Blow as well as the Thrust, and therefore not capable to teach it (for if they denied that, they would discover too much weakness) but that they understanding both, should teach only the one, viz. The Thrust, and wholly neglect the other, by throwing it out of Doors, this I confess is a neglect of such importance,, and of such bad consequence, that I neither can, nor will forbear the giving of my earnest advice, that it, as well as the five preceeding particulars, be rectified, and then I am confident our Schollars shall acquire Art inferior to none in Europe, and our Masters, by them that repute and Esteem, which both their abilities, and they, rectifying of such Abuses, and Omissions, do really deserve.

And I likeways would not have them Foolish as to think, that (by what I have been saying in Reference to the teaching both Blow and Thrust) I design to recommend any Particular Master before another, no, I am not so mean as to have any such Particular by-end, my designe is so farr from that, that it is altogether general, and meerly for the Advantage of the Art, and to Compleat Swordmen for if Masters cannot by the Art, Care, and Pains they take, recommend themselves to Schollars, they shall never have any from me, because I think all Masters should be reputed, and had in Esteem, only for their distinct and accurate method of teaching, and for the pains they take to cause their Schollars understand, and comprehend what they are Learning, and not for any recommendation they can get from any Particular Person whatsomever, and therefore if they expect any particular recommendation from me, they are hugely deceived, for I wish them all alike well, that is to have Flourishing Schools, and Expert Schollars, to testifie that they are Masters indeed, and not Bunglers, of which there are but too many.

The next thing I observe, is, that if all I have said he duely and exactly put in practice, it will infallibly make a Man a true Artist, and if he be truely an Artist, his having Artwill increase his boldness and courage, and put him in a capacity, not only to preserve his Life and Honour, but also to force as it were a respect and esteem to himself, from those, who although they undervalue his Art, yet darr not be so bold (least he should make them smart for it) as publickly to own it, but are rather satisfied by their silence to acknowledge his dexterity, and that he is to be comended fo the pains, and labour, he hath taken to acquire so gentile and useful an Art.

But suppose they should openly reflect upon him, and undervalue his Art, by threatening him with that unanswerable defence, as they think of their Ignorance, and infallible Defeater of all Art (I mean by ingaging him to fight with a Pistol, or other such like Fire weapons) and indeed to hear some People talk, one would think that by their gaining this one point, of engaging a Sword-manto fight with Fire-armes, they make no doubt, but all will go well with them, and that the day is certainly their own, it being a kind of Proverb amongst them. “Is such a Person a Sword-man, if it be answered; Yes, then reply they after a mocking manner; What doth it signifie? If I were to engage with him, I could soon make his Art of little use to him, I would take a Pistol to him, and then I pray you, where is all his Art of Defence, I believe he will hardly parie a Pistol Ball with it.” Such discourse as this is but too common amongst Ignorants, and they think when they talk at this rate. they have found the Philosopher Stone, which in place of turning every thing into Gold, can turn all their Ignorance into the profoundest Art and Skill, and all skilful Persons, Art, and Judgement into the greatest Ignorance; so that in their opinion, Artists can reap no advantage by what they understand, and themselves can reap all, because they understand nothing.

But alas poor Ignorants! Their Folly in this is as discernable, as their Ignorance in the former; and they can pretend to have no more Advantage over a Sword-man, by engaging him to make use of Pistols. either a Foot or upon Horse-back. but what all Men are alike Master of, I mean to receive the shot, and take their hazard of being hit or mist; for no Man will be so foolish, as to pretend to parie the shot of a Pistol; yet there are some methods, which I think not fit at present to mention, that may be used to shun a shot, the which who can neatly make use of them, will certainly have an advantage of those who understand them not, but set themselves up like an immovable stock or post to be shot at.

But supposing all Men alike dextrous as to this point, that is to know no means of avoiding, but meerly to take their hazard of being hit or not; yet `I say, in the Offensive part, there may be a vast Advantage acquired, for whosoever will according to the advice in my Scots Fencing master, accustom himself to shot at a Mark, both a Foot and on Horse-back, will, when he is neccessitate to use it in great earnest, have almost as considerable advantage over his Adversary in knowing to adjust his shot,(supposing his Adversary to be ignorant and not to have practised to adjust his) as he would have had a Foot in adjusting his Thrust, his Adversary being likewise ignorant of the Art of the Sword; so that if this Person of whom I am discoursing, and who boasteth so much of the Advantage he will have by using Pistols, hath but as little of the practice of shooting, as he hath of Thrusting, he can then in Reason pretend to no more Advantage by using the Pistol, then the Artist can, except what meer Chance and Fortune giveth him, which is far from any ground of certainty.

Therefore, I say, he only will probably have the Advantage with Pistol, who hath frequented most of the shooting at a Mark, and if neither of them have done that, then none of them can pretend to any visible Advantage over the other; but what, as I said is meerly casual and by chance. But I confess, if the Ignorant be better skill'd in shooting then the Artist, in that case he hath an Advantage; and I can see no Reason why the Artist should more answer the Challenge with Pistols, seing he is a better Marks Man then the Artist. then he would answer the Artist with Swords. because the Artist was the most Adroit at thrusting� So that the only way to end this Debate, is, that they either fight with Weapons altogether unknown to both, or otherwise do as one of those two Men, who after they had quarrelled, left the one should have had any Advantage by the Art in the Weapons which might have made use of, did propose a Barrel of Gun-powder should be brought to each, in the middle of which, they were to place themselves, and then with fired Matches to try who could most Manfully, or I may rather say Madly blow up the other. And I know no other way but this toodecide the Quarrel: For if a Man refuse to fight me with a Sword, because he thinketh I am a better Sword-man than he, I must certainly be a great Fool, if I fight him with a Pistol, because he proposethit as a particular Advantage to himself:

I know I will be Answered to this, That it is the custome for those who receive the Challenge, to choose the Weapons, and so that will end the Debate, because who ever giveth the Challenge, is in Honour obliged to Answer the other with whatever Weapons he propose.

I confess it is so, and I think it most reasonable when a Man is forced to fight, that he should have the choice of what Weapon he will venture his Life with; But what I was saying, concerns only such, for some, who after they have given a Challenge, and their Antagonist received it, and appointed Swords to be their Weapons, they afterwards getting to notice that he is a Sword-man, cunningly decline the fighting him with that Weapon, and propose Pistols, because of the inequality there would be in making use of Swords. Now I say, when a Sword-man rancounters with such a Person as this, who first giveth him a Challenge, & then afterwards declines to fight him with the Weapons he proposed, I see, I say, no reason why he should more answer him with Pistols, seing he proposed it for a particular Advantage, then the other did him with Swords, because he judged it would prove to his disadvantage, for if the Refusalreflect upon any of the two, it must be certainly upon him who gave the Challenge; Because, although the was so stout as to Appeal, yet had not the Courage to Answer the other with the Weapons he proposed; Therefore I conclude, That a man had far better forbear a Challenge, then decline the Weapons after they are chosen.

But, There is in my humble Opinion, no better way to take away all such Debates, then to live soberly and peaceably, according to the Doctrine and Precepts of that Religion which we profess, and then we shall make use of all those Arts, more for divertisement to ourselves, then prejudice to out Neighbours.

Now after what I have said, let any considering Person judge, if an ignorant, by ingaginga Sword-man to fight with a Pistol, hath got so great an Advantage, as to be any wayes a ground of railing at, mocking, or turning into Ridicule the Art of the Sword, no certainly, hath got none, but what the Artist may likewise pretend to as well as he, and therefore I would advise such Persons rather to betake themselves to the practice of Fencing , and Shoteing, that so their Advantage may be grounded and depend upon their Art, and not upon such Fancies and Notions, which, if real, are casual; but for the most part, prove Chimerical, and have only their existence in their ignorant Brains, but are below the being regarded, or taken notice of by any Gentleman or Judicious Person, who should ground his thoughts upon Reason, and not in the Air, that if they be examined they may prove solid and durable as Reason, and not volatile and changeable, as the the Aerial Foundation upon which they are built, and so discover the Weakness and Ignorance of their first Promoter and Author; But not to isist longer upon this,

I observe in the fourth and last place that although all I have said in commendation of Fencing, were but Stories and Lies, and the vain imaginations of a Hypocondfiack brain, yet all Gentlemen should practice it, & have an esteem for it , if it were for no other reason but this, that it is a most pleasant divertisement, and an Innocent, Healthful, and Manly Recreation and Exercise for the Body, and although a Man could reap no Advantage by it for the Defence of his Body; yet that is very keeping a Mans joynts and members nimble and cleaver and in ready trime, as it were, for any other Divertisement or Exercise, as Tenice, Dancing, Riding, &c. should make it Esteemed and Practised by all who are above the rank of Clowns.

For to use the words of a Wise man "The understanding of this Noble and Useful Art, is a Quality and Perfection, hardly attainable by those who hold the Plough, and glory in the Goad;who drive Oxen, and are occupied by their Labours, and whose talk is of their Bullocks, who give their minds to make Furrows; and are diligent to give the Kine fodder. No, it agreeth not with the Nature of such; neither is it for the Smith who fitteth by the Anvil, and considereth the Iron work, the vapour of the Fire, wasteth his Flesh, and he fighteth with the beat of the Furnace; the noise of the Hammer and Anvil is ever in his Ears, and his Eyes look still upon the Pattern of the thing he maketh." Such vulgar and undisciplined Minds as those, are not ordinarily capable to conceive the Intricacies, and Excellencies, of this most Gentile and Gentle.manny Art.

And although it cannot be denied, but some mean kind of People profess, practise and take delight in it, yet those are Men who are more refined in their Judgements and Inclinations, than the generality of the Vulgar are, and who by the same gentile Inclination they have to follow the Sword, discover that there is in them something more then ordinary, and that they aime at somewhat, above what either their Birth or Education could really make them pretend to, so that I make no doubt, but if such Persons had either really been, or had had the Education peculiar to Gentlemen, they would have been in a fitter capacity both to have improven themselves, and better instructed others in that Art, for which they have such a respect and liking.

And if this which I say hold true, then no doubt but the understanding of this Art, belongeth in a more particular manner to Gentlemen, of those who are calledLes Homes d' espee. then to any other; and therefore it is my advice, and I earnestly recommend it to such, not to ungentleman themselves by the neglect and contempt of an Art, which as I have made appear, is so peculiar to, and I may say inseparable from the Name and Character they bear.

An Art so Noble, Useful, and Gentile,
To Speak its praises, would a Volume fill,
For when that I its Merits would display,
My Mouth is stopt, my Muse is at a stay.
It so exceeds all that I can conceive,
I'm forc'd to silence, yet to speak must crave;
But seing all I can express and shew
Would far come short, of what's its real due,
I shall be short, and only of it say,
It is a Badge, Accomplishment, and Ray,
Which doth adorn all who to understand
Its real Use and Worth, do take in hand.
An Art so useful, that no Gentleman,
Of Valour, Honour, be without it can,
For it to all who carry Sword by side,
Should be a Pilot, and a constant Guide;
Unless they do renounce the Name they bear,
And that which them from others Character:
For my part, I confess I it esteem,
And for my trusty Safe-guard do it deem,
And alwayes will, knowing it ne're deceives,
Any who to it trust and respect gives;
But believe me who despise it wholly,
Ignorance betray, as well as Folly,
And will repent them(when it is too late)
They trusted none to it, so much, to Fate.

I confess I am neither Poet nor Versificator, yet those Lines offering to my Fancy, and relating to the Subject, I thought fit to set them down; if they are good its by chance, if not, pass them over; I wrote them for my diversitisement, and its like had it not been to divert me, I had not taken the pains to write so much either of Fencing, or in Commendation of it as I have done; However what I have Writ, I recommend to your perusal, which I think can hardly be refused, seing it cost me a great deal of more pains in Writting, then it will do you in Reading; and if you despise my offer, I asssure you I shall take it so ill, and be so much concerned, that I shall never sleep a whit the worse for it.

But that I may draw to a close, if any who shall peruse this Discourse, do not understand the Terms of Art herin mentioned, such as Contre-caveating- Parrades, Contre-temps, Flacanade, Voult-coupee, &c. They may have recourse to my Book of Fencing, Entitled, The Scots Fencing-Master, where they will find all these Termes and Lessons explained to the full.

And that I may end as I began, I earnestly entreat and desire, that with Calmness, and a Vigorous Judgement, you would seriously reflect upon and consider what I have said, before you pass your Verdict and Opinion, and then I doubt not, but it shall jump very near with my own, which is what I expected and wished for.



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