Contents | Dedication | Advertisement | Poem | Introduction | CHAP. I. | CHAP. II. | CHAP. III. | CHAP. IV. | CHAP. V. | CHAP. VI. | CHAP. VII. | Postscript

Chap. VII

Of some chief and undeniable principles, whereupon the art of the sword, ought to be founded.

Jump to the conclusion.

Jump to the rules for assaulting.

The following principles, whereupon I intend to found the whole art of the sword, being chiefly designed for those who profess the teaching of it; there appears to be no need of my endeavouring to press their usefulness upon them, seing they make the communicating of the art of the sword to others, their daily employment; and if they make conscience to to do it faithfully and judiciously as they ought, they will be so far from being dissatisfied with, and disapproving such principles, that upon the contrary, they will not only approve of them, but even walk by them; because it will be a great ease and satisfaction to them, that I have laid them before them; not as if there were nothing to be either rectified or added to them; for I am far from having so vain an opinion of my performance, but only as a true model, whereby the more ordinary masters may regulate their teaching, and the more judicious be assisted, to invent and contrive of themselves, others, which may prove, if possible, more solid and useful.

It being then acknowledged by all judicious persons, that all arts whatsoever, are only designed to assist and perfect nature, and not to cross her, it must certainly follow, that that method of teaching the art of the sword, together with its practice, which is founded upon those principles, that are most consonant and agreeable to nature, and the solid diktats of reason and experience, must be the only truest, and that which all men of judgement will acknowledge should be chiefly made use of, by all who design to improve themselves, whether it be but to such a degree in the art, as may be only serviceable to them for a defence when they shall be attacked; or whether they intend to push their knowledge so great a length, as that they may be in a capacity, when occasion offereth, not only to reason neatly upon the art, as well as to practice it indifferently, but also to communicate it to others, according to the most exact and judicious, as well as practical rules imaginable.

Having therefore of a long time seriously, and with a great deal of deliberation and attentiveness, thought upon, and considered, what principles might according to strictest reason be relied upon, as a post solid foundation, whereupon to establish the art of the sword, that thereby I might make way for promoting a general and universal method of teaching amongst the fencing masters of these islands, which is so much wished for by many, who are encouragers of the art, and who observing the many animosities and divisions which arise daily amongst them, but chiefly in appearance, upon account of the different methods they make use of in teaching, should have them, if possible, removed by such an expedient as this, I found none to answer my expectation and design so well in every particular, as these following, which for method's sake I divide into

Three Classes.
The First whereof respecteth the Art
The Second the Master who is to Teach it; And
The Third, the Scholar who is to be Taught.


Of the principles which respect the Art or first class; and they again may very justly have their division. For,

First, some relate to the weapon or sword that is to be made use of.
Secondly, others to the particular motions, whether defensive or offensive, which may be performed with that weapon, and by the assistance of some particular members of the body, such as feet, legs, thighs, trunck of the body, arms, wrests, hands &c. Therefore,

Of those principles which relate to the Weapon or Sword.

A sword is a weapon so well known, and acknowledged by all, to be of such general use for the defence of a man's person, that I need but say little of it; only that it is a gentleman's companion, so it ought to be a part of every gentleman's business, to endeavour not only to understand how to make use of it dexterously, but also to know how to make choice of a such a one, as may prove most serviceable to him, either in a single combat, or in a field-battel, as he shall have occasion.

There are several kinds of sword blades, some whereof are only for thrusting, such as the rapier, Koningsberg, and narrow three-cornered blade, which is the most proper walking-sword of the three, being by far the lightest; Others again are chiefly for the blow, or striking, such as the symiter, sabre, and double edged highland broad-sword; and there is a third sort, which is both for striking & thrusting, such as the broad three-cornered blade, the sheering-sword with two edges, but not quite so broad as the aforementioned highland broad-sword; and the English back-sword with a thick back, & only one good sharp edge, & which with a good point, & closs hilt, is in my opinion the most proper sword of them all for the wars, either a foot or on horse-back. That therefore a man may the more easily know, what are the best qualifications belonging to a good and useful sword, he needs only consider a little the following principles, which relate to it.

(1) That kind or fashion of sword, which can offend maniest ways, is to be esteemed the best and most useful.Therefore a good light sheering-sword is to be preferr'd to any other, because it is usefulas well in single combat, as in a field-battel.

(2) A blade of that mettal, which will endure the greatest stress, is to be accounted by far the most fit for service. Therefore 'tis better to have a poor man's blade (as we commonly call it) that stands in the bend, that one of a harder mettal, but brittle as glass.

(3) A blade should be of that stiffness, by which all methods of play can be best performed. Therefore an indifferent stiff blade, is much to be preferr'd to one that is very limber; because this will pierce and go thorow, when that will yeild and snap.

(4) The broadness of a blade does noways contribute to the swiftness and certainty of a true parade. Because it is a well fram'd cross upon the adversary's sword, that gives a true defence, not the breadth of the blade, nor largeness of the hilt-shell. See page 78.

(5) No blade can have too fine an edge, or too sharp a point. Because the finer the edge, and the sharper the point, the better it will cut and pearce, which, next to defending, are the only uses of a sword.

(6) The lighter a sword is before the hand, sho much the better it is mounted. Because the weight lying next to the hand, which is as the centre, the weight of it is less perceptible to the person who is to weild or use it. See page 60.

The weight and length of every sword, ought to be proportioned to the strength and stature of the person who is to make use of it, but the length ond largeness of the handle according to every man's fancy. Because a big or small handle can never endanger a man's life, when he chuses that which is most agreeable to his hand; but if he have too great a weight to manage, occasioned by the length of his sword, his defensive motions are thereby retarded, and rendered more slow, and consequently the person more exposed to the quick blows and thrusts of his adversary.


Of those principles which relate to the particular motions, whether defensive or offensive, which may be performed with the sword, and by the assistance of the several members of the body; as legs, arms, &c. And for regularity and order's sake, they must have also their division, as follows, viz.

First, some should relate tho the guard or posture of body wherein a man should generally put himself, when going to perform these actions.

Secondly, some relate to the parade, or defensive part.

Thirdly, some again relate to thrusting, or the offensive part, and in all these, each particular member of the body must act its part to the very life, otherwise nothing will be done with either that vigour, justness or agility, wherewith indispensibly everything in this art ought to be performed, and without which, all the pains and trouble any man takes to acquire it, is but lost, and to no purpose. Now of these three in order. And

Of Principles relating to a Good and Sufficient Guard.

Before I proceed to the principles relating to a good and sufficient guard, I think it proper to inform my reader (which I confess had been more properly done in the article of a guard in the terms of art, page 51. had it not then escaped my memory) That I find by an old Italian book of fencing postures, which I have by me. That some fencing masters of old, did not denominate their guards by Prime, Seconde, Tierce &c. with respect to the different positions of the sword hand, as the greatest masters have since done, and indeed with a great deal of reason and judgement; whose example I have also followed in discoursing of a guard, page 54. and of the different positions of the hand, Article 2d. page 55. and following; but according to the different situations they gave to their swords, when they pitced themselves to such and such a guard: So that their Prime, Seconde and Tierce guards (for I don't find that in those days they had a quarte guard) signified nothing, but to distinguish their guards into a first, second and third guard. A first guard which was kept with the hand very high, and even above their head, with the sword point a little sloping; and into a second, wherein the hand was kept a little above the height of the shoulder, with the hilt and point level; and lastly a third guard, wherein the hilt and point were kept in a manner level, but the sword hand low, and only about the upper part of the right thigh. Now this being premised, which may very properly be added to the article of a guard, page 54, I say,

(1) That in a good and sufficient guard, the trunk of the body should for the most part be in Aequilbre between the two legs, and so equally supported by them, and the two thighs, that it rest almost no more upon one leg and thigh, than upon the other. Because in this posture a man is certianly more ready to either advance or retire, than when he reposeth the entire weight of his body upon any one of his legs or thighs, be it either the right, or which is most usual, (especially amongst the French) the left, but evey whit as bad a custom as the other, and in my opinion the worst of the two: For when a man inclines his body a little forwards, he stands more firm, and is more earnest upon, and ready to perform his defence, wheras when he declines backwards, he is unfixt and weak, and may be easily pressed, not only from his more formal defensive posture, but even to the hazard of falling backwards, upon any unexpected or vigorous enclosing of his adversary upon him.

(2) The body should for the most part, by its situation, be made both pretty narrow or thin, which is done by keeping easily back the left shoulder; and short, which is done by bending the two knees, and sinking low upon them. Because in this situation, a man's adversaty hath the less of it discovered, both as to its breadth from right ot left, and length from head to foot to thrust at. One of the chief qualifications of a good and secure guard.

(3) The feet should be as such a due distance, and in such a situation, as they would most readily move as a man would have them. Because if they were otherwise placed, that is, either too near, or at too great a distance; it migh both retard a man's motion in advancing to offend, and in breaking of measure to defend; which would be a great disadvantage to him, especially in an occasion. This principle co-incides with the first.

(4) The sword should be kept in the hand with that degree of firmness, as neither to be a hinderance to the quick performance of any motion with it, which is when it is kept too fast; nor to suffer it to be beat out of it by any small unexpected jerk or stroak, to which it is most subject, when it is kept slack and loose; and which is the worst method, and most dangerous of the two; Therefore it is by far safest to err upon the fixt and sure side.

(5) The situation of the sword arm should be such, As that a man may with greatest ease, in an instant, change the position of his sword, either for his defence or offence, as he shall judge it most conveneient.

(6) The position of the sword hand, as to prime, seconde, tierce or quarte; and of the sword, such as high or low, should be such, as, with respect to the particular guard a man is to make use of, he may as much as possible, be ready to perform either a good cross, or parade for defending, or a trust for offending, as he shall have occasion for them.

(7) The left hand should be so placed, as to be alwise most ready, either to assist a man in his defence, see page 11, or to catch hold of his adversary's sword, or any part of his body, whenever he shall design it. And therefore it is most convenient, to keep it advanced towards the right arm-pit. See Article 10. page 92.

In short, in a good guard, the whole body should be easy, and as much unconstrain'd as possible; and there should be a graceful and unaffected carriage in all the members of the body; That so one's motions may appear to be done, rather with a kind of pleasure and satisfaction, and altogether A la negligence, as we say, that with any kind or constraint or violence to any part of the body. And thus much of a good and perfect guard, or posture of defence, which is the very basis and ground work of all true fencing.

Of principles relating to the parade, or defensive part.

(1) A good parade ought to be as much as possible, universal or general; that is, the motion of it ought to cross or oppose all lessons or thrusts that can be given in upon any part of the body. And therefore, as against all small-sword lessons or thrusts whatsoever, the circle, or contre-caveting parade is absolutely the safest; except when a man is too near his adversary, see page against all blows, as well as most thrusts, there cannot be better parades than those drawn from the hanging guard in seconde, as they are represented inFig 7. 10. and 16.because of their forming such great and admirable crosses.

(2) A parade ought to be so timed, as in the twinkle of an eye, to meet with, and turn off the adversary's sword, before the blow of thrust hath reached the body, even though they may have been delivered at a pretty near distance. Because let the motion of a parade be never so quick, if it meet not with the adversary's sword, it signifies nothing; upon which account it hath bee found, as I observed, page 154, that a good sword-man, altho he can never be master of too quick a hand, yet may be at a disadvantage by making the motion of his parade sometimes too quick.

(3) The strength and smartness of a parade ought to be such, as to be strong enof, when it hath met with the adversary's sword, to put it aside, let the thrust be coming home with never so much force. Because, should it be weak, the thrust might be forced home; and that strength which parries a strong thrust, will always parie a weak one.

(4) A parade ought to be alwise performed, if possible, with the fort of the sword, or as near to it as can be. Because, then the adversary's sword, cannot so easily force your sword to effectuate his design in thrusting.

(5) As a parade ought to be performed with the fort of the sword, when time will allow it; for sometimes a man may be so press'd, as to be necessitate to form his cross with the foible of his sword) so it may be also taken, or the cross for the most part formed upon the weak or foible of the adversary's sword, unless as I said, a man be so pressed, as that he is glad to endeavour to make his parade good at any rate, whether upon the fort or foible of his adversary's sword as many times it falls out in a brisk and passionate engagement; in which case, the direction of the third principle will be of great use to him.

(6) as a good parade ought to be for the most part performed with the fort of the sword, upon the foible of the adversary's; so there is sometimes an absolute necessity that it meet with the adversary's sword, and form the cross, closs almost to a man's own body, otherwise it will not be possible for him to gain the foible of his adversary's sword, whereby he may make good his parade. This principle is chiefly useful, when a man's adversary is very near to him; and that it is scarcely possible for him to gain the weak of his sword, uness he make the crossing motion almost closs to his own body, (when he makes use of the ordinary beating parade in tierce or quarte) or towards wither of his sides, when he is a framing the cross of his parade from this new hanging guard in seconde. In this principle there is contained a nicety in parieing, which many good sword-men, nay even great masters are ignorant and know nothing of; however, such a secret as it is amongst some few master who really understand the great use and benefit of it, I have freely and candidly reveal'd, not only in this principle, but also in Article 7. page 80. For whatever some precise people may pretend to, I own, that I neither know myself any secrets in fencing, nor even knew any that did; neither, if I did, would I keep them up undiscovered, if I judg'd that they might but in the least, tend to the benefit and safety of my country-men, when misfortunately engaged in any occasion.

Having done with the principles relating to a good and sufficient guard, and perfect parade, which are indeed the two things chiefly requisite for a man's true defence; let us next see, what can be said upon the third division of this first class, which is offending, or thrusting.

Of principles relating to thrusting, or the offensive part.

(1) That method of thrusting, or playing any lesson, is certainly best, which is most easie, and least disorders the body in the time of performing it; provided, that method do not discover too much of the body, and consequently too freely expose it to the contre-temps or riposte thrusts of the adversary; which if it should, then another method of playing that lesson is rather to be preferred, in which the body is a little more closs and secure, even altho it should prove a little more constrained, and not so easie for the body as the former. Because, the security of a man's person, and not the ease of his limbs, being that, which the practice of this art chiefly aimeth at: No man can doubt. when these two, with equal arguments, present themselves to recive a decision of precendency, but that which is for the security of the body, and consequently for the preservation of a man's life, ought without any difficulty, to carry it.

(2) In the performing of any thrust or blow, wherein there is required an elonge, the trunk of the body upon the elonge, should be so well supported, and so judiciously ballanced upon the legs, especially the advanced, that it may be most readily recovered, to perfom its defensive motions, as occasion shall require. Therefore, moderate elonges of stretches, especially at sharps, are to be preferred to those, which being strained, make it very difficult for a man to recover his body quickly, after the delivery of either blow or thrust.

(3) In the delivering of every thrust or blow, wherein an elonge or stretch is required, especially after a feint, the sword hand ought alwise to be the first mover. Because, the swiftness of the trust depending upon the motion of the advanced leg; if the hand should be behind the motion of the leg, the thrust would be so much longer a coming home to the body, and consequently so much the slower. Therefore, according to this principle, a man can only be said to have a swift hand with respect chiefly to his disengaging or to his defence, or parade, and not with respect to his offending or thrusting; for in this case, he can only be said to deliver his thrust quickly, but not to have a swift hand, which is an improper expression for it, and which hath been all along a general mistake amongst masters; and a faculty attributed to the wrest of the sword hand, which at bottom, belongs chiefly to the arm, body or legs. And that I may clear this a little, which will be thought pretty odd, after such a long mistake, occasioned by the general use of an improper expression; you are to know, that

When a man is within distance of his adversary, there are chiefly three different degrees of it, wherein he may be placed with respect to him.

The first is, when without moving the trunk of his body, he can reach his adversary with the spring or motion, which comes from his shoulder and elbow joints; so that at this distance, the thrust does not depend upon the quickness of the wrest or sword-hand, but upon the quick motion of the whole arm, derived from the shoulder and elbow joints; and all the swiftness of the hand is concerned with at this distance, is only to disengage if there be need for it; the swiftness of which, does indeed depend upon the wrest; but the swiftness of the motion of the thrust, wholly upon the motion of the two joints of the arm, that is, shoulder and elbow. This is absolutely the distance, at which a thrust can be delivered, with the greatest celerity and swiftness, which a man is capable of and in which people very seldom, or never find themselves placed, especially in an occasion; it being so very near, and consequently most dangerous.

The second distance is, when without elonging, a man can with the spring of the trunk of his body, and the motion of the above mentioned two joints, reach his adversary; in which case, the swiftness of the thrust depends chiefly, upon the quick motion of the trunk of the body, and next upon the motion of the two joints co-operating with it; so that in this distance, as well as the preceeding, the wrest is but very little concerned, unless as I said, when a man is to disengage before he thrust; for if he be to thrust upon the same side he lieth with his sword, it is the trunk of the body and arm, that are chiefly concerned in the swiftness of the thrust, and not the hand or wrest, as is generally, but most erroneously, believed; this distance is also very dangerous, being but too near to one's adversary.

The third and last distance, is when a man is necessitate to make a full elonge, or step out with his advanced leg, so far as possibly he can, before he can reach his adversary; and in this distance it is chiefly the quick motion of the advanced leg, accompanied with the spring of the trunk of the body, and the motion of the above-mention'd two joints of the arm, whereupon the swiftness of the thrust does depend, for at this distance, neither the extending of his sword arm, nor bending forward of his body, being capable to make him reach his designed mark, without the assistance of his full elonge or stretch. It is evident, that the swiftness of his thrust, does chiefly depend upon his quick stepping out, and so is owing to the quick motion of his advanced leg; altho indeed, both his body and sword arm must concurr with it: So that in this third distance (which is that wecommonly call, playing at half sword, and which is the safest of all the three, when a man is once master of a good and sure parade,) as well as in the two former, the hand or wrest you see is but little, if at all, concerned in the quick delivery, or swiftness of the thrust; except when there is occasion, as I said, for disengaging or making of a feint.

Indeed, when a man is so near to his adversary, as that he can reach him with a quarter, half, or even three-quarter elonge, then the swiftness of the thrust depends much more upon the quick motion, or bending forwards of the trunk of the body, than on the stepping out fully with the advanced foot; because it being possible to execute the thrust with the motion of the body assisted by the sword arm, before the advanced leg is at its full elonge; the thrust will many times be home, before the advanced foot not only touches the ground, but be at its full stretch from the other; in which circumstance alone, and no other that I know, it can be justly and properly said, (tho most masters lay it down as a general rule, albeit a very false one for right thrusting,) that a thrust resembles somewhat the shot of a pistol, and that as the bullet is commonly home, before the wounded person hears the report of the pistol, so that thrust should be home, and the adversary wounded, before the pursuer's right foot touch the ground.

And the reason for it is evident, because in the two first degrees of distance, there is no need of moving at all the advanced foot out of its place; the thrust in the first degree of distance above mentioned, depending only upon the quick motion of the arm; and in the second, upon the quick motion of the trunk of the body, the sword-arm concurring with it, the moving of the right foot in either, not being in the least needful. And in the third degree also, you see it depends mostly upon the quick motion or bending forward of the trunk of the body, except when the thrust cannot be performed without a full elonge, the outmost extent whereof, can only carry home the thrust.

But even in this third degree of distance, and which is pretty nice, altho, as I have said, the swiftness of the thrust does for the most part, depend upon the quick motion of the advanced foot in elonging; yet in some cases, the advanced foot is necessitate to attend, or wait upon, if I may so express it, the motion of the hand before the thrust be finished, even altho that hand has been (as indeed it ought alwise to be to prevent confusion) the first mover; and these cases are, when there are great disengagements, or large tours to be made before a thrust can be performed; such as those which must of necessity be performed against this new hanging-guard in seconde; whereby the pursuit against it is more slow, than against most of the other guards, and wherein I pretend one of its great advantages does consist, as may be observed in advantage second and by the scheme in the middle of the plate.

These observations are so much the more curious, as I dare without vanity affirm, they were never made known by any author; and it is but of late, that I discovered the impropriety of that term or expression, of having a swift hand, which strictly speaking, should be attributed only to it, or the wrest in disengaging, making of a feint, or in forming the parade; and the swiftness, or quick delivery of a thrust, wither only to the motion of the joints of the sword arm, as in the first distance, or to the quick spring, or bending forwards of the trunk of the body, as in the second; or to the swift motion of the advanced leg, as in the third; the joints of the sword arm co-operating with the bending forwards, or spring of the body in the second; and both the trunk of the body, and foresaid joints, accompanying the motion of the advanced leg in the third distance: Which third distance, (so long as a man is within his adversary's measure) is that wherein a thrust is longest coming home to do execution, altho I cannot but own, that albeit it be the slowest, yet it produces the strongest thrust of the three; as the thrust from the second distance is the next weaker , tho swifter, and that from the first the weakest; tho indeed the swiftest thrust of all the three.

Thus I have made it appear, how improperly the common expression of having a swift hand, is attributed to such persons as deliver thier thrusts smartly, and in a manner in the twinkle of an eye, whether they be at the first, second or even third distance; and that that expression is only proper, either to describe a man's quick disengagement, sudden feinting, or extraordinary swift motion in his parade, altho indeed in the parade, albeit the wrest have the greatest share of it, yet the joints of the arm, particularly that of the elbow, give a might assistance to it; whereby the parade, especially if performed with a good jerk or beat, is rendered the more firm, strong and secure. This observation conincides so with the fifth article of measure or distance, page 66, that it might have been very well brought in there, had I not forgot it; but I judged it better to bring it here amongst the principles, altho not so properly relating to them, as wholly to omit so necesary and curious and obeservation; therefore the reader may either consider it separately and apart here, or as if it wre joined to the above mentioned fith article, which of the two he pleases. I shall also, if I have occasion hereafter to speak of a swift hand, forbear that term, and give it, according to this observation, its proper one, of swift thrusting.

No particular position whatsoever of the sword hand, in delivering a thrust from one's guard, can be capable (without the assistance of the other hand, by opposing the adversary's sword with it) to secure the whole body at one and the same time: Therefore, if a thrust be right timed, and smartly and vigorously delivered, there is not such great need of thrusting alwise closs by the adversary's sword; nor that niceness to be observed in the position of the sword hand in quarte, tierce, seconde &c. or of throwing the head and shoulders this way or that way off the straight line, for the security of them from a contretemps, as many masters do but too critically and peremptorly enjoin. See article tenth, Page 88.

(5.) When a thrust can be as safely delivered with the hand in that position, wherein the sword is kept, as if it were altered to any of the other positions, of tierce, quarte &c. it is altogether of no purpose, to change the position of it in thrusting from chat, to any of these, and that for the very immediate preceeding reason.

(6.) In performing any thrust, the more near the point and hilt are, to the height and level of the shoulder of the person who is to deliver it (which is the center from which its motion proceeds) so much the further will it reach, provided the rest of the body be equally stretched in it, as in any other thrsut given with another position of the arm, and point higher or lower. Because when the shoulder, sword-hand and sword point ar exactly level, they make a straight line, and a straight line reaches alwise further than another of the same length, which hath one or more angles made in it.

(7.) According to the preceeding principle, in the delivery of every thrust, the point of the sword ought ot be carried alwise as level to its hilt, as the nature of the designed lesson or thrust will allow it; and that for this very same reason.

To perform any lesson or thrust perfectly well, there is required in the whole emebers of the body, that vigour, activity and quickness, which can be acquired by no other means imaginable, but by a frequent exercising of those members, in the respective actions peculiar to each, which will at last convert all into a habit, ot, as we commonly term it, a second nature; so that what a man performed, after a little pause or consideration, and with somewhat of difficulty, will be at last so readily put in execution, as that his actions will appear to be done rather by a kind of rot, than after a considerate deliberation ond judgement; so much doth custom and a habitual practice influence, not only our heads and brains, but even the particular members of every man's body.

And seeing that there is no method under heaven so proper, for the acquiring of this ease and natural habit in fencing, as the frequent practicing to parie and thrust upon a commerade at a wall; I fancy it will not be judges improper if before I proceed to the second class of principles, which relate to the master, I make a short digression, and give some few, but most exact directions for parieing and thrusting a plain thrust at a wall; and which will prove of singular use, in case of any bet or wager betwixt young gentlemen, wither when they are at the fencing school, or otherwise.

Directions according to the nicest rules, for the more orderly and regular parieing and thrusting of a plain thrust; especially upon a bet or wager.

The parieing and thrusting of a plain thrust, dextrously and swiftly, is of so great use in fencing, and conduces so very much to the rendering a man perfect in both his defence and pursuit, whereby he may really deserve the name of a compleat sword-man; that I have thought fit, to set down the following directions amongst my principles of the art, that so young beginners, may not only be convinced of the great benefit, which will redound to them from the frequent practice of them; but that they may also know, how they ought to be regularly performed, according to the strictest rules: and I also do it the rather because I am perswaded, the exact observation of the following directions, will prevent a great deal of debate, which would otherwise fall out, when scholars are about to perform them, expecially if there be any thing of a competition of skill, or bet, betweixt them; and which it is very convenient sometimes to make, to excite scholars to the more frequent and assiduous practice of them.

Altho it hath been a very old but bad custom in the fencing schools, to fix in a manner the person who is to parie, with his back, at least left shoulder, near to a wall, that he may not absolutely break his adversary's measure, by the too much bending back of his body; yet I altogether disapprove of it, for these reasons; that not only it many times occasions a contortion of the body, which besides its undecency, may also be the cause of the scholars contracting a bad habit; but also, that no person in either parieing or thrusting, ought to be in the lease constrained as to the posture of his body, but should have all the liberty imaginable allowed to him (for his greater celerity in the parade) of an easie guard, or posture of defence, which it is impossible for any man to have, when he is in a manner pinn'd up, and as it were fixt close to a wall: Therefore I shall begin my first rule with this general one, wherein both defender and offender are equally concern'd. And it is, that in wither parieing or thrusting of a plain thrust, both the defender and the thruster be placed free of any wall, or other kind of stay or support; and consequently the middle of the room, or thereabouts, is the most equal or convenient place for both.

The place in the room or school being condescended upon, and judges named, the defender is to pitch himself to his guard or posture of defence, with all possible ease, and the the floor or pavement is to be chalked, or otherwise marked at the toe of his right, or advanced foot, and at the side of his hinder foot, that so he may not without being observed, move them out of their places in parieing, whereby he may break his adversary's measure in time of thrusting, and thereby, in place of fairly parieing, cunningly evite the thrust.

He is to give a sufficient open to the pursuer to thrust at, not only upon the opposite side to that, wherein his adversary's sword is engaged; but also beneath the sword, when his adversary is to thrust upon the in-side, especially if he himself stand to a low and sinking guard, and make also use of the true parade with a dry beat, and near to his body; becuase being upon the low guard, and making use of this parade, it is impossible for his adversary to hit him where he hath no open, and where he is already defended; which he certainly is within the sword, when he takes himself not only to a low and sinking guard, (the securest of all postures, in my opinion, against the ordinary method) but also makes use of his beating parade: And therefore to remove all debates, his vest should have two marks or lines drawn upon it, if black, with chalk, if of another colour, with red or black, for their being better perceived by the judges; the one of which lines may be drawn straight down, from the outside of his right breast, to the head band of his breeches, and within which line he is not to bring his sword hand until he be forming his parade, against his adversary's thrust within the sword: The second line or chalk is to be made across his body, a little lower than the middle of the trunk, or at his short ribs; and it is above this line that he must keep his sword hand, when he engages his adversary's sword, especially as I said, when his adversary is to thrust within the sword, and himself to make use of the low guard, and beating parade; for the better observing whereof, one of the judges is to be placed opposite to him behind the thruster, and to challenge him, if before he be to parie he exceed those lines, as well the perpendicular line within his sword upon the length, as this last a cross his body; because altho upon the common quarte guard, & common parade in quarte and tierce, this open below the sword is not so needful, that given within the sword being sufficient, by reason of those parades, being performed only by a simple turning of the wrest of sword-hand (without the least spring or beat downwards, and forming a good cross near to the body, for the better gaining of the foible of the adversary's sword when thrusting) which is the reason that they are so uncertain, and of so little use in an occasion; yet this open below the sword is absolutely necessary to be given to a man, in thrusting a plain thrust against one who stands to a low and sinking posture, & also makes use of the beating parade, becuase if he had it not given to him, he would have, I may say, no open at all to thrust at, that given within the sword now being sufficient enof, when the defender of a plain thrust takes himself to a low guard, and cross and beating parade.

What I have said, of a man's giving his adversary a sufficient open to thrust at upon the in-side, and likewise beneath the sword, must be also so understood, that he is to do the equivalent without his sword, when his adversary comes to thrust at him without and above it.

The defender being thus placed, and the lines drawn upon his vest, and floor or pavement of the school, that so he may stand the more fixt; and also thereby give his adversary sufficient open, both within and below his sword, to thrust at; he is next to endeavour to parie dextrously and firmly, and with as little motion, or inclining back with his shoulders as possible, the thrusts of his adversary, deliviered wither within and above, or below; or without and above the sword; for the performing of which with the more certainty, it will not be amiss, that he exactly peruse what I have said, both upon the term of art PARIEING page 73., and in the fifth chapter anent the method of opposing his adversary's sword with his, at first presenting and parieing from this new guard; in which two places he will find all that it is needful for him to know, in relation to the theory of the parade, from any guard or posture of defence whatsoever; as for the execution of it, it is only an assiduous and frequent practice, and constant habit that must bring him to it, and not the bare reading of those directions.

The very same directions or rules, except as to the giving an open below the sword, that I have set down to be observed by the parier or defender of a plain thrust, from the ordinary tierce and quarte guards, that is as to the situation of the person to parie, not the parade, will also serve when a man is to defend a plain thrust, from the hanging guard in seconde, in this new method; I shall therefore proceed to the rules to be observed by the pursuer in thrusting of a plain thrust.

As I have put restrictions upon the defender, so the offender or thruster must be likewise limited, not as to his posture; for that, as I formerly said, must be aleise easie, free and unconstrained, but as to a few other particulars, whereof the first is, that (the defender having been placed, and bounded according to the directions above) the thruster makes a full elonge or stretch at him, from the guard he designs to thrust from: So that his thrust being planted just above the defender's right breast, his fleuret may bend a little in its foible next to the point, and then there is to be a chalk made upon the floor, at the in-side of his hinder or left foot, that so he may not shorten his measure by slipping insensiby nearer the defender; and the reason why I order his thrust to be high planted at the taking of his just distance is that he may have as much benefit, when he shall come home to thrust in earnest, by his thrust coming home level to his adversary's body, which is the longest line he can possibly make upon hisstretch, as his adversary shall have by his declining, or bending any way back his body in parieing; which notwithstanding of of the strictest directions, and most positive restrictions that can be laid upon him, a man will always incline to do for his more certain defence, especially upon a bet or wager: Therefore it is but just, that the thruster should have this little allowance to ballance it, besides what otheresyd msy be conceded to him by paction, as 4, 6 or 8 inches within his full stretch, according to his dexterity and swiftness in thrusting.

Altho some persons may perhaps give credit to the pursuer, and take his word for it , when he takes his distance for thrusting, that he is at his full or outmost stretch, yet many will not rely upon his ingenuity as to this point; and therefore to be assured that he is at his full stretch or elonge, observe, that if his left ham and sword arm be fully stretched, and his right leg in a perpendicular situation betwixt its ankle and knee, his elonge cannot be complained of; for altho a man may by laying on his body, especially of his left thigh and leg, very low, upon his elonge, exceed this stretch a little, which I call a full one; yet if his legs and sword-hand be in the positions I have named, his elonge is sufficiently fair, and he may be very justly said to have taken his distance at a full full stretch.

After whatever fashion the thruster holds his fleuret, when he takes his outmost distance or measure, after the very same fashion must he hold it, when he comes to deliver his thrusts in earnest; otherwise he may deceive the defender, by holding his foil short in the handle, and in a manner beyond the cross-bars towards the shell, when he is a taking of his distance, and afterwatds taking the pommel into the middle of his hand, and stretching his forefinger along the handle, when he comes to thrust; whereby he will gain near to three inches of distance upon the defender: a piece of subtilitie and cunning, not easily first discovered, by those such as are novices in the art.

It is not enof that the offender have the floor at the inside of his left or hind foot chalked, before he offer to thrust; he must also pitch himself to his guard, and have the floor likewise marked at the toe of his right, and the eliver his thrusts, (the button of his fleuret being chalked, or coloured with red, for the better discovering of the thrust when he hits) distinctly and swiftly, alternatively upon each side of his adversary's sword, that is, first within and above, or below, then without and above it, recovering his body after each thrust to its guard posture' for the better and more swift performing whereof, let him peruse seriously what I have said upon the term THRUSTING, page 87., for if the thruster should only have his left foot chalked, and at liberty to place his right, at as great a distance from it as he pleases, this would be a great disadvantage to the defender; because the swiftness of the motion of the sword hand depending, as I have made appear, page 209, upon the motion of ther advanced foot, the thruster's stretch cannot be computed to be greater, or farther than the distance, betwixt where his right foot was placed before elonging, and where it is when at his full stretch; so that in place of making a full elonge upon the defender, which he ought to do, he only performs in a manner half, nay sometimes but a quarter of his full elonge, from the position of his body upon the guard posture, and consequently, his thrust is so much the shorter and sooner home, as his right foot is placed nearer that its due distance to his adversary, before his elonging, so that at this rate, a man shall even take his distance with a full stretch, and yet if he set himself at his fulll elonge, from the ordinary posture of his guard before thrusting, shall hit his adversary almost as soon , as if he were much more near to him, and in a manner only to thrust at him, by the advancing motion of the trunk of the body, and spring of his sword arm; therefore in thrusting a fair and regular plain thrust, great regard is to be had by the judges, to the offender's or thruster's recovering himself, after every given in thrust to his ordinary guard posture, and distance betwixt his feet, as at first marked upon the floor, that so the defender may not be thus imposed upon and deceived by him; and here I must tell you by the way, that nothing prevents the slipping of a man's feet better, that the chalking of the soles of them well with a pice of good chalk, when he is to thrust at his full stretch, and that perhaps the floor of the school or his shoes are slippery, than the chalking the soles of them well with a piece of good chalk; this will assist him to stand firm, not only before he offer to thrust, but also when he is making of his full elonge.

The thruster is not, before really disengaging and thrusting, to make the least deceiving motion, whereby he may allarum the defender to offer his parade, before there is just ground for it; for this being a deceiving motion, is equivalent to a feint, and therefore is not at all fair in this juncture upon the thruster's part; for which reason he is obliged to forbear it, and never to make an offer of thrusting, until he really disengage and launch home his thrust.

The thruster is not only to recover himself to his guard after every thrust, and to disengage and thrust them distinctly one after another, there bieing a little interval betwixt each thrust, for the defender's better putting himself again upon his defence, but he is also to plant, and lodge all his thrusts in the defender's body, that is, above his two haunch bones, and therefore there ought to be a line drawn level across the defender's belly upon his vest, from one haunch to the other, and no thrust is to be allowed, which is not given above this line; and if any fall either below it, in the thighs or legs, or in the sword arm, they are not at all to be sustained in thrusting a plain thrust, especially if there be a bet or money upon it; however affaectual and dangerous such thrusts would prove in an occasion, and upon that accout to be valued.

Having finished the rules, to be observed by both offender and defender, in parieing and thrusting of a plain thrust; I think it will not be amiss before I leave this point, to show after what manner, the frequent practicing the parieing of a plain thrust, is an advantage to the defender, and the thrusting of it none to the pursuer; and upon the contrary, the frequent practicing the thrusting, and advantage to the puruser, and the parieing of it none at all to the defender.

When, then, a scholar thrusts at a very near distance, he gets little or no good by it himself, because being so very near to his adversary, he hath not the opportunity of stretching, and consequently not of acquiring a swift thrust; whereas, in this case, thedefencer reaps a great benefit, by reason of the nearness of the thruster, and consequently difficulty in parieing, whereby he aquires a good and firm defence: but when a scholar thrusts at his outmost stretch against his adversary, then upon the contrary, he reaps the benefit by it himself; because it accustoms him to stretch well, and so gives him the habit of fully and readily elonging, and consequently of swift thrusting: But then his adversary or defender, reaps little or no benefit by his offering to parie, because the thruster being at so very great a distance, it requires no great dexterity, nor swiftness of hand to defend him.

Therefore my advice to all who would reap benefit by the frequent parieing, or thrusting of a plain thrust in the schools, is, that if they intend to acquire a swiftness and dexteritie in thrusting, that then they alwise thrust at such a great distance or stretch as possible; and if they resolve to become masters of a quick and firm parade, whereby they may dextrously defend themselves, then let them allow their adversariesto thrust at as near a distance as they please, or they themselves can possibly parie; that is, that their adversaries be so placed, as to need to make but a very short elonge, nay even to thrust sometimes, with only the motion of the trunk of the body, and spring of the sword arm, without in the least stepping out or elonging. And this much for the benefit in practicing, as well as orderly and regular parieing and thrusting of a plain thrust; which I look upon to be so much the more curious, as it was never heretofore so narrowly canvassed, nor made publick for the benefit of scholars, altho most necessary and useful, for the more readily breaking their bodies, whereby they may become dextrous in a swift and subtile pursuit, by a plain thrust, and frim and sure parade against it, which are the two chief pillars, or rather the only sure foundation, of all true art.

But, me thinks, I hear some censorious and stingie pretender to art, with a disdainful and supercilious smile say, here is indeed a great deal of clutter and doe, about the thrusting of a plain thrust, hundreds of which a man may see every day performed in the schools, without all this formal nicety, of measuring the distance, chalking the ground and clothes, and I know not what.

I acknowledge all this, but then I would gladly know, if those plain thrusts, to which this spark was so frequently witness, were either delivered according to the strict rules of art; or if there was any bet or wager uon them: If the former, then I do affirm, that they observed the preceeding directions, (which are the only fundamental rules of all regular thrusting) otherwise they could not be but most unartificially and irregularly performed. And if there was money laid upon it, then there would be a necessity for the parties, either to be regulate by such like rules as I have here set down, or to continue debating and jangling a very considerable time, before they could accommodate all the differences and difficulties that would be started upon both sides; all which, if they had knowledge enof to decide it, would certainly terminate in the observing the foregoing rules, or others of the very same nature.

So that when young gentlemen have a mind to divert themselves, by trying their dexterity in thrusting plain thrusts upon one another, which is indeed so very commendable; and perhaps for a glass of wine or so; then there can never any difficulty in the performing them occurr, but what are in a manner obviate, and removed by the foregoing directions, the necessity and usefulness whereof, will alwise more and more appear, when any such bet, or trial of skill shall be, by some curious and adroit young sword-men resolved upon; which I think, a sufficient answer to my critical, but I must say, unexperienced objector.

Of principles which respect the second class, or master

Were it not for the regularity of discoursing a little upon each of the classes I at first named, I might very well forbear saying any thing, of either this class of principles relating to the master, or the next, which respects the scholar; because, when a man designs to improve himself in the art of defence, he may perhaps not have the opportunity of making choice of such a sufficient instructor as he could wish for, but be necessitate to make use of such as live in the place where he resides, let them never be so unsufficient; for in this case, as in all others, necessity hath no law.

Besides, there are so very many good qualifications required in a compleat master of defence, that I doubt much, if ever they were all found in any competent degree of perfection in any one man; therefore, when a man can do no better, he must (neither can he be blamed for it) imploy such as the place will afford. But if he is living in a country or city, where there are greater plenty of masters, and so make a judcious choice; I think they ought to be masters, if not of all, yet at least of the most material qualifications following.

I shall not here insist uon those qualifications which fencing masters ought ot be possessed of, in common with other men, as they are MEN, and a part of the community where they live, they ought to improve and habituate themselves, to all those Christian and moral virtues which are required of other good men; therefore, I shall in this place only consider them as PERSONS, who chiefly lay themselves out, for the improving of youth in the dextrous handling of their weapons, whereby they may become masters of a sure and general defence against all kind of weapons, for the safety and preservation of either life of honour.

And in this acceptation, not only they, but all other masters who take upon them the instructing of youth, in their more heroick, gentlemanly or even diverting, exercises; such as the mathematicks, art of war or evolutions, fencing, riding, dancing and musick; ought to be imbued with such particular good qualifications, as more immediately relate to that sicence or art whereof they are professors.

Next to the mathematicks, no doubt, the Art of Defence hath the preheminence, because of the great benefit which flows from it to all men, for the safety and preservation of their honour and lives; and seeing this art hath been the subject of the foregoing sheets, I judge it will not be amiss, that I here discover to the more unexperienced readers, a few of the chief qualifications, which in my opinion, an expert, and truly great master of defence ought to be imbued with; that so young gentlemen may hereby be the more capable to make a judicious choice, (when they shall have variety to pick and chuse upon) of a sufficiently qualified master, to instruct them in the most useful art of defence against the attack of all kinds of weapons, as well edged as pointed.

He ought to be a person of civil and obliging deportment; because, having to deal for the most part with young people, and may times of the greates quality, they ought to be induced to follow the advices and directions, which he shall give them relating to his art, by the reasonableness of his arguments, and not compelled to them by the harshness or surliness of his temper; for young people, about that age when they are commonly taught their exercises, are to be judiciously perswaded, not violently forced, to the performing of them; and the weaker and more uncapable some of his scholars are, the more he ought to encourage them; that they may the more earnestly set about and endeavour to improve themselves. For nothing mour discourages and rebutes a young gentleman at any exercise, that to be alwise finding fault with, and rebuking him for, his perhaps unvoluntar negelcts and omissions.

He ought to be a master of a general defence and pursuit, both as to blow and thrust, that so he may communicate the art of both weapons, back-sword and small, to his scholars; for no master can pretend to be a compleat professor of the whole art of defence, unless he be thus qualified as to both weapons; because, altho a man's skill and dexterity, either the art of the broad-sword alone, or in the art of the small by itself, may be sufficient to procure him the character of either a dextrous back-sword master, or of an exact teacher of the art of the small-sword, or rapier; yet unless he possess the knowledge of both arts, whereby he can communicate to his scholars the true efence and pursuit of both weapons, and by joining them in a manner together, procure to his scholars a general and sure defence, against all kind of weapons, as well edged as pointed; he can never deserve the name of a truly compleat master of defence, but only of a good back-sword master, or of a dextrous teacher of the art of the rapier.

And this qualification of joining the practice of both arts in one, is so much the more needful to make a compleat master of defence; as it saves a great deal of time to scholars, who in place of spending a great deal of time to acquire the art of both weapons separately, save more than the one-half or two thirds of it, by being taught both at one and the same time, as if they were joined together, and one and the very same art: And indeed they have so much dependance the one upon the other, for the procuring of any man a general and true defence against the attack of all weapons, that they ought alwise to be joined together, as in this New Method, and rendered inseperable by all who serioulsly resolve to become dextrous and truly compleat sword-men.

And indeed for my own part, were I to make choice of one of two, wither of a master who is most dextrous in his own practice, but cannot speak a mouthful of sense upon the grounds of it, or of another whose limbs are somewhat more gourdie, but what he performs, grounded upon most convincing arguments and undeniable reason, I should much rather make choice of this last than the former, because it is not by my master's practice that I become a good sword-man; and if my master can but demonstrate the lessons to me, tho never so slowly, and give me good reasons for them; and assidious appreciation, and frequentl custom of performing them, will certainly bring me to that useful practice, which will be a great deal better sounded, and more serviceable to me than a customary rot, for which I can give not better argument than the old Aristotlean argument, ipse dixit praeceptor. Thus said my master. I do not however pretend, that theory alone, without a competent degree of practice, no more than a great deal of practice without theory, is sufficient to qualify any man, to take upon him the title of a Master of Defence; I oly assert, that of the two, I had rather my master wer but an ordinary practitioner, and much master of the theory, than that he should be a most dextrous and adroit practitioner, and could not give the least convincing reason for what he does; theory indeed and solid reasoning, being in my opinion more required and useful un a master, for the greater improvement of his scholars, than a bare practical rot, founded upon nothing, but a glib and ready motion of some of the members of his body, without the least assistance of the head, or judgement.

He ought to observe order and decency in his school, as well by ordering his servant to keep it neat and clean, and the scholars' shoes and fleurets in their particular places, for the more ready delivering them to the scholars when called for; as by exactly attending the scholars himself, not only upon the days when he is to teach, but also upon the days of the week set apart for assaulting; which ought to be two at least, suppose tuesdays and fridays; for saturday being commonly a day for other diversions, it were a loss to the scholars to forbear teaching on the monday. Likewise one day in the week for assaulting is too little, scholars in the seven days interval, being apt to go a little out of practice; the only support and preserver, I may say, as well as improver of this chiefly practical art; and therefore two days in the week are absolutely necessary for assaulting, as well for the master's own ease, as for the greater benefit and improvement of his scholars in their practice; without which, their lesson-labour will avail them but very little when in an occasion.

That those assaults may be the more decently and regularly performed, he ought ot have establised laws for them, which whould be printed in large characters, and affixt to some place in the school, whereby they may be exposed to all who come into the school; that before assaulting they may take a view of them, to prevent debates, which would otherwise certainly fall out, were there no such regulations; a draught of which for his greater ease, and according to my own judgement, I have given in the annexed sheet which folds out.

He should have also once a year a prize to be played for, to which his scholars ought to contribute; and should likewise have printed laws for that effect, to prevent all confusion and debates, which would otherwise, upon such an occasion, inevitable fall out. A specimen whereofI have also given in the above-mention'd folding out sheet; no-ways pretending, that either these or the former for assaulting, should be the only ones to which a master ought to tye himself; but only as a draft whereby he may the more easily frame others for his school as he shall have need for them; altho in my opinion there will be but very little material to alter in them, having omitted nothing relating to common assaulting, or playing for a prize, which I judged absolutely necessary. Now altho the contents of these two last paragraphs, are not so properly principles relating to a good master as the regulations for his scholars' more regular assaulting; as well in the ordinary diets appointed for that purpose, as in the more extraordinary ones set apart for playing for prizes; yet I have placed them amongst the principles relating to a master; because they have a great dependence upon his being a well qualified one.

I shall not also here enlarge, upon several other particulars which are very material, such as, that he ought to keep an order and decency in his school; begin his scholars with light fleurets, and accustom them by degrees to weightier, which will strengthen their arms and wrests; make them assault sometimes in their walking-shoes and ordinary wearing cloths; as also sometimes in the open fields, when the weather is good, the better to accustom them to the judging of measure: A most useful thing when a man comes to be engaged for his life! Together with several other very necessary things, which I willingly omit, because, as I said, they are not so properly principles respecting his personal qualifications, as consequences of them.

These are the chief and most necessary qualifications required in a compleat master of defence, where, (in great cities especially) a man hath variety at his command, and when a young gentleman has the good fortune to meet with such a one, he may very safely commit himself to his conduct, in instructing him in the true art of defence. But, as I said, when a man is living in a place where he hath not that variety to pick and chuse upon, he must even make the best he can of a bad bargain, and supply by his own judgement and assiduity of practice, what is wanting in his, perhaps, very well meaning, but otherwise very ignorant country master; for he must indeed be a great ignoramus in the profession, from whom a well body'd, sprightly and judicious young gentleman, cannot by his own didlgence and application, draw some benefit, for, at least a moderate improvement in the defence of his person, upon an occasion; which, how indifferent soever, must be acknowledged, (when once a man is come the length, to be capable to put it, altho not with the greatest judgement, yet but readily and briskly in practice) to be alwise better than none at all. I shall therefore proceed to the third and last class of principles, which relate to the scholar.

Of Principles relating to the third class, or scholar.

As the principles, or qualifications which relate to a master, have been few in number, so these belonging to a scholar will be yet fewer; for as the scarcity of masters may, as I said, sometimes oblige a young gentleman, to employ one who is none of the best, and to be satisfied with his qualifications, let them never be so indifferent, which is the reason that he must dispense with them such as they are; even so a master, who takes upon him the instruction of young gentlemen in their weapons, being obliged to accept of any scholars who shall address themselves to him, renders the qualifications in a scholar the less to be regarded, and consequently the principles relating to them the fewer; becuase he is to make the best sword-men he can of his scholars, without having regard to thier perhaps not being the best natur'd, or best shap't young men in the world; yet notwithstanding of this, there are some qualifications that are indispensably required in all scholars, who resolve really to profit by their master's instruction in this art; of which I shall name only two or three of the chief.

All scholars, of what texture or disposition soever, ought as much as in them lyes, not only to have a kind of liking to, and respect for their master's person, but also to comply with his directions, and endeavour to put them in practice, altho they appear to them at first ordering, to be never so difficult, and according to their own judgement, even almost impracticable: Because it is to be supposed, that a master is always more competent in matters relating to his art, than his scholar; upon which account he ought, until he come to acquire more judgement and practice in it, to submit to, and even have a kind of implicit faith for the truth of all his master shall require of him. Besides, when a scholar has either a dislike to his master's person, or condemns and undervalues his judgement, it is in such a case, almost impossible for him to profit by him; and therefore where it is not natural, he ought to force upon himself a kind of love and respect for his master, even altho his natural parts should not much deserve them.

A scholar ought punctually to attend, as well in the days appointed for assaulting, as in those for teaching; because practice is the life and soul, if I may express it, or all true fencing: Therefore, whenever a scholar begins to become careless and remiss, and inclines to JAQUE, and pass away that time, wherein he ought either to receive his lesson or assaults, with other less useful divertisements; it is a shrewd token, that he will never make a very extraordinary sword-man; and that because he has no great liking to it: Nay, of so great consequence is a man's natural inclination, and particular disposition and genius, for his greater success in the art; that it hath been frequently observed, and I have been also witness to it myself, that one of such a natural and clever disposition, will by his natural address and agility, will not only keep his own, as we commonly say, but even many times have the better, in assault, of those, who altho they have been a long time at the school, yet being slow and lash in their temper, reap not that benefit by their art, which otherwise they would, did their natural genius and inclination, excite them more to it; and which by the way, ought not to be objected as a reflection upon the usefulness of this art, but upon the natural disposition and genius of the person, which has almost no liking nor tendency this way, but only as it is in a manner prest and forc't upon it.

'Tis true, that education and custom have not only a great influence, but many times even force upon people employments, quite contrary to their natural inclinations; as great and frequent practice in assaults, will also a little fencing upon young gentlemen, who have naturally no great liking for it. But for the most part, it is the energetical power and efficacy of a natural genius and disposition, which inclines and determines most people, to that particular kind of employment, which they resolve chiefly to follow while in this world, and which is the cause of one man's excelling in one thing, and another man in another; for example, of one man being only a knowing philosopher and great scholar, in place of being a wise and prudent politician; of another being a great mathematician, in place of being a good mechanick; and of a third being a skilful statutary, painter or limner, in place of being only an expert taylor or shoemaker; and so of all the other sciences; arts and handicrafts. And last of all, of some persons being great and dextrous sword-men, while others are but only pretenders to it, and meer bunglers.,

So very efficacious and prevalent is a natural genius and apt disposition in any man, to make him succeed and improve, after more than an ordinary manner, in whatever science or art he shall take himself to, that he may be justly said to excel in it. And in fencing especially, which depends so much upon agility, as well as judgement and practice, it is no doubt a great satisfaction and ease to be a master, when he meets with a vigorous and well-made body, accompany'd with a ready apprehension and good judgement; but such extraordinary qualifications being very rare, he is to recitify the defects of nature, as much as possible he can by the rules of art, and to make, as I said, the best sword-man he can of his scholar, let his genius and other personal qualifications for the art be what they will.

There are a great many more principles, or rather qualifications, required of both master and scholar, were I to enter into a particular detail of the matter, by enumerating all that in a larger sense, may be said to belong to each; but seing as I intend brevity upon this head, and that those I have mentioned are indeed the most material, I shall put to a close my principles relating to the art of the sword; which I judge so much the more necessary, as I am fully perswaded, no directions for any art can be trusted to, or relyed upon, which are not grounded upon a good and solid foundation of principles, supported not only by experience, but by the convincing arguments and dictates of unerring reason.

I am also very hopeful, that the publishing of these principles, which I have in a manner but only named; and glanced at the reasons for them, (for to discourse on each of them fully, would alone make up a little volume) may be a means to encourage a general and universal method of teaching the true art of defence in these islands, and so remove the trifiling animosities that have been but too long kept up, betwixt many vey good masters, which I have the charity to believe, did proceed more from the want of such an easie and rational directory as this to reconcile them, than from any private pique or malice.

I should now, according to the method I at first laid down, come to the concusion of this essay, wherein I am to answer some objections, which are commonly made against this art, by those who, not for lack of ignorance I must say, are no great well wishers to it: But this being the last time that I intend to put pen to paper, upon this most useful and gentlemanly subject; for I believe that I have said almost all relating to it, that either I can, or is material for any gentleman (if I had said master, Ishould not have said much amiss) to understand; I judge it will not be altogether out of the way, nor unacceptable to my reader, especially if a well-wisher to the art, if, before I proceed to it, I give him a short account of the encouragement, which the art of the sword hath met with of late in this kingdom; that so the methods taken for it being made publick, they may (now after the, I hope happy, union of the two nations) excite some of the more curious and skilful, as well as generous British nobility and gentry, who may be members of parliament, to stand up for it, and make such rational overtures and proposals, for its improvement and encouragement, to the next or some other ensuing British parliament, as it in its wisdom shall judge most proper and expedient to condescend to.

In the year 1692, several noblemen and gentlemen, whereof I was one, entered by contract into a society, for the greater encouragement of this art, wherein, besides the regulations laid down by us for our more ordinary meetings, wherein we are to take trial of, and admit into the society such honourable persons, as should apply to us to be admitted into it; we had also our more solemn anniversary, or yearly meetings appointed, upon which days we were to wear a certain badge, which amongst other devices, carried the designation of the person to whom it belonged, as well as that of the society; which we named, The Society of Sword-Men in Scotland: But this society being only erected by ourselves as private persons, we were of opinion, that it would be of far greater esteem, and serve better the ends for which we chiefly designed it, (and which I shall immediately give an account of) if we could procure the civil sanction to it, and have it erected into a Royal Society of Sword-Men: For which end, about four years thereafter, we made application to the then secretary of state, who assured us, that he would use his endeavours with King William (of glorious memory) to grant us a signator under the great seal for it; but the parliament being about that time to meet, which was in anno 1696, to which the Earl of Tullibardin (now Duke of Athol) was commissioner; we judged that it would be still more honourable for our society, and give it greater weight and force, if we could procure for it an act of parliament in our favours.

Accordingly, upon the 16th September in the above mentioned year, there was a draught of a act offered, by one of our society, who was then a member of parliament; which after first reading was remitted to the then committee for contraverted elections, and upon the 28th of the same month approved of by them; but the parliament being very shortly thereafter adjourned, it was not reported that session; and so from that time it lay over till this last session of the Duke of Queensberry's parliament anno 1707 when at one of our meetings it was proposed that the design should again be insisted upon, and another new overture or act, with some few alterations and amendments offer'd; which was agreed to by the society; and accordingly there was one drawn, whereof, for the reader's greater satisfaction, and that he may the more readily understand our most generous and gentlemanly design in it, the tenor follows.

Draught of an ACT, Anno 1707, for Erecting a Royal Society of Sword-Men in Scotland

Our sovereign lady, with the advice and consent of the estates of parliament, considering, that the science and art of defence is reputed over all Europe, a useful and necessary accomplishment for all gentlemen; and seeing it is of late imporved by certain her majesty's good subjects within this her ancient kingdom of Scotland to that height of perfection, as that the rules and principles thereof, which were formerly looked upon as precarious and uncertain, are now rendered clear and evident: And also considering, that the right teaching and improving of said art of the sword, doth very much tend to the education of youth in general, and especially for the accomplishment of such as shall be employed to serve in her majesty's army; and that man persons have and do take upon them to teach the said art, who are altogether unqualified and ignorant, or at least cannot teach it so exactly as is required, to render a man perfectly dextrous, which may be prevented if there were a society of Skilfu and Experienced Sword-men erected and constitute for taking tryal of all persons who shall take upon them to teach said art. And being informed of the qualifications of Her Majesty's Lovits, who all or most of them have by a sedulous application and long practice attained to a more than ordinary knowledge of, and dexterity in the art of the sword; and being resolved to give all due encouragement for promoting thereof: Therefore Her Majesty with advice and consent from the estates of parliament, does hereby create, erect and incorporate the forenamed persons, and such persons as shall by them, or any quorum of them be hereafter admitted and recieved in manner underwritten into a free Royal Society of Sword-Men in Scotland, with power to create and elect a cleark and all other necessary members of court, and with full power to said society, or any five of them with their clerk, which is hereby declared to be their quorum, to have a yearly general meeting within the burgh of Edinburgh upon the second Tuesday of each January, beginning their first general meeting upon the first Tuesday of the January next to come, and so forth yearly thereafter the said time and place for ever, and with power to them to carry at their said general meetings, or any other time they shall think fit, the badge following, which is hereby granted them as a distinction for, and sign of their said society, viz. a piece of gold or silver enamuled, or embroidery of gold or silver upon cloth or silk as they please, in form of a double star, having a circle within it, and a cloud in each side of the circle; out of which clouds there shall proceed from the dexter, an arm holding a sword pointing upwards; and from the sinister, another arm hoding a fleuret likewise pointing upwards, which crossing the sword about the middle, shall form a Saint Andrew's cross, above which there shall be a scroll with this inscription, Recreat & Propugnat; and upon the outer verge of the circle there shall be another inscription in larger characters, thus: Gladiatorum Scoticorum Societatis Regalis Symbolum; as also, with full power to them, of quorum of them foresaid at their general meeting, to elect a preses, treasurer, officers and what other members they shall think necessar for the right government of the said society; which members are hereby declared to continue for a year only, unless again elected at their next general meeting, and ordains annual elections to be then for that effect, and with power to the said preses, or and two of the said members with their clerk, to meet at any time they shall think it fit immediately after the date hereof, before the foresaid first general meeting, and from time to time between their saids general meetings as they shall see cause; and in case of the absence of their preses or clerk, with power to them or any three of them, to elect them for that time allenarly; which preses, clerk, and any two of the members of the society are hereby declared a quorum in these ordinary meetings, and with poer to the forenamed persons, or respective quorums of them above mentioned, wither at the saids general or particular meetings, to receive and admit into their said society, such persons as after trial they shall find qualfied, who when admitted, are hereby declared to have and enjoy the same privileges with the above named members; and also with power to them at their said meetings, to project, reason conclude upon, and enact such methods and regulations alwise consisting with our laws and acts of parliament, as they shall find convenient for promoting the art of the sword, and supporting of the said society; and particularly, with full power to them to cognoice upon, and determine all differences betwixt parties upon points of honour, for the more effectual preventing of duels. And in regard, several persons within this Kingdom do, or may hereafter usurp to teach the said art of the sword albeit nowise qualified, to the great prejudice of our subjects, therefore, Her Majesty with consent foresaid, grants full power to said society, or any quorum of them, to call before them all professors or teachers of the said art of the sword within the said kingdom, and to examine them, and take trial of their qualifications, and to admit or reject them as they shall see cause; and if admitted, they shall be thereafter reputed as qualified masters of that art, and be licensed to teach in such places of the said Kingdom where the said society shall think fit; and also with power to the said society or any quorum of them foresaid, to cause sieze upon and imprison any persons whatsomever, professing or teaching the said art within the said kingdom, who shall refuse to submit themselves to the foresaid trial ; and hereby grants warrant to the judge ordinary to whom such persons shall be delievered prisoners, to secure them in their prisons ay and while they find sufficient caution, that they shall submit themselves to the trial of said society within such a time as said society shall think fit; and also, that they shall not profess nor teach said art in all time hereafter within said Kingdom, without the special licance of the said society, under penalty of the sum of --- Scots money, to be paid by ilk one of the contraveners to the said soceity toties quoties. And moreover, Her Majesty with consent foresaid, gives and disposes to said society, all and sundry rights, liberties, privileges, freedoms and immunities, which are known, or competent to belong to that or any such like societies within the said kingdom, alse fully and freely, as if these privileges were specially insert thereuntil, and that the said society have a common seal to be appended by their clerk to all admissions, warrants, seals, licences and other writsto be granted by them concerning their said society, bearing the impression of the forementioned badge, and grants warrant to the Lion King at Arms, and his clerk and deputies, and all others concerned, to allow and matriculate the same.

This draught, together with the former act, which had been approved of in the committee Anno 1696, was delivered to a member of parliament, who was not only to present it, but also to give a short narrative of the progress had been made in it, especially by the approbation of the committee, to which it was remitted in the before-mention'd session of parliament: But as all sublunary designs as well as things, have their settled and appointed periods for being accomplished; so it seems this was not the time, when this most gentlemanly and honourable project should recieve its finishing stroke; for the parliament being taken up by affairs of the greatest consequence, particularly that of the union of the two kingdoms was the reason of this design, being only proposed toward the end of the session; so that there being at that time, and as it is alwise usual toward the rising of a parliament, a kind of hurry in business, the act could not be conveniently brought in, normoved, altho' the gentleman whom it was recommended, and who, as I said, was a member of parliament, did what he could is discretion for it.

Here is, you see, a most honourable, gentlemanly and useful publick project of several worthy and dextrous noblemen and gentlemen, for the encouragement of the art of the sword; and not a private design, or as some no well-wishers to the art, would have clandestinely and underhand insinuate; A monopoly to gratify some particular private persons: a most mean and ngentlemanly thought, and unworthy of any to propogate, who carries a sword by his side, far less the honourable persons already engaged in this most useful project; and which I am perswaded, could never be contrived or asserted by any, but such who being sensible of their gross ignorance in the art, did therefore dispair of ever having the honour of being admitted into the society.

For to give in a few words, a short view of the great benefit and advantage, which would redound to the subjects, particularly the gentry, of these islands, by such a Royal Society of brave and dextrous sword-men, were it once by law established.

FIRST, it would give great encouragement to the art, whereby a great many gentlemen, who are now-a-days, notwithstanding of its real use, somewhat averse to and careless about it, would be excited to follow it, and consequently be in a better capacity to defend their lives, either in a battel or private quarrel, especially if they follow this New Method of Fencing I have here discovered to them, than they could possibly formerly, either wholly or without any art, or I may freely say, even with the common method; which will be a means to save many a brave man's life, and consequently many good subjects; for let some people banter fencing as much as they please, not only as to its being no use in a battel, but even in a single engagement betwixt man and man; yet I do affirm and maintain, that the Art of Defence, as now rectified in this New Method, will not only be mos useful to prevent the bad consequences which commonly attend private quarrels by duelling; but also a great means to save many an officer or single soldier's life, when they come to a close engagement in a battel, sword in hand; and which in all probability they would have lost, had they not made use of the secure and excellent defence it furnishes them with, when performed with judgement, and especially if assisted by the dextrous use of the left hand, and secured by a good sword-proof gauntlet, as I proposed on page 177: than which, if the great benefit of them were once by a little use come to be known, nothing would be esteemed comparable to them for a ready defence in a closs engagement: But to bring so good and useful a defence into the army, must be the approbation and authority of a general, and not the advice of a private person; altho' I have judged it my duty to discover and propose it.

SECONDLY, such a society would prevent the lieges being hereafter imposed upon, by weak and ignorant professors, and teachers of the art; seing all such persons will, by the act establishing the society, fall under their jurisdiction, and they will certainly take care, that none be admitted as masters to teach the art within these islands, but such as shall be found duly qualified by them, and for which there will be no doubt, alwise in the society a competent number sufficiently capable, to make such masters undergo the tryal, which shall be required by the society of them; whether by examination, practice, or both.

I am fully perswaded, and dare confidently assert, that bad and ignorant teachers, with which these islands are but too well stor'd at present, have done more real prejudice, to the true art of defence, than all the pretended objections against it could ever possibly have done, had not such objections been seconded, and ina manner made good by the ill consequences of the bad teaching of some, and if I may so word it, too artificially nice instruction of others, which when put in practice, were found by the more judicious, to be a great deal more proper for diversion in a school assault, than for security and safety, withe in a single occasion, or when sareing in a close field battel; so that it is no great wonder, if this most useful art hath been of a long time discountenanced and condemned by many, and under, as it were, a knid of eclipse; but which will, I hope, be now retrieved, and by the assistance of this new, secure and excellent easie method of defence, I have here published, return to its ancient reputation and lustr, especially when encouraged by such a Royal Society.

THIRDLY, (and which is indeed the most glorious, because the most christian design of all), this Royal Society of sword-men, if once establised by law, and according to the terms of the preceeding act, will serve in place of a court of honour, wherein all points of honour, with relation to private quarrels between gentlemen, will be impartially determined, and the parties reconciled, which will, if not wholly, yet in a great measure, prevent duelling; wherein, god knows, how many brave young gentlemen lose their lives, in taking satisfaction, for many times pitiful and trifling quarrels, not worthy of a just and honourable resentment, and that meerly, upon the acount of no such wourt of honour being astablished by authority, to determine in matters betwixt disagreeing and quarreling persons; and who, were it once brought into fashion, would never decline either its authority or decision, but most calmly and willingly, (without thinking it the lest tash upon their honour,) succumb and comply with it: For the members of such a Royal Society, of sword-men being authorized by law, would lay down such methods, not only for taking up and removing, but also preventing all kinds of quarrels, that there would be scarcely any fall-out within these islands, but what would be immediately taken up and agreed by the mediators appointed in all parts, but especially in the great cities and towns, who would have thier particular commissions from the society for that effect; together also with a recommendation from the government to the justices of peace, and magistrates of the counties and towns, where such quarrels might happen, to concur with, and assist them, to secure the parties until they were reconciled, or a particular account of it sent to the society, in case of an obstinate refusal.

If such a noble and useful design now as this, should be brought about by the establishing of a Royal Society of sword-men, what a great honour it would be to those worth noblemen and gentlemen, who were the first contrivers of it and promoters of it in this kingdom? It would certainly be most honourable and glorious; for to be a merciful peace-maker, and to save, are heavenly and divine attributes, and can never be quarrell'd or condemned by any, who are convinced they have a soul to be saved, and which may come to paerish by being sent suddenly and unexpectedly into another world, by an unchristian as well as unlawful duel, and that only for lack of such an excellent preserver and protector of all true valour and honour, as this Royal Society, would infallibly prove to be, were it once established by an act of parliament, and effectually put into execution.

And yet this project how gentlemanly and useful so ever it might prove, had its enemies: But what man or design ever yet was there who wanted a set of such ill-wishing people to traduce and discourage them? However, I have indeed the charity to believe, that this proceeded more from their being out of humour, and dissatisfied that they were not amongst the first encouragers of it, than out of any malicious design to obstruct or frustrate its succeeding or taking effect had in been fully projected in plain parliament, which, as I said, could not possible be got done, because of the hurry and crowd of business, which was brought in towards the close of it.

This is a true impartial and short account of the first erection and design of our present society of sword-men in Scotland, together with the methods have been taken from time to time, to promote it; And I can say this with more confidence and certainty, being myself the first contriver, and one of the chief promoters of it all along, so far as it has yet advanced; and seeing as I have as a private gentleman, contributed what lay in my power, as well for the improvement of the art by writing, and giving instructions for it in several former pieces as well as this, as for promoting this most useful and honourable design of getting our society authorized by law: Of all which I do not in the least repent me (for it is below no gentleman who carries a sword to endeavour to propogate according to his power the knowledge and art of it) so I cannot but wish and expect that now, after the union of the two nations, some of our British nobility and gentry, who are well-wishers to the art, and who may ly nearer to the fountain of honour as well as of justice than it is probable WE may hereafter do, will generously take it off our hands, and cordially join in prosecuting this most useful design, by laying it before Her Majesty and the British parliament.

Neither is it to be doubted but Her Majesty and the representatives of these nations, which have acquired so much reknown and glory of late by the sword, will honour it by public act, and do some thing for the greater encouragement and promoting the most gentlemanly and useful art of it, which they can never do better, nor more effectually than by establishing by law, such a Royal Society of Sword-Men as is here proposed; and which in place of being called, as was formerly intended, The Royal Society of Sword-Men in Scotland, ought then to be named That of Great Britain; that as our hearts and interests are now by law, and I hope also cordially and sincerely united; so our swords may also be effectually joined as well for the disappointment and terror of our enemies, as well for the mutual support and defence of one another, so long as sun and moon shall endure.

I shall now come to the conclusion of this essay, wherein I shall endeavour to obviate, or rather resolve and answer some strong and plausible objections in appearance (tho indeed at bottom, but very frivolous) against this most gentlemanly and useful art, and which shall at present serve as a kind of encomium upon it, to excite young gentlemen not only to a more frequent practice of it, but also to a more careful and assiduous application of the excellent rules and instructions, which are here and there dispersed thorow this whole book, but more particularly collected and contain'd in that admirable abstract of the Sword-Man's vade mecum set doen in the sixth chapter, page 190, and that other in page 196, both of which I cannot too much recommend to the reader's making himself absolutely master of, by wholly relying upon them for his securest practice, as well as fixing them in his memory and judgement, for his more readily and easily making use of them upon an occasion; with which, the gentlest, best nature'd and most calm and temperate man alive, knows not how soon he may be misfortunately trysted.


By way of ecomium upon the art of fencing; wherein the chief objections against it, are fairly proposed and answered.

There are two sorts of people, who are the chief objectors against the usefulness of fencing; the first are those, who have, I may say, a kind of natural aversion to it, and who are but very few in number, neither can there be any reason given for it; so that the predjudices they have entertained against it in a manner from their infancy, have to them all the force of a demonstration: These are a sort of men, who never troubling themselves to argue on any matter, go through stitch, as we say, in all their opinions, and never take them up, but with a secret resolution never to quit them, tho for others infinitely better, there is no informing nor enlightening of them, and when one has reason'd with them never so justly, all the answer you are to expect, is that of the country fellow to his priest, you may silence me, but you shall never convert me. Now; were it only for such persons, that I intended the arguments here set down to prove the usefulness of this art, I might very well have spared my pains; for as I said, such persons are obstinately resolved to be proof against the strongest arguments can be offered to them in its favours; so that there being no possiblity of perswading them, I must even leave them where I found them; and since I cannot convince them of their unreasonable predjudices against it, I will, I hope, at least be allowed to regret them.

But there are a second sort of enemies, or rather objectors against the usefulness of fencing, who are only enemies to it at the second hand, if I may so express it; that is, not out of any natural predjudice or aversion of their own, but from what they hear from the above mentioned, or such other inveterate enemies to it, and therfore are not so obstinate as they, but of a great deal more convinceable temper: So that it is chiefly upon such plausible, and tractable persons account, (who ought rather to be pitied as condemned, seing the aversion they have to the art, is not so much natural and voluntary, as with an insinuating kind of subtility and cunning, carried home, and enforced upon them). I say, it is chiefly upon such persons account, that I have undertaken to draw together in this conclusion, so of those objections which appear to be of greatest weight against the usefulness of the art; together with my answers to them.

And indeed it is somewhat unaccountable and surprising, that an art, by which men may reap benefit and advantage, but never predjudice, should have any enemies or objectors at all against it, especially any who pretend to the priviledge of carrying a sword by their side: But 'tis very probable, it may be with such persons, as it is with the condemners of divinity, and even of providence itself; for to make the allusion in the words of a very excellent author, and with all due regard and deference to so noble and sublime a subject: As it is impossible for any man of sense, who considers the fabrick of the whole, nay the smallest and most unconsiderable part of the universe, to doubt a first or supreme being, until from the conciousness of his sins and provocations, it become his interest that there should be none; so, I may say, it is impossible for any reasonable man, who seriously reflects upon, and considers the excellencies and advantages of fencing, to doubt or question the usefulness of it, until from a sense of his own ignorance in it, and the advantages he is sensible, artists will in all probability, in an occasion, have over him by it, it does become his interest, that there should be no such thing as art; or at least, that what is called the art of the sword, should be of no use: However, that I may be a sgood as my promise, and prosecute my design, as I first proposed, I say;

As the art of fencing is chiefly designed for the defence and preservation, not for the ruin and destruction of mankind, so certainly is it a great accomplishment, and does mightily heighten and increase people's esteem for it, where is is possessed by one of a sedate, calm and peaceable disposition; wheras on the other hand, it tends much to its predjudice and contempt, whe it is at the disposal and command of any hot, surly and ill-natur'd or quarrelsome person; for as such persons take only the benefit of it, for the better assisting and carrying them thorow in their more unmannerly and impertinent insults, which disturb the peace and tranquility of the society, whereis they live and company they converse with for which they ought to be discountenanced by all good men; so the other make only use of it for their just defence, in any occasion, wherein they may be unhappily engaged; so that such persons being necessitate sometimes to make use of their art in good earnest, is so far from yielding any satisfaction or pleasure to them, that they are rather obliged to show their skill and dexterity in it, with a kind of regret and reluctancy.

For I have many times observed, that neither the bravest nor most courageous men of honour, nor greatest sword-men, are the most given to quarrels, and that because neither of them like to suffer what they so much esteem, namely their valour, to be exposed either too frequently, or at too cheap a rate; but then it is generally as true, that when such persons do engage in anhonourable occasion, they do it indeed with a witness: They neither go into the fields, nor draw in the streets, to raise a noise and a hubbub, by discharging a few blows or thrusts, and then all is immediately husht and over, by reason of a patcht-up reconciliation; which noways deserved the name of a real satisfation; but upon the contrary, when such persons engage, they do it out of a true point of honour, and meerly to demand a just satisfaction, for a really recieved injury; and this, I confess, is seldom done, by the most expert sword-men, but at the expence of some blood, whereas according to the common method of picking petty quarrels, and resenting them (for indeed they do not deserve the name of injuries or real affronts) a man shall hear of several rencounters, and not so much as a drop of blood drawn on either side, which is however a thing, in my opinion, very rare to be expected from the common method of practice, and where there is given a just occasion for resentment, and the parties offending, obliged in point of honour, to give a just satisfaction; so that the matter standing thus with valorous and expert artists, fencing, or the true art of defence, gives indisputably to such persons, the two following advantages.

FIRST, it creates a respect to them from many, who did they judge them to be as mal-adroit as themselves, would perhaps, when in company, venture to pass a jest or banter upon them, who knowing their valour and adroitness, will judge it more safe for them to forbear it, knowing certainly that they will not easily be let pass, without being demanded satisfaction for it: Also in any little difference which may arise amongst the company, such persons who are known to be not only judicious, and men of honour, but likewise skilful and adroit at their weapons, will in all probability be the persons to whom such differences are referred; and for whose decision the whole company will, no doubt, have the greater regard, in resepct of their knowing nicely the punctillos of honour, which all good sword men are presumed and ought to understand, and that they certainly know they will not smooth over any affront, wherein a man's reputation or honour are really concerned, without advising them to demand such satisfaction, as by the rules of honour, the nature of the offence requires.

SECONDLY, the true art of defence, gives any man who is absolutely master of it, (even altho endued but with a very moderate natural forwardness or boldness) a certain kind of assurance, I had almost said courage, upon an occasion, which no unskilful person can have, and that in so far as the artist, not only certainly knows, all the opens by which his adversary cat attack him, but also the probably means, not only to prevent them, and to defend himself, but also offend his adversary; so that if he come to fail in either, he knows that he hath himself only to blame for it, not the unsufficiency of the art: Whereas an unskilful person, is in such a case discouraged, and rendered in a manner desperate, which obliges the most part of them, out of a meer necessity to take themselves to a most violent and irregular pursuit, (which I have elsewhere very justly called temeritas vel ignorantiae audacia, or the temerity and foolhardiness of ignorance), whereby they endeavour, if possible, to force the artist from his measures; and so they are concious to themselves, that upon such an occasion, they can perform nothing, with any kind of design, judgement or certainty, because of their being althogether ignorant of the rules of art, but which being all exactly understood by the artist, are an encouragement and support to him, by not only encreasing his courage as it were, but even giving hima kind of assurance, while in the heat of his engagement. So that in this case, it may be most justly asserted, that an expert artist supports and fortifies himself by his art, while an ignorant is necessitate to do it, if possible, by temerity and despair. And indeed it is pretty odd to see such a kind of co-incidence betwixt two so very opposites as art and ignorance, and that they should both tend to the producing of that boldness and forwardness, which is to be found in some mes, especially ignorants, who being quite destitute of art, cannot pretend to the least support and assurance they might in reason expect from it: But the great difference, as I have been observing, lyes in this; that the courageous forwardness and assurance possessed by the artist, proceeds from a reasonable and well-grounded confidence, which he reposes in his art, and which will rarely fail a man of judgement, if performed by that sedateness and presence of mind, with which it requires to be execute: Wheras the ignorants ventorious forwardness, or rather temerity, flows from his being most sensible of his great want of art and skill, and in place of being so well grounded in the former, is only the result of despair, which is the spur that sharpens him up to it; So that the temerity and affected assurance, which is, I may say, screwed and forc'd from it, can but very rarely, (and even then but by meer chance) produce those good consequences, which a true, sure or solid art can. This is the distinction I thought fit to make betwixt the ventorious hardiness or temerity of a forward ignorant, and the well grounded confidence and assurance of a brisk, skilful and judicious artist or sword-man.

I remember, that I have many times heard artists reproach'd and upbraided, with such expressions as these: To what purpose is all your art, and regular lessons, as well defensive as offensive, when it is frequently observed, that a vigorous and stout ignorant or naturalist, with a swinging irregular pursuit, will put any of you off from all your orderly postures of defence, so that you shall be in such a condition, as not to be in a capacity to make use of your art; not in a manner know to what hand to turn you; of so very little use and advantage is art many times, to those who pretend a great del of knowledge and dexterity in it, especially when vigorously attacked.

In answer to which, I must in the first place as such persons, who make this objection, whether or not they are really perswaded that a man's art diminishes his natural courage? I cnnot believe they will answer in the affirmative, there is so very little shadow of reason for it; becuase this were a strange virute in it indeed, that art according to some peoples' wild fancies and assertion, whould render a man, who is naturally brave and courageous upon his abstaining of it, an arrant coward; by (as it were a most unreasonable kind of transmigration) infusing a mean and timorous soul into a body formerly posessed by a brave one, whereby it is wholly divested of that heroick virtue wherewith nature had endued it from its infancy; No, no, this wre to make a too rash as well as false conclusion, and to encroach a little too much upon the just dictates of reason and sound sense.

If then art does not abate courage (for I do not deny but it many times makes a man more cautious in an engagement than perhaps otherwise he would be; this being indeed peritiae & experientiae cauleta, or the circumspectness and wariness of art, which, however, has not the least tendency to cowardice , and is much rather to be approved of, as condemned) then certainly an artist hath this advantage by his art, that altho' he should be sometimes beat out of, or driven from his postures of defence, and put from making use of his artificial lessons of offence, yet he still knows when, and where opens are given to thrust at, and so can take the opportunity of them, which no man althgether ignorant of the art can do; so this, not to mention the benefit he hath in knowing how to thrust swiftly, and also to plant and adjust his thrusts well, is one considerable advantage he hath by his art altho' he had no more, but ever did wholly abandon the defensive part, and should answer the ignorant in his own coin, as to the offensive.

But secondly, it is a most gross mistake, to fancy that a truly expert and compleat artist, can thus be beat from either his posture of defence, of presures of pursuit, by any ignorant or rambler whatsoever; a novice or half-skilled person may indeed be driven into confusion, by reason that he is but just in a manner grounded in the art; but one truly expert and by practice consummate in the art, never can; because his defence and pursuit, are founded upon, and proceed from true and solid principles, and not from an ill-grounded root; so that forming a true cross upon his adversary's weapon, when upon his defence; and launcing alwise homse a thrust vigorously, upon an open, either offered by his adversary, or forced by himself when offending, he can never be said either to defend, or pursue irregularly, or in confusion, by reason, that the forming of a good cross upon the defensive, and the thrusting always at an open upon the offensive part, being the two chief principles uon which this art is founded, and he acting consequentially to these principles, can therefore never be said to act in confusion, let the posture of his guard be never so awkward or disorderly in appearance, or the position of his sword hand, perhaps in quarte, when it ought to be in tierce or seconde, upon his offence: And which are at bottom but trifles with respect to true fencing, when a man comes to an earnest engagement with sharps.

Thirdly, seeing it is clear, that according to reason, art can never diminish, but that it ought rather to produce and increase courage; then certainly an artist can never be at any loss or disadvantage, by being a professor of it; because, when he pleases he can make use of it, and since it impairs not, nor diminishes, his natural valour and boldness, he may also when he has a mind for it, unart himself, if I may say so, or lay it as it were aside for tht occasion, and answer the ignorants forwardness by his own natural courage, as if he had no art, (which, by the way, is no bad method for young sword men, when they shall be engaged in an occasion, before they are well confirmed in their art) whereby he is still in equal circumstances with his adversary, and in the same condition, if it can be supposed, that a compleat artist can so much divest himself of his skill, as if he had no art at all.

So that it is evident, that any man who has truly art, is so far from being at a disadvantage by it any manner of way, that he hath also this following undeniable advantage, which alone is sufficient, were there no other at all, not only to make all men of good sense and judgement, to value and esteem it, but also to silence entirely all its enemies whatsoever, who are not out of meer caprice resolved to continue obstinate; which is, that whereas his adversary, can only appear in the field in one capacity, to defend his life and honour, to wit, as a mal adroit and ignorant, and as one relying meerly upon a fortuitous chance, for his preservation or victory: the ARTIST can appear sword in hand, in a twofold capacity, that is, either as an artist, to defend himself by his address and skill, or if he please, as altogether as very arrant an ignorant, and inconsiderately forward a mal-adroit as his adversary.

From all which, I draw this undeniable conclusion, that true art and a skilful address, in the gentlemanly and most useful science of defence, must be for the most part of singular use and advantage, but that it is next to impossible, it can ever be predjudicial to any man, if he but act, I shall not say exactly, (for that I dare affirm, never any man did, not do I really believe can) but even indifferently, and in a good measure, according to its most rational, as well as exact, rules and directions.

All which I think sufficiently answers the above mentioned common tho' weak objection, which however, is rarely made by any who have but the least tincture of art; but only by such as are wholly ignorant of it; and who therefore, according to a natural, and I may say innate pride and vanity, but too common to our whole race, cannot endure to be thought ignorant of any useful exercise, for the understanding whereof, they hear other persons applauded; and amongst other gentlemanly exercises, hearing this of fencing commended by the most judicious, and the persons who are dextrous at it, had in esteem and respected for it; and knowing themselves, to be by their laziness and neglect, altogether ignorant of it, they therfore look upon themselves as obliged, out of a vain, self-conceited, and false point of honour, (if it can deserve that gentlemanly word) to vindicate their own ignorance, by railing at, and undervaluing the art; and all who possess it.

And I dare appeal to all such enemies of it, if they will but deal candidly, and be ingenuous, if what I have said be not the chief, if not the only reason, for their pretended dislike to this art; and if in their judgement and conscience, they are not really convinced of its use and excellency, notwithstanding of their dissembling so far, as to deny it with their words: For let some morose people pretend to never such an unaffected indifference for the practical knowledge of this art; yet I am fully perswaded, ther never was any man, who being altogether ignorant of it, was necessitate to appear in good earnest with sword in hand, but would with all his sould, have wished himself to be amongst the number, of the most skilful and expert in fencing.

I know it is also commonly objected, that however dextrous a man may be, yet he can never pretend to an absolute certainly, or infallibility by his art, and therefore seing it is possible that his art may fail him, all things being subject to a kind of chance, it is as good for a man to take his venture, and rather than consume a great deal of time in acquiring and uncertain art, even resolve to hazard all at one home-push, or as the late Mr. Lock in his Education of Youth, Sect. 187., was pleased to word it, put all upon one thrust, and not stand parieing, whereby it hath been often seen, that bold and forward ignorants have not only preserved their own lives, but have also masterd and overcome their adversaries, altho' reputed very dextrous sword-men.

To which I answer, that altho' what is said, seems at first view to carry somewhat of reson with it, especially when affirmed and backed by the authority of so great a man as the late Mr. Lock; yet I am hopeful when it is considered a little more narrowly and distinctly it shall not ahve such influence & weight with any considering person, as to make him in the least forbear, far less wholly neglect the improving himself in the most gentlemanly and useful of arts, especially after the serious perusal of the following answer.

I have all the deference imaginable for Mr. Lock's writings, and esteem them as I do those of other learned men; but however I may be obliged by his strong and convincing reasons, to go along with, and yield very much to him as a philosopher, yet I msut beg pardon to dissent from him as a sword-man: For his advising to put all upon one thrust and not stand parieing, shews his skill in fencing to be as bad and little to be regarded, as his knowledge in philosophy, by reason of his great learning, is to be valued and admired: And I think it but a very weak argument to insinuate, that because we poor mortals, are in a manner subject in all our actions to an inevitable destiny, that therefore we ought not to use the most rational means for our preservation, for as Mr. Dryden says;

If fate be not, then what can we forsee?
Or how can we avoid it, if it be?
If by free will, in our own paths we move,
How are we bounded by decrees above?

Which he answers very well by the following two lines:

Whether we drive, or whether we are driven,
If ill, 'tis ours; if good, th' effect of Heaven.

I say it is but bad arguing from the uncertain events of our best performances, that therfore we ought not to improve ourselves in those arts, whereby we may prevent a great many accidents which would otherwise certainly befall us: It is much the same, as if I should affirm, that because of my learning to walk, I am not infallibly certain, never to dislocate any of my joints when I am walking abroad; therfore I ought not to stir out of doors at all, but to keep close at home; where I am no more infallibly certain neither, but that the very same misfortune may befall me even in walking about my room, or stepping in to my bed; Therefore I conclude, that as it would be folly in any man never to walk of stir abroad, because he is not infallibly certain, but that he may dislocate his ankle, or break a leg, nay, even be knock'd on the head, by an accidental blow of a stone or tile blown from a house-top, whereof we have had several instances; so would it be no less ridiculous, for any man to neglect the improvement of himself in the art of defence, because he is not infallibly certain, of that it is not impossible, but that his adversary, whether artist or ignorant, may when engaged against him, either wound or kill him.

For what man is there, of what imployment soever, that dares pretend to an absolute certainty in it? Don't we daily see godly divines draw erroneous doctrines from good and orthodox texts? Great lawyers false prackticks from good institutions, Skilful physicians dangerous administrations from safe and excellent aphorisms? And even learned philosophers and mathematicians to build false hypotheses upon pretended mathematical demonstrations? The only sciencefrom whence unerring truth can certainly flow; Nay, the most skilful gamesters come some time off with loss; and the greates warriors, and most renown'd and cautious generals are sometimes beat and entirely routed, of which we have had fresh and happy instances for these nations in the late campaigns: Since then all these professions are thus by turns fallible, must it be only sword-men who ought to be infallible in the practice of their art? No! There is not the least reason for it, and indeed it were a kind of folly to expect it.

Such weak arguments as these, cannot be of force to influence, even the most shallow persons we can think of, so as to cause them to neglect their most useful exercises, far less prevail with men of any understanding and judgement, to undervalue the true art of defence, which is of so great benefit and use for the preservation of both life and honour; for laying wholly aside such whimsical arguments, we ought (as true christians) to use the lawful means, let the event prove what it will: And I must also take the freedom to inform those who are of Mr. Lock's perswasion in this point, that if they should have to deal with a true and compleat artist, he would not give them the opportuinity of putting all upon one thrust: for the artist would so attack them with a brisk half pursuit, and still cross their swords; if they were to make use of this new method, or accompany his pursuit with such a continual beating and binding of their swords, if they inclined to make use of the common, that they would hardly have the opportunity of disengaging their swords, nay scarcely of recovering or raising their points, so closely would their skilful adversary keep them engaged, and under a continual kind of twist or circular motion: Or otherwise he would answer them smartly from the riposte, his parade being assisted by the left hand for his more certain defence: Than which, thee is not, as I have many times said, and cannot repeat it too often, a better method in the whole art, to put a stop to, and master an irregular and furious pursuit. Thus ought, and certainly would a true artist engage upon an occasion; and if he do, what, pray, comes of his adversary's attempting to put all upon one thrust? (Unless it were to run himself head-long upon the artist's sword's point) when himself is allowed so very little time to thrust, especially if altogether an ignorant, that he can scarcely know what position his own sword is in.

But I take the true reason of the mistake to have proceeded from hence, that there are but very few truly great artists, the most part of people who have that character bestowed upon them, not in the least deserving it: So matters standing thus, and such half-skilled persons, being frequently baffled by naturalists of a brisk and forward temper, Mr. Lock's meaning has been misunderstood, as if thereby he had concluded, that such forward persons would have the same success against the greatest and most skilful artists, as they sometimes have against such half sword-men whose number is indeed but too great: For these are his very words in the fore-cited place; And certainly a man of courage, who cannot fence at all, and therefore will put all upon one thrust, and not stand parieing, has the odds against a moderate fencer; which two last words I desire may be taken notice of and remarked, in chich I most heartily concur with him; for indeed I am almost of opinion, that a man had better have no art at all, that have but so very little a smack of fencing, as not to be capable to put it into practice; or to use Mr. Lock's own words, be only a moderate fencer; whereby I understand a certain kind of pretenders, who have more theory or rather prattle, than true practice, and which upon an occasion, will many times porve of less use to them, than a brisk and hardy natural pursuit, such as I immediately recommend to young sword-men, Page. 257. But then there is a vast distinction to be made betwixt such a moderate, or rather bungling artist, and a person truly master of the art of defence. The most forward naturalist that is, would but pass his time ver sorely, if engaged against such a sword-man.

Let then all gentlemen endeavour not to become moderate fencers, (as Mr. Lock very justly terms such half skilled persons), but really expert and dextrous sword-men; and my life for it, their art of defence shall prove of singular benefit and use to them at sharps, especially if the occasion be honourable: For it is but just, that a man's art should fail him, when he offers to draw his sword, either in a mean quarrel, or for a bad or unjust cause.

Therefore to vindicate the late Mr. Lock (who deserved a great deal of applause, as for thet excellent little piece of the education of youth, so still more for his incomparable essay on human understanding) I am fully perswaded, that had he understood as much of fencing, as he did of philosophy, he would never have given so dangerous an advice: For alwise to pursue and thrust, without being in the least ready, or offering to go to the parade, if a man's adversary should offer to thrust out upon him, or to take him from the riposte, after he hath thrust, is what ought not to be so much as named by any who pretend to the least art; except in the extraordinary circumstances I have named Page 113, 114, and 180, where it aought also to be accompanied with the help of the left hand, the better to produce a contre-temps or an exchanged thrust: But this being an old recieved maxim amongst ignorants, to always pursue most furiously, especially when engaged against one who has the reputation of an artist; and this method succeeding sometimes against half-skilled persons, Mr. Lock did take it upon trust, and so set it down as a general rule, for which he ought to be excused: The giving just and true directions for this art, being (as he was a divine and a philosopher, but not a good sword-man) altogether out of his sphere.

I have insisted the longer upon this, lest so vulgar an error as advising alwaies to thrust, without in the least being ready, or attempting to parie when needful, maintain'd by many persons, (who altho' very judicious in other matter, yet being no sword-men, ought not to be look'd upon as competent judges in this point,) and also backed with the authority and advice of so great and learned a person as the late Mr. Lock, micht have perhaps too strong an influence upon many young gentlemen, who have not as yet come so great a length in the art, as to be capable of themselves to discover the uncertainty and weakness of it; but I am very hopeful, what I have said will undeceive them, and that they will be so kind to themselves, as to rely rather upon my judgement as Mr. Lock's, in this determination, until they be masters of so much art, as to be competent judges of it themselves; and the rather, because it isonly a point in fencing, not a decision in philosophy, wo who in such a case, I should be very ready to yield.

In fine, fencing, or the true art of the sword, is both DIVERTING and USEFUL; DIVERTING, is so far as, by school-play a young gentleman may pass away some idle hours, he perhaps knows not well how to dispose of otherwise, (for I am far from advising any Gentleman to make it his whole and only business) whereby he will render his body more agile and nimble, and also by a moderate exercise, discuss and expel many of those gross and superfluous humours, which if nourished and increased by too sedentry a life, or too much ease, might prove predjudicial to his health: And USEFUL; in respect of the assurance and safety it furnishes every man with, who is perfectly master of it. For altho' ther be no absolute certainty, or infallibility in almost any thing this side of time, save in a mathematical scheme or demonstration; yet the true art of defence furnishing a man with a rational method of securing and defending himself, against the attacks of his adversary with any kind of weapon, whether edged or pointed, whereby his adversary may discharge either blow or thrust against him; it cannot be denied, but with respect to THIS, the art of fencing is truly advantageous and useful.

Altho after all, and to be ingenious, it cannot be denied, but that the best of sword men have their good and bad days, as every one must acknowledge, who has been accustomed to such kind of exercises; and happy is it for a man, when a lucky and fortunate day, concurrs with a just and honourable occasion; so that in my opinion, I cannot make a better simile, than to compare an adroit and knowing sword-man, to a very good and skilful gamester, who even against a very great bungler, may have now and then a bad run as we say, but still it is acknowledg'd that upon the main, the skilful gamester hath great odds against the bungler, and will at last certainly carry off the ready: Even so in fencing, a good sword-man may by misfortune, or by failing in his art come to be worsted by an ignorant or mal-adroit; (for as I said, sword men are no more infallible than other men) but still this is no reflection upon the art, and good sword men will upon the main, have a singular and evident advantage, over all unskilful persons whatsoever: It is alwise to be supposed singly and one after another, and that the artist be sober and free from the effects of wine or other strong liquor, whereby he may be frustrate of any benefit he might reap from his art, for to drunken or very passionate people this art can be but of little or no use, whatever some persons who are addicted to these vices, may fancy or assert to the contrary.

THEREFORE, the uncertainty above-mentioned, notwithstanding of their greatest art, ought to humble sword-men, and prevent their being too confident, or relying too much upon their skill, seeing it is thereby most palpable and evident, that there is a just and invisible, as well as inevitable dextiny, or rather providence, which attends and over rules every man's actions. Let all then who have acquired art, notwithstanding of their greatest knowledge and desterity in it, carry themselves humbly and modestly, and without being the least puff'd up by it; and when they shall be necessitate to make use of it in good earnest, for the preservation of their lives or honour; let them boldly, and as I advised in page 186, (for the less people apprehend or dread their adversaries, the better) make use of the ordinary means and talents, art hath bestowed upon them, for their just defence, resigning themselves in the mean time, with all submission and humility, to the unerring conduct of that OVERRULING POWER, which being TRUTH itself, hath declared, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battel to the strong, but that time and chance happeneth to all.

The End

A Scheme of LAWS (according to the Author's own Sentiment)

to be observed in all Fencing-Schools, wherein the master desires a Decency and Order to be kept by his Scholars, especially upon the Ordinary Days for Publick Assaulting, or when there is a Prize to be Play'd for; and which ought to be Printed in large Characters, and placed in the most conspicuous Part of the School, that none who are to be concerned, may pretend Ignorance.

I shall not here say any thing of the Fencing-School, or Room where a Prize is to be Played for, becuase, commonly People provide themselves of the most convenient Rooms can be had for these Purposes, in the places where they are to be Established; and there is this one General Direction, that I would have observed in making Choice of One, That as a Fencing-School ought to be a large and well-lighten Room, so it ought to have a little With-drawing Room to enter from it, for the more Conveniency of the Scholars shifting themselves; or for any other Persons who are to Play for the Prize, retiring themselves to, until they put themselves in Order for it; which would not be very decent to be done before the whole Company, who are only ot be Spectators. This being premised for the Conveniency of the Scholars, or other Players; I say, that in my humble Opinion, thaty ought to observe the following, or some other such like Laws; both upon their Weekly Assaulting Days, or when they are to play for a Prize.


LAWS to be observed upon the Weekly Assaulting Days.


The days of the week appointed for assaulting ought to be tuesdays and fridays, for the reasons mentioned page 231.


ALL cursing and swearing, and obscene language, should be discharged as much as possible; Because, a Fencing-School being a place to which persons of the finest quality do frequently resort, for their exerise and divertisement, all such ungentlemanly, as well as immoral habits ought to be discountenanced; and that decorum and civilityobserved and paid by the scholars to one another, as it becomes Gentlemen, not only as they are true Christians, but even as they pretent to be men of true generosity and honour.


ALL persons, as well those who are only spectators, as scholars, whould be obliged to silence; at least, to discourse within their voices; Because, thereby the assaulters will be less disturbed, and the Master's advice and reproofs, when they commit any escapes, better adhered to and observed.


NO scholar or other person, should offer to assault, or present a fleuret to any, without having the master's consent; Because, it would not only be indiscretion to do it without first having acquainted the Master of it; but it would be a ready means to occasion a continual Hurry and Confusion in the school, while the scholars are either assaulting, or the master a giving of a lesson.


No scholar nor spectator, without a licence from the master, whould offer to direct or give advice, to any who are either taking a lesson or assaulting; Because; first, it is unmannerly, without permission or being desired, to take upon them to play the master. Secondly, censurers frequently reprove their comrades, for the very same escapes, they themselves are most guilty of; wich is the reason that they are many times laught at by the company for their impertinent officiousness, which they might have prevented, had they been a little more silent and reserved.


NO scholar under two months teaching in this New Method of Fencing, or three at least in the ordinary one, should be allowed to assault in publick; Because; until they be a little confirmed in their art by their private assaults, they can do nothing in their publick, but misbehave or ramble; whereby the art is undervalued by such spectators as do not know the reasons for their thus failing, and who are also perhaps glad of such a pretence, to ridicule it.


NO Scholar under three months teaching in this New Method, or five or six in the ordinary one, should be suffered to take their lessons, or assault in their ordinary wearing clothes or shoes; Because, until a man be pretty well confimed in his lessons, and his body and limbs accustomed thereby to good stretches, his play would be but very slow and unfirm, should he so soon quite with his Fencing Shoes and Vest.


NONE should be allowed to play, above five or six fair given or recieved thrusts; Because, if people play as briskly as they ought, their vigour will be spent in that time; and what they do afterwards, is but slow and without life, and so unpleasant to the spectators; therefore they had better ggive place to others, in which time they may take their wind, and fall to it again if they please.


ALTHO at sharps thrusting at the face be very disabling, yet it is not to be allowed in school assaults; Because, of the predjudice and hurt people may receive by it in their eyes; but popping out (as we term it) and the wrists, arms, thighs, legs or feet ought to be allowed, altho not reckoned as thrusts; Because, thereby a man accustoms himself to be dextrous at it at sharps, where it is most useful for disabling; and if he do not practice it in school assaults, he shall never haave the opportunity to become dextrous at it at all; besides, that the popping out upon these parts can do a Man's adversary no predjudice with a fleuret, as it would do at his face or eyes, which is the reson that I would have it discharged at these parts.


THE Use of the left hand ought to be allowed in school assaults as well against artists as ignorants, that thereby a man may become dextrous, at both opposing and parieing his adversary's sword with it; which it is impossible he can ever be, unless by frequently making use of it, both when taking a lesson and assaulting: And indeed it is too good and useful an assistance for a man's defence, to be wholly laid aside or neglected.


The better to prevent contretemps in assaulting, altho a man give his adversary a contretemps, or even an exchanged thrust, before the recovery of his adversary's body from his thrust; yet if he himself did not offer to go to the parade, but did designedly receive the thrust, that he might the more easily give the contretemps or exchanged thrust to his adversary; the thrust his adversary gave him should be charged upon him; that thereby he may be discouraged from the practice of such a false and murdering kind of play, which is the loss of many brave men at sharps, where commonly in such a case, both go to the pot together. Nota; No people are more guilty of this than the French, by reason of their imperfect quarte and tierce parades, and upon than account, their too frequently catching at time; whereby in duels or rencounters, both parties are for the most part either kill'd or wounded.


Two commands are to be reckoned equal to a thrust; Because; altho they are not so dangerous, yet seeing it is a bad habit, that a man accustoms himself to suffer his sword at every bout, as we say, to be commanded; it is but just, that for every two he should be charged with a thrust, that so he may the better guard against them, as also the more to encourage his adversary to command him, because of its great use and safety at sharps.


Upon commanding no struggling is to be allowed to the person commanded, after his fleuret is once cacht hold of, nor tripping to the person commanding, after he is master of it; Because, however allowable such active and nimble defences may be upon a pinch at sharps, yet in a school assault, all such kind of strugling betwixt scholars is rude and undecent.


When a fleuret is brokn in an assault, the person in whose hand it is, ought alwise to pay it; Because, if it be by a thrust upon his adversary, his adversary has loss enough, by being at the disadvantage of receiving a thrust, altho he pay not the fleuret also; and if it be broken by a blow, whether it is by his own beat or his adversary's, he ought to have taken care to prevent either; upon all which accounts, I think it most reasonable, that the person in whose hand the fleuret was broke, should alwise pay it: Which decision will be found to remove a great deal of debate, that arises many times upon this point.


LASTLY, all these laws should be observe, under such a penalty as the master shall judge fit to impose, for the breach of each: And that mulct ought also to be exactly collected; Otherwise, the having such laws in the school will turn to no effect; and the scholars will have no more regard for them, than if there were no such laws at all to be observed by them.


LAWS to be observed upon a Bet, or when a Prize is to be play'd for.

All the preceeding Laws for Assaulting, in so far as they are not contradictory to these following, are to be observed as well in Playing for a Prize, as upon the weekly Assaulting Days; but where they differ, then observe the following, I say when a prize is to be played for.


THERE should be printed advertisements, to acquaint people both of the kind of prize that is to be played for, as also of the day that is appointed for it; together with the place and persons manes, to whom those who intend to play should give up their names, and their contribution for it, unless it be a prize given gratis.


The day whereupon the prize is to be played for approaching, there ought to be a sufficient guard provided by the overseers or judges, form the magistrates of the town, or Commanding Officer of the place, that so any kind of rabble or confusion may thereby be better prevented. For which reason also,


NONE should be admitted to be spectators, but such as shall have tickets given to them, which they are to deliver to the door keeper as they enter.


NONE should be allowed to play for the prize, but such as have duly given up their names at the time and places appointed.


FOR the greater order and regularity in playing for a prize, the number of players ought to be even, that so they be the more easily paired, and those who beat their adversaries, also marked with the less difficulty; Therefore if there be an odd player, they should all draw lots who is to forbear playing the prize, and the person upon whom the lot falleth, should have the money he contributed for the prize returned to him, and shall forbear playing for that time.


NONE should be allowed to play but in such a garb or habite as this one following (and which is a most decent one for assaulting in) viz. a black velvet cap, and white waitcoat, drawers and stockings; the waistcoat and drawers of what kind of stuff every man will be at the charges of, whether Holland, Taffaty, Sattin &c. But in the time that they are playing, the skirts of their waistcoats ought alwise to be put beneath the head-band of their drawers, that so it may be the better perceived where the thrusts are given: For which end also,


THE fleurets they play with, shoudlbe of equal length, and their buttons dipt in a little vermillion and water, that so the thrusts after they are given may be the more easily discovered, and booked without any debate, and which ought alwise to be done by the judges after every thrust; neither should any be allowed to paly against any more than one in a day; because after the first assault a man's vigour is spent, and being to play for a prize, it were most unreasonable, to oblige him to play against any other fresh person for that day: As for the number of thrusts to be played for, see the Eighth Law for Weekly Assaulting.



NO thrusts should be allowed nor accounted as fair, which are not given in the trunk of the body; that is, betwixt the neck and head-band of the drawers as to its length, and betwixt the two shoulders as to its breadth.


ALL enclosing and commanding ought to be discharged in playing for either a bet or a prize; Because, however, useful they may be at sharps, yet upon this occasion, the frequent use of them, sould take away the whole grace, neatness and pleasure of the play: But the use of the left hand is to be allowed, because it may fall out, that some foreward ignorants, or ramblers, may lift themselves to play for the prize, out of no other design, but to bring a slur upon the art, by endeavouring if possible, to baffle any of the artists, upon which very account, were there no other, the parieing with the left hand is to be allowed. And in case of contretemps or exchanged thrusts, the Eleventh Law for Weekly Assaulting is to be observed.


EACH person being to play against every one, it will take as many days for playing the prize, and before the victory can be decided in any one's favours, as there are persons listed, save one; because each being to make but one Assault in a day, according to the seventh law, it will take so much time before it go thorow them all; And whoever after the last days assaulting shall be found by the account in the book, to have the best manifest, shall be declared by the Judges to have gain'd the prize, to whom it is to be delivered by them, passing what compliment upon him they shall think fit.

I HAVE only given this Scheme of Laws to be observed in Fencing Schools as a Model, whereby masters may more easily regulat themselves in their Weekly Assaulting Days or when a Prize is to be played for; and not as an Unalterable Form, wherein no rectifications can or ought to be made. Therefore, notwithstanding of what I have here offered, it is left to every master to rescind or add, as he shall judge it most proper and convenient; altho I must say, that I have endeavoured to set down none, but what I thought most material, and in a manner absolutely needful.