The first Dialogue:
VVherein is reasoned of the Neglect of Martiall Discipline, and inconueniences thereof: the comparison of VVeapons ancient and moderne, with their different Executions: the imperfections of many training Captaines: the perfect training of men, to great effect: the due sortment of VVeapons now vsed: the contempt of Souldiers, and causes thereof.
GOod Captaine, I pray, if your leysure will permit, let vs haue your companie some few dayes, familiarlie to dis∣course with you vpon such matter as time, cause, and oc∣casion shall minister: for since the rumour of this trou∣blesome world towards,* I meane, besides the brables of Ireland, the great preparations of the ambitious Spani∣ard, pretended as is thought against vs, both my selfe, & other country Gentlemen, vnexperimented in such mar∣tiall causes, haue not a litle mused thereupon: and so much the more, by reason of the straite charges and commands directed from her Maiestie, and her honourable priuie Counsell vnto vs of euerie Shire, to make good prouision of furniture, and our people to be well trained: the which see∣meth not done without some great occasions knowne, or matters greatly suspe∣cted: What thinke you of it?
Sir, I will drawe my leisure and poore skill to the vttermost, to satis∣fie, in what I can, your curteous request. And first, concerning mine opinion touching the ambitious and proud minded Spaniard,* I say; that besides her Ma∣iestie and her honourable Counsell, it is not vnknowne vnto a number of honest gentlemen and souldiers of our nation, that the Spaniard hath aboue these thir∣tie yeares, as well by his owne naturall imperious inclination, as by the Satani∣call suggestion of the Romain Pope and Clergie, and continuall instigation of our English and Irish Papists, both desired, pretended and practised the vtter ruine, subuersion and conquest of our religion, state, and realme: the experiment whereof in Anno 1588. last, with his Inuincible Nauie, so by him tearmed, at∣tempting our seas and coasts, we haue yet fresh in memorie: whereof wee may well say: Deus pro nobis pugnabat.
But doe you thinke that he will yet attempt the like, considering his foyles, and losses then receiued?
*Why sir, doe you thinke that so mightie a Prince, so proud and am∣bitious a Nation, possessing so many mightie kingdomes, such inestimable In∣dies, such plentie of wealth, such readie subiects, such skilfull warriours, such braue Conductors, such store of shipping, and hauing such an egger on as is the pestiferous Pope, will not yet attempt what he can, were it but to recouer his honour and reputation lost in the last action?
*Truely Captaine, a number of vs countrie Gentlemen can hardly be so perswaded, and especially our common countrie people.
Indeede I doe not greatly maruell thereat, considering our long continued peace vnder our gracious Soueraignes raigne (whom God long main∣taine ouer vs) wherein we haue not knowne what the name of warre hath meant, much lesse the effects therof:* For long peace hath bred Securitie; securitie, care∣lesse mindes; carelesse mindes: contempt of warre; contempt of warre, the dispising of souldiarie and Martiall discipline; the dispising of Martiall discipline, vnwilling mindes I feare me: so that it can hardly be beaten into our braines, I meane a number of vs, that we which so long haue found the fruites of peace, should euer feele the effects of warre. To proue that long peace, and neglect of Martiall disci∣pline hath metamorphosed manly mindes, nay whole States and kingdomes; let vs consider the Macedonians prowesse, the Grecians policie, the Romaines va∣lour, the Carthaginians stratagems, so long as they maintained Martiall discipline, ruled each the Monarchie in their times: but discipline neglected, disorders grew on, new Martialists sprung vp, and ouerturned their wealth, state, and kingdomes, with a finall ruine of their names and Nations.
I speake not this, but for example, to put vs the more in mind to shake off secu∣ritie, to mistrust the worst, to make vs more readie and willing to be trayned in Martiall poyntes, not grudging at the charge, but frankely to offer it, to fit vs with furniture, and desirous to be instructed in the knowledge and managing of each armes in their kind; whereby if so proud an enemie should attempt anie thing against vs, we might be readie, with resolute mindes, to beard him to the vttermost. I could say much more, but this may suffice to a willing minde to conceiue.
*You haue touched many pointes vnder a few termes, but (Captaine) all this and much more will hardly perswade our rurall sort; and I thinke many of vs Gentlemen not farre better minded: for in executing her Maiesties cōmands, for trayning our men, prouiding of armour, I heare many say, what neede so much a do, and great charge in Calliuer, Musket, Pyke and Corselet? our aun∣cestors won many battels with bowes, blacke Billes, and Iackes. But what thinke you of that?
*Sir, then was then, and now is now; the wars are much altered since the fierie weapons first came vp: the Cannon, the Musket, the Caliuer and Pistoll. Although some haue attempted stifly to maintaine the sufficiencie of Bowes, yet daily experience doth and will shew vs the contrarie. And for that their reasons haue bene answered by others, I leaue at this instant to speake thereof.
Why, do you not like of our old archerie of England?
I do not altogether disalow them;* true it is, they may serue to some sorts of seruice, but to no such effect as any of the fierie weapons.
Will not a thousand bowes handled by good bowmen, do as good ser∣uice, as a thousand hargubuze or muskets, especially amongst horsemen?
No, were there such bowmen as were in the old time, yet could there be no comparison.
First, you must confesse that one of your best Archers can hardly shoot any good sheffe arrow aboue twelue score off, to performe any great executiō, ex∣cept vpon a naked mā,* or horse. A good Calliuer charged with good powder and bullet, and discharged at point blanck by any reasonable shot, will, at that distance, performe afar better execution, yea, to passe any armour, except it be of prooffe, & much more neare the marke thē your Archer shal: And the said Calliuer at ran∣don will reach & performe twentie, or foure and twentie score off, whereunto you haue few archers will come neare. And if you reply, that a good archer will shoot many shots to one;* Truly no, your archer shall hardly get one in fiue of a ready shot, nay happely scarce one; besides, considering the execution of the one and the other, there is great oddes, and no comparison at all.
But our bowmen may shoot by vollies, as thicke as hayle in the ayre.
They may shoot thicke, but to small performance, except (as I said) vpon naked men or horse. But should there be led but eight hundred perfect hargubu∣ziers, or sixe hundred good musketiers against your thousand bowmen, I thinke your bowmen would be forced to forsake their ground, all premisses considered: and moreouer a vollie of musket or hargubuze goeth with more terrour, fury, and execution, then doth your vollie of arrowes. And againe, against a resolute troupe of horse, either Pistoletiers, Hargulatiers or Lanciers, they will stād lesse time (ex∣cept they be well frōted with hedge, ditch or trēch; or seconded with a strong stād of pikes,) then either Hargubuze or Musket, considering the execution of the one & the other.* And what souldier is he, that commeth against a weapon where∣in there is little hazard of life, which will not more resolutely charge, then against a weapon, whose execution he knoweth to be present death? Many more reasons might be alledged for the sufficiencie of the one, and the insufficiencie of the other, but others haue answered the same already, besides the proofe which dayly experience bringeth: and thus you heare mine opinion of your Bowes; desiring you (Gentlemen and others) not to conceiue sinisterly of me for this mine opinion, as not held of me for any dislike I haue of our old Archery of England: but that common experience hath made it most manifest in these our later warres: well wishing in my hart (had it bene Gods good will) that this in∣fernall fierie engine had neuer bin found out. Then might we boldly haue compa∣red (as our auncestors did) with the proudest Archers in the world.
But you must note this by the way,* that the fierie shot, either on horsebacke, or foote, being not in hands of the skilfull, may do vnto themselues more hurt then good: wherefore the same is often to be practised, that men may grow per∣fect and skilfull therein.
Well, to stand in argument I will not, for I haue seene little triall either Page 4 of the one or the other. But what thinke you of our abundance of blacke Billes which we thinke to be the next naturall weapon for the Englishman?
True it is, that in time past our nation hath performed round slaughter. worke therewith: but the warres and weapons are now altered from them dayes, and we must accommodate our selues to the now vsed weapons,* order, and time, to answere our enimies with the semblable, else happely shall we finde ourselues short of our reckening, with our all-too late repentance. But might I haue, in stead of these blacke Bills and Iacks, so many good armed Pikes, I meane good Corslelts furnisht, I would thinke my selfe farre better either to offend or defend.
Why, would you not allow short weapon in the field?
*Truly no, not many, yet would I not exclude them all. For I know them necessarie for many peeces of seruice; as to performe executiō if the enemie break, or flie; to mingle with shot to back them if neede be; to passe with Conuoyes, & to stand by your Artillerie; to creepe along trenches, and enter into mynes, where the Pike would be ouerlong;* but best for the myne or breach is the Target of prooffe,* short sword, and Pistoll: but for the plaine field, neither blacke bill, Hal∣bard, nor Partizan comparable to the Pike.
In a set battaile would you not haue Bills or Halbards for the guard of your Colours?
*As few as might be▪ for in their steds farre better were so many armed Pikes, in mine opinion, considering that in set Battailes when men come to the shock, or push of the Pike, they sarrie close together, and the first three, fiue, or se∣uen rankes do beare the chiefe brunt; and entred so farre, men buckle Pell-Mell, close together, by which time commonlie the one side reculeth or swayeth, and a battell once reculing doth not lightlie hold long, so that ere the Center of the Bat∣taill be touched one side must fall to disaray; men once disordered, they commonly fall to rout, the rout is pursued with slaughter and ruine. Against horse the like reasons are to be made: thus either to offend or defend, farre better is the Pike, then either Bill, or Halbard. And to conclude, the strength of the Battaile is the armed Pike,* so they be equally sorted with Harquebuze and Musket.
What meane you by equally sorted?
*I meane as much to offend, as to defend: To offend I would wish to euery hundred men 25 Muskets, & 25 Calliuers at the least, 40 armed Piks, 7 or 8 Hal∣bards, and 2 or 3 Targets of proofe to defend, and so of all other numbers.
Your proportion I like well, but our countrey people are loth to be at the charges of so many costly weapons, although her Maiestie and her honorable priuie Counsell, haue giuen orders and directions for the same.
*I perceiue it to be so, whereat I grieue not a litle, considering, how dan∣gerous is the time; how malicious, strong, & politike is the enimie; how carelesse, yea senslesse are we; and how vnwilling to our owne weale? But should these your secure men once heare the Alarme of the enemie, (from the which God defend vs,) then should you soone see them alter their copies, chaunge their colours, forget their great bragges of blacke Bills and Bowes, and stand at their wittes ende what course to take; and should they yet recall their courage, and plucke vp their spirites, and dare to looke the enimie in the face, what guides (I pray) haue they?* It is not enough to say downe with them, downe with them, Page 5 Lay on Billes and Bowes:* they should encounter strong squares of armed Pikes, gallant squadrons of Muskets, braue troupes of shot, conducted by skilfull Lea∣ders: then should they soone see the difference of weapons; the danger of the one, the litle doubt of the other, with repentance (perhaps) for not taking them to other weapons in time. Thus much I speak to our inueterate concei•ers of bowes and blacke billes.
But we haue trayned companies, and selected bandes, to answere our enemies with like weapons.*
True it is,* there haue beene good orders set downe for the same, and no doubt, well performed in many partes of our countrie: but I my selfe haue seene many simple Leaders, simple in deede to traine, much lesse to bring men to fight: for where the blind leades the blind, both fall into the ditch.
You meane this by our countrie Gentlemen and Citizens, who haue the trayning of their shires and townes, and neuer came in warres, but her Maiestie and Councell haue so appointed it for many good respects.
I know it very well, for many good respects, but I am well assured that her Maiestie would well like of such countrie or citizen Captaines,* as would be carefull to prouide themselues of good Officers; such as haue seene warres, and borne office in the same, I meane honest and valiant men, not tapsterly praters, and ale-bench braggers, who know no point of souldierie in the world. And if your Captaines were each furnished with one or two such good officers, I meane honest men, and of experience, no doubt, but they might then doe farre better then they now doe; and by such they might learne many good pointes of seruice, to their good, and their companies good instructions; yet not so much as thereby to become sufficient Captaines.
Our Captaines haue Bookes of Warre,* whereby they may learne more in one daies reading, then you haue in a whole yeares seruice; and then no great neede of such, which were but charge to small purpose.
Truely good Sir, pardon me, you speake according to your skill; Now to aunswere you,* I say: Such bookes haue beene written by men of sun∣drie humours, sundrie qualities, and sundrie professions. As some haue beene penned by learned men,* as Politicians, Geometricians, and Mathematicians, which neuer saw any warres;* Some by men of small learning, but by their practise and long continuance in warres; Some againe haue beene penned by men both of good learning and long experience in warres:* the last of these are to bee best approued,* as all men of iudgement must confesse. Now, the vnsouldier-learned, to the vnlettered souldier may be paralleld or comparaisoned, as the Phisition Theorike to the grosse practitioner, and vnto the learned souldier, as the Theorike onely vnto the Theorike and Practike ioyntly in a perfect Phisi∣tion. And this is my opinion of the diuersitie of warre-writers, of all which I sup∣pose the last to be chiefely followed.* Well, now to your reading Captaines: ma∣ny of them that reade,* do neither vnderstand the Methode nor meaning of the writer;* many do vnderstand the Methode, and not the meaning; and some againe (as men of quicker conceipt,* most fit for warres) do vnderstand both Methode & meaning:* yet by want of experience & practise, they are farre from a perfect soul∣dier, and more from a worthie Captaine. The proofe of this is soone seene, for of Page 6 your first sort,* bring one of them into the field with a hundred men, he will ne∣uer ranke them aright without helpe; and (God knoweth) with what puzzeling and toyle: there is the end of his seruice, yea and thinkes he hath done well too. Now let one of your second sort come into the field with the like number,* he will ranke them three and three, but at euery third ranke he must call to his boy, holae sirra, where is my Booke? and hauing all ranked them, then marcheth he on faire, and farre wyde from a souldiers march: then commeth he to cast them into a ring, about, about, about, till he hath inclosed himselfe in the Center; now there is he puzzelled, hola maister stand still vntill I haue looked in my Booke: by this time there is a faire ring broken.* Lastly, let your thirde quicke conceipted man come into the field with his companie, he rankes them by three, fiue, or seuen in a ranke: Pikes, halfe in front, halfe in traines; Colours and browne Billes in the middest; deuides his shot, halfe in vaward, halfe in rereward, and marcheth on in some prettie good sort, casteth his Ring, and happily commeth out againe; but two to one he misseth his counter-ring. Well, this is well, say our Citizens and countrie people. But how farre all these Captaines are wide to shew their souldiers the right vse of each weapon, a man of meane iudgement may perceiue, much lesse to bring them to the face of the enemie without a manifest daunger,* or wilfull ouerthrowe: Examples hereof I might recite enow, but I pray God, if euer it come to the proofe, we leaue not too many examples our selues. For there be many points in a souldier, and more in a Captaine, which can not be attayned by reading,* but by practise and experience; and that de Veras, as the Spa∣niard sayth, in earnest; and not de Burla, in ieast. True it is, the trayning of men, is to good and very great purpose, especially were it done in such sufficient sort, and by such sufficient Trayners, as the waightinesse of the cause requireth: wherein each souldier should perfectly learne his march; knowe the seuerall sounds of the Drumme, to keepe his place and array in good order; when to march; when and how to charge; when to retire; when to stand; how to handle the weapon committed vnto him; with a number of other points, most needfull in these times to be throughly knowne vnto your trayned men, yea, and to others also, were it possible.
Trulie (Captaine) you deale somewhat roundly with our Citizen and countrie Captaines, scarce worth thanks at their hands.
Sir, I wold be loth to offend any; but being demāded, I must needs speak the truth, so neare as I can: for according to my opinion and skill, I haue answe∣red your questions:* giuing you to vnderstand, that my opinion is not so of all: for I do know many sufficient Gentlemen and Citizens most willing to the seruice, who are highly to be commended for their good care and diligence therein: yet doubtlesse they will be to seeke in many points, if it should come to the proofe. True it is, all men are not of one constitution of body, humours, and spirits: for some men are fit for warres, some for peace, some for the countrie, some for the citie, some for learning, some for manuall crafts, some to gouerne, some to bee gouerned, some able to conduct a Companie, but not a Regiment; some a Re∣giment, but not a Royall Campe: of which last sort verie few are to be found. To conclude, Naturall inclination doth worke wonderfull effects in all kind of Pro∣fessions; for some men (being naturally humoured thereunto) do prooue better Page 7 souldiours in fiue yeares experience, then some others in fifteene: and it is much, yea, it importeth all almost, to be often in Action. For a man haunting long the warres,* and seeing litle execution, is as one that vseth often the Fence-schooles, but neuer taketh weapon in hand. And if anie of my speeches may seeme vnto some, to exceede the bounds of Decorum, I haue bene vrged thereunto by the litle reputation had of Souldiers amongst vs: for surely, such as haue followed the warres are despised almost of euerie man, vntill a verie pinch of need doth come; then haue we faire speeches; good countenances for a litle time; but the action once ended, and the feare past, frownes do follow and cold rewards: so that the profession of Armes hath amongst vs, of all others, bene least esteemed in these our later dayes;* the reason is, we haue had litle need of warres, and consequently litle vse, whereby we are growne ignorant in the Arte.
Then I perceiue,* Experience makes men perfect, but most perfectest, if with Experience be coupled the naturall instinct you speake of: but me thinks, that the bad reputation we haue had of Souldiers in our age, springeth not of the litle vse we haue had of warres, so much, as from the disorder of such as haue pro∣fessed the same.
I must confesse there hath bene, and is many times, great disorders committed by some professours and followers of warres; the which, in mine o∣pinion, proceedeth from two causes: the one from the bad choise of some Cap∣taines, Souldiers and Officers, made at the first, by those who had commission or authoritie for the same: next, by reason of the litle discipline vsed amongst those so chosen; for many haue bin chosen by fauor, friendship, or affectiō, litle respe∣cting their experience, vertues, or vices; whereby most commonly, the fawning flatterer, the audacious prater, the subtill make-shift, is preferred before the si∣lent man, the approoued person, or the plaine dealing fellow. Then such being chosen and preferred, how do you thinke the conduction shold be good? Againe, the Companies that are commonlie leuied,* are drawne forth by the Iustices of peace, who to disburden their towne or shire of corrupt weeds, as they tearme it, do picke out the scumme of their countrie, thinking such men sufficient for the warres: what wrong thereby is done to the seruice, the issues of manie acti∣ons do often times manifest. Now, such choise made both of souldiers and Cap∣taines, what good can be expected from them? For litle amendment groweth where lewd Libertie beareth sway:* for warres disorderlie vsed, is the Chaos of con∣fusion; and warres well conducted and disciplined, is the Harmonie of Iustice.
I pray (good Captaine) sith you haue thus farre waded into the matter, let vs intreat you to shew vs the parts of a Souldier, the vse of his weapon, and the order of your moderne warre.
These three matters handled would aske a great volume, farre aboue my reach:* neuerthesse, to satisfie in part your curteous demaund, I will do my best. Then thus I beginne to reason: First, Warres are of two sorts, either offensiue, or defensiue; maintained and perfourmed with men, armour and money; managed with Policie, Order and Stratagems; conducted and perfected by a singular Generall, braue Commanders, and resolute Souldiers. To begin therefore from the lowest degree vnto the highest, I will declare vnto you what parts I could wish in euerie degree, and what order in the same, following herein for the Page 8 the most part, the Italian and Spaniard, by whom the best discipline of warre in our dayes hath bene vsed, and supplying where they are defectiue.
What Nation, thinke you, do prooue best Souldiers? for we are of opi∣nion, that there is no Souldier to the Englishman.
Trulie, for strength, valour, and courage, I suppose vs comparable to a∣ny nation whatsoeuer:* but surely for subtill policie and martiall discipline, especi∣ally in this our latter age, some other nations do exceed vs. And it is the nature of euerie nation to esteeme and thinke best of themselues: but Vegetius holdeth opinion, the man borne vnder the temperate Zone and climate, to be fittest for warres: For (saith he) the Souldier of the Septentrionall or North Climate, by reason of his wide distance from the Sunne, doth abound in hot bloud, and is of good courage, and great strength: entring into battell without feare, but rash and inconsiderate in the same: voyd of consideration and counsell in most of his actions. And on the contrarie, the Meridionall man, by reason of the neerenesse of the Sunne, the which they haue almost for their Zenith, are fearefull and faint-hearted, and verie loth to enter into battell, except constrained and vrged ther∣unto; but withall, verie subtill, warie and sharpe-witted: therefore (saith he) Men of the middle Climate, participating of both the extreames, are best for the warres; as men hardie, quicke, of great direction and counsell, well proportio∣ned, and of reasonable good disposition and health. But I suppose, that of either nation by militarie discipline and practise,* may prooue good and excellent Warriours.
But yet, me thinks, that men of great stature are of greatest strength, and so most terrible to the enemie, and fittest for the warres.
True, in the first ranks tall men do make a faire shew, but now the artil∣lerie and fierie weapon hath greatly diminished their authoritie: yet before this infernall engine was vsed in the world, the opinions of the most famous Cap∣taines were different herein:* for Alexander esteemed men of litle stature, for most valiant and hardie: Pyrrhus, per contra, liked the goodlie, tall and large proporti∣oned men: but Iulius Caesar, as more considerate and wise, rather chose men of meane stature, as naturallie strong, of determinate minds and courage, and ca∣pable of counsell and prudence. But we must be serued with our owne nation, out of the which ought to be chosen the most discreet, godlie, and vertuous Captains, and Officers of most experience, annexed with vertue, and Souldiers of honest be∣hauiour and conditions, which (by skilfull Captaines) may soone be brought to be readie men.