TO THE READER.
OF making many books there is no end, said the wise King many ages past;* yet for some Arts and faculties, I suppose (even in this printing age of ours) we may complain of scarcitie. For among so many Authors ancient and modern, which have written of the Art Military, is it not strange that hardly any have fully handled that which concerneth the Cavallry? Among the ancients. Aelian hath somewhat touched upon the manner of ordering the horse among the Grecians, and Vegetius (where he speaketh of the Romane Cavallrie) lightly passeth it over, and concludeth ina these words, De equi∣tatu sunt multa praecepta: sed cùm haec pars militiae usu exercitii, armorum genere, & equorum no∣bilitate profecerit, ex libris nihil arbitror colligendum, cùm praesens doctrina sufficiat. Now the reason why they (bestowing their chief labour about the Infantery) left so little direction for the horse, may be, either because that (both with Grecians and Romanes) theb foot were of greatest esteem (as that wherein their chief strength consisted, and whereon they principally relyed) and so the lesse regard was had of the horse; or else because the service of horse was notc grown to that perfection in those times, which it since attained. For what great effect could be expected of horse using nod bridle, and having neithere saddle nor stirrops: bearing onelyf a weak slender pole (which the very motion of the horse would shake in pieces) and a little round target (as the Romanes manner was at first) or else a staffe or kind ofg lance (which they afterward used in imitation of the Grecians) with three or foure darts? and having no surer stay to counterpoise their forced motion, what certainty or violence could they use, either in charging or casting their weapons? and whereas they usually had of the light armed footh intermingled among them, how could they be so serried together for the shock as to do any great effect in making impressions upon their enemies? which surely was the cause they were often commandedi to alight, and (forsaking their horses) to fight on foot. But for modern Authors there is not the like reason: and yet of so many as have written, none have treated of rules and instructions for the Cavallry, untill lately George Basta, Count of the holy Empire, and Luys Melzo Knight of Malta, wrote their books of Cavallry. These works of theirs afford good directions: but yet it may be said of them as Aelian saith of those Authors which had written before him,k That they had so written, as if none should read them but such as were already skilfull in the Art Military. This defect one Wal∣hausen taketh upon him to supply; something he hath done in the motions but for the first rudi∣ments, for the handling of arms, &c. he (as all others) is silent. But these and the like being written in the forrein languages, and among so many of our military Pamphlets none treating of Cavallry; I have adventured (though altogether unfit for such a task) to employ some idle houres in the diligent reading, and conferring of the said Authors together with such other books and in∣formations as I could obtain out of the Low-countreys and other places, for my better satisfaction herein:l endeavouring to extract the marrow and quintessence of their prolixer discourses, and to digest them into such a method, as I conceived might afford brevity and perspicuity: wherein I have observed to go upon good grounds, affirming nothing of minem own authority. It is true, I have sometimes made bold to dissent from others but adding my reason, and leaving the judici∣ous Reader to his liberty. For the style, I conceived then bluntest and plainest to be most pro∣per for the subject. If my annotations be displeasing to any, they may use them like Countrey stiles, and step over them. To others they may serve to shew the truth of that assertion, That ao meer practicall knowledge cannot make a perfect souldier: for had we not been beholding top books, the Military Art (in all likelihood) had been utterly obscured from our knowledge. For what is there in these modern warres, which is not borrowed from antiquity? wherein we follow them step by step (mutatis mutandis, the later inventions of fire-weapons, and the use and dependancy thereof onely excepted) not onely in the manner, but even retaining their very words of command, as in this Treatise is partly shewed, and would be more manifestly apparent if the subject were Infante∣rie; which no way disparageth the modern practise, but rather (for the antiquity of it) gives it the more respect and estimation.Page [unnumbered]
Now, lest the Tyro or untutored horseman should be deterred, and should judge his task to be over-great; I have set down a table of the Chapters, that so he may apply himself, onely to those things (at first) which are principally necessary for him to know and practise.
The defects of our trained bands of horse, will argue the work neither unnecessary nor unseason∣able, had it but had the hap to light into the hands of a better workman. But as I have seen when an excellent Musician could not be intreated to handle an instrument, some bungler hath fallen upon it; which caused the Musician (out of impatience and indignation) to undertake it; so, if these Essaies may be a means to incite some one or other, better able,q to put pen to paper, I shall think my pains abundantly rewarded. In the mean time I desire they may be received with the right hand, as they are offered; and conclude in the words of the Poet,