The compleat fencing-master in which is fully described the whole guards, parades & lessons belonging to the small-sword : as also the best rules for playing against either artists or ignorants with blunts or sharps : together with directions how to behave in a single combat on horse-back : illustrated with figures representing the most necessary postures
Hope, William, Sir.
Page  [unnumbered]


LEast I should be thought singular, I shall say something by way of Preface, where∣in I shall answer some Objections which it is like may be made both against the Subject I treat of, and against Me for treating of it, as being a work altogether of no use.

The first Objecteth against the Subject I treat of, *(which is of Fencing, or the Art of De∣fending Ones self with the Small Sword from their Adversary) and saith, it is not worth the while to understand it; because saith he, if it be a Mans Fate to be kill'd, his understanding of this Art will never save him.

Any Rational Man will laugh at this Objecti∣on, and think it not worth the Answering, * but yet I will take the pains to convince them, (if pos∣sible) who over they are who will have the con∣fidence to make such an Objection, of the contrary by Reason; I deny not but what ever Providence or∣daineth is unevitable, yet we are to use all the means imaginable to preserve our Lives as long as we can; otherwise we should be careless and not provide for our Subsistance, nor in any manner de∣fend Page  [unnumbered]our selves, which is a thing most ridiulous, and the contrary of which we see daily practised; For when one Country or Kingdom cometh against another, do they not now a dayes endeavour to fortifie their Cities, that they think lye most open to be attaqued, with all the Art imaginable; As also, do they not endeavour to bring as well trained Men to the Field as possible, that so they may defend themselves with the more ease by their Art, and fight with the less confusion: I am sure any man that would deny the use of Fortification, or the bringing of well Disciplin'd Men to the Field; and would maintain that a Company of Rabble would come as soon to their purpose, and defend themselves as well; If I be not deceived, such a person would be accounted very ridiculous. There∣fore seing through all the World almost, Art is allowed to one Kingdom against another, and to one Countrey against another, I know no reason, and certainly there is no reason, why it should not be allowed to one single Man against another.

But saith he, * what Advantage have those who have practised this Art, of others who understand nothing at all of it, seing that we daily see that the understanding of this Art hath but little effect; for as oft, yea oftner, those who understand this Art, are worsted by Ignorants, then the Ignorants by them, and therefore I think a Man is as Page  [unnumbered]well without it as with it?

I think no rational Man will deny, but when two Men of equal Courage are engaged one against the other, * and the one hath Art and the other none, but it is ten to one, * that he that hath no Art be worsted, seeing no rational Man can say, that a Mans Art in any manner taketh away his cou∣rage. I confess that a compleat Artist will not be so rashly forward as a rude Ignorant, and the reason is, because when he pursueth he doth it with Judgement, and waiteth an apportunity, which the other cannot; for although he did wait for an opportunity of pursuing, yet not having Art, he would be as far to seek after he hath got it, how to make use of it, as if he had not got it at all, and it is upon that account that most part of Igno∣rants pursue furiously and irregularly, because they know they can have no Advantage by not doing of it, and by chance may have advan∣tage by doing of it, if they have to do with one who is but half an Artist, you may see by this that the Ignorants rash forwardness proceeds from his want of Art; and the Artists delibe∣ration from his having Art: Now seing Art taketh not away Courage, then certainly the Ar∣tist hath this Advantage of the Ignorant (being as I supposed of equal Courage with the Ignorant) that his Art maketh him to defend himself a great deale better, then the other can be expected to Page  [unnumbered]do and also to pursue better when he hath an oppor∣tunity, which the other being ignorant cannot do; and therefore I say being of equal Courage, it is ten to one but the Artist master the Ignorant, al∣though the contrary may fall out; for there is no∣thing certain in this World. Now I will reduce the Reasons why that sometimes falleth out unto Three.

First,* There are but few good Sword Men to be found, and many get the name of Artists who are really but Ignorants; * For if a Man hath been but a moneth or six weeks at a Fencing School, presently he is said to understand this Art, and when such a person as this is engaged against an Ignorant, in stead of having any Advantage by what he bath been taught; I can assure you he hath rather a disadvantage, because what he hath Learned hath put away his Natural and forward Play, and maketh him understand the hazard there is in being too forward; And therefore taking himself to the Defensive part which he is not master of, * he findeth himself in a confusion, because to pursue the little Art he hath maketh him to know the hazard that he runneth, in doing of it, and to Defend he cannot, because he hath not as yet had practice enough to be master of the the Parade, so that he hath the disadvantage of the altogether Ignorant, in so far as he is not so forward, because he knoweth the hazard of Page  [unnumbered]it; whereas the others ignorance maketh him more forward, and so is the occasion of his ma∣stering the other, who gettth the name of an Ar∣tist; and indeed is neither altogether ignorant, because of his being a little grounded in the Art, nor an Artist, because he had not the Time, or at least took not the pains to perfect himself in it. And therefore he is rather the worse of that little Art which he hath, then the better, and that for the Rea∣sons I just now told you; and such an accident as this maketh this Art undervalued, because an Ignorant hath overcome one that understood this Art, as they call him. But there is a great difference be∣twixt a Man that is but grounded, his playing with an Ignorant, and ones playing that really knoweth how to make use of his Art with judge∣ment: I say if an Ignorant meet with such a person, he will find that he hath but too too great Advantage of him, if be come to make use of Sharps: Yet Ignorants will sometimes overcome those who understand this Art very well; and my other two Reasons which I have yet to shew you, are the Reasons why that falleth out.

2 If he that hath Art be in drink, and the Ignorant sober, * then undoubtedly the Ignorant hath by far the Advantage of him, because although the other hath Art, yet he hath not his Judgement about him, to make use of it; and if they be both in Drink, then still the Ignorant is in equal terms Page  [unnumbered]with the other; And so as the Proverb is, Let it fall upon the Feyest; for neither Art nor Con∣duct can be made use of by persons the one of which is Ignorant, and the other wanteth the use of his Senses.

3 Now the next and last Reason why Ignorants are in equal terms, * or have the Advantage of those who have taken the time really to practise this Art, and understand it, (and really this is a chief Reason, and I wish from my Heart that Men could master their Passions more then they do, that so they might prevent it;) is that when it is the humour of such Artists to be passionate, then they are at the very fight of their Adversary so tran∣sported by their Passion unto a Fury against him, that they cannot take the time, nor have the Pa∣tience to make use of their Art, but rushes headlong to their own Destruction; so that in such a case a Mans Art signifyeth just nothing, because being in passion he is not master of himself, and consequently not master at that time of his Art, which upon such an occasion he stands most in need of. For if a Man intend that his Art should do him Service, then his Judgement must go along with it, other∣wise his Art will signifie unto him but very little. I think what I have now said, sufficient to con∣vince any Rational Man, that it is an advantage, (and that no small one) to have Art, if he that hath it knoweth how to use it. But for such who Page  [unnumbered]will undervalue this Art, although they can give no Reason for it, and who will not be convinced of the Advantage a Man hath by it; I wish that one day to their sad Experience and Cost they may not be forced by their Ignorance (when it will be too late to help it,) to acknowledge its usefulness.

The following Objections are against my self, and there are three of them; * the first is, that although the Art be very usefull, yet this Treatise of mine, is of no use, neither can it be of any, to such as never had a Master.

The Second is, * That I should have offer∣ed to Treat of a Subject that hath been al∣ready fully Explained by others, and who 'tis like understood this Art better then I do.

And the Third is, That I should have made it by way of Dialogue, *and not in a continued Discourse. In answering of which Three Objections, I think there is no great dif∣ficulty.

As to the First then, *That this Treatise is of no use to those who never had any In∣sight in this Art from a Master. I confess it, * for the Design of putting out this Treatise is not upon such Persons accompt, for it is like had I thought, that this Treatise would have supplied the place of a Master to those who never had any Insight in this Art; I never had been at the pains to Page  [unnumbered]make it publick, seing all who know me, know that I have a greater kindness for these who pro∣fess the Teaching of this Art, then to do any thing to prejudice their Calling: and to tell the Truth, people here are ready enough of their own Accord to neglect, and undervalue a Fenc∣ing-Master, without a Mans setting out 〈◊〉 Treatise to shew them, that they may be madMasters of this Art, without the help of one 〈◊〉 so now the main design, and use of this my small work, is not for those who never had any insigh in this Art, although such persons will be a grea deal the better of having it by them in thei Chambers, when they are at a Fencing School for when they come home from the School, they will find their Lessons explained in this, which will be a great help to their Memory, and also i they follow my advice, make them become sooner Ma∣sters of this Art, then perhaps otherwise they would My Advice is, that what ever Lesson in this small Treatise they would put in practice, that they would get it exactly by heart; if they observe this Direction, they will in a short time find what ad∣vantage they will reap by it: But as I said be∣fore, it is not so much for the use of such Persons, as for the improvement of these who are already grounded, or Masters of this Art, who when they have been out of practice a little, will find a great advantage in the very reading of it over, Page  [unnumbered]for it will bring the Theory again to them which 'tis like they could not have so well, nor easily attain∣ed without the help of a Master, the advantage of which many cannot have in the Countrey, Yea, nor in many Cities in this Kingdom, there are so few in it, and yet more then are well imployed, which is a great dis incouragement to them; and the Reason why we have so few of them. Also I thought that such a plain peice as this falling into such persons hands, who farr from having ever seen any thing of Fencing, 'tis like perhaps did never so much as know what it meant, this peice I say, falling by chance amongst their hands, I thought it might be a means to cause them be more earnest after the understanding of this Art, and so mind them of enquiring after Fencing Masters of whom we have very able Ones in this Kingdom, so that we need not be beholden to our Neighbouring Nations for the perfecting of our Youth in this Art, seing we have it most exactly taught in his Kingdom, and although it be not taught perhaps with so good a grace, as abroad, yet I say, if a Man should be forced to make use of Sharps, our Scots play is in my Opinion, farr before any I ever saw abroad, as for security; and the Reason why I think it so, is, because all French play runneth upon Falsifying and taking of time, which appeareth to the Eyes of the Spectatours to be a farr neatter, & Gentiler way of playing then ours but no man that under∣stands Page  [unnumbered]what secure Fencing is, will ever call that kind of play sure play, because when a Man maketh use of such kind of play, he can never so secure himself, but his Adversary (if he design it) may Contre-temps him every Thrust, now our Scots play is quit another thing, for it runneth all upon Binding or securing of your Adversaries Sword, before that you offer to Thrust, which maketh both your Thrust sure, and your Adver∣sarie uncapable of giving you a Contre temps, if you understand this Method of play, as you should: and I appeal to any rational Man, who hath really been taught, seen, and considered, both Me∣thods of Playing, if what I say be not true as to the security of a Mans Person, which is a main thing to be considered in Playing with Sharps. I shall insist no longer upon this, it only coming in be the by, only I shall tell you ingenuously, that I had really no other Motive, for giving this small piece to the publick, but as I have before told you, that I thought it might be a means to cause our Youth ply it more earnestly, & so encourage the Fenc∣ing Masters to bring this Art to a greater perfe∣ction if possible; That so Our Youth may be perfected in an Art, of which at present (& really it is a dis∣grace to our Nation) they are so Ignorant of, it being of so great use to Mankind; But more espe∣cially to those who pretend to have the Name of Gentlemen. Because, ordinarly they stand more Page  [unnumbered]in need of it then others, and therefore it is most pro∣per, that they above all other people should understand it, also it was upon their account, that I was at first moved to writ of this Subject, which I am very sensible deserveth a farr abler pen then mine, to Explain it.

As for the Second, which is, *That I put my self to an unnecessary trouble, in treating of a Subject that hath been already treated of by others, and who 'tis like understood this Art better then I do. I say it is hard to light on a Subject that hath not been in some manner treat∣ed of by others, but I only begg that this small work of mine may be compared with others of this kind, and then I am confident you will find a great difference betwixt them and this, for in them (at least in all of them that ever I saw) you will find a great many things ill Explained, and al∣most unnecessary, besides that there is such diversitie of Lessons, with their contraries, and so many of them, that it is impossible without a great deal of pains, and a vast memorie to remember them all; whereas in this there is nothing but the very grounds as it were, and the Lessons upon which this Art depends, so that I account a Man that understands not the Lessons I have here given him, but an Ignorant, because they are in effect the Quintescence of this Art; But upon the contrarie, if he understand them, and know exactly how to put them in practice, I account him an Artist, be∣cause Page  [unnumbered]once knowing the grounds by which he is to walk, he will of himself find out diversitie of Les∣sons, together with their contraries to play upon such as are ingaged against him, which will be of great∣er use to him then if I should have set him down more, which its like would have Emberassed his judgment, whereas his own are more natural to him; and providing he observe the Directions I shall give him, as good. And for those Authors who have treated of this Subject before their un∣derstanding of this Art better then I do. I shal not deny it; First, because (as I told you before,) I am perhaps more sensible of my own weakness then you are. Secondly, although I had a better opinion of my self then really I have, yet I have more of good manners then openly either to discommend them, or commend my self; But this much I will say for my self, that what I have here given you in this small Treatise, I am sure will be approven of by all who understand what Fencing is; so that I under∣value what Ignorants can say of it, seing it was not for such Criticizing Ignorants, that I was at the pains to write; For such Ignorants will endeavour to find faults where there are none, nei∣ther are they capable of making any amendement, if there were any, and it is upon that account that I undervalue any thing they can say, either against my self, or against what I have here write.

But now, Lastly, The Reason of my putting it in a Dialogue, and not in a continued Page  [unnumbered]Discourse, was that after I had thought what would be the easiest Method I could take, * for to make those of the meanest Capacitie understand my mean∣ing; (which is no small trouble) I found this of Dialogue in my Opinion to be the best and plainest; First, Because young Beginners, or who ever it be, that is to peruse this Treatise, will understand by the Scholars Questions, the Description of the Les∣sons better then if I had only discoursed of them. Secondly, the Scholar in his Questions, beingeth in many things very pertinently, and useful to a Beginner, which had I used any other Method, could not have been brought in so to the purpose; But to tell the truth it is a matter of indifference, for this Method I thought best, and therefore made use of it. 'Tis like their may be as many of my Opinion, as of the contrary, but however let not such a trivial Matter as this make you undervalue the Work, for if it doe, it is a signe that neither Dialogue, nor Discourse, would have pleased you.

I need make no Apology for my Stile, the Sub∣ject of which I treat requiring but a Course, Plain and Easie one, so all that I am to begg of you Gentle Reader, is that when you are per∣using this small Work, you would not be too critical, but if you meet with any thing a miss, which I am hopefull you will not, pass it over, considering the pains I have been at, is for your improvement which I am confident will Answer both our Expectations, providing you seriously consider, and observe the Directions which follow.