Images de page
PDF
ePub

Able to young learners; owing to the intricate manner they have made choice of in describing the several movements, parades, and thrusts, which should be rendered as simple and easy as the nature of the art would admit; so that young learners might acquire a perfect knowledge of the theory of fencing, and be enabled to execute, or put the same in practice, with little or no instructions from masters.'

The Author likewise guards against an objection often made to the art of fencing, that it hath a tendency to promote the absurd and destructive custom of challenging to duels. On this Mr. M'Arthur obferves, that,

• In England, the art is now held in greater repute than ever, and is universally introduced as a necessary branch of military education, Some people, indeed, from false prejudices, object against the culti. vation of this art, as tending to inspire the possessor with an ima proper fare of confidence, animation, and false courage, leading him into broils and quarrels, generally terminated by the custom of duelling. But these objections are foon obviated, when it is confidered, that very few of the many who devote chemselves to the practice of duelling, understand a single movement of fencing: for pistols are the decisive weapons generally made use of, on occasions of this

It must therefore be ascribed to the quarrelsome disposition, and perhaps too ftri&t notions of honour imbibed by duellitts, and not to any knowledge they might derive from the acquisition of this art.'

To what Mr. M'Arthur has urged in defence of his favourite art, may be added, that the dispersion of any kind of knowledge that sets mankind on a par with each other, cannot do the least harm : on the contrary, it is a known paradoxical truth, that every contrivance and improvement in the art of war, calculated to facilitate the destruction of the human species, happily counteracts its purpose, and operates to spare them. The advantage reaped, is by the party first in poffeffion of any new kind of this knowledge, and only while the partial poflesion of it is retained. An instance in point occurs in the following palsage, where the Author gives a good hint to his brother officers

nature.

in the navy :

• Įt is to be regretted, that a method is not adopted in our royal pavy, of exercising the flip's company of frigates, and such small vessels of war as are liable to be boarded, with simple fencing, in the file of broad-sword play *, commonly called cudgelling; as it would be of the utmoit ucility in the offensive and defensive attacks of boarding. This might eally be accomplihed, by making it a branch of the duties of a matter at arms, qualified to exercise the crew, or such of them as might be allotted for boarding, in the rudimeprs of the art : and from the spirit of emulation prevailing among them, they would soon make themselves proficients, by a little practice.

• Where commanders have introduced and encouraged this exercise among their ship's company, fingular advantages have ensued in

• The guards and cuts used in broad sword play, are the same to be used with a cutlass, hanger, &c.'

the

[ocr errors]

the action of boarding sword in hand, both with respect to the safety of their men, and capture of the enemy; a particular instance of which we have had this war, in the action of one of his Majesty's armed cutters, with two French privateers, both of superior force; when, after having met with powerful resistance in boarding and capturing one of them, after the other had ftruck, not a man was slain, though several of the enemy shared that fate.'

This work is divided into three Parts.
I. Of the guards, and simple parades, and thrusts in general.

II. On the various counter-parades, counter-disengagements, feints, glizades, &c.

III. Of affaults and attacks in general.

The lessons under each of the two former heads are delivered in a plain easy manner, according to the Author's professed intention, illustrated with suitable (and well designed) engravings; but these lessons being all of a technical nature, would not be relished by the general Reader. From the third part, indeed, which consists of the application of the previous lessons, a paffage or two may be selected as specimens of the performance.

After some academical rules for engaging in affault, the Author proceeds in the following manner :

Notwithstanding all the variations that the art of fencing is suso ceptible of, yet it is confined to very few in the real execution of it in ferious affairs. Every one skilled in the art, always adopts fome favourite parades, feints, and movements, which he naturally adheres 10, and has a natural bias 10 put in execution upon any emergency. And though the cuftom of deciding points of honour by the sword, is not so frequent in this country, as in most foreign parts ; yet noblemen, men of fashion, foldiers, and travellers of whatever degree or denomination, find manifold advantages from the cultivation and acquisition of this art, particularly in foreign countries, where the horrid practices of affaftinations are frequently committed. Under a predicament of this nature, you must, in self-defence, have recourse to the sensibility or feeling of your hand in all your movements, as being the only safeguard in the dark.

" I shall therefore mention a few of the most material rules and obfervations that have occurred to me on this subject, either when are faulted in a clandeftine manner at night, or when engaged in fingle combat with any adversary. In support of these observations, I have a: different times consulied the opinion of masters and foreigners fkilled in the art; who have had their knowledge and judgment on thefe points, founded on long experience, often put to the test.

• Fiilt then, when you are assaulted in the dark, and have time to draw your sword in defence; throw yourseļf on a wide guard, having your point well directed to your adversary's breaft, By assuming a fierce and wide guard, he will think you are quite close upon him ; and endeavour to feel his weapon that you may engage it in carte or tierce. Having felt his blade, never quit it; but keep constantly following any feints or disengagements he may attempt, by forming your counter parade of carte and tierce, semi-circle, and octave, alternately ufing them, according to the side engaged upon,

. For

arm.

• For example; if you feel his blade in carte, gently press upon it, that your hand may be the more susceptible of his mocions to direngage ; and the instant you feel the motion, follow him by the counter parade of carte. If you do not feel his blade with that parade, it must be presumed that he has dropped his point under your

Therefore in order to be aware of his thrusting low; after you have formed the counter parade of carte, instantly form the simple or counter parades of octave; and by bringing your hand with a circu. lar movement to guard, you will always bring his blade to its former pofition. Thefe two counter parades will baffle every feint and defign that he may attempt to execute against you on this engagement. They should be executed with that dexterity, so as to seem a continuation of one parade ; indeed the courses of the circles formed by each, are the fame, only with this difference, the point is dropped and writ bended, in forming the counter parade of octave.

If you should feel the adversary's blade on the engagement of tierce, the roles to be observed in felf-defence are nearly similar to those on the other engagement. For example ; press gently on his blade in tierce, and when you feel the motion of his disengagement, quickly form your counter parade of tierce and parade of semicircle, or circle, if neceffary, bringing his blade always round to the original position. If you happen to feel the blade with the counter parade of tierce only, it is very apt to cause a disarm, by the abrupt continuation of the two parades. These, if quickly executed, will also defend

you
from
every

feint or thrust that he may attempt againk you on this engagement.

• In executing these parades, the body should be well thrown back, and poised upon your left leg. If there is a space of ground to retreat, so much the better ; but beware of the ruggedness of the ground, by raising your feet higher than common in retreating. If the fcene of action should be confined, and your adversary press vigorously upon you, with your back forced up to a wall, or any other corner, I would recommend you to make use of your fimple parades of seconde and prime alternately; and when you have parried any of his thrusts forcibly with either of these parades, plunge one in return toward his Aank or belly, with the extension of the arm, making the opposition correspond with your parade.

. For the more speedy attaining that degree of feeling necessary in the execution of the above useful

parades ; I would recommend such learners as have made sufficient progress in fencing, to exercise frequently these parades blindfolded in the field, or on any other rugged piece of ground, while another scholar takes his proper distance, and uses every feint and stratagem to deceive him.'

When so many of our countrymen are tempted, either by business, or, more especially, by pleasure, to visit, occasionally, those places where asasination is a profesion; the foregoing in. structions may be deemed an important part of this performance, Nor are those that follow, unworthy the attention of swordsmen in general.

• The small sword in the hand of a kilful fencer, has upon trial been found to prevail over an adversary armed with a broad sword, cutlass, or cimeter, &c. For while he is raising his hand to make a cut or blow at you, he is that moment liable to be run through the body by a quick straight time thruft. In like manner you may als ways prevail over an adversary armed with a loaded pittol, provided it is presented to you at sword's length, and the opportunity offers of joining your blade thereto. For if he offers to thift fides to level his aim, you can always prevent him with a counter parade; so that by keeping your blade joined to his piftol, and feeling his movements, you are covered securely from his fire. But if he thould retreat, with a view to disengage his piftol from your blade, you must advance quickly toward him, endeavouring to keep the feel of his piftol, and deliver bim a quick time thruit home. This is a hazardous attack for both parties ; but the chance is as two to one in your favour.'

cutlass,

Before we dismiss this work we shall cite another passage, to thew how inconsiderable a share the small sword has in duels, by the little dependance that can be had on it when opposed against itself, either in equal or in unequal hands :

• Should neceffity, or the punctilios of honour, urge you to the field, to meet another in single combat, and char small sword fhould be the decisive weapons made choice of; you will find perhaps more difficulties than you are at first aware of. For though your judgment and fill in fencing may be confessedly superior in every respect to an adversary, when engaged with foils on the plaftroon, yet the erro. neous habits he may im bibe or fall into, by an over eagerness in serious affairs, such as delivering thrufts with a crooked arm, forcibly beating down your guards, and frequently delivering random thrulls without being covered ; may be the very cause of his prevailing over you: hence arise many fatal mislakes to skilful fencers in serious affairs, who, too confident of their superiority over an adversary, and Dot aware of the thruits of chance he may deliver, often fall a victim to inferior kill, Many instances of this nature are daily exhibited on the continent, where duelling in this manner so much prevails.'

Hence it is evident that small sword play in the academy, is quite another thing from small sword work in serious affairs! And hence also it appears, that when calls of honour urge men to the field, how far more genteel the good English cultom is than the Gothic practice on the continent: namely, to decide the contest with a pair of neat pocket pistols; to walk twelve paces distant, to compliment each other with the offer of the first fire, until one of them accepts it, and if that is received without a broken jaw, or a bullet in the groin (the odds against which are known to any squire's groom on the turf), then to return the fire vertically in the air. Full fatisfaction being thus given and received, for the injury or affront, be it what it may, the sequel is as much matter of course, and naturally tollows; viz. all resentment being blown away by the powder, instantly to Aling aside the pistols, to embrace with mutual acknowledgments of both being men of strict honour, and to

adjoura

adjourn to a social breakfast, with the utmost cordiality, and professions of regard for each other!

Enough has been produced from this work to enable the Reader to form his own ideas of its merit; we only hint in conclusion, that as every technical work ought to be complete in itself, and as it may engage the attention of young gentlemen, where no master is at hand; a previous glossary of the terms, would be no improper addition when the opportunity of improvement offers.

1780.

TH

Art. III. Historical Remarks and Anecdotes on the Castle of the Baf

tille. Translated from the French published in 1774. 8vo, I s. 6d. Cadell. HE pamphlet of which this is a translation has excited

much curiofity abroad. It gave such offence to the court of France, that the sale of it was prohibited under the severest penalties: and it was not without some difficulty and hazard that the editor of this translation (Mr. Howard) procured a copy of it, and brought it into England. The translation, which appears to be well executed, will doubtless be very acceptable to the Public, both as it contains authentic memorials of a place which is at once an object of general curiosity and universal horror, and as it affords an interesting and instructive comparison between the dreadful effects of despotic power, and the mild and wise administration of equal laws in a free state.

From the anecdotes here given respecting eminent persons, who have been confined in this prison, we shall select the following:

In 1674, the baggage of Louis chevalier de Rohan, Grand Huntsman of France, having been taken and rummaged in a skir. milh, fome letters were found which caused a suspicion that he had treated with the English for the surrender of Havre-de-Grace. He was arrested and put into the Bastille. The Sieur de la Tuanderie, his agent, concealed himself. The proof was not sufficient. A commission was named to proceed against the accused for treason, La Tuanderie was discovered at Rouen : an attempt was made to arrest him, but he fired on the assailants, and obliged them to kill him on the ipot. Persons attached to the chevalier de Rohan went every evening round the Bastille, crying through a speaking trumpet, La Tuanderie is dead, and has said nothing ; but the chevalier did not hear them. The commissioners, not being able to get any thing from him, told him, “ that the King knew all; that they had proofs, but only wished for his own confession; and that they were authorised to promise him pardon if he would declare the truth.” The chevalier, 100 credulous, confessed the whole. Then the perfidious commis. fioners changed their language. They said, " that with respect to the pardon, they could not answer for it, but that they had hopes of obtaining ii, and would go and solicit is." This they troubled chem:

selves

« PrécédentContinuer »