Luke. After your departure yesterdaie in the after-noone, I was in an honorable place, wher upon occasion of some jelousie of love of certaine gentlewomen two gentlemen of the companie fell at words, and from words to deeds, but they were not suffered at that time to proceede to any further action, nevertheles they gave their faithes the next morning to trie it with their weapons. And so accordinglie they met, and bravely perfourmed their combate: in the execution whereof I tooke great pleasure to be a beholder, not that I had anie delight to see them kill one another, but for another cause, (and that was) to see by experience the truth of that which I have heard manie affirme: and seeing there is so good an opportunity offered, I will entreat you, having troubled you in a great matter, that you will assoyle me certaine doubtes, which I shall demaund of you, and make me rightly understand them, whereby I shall remaine greatly bound unto you.
V. I praie you tell me, what were these gentlemen which fought, and whether anie of them be hurt: after, be bolde to declare to me your doubtes, and I will not faile to resolve you the best I can.
L. Sir, I doubt not of your curtesie, which I have found you alwaies willing to shewe to everie man, but cheefely to your freends: but to tell you the truth, I have forgot the gentlemens names, but this I can well saie, that in the handling of their weapons they behaved themselves very manfullie, neither of them receiving any wound, for they were both very quicke with the rapier to offend, and with their daggers to defend: but the greatest reason that hath led me to be present there, was to see how well they managed their weapons, one of them being right handed, and the other left handed: because I know many of opinion, that the left handed have great advantage of the right, yet I see both doe their uttermost this morning, without any hurt of either partie, and in beholding both the one and the other diligently I could not discerne anie jot of advantage betweene them: therefore you shall doe me great favour, if you discourse unto me, whether the left hand can have any advantage of the right, or the right of the lefte: withall instructing me, both how to defende my selfe from such a one, and how to offend him.
V. Of this question, I have heard many times much reasoning, and many there are indeede which so think, but beleeve me, the left hand hath no advantage of the right hand, nor the right, of the lefte no otherwise than you your selfe finde your owne advantage.
L. Tell me therfore, if you would teach a left hand, how would yon begin?
V. I would teach him first with the single rapier, making him to stand with his left foote forwardes, and that his heele should be right against the middle part of his right foote, & I would put my selfe with my right foot forward, as I told you before concerning the single rapier, & I would that the scholler should hold his sword out at length, that the point thereof bee directlie at my face, and that he holde his swoord hand, as it were in a line, from his bodie, & outwards of my sword towards my right side, passing withal with his left foot towards my left side, putting his rapier under mine, and to give me an imbroccata in the belly, by turning the knuckle of his hand downwards towards his left side.
L. It seemeth that you doo all contrarie to the right hand, because in teaching the right hand, hee useth the stoccata, but the left hand, you make him to begin with the imbroccata. But what will you doo to defend your selfe in the meane time?
V. I will avoide somewhat with my body, and with my hand beate downe his imbroccata without my left side, and carrying my right foot after my left foot, give him a riversa at the head.
L. What shal the scholler doo in his defence, both to hurt you and save himselfe?
V. He shal doo quite contrarie unto him that is right handed, because the right hand, when I offer him a riversa at the head, passeth with the left foote, and giveth me the imbroccata under my rapier, but the left hande, whilest I go backe with my right foot, and that I lift my rapier to give him the riversa, he swiftly passeth with his right foot before his left, and giveth me a stoccata, lifting his hand from behinde: & so in the passataes which he shall make, standing with his left foote forward, and passing with his right foot to strike his enemie, whereas the right hand passeth with his left foot when he giveth a stoccata to his enemie, the left hand cleane contrarie, in passing gives the imbroccata to his enemie: & wheras the right hand shall give the stoccata, and that which I saie, is for the left handes instruction against the right. But noew I will speake no further of this warde, for so much as no other thing foloweth but that which I have told you alreadie concerning the first warde of the single rapier, and I will declare unto you the warde of the rapier and dagger, both to instruct the lefte handed how to deale against the right hand, and how the right hand ought to behave himselfe against the lefte hande, which shall be our next discourse. And for this time I praie you pardon me, having occasion to go a little way hence, to take up a matter betweene two of my friends, upon certaine differences happened betweene them, & by and by we will meet againe. Farewell.
L. Seeing you have already declared howe a lefte hande is to bee taught at single Rapier, I praie you also tell mee, how you woulde likewise instruct him at Rapier and Dagger, and afterwardes the defence against him.
V. If I should make a good lefte hnaded scholler, I would place him with his lefte foote forward, and his lefte heele against the middle of his right foote, making him to holde his Rapier shorte, and his Dagger out long.
L. In what warde would you put your selfe?
V. I would put my selfe in the firste warde of Rapier and Dagger, carrying my bodie in good ward towards my left side, and I would give him a stoccata under his Rapier, bearing my right foot towards his lefte side, turning well my bodie circularlie upon my right side, and he in the same time turning the point of his dagger downe, shall beate by my stoccata from his lefte side, and withall passing with his lefte foote towardes my lefte side, hee shall give me an imbroccata under my Dagger; I in the meane while will avoide a little with my body, striking by his imbroccata from my left side, and carrying my right foote againe towardes his lefte side, I will give him an imbroccata under the Rapier: then he shall turne his Dagger pointe upwadre, and strike by my imbroccata from his lefte side, going with his lefte foote circularly towards my left side, and shall give me a stoccata in the face over my Dagger, and I will beate by his stoccata outwards from my lefte side, going againe with my right foote circularlye towards his lefte side, and give him another stoccata under the Dagger, and hee shall beate it by as before, going aside with his lefte foote towards my lefte side, and shall give me an imbroccata under the dagger, as before, and I avoiding a little with my bodie, will beate his imbroccata outwards on my right side, parting at the instant with my right foote, and carrying after my lefte: and give him a riversa at the head, and if I should not bowe backeward with my bodie when I did beate by his imbroccata towardes my right side, I my selfe should receive it in mine owne bellie, or the face: and whilest I goe with my right foote, and give him a riversa, he shal goe with his right foot where my right foote was, and give me a stoccata in the bellie, whereas he shal receive the riversa upon his Rapier and Dagger.
L. These thinges would seeme very strange to such as understand them not, because when you offer that riversa to the right handed man, you teach him to passe with the lefte foote, and to give you the imbroccata, contrarilie you in the same case make the lefte handed man, to passe with his right foote, giving you the stoccata.
V. Did I not tell you that the lefte hand had no advantage of the right, nor the right of the lefte? onelye use and knowledge giveth the better either to the right or the lefte: and oftentimes you shalbe occasioned to doe manye thinges, dealing with the left handed man, which you must do cleane contrary to that which you woiuld doe, dealing with the right handed man: wherfore seek to learne and to practise your selfe, that when occasion shall be offered, you maye knowe how to behave your selfe, and contemne the opinions of these Spaca montagne, which despise arte, because ignorance was ever the enemy of knowledge. Is it possible that he which never saw the warres, can be better knowledged then he which hath spent his life wholye therein, and borne honorable charges? can hee which never made shot in anie peece of artillerie or hargebuse, or bow, be more perfect, or at least know so muche as they which of long time have made profession thereof? So it is in the use of weapons, and in every other facultie: for example, take a Cannoneer which well understandeth his arte, and he will charge his Peeces in such good sorte, that it shall be a hard matter, or almost impossible for them to break: afterward take one of these contemners of arte, who with their blinde judgement presume to be able to doe all thinges, to such a one give the handling of a Peece of ordinance, and let him not want pouder, shot, or any necessaries therto belonging, and let him charge according to his vaine knowledge, you shal see him presently breake all and kill himselfe. The like falleth out in the handling of armes, the ignorant will doe one thing for an other, which shall turne to his own confusion, for by the moving of his bodie or foot onely out of time and order, he may easilie overthrow him selfe, and hasten his owne death.
L. It hath been seene nevertheles, that many altogether unexperienced in the hargebuse, have made as good shot as they which have long practised the same.
V. It is an olde saying, that one flower maketh not a spring, for although this unskilful man have made, or may make at any time some good shot, assure your selfe it is to be attributed to chance or fortune, or as it is said, to his good hap, and if he should bee demaunded at what hting hee made his levell, if hee wil confesse a truth, hee will not denie, that his levell was set at an other marke, and in truth it may not be otherwise: for triall wherof make him shoote again, and you shall see having no more knowledge then before, nor practising the said exrecise, that scarse ever hee will make the like shot againe. But they which are wel instructed and exercised therin, will seldome make one fault. In like sort in the use of other weapons, one maye give a cunning stroke, but it shal be by fortune, and no cunning: so that thinking to give the like blowe againe, he will occasion his owne death, and that onely by not knowing what time to strike: after the same manner hee that will take upon him to charge a Peece of artillerie, not knowing the charge therof according to the waight of her bullet, will soone breake all, and murder him selfe: but he which truely hath his arte, you shall see him with dexteritie charge & discharge, without any encombrance, having his secrets readie to coole the Canon when she is overheated, and other artificiall feates which hee can make to serve his turne: so that it is no mervaile that he which is guided onely by presumption, and will thrust him selfe into matters which hee knoweth not, if hee overthrowe him selfe and such as rely upon him: and especially certaine harbrainde wits, who use to despise every thing, with whom I exhorte you to have no dealing, seing they are men void of al reason, which ought to be the rule of mans life, and without which a man is no man, but the outward shape of a man onely.
L. Truly I know you say the truth, and of force the knowledge of al good sciences must come from God, which is of a divine nature. But let this passe, I pray you resolve me in this: wherfore use you not to strike at the poniard side, as well as at the right side, and by what reson strike you at the sworde side? tell me also which is the better side to strike, either the poniarde side or the sworde side, and which of them is more safe?
V. When you goe to charge a lefte handed man in your warde, looke first in what ward he lyeth, and how hee holdeth his weapons, answering him in the same forme: and touching your demaund, to knowe wherfore I strike not at the Dagger side, I will tell you: when I finde him in this ward carrying his lefte foot formost, if I should make at his Dagger side and strike firste, I put my selfe in danger to hurt my self, because in thrusting I runne upon the pointe of my enemie: but making at his lefte side, I am out of danger of his pointe, whereof making to his Dagger side I am in perill: for if you strike firste and the lefte handed man have a good Dagger, and be quicke with his sworde, he will alwaies put you in hazard of an imbroccata: and in truth there are fewe lefte handes which use stoccataes, but for the most part imbroccataes. Now if he offer you the imbroccata first, being towards his dagger, and you being nimble with your bodie, whilest hee strikes at you, you shall a little bow aside with your body, and beat by the pointe outwards from your left side, and you may easilye give him a stoccata or an imbroccata: but if you strike, first you endanger your self: and if you will strike the first, you shall go towards his left side, to be in more safetie, and offering yourblowe, seeke to be without his pointe, striving to fasten your stoccata at his face, and retire your lefte foot back with great swiftnes, your right foot accompanying your left: but finding him in his ward, to beare his swoorde out at length, if you be well advised, you shall carrie your right foot after your left, and lye in the third ward I taught you concerning the left foot: and regarde wel whilest you are in warde upon the right foot, and if you wil, out of the first ward of Rapier and dagger, enter into the third: be sure that you passe not forward with the left foot firste, for in so doing he might give you a stoccata in the belly or face: therefore carie your right foot after your left, and in the said ward, charge him towards his left side, who lying with his left foot forward, as you do, if you charge him on the left side, unles he be verie ready and perfect at his weapon, you shal have great advantage of him, & make your selfe master of his weapons, and greatly indanger his life. Neverthelesse if he be skilful, and know how to plaie with his bodie, he maie avoide the foresayd dangers, and hazard your life, if you bee not the more skilfull, albeit you finde him, as I said before, lying with his left foot forward. Wherefore it is necessarie that you understand and practise well your selfe, seeing the least errour you maie make, may be your great hurt.
L. But suppose that one be altogether ignorant, and have not these turnings of his bodie in a readinesse, you tolde mee there was no difference betweene the right hand and the left hand, neither of them having advantage of the other. And now you tell mee, that the right hand, in case he lie in the third ward, traversing toward the left side of his enemy, hath great advantage of a left hand. I praie you therefore shew mee if there be anie other ward, wherein the lefte hande may so lie, that the right hand shall have no advantage upon him.
V. You know how I saide there was no advauntage betweene them, besides that which use and knowledge give to either partie, wherefore if the right hande change from the first warde into the third, to assault the left hand, then the lefte hand shall carrie his lefte foote after his right, so lying with the right foote forwarde in good ward, and the right hande lie in the third warde, with his lefte foot forward, and so shall neither the one or the other have a iote of advantage, except that which he can give by true observation of time and measure and his better knowledge: so that if the lefte hand be well instructed, finding his adversarie with his right fotoe forward, and with his owne right foote forward chargd toward the right side in good warde, then shall he have the advantage upon the right handed, and be able to make him selfe maister of his enemies armes. But if the right hand bee well knowledged and bee acquainted with the turnings and windings of the body, and be quick and readie with the rapier and dagger, he maie avoide these hazards, and endanger the left handed man. And this is one of the speciall points which either the one or the other can learne. This which I have tolde you (especiallie if either of them have to deale with one that is ignorant) will give him the advantage against his adversarie. Furthermore, if you shall lye in the first warde with your right foote formost, bearing your selfe somewhat towards the right side of your enemie, and hee offer a mandritta at your head, be you readie with your dagger bearing the pointe high, and turning your bodie upon your left side, for so you shall give him a stoccata, or imbroccata, or punta riversa, in the belly or face, according as you shal finde your best advantage, & your enemie most discovered: you may also standing stedfast in good warde, give him a riversa at the legges. But if you should offer to avoide it by turning of your bodie, and be not quick therein, your adversarie might give you a mandritta upon the face or head: for there are many who in avoiding with their bodies, lose their daggers, and put themselves in great danger: also the escape which you make with your bodie upon the lefte side, is clean contrary to that which you use against the right handed man, because that when the right handed maketh a mandritta at your head, you do not raise the point of your dagger much, and turne your bodie upon your right side, but dealing with the left handed man, you turne your bodie upon your lefte side: also when he giveth you a riversa, you shal turne your bodie upon the right side. Moreover, if you shall have occasion to make a mezza incartata, you shal do it in a sorte clean contrarie to that which youy make dealing with a right handed man, for you make your mezza incartata to the right handed man, giving him a stoccata, but to the lefte handed by an imbroccata, playing well with your bodie: if you be well skilled in your weapon, exercising your selfe in the first, second, and third wards, you shall do many thinges more then I speake of. Likewise the left handed, if he practise well these foresaid wardes, shall be able to defend himselfe, and to deal against any other ward. And for this time I will not discourse to you any farther, onely I advise you to exercise your selfe in all these points I have set down unto you, because besides the knowledge, you shall make your practise absolute in such sorte, that when occasion to serve to speake of such matters, you maie be able to give a sufficient reason therof, & also defend your selfe against such as will offer you injurie, for the worlde is nowe subject to many wronges and insolencies. But you shal therby make your selfe most perfect, and know far more in this behalfe than I have uttered unto you, for it is not possible in this art to expresse all by words, which by your own experience and diversitie of occurrences you shall finde. But for this time enough, let us pray to God to defend us from all mishaps.
L. Amen, saye I, thanking you hartilye for your curtesie and favour shewed me in these matters, and I will not faile heereafter to visite you nowe and then, that our friendshippe maie dailie grow greater, offering at all times my small power to doo you service in acknowledgement of this your goodnes.
V. And I also thanke you for your kindnesse and loving offers. Adio.