Morever, it doth many times come to passe that discords and quarrels arise amongest souldiers and Gentlemen of honor & account, the which (when they cannot be accorded & compounded by lawe, learning, and perswasion) must bee determined, and the truth thereof tried by armes and combat. And therefore he that is wise, carefull of his safetie, and provident against danger, will be at all times stored and furnished with this honorable urgent necessity, and instant shortnes of time, he shal be constrained to expose himself unto evident danger.
Wherefore upon the occasions, and also for that I have bin thereunto requested by sundrie Gentlemen my good friendes, I have endevoured to expresse in this discourse, and to make plain by pictures all the skill and knowledge which I have in this art: Exhorting all men of good mindes and noble spirites to learne and purchase the same, not to the end to abuse it in insolencies and injuries, but to use it in cases of necessitie for the defence of just causes, and to the maintenance of the honour of themselves and others. For whosoever will followe this profession must flie from rashnes, pride, and injurie, and not fall into that soule falt and error which many men incurre, who feeling themselves to be strong of bodie and expert in this science, presuming thereupon, thinke that they may lawfully offer outrage and injury unto anie man, and with crasse and grosse termes and behaviour provoke everie man to fight, as though they were the onely heirs of Mars, & more invincible than Achilles: not remembring how it hath oftentimes happened, that a little wretched man of stature by skill and reason hath overcome a vast mightie man of person, and overthrowen the unweldie masse and burthen of his bodie upon the face of his kind & liiberall mother the earth. This manner of proceeding and behaviour doth plainely shew that these men (although peradventure they have learned the use of the weapon) have not yet beene sufficiently instructed in the Arte of Armes. For by the rule and precept of this Art, men are taught by how much they are resolute in courage, and skilful of the use of the same weapon, by so much the more to shew themselves virtuous, humble, and modest both in speech & action, and not to be liers, vanters, or quarrellers, for those which in this sort demeane themselves, (notwithstanding their skill or courage) do commonly carry away wounds and dishonour, and sometimes death.
I have seene and noted in diverse partes of mine owne countrie and in other places of the world, great quarrells springing from small causes, and many men slayne uppon lightr occasions. Amongest other things, I remember that in Liesena a citie of Sclavonia, it was once my chance to see a sodaine quarrell and slaughter upn very small cause betweene two Italian captaines of great familiaritie and acquaintance. There was in the companie a foolish boy belonging unto one of the Captaines, who going carefully forward, & approching neere unto the other captaine, began to touch the hilts of his sword, whereupon the captaine lent the boy a little blow to teach him better manners: The other Captaine (the boies master) taking this reprehension of his boy in worse parte than there was cause, after some wordes multiplyed began to drawe his sword, the other Captaine in like sort betaking himselfe to his rapier did with a thrust run him quite through the bodie, who falling downe dead upon the place received the just reward of his frivolous quarrell. And to confesse the plaine truth in this point, it is not well done either of men of boyes to touch the weapons of another man that weareth them. Neverthelesse a man ought in all his actions to seeke and endevour to live in peace and good agreement (as much as may be) with everie one: and especially he that is a Gentleman and converseth with men of honorable quality, must above all others have a grteat regard to frame his speech and answeres with such respective reverence, that there never growe against him anie quarrell upon a foolish worde or a froward answere, as it often hath and daily doth come to passe, whereupon follow deadly hatreds, cruell murthers, and extreame ruines. Wherefore I saie and let downe as a most undoubted truth, that it is good for everie man to be taught and instructed in the Rapier and Dagger, not the rather thereby to grow insolent, or to commit murther, but to be able and ready in a case of just necessitie to defend himselfe, either as the sodaine, or upon defiance and in field assigned: for at that time it is too late to looke backe and to intend this studie, as many doo, who having appointed the time and place for fight, doe practice some point or other of this arte, the which being so lightly learned and in such hast, doth afterwards in time of need prove but little helpfull or available unto them. But this knolwedge doeth more particularly appertayne unto Gentlemen and souldiers that professe and followe warres, for they more than other men, will (for the credite of their calling, and the honor of Armes) dispute and determine with the point of the sword all points that passe in controversie, especially amongest themselves, who had rather die than not to have reason and satisfaction for everie worde of prejudice and disgrace offered unto them. Now in this case I am to exhort and advise men of all sortes and condition, as well the skilfull as the unskilfull, not to bee in anie wise to suspitious, nor to catch (as they saie) at everie flie that passeth by, for in so dooing, they purchase to themselves endlesse trouble, and enter into actions full of danger and dishonour, but rather to shunne as much as they can all occasions of quarrell, and not to fight excepte (as hath bene sayde) upon a just cause and in a point of honor. And to the end that everie man may know what to doo, and bee able to practise as much as hee knoweth (at the request of certaine Gentlemen my good friends, & to make the world witnes of my gratefull minde towards them for the many curtesies which I have received at their handes since my first coming into this Countrie) out of those preceptes which I have learned from the most rare and renowmed professors that have bin of this Art in my time, and out of that experience which I have observed in diverse fraies and fights, I have composed and framed this little worke, containing the noble Arte of the Rapier and Dagger, the which I have set down in manner of a Dialogue, &c.