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The Art of Fencing The Use of the Small Sword   By:

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First Page:

The ART of


or, the USE of the

Small SWORD .

Translated from the FRENCH of the late celebrated

Monsieur L'ABBAT;

Master of that ART at the Academy of TOULOUSE.



Printed by JAMES HORT, at the Sign of Mercury in Skinner Row , 1734.


[Transcribers note: First page of dedication missing.]

sue for. I shall omit saying any Thing, My Lord, of the shining Qualities, which seem Hereditary in Your Lordship's Family, as well as of the Dignity and Importance of the Charge with which His Majesty has been pleased to entrust Your Lordship's Most Noble Father. Neither will I presume to trouble Your Lordship with those Encomiums, which are most deservedly due to the Vertues, whereby Your Lordship has gained the Admiration and Esteem of the Polite and Ingenious Persons of this Nation. Be pleased then, My Lord, to permit me to have the Honour of subscribing myself,

My Lord,

Your Lordship's

Most devoted, and

Most humble


Andrew Mahon .


I thought it very suitable to my Business, when I met with so good an Author as Monsieur L'Abbat , on the Art of Fencing, to publish his Rules, which in general, will I believe be very useful, not only as they may contribute to the Satisfaction of such Gentlemen as are already Proficients in the Art, and to the better Discipline of those who intend to become so, but also in regard that the Nicety and Exactness of his Rules, for the most Part, and their great Consistency with Reason, may, and will in all Probability, lay a regular and good Foundation for future Masters, who tho' accustom'd to any particular Method formerly practised, may rather chuse to proceed upon the Authority of an excellent Master, than upon a vain and mistaken Confidence of their own Perfection, or upon an obstinate Refusal to submit to Rules founded on, and demonstrated by Reason.

For my Part, though I had my Instructions from the late Mr. Hillary Tully of London , who was (and I think with great Reason) esteemed a most eminent Master in his Time, I thought I could not make too nice a Scrutiny into my Profession, by comparing Notes with Monsieur L'Abbat , which improved me in some Points, and confirmed me and others, to my no small Satisfaction, being well persuaded, that, as a Professor of this Science, it would have been an unpardonable Fault in me to deprive our Nations of such an Improvement, either through Prejudice to his, or Partiality to my own Opinion.

Though I have already said that Mr. L'Abbat's Rules are nice, reasonable, and demonstrative, yet I would not have it inferred from thence, that he approves of them all, as really essential to the Art of Fencing; there being some which he does not approve of, and which he would not have mentioned, had they not interfered with his profession, by the Practice and Recommendation of some Masters, who being more capricious than knowing, were fonder of the shewy or superficial, than of the solid Part of the Science.

Volting, Passing, and Lowering the Body, are three things which Mr. L'Abbat disapproves of, in which Opinion I join; because the Sword being the Instrument of Defence, there can be no Safety when the proper Opposition of the Blade is wanting, as it is in volting and lowering the Body, and in passing, by reason of the Weakness of the Situation, which cannot produce a vigorous Action.

Notwithstanding which, there is a modern Master, who as soon as he had seen this Book, and the Attitudes representing volting, passing and lowering the Body, began and still continues teaching them to his Scholars, without considering how unsafe and dangerous they are, for want of the proper Opposition of the Sword when within Measure.

Of all Professions, that of Arms has in all Ages, since their Invention, been esteemed the noblest and most necessary; it being by them that the Laws preserve their Force, that our Dominions are defended from the Encroachments of our Enemies, and ill designing People kept in the Subjection due to their Sovereigns; and of all Arms, the Sword is probably the most ancient: It is honourable and useful, and upon Occasion, causes a greater Acquisition of Glory than any other: It is likewise worn by Kings and Princes, as an Ornament to Majesty and Grandeur, and a Mark of their Courage, and distinguishes the Nobility from the lower Rank of Men... Continue reading book >>

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