George Silver. Paradoxes of Defence. London. 1599

(1) An Admonition to the Noble, Ancient, Victorious, Valiant, and Most Brave Nation of Englishmen

George Silver having the perfect knowledge of all manner of weapons, and being experienced in all manner of fights, thereby perceiving the great abuses of the Italian Teachers of Offense done unto them, and great errors, inconveniences, & false resolutions they have brought them into, has informed me, even for pity of their most lamentable wounds and slaughters, & as I verily think it my bound duty, with all love and humility to admonish them to take heed, how they submit themselves into the hand of Italian teachers of defence, or strangers whatsoever, and to beware how they forsake or suspect their own natural fight, that they may by casting off these Italianated, weak, fantastical, and most devilish and imperfect fights, and by exercising their own ancient weapons, be restored, or achieve unto the natural, and most manly and victorious fight again, the dint and force whereof many brave nations have both felt and feared. Our plowmen have mightily prevailed against them, as also against masters of defence, both in schools and countries, that have taken upon them to stand upon school tricks and juggling gambols. Whereby it grew to a common speech among the countrymen "Bring me to a fencer, I will bring him out of his fence tricks with down right blows. I will make him forget his fence tricks, I will warrant him." I speak not against masters of defence indeed, they are to be honored, nor against the science, it is noble, and in my opinion to be preferred next to divinity, for as divinity preserves the soul from hell and the devil, so does this noble science defend the body from wounds & slaughter. And moreover, the exercising of weapons puts away aches, griefs, and diseases, it increases strength, and sharpens the wits. It gives a perfect judgement, it expels melancholy, choleric and evil conceits, it keeps a man in breath, perfect health, and long life. It is unto him that has the perfection thereof, a most friendly and comfortable companion when he is alone, having but only his weapon about him. It puts him out of fear, & in the wars and places of most danger, it makes him bold, hardy and valiant.

And for as much as this noble and most mighty nation of Englishmen, of their good natures, are always most loving, very credulous, & ready to cherish & protect strangers, yet that through their good natures they never more by strangers or false teachers may be deceived, once again I most humbly to admonish them, or such as shall find in themselves a disposition or desire to learn their weapons of them, that from henceforth as strangers shall take upon them to come hither to teach this noble & most valiant & victorious nation to fight, that first, before they learn of them, they cause a sufficient trial to be very requisite & reasonable, even such as I myself would be contented withal, if I should take upon me to go in their country to teach their nation to fight. And this is the trial: They shall play with such weapons as they profess to teach withal(4), three bouts apiece with three of the best English masters of defence & three bouts apiece with three unskillful valiant men, and three bouts apiece with three resolute men half drunk. Then if they can defend themselves against these masters of defence, and hurt, and go free from the rest, then are they be honored, cherished, and allowed for perfect good teachers, and what countrymen soever they be. But if any of these they take fail, then they are imperfect in their profession, their fight is false, & they are false teachers, deceivers and murderers, and to be punished accordingly, yet no worse punishment unto them I wish, than such as in their trial they shall find.

Released: November 09, 1998 / Last modified: December 12, 2008