INVITATION TO A FUNERAL
a tale of Restoration intrigue by
Mr Wells's Academy
The fields between Leicester Square and Soho were the home of
an "Academy" where it was promised that you could acquire all
the acomplishments taught in the academies of the nobility,
such as riding, shooting a pistol, carrying a lance, and
running at a ring.
Established by a showman named Wells, the Academy featured
artificial horses in perpetual motion from morning until night
and several sorts of musical instruments "befitting the subject".
The price of admission was one shilling.
Paradoxes of Defense, 1599:
"There is in my opinion in our fence schools an evil order or
custom in these days used, the which, if it might stand with the
liking of our Masters of Defence, I think it necessary to be
left. For as long as it is used, it shall be hard to make a good
scholar. That is this, at the single sword, sword and dagger, &
sword and buckler, they forbid the thrust, & at the single rapier,
and rapier & dagger, they forbid the blow.... how shall he
then do, that being much taught in school, that never learned to
strike, nor how to defend a strong blow?"
Fencing and archery were considered essential parts of any gentleman's
Vincentio Saviolo, 1594:
"The meanes whereby men from time to time have bene preferred even to
the highest degrees of greatness and dignitie, have ever bene and are
of two sortes, Armes and Letters: weapons and Bookes, as may most
plainly bee proved out of antique and moderne histories. Let it not
seem strange unto anie man that I have placed Armes before Letters,
for in truth I have found by observing the course of times, and by
comparing the occurents of former ages with those which have fallen
out and followed (as it were by succession) in later yeeres, that
the first Princes and patrones of people did obtaine their titles
and dominions by force of Armes, and that afterwards learning and
vertue did (as it were by degrees) grow and succeede for the making
and establishing of good orders, customes, and lawes amongest them.
And then did the common-wealths begin first to flourish, when their
Princes were like Minerva, whom the Poets fained to bee the goddesse
not onely of studies but also of Armes, inspiring wit into schollers,
and favoring those that follow warres. Wherefore knowing that such
men as endevour themselves to attaine unto the excellence of anie art
or science, are worthie both of praise and preferment, because they
seeke for that onely true nobilitie, which is in deede much more to
be accounted of than birth or parentage... Moreover, it doth many
times come to pass that discords and quarrels arise amongest souldiers
and Gentlemen of honor and account, the which (when they cannot be
accorded and compounded by lawe, learning, and perswasion) must be
determined, and the truth thereof tried by armes and combat."
(c) 1996 Molly Brown