E.B. Michell, Armstrong Walter , Pollock H. Walter, Grove C. F and Camille Prevost , Maitre D’Armes. Fencing ,Boxing Wrestling. London : Spottiswoode and CO 1889.
The Badminton library
SPORTS AND PASTIMES
HIS GRACE THE DUKE OF BEAUFORT, K.G
ASSISTED BY ALFRED E. T. WATSON
FENCING, BOXING, WRESTLING
From boxing in the classical age we must come down almost at one leap to the Hanoverian. There is of course no doubt that in the interval the use of the fists was common in many countries in almost all parts of the world. While the practice of the Savate, in which the feet as well as the hands are used, was growing up in France, an exactly similar style of boxing was being separately developed in the remote countries between India and China. Once recognise the idea of personal contest for purposes of sport as opposed to purposes of actual destruction, and the fist becomes a material weapon more really suitable for deciding a doubtful claim than any other. Once admit that men had better settle their differences by temporarily disabling one another than by killing outright, and you find contests with the unarmed or protected hand recognised as the fairest and readiest tests of rival merit. The mistake is to suppose that boxing was ever anything more than an artificial business, regulated by fixed rules, and saved by the interference of referees or umpires from degenerating into a mere 'rough and tumble.' That England during the middle ages was a favourite home of the art in pretty much its present form no one will be bold enough to doubt, although the allusions to it in 'Ivanhoe ' where no less a personage than Richard Coeur de Lion is claimed as a professor of it, must be regarded as fanciful. Every characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon race was such as to make the exercise congenial to their tastes and habits; and in the old-fashioned fairs held at market towns and village greens it is impossible to doubt that, besides the wrestlers and quarterstaff players, there was commonly a good show of local pugilistic champions. But it is only after the age of lance and cudgel had died out with the Plantagenets, after the era of bows and arquebuses had been driven out with the Yorkists and Lancastrians, when the long sword of the Tudors had been supplanted by short swords of the Spanish and French schools, and when the latter had gone out with the last descendants of the Stuart Kings; that prize fights, and consequently the elaborate study of pugilism, found their established home in the island. In quite the earliest part of George I.'s reign a French traveller, in his memoirs of travel in England, thus alludes to the universal popularity amongst all classes of English of fighting with the fist : -
Anything that looks like fighting is delicious to an Englishman. If two little boys quarrel in the street, the passengers stop, make a ring round them in a moment, that they may come to fisticuffs.
Each pulls off his neck-cloth and waistcoat, and gives them to hold to some of the standers-by. During the fight the ring of bystanders encourage the combatants with great delight of heart, and never part them while they fight according to the rules; and these by-standers are not only other boys, porters and rabble, but all sorts of men of fashion. The fathers and mothers of the boys let them fight on as well as the rest, and hearten him that gives ground or has the worst. These combats are less frequent among grown men than children, but they are not rare. If a coachman has a dispute about his fare with a gentleman that has hired him, the coachman consents with all his heart; the gentleman pulls off his sword and lays it in some shop, with his cane, gloves and cravat, and boxes in the same manner as I have described above.
I once saw the late Duke of Grafton at fisticuffs in the open street with such a fellow, whom he lambed most horribly. In France we punish such rascals with our cane, and sometimes with the flat of our sword, but in England this is never practised; they neither use sword or stick against a man that is unanned.
WALTER H. POLLOCK, F. C. GROVE, AND CAMILLE PREVOST, MAITRE D'ARMES
WITH A COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THE ART
BY EGERTON CASTLE, M.A., F.S.A.
E. B. MICHELL
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS FROM INSTANTANEOUS PHOTOGRAPHS
LONGMANS GREEN AND CO
DEDICATION TO H.R.H. THE PRINCE OF WALES