Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/271

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215
INDOOR AMUSEMENTS

liances are nothing in earnest: for the time of the one and the other greatly differs. And use as well the blow as the thrust. It is good in itself; and besides increaseth your breadth and strength, and will make you a strong man at the tourney and barriers. First, in any case, practice with the single sword; and then with the dagger. Let no day pass without an hour or two of such exercise."

Fencing schools were common and usually resorted to in the morning. In them persons received regular degrees as master, provost, and scholar, indicative of their skill. The degree was preceded by a prize contest, usually in public, hence the term, "to play a prize." Public fencing matches in the tavern yards and in the playhouses were a frequent means of popular entertainment. The three following entries in the Remembrancia (p. 351) illustrate this kind of spectacle:

"July 1, 1582. Letter from Ambrose, Earl of Warwick, to the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Sheriffs, requesting them to grant a licence to his servant, John David, to play his provost prize in his science and profession of defence, at the Bull, in Bishopsgate, or in some other convenient place to be assigned within the liberties of the City of London.

"July 23, 1582. Letter from Ambrose, Earl of