Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/273

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.


ing in earnest was but a step. Duelling, in Elizabethan times, was very common. In fact, "points of honour" were matters of daily settlement. The least provocation was sufficient for a fight. Such matches were hedged about by many rules. There was also a sort of court, resident in London, consisting of four Ancient Masters of Defence, to whom difficult points of honour were submitted for judgment. How difficult of interpretation a point of honour might become is familiar to us all from the dissertation of Touchstone concerning the lie seven times removed. He was a sly fellow with a delightful sense of humour, but we cannot fairly accuse him of exaggeration. The book from which Shakespeare derived the information he put into the mouth of Touchstone was written by Vincentio Saviola, and printed in 1595. The full title is, Vincentio Saviola his Practice. In Two Books. The First intreating of the use of the Rapier and Dagger. The second of Honor and honorable Quarrels. In the second book is contained "A Discourse most necessarie for all Gentlemen that have in regarde their honors touching the giving and receiving of the Lie, whereupon the Duello & the Combats in divers sortes doth insue, and many other inconveniences, for lack only of the true knowledge of honor, and the contrarie; & the right understand-