Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/90

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82
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

The fighting-swords of the latter part of the eighteenth and former part of the nineteenth centuries (Fig. 27) were not very good, either as rapiers or sabers, and marked a period of transition to one

PSM V21 D090 Sectional views of sword blades.jpg
Sections or Sword-Blades.

almost of decadence. The cavalry-swords of the early part of the present century were clumsy and unscientific. With great width of blade and a tendency to increase the width toward the point (Fig. 28), they were not intended for cutting weapons, and were almost useless PSM V21 D090 Swords of the 18th and 19th century.jpg as thrusting ones. The idea that weight at the. sword-end was valuable in enhancing the force of the cut was faulty in theory and practice, and was rather a retrogression to the principle of the axe than an advance in the true method of construction of the sword. This has given way to the modern sword, which combines within itself all the powers of which the weapon is capable, is good as a guard for thrusting and for cutting. Slightly curved, but not so much as to impede its pointing power, nor so wide as to be too heavy, stiffened by grooves so as to be capable of use as a rapier, its blade, with an edge on one side along its length, is flattened at the point, where it is ribbed, for strength, into a two-edged sword (Fig. 29). The hilt has a wider guard, and is intermediate between the rapier type and that of the basket form. Adopting the principles that have obtained at various times, it is a good all-round weapon in skillful hands. While Western nations have thus tended to adopt a straight blade, Eastern races have almost without exception preferred a curved sword. By reason both of their physical peculiarities and of the lighter character of the armor they wear, they have been accustomed to administer cutting blows with their weapons rather than the straight, down-right strokes that are adapted to Western strength and armor, and a curved edge is more suitable for cutting blows. The hilt of the Eastern sword is small, and the boss, or pommel, at the end of the hilt is large, so as to prevent the sword from slipping when the drawing cut is made. The Asiatic swords exhibit, moreover, greater divergencies of type than the Western swords. Some, like the Persian cimeters (Fig. 30), and the Malay creeses (Fig. 31), are often wavy, sometimes resembling the conventional tongue of fire (flamboyant), forms which may be due to the influence of the priests of the fire or the sun, or may be copied from the curvature and ornamentation of the antelope-horn dagger. The Albanian sword has the edge thrown forward by the