swords, weapon, implement, sword, dagger, iron, mallet, hands, broad and blade

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Clubs of various descriptions are found among almost all savages without exception, formed of hard and heavy wood, and well adapted for inflicting a deadly blow. Their shape and dimensions are much diversified ; some broad and flat, such as the Patoopatoo of the South Sea islanders ; others round, angular, long, or short, as those of New Caledonia, and the Friendly Islands. Some are quite plain, and of rude manufacture ; others neatly carved. From this simple implement, the mal let, hammer of arms, and mace have originated, which were generally used of old, both in Britain and on the continent. We read of a combat in 1515, fought by thirty champions on the side of the English, and the like number on the part of the French, when one of the for mer used a leaden mallet weighing twenty-five pounds. We can easily comprehend, that when the gradual pro gress of improvement rendered armour impenetrable by edged weapons, that some instrument of effectual demolition would be resorted to. An author on military affairs, of the sixteenth century, recommends a leaden mallet five feet long. The mallet was used by both hands, and in cavalry hung by a thong or chain from the pommel of the saddle, The hammer of arms greatly resembled a common hammer : it differed from the mal let in being square, or a little rounded and convex, while one side of the mallet was square, and the other pointed or cutting. The mace, in its simplest form, is nothing but an iron club, short and strong. Its shape was varied among different nations, and at different times : one still preserved is of iron, two feet one inch in length, with a hollow handle. The head is seven inches long : it con sists, in general description, of seven iron leaves, per pendicularly fixed round a cylinder, and equidistant from each other. The weight of the whole is three pounds nine ounces. Two maces, said to belong to Roland and Olivier do Roucevaux, famous champions, who fought under the banners of Charlemagne, were pre served in France towards the beginning of last century, and perhaps later. These consisted of a handle two feet long, to which an iron ball was attached by a triple chain. It appears that the ball was frequently covered with spikes, and was connected to the handle by a single chain. Mr Grose affirms, that similar implements were long used by the trained bands of London, under the name of morning stars. Maces were suspended from the saddles of cavalry in the same manner as mallets.

The rudest description of swords now known among barbarous nations, are those of wood or bone, somewhat resembling the blade of a scymitar. We conceive that the invention of this implement precedes the bow and arrow. Probably, knives, sabres, scymitars, and broad swords, are all modifications of one weapon ; to which are nearly allied creeses, daggers, bayonets, and small swords. Knives were anciently used in battle : they are enumerated among the weapons at the battle of Bannockburn, in 1314 ; and the Scottish statute 1429, as formerly observed, commands every yeoman to carry a knife. They are still used in Spain and other civilized countries. Thus, during a late celebrated siege in 1808, a brave commander, in answer to a summons of capi tulation, signified, that the knife alone should deter, 'Mae the contest. Guerra al Cuchillo, " war even to the knife." In the hands of the North American Indians, it is an implement of horrible cruelty. The sword was ciently nude of a mixed metal resembling brass, and adapt ed both for cutting and thrusting. Among the Romans it was short and strong, from nineteen to thirty inches in length, several of which description have been found both in Britain and Ireland. But for a long series of

years, swords have been made of nothing but tempered steel : the strength and hardness of armour rendered this necessary. as well as the materials of other warlike weapons. Certain blades are celebrated for temper,' such as those of Damascus, of Toledo, and Zaragoza. The Normans arc said to have had long heavy swords : those used by the Scottish, in 1547, are described by an eye witness, as " swoordes all notably brode and thin, of exceeding good temper, and universally so made to slyce, that as I never save none so good, so I think it hard to devise them better." Therefore the broadsword was then in common use : and more lately, during the rebellions in 1715 and 1745, the Highlanders had broad swords, by them called claymores, with basket hilts, which have since been adopted into regiments in the British service, composed solely of Highlanders. No weapon has undergone greater variety in shape and structure than the sword ; for it has often been made according to the taste or fancy of the wearer, and some times bore his name, or an emblematic device, on the blade. To describe the different kinds, would be end less ; but we cannot overlook the two-handed sword, so denominated from being used with both hands. This was an unwieldy implement, and if ever actually used in warfare, must have required gigantic strength. The most incredible account of its effects are recorded. Ro mancers, it is true, whose object is to speak any thing excepting truth, would persuade us that their heroes could cleave a warrior, iron armour and all, down to the saddle, with a two-handed sword ; and that they were able, with the utmost facility, to smite off heads at a sin gle blow, through a neck-piece of tempered steel. Such accounts we are not bound to believe ; but grave histo rians, with every appearance of truth, and those indeed worthy of credit, relate repeated instances of a man be ing cut asunder by a two-handed sword. Thus it is not wonderful, if a blade nearly six feet long, and ten inches broad, of which dimensions some are still preserved, was a formidable implement : yet though we arc well assured that those of somewhat smaller size were in fact used in war, we are rather inclined to agree with the antiquarians, who have considered this unwieldy weapon an emblem of state, or intended for some other purpose than to be used in battle. The small sword, universally worn on the continent, and in Britain, has gradually been giving way to the broad-sword and scy mitar, which latter weapon seems to have been adopted from the Turks.

The dagger is an ancient weapon ; and was known to the Romans. Dio Nicmus names it among the arms of the Britons, and Verstegan affirms that the Saxons also used it. It was certainly adopted by the military as ear ly as the age of Edward I.; for it is mentioned in the statute of Winchester, 1285. The dagger which king James IV. of Scotland wore at the battle of Flodden Field, where he was killed, 1514, is yet exhibited in the Heralds office in London : and the fashion of wearing two daggers at once, is seen in a picture of his son. It has long been employed as a too ready means of assas sination among the modern Italians. The Malays carry a dagger with a waved blade, which is by them called a creese : a dangerous weapon in the hands of so treache rous and irascible a nation. The modern bayonet origi nated in a dagger, as we shall immediately see ; but pre vious to the period when that took place, military wri ters strongly recommended the dagger as an implement of much and various utility to the soldier. It is now part of the arms carried by certain ranks of British na val officers.

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8