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Captain John Godfrey on Self-Defense
Book Review
© 2012 James LaFond
“Dear Mr Lafond
Please find enclosed a copy of A Treatise Upon the Useful Science of Defence. I must apologize for the late delivery of this book, which was due to your correspondence being mis-filed.
We have not as yet published anything else in the boxing/martial arts sphere but do intend to and I will make sure you receive notification by mail of any new titles.
Many thanks for your interest.
Yours sincerely,
Peter Walsh,
Publisher
14 April 1999”
Now that is how the conquerors of a world are supposed to behave when their empire is a memory. I don’t think we Americans will comport ourselves so graciously. I found the above missive in a very important book, a book I have recently reread after it had spent 13 harrowing years wondering if it would survive the purge of my shelves—not knowing that he was my darling, and that he was not on my terrible list…
A Treatise Upon the Useful Science of Defence
By Captain John Godfrey, 1747, reprinted in 1997 by Milo Books, London, 68 pages
Unless you like page-long sentences and the liberal use of capitalization and italics it will take you a while to get into this 18th Century print English. But it is part of the charm. I have read this book three times now and will again. Not only do you get descriptions of technique, but history, culture and character sketches as well.
The book was written under the patronage of a Duke who was also a general. The sections include Theory of the Sword, the Practice of the Small and Back-Sword, and Boxing. This is the first sport boxing treatise since Philostratus c. 250 A.D., and is of great historical significance. Most of all you can’t but help like Godfrey. After my first read he felt like an old rough-hewn uncle that liked to tell war stories.
The publisher did a nice job selecting the best surviving piece of period art and of including a relevant appendix and informative introduction, features that add much to the value of this edition.
If you can get a copy of this book do so. Mine is not for sale.
Thank you, Peter Walsh.
J. Christoph Amberger on the Sword
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Stewart Soltroff     May 29, 2014

I had a copy of this book, which I purchased from a gentleman named Jerome Schocket in Sykesville Md, in the mid 1980s. The book was stolen from me by the woman I was living with at the time in Collingdale Pa. About a year or so ago I came upon a picture of it on the net, which I recognized by a shadow that had been formed between the books cover and pages created by a receipt from its last date of sale around 1920. When I inquired as to where that copy had come from and threatened to contact a lawyer, the image was taken down and the posting removed. So sad for me as I loved the book and payed a lot of money for it!
James     May 29, 2014

Stewart,

You had an original and she stole it? That is horrible. I have a reprint that is rare enough as it is.

Seriously, to my other readers that are collectors, please be careful about letting the value of any collectables being known by any temporary [they are all temporary until you get married, and even then it's dicey] significant other. A few years ago a friend of mine who had a huge WWII weapon and uniform collection let a girl much younger than him move in. He was soon found dead in his house, his valuables gone. I'm convinced this chick sent some young dudes after him when she was away after having discovered what his collectables were worth.

I'm glad you weren't living with that chick Stewart.
Gail Gatto     Jul 3, 2014

Just to clear the record, I am the woman who paid for the Captain Godfrey's book and have the receipt to show I paid for it back in 1984. As far as being the woman he was living with, we together for 17 years and have a son togther until he left our family with the clothes on his back and a green trash bag of worldly possessions. Before he abandoned his family, I validated that he was walking away from EVERYTHING (family and all other items including the boxing collection, most of which I bought or we bought together) and he conceded that he was. This is MY Captain Godfrey's book which, if I ever do sell, will go toward college tuition toward OUR son, who recently went back to finish his undergrad degree in Music, and with whom he choses not to have any contact whatsoever (including paying any college tuition.) Sorry to air dirty laundry but want to get the story straight. I truly feel sorry that he still holds a grudge after 17 years. If you have any interest in seeing photos of this book or are interested in buying this 1st edition, very good condition book, please contact me. I welcome any contact from any lawyer.
James     Jul 4, 2014

Wow.

To retain some semblance of this still being a boxing article, I'm feeling like the time I bought a ticket to watch a fight and ended up working the corner for the out-of-town team. Just to be clear—I'm strictly in the audience for this one.

Peace Gail.
Stewart Soltroff     Sep 11, 2015

Talk about sour grapes. That crazy rant reminds me of how grateful I am for getting out when I did! My wife reminds me that if all it cost me was all MY boxing books, I got off easy and should be very grateful. Thank You Wifey!
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