Swetnam Chapter 9

This is part of an ongoing project to summarize and provide SCA focused commentary on The Schoole of the Noble and Worthy Science of Defence by Joseph Swetnam, published in 1617.

For links to the other sections of the Swetnam Project please go here.

I am using this facsimile: http://tysonwright.com/sword/SwetnamSchooleOfDefence.pdf for the project.


This chapter has two purposes.  The first is to remind us that skill is something that can always increase, and the second is a condemnation of telling tales or gossip.

Chap. IX. Sheweth what an excellent thing skill is, with persuasion to all men to forbeare the maintaining of idle quarrels.

In Favour of Skill

Swetnam begins this chapter by giving a disclaimer that though perfect skill is what we aspire to, it is also impossible to reach. Even if a man traveled the entire earth or soared through the sky, or dove to the bottom of the seas he would not achieve perfect skill.

“[skill] is so large that I cannot compas it, so high I cannot reach it, and so deepe a hidden secret, that I cannot sound the bottom of it; for I cannot travaile so far, climbe so high, nor wade so deepe”