English Martial Arts

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Company for Historical Combat

J.D. Aylward to Captain Bodler

This letter was found in a first edition of J.D. Aylward's book The English Master of Arms. The book is inscribed as property of J.R. Bodler. It is dated 29th January 1957

My dear Captain Bodler,
What a pleasure to receive your letter today which renews pleasant thoughts of our acquaintance in the past! Actually, when I was making a list for my publishers of friends to whom I wanted them to send copies of their prospectus of my new book, I did not fail to include yours, as I thought it might show you that you were by no means forgotten.
You are kind enough to say you would like to have a copy of my English Master of Arms, and if so, the easiest way is for you to get in touch with Mr. Ray Riling, 6844 Gorsten Street, Philadelphia Pa. Who I believe is handling it in America. This trade side of thwe business is a bit outside my province, but I believe Mr Riling makes a speciality of books on arms and armour and kindred subjects, I have heard that he himself has written a standard work upon antique firearms which is highly regarded by collectors over here.
This would save you all the nuisance of bothering with foreign exchange, and if you really want my signature, I could send you that on a letter sheet which you could stick in to the cover of the book. I'm glad to say I've had some very favourable notices in England, an excellent on from The Times, which is regarded by my publishers as very important. Any how, its the work of a lifetime, and whether the public will make it profitable for me remains to be seen!
I am sorry to tell you that I have been in the doctor's hands for nearly two years. It seems from what he says that I have tried to do too much at my age ( this is my 86th year) and the result is heart trouble and the Lord knows what! It is now a bit of a job to get as far as Liverpool, but though I am forbidden to fence, I do get Zaaloff once in a way to give me a mild lesson, to see how much I have forgotten. The salle goes on well, but our trouble is that people take jobs elsewhere and and we are continually having new faces, very annoying for the Professor, for he never seems to get advanced pupils, who have to leave him just when they are getting good. He is very well, and so is Mrs Zaaloff; I hope to be going in on Wednesday to make my number at the club, and he will be delighted to have your very kind message. I keep in touch as much as I possibly can, but among my troubles I've gone very deaf, and have had to give up my work as Chairman of various fencing outfits because I can't hear what they say when I pretend to take a meeting.
This is not a very cheerful report, but it is just the facts as you write them in the log. I'm not complaining, as I've had a long cruise, but I did think I was going to beat the two famous fencers, Sir Frederick Pollock, the famous lawyer in England, who was fencing at 93, and Ernest Legouve in France, fencing at about the same age. However I can still write about the history of the art.
I remember you were mainly a sabre man, were you not? A short time ago I had a paper sent me called American Fencing, by a Mr. Mobbs, (A Canadian) who seems to be quite an old hand, he wrote a most interesting and long article in it on the development of sabre play in France and England, when Magrini introduced it over here. I wrote to him to thank him, but have not since heard from him – I passed the paper on to the editor of The Sword., I was in hopes that he would get in touch with Mobbs ang get him to write his recollections for our English journal.
You don't say anything about yourself, but I hope life has been treating you well, and that you have not been prevented from using the Suez Canal – after all, the old East Indamen and the Tea Waggons went round the Cape and thought nothing of it. We might get back to stick and string yet.
Very kindest regards from
Yours ever,
J. D. Aylward