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To John Baselard [Dec 30th]- Xmas 1677

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A short note written on pure white cotton rag card, with purple-black oak gall ink, in a masculine script without adornments. It arrived mid-morning on December the 30th.


Mister John Baselard,


I would ask a moment of your time to inquire about instruction on the Italian School for myself. Should you have the time and the inclination, please send a note to Melville House, in Chelsea.


Your humble and obedient servant,


Lord Melville


The note was hand-delivered along a bottle of a remarkable Pineau des Charentes, a blend of lightly fermented grape must, to which a Cognac eau-de-vie was added and then matured.

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A note was received in return on the 1st. He had received a flurry of requests from all manner of gentlemen, either for themselves, their sons, or their wards. With war looming, the opportunities for military distinguishment was high and thus demand for his tutelage was also quite high.


If only they understood that war was not fencing, which was not dueling. A rapier was surely not a common weapon in battle, but the knife skills could be useful.


Baselard knew of Lord Melville's name. It was attached to the Langdon regiment. So he much doubted the Scotsman wished the skills for war but more for court. The Scottish style of swordsmanship was generally not the dance of Italian rapier, or any other continental style, to be sure.


After the typical polite salutations, the missive read.


I would be honoured to call upon your lordship on Monday morning. We will need to assure you a rapier and practice sword which is balanced for you before we begin any tutelage,

so I must deign to ask you to suffer measurements at that time.


Your lordships humble servant,


John Baselard, esq.

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