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Col. Plume. We had no constant rule, but generally conducted our dispute and tilt according to the last that had happened between persons of reputation among the very top sellows for bravery and gallantry.
Sir Mark. If the fashion of quarrelling and tilting was so often changed in your time, Colonel Plume, a man might sight, yet lose his credit for want of understanding the fashion.
Col. Plume. Why, Sir Mark, in the beginning of July a man would have been censured for want of courage, or been thought indigent of the true notions of honour, if he had put up words, which in the end of Set' tember following, one could not resent without passing for a brutal and quarrelsome sellow.
Sir Mark. But, Colonel, were Duels or Rencounter* most in fashion in those days?
Col. Plume. Your men of nice honour, Sir, were for avoiding all censure of advantage which they supposed might be taken in a Rencounter; therefore they used seconds, who were to see that all was upon the square and make a faithsul report of the whole combat; but in. a little time it became a fashion for the seconds to sight, and I will tell you how it happened.
Mr. Sage. Pray do, Colonel Plume, and the method of a Duel at that time, and give us some notion of the puncto's upon which your nice men quarrelled in those days.
Col. Plume. I was going to tell you, Mr. Sage, that one Cornet Modijh had desired his friend, Captain Smart's opinion in some affair, but did not follow it; upon which Captain Smart sent Major Adroit (a very topping sellow of those times) to the person that had flighted his advice. The Major never enquired into the quarrel, because it was not the manner then among the very topping sellows ;' but got two swords of an equal length, and ttien waited upon Cornet Modijh, desiring him to choose his sword, and meet his friend Captain Smart. Cornet Modijh came with his friend to the place of combat; there the principals put on their pumps, and stripped to their shirts, to shew they had nothing but what men of henour carry about them, and then engaged.
Sir Sir Mark. And did the seconds stand by, Sir r
Col. Plume. It was a received custom until that time; but the swords of those days being pretty long, and the principals acting on both sides upon the desensive, and the morning being frosty, Major Adroit desired that the ©ther second, who was also a very topping sellow, would try a thrust or two only to keep them warm, until the principals had decided the matter, which was agreed to by Modijh's second, who presently whipt Adroit through the body, difarmed him, and then parted the principals, who had received no harm at all.
Mr. Save. But was not Adroit laughed at?
Col. Plume. On the contrary, the very topping sellows were ever after of opinion, that no man who deserved that character, mould serve as a second, without •sighting; and the Smarts and Modishes sinding their account in it, the humour took without opposition.
Mr. Sage. Pray, Colonel, how long did that fashiott continue?
Col. Plume. Not long neither, Mr. Sage; sor as soon as it became a fashion, the very topping sellows thought their honour reflected upon, if they did not prosser themselves as seconds when any of their friends had a quarrel, so that sometimes there were a dozen of a side.
Sir Mark. Bless me I if that custom had continued, we should have been at a loss now sor our very prettysellows; sor they seem to be the proper men to officer, animate, and keep up an army: But, pray Sir, how did that sociable manner of tilting grow out of mode?
Col. Plume. Why, Sir, I will tell you: It was a law among the combatants, that the party which happened to have the sirst man difarmed or killed, should- yield as vanquished: which some people thought might encourage the Modishes and Smarts in quarrelling to the destruction of only the very topping sellows; and as soon as this re* slection was started, the very topping fellows thought it an incumbranee upon their honour to sight at all themselves. Since that time the Modishes and the Smarts, throughout all Europe, have extolled the French Kipg's edict.
Sir Mark. Our very pretty sellows, whom I take to be the successors of the very topping sellows, think a
quarrel quarrel so little fashionable, that they will not be exposed to it by any other man's vanity, or want of sense.
Mr. Sage. But Colonel, I have observed in your account of IDuels, that there was a great exactness in avoiding all advantage that might possibly be between the combatants.
Col. Plume. That is true, Sir; for the weapons were always equal.
Mr. Sage. Yes, Sir, but suppose an active adroit strong man had insulted an aukward or a feeble, or an unpractised swcrd'sman?
Col. Plume. Then, Sir, they fouoh; wit), pistols.
Mr. Sage. But, Sir, there might be .; c -.ain advan-. itage that way; for a good mark's-m.in will ,v sure to hit his man at twenty >ards distance; ami" a whose? hand shakes (which is coti:;non: to men that debuuch in pleasures, or have not used i ilols out of their holsters)will not venture to sire, uim-ft he touches the person he shoots at. Now, Sir, i . in of opinion, that ones tan get no honour in killing .1 man, if one has it all Rug, as the gamesters fay, wi ::i they have a trick to make the game secure, though , seem , to play .upon the square.
Sir Mark. In truth, Mr. Sage, I think such a fact must be murder in a man's own piivate conscience, whatever it may appear to the world. .
Col. Plume. I have -knowrr some men so nice, that they would not sight but upon a clo tk with pistols.
Mr. Sage. I believe a custom well established wouW outdo the grand'Monarch's edict.
'Sir Marl. And Bullies would then leave off their long swords, but I do not sind that a very pretty sellow can stay to change his slvord when he is insulted by a Bully with a long Di: go; though his own at the fame time be no longer than a pen-knise; which will certainly be the case if such little swords are in mode. Pray, Colonel, how was it between the hectors of your time, and the very topping sellows?
Col. Plume. Sir, long swords happened to be generally worn in those times.
Mr. Sage. In answer to what you were faying, Sir Mark, give me leave to inform you, that your knights6 errant errant (who were the very pretty sellows of those antient rimes) thought they could not honourably yield, though they had fought their own trusty weapons to the stumps; but would venture as boldly with the page's leaden sword, as if it had been of inchanted metal. Whence, I conceive, there must be a spice of romantic gallantry in the composition of that very pretty sellow.
Sir Mark. I am of opinion, Mr. Sage, that fashion governs a very pretty sellow; nature, or common sense, your ordinary persons, and sometimes men of sine parts.
Mr. Sage. But what is the reason, that men of the most excellent sense and morals, in other points, associate their understandings with the very pretty sellows in that chimæra of a Duel?
Sir Mark. There is no disputing against so great a majority.
Mr. Sage. But there is one scruple, Colonel Plume, and I have done: Bo not you believe there may be some advantage even upon a cloak with pistols, which a man of nice honour would scruple to take.
Col. Plume. Faith, I cannot tell, Sir; but since one may reasonably suppose, that, in such a case, there can be but one so far in the wrong as to occasion matters to come to that extremity, I think the chance of being killed mould fall hut on one; whereas, by their close and desperate manner of sighting, it may very probably happen to both.
Sir Mark. Why, Gentlemen, if they are men of such nice honour, and must sight, there will be no sear of foul play, if they threw up cross or pile who should be ihot.
N° 40. Tuesday, July 12, 1709.
WilPl Coffee house, July 11.
IE T T E R S from the city of London give an account j of a very great consternation that place is in at present, by reason of a late enquiry made at Guildhall, whether a noble person has parts enough to deserve the enjoyment of the great estate of which he is possessed ? The city is apprehensive, that this precedent may go surther than was at sirst imagined. The person against whom this inquisition is set up by his relations, is a Peer of a neighbouring kingdom, and has in his youth made some sew bulls, by which it is insinuated, that he has sorseited his goods and chattels. This is the more astonishing, in that there are many persons in the faid city who are still more guilty than his Lordship, and who, though they are Ideots, do not only possess, but have also themselves acquired great estates, contrary to the known laws of this realm, which vests their possessions in the Crown.
There is a Gentleman in the coffee-house at this time exhibiting a bill in Chancery against his father's younger brother, who by some strange magic has arrived at the value of half a plumb, as the citizens call an hundred thoufand pounds; and in all the time of growing up to that wealth, was never known in any of his ordinary words or actions to discover any proof of reason. Upon this soundation my friend has set forth, that he is illegally master of his coffers, and has writ two Epigrams to signify his own pretensions and sufficiency sor spending that estate, He has inserted in his plea some thing9 which I sear will give offence; sor he pretends to argue, that though a man has a little ef the knave mixed with the Fool, he is nevertheless liable to the loss of goods; and makes the abuse of reason as just an avoidance of an