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opinions, which are usually biassed by interest. I judge in this case, as king Charles the Second victualled his navy with the bread which one of his dogs chose of several pieces thrown before him, rather than trust to the asseverations of the victuallers. Mr. Cowpers, and other learned counsel, have already urged the authority of this almanack, in behalf of their clients. We shall, therefore, go on with all speed in our cause; and doubt not, but chancery will give at the end what we lost in the beginning, by protracting the term for us until Wednesday come seven-night. And the University Orator shall for ever pray, &c.
From my own Apartment, July 7. The subject of duels 4 has, I find, been started with so good success, that it has been the frequent subject of conversation among polite men; and a dialogue of that kind has been transmitted to me verbatim as follows. The persons concerned in it are men of ho
nour and experience in the manners of men, and · have fallen upon the truest foundation, as well as
searched the bottom of this evil.
Mr. Sage. If it were in my power, every man that drew his sword, unless in the service, or purely to defend his life, person, or goods, from violence (I mean abstracted from all puncto's or whims of honour) should ride the wooden horse in the Tilt-yard for such first offence; for the second, stand in the pillory; and for the third be prisoner in Bedlam for lifes.
3 Spencer Cowper, brother to the first earl of that name.
4 See N° 8, 25, 26, 29, 31, and 38. Spect. N° 84, 97, and 99. Guard. N° 20, 129, 133, and 161.
s See N° 30.
Col. Plume. I remember that a rencounter or duel was so far from being in fashion among the officers that served in the parliament-army, that on the contrary it was as disreputable, and as great an impediment to advancement in the service, as being bashful in time of action.
Sir Mark. Yet I have been informed by some old cavaliers, of famous reputation for brave and gallant men, that they were much more in mode among their party than they have been during this last war.
Col. Plume. That is true too, Sir.
Mr. Sage. By what you say, gentlemen, one should think that our present military officers are compounded of an equal proportion of both those tempers; since duels are neither quite discountenanced, nor much in vogue.
Sir Mark. That difference of temper in regard to duels, which appears to have been between the court and the parliament-men of the sword, was not (I conceive) for want of courage in the latter, nor of a liberal education, because there were some of the best families in England engaged in that party; but gallantry and mode, which glitter agreeably to the imagination, were encouraged by the court, as promoting its splendour; and it was as natural that the contrary party (who were to recommend themselves to the public for men of serious and solid parts) should deviate from every thing chimerical.
Mr. Sage. I have never read of a duel among the Romans, and yet their nobility used more liberty with their tongues than one may do now without being challenged.
Sir Mark. Perhaps the Romans were of opinion, that ill language and brutal manners reflected only on those who were guilty of them; and that a man's reputation was not at all cleared by cutting the per.
son's throat who had reflected upon it: but the custom of those times had fixed the scandal in the action; whereas now it lies in the reproach.
Mr. Sage. And yet the only sort of duel that one can conceive to have been fought upon motives truly honourable and allowable, was that between the Horatii and Curiatii.
Sir Mark. Colonel Plume, pray, what was the method of a single combat in your time among the cavaliers? I suppose, that as the use of clothes continues, though the fashion of them has been mutable; so duels, though still in use, have had in all times their particular modes of performance.
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 fellows for bravery and gallantry.
Sir Mark. If the fashion of quarrelling and tilting was so often changed in your time, colonel Plume, a man may fight, 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 September following, one could not resent without passing for a brutal and quarrelsome fellow.
Sir Mark. But, colonel, were duels or rencounters 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 faithful report of the whole coinbat; but in a little time it became a fashion for
the seconds to fight, and I will tell you how it happened.
Mr. Sage. Prav 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 Modish 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 fellow of those times) to the person that had slighted his advice. The major never enquired into the quarrel, because it was not the manner then among the very topping fellows; but got two swords of an equal length, and then waited upon cornet Modish, desiring him to chuse his sword, and meet his friend captain Smart. Cornet Modish came with his friend to the place of combat; there the principals put on their pumps', and stripped to their shirts, to shew that they had nothing but what men of honour carry about them, and then engaged.
Sir Mark. And did the seconds stand by, Sir?.
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 defensive, and the morning being frosty, major Adroit desired that the other second, who was also a very topping fellow, would try a thrust or two, only to keep them warm, until the principals had decided the matter, which was agreed to by Modish's second, who presently whipt Adroit through the body, disarmed him, and then parted the principals, who had receive ed no harm at all.
6 See No 31.
Mr. Sage. But was not Adroit laughed at ?
Col. Plume. On the contrary, the very topping fellows were ever after of opinion, that no man, who deserved that character, could serve as a second, without fighting; and the Smarts and Modishes finding their account in it, the humourtook without opposition.
Mr. Sage. Pray, colonel, how long did that fashion continue?
Col. Plume. Not long neither, Mr. Sage; for as soon as it became a fashion, the very topping fellows thought their honour reflected upon, if they did not proffer 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! if that custom had continued, we should have been at a loss now for our very pretty fellows: for 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 first man disarmed 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 fellows; and as soon as this reflection was started, the very topping fellows thought it an incumbrance upon their honour to fight at all themselves. Since that time the Modishes and the Smarts, throughout all Europe, have extolled the French king's edict.
Sir Mark. Our very pretty fellows, whom I take to be the successors of the very topping fellows, think a 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