Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions by Charles Mackay

Part 4 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

dead. At the solicitation of his relatives, the monks of the Abbey of
Reading were allowed to remove the body for interment, and Montfort
was declared the victor. Essex, however, was not dead, but stunned
only, and, under the care of the monks, recovered in a few weeks from
his bodily injuries. The wounds of his mind were not so easily healed.
Though a loyal and brave subject, the whole realm believed him a
traitor and a coward because he had been vanquished. He could not
brook to return to the world deprived of the good opinion of his
fellows; he, therefore, made himself a monk, and passed the remainder
of his days within the walls of the Abbey.

Du Chastelet relates a singular duel that was proposed in
Spain.[Histoire de Messire Bertrand du Guesclin, livre i. chap. xix.]
A Christian gentleman of Seville sent a challenge to a Moorish
cavalier, offering to prove against him, with whatever weapons he
might choose, that the religion of Jesus Christ was holy and divine,
and that of Mahomet impious and damnable. The Spanish prelates did not
choose that Christianity should be com promised within their
jurisdiction by the result of any such combat, and they commanded the
knight, under pain of excommunication, to withdraw the challenge.

The same author relates, that under Otho I a question arose among
jurisconsults, viz. whether grandchildren, who had lost their father,
should share equally with their uncles in the property of their
grandfather, at the death of the latter. The difficulty of this
question was found so insurmountable, that none of the lawyers of that
day could resolve it. It was at last decreed, that it should be
decided by single combat. Two champions were accordingly chosen; one
for, and the other against, the claims of the little ones. After a
long struggle, the champion of the uncles was unhorsed and slain; and
it was, therefore, decided, that the right of the grandchildren was
established, and that they should enjoy the same portion of their
grandfather's possessions that their father would have done had he
been alive.

Upon pretexts, just as frivolous as these, duels continued to be
fought in most of the countries of Europe during the whole of the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. A memorable instance of the
slightness of the pretext on which a man could be forced to fight a
duel to the death, occurs in the Memoirs of the brave Constable, Du
Guesclin. The advantage he had obtained, in a skirmish before Rennes,
against William Brembre, an English captain, so preyed on the spirits
of William Troussel, the chosen friend and companion of the latter,
that nothing would satisfy him but a mortal combat with the Constable.
The Duke of Lancaster, to whom Troussel applied for permission to
fight the great Frenchman, forbade the battle, as not warranted by the
circumstances. Troussel nevertheless burned with a fierce desire to
cross his weapon with Du Guesclin, and sought every occasion to pick a
quarrel with him. Having so good a will for it, of course he found a
way. A relative of his had been taken prisoner by the Constable, in
whose hands he remained till he was able to pay his ransom. Troussel
resolved to make a quarrel out of this, and despatched a messenger to
Du Guesclin, demanding the release of his prisoner, and offering a
bond, at a distant date, for the payment of the ransom. Du Guesclin,
who had received intimation of the hostile purposes of the Englishman,
sent back word, that he would not accept his bond, neither would he
release his prisoner, until the full amount of his ransom was paid. As
soon as this answer was received, Troussel sent a challenge to the
Constable, demanding reparation for the injury he had done his honour,
by refusing his bond, and offering a mortal combat, to be fought three
strokes with the lance, three with the sword, and three with the
dagger. Du Guesclin, although ill in bed with the ague, accepted the
challenge, and gave notice to the Marshal d'Andreghem, the King's
Lieutenant-General in Lower Normandy, that he might fix the day and
the place of combat. The Marshal made all necessary arrangements, upon
condition that he who was beaten should pay a hundred florins of gold
to feast the nobles and gentlemen who were witnesses of the encounter.

The Duke of Lancaster was very angry with his captain, and told
him, that it would be a shame to his knighthood and his nation, if he
forced on a combat with the brave Du Guesclin, at a time when he was
enfeebled by disease and stretched on the couch of suffering. Upon
these representations, Troussel, ashamed of himself, sent notice to Du
Guesclin that he was willing to postpone the duel until such time as
he should be perfectly recovered. Du Guesclin replied, that he could
not think of postponing the combat, after all the nobility had
received notice of it; that he had sufficient strength left, not only
to meet, but to conquer such an opponent as he was; and that, if he
did not make his appearance in the lists at the time appointed, he
would publish him everywhere as a man unworthy to be called a knight,
or to wear an honourable sword by his side. Troussel carried this
haughty message to the Duke of Lancaster, who immediately gave
permission for the battle.

On the day appointed, the two combatants appeared in the lists, in
the presence of several thousand spectators. Du Guesclin was attended
by the flower of the French nobility, including the Marshal de
Beaumanoir, Olivier de Mauny, Bertrand de Saint Pern, and the Viscount
de la Belliere, while the Englishman appeared with no more than the
customary retinue of two seconds, two squires, two coutilliers, or
daggermen, and two trumpeters. The first onset was unfavourable to the
Constable: he received so heavy a blow on his shield-arm, that he fell
forward to the left, upon his horse's neck, and, being weakened by his
fever, was nearly thrown to the ground. All his friends thought he
could never recover himself, and began to deplore his ill fortune; but
Du Guesclin collected his energies for a decisive effort, and, at the
second charge, aimed a blow at the shoulder of his enemy, which felled
him to the earth, mortally wounded. He then sprang from his horse,
sword in hand, with the intention of cutting off the head of his
fallen foe, when the Marshal D'Andreghem threw a golden wand into the
arena, as a signal that hostilities should cease. Du Guesclin was
proclaimed the victor, amid the joyous acclamations of the crowd, and
retiring, left the field to the meaner combatants, who were afterwards
to make sport for the people. Four English and as many French squires
fought for some time with pointless lances, when the French, gaining
the advantage, the sports were declared at an end.

In the time of Charles VI, about the beginning of the fifteenth
century, a famous duel was ordered by the Parliament of Paris. The
Sieur de Carrouges being absent in the Holy Land, his lady was
violated by the Sieur Legris. Carrouges, on his return, challenged
Legris to mortal combat, for the twofold crime of violation and
slander, inasmuch as he had denied his guilt, by asserting that the
lady was a willing party. The lady's asseverations of innocence were
held to be no evidence by the Parliament, and the duel was commanded
with all the ceremonies. "On the day appointed," says Brantome,
[Memoires de Brantome touchant les Duels.] "the lady came to witness
the spectacle in her chariot; but the King made her descend, judging
her unworthy, because she was criminal in his eyes till her innocence
was proved, and caused her to stand upon a scaffold to await the mercy
of God and this judgment by the battle. After a short struggle, the
Sieur de Carrouges overthrew his enemy, and made him confess both the
rape and the slander. He was then taken to the gallows and hanged in
the presence of the multitude; while the innocence of the lady was
proclaimed by the heralds, and recognized by her husband, the King,
and all the spectators."

Numerous battles, of a similar description, constantly took place,
until the unfortunate issue of one encounter of the kind led the
French King, Henry II, to declare solemnly, that he would never again
permit any such encounter, whether it related to a civil or criminal
case, or the honour of a gentleman.

This memorable combat was fought in the year 1547. Francois de
Vivonne, Lord of La Chataigneraie, and Guy de Chabot, Lord of Jarnac,
had been friends from their early youth, and were noted at the court
of Francis I for the gallantry of their bearing and the magnificence
of their retinue. Chataigneraie, who knew that his friend's means were
not very ample, asked him one day, in confidence, how it was that he
contrived to be so well provided? Jarnac replied, that his father had
married a young and beautiful woman, who, loving the son far better
than the sire, supplied him with as much money as he desired. La
Chataigneraie betrayed the base secret to the Dauphin, the Dauphin to
the King, the King to his courtiers, and the courtiers to all their
acquaintance. In a short time it reached the ears of the old Lord de
Jarnac, who immediately sent for his son, and demanded to know in what
manner the report had originated, and whether he had been vile enough
not only to carry on such a connexion, but to boast of it? De Jarnac
indignantly denied that he had ever said so, or given reason to the
world to say so, and requested his father to accompany him to court,
and confront him with his accuser, that he might see the manner in
which he would confound him. They went accordingly, and the younger De
Jarnac, entering a room where the Dauphin, La Chataigneraie, and
several courtiers were present, exclaimed aloud, "That whoever had
asserted, that he maintained a criminal connexion with his
mother-in-law, was a liar and a coward!" Every eye was turned to the
Dauphin and La Chataigneraie, when the latter stood forward, and
asserted, that De Jarnac had himself avowed that such was the fact,
and he would extort from his lips another confession of it. A case
like this could not be met or rebutted by any legal proof, and the
royal council ordered that it should be decided by single combat. The
King, however, set his face against the duel [Although Francis showed
himself in this case an enemy to duelling, yet, in his own case, he
had not the same objection. Every reader of history must remember his
answer to the challenge of the Emperor Charles V. The Emperor wrote
that he had failed in his word, and that he would sustain their
quarrel single-handed against him. Francis replied, that he lied --
qu'il en avait menti par la gorge, and that he was ready to meet him
in single combat whenever and wherever he pleased.] and forbade them
both, under pain of his high displeasure, to proceed any further in
the matter. But Francis died in the following year, and the Dauphin,
now Henry II, who was himself compromised, resolved that the combat
should take place. The lists were prepared in the court-yard of the
chateau of St. Germain-en-Laye, and the 10th of July 1547 was
appointed for the encounter. The cartels of the combatants, which are
preserved in the "Memoires de Castelnau," were as follow:--

"Cartel of Francois de Vivonne, Lord of La Chataigneraie.


"Having learned that Guy Chabot de Jarnac, being lately at
Compeigne, asserted, that whoever had said that he boasted of having
criminal intercourse with his mother-in-law, was wicked and a
wretch,-- I, Sire, with your good-will and pleasure, do answer, that
he has wickedly lied, and will lie as many times as he denies having
said that which I affirm he did say; for I repeat, that he told me
several times, and boasted of it, that he had slept with his

"Francois de Vivonne."

To this cartel De Jarnac replied :--


"With your good will and permission, I say, that Francois de
Vivonne has lied in the imputation which he has cast upon me, and of
which I spoke to you at Compeigne. I, therefore, entreat you, Sire,
most humbly, that you be pleased to grant us a fair field, that we may
fight this battle to the death.

"Guy Chabot."

The preparations were conducted on a scale of the greatest
magnificence, the King having intimated his intention of being
present. La Chataigneraie made sure of the victory, and invited the
King and a hundred and fifty of the principal personages of the court
to sup with him in the evening, after the battle, in a splendid tent,
which he had prepared at the extremity of the lists. De Jarnac was not
so confident, though perhaps more desperate. At noon, on the day
appointed, the combatants met, and each took the customary oath, that
he bore no charms or amulets about him, or made use of any magic, to
aid him against his antagonist. They then attacked each other, sword
in hand. La Chataigneraie was a strong, robust man, and over
confident; De Jarnac was nimble, supple, and prepared for the worst.
The combat lasted for some time doubtful, until De Jarnac, overpowered
by the heavy blows of his opponent, covered his head with his shield,
and, stooping down, endeavoured to make amends by his agility for his
deficiency of strength. In this crouching posture he aimed two blows
at the left thigh of La Chataigneraie, who had left it uncovered, that
the motion of his leg might not be impeded. Each blow was successful,
and, amid the astonishment of all the spectators, and to the great
regret of the King, La Chataigneraie rolled over upon the sand. He
seized his dagger, and made a last effort to strike De Jarnac; but he
was unable to support himself, and fell powerless into the arms of the
assistants. The officers now interfered, and De Jarnac being declared
the victor, fell down upon his knees, uncovered his head, and,
clasping his hands together, exclaimed:-- "O Domine, non sum dignus!"
La Chataigneraie was so mortified by the result of the encounter, that
he resolutely refused to have his wounds dressed. He tore off the
bandages which the surgeons applied, and expired two days afterwards.
Ever since that time, any sly and unforeseen attack has been called by
the French a coup de Jarnac. Henry was so grieved at the loss of his
favourite, that he made the solemn oath already alluded to, that he
would never again, so long as he lived, permit a due]. Some writers
have asserted, and among others, Mezeraie, that he issued a royal
edict forbidding them. This has been doubted by others, and, as there
appears no registry of the edict in any of the courts, it seems most
probable that it was never issued. This opinion is strengthened by the
fact, that two years afterwards, the council ordered another duel to
be fought, with similar forms, but with less magnificence, on account
of the inferior rank of the combatants. It is not anywhere stated,
that Henry interfered to prevent it, notwithstanding his solemn oath;
but that, on the contrary, he encouraged it, and appointed the Marshal
de la Marque to see that it was conducted according to the rules of
chivalry. The disputants were Fendille and D'Aguerre, two gentlemen of
the household, who, quarrelling in the King's chamber, had proceeded
from words to blows. The council, being informed of the matter,
decreed that it could only be decided in the lists. Marshal de la
Marque, with the King's permission, appointed the city of Sedan as the
place of combat. Fendille, who was a bad swordsman, was anxious to
avoid an encounter with D'Aguerre, who was one of the most expert men
of the age; but the council authoritatively commanded that he should
fight, or be degraded from all his honours. D'Aguerre appeared in the
field attended by Francois de Vendome, Count de Chartres, while
Fendille was accompanied by the Duke de Nevers. Fendille appears to
have been not only an inexpert swordsman, but a thorough coward; one
who, like Cowley, might have heaped curses on the man,

"-------(Death's factor sure), who brought
Dire swords into this peaceful world."

On the very first encounter he was thrown from his horse, and,
confessing on the ground all that his victor required of him, slunk
away ignominiously from the arena.

One is tempted to look upon the death of Henry II as a judgment
upon him for his perjury in the matter of duelling. In a grand
tournament instituted on the occasion of the marriage of his daughter,
he broke several lances in encounters with some of the bravest knights
of the time. Ambitious of still further renown, he would not rest
satisfied until he had also engaged the young Count de Montgomeri. He
received a wound in the eye from the lance of this antagonist, and
died from its effects shortly afterwards, in the forty-first year of
his age.

In the succeeding reigns of Francis II, Charles IX, and Henry III,
the practice of duelling increased to an alarming extent. Duels were
not rare in the other countries of Europe at the same period; but in
France they were so frequent, that historians, in speaking of that
age, designate it as "l'epoque de la fureur des duels." The Parliament
of Paris endeavoured, as far as in its power lay, to discourage the
practice. By a decree dated the 26th of June 1559, it declared all
persons who should be present at duels, or aiding and abetting in
them, to be rebels to the King, transgressors of the law, and
disturbers of the public peace.

When Henry III was assassinated at St. Cloud, in 1589, a young
gentleman, named L'isle Marivaut, who had been much beloved by him,
took his death so much to heart, that he resolved not to survive him.
Not thinking suicide an honourable death, and wishing, as he said, to
die gloriously in revenging his King and master, he publicly expressed
his readiness to fight anybody to the death who should assert that
Henry's assassination was not a great misfortune to the community.
Another youth, of a fiery temper and tried courage, named Marolles,
took him at his word, and the day and place of the combat were
forthwith appointed. When the hour had come, and all were ready,
Marolles turned to his second, and asked whether his opponent had a
casque or helmet only, or whether he wore a sallade, or headpiece.
Being answered a helmet only, he said gaily, "So much the better; for,
sir, my second, you shall repute me the wickedest man in all the
world, if I do not thrust my lance right through the the middle of his
head and kill him." Truth to say, he did so at the very first onset,
and the unhappy L'isle Marivaut expired without a groan. Brantome, who
relates this story, adds, that the victor might have done as he
pleased with the body, cut off the head, dragged it out of the camp,
or exposed it upon an ass, but that, being a wise and very courteous
gentleman, he left it to the relatives of the deceased to be
honourably buried, contenting himself with the glory of his triumph,
by which he gained no little renown and honour among the ladies of

On the accession of Henry IV that monarch pretended to set his
face against duelling; but such was the influence of early education
and the prejudices of society upon him, that he never could find it in
his heart to punish a man for this offence. He thought it tended to
foster a warlike spirit among his people. When the chivalrous Crequi
demanded his permission to fight Don Philippe de Savoire, he is
reported to have said, "Go, and if I were not a King, I would be your
second." It is no wonder that when such were known to be the King's
disposition, his edicts attracted but small attention. A calculation
was made by M. de Lomenie, in the year 1607, that since the accession
of Henry, in 1589, no less than four thousand French gentlemen had
lost their lives in these conflicts, which, for the eighteen years,
would have been at the rate of four or five in a week, or eighteen per
month! Sully, who reports this fact in his Memoirs, does not throw the
slightest doubt upon its exactness, and adds, that it was chiefly
owing to the facility and ill-advised good-nature of his royal master
that the bad example had so empoisoned the court, the city, and the
whole country. This wise minister devoted much of his time and
attention to the subject; for the rage, he says, was such as to cause
him a thousand pangs, and the King also. There was hardly a man moving
in what was called good society, who had not been engaged in a duel
either as principal or second; and if there were such a man, his chief
desire was to free himself from the imputation of non-duelling, by
picking a quarrel with somebody. Sully constantly wrote letters to the
King, in which he prayed him to renew the edicts against this
barbarous custom, to aggravate the punishment against offenders, and
never, in any instance, to grant a pardon, even to a person who had
wounded another in a duel, much less to any one who had taken away
life. He also advised, that some sort of tribunal, or court of honour,
should be established, to take cognizance of injurious and slanderous
language, and of all such matters as usually led to duels; and that
the justice to be administered by this court should be sufficiently
prompt and severe to appease the complainant, and make the offender
repent of his aggression.

Henry, being so warmly pressed by his friend and minister, called
together an extraordinary council in the gallery of the palace of
Fontainebleau, to take the matter into consideration. When all the
members were assembled, his Majesty requested that some person
conversant with the subject would make a report to him on the origin,
progress, and different forms of the duel. Sully complacently remarks,
that none of the counsllors gave the King any great reason to
felicitate them on their erudition. In fact, they all remained silent.
Sully held his peace with the rest; but he looked so knowing, that the
King turned towards him, and said:-- "Great master! by your face I
conjecture that you know more of this matter than you would have us
believe. I pray you, and indeed I command, that you tell us what you
think and what you know." The coy minister refused, as he says, out of
mere politeness to his more ignorant colleagues; but, being again
pressed by the King, he entered into a history of duelling both in
ancient and modern times. He has not preserved this history in his
Memoirs; and, as none of the ministers or counsellors present thought
proper to do so, the world is deprived of a discourse which was, no
doubt, a learned and remarkable one. The result was, that a royal
edict was issued, which Sully lost no time in transmitting to the most
distant provinces, with a distinct notification to all parties
concerned that the King was in earnest, and would exert the full
rigour of the law in punishment of the offenders. Sully himself does
not inform us what were the provisions of the new law; but Father
Matthias has been more explicit, and from him we learn, that the
Marshals of France were created judges of a court of chivalry, for the
hearing of all causes wherein the honour of a noble or gentleman was
concerned, and that such as resorted to duelling should be punished by
death and confiscation of property, and that the seconds and
assistants should lose their rank, dignity, or offices, and be
banished from the court of their sovereign. [Le Pere Matthias, tome
ii. livre iv.]

But so strong a hold had the education and prejudice of his age
upon the mind of the King, that though his reason condemned, his
sympathies approved the duel. Notwithstanding this threatened
severity, the number of duels did not diminish, and the wise Sully had
still to lament the prevalence of an evil which menaced society with
utter disorganization. In the succeeding reign the practice prevailed,
if possible, to a still greater extent, until the Cardinal de
Richelieu, better able to grapple with it than Sully had been, made
some severe examples in the very highest classes. Lord Herbert, the
English ambassador at the court of Louis XIII repeats, in his letters,
an observation that had been previously made in the reign of Henry IV,
that it was rare to find a Frenchman moving in good society who had
not killed his man in a duel. The Abbe Millot says of this period,
that the duel madness made the most terrible ravages. Men had actually
a frenzy for combatting. Caprice and vanity, as well as the excitement
of passion, imposed the necessity of fighting. Friends were obliged to
enter into the quarrels of their friends, or be themselves called out
for their refusal, and revenge became hereditary in many families. It
was reckoned that in twenty years eight thousand letters of pardon had
been issued to persons who had killed others in single combat.
["Elemens de l'Histoire de France, vol. iii. p. 219.]

Other writers confirm this statement. Amelot de Houssaye, in his
Memoirs, says, upon this subject, that duels were so common in the
first years of the reign of Louis XIII, that the ordinary conversation
of persons when they met in the morning was, "Do you know who fought
yesterday?" and after dinner, "Do you know who fought this morning?"
The most infamous duellist at that period was De Bouteville. It was
not at all necessary to quarrel with this assassin to be forced to
fight a duel with him. When he heard that any one was very brave, he
would go to him, and say, "People tell me that you are brave; you and
I must fight together!" Every morning the most notorious bravos and
duellists used to assemble at his house, to take a breakfast of bread
and wine, and practise fencing. M. de Valencay, who was afterwards
elevated to the rank of a cardinal, ranked very high in the estimation
of De Bouteville and his gang. Hardly a day passed but what he was
engaged in some duel or other, either as principal or second; and he
once challenged De Bouteville himself, his best friend, because De
Bouteville had fought a duel without inviting him to become his
second. This quarrel was only appeased on the promise of De Bouteville
that, in his next encounter, he would not fail to avail himself of his
services. For that purpose he went out the same day, and picked a
quarrel with the Marquis des Portes. M. de Valencay, according to
agreement, had the pleasure of serving as his second, and of running
through the body M. de Cavois, the second of the Marquis des Portes, a
man who had never done him any injury, and whom he afterwards
acknowledged he had never seen before.

Cardinal Richelieu devoted much attention to this lamentable state
of public morals, and seems to have concurred with his great
predecessor, Sully, that nothing but the most rigorous severity could
put a stop to the evil. The subject indeed was painfully forced upon
him by his enemies. The Marquis de Themines, to whom Richelieu, then
Bishop of Lucon, had given offence by some representations he had made
to Mary of Medicis, determined, since he could not challenge an
ecclesiastic, to challenge his brother. An opportunity was soon found.
Themines, accosting the Marquis de Richelieu, complained, in an
insulting tone, that the Bishop of Lucon had broken his faith. The
Marquis resented both the manner and matter of his speech, and readily
accepted a challenge. They met in the Rue d'Angouleme, and the
unfortunate Richelieu was stabbed to the heart, and instantly expired.
From that moment the Bishop became the steady foe of the practice of
duelling. Reason and the impulse of brotherly love alike combined to
make him detest it, and when his power in France was firmly
established, he set vigorously about repressing it. In his "Testament
Politique," he has collected his thoughts upon the subject, in the
chapter entitled "Des moyens d'arreter les Duels." In spite of the
edicts that he published, the members of the nobility persisted in
fighting upon the most trivial and absurd pretences. At last Richelieu
made a terrible example. The infamous De Bouteville challenged and
fought the Marquis de Beuoron; and, although the duel itself was not
fatal to either, its consequences were fatal to both. High as they
were, Richelieu resolved that the law should reach them, and they were
both tried, found guilty, and beheaded. Thus did society get rid of
one of the most bloodthirsty scoundrels that ever polluted it.

In 1632 two noblemen fought a duel, in which they were both
killed. The officers of justice had notice of the breach of the law,
and arrived at the scene of combat before the friends of the parties
had time to remove the bodies. In conformity with the Cardinal's
severe code upon the subject, the bodies were ignominiously stripped,
and hanged upon a gallows, with their heads downwards, for several
hours, within sight of all the people. [Mercure de France, vol. xiii.]
This severity sobered the frenzy of the nation for a time; but it was
soon forgotten. Men's minds were too deeply imbued with a false notion
of honour to be brought to a right way of thinking: by such examples,
however striking, Richelieu was unable to persuade them to walk in the
right path, though he could punish them for choosing the wrong one. He
had, with all his acuteness, miscalculated the spirit of duelling. It
was not death that a duellist feared: it was shame, and the contempt
of his fellows. As Addison remarked more than eighty years afterwards,
"Death was not sufficient to deter men who made it their glory to
despise it; but if every one who fought a duel were to stand in the
pillory, it would quickly diminish the number of those imaginary men
of honour, and put an end to so absurd a practice." Richelieu never
thought of this.

Sully says, that in his time the Germans were also much addicted
to duelling. There were three places where it was legal to fight;
Witzburg, in Franconia, and Uspach and Halle, in Swabia. Thither, of
course, vast numbers repaired, and murdered each other under sanction
of the law. At an earlier period, in Germany, it was held highly
disgraceful to refuse to fight. Any one who surrendered to his
adversary for a simple wound that did not disable him, was reputed
infamous, and could neither cut his beard, bear arms, mount on
horseback, or hold any Office in the state. He who fell in a duel was
buried with great pomp and splendour.

In the year 1652, just after Louis XIV had attained his majority,
a desperate duel was fought between the Dukes de Beaufort and De
Nemours, each attended by four gentlemen. Although brothers-in-law,
they had long been enemies, and their constant dissensions had
introduced much disorganization among the troops which they severally
commanded. Each had long sought an opportunity for combat, which at
last arose on a misunderstanding relative to the places they were to
occupy at the council board. They fought with pistols, and, at the
first discharge, the Duke de Nemours was shot through the body, and
almost instantly expired. Upon this the Marquis de Villars, who
seconded Nemours, challenged Hericourt, the second of the Duke de
Beaufort, a man whom he had never before seen; and the challenge being
accepted, they fought even more desperately than their principals.
This combat, being with swords, lasted longer than the first, and was
more exciting to the six remaining gentlemen who stayed to witness it.
The result was fatal to Hericourt, who fell pierced to the heart by
the sword of De Villars. Anything more savage than this can hardly be
imagined. Voltaire says such duels were frequent, and the compiler of
the "Dictionnaire d'Anecdotes" informs us, that the number of seconds
was not fixed. As many as ten, or twelve, or twenty, were not
unfrequent, and they often fought together after their principals were
disabled. The highest mark of friendship one man could manifest
towards another, was to choose him for his second; and many gentlemen
were so desirous of serving in this capacity, that they endeavoured to
raise every slight misunderstanding into a quarrel, that they might
have the pleasure of being engaged in it. The Count de Bussy Rabutin
relates an instance of this in his Memoirs. He says, that as he was
one evening coming out of the theatre, a gentleman, named Bruc, whom
he had not before known, stopped him very politely, and, drawing him
aside, asked him if it was true that the Count de Thianges had called
him (Bruc) a drunkard? Bussy replied, that he really did not know, for
he saw the Count very seldom. "Oh! he is your uncle!" replied Bruc;
"and, as I cannot have satisfaction from him, because he lives so far
off in the country, I apply to you." "I see what you are at," replied
Bussy, "and, since you wish to put me in my uncle's place, I answer,
that whoever asserted that he called you a drunkard, told a lie !" "My
brother said so," replied Bruc, "and he is a child." "Horsewhip him,
then, for his falsehood," returned De Bussy. "I will not have my
brother called a liar," returned Bruc, determined to quarrel with him;
"so draw, and defend yourself!" They both drew their swords in the
public street, but were separated by the spectators. They agreed,
however, to fight on a future occasion, and with all regular forms of
the duello. A few days afterwards, a gentleman, whom De Bussy had
never before seen, and whom he did not know, even by name, called upon
him, and asked if he might have the privilege of serving as his
second. He added, that he neither knew him nor Bruc, except by
reputation, but, having made up his mind to be second to one of them,
he had decided upon accompanying De Bussy as the braver man of the
two. De Bussy thanked him very sincerely for his politeness, but
begged to be excused, as he had already engaged four seconds to
accompany him, and he was afraid that if he took any more, the affair
would become a battle instead of a duel.

When such quarrels as these were looked upon as mere matters of
course, the state of society must have been indeed awful. Louis XIV
very early saw the evil, and as early determined to remedy it. It was
not, however, till the year 1679, when he instituted the "Chambre
Ardente," for the trial of the slow poisoners and pretenders to
sorcery, that he published any edict against duelling. In that year
his famous edict was promulgated, in which he reiterated and confirmed
the severe enactments of his predecessors, Henry IV and Louis XIII,
and expressed his determination never to pardon any offender. By this
celebrated ordinance a supreme court of honour was established,
composed of the Marshals of France. They were bound, on taking the
office, to give to every one who brought a well-founded complaint
before them, such reparation as would satisfy the justice of the case.
Should any gentleman against whom complaint was made refuse to obey
the mandate of the court of honour, he might be punished by fine and
imprisonment; and when that was not possible, by reason of his
absenting himself from the kingdom, his estates might be confiscated
till his return.

Every man who sent a challenge, be the cause of offence what it
might, was deprived of all redress from the court of honour--suspended
three years from the exercise of any office in the state--was further
imprisoned for two years, and sentenced to pay a fine of half his
yearly income. He who accepted a challenge, was subject to the same
punishment. Any servant, or other person, who knowingly became the
bearer of a challenge, was, if found guilty, sentenced to stand in the
pillory and be publicly whipped for the first offence, and for the
second, sent for three years to the galleys.

Any person who actually fought, was to be held guilty of murder,
even though death did not ensue, and was to be punished accordingly.
Persons in the higher ranks of life were to be beheaded, and those of
the middle class hanged upon a gallows, and their bodies refused
Christian burial.

At the same time that Louis published this severe edict, he
exacted a promise from his principal nobility that they would never
engage in a duel on any pretence whatever. He never swerved from his
resolution to pursue all duellists with the utmost rigour, and many
were executed in various parts of the country. A slight abatement of
the evil was the consequence, and in the course of a few years one
duel was not fought where twelve had been fought previously. A medal
was struck to commemorate the circumstance, by the express command of
the King. So much had he this object at heart, that, in his will, he
particularly recommended to his successor the care of his edict
against duelling, and warned him against any ill-judged lenity to
those who disobeyed it. A singular law formerly existed in Malta with
regard to duelling. By this law it was permitted, but only upon
condition that the parties should fight in one particular street. If
they presumed to settle their quarrel elsewhere, they were held guilty
of murder, and punished accordingly. What was also very singular, they
were bound, under heavy penalties, to put up their swords when
requested to do so by a priest, a knight, or a woman. It does not
appear, however, that the ladies or the knights exercised this mild
and beneficent privilege to any great extent; the former were too
often themselves the cause of duels, and the latter sympathised too
much in the wounded honour of the combatants to attempt to separate
them. The priests alone were the great peacemakers. Brydone says, that
a cross was always painted on the wall opposite to the spot where a
knight had been killed, and that in the "street of duels" he counted
about twenty of them. [Brydone's "Tour in Malta." 1772.]

In England the private duel was also practised to a scandalous
extent, towards the end of the sixteenth and beginning of the
seventeenth centuries. The judicial combat now began to be more rare,
but several instances of it are mentioned in history. One was
instituted in the reign of Elizabeth, and another so late as the time
of Charles I. Sir Henry Spelman gives an account of that which took
place in Elizabeth's reign, which is curious, perhaps the more so when
we consider that it was perfectly legal, and that similar combats
remained so till the year 1819. A proceeding having been instituted in
the Court of Common Pleas for the recovery of certain manorial rights
in the county of Kent, the defendant offered to prove by single combat
his right to retain possession. The plaintiff accepted the challenge,
and the Court having no power to stay the proceedings, agreed to the
champions who were to fight in lieu of the principals. The Queen
commanded the parties to compromise; but it being represented to Her
Majesty that they were justified by law in the course they were
pursuing, she allowed them to proceed. On the day appointed, the
Justices of the Common Pleas, and all the council engaged in the
cause, appeared as umpires of the combat, at a place in
Tothill-fields, where the lists had been prepared. The champions were
ready for the encounter, and the plaintiff and defendant were publicly
called to come forward and acknowledge them. The defendant answered to
his name, and recognised his champion with the due formalities, but
the plaintiff did not appear. Without his presence and authority the
combat could not take place; and his absence being considered an
abandonment of his claim, he was declared to be nonsuited, and barred
for ever from renewing his suit before any other tribunal whatever.

The Queen appears to have disapproved personally of this mode of
settling a disputed claim, but her judges and legal advisers made no
attempt to alter the barbarous law. The practice of private duelling
excited more indignation, from its being of every-day occurrence. In
the time of James I the English were so infected with the French
madness, that Bacon, when he was Attorney-general, lent the aid of his
powerful eloquence to effect a reformation of the evil. Informations
were exhibited in the Star Chamber against two persons, named Priest
and Wright, for being engaged, as principal and second, in a duel, on
which occasion he delivered a charge that was so highly approved of by
the Lords of the Council, that they ordered it to be printed and
circulated over the country, as a thing "very meet and worthy to be
remembered and made known unto the world." He began by considering the
nature and greatness of the mischief of duelling. "It troubleth peace
-- it disfurnisheth war -- it bringeth calamity upon private men,
peril upon the state, and contempt upon the law. Touching the causes
of it," he observed, "that the first motive of it, no doubt, is a
false and erroneous imagination of honour and credit; but then, the
seed of this mischief being such, it is nourished by vain discourses
and green and unripe conceits. Hereunto may be added, that men have
almost lost the true notion and understanding of fortitude and valour.
For fortitude distinguisheth of the grounds of quarrel whether they be
just; and not only so, but whether they be worthy, and setteth a
better price upon men's lives than to bestow them idly. Nay, it is
weakness and disesteem of a man's self to put a man's life upon such
liedger performances. A man's life is not to be trifled with: it is to
be offered up and sacrificed to honourable services, public merits,
good causes, and noble adventures. It is in expense of blood as it is
in expense of money. It is no liberality to make a profusion of money
upon every vain occasion, neither is it fortitude to make effusion of
blood, except the cause of it be worth." [See "Life and Character of
Lord Bacon," by Thomas Martin, Barrister-at-law.]

The most remarkable event connected with duelling in this reign
was that between Lord Sanquir, a Scotch nobleman, and one Turner, a
fencing-master. In a trial of skill between them, his lordship's eye
was accidentally thrust out by the point of Turner's sword. Turner
expressed great regret at the circumstance, and Lord Sanquir bore his
loss with as much philosophy as he was master of, and forgave his
antagonist. Three years afterwards, Lord Sanquir was at Paris, where
he was a constant visitor at the court of Henry IV. One day, in the
course of conversation, the affable monarch inquired how he had lost
his eye. Sanquir, who prided himself on being the most expert
swordsman of the age, blushed as he replied that it was inflicted by
the sword of a fencing-master. Henry, forgetting his assumed character
of an antiduellist, carelessly, and as a mere matter of course,
inquired whether the man lived? Nothing more was said, but the query
sank deep into the proud heart of the Scotch baron, who returned
shortly afterwards to England, burning for revenge. His first intent
was to challenge the fencing-master to single combat, but, on further
consideration, he deemed it inconsistent with his dignity to meet him
as an equal in fair and open fight. He therefore hired two bravos, who
set upon the fencing-master, and murdered him in his own house at
Whitefriars. The assassins were taken and executed, and a reward of
one thousand pounds offered for the apprehension of their employer.
Lord Sanquir concealed himself for several days, and then surrendered
to take his trial, in the hope (happily false) that Justice would
belie her name, and be lenient to a murderer because he was a
nobleman, who, on a false point of honour, had thought fit to take
revenge into his own hands. The most powerful intercessions were
employed in his favour, but James, to his credit, was deaf to them
all. Bacon, in his character of Attorney-general, prosecuted the
prisoner to conviction; and he died the felon's death, on the 29th of
June, 1612, on a gibbet erected in front of the gate of Westminster

With regard to the public duel, or trial by battle, demanded under
the sanction of the law, to terminate a quarrel which the ordinary
course of justice could with difficulty decide, Bacon was equally
opposed to it, and thought that in no case should it be granted. He
suggested that there should be declared a constant and settled
resolution in the state to abolish it altogether; that care should be
taken that the evil be no more cockered, nor the humour of it fed, but
that all persons found guilty should be rigorously punished by the
Star Chamber, and these of eminent quality banished from the court.

In the succeeding reign, when Donald Mackay, the first Lord Reay,
accused David Ramsay of treason, in being concerned with the Marquis
of Hamilton in a design upon the crown of Scotland, he was challenged
by the latter to make good his assertion by single combat. [See
"History of the House and Clan of Mackay."] It had been at first the
intention of the government to try the case by the common law, but
Ramsay thought he would stand a better chance of escape by recurring
to the old and almost exploded custom, but which was still the right
of every man in appeals of treason. Lord Reay readily accepted the
challenge, and both were confined in the Tower until they found
security that they would appear on a certain day, appointed by the
court, to determine the question. The management of the affair was
delegated to the Marischal Court of Westminster, and the Earl of
Lindsay was created Lord Constable of England for the purpose. Shortly
before the day appointed, Ramsay confessed in substance all that Lord
Reay had laid to his charge, upon which Charles I put a stop to the

But in England, about this period, sterner disputes arose among
men than those mere individual matters which generate duels. The men
of the Commonwealth encouraged no practice of the kind, and the
subdued aristocracy carried their habits and prejudices elsewhere, and
fought their duels at foreign courts. Cromwell's Parliament, however,
-- although the evil at that time was not so crying, -- published an
order, in 1654, for the prevention of duels, and the punishment of all
con cerned in them. Charles II, on his restoration, also issued a
proclamation upon the subject. In his reign an infamous duel was
fought -- infamous, not only from its own circumstances, but from the
lenity that was shown to the principal offenders.

The worthless Duke of Buckingham, having debauched the Countess of
Shrewsbury, was challenged by her husband to mortal combat, in January
1668. Charles II endeavoured to prevent the duel, not from any regard
to public morality, but from fear for the life of his favourite. He
gave commands to the Duke of Albemarle to confine Buckingham to his
house, or take some other measures to prevent him flora fighting.
Albemarle neglected the order, thinking that the King himself might
prevent the combat by some surer means. The meeting took place at Barn
Elms, the injured Shrewsbury being attended by Sir John Talbot, his
relative, and Lord Bernard Howard, son of the Earl of Arundel.
Buckingham was accompanied by two of his dependants, Captain Holmes
and Sir John Jenkins. According to the barbarous custom of the age,
not only the principals, but the seconds, engaged each other. Jenkins
was pierced to the heart, and left dead upon the field, and Sir John
Talbot severely wounded in both arms. Buckingham himself escaping with
slight wounds, ran his unfortunate antagonist through the body, and
then left the field with the wretched woman, the cause of all the
mischief, who, in the dress of a page, awaited the issue of the
conflict in a neighbouring wood, holding her paramour's horse to avoid
suspicion. Great influence was exerted to save the guilty parties from
punishment, and the master, as base as the favourite, made little
difficulty in granting a free pardon to all concerned. In a royal
proclamation issued shortly afterwards, Charles II formally pardoned
the murderers, but declared his intention never to extend, in future,
any mercy to such offenders. It would be hard after this to say who
was the most infamous, the King, the favourite, or the courtezan.

In the reign of Queen Anne, repeated complaints were made of the
prevalence of duelling. Addison, Swift, Steele, and other writers,
employed their powerful pens in reprobation of it. Steele especially,
in the "Tatler" and "Guardian," exposed its impiety and absurdity, and
endeavoured, both by argument and by ridicule, to bring his countrymen
to a right way of thinking. [See "Spectator," Nos. 84. 97, and 99; and
"Tatler," Nos. 25, 26, 29, 31, 38, and 39; and "Guardian," No. 20.]
His comedy of "The Conscious Lovers" contains an admirable exposure of
the abuse of the word honour, which led men into an error so
lamentable. Swift, writing upon the subject, remarked that he could
see no harm in rogues and fools shooting each other. Addison and
Steele took higher ground, and the latter, in the "Guardian," summed
up nearly all that could be said upon the subject in the following
impressive words: -- "A Christian and a gentleman are made
inconsistent appellations of the same person. You are not to expect
eternal life if you do not forgive injuries, and your mortal life is
rendered uncomfortable if you are not ready to commit a murder in
resentment of an affront; for good sense, as well as religion, is so
utterly banished the world that men glory in their very passions, and
pursue trifles with the utmost vengeance, so little do they know that
to forgive is the most arduous pitch human nature can arrive at. A
coward has often fought -- a coward has often conquered, but a coward
never forgave." Steele also published a pamphlet, in which he gave a
detailed account of the edict of Louis XIV, and the measures taken by
that monarch to cure his subjects of their murderous folly.

On the 8th of May, 1711, Sir Cholmely Deering, M.P. for the county
of Kent, was slain in a duel by Mr. Richard Thornhill, also a member
of the House of Commons. Three days afterwards, Sir Peter King brought
the subject under the notice of the Legislature, and after dwelling at
considerable length on the alarming increase of the practice, obtained
leave to bring in a bill for the prevention and punishment of
duelling. It was read a first time that day, and ordered for a second
reading in the ensuing week.

About the same time the attention of the Upper House of Parliament
was also drawn to the subject in the most painful manner. Two of its
most noted members would have fought, had it not been that Queen Anne
received notice of their intention, and exacted a pledge that they
would desist; while a few months afterwards, two other of its members
lost their lives in one of the most remarkable duels upon record. The
first affair, which happily terminated without a meeting, was between
the Duke of Marlborough and the Earl Pawlet. The latter, and fatal
encounter, was between the Duke of Hamilton and Lord Mohun.

The first arose out of a debate in the Lords upon the conduct of
the Duke of Ormond, in refusing to hazard a general engagement with
the enemy, in which Earl Pawlet remarked that nobody could doubt the
courage of the Duke of Ormond. "He was not like a certain general, who
led troops to the slaughter, to cause great numbers of officers to be
knocked on the head in a battle, or against stone walls, in order to
fill his pockets by disposing of their commissions." Every one felt
that the remark was aimed at the Duke of Marlborough, but he remained
silent, though evidently suffering in mind. Soon after the House broke
up, the Earl Pawlet received a visit from Lord Mohun, who told him
that the Duke of Marlborough was anxious to come to an explanation
with him relative to some expressions he had made use of in that day's
debate, and therefore prayed him to "go and take a little air in the
country." Earl Pawlet did not affect to misunderstand the hint, but
asked him in plain terms whether he brought a challenge from the Duke.
Lord Mohun said his message needed no explanation, and that he (Lord
Mohun) would accompany the Duke of Marlborough. He then took his
leave, and Earl Pawlet returned home and told his lady that he was
going out to fight a duel with the Duke of Marlborough. His lady,
alarmed for her lord's safety, gave notice of his intention to the
Earl of Dartmouth, who immediately, in the Queen's name, sent to the
Duke of Marlborough, and commanded him not to stir abroad. He also
caused Earl Pawlet's house to be guarded by two sentinels; and having
taken these precautions, informed the Queen of the whole affair. Her
Majesty sent at once for the Duke, expressed her abhorrence of the
custom of duelling, and required his word of honour that he would
proceed no further. The Duke pledged his word accordingly, and the
affair terminated.

The lamentable duel between the Duke of Hamilton and Lord Mohun
took place in November 1712, and sprang from the following
circumstances. A lawsuit had been pending for eleven years between
these two noblemen, and they looked upon each other in consequence
with a certain degree of coldness. They met together on the 13th of
November in the chambers of Mr. Orlebar, a Master in Chancery, when,
in the course of conversation, the Duke of Hamilton reflected upon the
conduct of one of the witnesses in the cause, saying that he was a
person who had neither truth nor justice in him. Lord Mohun, somewhat
nettled at this remark, applied to a witness favourable to his side,
made answer hastily, that Mr. Whiteworth, the person alluded to, had
quite as much truth and justice in him as the Duke of Hamilton. The
Duke made no reply, and no one present imagined that he took offence
at what was said; and when he went out, of the room, he made a low and
courteous salute to the Lord Mohun. In the evening, General Macartney
called twice upon the Duke with a challenge from Lord Mohun, and
failing in seeing him, sought him a third time at a tavern, where he
found him, and delivered his message. The Duke accepted the challenge,
and the day after the morrow, which was Sunday, the 15th of November,
at seven in the morning, was appointed for the meeting.

At that hour they assembled in Hyde Park, the Duke being attended
by his relative, Colonel Hamilton, and the Lord Mohun by General
Macartney. They jumped over a ditch into a place called the Nursery,
and prepared for the combat. The Duke of Hamilton, turning to General
Macartney, said, "Sir, you are the cause of this, let the event be
what it will." Lord Mohun did not wish that the seconds should engage,
but the Duke insisted that "Macartney should have a share in the
dance." All being ready, the two principals took up their positions,
and fought with swords so desperately that, after a short time, they
both fell down, mortally wounded. The Lord Mohun expired upon the
spot, and the Duke of Hamilton in the arms of his servants as they
were carrying him to his coach.

This unhappy termination caused the greatest excitement, not only
in the metropolis, but all over the country. The Tories, grieved at
the loss of the Duke of Hamilton, charged the fatal combat on the Whig
party, whose leader, the Duke of Marlborough, had so recently set the
example of political duels. They. called Lord Mohun the bully of the
Whig faction, (he had already killed three men in duels, and been
twice tried for murder), and asserted openly, that the quarrel was
concocted between him and General Macartney to rob the country of the
services of the Duke of Hamilton by murdering him. It was also
asserted, that the wound of which the Duke died was not inflicted by
Lord Mohun, but by Macartney; and every means was used to propagate
this belief. Colonel Hamilton, against whom and Macartney the
coroner's jury had returned a verdict of wilful murder, surrendered a
few days afterwards, and was examined before a privy council sitting
at the house of Lord Dartmouth. He then deposed, that seeing Lord
Mohun fall, and the Duke upon him, he ran to the Duke's assistance,
and that he might with the more ease help him, he flung down both
their swords, and, as he was raising the Duke up, he saw Macartney,
make a push at him. Upon this deposition a royal proclamation was
immediately issued, offering a reward of 500 pounds for the
apprehension of Macartney, to which the Duchess of Hamilton afterwards
added a reward of 300 pounds.

Upon the further examination of Colonel Hamilton, it was found
that reliance could not be placed on all his statements, and that he
contradicted himself in several important particulars. He was
arraigned at the Old Bailey for the murder of Lord Mohun, the whole
political circles of London being in a fever of excitement for the
result. All the Tory party prayed for his acquittal, and a Tory mob
surrounded the doors and all the avenues leading to the court of
justice for many hours before the trial began. The examination of
witnesses lasted seven hours. The criminal still persisted in accusing
General Macartney of the murder of the Duke of Hamilton, but, in other
respects, say the newspapers of the day, prevaricated foully. He was
found guilty of manslaughter. This favourable verdict was received
with universal applause, "not only from the court and all the
gentlemen present, but the common people showed a mighty satisfaction,
which they testified by loud and repeated huzzas." ["Post Boy,"
December l3th, 1712.]

As the popular delirium subsided, and men began to reason coolly
upon the subject, they disbelieved the assertions of Colonel Hamilton,
that Macartney had stabbed the Duke, although it was universally
admitted that he had been much too busy and presuming. Hamilton was
shunned by all his former companions, and his life rendered so irksome
to him, that he sold out of the Guards, and retired to private life,
in which he died heart-broken four years afterwards.

General Macartney surrendered about the same time, and was tried
for murder in the Court of King's Bench. He was, however, found guilty
of manslaughter only.

At the opening of the session of Parliament of 1713, the Queen
made pointed allusion in her speech to the frequency of duelling, and
recommended to the Legislature to devise some speedy and effectual
remedy for it. A bill to that effect was brought forward, but thrown
out on the second reading, to the very great regret of all the
sensible portion of the community.

A famous duel was fought in 1765 between Lord Byron and Mr.
Chaworth. The dispute arose at a club-dinner, and was relative to
which of the two had the largest quantity of game on his estates.
Infuriated by wine and passion, they retired instantly into an
adjoining room, and fought with swords across a table, by the feeble
glimmer of a tallow-candle. Mr. Chaworth, who was the more expert
swordsman of the two, received a mortal wound, and shortly afterwards
expired. Lord Byron was brought to trial for the murder before the
House of Lords; and it appearing clearly, that the duel was not
premeditated, but fought at once, and in the heat of passion, he was
found guilty of manslaughter only, and ordered to be discharged upon
payment of his fees. This was a very bad example for the country, and
duelling of course fell into no disrepute after such a verdict.

In France, more severity was exercised. In the year 1769, the
Parliament of Grenoble took cognizance of the delinquency of the Sieur
Duchelas, one of its members, who challenged and killed in a duel a
captain of the Flemish legion. The servant of Duchelas officiated as
second, and was arraigned with his master for the murder of the
captain. They were both found guilty. Duchelas was broken alive on the
wheel, and the servant condemned to the galleys for life.

A barbarous and fiercely-contested duel was fought in November
1778, between two foreign adventurers, at Bath, named Count Rice and
the Vicomte du Barri. Some dispute arose relative to a gambling
transaction, in the course of which Du Barri contradicted an assertion
of the other, by saying, "That is not true!" Count Rice immediately
asked him if he knew the very disagreeable meaning of the words he had
employed. Du Barri said he was perfectly well aware of their meaning,
and that Rice might interpret them just as he pleased. A challenge was
immediately given and accepted. Seconds were sent for, who, arriving
with but little delay, the whole party, though it was not long after
midnight, proceeded to a place called Claverton Down, where they
remained with a surgeon until daylight. They then prepared for the
encounter, each being armed with two pistols and a sword. The ground
having been marked out by the seconds, Du Barri fired first, and
wounded his opponent in the thigh. Count Rice then levelled his
pistol, and shot Du Barri mortally in the breast. So angry were the
combatants, that they refused to desist; both stepped back a few
paces, and then rushing forward, discharged their second pistols at
each other. Neither shot took effect, and both throwing away their
pistols, prepared to finish the sanguinary struggle by the sword. They
took their places, and were advancing towards each other, when the
Vicomte du Barri suddenly staggered, grew pale, and, falling to the
ground, exclaimed, "Je vous demande ma vie." His opponent had but just
time to answer, that he granted it, when the unfortunate Du Barri
turned upon the grass, and expired with a heavy groan. The survivor of
this savage conflict was then removed to his lodgings, where he lay
for some weeks in a dangerous state. The coroner's jury, in the mean
while, sat upon the body of Du Barri, and disgraced themselves by
returning a verdict of manslaughter only. Count Rice, upon his
recovery, was indicted for the murder notwithstanding this verdict. On
his trial he entered into a long defence of his conduct, pleading the
fairness of the duel, and its unpremeditated nature; and, at the same
time, expressing his deep regret for the unfortunate death of Du
Barri, with whom for many years he had been bound in ties of the
strictest friendship. These considerations appear to have weighed with
the jury, and this fierce duellist was again found guilty of
manslaughter only, and escaped with a merely nominal punishment.

A duel, less remarkable from its circumstances, but more so from
the rank of the parties, took place in 1789. The combatants on this
occasion were the Duke of York and Colonel Lenox, the nephew and heir
of the Duke of Richmond. The cause of offence was given by the Duke of
York, who had said, in presence of several officers of the Guards,
that words had been used to Colonel Lenox at Daubigny's to which no
gentleman ought to have submitted. Colonel Lenox went up to the Duke
on parade, and asked him publicly whether he had made such an
assertion. The Duke of York, without answering his question, coldly
ordered him to his post. When parade was over, he took an opportunity
of saying publicly in the orderly room before Colonel Lenox, that he
desired no protection from his rank as a prince and his station as
commanding officer; adding that, when he was off duty, he wore a plain
brown coat like a private gentleman, and was ready as such to give
satisfaction. Colonel Lenox desired nothing better than satisfaction;
that is to say, to run the chance of shooting the Duke through the
body, or being himself shot. He accordingly challenged his Royal
Highness, and they met on Wimbledon Common. Colonel Lenox fired first,
and the ball whizzed past the head of his opponent, so near to it as
to graze his projecting curl. The Duke refused to return the fire, and
the seconds interfering, the affair terminated.

Colonel Lenox was very shortly afterwards engaged in another duel
arising out of this. A Mr. Swift wrote a pamphlet in reference to the
dispute between him and the Duke of York, at some expressions in which
he took so much offence, as to imagine that nothing but a shot at the
writer could atone for them. They met on the Uxbridge Road, but no
damage was done to either party.

The Irish were for a long time renowned for their love of
duelling. The slightest offence which it is possible to imagine that
one man could offer to another, was sufficient to provoke a challenge.
Sir Jonah Barrington relates, in his Memoirs, that, previous to the
Union, during the time of a disputed election in Dublin, it was no
unusual thing for three-and-twenty duels to be fought in a day. Even
in times of less excitement, they were so common as to be deemed
unworthy of note by the regular chroniclers of events, except in cases
where one or both of the combatants were killed.

In those days, in Ireland, it was not only the man of the
military, but of every profession, who had to work his way to eminence
with the sword or the pistol. Each political party had its regular
corps of bullies, or fire-eaters, as they were called, who qualified
themselves for being the pests of society by spending all their spare
time in firing at targets. They boasted that they could hit an
opponent in any part of his body they pleased, and made up their minds
before the encounter began whether they should kill him, disable, or
disfigure him for life -- lay him on a bed of suffering for a
twelve-month, or merely graze a limb.

The evil had reached an alarming height, when, in the year 1808,
an opportunity was afforded to King George III of showing in a
striking manner his detestation of the practice, and of setting an
example to the Irish that such murders were not to be committed with
impunity. A dispute arose, in the month of June 1807, between Major
Campbell and Captain Boyd, officers of the 21st regiment, stationed in
Ireland, about the proper manner of giving the word of command on
parade. Hot words ensued on this slight occasion, and the result was a
challenge from Campbell to Boyd. They retired into the mess-room
shortly afterwards, and each stationed himself at a corner, the
distance obliquely being but seven paces. Here, without friends or
seconds being present, they fired at each other, and Captain Boyd fell
mortally wounded between the fourth and fifth ribs. A surgeon who came
in shortly, found him sitting in a chair, vomiting and suffering great
agony. He was led into another room, Major Campbell following, in
great distress and perturbation of mind. Boyd survived but eighteen
hours; and just before his death, said, in reply to a question from
his opponent, that the duel was not fair, and added, "You hurried me,
Campbell -- you're a bad man." --- "Good God!" replied Campbell, "will
you mention before these gentlemen, was not everything fair? Did you
not say that you were ready?" Boyd answered faintly, "Oh, no! you know
I wanted you to wait and have friends." On being again asked whether
all was fair, the dying man faintly murmured "Yes:" but in a minute
after, he said, "You're a bad man!" Campbell was now in great
agitation, and wringing his hands convulsively, he exclaimed, "Oh,
Boyd! you are the happiest man of the two! Do you forgive me?" Boyd
replied, "I forgive you -- I feel for you, as I know you do for me."
He shortly afterwards expired, and Major Campbell made his escape from
Ireland, and lived for some months with his family under an assumed
name, in the neighbourhood of Chelsea. He was, however, apprehended,
and brought to trial at Armagh, in August 1808. He said while in
prison, that, if found guilty of murder, he should suffer as an
example to duellists in Ireland; but he endeavoured to buoy himself
up, with the hope that the jury would only convict him of
manslaughter. It was proved in evidence upon the trial, that the duel
was not fought immediately after the offence was given, but that Major
Campbell went home and drank tea with his family, before he sought
Boyd for the fatal encounter. The jury returned a verdict of wilful
murder against him, but recommended him to mercy on the ground that
the duel had been a fair one. He was condemned to die on the Monday
following, but was afterwards respited for a few days longer. In the
mean time the greatest exertions were made in his behalf. His
unfortunate wife went upon her knees before the Prince of Wales, to
move him to use his influence with the King, in favour of her unhappy
husband. Everything a fond wife and a courageous woman could do, she
tried, to gain the royal clemency; but George III was inflexible, in
consequence of the representations of the Irish Viceroy that an
example was necessary. The law was therefore allowed to take its
course, and the victim of a false spirit of honour died the death of a

The most inveterate duellists of the present day are the students
in the Universities of Germany. They fight on the most frivolous
pretences, and settle with swords and pistols the schoolboy disputes
which in other countries are arranged by the more harmless medium of
the fisticuffs. It was at one time the custom among these savage
youths to prefer the sword combat, for the facility it gave them of
cutting off the noses of their opponents. To disfigure them in this
manner was an object of ambition, and the German duellists reckoned
the number of these disgusting trophies which they had borne away,
with as much satisfaction as a successful general the provinces he had
reduced or the cities he had taken.

But it would be wearisome to enter into the minute detail of all
the duels of modern times. If an examination were made into the
general causes which produced them, it would be found that in every
case they had been either of the most trivial or the most unworthy
nature. Parliamentary duels were at one time very common, and amongst
the names of those who have soiled a great reputation by conforming to
the practice, may be mentioned those of Warren Hastings, Sir Philip
Francis, Wilkes, Pitt, Fox, Grattan, Curran, Tierney, and Canning. So
difficult is it even for the superior mind to free itself from the
trammels with which foolish opinion has enswathed it -- not one of
these celebrated persons who did not in his secret soul condemn the
folly to which he lent himself. The bonds of reason, though
iron-strong, are easily burst through; but those of folly, though
lithe and frail as the rushes by a stream, defy the stoutest heart to
snap them asunder. Colonel Thomas, an officer of the Guards, who was
killed in a duel, added the following clause to his will the night
before he died: -- "In the first place, I commit my soul to Almighty
God, in hope of his mercy and pardon for the irreligious step I now
(in compliance with the unwarrantable customs of this wicked world)
put myself under the necessity of taking." How many have been in the
same state of mind as this wise, foolish man! He knew his error, and
abhorred it, but could not resist it, for fear of the opinion of the
prejudiced and unthinking. No other could have blamed him for refusing
to fight a duel.

The list of duels that have sprung from the most degrading causes
might be stretched out to an almost indefinite extent. Sterne's father
fought a duel about a goose; and the great Raleigh about a tavern
bill. [Raleigh, at one period of his life, appeared to be an
inveterate duellist, and it was said of him that he had been engaged
in more encounters of the kind than any man of note among his
contemporaries. More than one fellow-creature he had deprived of life;
but he lived long enough to be convinced of the sinfulness of his
conduct, and made a solemn vow never to fight another duel. The
following anecdote of his forbearance is well known, but it will bear
repetition :--
A dispute arose in a coffee-house between him and a young man on
some trivial point, and the latter, losing his temper, impertinently
spat in the face of the veteran. Sir Walter, instead of running him
through the body, as many would have done, or challenging him to
mortal combat, coolly took out his handkerchief, wiped his face, and
said, "Young man, if I could as easily wipe from my conscience the
stain of killing you, as I can this spittle from my face, you should
not live another minute." The young man immediately begged his
pardon.] Scores of duels (many of them fatal) have been fought from
disputes at cards, or a place at a theatre, while hundreds of
challenges, given and accepted over-night, in a fit of drunkenness,
have been fought out the next morning to the death of one or both of
the antagonists.

Two of the most notorious duels of modern times had their origin
in causes no more worthy than the quarrel of a dog and the favour of a
prostitute: that between Macnamara and Montgomery arising from the
former; and that between Best and Lord Camelford, from the latter. The
dog of Montgomery attacked a dog belonging to Macnamara, and each
master interfering in behalf of his own animal, high words ensued. The
result was the giving and accepting a challenge to mortal combat. The
parties met on the following day, when Montgomery was shot dead, and
his antagonist severely wounded. This affair created a great sensation
at the time, and Heaviside, the surgeon who attended at the fatal
field to render his assistance, if necessary, was arrested as an
accessory to the murder, and committed to Newgate.

In the duel between Best and Lord Camelford, two pistols were used
which were considered to be the best in England. One of them was
thought slightly superior to the other, and it was agreed that the
belligerents should toss up a piece of money to decide the choice of
weapons. Best gained it, and, at the first discharge, Lord Camelford
fell, mortally wounded. But little sympathy was expressed for his
fate; he was a confirmed duellist, had been engaged in many meetings
of the kind, and the blood of more than one fellow-creature lay at his
door. As he had sowed, so did he reap; and the violent man met an
appropriate death.

It now only remains to notice the means that have been taken to
stay the prevalence of this madness of false honour in the various
countries of the civilized world. The efforts of the governments of
France and England have already been mentioned, and their want of
success is but too well known. The same efforts have been attended
with the same results elsewhere. In despotic countries, where the will
of the monarch has been strongly expressed and vigorously supported, a
diminution of the evil has for a while resulted, but only to be
increased again, when death relaxed the iron grasp, and a successor
appeared of less decided opinions upon the subject. This was the case
in Prussia under the great Frederick, of whose aversion to duelling a
popular anecdote is recorded. It is stated of him that he permitted
duelling in his army, but only upon the condition that the combatants
should fight in presence of a whole battalion of infantry, drawn up on
purpose, to see fair play. The latter received strict orders, when one
of the belligerents fell, to shoot the other immediately. It is added,
that the known determination of the King effectually put a stop to the

The Emperor Joseph II of Austria was as firm as Frederick,
although the measures he adopted were not so singular. The following
letter explains his views on the subject:--

"To GENERAL * * * * *


"You will immediately arrest the Count of K. and Captain W. The
Count is young, passionate, and influenced by wrong notions of birth
and a false spirit of honour. Captain W. is an old soldier, who will
adjust every dispute with the sword and pistol, and who has received
the challenge of the young Count with unbecoming warmth.

"I will suffer no duelling in my army. I despise the principles of
those who attempt to justify the practice, and who would run each
other through the body in cold blood.

"When I have officers who bravely expose themselves to every
danger in facing the enemy -- who at all times exhibit courage,
valour, and resolution in attack and defence, I esteem them highly.
The coolness with which they meet death on such occasions is
serviceable to their country, and at the same time redounds to their
own honour; but should there be men amongst them who are ready to
sacrifice everything to their vengeance and hatred, I despise them. I
consider such a man as no better than a Roman gladiator.

"Order a court-martial to try the two officers. Investigate the
subject of their dispute with that impartiality which I demand from
every judge; and he that is guilty, let him be a sacrifice to his fate
and the laws.

"Such a barbarous custom, which suits the age of the Tamerlanes
and Bajazets, and which has often had such melancholy effects on
single families, I will have suppressed and punished, even if it
should deprive me of one half of my officers. There are still men who
know how to unite the character of a hero with that of a good subject;
and he only can be so who respects the laws.
"August 1771."

[Vide the Letters of Joseph II to distinguished Princes and Statesmen,
published for the first time in England in "The Pamphleteer" for 1821.
They were originally published in Germany a few years previously, and
throw a great light upon the character of that monarch and the events
of his reign.]

In the United States of America the code varies considerably. In
one or two of the still wild and simple States of the Far West, where
no duel has yet been fought, there is no specific law upon the subject
beyond that in the Decalogue, which says, "Thou shalt do no murder."
But duelling everywhere follows the steps of modern civilization, and
by the time the backwoodsman is transformed into the citizen, he has
imbibed the false notions of honour which are prevalent in Europe, and
around him, and is ready, like his progenitors, to settle his
differences with the pistol. In the majority of the States the
punishment for challenging, fighting, or acting as second, is solitary
imprisonment and hard labour for any period less than a year, and
disqualification for serving any public office for twenty years. In
Vermont the punishment is total disqualification for office,
deprivation of the rights of citizenship, and a fine; in fatal cases,
the same punishment as that of murderers. In Rhode Island, the
combatant, though death does not ensue, is liable to be carted to the
gallows, with a rope about his neck, and to sit in this trim for an
hour, exposed to the peltings of the mob. He may be further imprisoned
for a year, at the option of the magistrate. In Connecticut the
punishment is total disqualification for office or employ, and a fine,
varying from one hundred to a thousand dollars. The laws of Illinois
require certain officers of the state to make oath, previous to their
instalment, that they have never been, nor ever will be, concerned in
a duel. ["Encyclopedia Americana," art. Duelling.]

Amongst the edicts against duelling promulgated at various times
in Europe, may be mentioned that of Augustus King of Poland, in 1712,
which decreed the punishment of death against principals and seconds,
and minor punishments against the bearers of a challenge. An edict was
also published at Munich, in 1773, according to which both principals
and seconds, even in duels where no one was either killed or wounded,
should be hanged, and their bodies buried at the foot of the gallows.
The King of Naples issued an ordinance against duelling in 1838, in
which the punishment of death is decreed against all concerned in a
fatal duel. The bodies of those killed, and of those who may be
executed in consequence, are to be buried in unconsecrated ground, and
without any religious ceremony; nor is any monument to be erected on
the spot. The punishment for duels in which either, or both, are
wounded, and for those in which no damage whatever is done, varies
according to the case, and consists of fine, imprisonment, loss of
rank and honours, and incapacity for filling any public situation.
Bearers of challenges may also be punished with fine and imprisonment.

It might be imagined that enactments so severe all over the
civilized world would finally eradicate a custom, the prevalence of
which every wise and good man must deplore. But the frowns of the law
never yet have taught, and never will teach, men to desist from this
practice, as long as it is felt that the lawgiver sympathises with it
in his heart. The stern judge upon the bench may say to the
unfortunate wight who has been called a liar by some unmannerly
opponent, "If you challenge him, you meditate murder, and are guilty
of murder !" but the same judge, divested of his robes of state, and
mixing in the world with other men, would say, "If you do not
challenge him, if you do not run the risk of making yourself a
murderer, you will be looked upon as a mean-spirited wretch, unfit to
associate with your fellows, and deserving nothing but their scorn and
their contempt!" It is society, and not the duellist, who is to blame.
Female influence, too, which is so powerful in leading men either to
good or to evil, takes, in this case, the evil part. Mere animal
bravery has, unfortunately, such charms in the female eye, that a
successful duellist is but too often regarded as a sort of hero; and
the man who refuses to fight, though of truer courage, is thought a
poltroon, who may be trampled on. Mr. Graves, a member of the American
Legislature, who, early in 1838, killed a Mr. Cilley in a duel, truly
and eloquently said, on the floor of the House of Representatives,
when lamenting the unfortunate issue of that encounter, that society
was more to blame than he was. "Public opinion," said the repentant
orator, "is practically the paramount law of the land. Every other
law, both human and divine, ceases to be observed; yea, withers and
perishes in contact with it. It was this paramount law of this nation,
and of this House, that forced me, under the penalty of dishonour, to
subject myself to the code, which impelled me unwillingly into this
tragical affair. Upon the heads of this nation, and at the doors of
this House, rests the blood with which my unfortunate hands have been

As long as society is in this mood; as long as it thinks that the
man who refuses to resent an insult, deserved that insult, and should
be scouted accordingly, so long, it is to be feared, will duelling
exist, however severe the laws may be. Men must have redress for
injuries inflicted, and when those injuries are of such a nature that
no tribunal will take cognizance of them, the injured will take the
law into their own hands, and right themselves in the opinion of their
fellows, at the hazard of their lives. Much as the sage may affect to
despise the opinion of the world, there are few who would not rather
expose their lives a hundred times than be condemned to live on, in
society, but not of it -- a by-word of reproach to all who know their
history, and a mark for scorn to point his finger at.

The only practicable means for diminishing the force of a custom
which is the disgrace of civilization, seems to be the establishment
of a court of honour, which should take cognizance of all those
delicate and almost intangible offences which yet wound so deeply. The
court established by Louis XIV might be taken as a model. No man now
fights a duel when a fit apology has been offered, and it should be
the duty of this court to weigh dispassionately the complaint of every
man injured in his honour, either by word or deed, and to force the
offender to make a public apology. If he refused the apology, he would
be the breaker of a second law; an offender against a high court, as
well as against the man he had injured, and might be punished with
fine and imprisonment, the latter to last until he saw the error of
his conduct, and made the concession which the court demanded.

If, after the establishment of this tribunal, men should be found
of a nature so bloodthirsty as not to be satisfied with its peaceful
decisions, and should resort to the old and barbarous mode of an
appeal to the pistol, some means might be found of dealing with them.
To hang them as murderers would be of no avail; for to such men death
would have few terrors. Shame alone would bring them to reason. The
following code, it is humbly suggested to all future legislators upon
the subject, would, in conjunction with the establishment of a court
of honour, do much towards eradicating this blot from society. Every
man who fought a duel, even though he did not wound his opponent,
should be tried, and, upon proof of the fact, be sentenced to have his
right hand cut off. The world would then know his true character as
long as he lived. If his habits of duelling were so inveterate, and he
should learn to fire a pistol with his left hand, he should, upon
conviction of a second offence, lose that hand also. This law, which
should allow no commutation of the punishment, under any
circumstances, would lend strength and authority to the court of
honour. In the course of a few years duelling would be ranked amongst
exploded follies, and men would begin to wonder that a custom so
barbarous and so impious had ever existed amongst them.


"Well, son John," said the old woman, "and what wonderful things
did you meet with all the time you were at sea?" - "Oh! mother,"
replied John, "I saw many strange things." -- "Tell us all about
them," replied his mother, "for I long to hear your adventures." -- "
Well, then," said John, "as we were sailing over the Line, what do you
think we saw?" - "I can't imagine," replied his mother. -- "Well, we
saw a fish rise out of the sea, and fly over our ship!" "Oh! John!
John! what a liar you are!" said his mother, shaking her head, and
smiling incredulously. "True as death? said John; "and we saw still
more wonderful things than that." -- "Let us hear them," said his
mother, shaking her head again; "and tell the truth, John, if you
can." -- "Believe it, or believe it not, as you please," replied her
son; "but as we were sailing up the Red Sea, our captain thought he
should like some fish for dinner; so he told us to throw our nets, and
catch some." -- "Well," inquired his mother, seeing that he paused in
his story. "Well," rejoined her son, "we did throw them, and, at the
very first haul, we brought up a chariot-wheel, made all of gold, and
inlaid with diamonds!" "Lord bless us!" said his mother, "and what did
the captain say?" -- "Why, he said it was one of the wheels of
Pharaoh's chariot, that had lain in the Red Sea ever since that wicked
King was drowned, with all his host, while pursuing the Israelites."
-- "Well, well," said his mother, lifting up her hands in admiration;
"now, that's very possible, and I think the captain was a very
sensible man. Tell me such stories as that, and I'll believe you; but
never talk to me of such things as flying fish! No, no, John, such
stories won't go down with me, I can assure you!"

Such old women as the sailor's mother, in the above well-known
anecdote, are by no means rare in the world. Every age and country has
produced them. They have been found in high places, and have sat down
among the learned of the earth. Instances must be familiar to every
reader in which the same person was willing, with greedy credulity, to
swallow the most extravagant fiction, and yet refuse credence to a
philosophical fact. The same Greeks who believed readily that Jupiter
wooed Leda in the form of a swan, denied stoutly that there were any
physical causes for storms and thunder, and treated as impious those
who attempted to account for them on true philosophical principles.

The reasons that thus lead mankind to believe the marvellously
false, and to disbelieve the marvellously true, may be easily
gathered. Of all the offspring of Time, Error is the most ancient, and
is so old and familiar an acquaintance, that Truth, when discovered,
comes upon most of us like an intruder, and meets the intruder's
welcome. We all pay an involuntary homage to antiquity -- a "blind
homage," as Bacon calls it in his "Novum Organum," which tends greatly
to the obstruction of truth. To the great majority of mortal eyes,
Time sanctifies everything that he does not destroy. The mere fact of
anything being spared by the great foe makes it a favourite with us,
who are sure to fall his victims. To call a prejudice "time-hallowed,"
is to open a way for it into hearts where it never before penetrated.
Some peculiar custom may disgrace the people amongst whom it
flourishes; yet men of a little wisdom refuse to aid in its
extirpation, merely because it is old. Thus it is with human belief,
and thus it is we bring shame upon our own intellect.

To this cause may be added another, also mentioned by Lord Bacon
-- a misdirected zeal in matters of religion, which induces so many to
decry a newly-discovered truth, because the Divine records contain no
allusion to it, or because, at first sight, it appears to militate,
not against religion, but against some obscure passage which has never
been fairly interpreted. The old woman in the story could not believe
that there was such a creature as a flying-fish, because her Bible did
not tell her so, but she believed that her son had drawn up the golden
and bejewelled wheel from the Red Sea, because her Bible informed her
that Pharaoh was drowned there.

Upon a similar principle the monks of the inquisition believed
that the devil appeared visibly among men, that St. Anthony pulled his
nose with a pair of red-hot pincers, and that the relics of the saints
worked miracles; yet they would not believe Galileo, when he proved
that the earth turned round the sun.

Keppler, when he asserted the same fact, could gain no bread, and
little credence; but when he pretended to tell fortunes and cast
nativities, the whole town flocked to him, and paid him enormous fees
for his falsehood.

When Roger Bacon invented the telescope and the magic-lantern, no
one believed that the unaided ingenuity of man could have done it; but
when some wiseacres asserted that the devil had appeared to him, and
given him the knowledge which he turned to such account, no one was
bold enough to assert that it was improbable. His hint that saltpetre,
sulphur, and charcoal, mixed in certain proportions, would produce
effects similar to thunder and lightning, was disregarded or
disbelieved; but the legend of the brazen head which delivered
oracles, was credited for many ages.

[Godwin, in his "Lives of the Necromancers," gives the following
version of this legend. Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay entertained the
project of enclosing England with a wall, so as to render it
inaccessible to any invader. They accordingly raised the devil, as the
person best able to inform them how this was to be done. The devil
advised them to make a brazen head, with all the internal structure
and organs of a human head. The construction would cost them much
time, and they must wait with patience till the faculty of speech
descended upon it. Finally, however, it would become an oracle, and,
if the question were propounded to it, would teach them the solution
of their problem. The friars spent seven years in bringing the subject
to perfection, and waited day after day in expectation that it would
utter articulate sounds. At length nature became exhausted in them,
and they lay down to sleep, having first given it strictly in charge
to a servant of theirs, clownish in nature, but of strict fidelity,
that he should awaken them the moment the image began to speak. That
period arrived. The head uttered sounds, but such as the clown judged
unworthy of notice. "Time is!" it said. No notice was taken, and a
long pause ensued. "Time was!" -- a similar pause, and no notice.
"Time is passed!" The moment these words were uttered, a tremendous
storm ensued, with thunder and lightning, and the head was shivered
into a thousand pieces. Thus the experiment of Friar Bacon and Friar
Bungay came to nothing.]

Solomon De Cans, who, in the time of Cardinal Richelieu, conceived
the idea of a steam-engine, was shut up in the Bastille as a madman,
because the idea of such an extraordinary instrument was too
preposterous for the wise age that believed in all the absurdities of

When Harvey first proved the circulation of the blood, every
tongue was let loose against him. The thing was too obviously an
imposition, and an attempt to deceive that public who believed that a
king's touch had power to cure the scrofula. That a dead criminal's
hand, rubbed against a wen, would cure it, was reasonable enough; but
that the blood flowed through the veins was beyond all probability.

In our own day, a similar fate awaited the beneficent discovery of
Dr. Jenner. That vaccination could abate the virulence of, or preserve
from, the smallpox, was quite incredible; none but a cheat and a quack
could assert it: but that the introduction of the vaccine matter into
the human frame could endow men with the qualities of a cow, was quite
probable. Many of the poorer people actually dreaded that their
children would grow hairy and horned as cattle, if they suffered them
to be vaccinated.

The Jesuit, Father Labat, the shrewd and learned traveller in
South America, relates an experiment which he made upon the credulity
of some native Peruvians. Holding a powerful lens in his hand, and
concentrating the rays of the sun upon the naked arm of an admiring
savage, he soon made him roar with pain. All the tribe looked on,
first with wonder, and then with indignation and wonder both combined.
In vain the philosopher attempted to explain the cause of the
phenomenon - in vain he offered to convince them that there was
nothing devilish in the experiment - he was thought to be in league
with the infernal gods to draw down the fire from Heaven, and was
looked upon, himself, as an awful and supernatural being. Many
attempts were made to gain possession of the lens, with the view of
destroying it, and thereby robbing the Western stranger of the means
of bringing upon them the vengeance of his deities.

Very similar was the conduct of that inquiring Brahmin, which is
related by Forbes in his Oriental Memoirs. The Brahmin had a mind
better cultivated than his fellows; he was smitten with a love for the
knowledge of Europe -- read English books -- pored over the pages of
the Encyclopedia, and profited by various philosophical instruments;
but on religious questions the Brahmin was firm to the faith of his
caste and the doctrine of the Metempsychosis. Lest he might
sacrilegiously devour his progenitors, he abstained from all animal
food; and thinking that he ate nothing which enjoyed life, he
supported himself, like his brethren, upon fruits and vegetables. All
the knowledge that did not run counter to this belief, he sought after
with avidity, and bade fair to become the wisest of his race. In an
evil hour, his English friend and instructor exhibited a very powerful
solar microscope, by means of which he showed him that every drop of
water that he drank teemed with life -- that every fruit was like a
world, covered with innumerable animalculae, each of which was fitted
by its organization for the sphere in which it moved, and had its
wants, and the capability of supplying them as completely as visible
animals millions of times its bulk. The English philosopher expected
that his Hindoo friend would be enraptured at the vast field of
knowledge thus suddenly opened out to him, but he was deceived. The
Brahmin from that time became an altered man -- thoughtful, gloomy,
reserved, and discontented. He applied repeatedly to his friend that
he would make him a present of the microscope; but as it was the only
one of its kind in India, and the owner set a value upon it for other
reasons, he constantly refused the request, but offered him the loan
of it for any period he might require. But nothing short of an
unconditional gift of the instrument would satisfy the Brahmin, who
became at last so importunate that the patience of the Englishman was
exhausted, and he gave it him. A gleam of joy shot across the
care-worn features of the Hindoo as he clutched it, and bounding with
an exulting leap into the garden, he seized a large stone, and dashed
the instrument into a thousand pieces. When called upon to explain his
extraordinary conduct, he said to his friend, "Oh that I had remained
in that happy state of ignorance wherein you first found me! Yet will
I confess that, as my knowledge increased, so did my pleasure, until I
beheld the last wonders of the microscope; from that moment I have
been tormented by doubt and perplexed by mystery: my mind, overwhelmed
by chaotic confusion, knows not where to rest, nor how to extricate
itself from such a maze. I am miserable, and must continue to be so,
until I enter on another stage of existence. I am a solitary
individual among fifty millions of people, all educated in the same
belief with myself -- all happy in their ignorance! So may they ever
remain! I shall keep the secret within my own bosom, where it will
corrode my peace and break my rest. But I shall have some satisfaction
in knowing that I alone feel those pangs which, had I not destroyed
the instrument, might have been extensively communicated, and rendered
thousands miserable! Forgive me, my valuable friend! and oh, convey no
more implements of knowledge and destruction!"

Many a learned man may smile at the ignorance of the Peruvian and
the Hindoo, unconscious that he himself is just as ignorant and as
prejudiced. Who does not remember the outcry against the science of
geology, which has hardly yet subsided? Its professors were impiously
and absurdly accused of designing to "hurl the Creator from his
throne." They were charged with sapping the foundations of religion,
and of propping atheism by the aid of a pretended science.

The very same principle which leads to the rejection of the true,
leads to the encouragement of the false. Thus we may account for the
success which has attended great impostors, at times when the truth,
though not half so wondrous as their impositions, has been
disregarded as extravagant and preposterous. The man who wishes to
cheat the people, must needs found his operations upon some prejudice
or belief that already exists. Thus the philosophic pretenders who
told fortunes by the stars cured all diseases by one nostrum, and
preserved from evil by charms and amulets, ran with the current of
popular belief. Errors that were consecrated by time and long
familiarity, they heightened and embellished, and succeeded to their
hearts' content; but the preacher of truth had a foundation to make as
well as a superstructure, a difficulty which did not exist for the
preacher of error. Columbus preached a new world, but was met with
distrust and incredulity; had he preached with as much zeal and
earnestness the discovery of some valley in the old one, where
diamonds hung upon the trees, or a herb grew that cured all the ills
incidental to humanity, he would have found a warm and hearty welcome
-- might have sold dried cabbage leaves for his wonderful herb, and
made his fortune.

In fact, it will be found in the history of every generation and
race of men, that whenever a choice of belief between the "Wondrously
False" and the "Wondrously True" is given to ignorance or prejudice,
that their choice will be fixed upon the first, for the reason that it
is most akin to their own nature. The great majority of mankind, and
even of the wisest among us, are still in the condition of the
sailor's mother -- believing and disbelieving on the same grounds that
she did -- protesting against the flying fish, but cherishing the
golden wheels. Thousands there are amongst us, who, rather than pin
their faith in the one fish, would believe not only in the wheel of
gold, but the chariot - not only in the chariot, but in the horses and
the driver.


La faridondaine -- la faridondon,
Vive la faridondaine!


The popular humours of a great city are a never-failing source of
amusement to the man whose sympathies are hospitable enough to embrace
all his kind, and who, refined though he may be himself, will not
sneer at the humble wit or grotesque peculiarities of the boozing
mechanic, the squalid beggar, the vicious urchin, and all the motley
group of the idle, the reckless, and the imitative that swarm in the
alleys and broadways of a metropolis. He who walks through a great
city to find subjects for weeping, may, God knows, find plenty at
every corner to wring his heart; but let such a man walk on his
course, and enjoy his grief alone -- we are not of those who would
accompany him. The miseries of us poor earthdwellers gain no
alleviation from the sympathy of those who merely hunt them out to be
pathetic over them. The weeping philosopher too often impairs his
eyesight by his woe, and becomes unable from his tears to see the
remedies for the evils which he deplores. Thus it will often be found
that the man of no tears is the truest philanthropist, as he is the
best physician who wears a cheerful face, even in the worst of cases.

So many pens have been employed to point out the miseries, and so
many to condemn the crimes and vices, and more serious follies of the
multitude, that our's shall not increase the number, at least in this
chapter. Our present task shall be less ungracious, and wandering
through the busy haunts of great cities, we shall seek only for
amusement, and note as we pass a few of the harmless follies and
whimsies of the poor.

And, first of all, walk where we will, we cannot help hearing from
every side a phrase repeated with delight, and received with laughter,
by men with hard hands and dirty faces -- by saucy butcher lads and
errand-boys -- by loose women -- by hackney coachmen, cabriolet
drivers, and idle fellows who loiter at the corners of streets. Not
one utters this phrase without producing a laugh from all within
hearing. It seems applicable to every circumstance, and is the
universal answer to every question; in short, it is the favourite
slang phrase of the day, a phrase that, while its brief season of
popularity lasts, throws a dash of fun and frolicsomeness over the
existence of squalid poverty and ill-requited labour, and gives them
reason to laugh as well as their more fortunate fellows in a higher
stage of society.

London is peculiarly fertile in this sort of phrases, which spring
up suddenly, no one knows exactly in what spot, and pervade the whole
population in a few hours, no one knows how. Many years ago the
favourite phrase (for, though but a monosyllable, it was a phrase in
itself) was Quoz. This odd word took the fancy of the multitude in an
extraordinary degree, and very soon acquired an almost boundless
meaning. When vulgar wit wished to mark its incredulity and raise a
laugh at the same time, there was no resource so sure as this popular
piece of slang. When a man was asked a favour which he did not choose
to grant, he marked his sense of the suitor's unparalleled presumption
by exclaiming Quoz! When a mischievous urchin wished to annoy a
passenger, and create mirth for his chums, he looked him in the face,
and cried out Quoz! and the exclamation never failed in its object.
When a disputant was desirous of throwing a doubt upon the veracity of
his opponent, and getting summarily rid of an argument which he could
not overturn, he uttered the word Quoz, with a contemptuous curl of
his lip and an impatient shrug of his shoulders. The universal
monosyllable conveyed all his meaning, and not only told his opponent
that he lied, but that he erred egregiously if he thought that any one
was such a nincompoop as to believe him. Every alehouse resounded with
Quoz; every street corner was noisy with it, and every wall for miles
around was chalked with it.

But, like all other earthly things, Quoz had its season, and
passed away as suddenly as it arose, never again to be the pet and the
idol of the populace. A new claimant drove it from its place, and held
undisputed sway till, in its turn, it was hurled from its
pre-eminence, and a successor appointed in its stead.

"What a shocking bad hat!" was the phrase that was next in vogue.
No sooner had it become universal, than thousands of idle but sharp
eyes were on the watch for the passenger whose hat showed any signs,
however slight, of ancient service. Immediately the cry arose, and,
like the what-whoop of the Indians, was repeated by a hundred
discordant throats. He was a wise man who, finding himself under these
circumstances "the observed of all observers," bore his honours
meekly. He who showed symptoms of ill-feeling at the imputations cast
upon his hat, only brought upon himself redoubled notice. The mob soon
perceive whether a man is irritable, and, if of their own class, they
love to make sport of him. When such a man, and with such a hat,
passed in those days through a crowded neighbourhood, he might think
himself fortunate if his annoyances were confined to the shouts and
cries of the populace. The obnoxious hat was often snatched from his
head, and thrown into the gutter by some practical joker, and then
raised, covered with mud, upon the end of a stick, for the admiration
of the spectators, who held their sides with laughter, and exclaimed
in the pauses of their mirth, "Oh! what a shocking bad hat! .... What
a shocking bad hat!" Many a nervous, poor man, whose purse could but
ill spare the outlay, doubtless purchased a new hat before the time,
in order to avoid exposure in this manner.

The origin of this singular saying, which made fun for the
metropolis for months, is not involved in the same obscurity as that
which shrouds the origin of Quoz and some others. There had been a
hotly-contested election for the borough of Southwark, and one of the
candidates was an eminent hatter. This gentleman, in canvassing the
electors, adopted a somewhat professional mode of conciliating their
good-will, and of bribing them without letting them perceive that they
were bribed. Whenever he called upon or met a voter whose hat was not
of the best material, or, being so, had seen its best days, he
invariably said, "What a shocking bad hat you have got; call at my
warehouse, and you shall have a new one!" Upon the day of election
this circumstance was remembered, and his opponents made the most of
it, by inciting the crowd to keep up an incessant cry of "What a
shocking bad hat!" all the time the honourable candidate was
addressing them. From Southwark the phrase spread over all London, and
reigned, for a time, the supreme slang of the season.

Hookey Walker, derived from the chorus of a popular ballad, was
also high in favour at one time, and served, like its predecessor,
Quoz, to answer all questions. In the course of time the latter word
alone became the favourite, and was uttered with a peculiar drawl upon
the first syllable, and a sharp turn upon the last. If a lively
servant girl was importuned for a kiss by a fellow she did not care
about, she cocked her little nose, and cried "Walker!" If a dustman
asked his friend for the loan of a shilling, and his friend was either
unable or unwilling to accommodate him, the probable answer he would
receive was "Walker!" If a drunken man was reeling along the streets,
and a boy pulled his coat-tails, or a man knocked his hat over his
eyes to make fun of him, the joke was always accompanied by the same
exclamation. This lasted for two or three months, and "Walker!" walked
off the stage, never more to be revived for the entertainment of that
or any future generation.

The next phrase was a most preposterous one. Who invented it, how
it arose, or where it was first heard, are alike unknown. Nothing
about it is certain, but that for months it was the slang par
excellence of the Londoners, and afforded them a vast gratification.
"There he goes with his eye out!" or "There she goes with her eye
out!" as the sex of the party alluded to might be, was in the mouth of
everybody who knew the town. The sober part of the community were as
much puzzled by this unaccountable saying as the vulgar were delighted
with it. The wise thought it very foolish, but the many thought it
very funny, and the idle amused themselves by chalking it upon walls,
or scribbling it upon monuments. But, "all that's bright must fade,"
even in slang. The people grew tired of their hobby, and "There he
goes with his eye out!" was heard no more in its accustomed haunts.

Another very odd phrase came into repute in a brief space
afterwards, in the form of the impertinent and not universally
apposite query, "Has your mother sold her mangle?" But its popularity
was not of that boisterous and cordial kind which ensures a long
continuance of favour. What tended to impede its progress was, that it
could not be well applied to the older portions of society. It
consequently ran but a brief career, and then sank into oblivion. Its
successor enjoyed a more extended fame, and laid its foundations so
deep, that years and changing fashions have not sufficed to eradicate
it. This phrase was "Flare up!" and it is, even now, a colloquialism
in common use. It took its rise in the time of the Reform riots, when
Bristol was nearly half burned by the infuriated populace. The flames
were said to have flared up in the devoted city. Whether there was
anything peculiarly captivating in the sound, or in the idea of these
words, is hard to say; but whatever was the reason, it tickled the
mob-fancy mightily, and drove all other slang out of the field before
it. Nothing was to be heard all over London but "flare up!" It
answered all questions, settled all disputes, was applied to all
persons, all things, and all circumstances, and became suddenly the
most comprehensive phrase in the English language. The man who had
overstepped the bounds of decorum in his speech was said to have
flared up; he who had paid visits too repeated to the gin-shop, and
got damaged in consequence, had flared up. To put one's-self into a
passion; to stroll out on a nocturnal frolic, and alarm a
neighbourhood, or to create a disturbance in any shape, was to flare
up. A lovers' quarrel was a fare up; so was a boxing-match between two
blackguards in the streets, and the preachers of sedition and
revolution recommended the English nation to flare up, like the
French. So great a favourite was the word, that people loved to repeat
it for its very sound. They delighted apparently in hearing their own
organs articulate it; and labouring men, when none who could respond
to the call were within hearing, would often startle the aristocratic
echoes of the West by the well-known slang phrase of the East. Even in
the dead hours of the night, the ears of those who watched late, or
who could not sleep, were saluted with the same sound. The drunkard
reeling home showed that he was still a man and a citizen, by calling
"flare up" in the pauses of his hiccough. Drink had deprived him of
the power of arranging all other ideas; his intellect was sunk to the
level of the brute's; but he clung to humanity by the one last link of
the popular cry. While he could vociferate that sound, he had rights
as an Englishman, and would not sleep in a gutter, like a dog! Onwards
he went, disturbing quiet streets and comfortable people by his whoop,
till exhausted nature could support him no more, and he rolled
powerless into the road. When, in due time afterwards, the policeman
stumbled upon him as he lay, that guardian of the peace turned the
full light of his lantern on his face, and exclaimed, "Here's a poor
devil who's been flaring up!" Then came the stretcher, on which the
victim of deep potations was carried to the watchhouse, and pitched
into a dirty cell, among a score of wretches about as far gone as
himself, who saluted their new comrade by a loud, long shout of flare

So universal was this phrase, and so enduring seemed its
popularity, that a speculator, who knew not the evanescence of slang,
established a weekly newspaper under its name. But he was like the man
who built his house upon the sand; his foundation gave way under him,
and the phrase and the newspaper were washed into the mighty sea of
the things that were. The people grew at last weary of the monotony,
and "flare up" became vulgar even among them. Gradually it was left to
little boys who did not know the world, and in process of time sank
altogether into neglect. It is now heard no more as a piece of popular
slang; but the words are still used to signify any sudden outburst
either of fire, disturbance, or ill-nature.

The next phrase that enjoyed the favour of the million was less
concise, and seems to have been originally aimed against precocious
youths who gave themselves the airs of manhood before their time.
"Does your mother know you're out?" was the provoking query addressed
to young men of more than reasonable swagger, who smoked cigars in the
streets, and wore false whiskers to look irresistible. We have seen
many a conceited fellow who could not suffer a woman to pass him
without staring her out of countenance, reduced at once into his
natural insignificance by the mere utterance of this phrase.
Apprentice lads and shopmen in their Sunday clothes held the words in
abhorrence, and looked fierce when they were applied to them.
Altogether the phrase had a very salutary effect, and in a thousand
instances showed young Vanity, that it was not half so pretty and
engaging as it thought itself. What rendered it so provoking was the
doubt it implied as to the capability of self-guidance possessed by
the individual to whom it was addressed. "Does your mother know you're
out?" was a query of mock concern and solicitude, implying regret and
concern that one so young and inexperienced in the ways of a great
city should be allowed to wander abroad without the guidance of a
parent. Hence the great wrath of those who verged on manhood, but had
not reached it, whenever they were made the subject of it. Even older
heads did not like it; and the heir of a ducal house, and inheritor of
a warrior's name, to whom they were applied by a cabriolet driver, who
was ignorant of his rank, was so indignant at the affront, that he
summoned the offender before the magisterial bench. The fellow had
wished to impose upon his Lordship by asking double the fare he was
entitled to, and when his Lordship resisted the demand, he was
insultingly asked "if his mother knew he was out?" All the drivers on
the stand joined in the query, and his Lordship was fain to escape
their laughter by walking away with as much haste as his dignity would
allow. The man pleaded ignorance that his customer was a Lord, but
offended justice fined him for his mistake.

When this phrase had numbered its appointed days, it died away,
like its predecessors, and "Who are you?" reigned in its stead. This
new favourite, like a mushroom, seems to have sprung up in a night,
or, like a frog in Cheapside, to have come down in a sudden shower.
One day it was unheard, unknown, uninvented; the next it pervaded
London; every alley resounded with it; every highway was musical with

"And street to street, and lane to lane flung back
The one unvarying cry."

The phrase was uttered quickly, and with a sharp sound upon the first
and last words, leaving the middle one little more than an aspiration.
Like all its compeers which had been extensively popular, it was
applicable to almost every variety of circumstance. The lovers of a
plain answer to a plain question did not like it at all. Insolence
made use of it to give offence; ignorance, to avoid exposing itself;
and waggery, to create laughter. Every new comer into an alehouse
tap-room was asked unceremoniously, "Who are you?" and if he looked
foolish, scratched his head, and did not know what to reply, shouts of
boisterous merriment resounded on every side. An authoritative
disputant was not unfrequently put down, and presumption of every kind
checked by the same query. When its popularity was at its height, a
gentleman, feeling the hand of a thief in his pocket, turned suddenly
round, and caught him in the act, exclaiming, "Who are you?" The mob
which gathered round applauded to the very echo, and thought it the
most capital joke they had ever heard -- the very acme of wit -- the
very essence of humour. Another circumstance, of a similar kind, gave
an additional fillip to the phrase, and infused new life and vigour
into it, just as it was dying away. The scene occurred in the chief
criminal court of the kingdom. A prisoner stood at the bar; the
offence with which he had been charged was clearly proved against him;
his counsel had been heard, not in his defence, but in extenuation,
insisting upon his previous good life and character, as reasons for
the lenity of the court. "And where are your witnesses?" inquired the
learned judge who presided. "Please you, my Lord, I knows the prisoner
at the bar, and a more honester feller never breathed," said a rough
voice in the gallery. The officers of the court looked aghast, and the
strangers tittered with ill-suppressed laughter. "Who are you?" said
the Judge, looking suddenly up, but with imperturbable gravity. The
court was convulsed; the titter broke out into a laugh, and it was
several minutes before silence and decorum could be restored. When the
Ushers recovered their self-possession, they made diligent search for
the profane transgressor; but he was not to be found. Nobody knew him;
nobody had seen him. After a while the business of the court again
proceeded. The next prisoner brought up for trial augured favourably
of his prospects when he learned that the solemn lips of the
representative of justice had uttered the popular phrase as if he felt
and appreciated it. There was no fear that such a judge would use
undue severity; his heart was with the people; he understood their
language and their manners, and would make allowances for the
temptations which drove them into crime. So thought many of the
prisoners, if we may infer it from the fact, that the learned judge
suddenly acquired an immense increase of popularity. The praise of his
wit was in every mouth, and "Who are you?" renewed its lease, and
remained in possession of public favour for another term in

But it must not be supposed that there were no interregni between
the dominion of one slang phrase and another. They did not arise in
one long line of unbroken succession, but shared with song the
possession of popular favour. Thus, when the people were in the mood
for music, slang advanced its claims to no purpose, and, when they
were inclined for slang, the sweet voice of music wooed them in vain.
About twenty years ago London resounded with one chorus, with the love
of which everybody seemed to be smitten. Girls and boys, young men and
old, maidens and wives, and widows, were all alike musical. There was
an absolute mania for singing, and the worst of it was, that, like
good Father Philip, in the romance of "The Monastery," they seemed
utterly unable to change their tune. "Cherry ripe!" "Cherry ripe!" was
the universal cry of all the idle in the town. Every unmelodious voice
gave utterance to it; every crazy fiddle, every cracked flute, every
wheezy pipe, every street organ was heard in the same strain, until
studious and quiet men stopped their ears in desperation, or fled
miles away into the fields or woodlands, to be at peace. This plague
lasted for a twelvemonth, until the very name of cherries became an
abomination in the land. At last the excitement wore itself away, and
the tide of favour set in a new direction. Whether it was another song
or a slang phrase, is difficult to determine at this distance of time;
but certain it is, that very shortly afterwards, people went mad upon
a dramatic subject, and nothing was to be heard of but "Tom and
Jerry." Verbal wit had amused the multitude long enough, and they
became more practical in their recreation. Every youth on the town was
seized with the fierce desire of distinguishing himself, by knocking
down the "charlies," being locked up all night in a watchhouse, or
kicking up a row among loose women and blackguard men in the low dens
of St. Giles's. Imitative boys vied with their elders in similar
exploits, until this unworthy passion, for such it was, had lasted,
like other follies, its appointed time, and the town became merry
after another fashion. It was next thought the height of vulgar wit to
answer all questions by placing the point of the thumb upon the tip of
the nose, and twirling the fingers in the air. If one man wished to
insult or annoy another, he had only to make use of this cabalistic
sign in his face, and his object was accomplished. At every street
corner where a group was assem- bled, the spectator who was curious
enough to observe their movements, would be sure to see the fingers of
some of them at their noses, either as a mark of incredulity,
surprise, refusal, or mockery, before he had watched two minutes.
There is some remnant of this absurd custom to be seen to this day;
but it is thought low, even among the vulgar.

About six years ago, London became again most preposterously
musical. The vox populi wore itself hoarse by singing the praises of
"The Sea, the Sea!" If a stranger (and a philosopher) had walked
through London, and listened to the universal chorus, he might have
constructed a very pretty theory upon the love of the English for the
sea-service, and our acknowledged superiority over all other nations
upon that element. "No wonder," he might have said, "that this people
is invincible upon the ocean. The love of it mixes with their daily
thoughts: they celebrate it even in the market-place: their
street-minstrels excite charity by it; and high and low, young and
old, male and female, chant Io paeans in its praise. Love is not
honoured in the national songs of this warlike race -- Bacchus is no
god to them; they are men of sterner mould, and think only of 'the
Sea, the Sea!' and the means of conquering upon it."

Such would, doubtless, have been his impression if he had taken
the evidence only of his ears. Alas! in those days for the refined
ears that were musical! great was their torture when discord, with its
thousand diversities of tone, struck up this appalling anthem -- there
was no escape from it. The migratory minstrels of Savoy caught the
strain, and pealed it down the long vistas of quiet streets, till
their innermost and snuggest apartments re-echoed with the sound. Men
were obliged to endure this crying evil for full six months, wearied
to desperation, and made sea-sick on the dry land.

Several other songs sprang up in due succession afterwards, but
none of them, with the exception of one, entitled "All round my Hat,"
enjoyed any extraordinary share of favour, until an American actor
introduced a vile song called "Jim Crow." The singer sang his verses
in appropriate costume, with grotesque gesticulations, and a sudden
whirl of his body at the close of each verse. It took the taste of the
town immediately, and for months the ears of orderly people were
stunned by the senseless chorus-

"Turn about and wheel about,
And do just so--
Turn about and wheel about,
And jump, Jim Crow!"

Street-minstrels blackened their faces in order to give proper effect
to the verses; and fatherless urchins, who had to choose between
thieving and singing for their livelihood, took the latter course, as
likely to be the more profitable, as long as the public taste remained
in that direction. The uncouth dance, its accompaniment, might be seen

Book of the day: