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of bruisers. It might perhaps become a fashion for gentlemen, who were fond of the sport, to keep champions in training, put them in sweats, diet them, and breed up the human species with the same care as they do cocks and horses. In course of time this branch of gaming, like all others, would doubtless be reduced to a science; and Broughton, in imitation of that great genius Hoyle, might oblige the public with a treatise on the fist, and calculations for laying the odds at any match of boxing. T
No. XXXI. THURSDAY, AUGUST 29.
Neu, pueri, neu tanta animis assuescite bella.
No more, ye bloods, encounter with each other,
TO MR. TOWN.
YOU must have observed a paragraph in the newspapers dated from Dublin, which informs us, "the spirit of duelling is now become so common, that scarce a day passes without one or more being fought in or near that metropolis." I am very much alarmed, lest this madness should cross the seas: to say the truth, I almost begin to think it necessary, that the frequent importation of Irishmen into this kingdom should, for some time, be prohibited; and an embargo laid on those ships, that are freighted with contraband duellists. It is your duty, Mr. Town, at least to do all in your power to prevent the influence, which the conduct of those heroic gentlemen, who cannot suffer their swords to sleep quietly
in their scabbards, may have on our young fellows: I must therefore beg of you to put together a few thoughts on this occasion, and though the subject has been often treated before, I cannot but imagine that there is sufficient room left for you to expatiate on it. It is usual among the Bishops, when they find any particular vice prevail, to send orders to the clergy of their respective dioceses to preach against it. In like manner it is your duty, as Censor-General, to attack the reigning follies: and it is surely as easy for you to throw them into a new light, as it is for the clergy to preach different sermons on the
You will undoubtedly agree with me, that gaming is one of the principal causes of duels, and that many a young fellow has owed his death to cards and dice. As the gaming-houses are often filled with rogues in lace, and sharpers in embroidery, an honest but rash adventurer often loses his temper with his money, and begins to suspect that the cards are packed, or the dice loaded; and then very wisely risks his life, because he finds it impossible to recover his cash. Upon this account I am never witness to deep play, but it raises very serious reflections in me. When I have seen a young nobleman offer a large stake, I have considered him as setting his life upon a card, or (like King Richard) " laying it upon a cast, and standing the hazard of the die." I have even imagined, that I heard bullets rattle in the dice-box, and that I saw the challenges written upon every card on the table,
The ladies also are frequently the cause of duels; though it must be owned, in justice to the better part of the sex, that where one is fought on account of a modest woman, ten are occasioned by prostitutes. The stout knights-errant, who entertain a passion for the faithless Dulcineas of Drury-Lane and CoventGarden, find frequent opportunities of manifesting
their prowess. They not only encounter with bullies and bravoes, but sometimes meet with other enamoratos as fond and as mad as themselves. I am personally acquainted with two gentlemen of this turn, who held out pistols at each other across a bed at one of their lady's lodgings, and tossed up which should fire first. The pistol however luckily missed fire, and gave them time to think better of it: so they very amicably shook hands, laid down their pistols, and went to bed to the lady together. These females are not content, it seems, with the conquests commonly made by the fair, but often pass a more cruel sentence on their captives. Their lovers not only suffer those metaphorical deaths, which all their tribe must endure, but are often really killed in serious truth and sober sadness. They are not only shot through the heart by an accidental glance of the eyes, but often have a brace of balls lodged in their heads and are not only "stabbed through the liver (as Mercutio has it) by the blind bow-boy's buttshaft," but they may perhaps be engaged in a duel with a rival, in which they are run through the body.
A foreign Count was once challenged by one of these hot-headed gentlemen; and I shall conclude my letter by recommending his method to our modern duellists. The place of battle appointed was the count's house; and when the furious challenger came in, breathing nothing but revenge, he was surprised to find the count sitting very composedly with a candle and a barrel at his side. "This, Sir, said the count, is a barrel of gun-powder; and if you please, we will take our chance, who shall set fire to it, you or I." The gentleman, amazed at so extraordinary a proposal, made no answer; upon which the count lighted a match, and waving it over the mouth of the barrel, cried out, "Get out of the room, Sir, or I will set fire to the powder this instant." This abated our challenger's wrath so considerably, that the count
was rid of him in a moment, and he was glad to leave the room without any satisfaction.........I shall expect something from you on this subject, and am,
Sir, your humble servant,
I shall not refuse, in compliance with the request of my correspondent, to give my animadversions on this subject; but as I am not inclined to measure swords on this occasion with any of my predecessors or contemporaries, I shall take a different course, and appear in the cause as an advocate for duelling. The vices and follies of the fashionable world are so connected with each other, that they almost form a regular system; and the practice of them all is absolutely necessary to complete the character of a fine gentleman. A fine gentleman (in the modern sense of the word) is one that whores, games, and wears a sword. Running after loose women, is, indeed, in some measure common to this exalted part of mankind with the vulgar: but to live in bagnios, to bę kept in repair by Rock or Ward by the quarter, to be in a continual course of pill and electuary, and to make a business of fornication, is the peculiar privilege of a fine gentleman. Gaming is also an essen tial requisite to this character, and is indeed capable of itself to create a person a gentleman, who has no other pretensions to that title. The greatest scoundrels, provided they were gamesters, have always been permitted to associate with people of fashion; and perhaps they hold their title to the best company 'by the same tenure, that the knaves keep their rank among the honours in a pack of cards. But the grand distinguishing mark of a fine gentleman is the wearing a sword. Gentility displays itself in a wellfancied sword-knot, and honour lies sheathed in the scabbard. All who bear arms have a claim to this character: even our common soldiers (like the knights