Imágenes de páginas

tremely perplex my dissertation, and I confess to you I find very hard to explain, which is the term “satisfaction.” An honest country gentlemen had the misfortune to fall into company with two or three modern men of honour, where he happened to be very ill-treated; and one of the company being conscious of his offence, sends a note to him in the morning, and tells him, “He was ready to give him fatisfaction.” This is fine doing, says the plain fellow. Last night he sent me away cursedly out of humour, and this morning he fancies it would be a satisfaction to be run through the body.

As the matter at present stands, it is not to do handsome actions denominates a man of honour, it is enough if he dares to defend ill ones.



often see a common sharper in competition with a gentleman of the first rank, though all mankind is convinced that a fighting gamester is only a pickpocket with the courage of an highwayman. One cannot with any patience reflect on the unaccountable jumble of persons and things in this town and nation, which occasions very frequently, that a brave man falls by a hand below that of a common hangman, and yet his executioner escapes the clutches of the hangman for doing it. I shall therefore hereafter consider, how the bravest men in other ages and nations have behaved themselves upon such incidents as we decide by combat; and shew, from their practice, that this resentment neither has its foundation from true reason or folid fame, but is an imposture made up of cowardice, falsehood, and want of understanding. For this work a good history of quarrels would be very edifying to the public, and I apply myself to the town for particulars and circumstances within their knowledge, which may serve to embellish the dissertation with proper cuts. Most of the quarrels I have ever known, have proceeded from fome valiant coxcomb's persisting in the wrong, to defend fome prevailing folly, and preserve himself from the ingenuity of owning a mistake.

By this means it is called, “ Giving a man satisfaction,” to urge your offence against him with your sword; which puts me in mind of Peter's order to the keeper, in The Tale of a Tub : “If you neglect to do all this, d- you and your gene

[ocr errors]

ration for ever; and fo we bid you heartily farewell.” If the contradiction in the very terms of one of our challenges were as well explained and turned into downright English, would it not run after this manner ?

“Sir—Your extraordinary behaviour last night, and the liberty you were pleased to take with me makes me this morning give you this, to tell you, because you are an ill-bred puppy, I will meet you in Hyde Park, an hour hence; and because you want both breeding and humanity, I desire you would come with a pistol in your hand, on horseback, and endeavour to shoot me through the head, to teach you more manners. If you

fail of doing me this pleasure, I shall say you are a rascal, on every post in town; and so, sir, if you will not injure me more, I Thall never forget what you have done already. Pray fir, do not fail of getting every thing ready, and you will infinitely oblige,

"Your most obedient,

“Humble servant, &c." My familiar being come from France, with an answer to my letter to Lewis of that kingdom, instead of going on in a difcourse of what he had seen in that court, he put on the immediate concern of a guardian, and fell to inquiring into my thoughts and adventures since his journey. As short as his stay had been, I confessed I had had many occasions for his assistance in my conduct; but communicated to him my thoughts of putting all my force against this horrid and senseless custom of duels. “If it were possible,” said he “ to laugh at things in themselves so deeply tragical as the impertinent profusion of human life, I think I could divert you with a figure I saw just after my death, when the philosopher threw me, as I told you fome days ago, into the pail of water.

“ You are to know, that when men leave the body, there are receptacles for them as soon as they depart, according to the manner in which they lived and died. At the very

instant I was killed, there came away with me a spirit which had loft its body in a duel. We were both examined. Me the whole assembly looked at with kindness and pity, but at the fame time with an air of welcome and confolation ; they pronounced me very happy, who had died in innocence, and told me a quite different place was allotted to me, than that which was appointed for my companion—there being a great distance from the mansions of fools and innocents—though at the same time, said one of the Ghosts, there is a great affinity between an idiot who has been fo for a long life, and a child who departs before maturity. But this gentleman who has arrived with you is a fool of his own making, is ignorant out of choice, and will fare accordingly. The assembly began to flock about him, and one said to him, “Sir, I observed you came into the gate of persons murdered, and I desire to know what brought you to your untimely end ?' He said, "He had been a second.' Socrates (who may be said to have been murdered by the commonwealth of Athens) stood by, and began to draw near him, in order, after his manner, to lead him into a sense of his error by concessions in his own discourse. “Sir, said that divine and amicable spirit, What was the quarrel?' He answered, “We shall know very suddenly, when the principal in the business comes, for he was desperately wounded before I fell. "Sir,' said the fage, Had you an estate?' Yes, sir,' the new guest answered, I have left it in very good condition, and made my will the night before this occasion. Did you read it before you signed it ?' Yes, sure, sir,' said the

Socrates replies, 'could a man, that would not give his estate without reading the instrument, dispose of his life without asking a question ?' That illustrious shade turned from him, and a cloud of impertinent goblins, who had been drolls and parasites in their lifetime, and were knocked on the head for their faucinels, came about my fellow traveller, and made themselves very merry with questions about the words cart' and tierce' and other terms of fencers. But his thoughts began to settle into reflection upon the adventure which had robbed him of his late being; and with a wretched figh, said he, How terrible are conviction and guilt, when they come too late for penitence !)”

Pacolet was going on in this strain, but he recovered from it and told me,

“It was too soon to give my discourse on this

new comer.

subject fo serious a turn; you have chiefly to do with that part of mankind which must be led into reflection by degrees, and you must treat this custom with humour and raillery to get an audience, before you come to pronounce sentence upon it. There is foundation enough for raising fuch entertainments from the practice on this occassion. Don't you know that often a man is called out of bed to follow implicitly a coxcomb (with whom he should not keep company on any other occasion) to ruin and death? Then a good list of such as are qualified by the laws of these uncourteous men of chivalry to enter into combat (who are often persons of honour without common honesty) : these, I say, ranged and drawn up in their proper order, would give an aversion to doing anything in common with such as men laugh at and contemn. through this work, you must not let your thoughts vary or make excursions from your theme: consider at the same time, that the matter has been often treated by the ablest and greatest writers, yet that must not discourage you; for the properest person to handle it, is one who has roved into mixed conversations, and must have opportunities (which I shall give you) of seeing these sort of men in their pleasures and gratifications, among which they pretend to reckon fighting. pleasantly enough said of a bully in France, when duels first began to be punished : 'the king has taken away gaming and stage-playing, and now fighting too; how does he expect gentlemen shall divert themselves ? »

But to go

It was

[graphic][merged small]



Virtutem verba putant, ut
Lucum ligna

Hor. Ep. vi., 31.
They look on virtue as an empty name.

HIS day I obliged Pacolet to entertain me with

matters which regarded persons of his own character and occupation. We chose to take our walk on Tower-hill, and as we were coming

from thence in order to stroll as far as Garraway's, I observed two men who had but just landed, coming from the water-side. I thought there was something uncommon in their mien and aspect, but though they seemed by their visage to be related, yet was there a warmth in their manner, as if they differed very much in their sentiments of the subject on which they were talking. One of them seemed to have a natural confidence, mixed with an ingenious freedom in his gesture, his dress very plain but very graceful and becoming; the other in the midst of an over-bearing carriage, betrayed (by frequent looking round him) a suspicion that he was not enough regarded by

those he met, or that he feared they would make some attack upon him. This person was much taller than his companion, and added to that height the

« AnteriorContinuar »