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Downloading this document for the purpose of redistribution is prohibited. HOW MORAL REVOLUTIONS

Kwame Anthony Appiah

W. W. N O R T O N & C O M P A N Y

New York London

Copyright © 2010 by Kwame Anthony Appiah
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Appiah, Anthony.
The honor code : how moral revolutions happen /
Kwame Anthony Appiah. — ist ed.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-393-07162-7 (hardcover)
i. Social change —History 2. Social change—Moral and ethical aspects.
3. Honor—Social aspects—History. 4. Social ethics. I. Title.
HM836.A67 2010

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. . . equality is indispensable.
—Rule XIV of The Irish Practice of
Duelling and the Point of Honour

A little before eight on the morning of March 21, 1829, the Duke of Wellington, England's prime minister, arrived on horseback at a crossroads south of the Thames, about half a mile beyond
Battersea Bridge. Not long after, his cabinet colleague, Sir Henry
Hardinge, the secretary of war, rode up to join him, followed, after another small interval, by the duke's doctor, in a coach.
Once the three men had greeted one another, the doctor walked past a small farmhouse into a large open area called Battersea Fields with a pair of pistols concealed under his greatcoat, and placed the weapons out of sight behind a hedge. Battersea Fields was well known as a site where gentlemen met to fight duels, and anyone who had witnessed this sequence of arrivals would have known what was going on. Almost every Londoner would have recognized the duke, whose face, with the great Roman nose and high forehead, had been famous since his first victories over Napoleon's armies in Spain, twenty years earlier. Any onlookers would have been curious, as a result, to see who would arrive next.
After all, once a gentleman, his second, and his doctor had appeared, you could anticipate the arrival of an opponent with his second. That the upright duke, who was the epitome of honor, a model of service to king and country, was preparing to fight a duel would naturally raise the question who could have impugned his honor.
And that question was soon answered when the three men



The Duel Dies


were joined by the Earl of Winchilsea and his second, the Earl

back and, after a few more formalities, said firmly: "Gentlemen,

of Falmouth. Lord Winchilseas baptismal name was George Wil-

are you ready? Fire." The duke raised his pistol and, following a

liam Finch-Hatton. (His grandson, Denys Finch-Hatton, was the

brief pause apparently prompted by the fact that the earl had made

handsome English aristocrat played by Robert Redford in the film

no preparations, he discharged it. Winchilsea was unharmed. The

Out of Africa.) Finch-Hatton was a good deal less famous than the

earl then raised his pistol very deliberately over his head and fired

duke, such notoriety as he had being due to his active opposition

into the air.

over the last year or two to the movement to lift some of the legal burdens on Catholics in Britain (burdens that had been in place,

Wellington's doctor reported later a version of the exchange between the two seconds that followed:

in one form or another, since the Reformation). An inspiring orator, he had spoken out often in and out of Parliament on the need

The Duke remained still on his place, but Lord Falmouth and

to protect the faith and traditions of his fathers. He was a leader

Lord Winchilsea came immediately forward towards Sir Henry

among those Englishmen who continued to believe fervently that

Hardinge, and Lord Falmouth, addressing him, said, "Lord

you could not be loyal both to Britain and, as they saw it, to the

Winchilsea, having received the Duke's fire, is placed under dif-

Pope in Rome. Winchilsea was tall, black-haired, and powerfully

ferent circumstances from those in which he stood before, and

built. He was in his late thirties, more than twenty years younger

now feels himself at liberty to give the Duke the reparation he

than the duke. He must have cut an imposing figure as he rode in


with Falmouth, who was, like him, a former military officer.
The Duke of Wellington stood aloof while the two seconds,

Falmouth was following the convention that all communica-

Falmouth and Hardinge, engaged in a heated exchange. Then the

tions should take place through the seconds, and Sir Henry, as the

doctor loaded the pistols he had hidden behind the hedge—this

duke's second, had the duty of replying. And so, after a tense few

was strictly speaking Hardinge's job, but Hardinge had lost his left

seconds pause, Hardinge said:

hand in the Napoleonic wars—while Lord Falmouth loaded one of the two pistols that he had brought with him. Hardinge picked

"The Duke expects an ample apology, and a complete and full

a spot for the duke, marched twelve paces, and instructed Lord

acknowledgement of his error in having published the accusa-

Winchilsea to take up his position. Wellington objected to the first

tion against him which he has done." To which Lord Falmouth

positioning. "Damn it," he said. "Don't stick him up so near the

answered, "I mean an apology in the most extensive or in every

ditch. If I hit him, he will tumble in."1

sense of the word"; and he then took from his pocket a written

Finally, once their places were set, Hardinge gave the duke a pistol, Falmouth took one to Winchilsea, and Hardinge stepped

paper containing what he called an admission from Lord Winchilsea that he was wrong. . . ?


The Duel Dies 6



After further lively discussion and an amendment proposed by the

to sit in the British Parliament for the first time in over a hundred

doctor, all parties agreed upon a slightly edited version of the apol-

and fifty years. A year earlier, in June 1828, Daniel O'Connell,

ogy that Falmouth had prepared.

the Irish patriot and founder of the Catholic Association, which

The duke approached and bowed to the two earls, and Fal-

aimed to improve the situation of Catholics in Ireland, had been

mouth, who had clearly been a reluctant participant in the pro-

elected to the British Parliament. O'Connell and his policies were

ceedings, explained that he had always thought Winchilsea was

enormously popular in Ireland, as the election showed, and his

completely in the wrong. Hardinge now made it plain that he

presence in London would have allowed their views expression

thought that if Falmouth felt this way, he shouldn't have acted as

in the legislature. But because he was a Catholic, he could not

Winchilsea's second; and when Falmouth made a further attempt

be seated in the House of Commons . . . unless he was willing to

to explain himself, this time to the duke, Wellington interrupted

swear an oath that "the invocation or adoration of the Virgin Mary

him. "My Lord Falmouth," he said, "I have nothing to do with

or any other Saint, and the Sacrifice of the Mass, as they are now

these matters." Then he raised two fingers to the brim of his hat,

used in the Church of Rome, are superstitious and idolatrous. . . . "

said, "Good morning, my Lord Winchilsea, good morning, my

Obviously, no self-respecting Catholic could swear to that. Equally

Lord Falmouth," and got back on his horse.

obviously, that was exactly why the oath was required. And this

In exploring this infamous passage of arms and the responses

exclusion from Parliament reflected the many other exclusions

to it, we can come to understand the changing culture of honor in

Catholic Irishmen and women faced in their own country. Feel-

Britain in the first half of the nineteenth century. The death of the

ings in Ireland ran high about the issue and there was talk, in some

duel in Britain—the disappearance of a practice that had defined

quarters, of civil war.

the lives of gentlemen for some three centuries—is the first of the

Like most Tories, including Sir Robert Peel, who steered the bill

moral revolutions I want to explore. And Wellington and Win-

through the House of Commons, Wellington had once opposed

chilsea's encounter on Battersea Fields allows us to witness some of

Catholic emancipation, and neither statesman had changed his

the pressures that brought it to an end.

mind casually. The duke, who was born in Ireland and had been
Chief Secretary for Ireland as a young politician, was particularly


well placed to appreciate the delicacy of the situation in that troubled island. He had changed his position on Catholic emancipa-

The duel had its origins in Winchilsea's vociferous opposition to

tion because, as he observed in his speech on the second reading

a bill that Wellington had been shepherding through the House

of the bill in the House of Lords—a speech that many regarded as

of Lords: the Catholic Relief Act, which would permit Catholics

one of the best of his parliamentary career—Ireland seemed to be'



T h e Duel Dies 7


in a state "bordering on civil war." And, the king's first minister

infringement of our liberties, and the introduction of Popery into

added, to cheers in that august chamber, "I must say this—that if

every department of the State."4

I could avoid, by any sacrifice whatever, even one month of civil

No one could doubt that Winchilsea felt strongly about the

war in the country to which I am attached, I would sacrifice my

English Church. Charles Greville—who served as clerk to the

life in order to do it."3

Privy Council, the body that included all the monarch's senior

But George William Finch-Hatton, tenth Earl of Winchilsea,

political advisers, from 1821 to 1859—described him as "a peer

was pleased to assume the worst, and he often avowed, as the bill's

of no personal importance, but a stalwart upholder of Church and

final passage drew near, that the Duke of Wellington was plotting

State."5 Still, accusing the hero of the wars against Napoleon, the

an assault on the Protestant constitution. In a broadside in Febru-

"Saviour of Europe" and the victor of Waterloo, of dissembling

ary 1829, Winchilsea had urged his


about his true faith and betraying the Constitution was surely—as

boldly to stand forward in Defense of our Protestant Constitu-

the gentlemen in the London clubs among whom the accusation

tion and Religion. . . . " Because the "great body of your degen-

circulated might have put it—going too far.

erate Senators are prepared to sacrifice, at the shrine of Treason

Stung, as it seemed, by Winchilsea's published charge, Welling-

and Rebellion, that Constitution for which our Ancestors so nobly

ton insisted that the earl apologize . . . which the latter, after a hur-

fought and died," he called upon his countrymen to petition King

ried exchange of notes, declined to do. And so, on March 20, the

and Parliament. He subscribed himself modestly the "humble and

duke sent him a scornful message in which he asked: "Is the King's

devoted servant" of his Protestant brethren, signing the flyer, not

Minister to submit to be insulted by any gentleman who thinks

so humbly perhaps, "Winchilsea and Nottingham," since he hap-

proper to attribute to him disgraceful or criminal motives for his

pened to be the fifth Earl of Nottingham as well.

conduct as an individual?" And he answered himself immediately:

In a letter to the newspaper, the Standard, published on March

"I cannot doubt of the decision which I ought to make on this

16, about a week before the bill finally passed, Winchilsea made a

question. Your lordship alone is responsible for the consequences."

more specific attack upon the Duke of Wellington. He alleged that

He therefore insisted that Winchilsea grant him "that satisfaction

the king's first minister had dissembled in offering his financial

which a gentleman has a right to require and which a gentleman

support for the creation of King's College London as an Angli-

never refuses to give."6 The next morning, the duke and the earl

can institution to counterbalance the recent secular foundation of

met with their seconds on Battersea Fields.

London University. The duke's involvement in this ostentatiously

A few weeks later, the Catholic Relief Act gained George IV's

Protestant project was a "blind," Winchilsea claimed, that would

royal assent and, with it, the force of law. It was rumored that the

allow him, "under the cloak of some outward show of zeal for

anti-Catholic king had wept as he signed the bill, compelled to do

the Protestant religion," to "carry on his insidious designs for the

so by Wellington's threat to resign.


The Duel Dies



be tried in 1841 for wounding a Captain Tuckett in a duel: their


lordships acquitted.)8 At a minimum, he would surely have had to

Such were the circumstances that gave rise to Wellington's chal-

resign from the cabinet, just as two other Anglo-Irish politicians,

lenge. But now consider this. The duke was not an enthusiast

Canning and Castlereagh, had had to resign as foreign secretary

for dueling. Indeed, unlike many military officers of his day, and

and secretary of war respectively after their own duel two decades

despite an immensely distinguished military career, he had never

earlier. In either case, there is reason to doubt that the House of

dueled previously and he never did so again. While he was a field

Lords would have passed the Catholic Relief Act.

commander in the Napoleonic wars, he apparently believed that

Had there been a trial, the Lords would have faced a difficult

British military honor would be diminished if dueling were totally

choice. The French Revolution and the execution of Louis XVI

suppressed in the army. But in 1843, fourteen years after the infa-

and his queen in 1793 had raised the banner of republicanism in

mous duel while he was still commander in chief, the Articles of

Europe. The Jacobin Club—the leading radical organization of the

War were amended to institute serious penalties for dueling in

Revolution—spread new ideas about liberty and equality through

all branches of the armed forces, after lobbying by many promi-

France, which quickly gained adherents in England as well. At the

nent figures, including Queen Victoria's beloved husband, Prince

turn of the nineteenth century, British governments took measures

Albert. In later life the duke was a prominent member of the Anti-

regularly to confront the threat of Jacobinism, fearing a rising tide

Duelling Association.

of hostility not just to the monarchy but to the aristocracy and,

What's more, dueling was unlawful. As Sir William Blackstone

indeed, to all inherited privilege.

on the Laws of Eng-

After Wellington defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, there was

land, the common law of England "justly fixed the crime and pun-

a period of high unemployment, exacerbated by the so-called

ishment of murder' upon duelers and their seconds, who "wanton

Corn Laws, which aimed at keeping out cheap grain. These laws

with their own lives and those of their fellow creatures."7 Canon

protected the economic interests of the farmers who grew wheat

law and Christian moral teaching opposed the duel, too.

and similar crops in the United Kingdom, but raised the cost of

had written in the 1760s, in his Commentaries

Then there were the political implications. Had he been killed,

food for the British poor. The flagrant insensitivity of the ruling

the country and the king would have lost a prime minister in the

classes to the sufferings of the worst-off added impetus to radical

midst of a constitutional crisis in an illegal affair that was about

demands. In 1819, more than 50,000 men and women gathered

the issues at stake in that crisis. Few things could have been more

at St. Peter's Field in Manchester to press for parliamentary reform.

destabilizing in an already unsettled realm. Had he killed Win-

When they refused a magistrate's order to disperse, members of the

chilsea, on the other hand, the duke would have had to be tried

military class that Wellington represented cut down ordinary men

before the House of Lords for murder. (As Lord Cardigan was to

and women in the streets, killing a dozen men and three women,



The Duel Dies 9


half a dozen of them sabered before they were trampled to death.

other gentlemen, a prerogative flagrantly violated by Winchilsea's

The massacre was called "Peterloo," a none too subtle reference to

public accusation. At the heart of honor, then, is this simple idea:

the slaughter at Wellington's greatest victory.

Having honor means being entitled to respect.

By 1829, then, as the Catholic Relief Act was being debated,

But what do we mean by respect? The philosopher Stephen

many in Parliament and the country were agitating for more sub-

Darwall has recently distinguished two fundamentally differ-

stantial reforms and they were being resisted by a highly unrep-

ent ways in which we may respect a person. One, which he calls

resentative Parliament, dominated by an unelected aristocracy. It

"appraisal respect," involves judging a person positively accord-

was not a good moment for the authorities to look mildly on a

ing to a standard. And doing well by a standard essentially means

serious breach of the peace by an aristocrat while they were deal-

doing better than most others. It is in this sense that we respect

ing with the lower orders with such violent resolve. And, in the

Rafael Nadal for his tennis skills or Meryl Streep for her acting.

unlikely event that his peers declined to excuse him, they would

(I shall often use the word "esteem" for this kind of respect.) Wel-

have imposed that unpopular task on the king, since actually exe-

lington was hardly indifferent to such respect. As a soldier he had

cuting Wellington was out of the question.

lived up to the highest standards of military achievement. The

In sum, dueling was contrary to Wellington's own inclinations,

honor that came to him as a result was competitive: he got it by

to civil law and to Christian teaching, and, so it might seem, to

doing better than other people. Most of his many titles were given

political prudence. So what was the first minister of a king who

him out of respect for those achievements.

was also head of the Church of England doing out there in Batter-

But there is another kind of respect, "recognition respect,"

sea at eight o'clock that brisk spring morning? What on earth was

that involves (to put it rather abstractly) treating people in ways

he thinking? Well, as anyone in the small knot of curious bystand-

that give appropriate weight to some fact about them. When we

ers could have told you, Arthur Wellesley, Knight of the Bath,

respect powerful people—a judge in court, say, or a police officer

Baron Douro of Wellington, Viscount Wellington of Talavera and

when we're out driving—we treat them warily because they have

of Wellington, Earl of Wellington, Marquess of Wellington and

the capacity to compel us to do things. Our respect recognizes the

of Douro, and Duke of Wellington (to supply his full battery of

fact of that power. But we can also respect a sensitive person, by

titles) was defending his honor as a gentleman.

speaking to him gently, or a disabled person, by assisting her when she asks for help. Respecting people in this sense, in other words,


doesn't require you to rate them especially highly.
Because there are so many kinds of facts about people we

According to the codes that governed his society and his class, Wel-

can recognize and respond to, recognition respect for people can

lington had the right as a gentleman to be treated with respect by

have a great variety of emotional tones and can come along with



The Duel Dies

attitudes both positive and negative. When the Roman emperor

fifteenth-century warrior king not only ruled his realm, he also led

Caligula said, "Oderint dum metuant—Let them hate so long as

his armies. His unearned royal honor was supplemented by the

they fear," he was expressing his depraved delight in getting one

martial honor he earned for himself.

sort of respect; but it wasn't the sort of positive respect that goes with honor.


There are frequent evocations of the martial ideal in the literature of chivalry: in the stories, for example, of the knights of

As a result, the sort of recognition respect that is important for

King Arthur's Round Table that were staples of the education of

honor involves more than just "giving appropriate weight to some

upper-class boys in England well into the twentieth century. In the

fact about " a person. It also requires, especially as we conceive it

earliest literary version of these tales, the Morte D'Arthur—which

today, a positive attitude of a certain sort. I think, in fact, that the

Sir Thomas Malory probably began in the 1450s as a prisoner in

relevant attitude is the very one we display when we esteem people

the Tower of London, where Henry V's son and heir, Henry VI,

highly. So, from now on, when I talk about recognition respect,

was also incarcerated—Sir Tristram says that he fought "for the

I mean the kind that involves a positive regard for the person in

love of my uncle king Mark and for the love of the country of

virtue of the fact that it recognizes. Though this regard is found in

Cornwall and to increase my honor."9 And, indeed, Shakespeare's

esteem as well, it remains important, as we shall see, to distinguish

Henry V says, in the play's most famous speech, at the beginning

the different bases of the judgments associated with these different

of the battle at Agincourt:

sorts of respect.
These two kinds of respect—esteem and positive recognition respect—correspond to two kind of honor. There is competitive

. . . if it be a sin to covet honor
I am the most offending soul alive. (Act IV, Sc. iii)

honor, which comes in degrees; but there is also what we could call "peer honor," which governs relations among equals. (This is

Yet competitive honor, of the sort that Sir Tristram and Prince

a conceptual distinction; I don't say that these two kinds of honor

Hal and the Duke of Wellington won in battle, is not the form

are always tidily compartmentalized in actual usage.) Peer honor

of honor that the duel served to defend. Wellington treated Win-

does not come by degrees: either you have it or you do not.

chilsea as a gentleman in challenging him to a duel. In so doing

Henry V of England—Shakespeare's Prince Hal—was born to

he displayed recognition respect: he treated Winchilsea in a way

honor, owing to his royal parentage, but he was especially proud

that gave what was (by the standards of his society) appropri-

of the competitive honor he achieved from his military prowess,

ate positive weight to the fact that the earl was a gentleman. In

as at the battle of Agincourt, where his armies defeated the massed

turn, Wellington, though he was clearly entitled to a good deal of

forces of the French king ("for as I am a soldier, / A name that

appraisal respect as the most successful military commander (and

in my thoughts becomes me best," he says in Act III, Sc. iii). A

one of the greatest statesmen) of the age, required from Winchil-



The Duel Dies

sea only the recognition respect due to any gentleman. It was

one way of speaking of those who are especially dishonorable is to

respect between equals.

say that they are shameless.) The appropriate response from others


The honor of peers is something people of the right station

if you breach the codes is, first, to cease to respect you and, then,

either have, if they keep the codes, or don't have, if they don't.

actively to treat you with disrespect. The feeling we have for those

And the respect that gentlemen were supposed to show each

who have done what is shameful is contempt; and I shall have

other in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century England was

occasion in this book to make use of the slightly old-fashioned

just such respect among equals, grounded not in esteem but in

verb "contemn," which means both to regard and to treat con-

recognition. You owed the same courtesy to one gentleman as

temptuously, just as the verb "honor" means both to regard and to

you owed to all the others. Provided you were of the right social

treat with respect.

standing, the respect to which you were entitled as a gentleman,

What you should feel when you are honorable (or act honor-

your gentlemanly honor, was no greater whether you were a mag-

ably) is a more complicated matter. Pride is shame's opposite, and

nificent military success, like the Duke of Wellington, or an ordi-

you might think that it is, therefore, the right response to one's own

nary country squire.

honorable behavior. But pride seems especially apt when you have

It's important to understand that while honor is an entitlement

done something out of the ordinary; and an honorable person will

to respect—and shame comes when you lose that title—a person

often think that what he has done is simply what he had to do. If you

of honor cares first of all not about being respected but about being

are truly honorable, you may be no more inclined to be proud of liv-

worthy of respect. Someone who just wants to be respected won't

ing up to your standards than you are to be pleased with yourself for

care whether he is really living up to the code; he will just want to

breathing. Honor can consist in taking the code for granted.

be thought to be living up to it. He will be managing his reputa-

One difficulty for pride, then, is that modesty may be part of an

tion, not maintaining his honor. To be honorable you have both

honor code. In chapter 2,1 shall discuss another reason why, in the

to understand

the honor code and to be attached to it: these are

Christian world at least, pride's connection with honor is more com-

the conditions that the anthropologist Frank Henderson Stewart

plicated than shame's; namely, a tradition of moral hostility to pride

takes to define a sense of honor.10 For the honorable person, honor

(or vanity, as it is called when we are disapproving), an antagonism

itself is the thing that matters, not honor's rewards. You feel shame

that goes back to the Stoics.11 Henry V identifies the problem clearly

when you have not met the standards of the honor code; and you

after he receives the reports of the scale of his victory at Agincourt:

feel it—remember Descartes—whether or not anyone else knows

"And be it death proclaimed through our host / To boast of this or

you have failed.

take the praise from God / Which is His only" (Act IV, Sc. viii).

Shame is the feeling appropriate to one's own dishonorable

But other societies—ancient Greece, for example, in the long-

behavior. (Because of this connection between honor and shame,

ago past, or Asante, where I grew up, even today—have thought



that pride and blowing your own horn were the natural accompaniments of


There is a saying in my father's language that

The Duel Dies 12


too. Perhaps that is why the penalties in terms of loss of respect— including contempt and eventual ostracism—tend to be severe.

runs, "A person's honor is like an egg; if he doesn't hold it well, it

So it's very much to the point that Wellington had been accused

falls and breaks." Part of making sure you're holding your honor

by Winchilsea of dishonesty, in trying to distract the public from his

right may be reminding other people that you know your worth.

support for Catholics by contributing money to a Protestant cause.

In the Iliad, Achilles does nothing to diminish his honor when he

Had he, in fact, been doing what Winchilsea alleged, it would have

says, matter-of-factly:

been shameful. The code required that, once an allegation of this sort had been made, you had to clear your name: you had to estab-

And look, you see how handsome and powerful I am?

lish that it wasn't true. And the first way to do this was to ask for and

The son of a great man, the mother who gave me l i f e

receive a public apology. If the apology was denied, the same code

a deathless goddess.13

required you to challenge your accuser to a duel; and that would show, among other things, that you were willing to risk your life

In Wellington's world, though, this sort of boasting would have

rather than be thought to be guilty of something dishonorable.

been ungentlemanly. You showed your worth in action, not by

The duel displays a slightly awkward amalgam of concern for

singing your own praises. For him, the right emotional response to

being shown respect with concern with being worthy of it. What ini-

his own honor was not pride but simple self-respect.

tiates it is a slight of some sort: a display of disrespect. But why, if you

I said that the honorable person cares about honor itself, not

are worthy of respect, should the mere fact that someone disrespects

simply about the social rewards of being considered honorable.

you matter? Shouldn't it matter only if their disrespect is justified, as

Emotions like shame (and pride) are reinforced, it's true, when

Winchilsea's surely was not? The answer, in Wellington's world, was

other people are watching—especially those whose respect matters

that the code of the gentleman insists that to be worthy of respect

to me most. Nevertheless, honor requires me to conform to the

you have to be willing to respond to such slights. A man of honor

standard for its own sake, not merely for the sake of reputation

must be ready to defend his honor—to risk his life, in fact, to ensure

and its rewards. And someone who aims at reputation for its own

that he gets the respect that is his due. Both Wellington and Winchil-

sake is taking a dishonorable short cut.

sea thought that, in dueling, they were defending their honor.

That is one reason why honesty is so central to honor. (Honestus in Latin can mean both "honest" and "honorable.") Accusations of lying were one of the principal causes of duels. The


rewards of a good reputation are substantial, and the temptations

To be respected is, of course, to be respected by somebody. Because

of getting them without meriting them are therefore substantial,

of the conceptual connection between honor and being respected,


T h e Duel D i e s


we can always ask whose respect is at stake. Usually, it is not the respect of people in general, it is the respect of some particular social group, which I will call an "honor world": a group of people who acknowledge the same codes. Shakespeare's character Henry V, like his historical model, doesn't care much about the opinions of peasants: he expects their obedience, and no doubt they appraise him highly. But he does expect them both to respect him and to treat him with respect. On the other hand, he won't worry if strangers— faraway Saracens, for example—don't respect him. For one thing, they may not understand the codes by which he lives.
To say that people have honor is to say that they are entitled to respect according to the codes of their honor world. But it's misleading to say that someone has honor when you don't accept those codes yourself. Better, in those circumstances, to say he or she was honored in such and such an honor world. If you and I share the codes, though, we won't need to relativize in this way.
Within a common honor world saying, "We honor him" and saying, "He has honor" have the same practical effect.
In taking the measure of Wellington's honor world and its norms, we should notice that, of the ten men who preceded Wellington as prime minister, three—Lord Shelburne, William Pitt the Younger, and Canning—fought duels, as did Charles Fox and the Earl of Bath, each of whom was almost prime minister; and
Peel, who eventually followed the Duke to the premiership, had shown himself willing to accept challenges.14 In the most notorious of these episodes, Canning took to the field in 1809 against
Viscount Castlereagh, when they were members of the same government. While this episode led to their resignation from the cabinet, they both went on with political careers of further distinction:


Castlereagh began a decade of service as foreign secretary in 1809, guiding the British alliances that defeated Napoleon; Canning succeeded

him as foreign secretary and went on to be prime minister

for a few months in 1827.
No one suffered any penalties for his participation in the
Wellington-Winchilsea affair. Neither Winchilsea nor Falmouth seems to have been destined for greatness, so perhaps all the evidence we have about them is that there was no prosecution; but
Wellington remained prime minister, and Hardinge went on to become Viceroy of India, eventually returning to England in 1852 to succeed the duke as the British army's commander in chief, a position he held during the Crimean War, a few years later.
The duel appealed to the political elites of the new American republic, whose culture was an offshoot of Britain's, as well. A quarter of a century earlier, in July 1804, two of the most prominent politicians in the early American republic, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, had met in a fatal duel on the Heights of
Weehauken in New Jersey; fatal, that is, for Hamilton. Hamilton was one of the authors of the Federalist Papers (1788) that continue to define the meaning of the American Constitution; he was also a former secretary of Treasury. Burr was a sitting vice president. And Hamilton's early death—he was not yet fifty—was one of the great scandals of the day. Yet, while Burr was charged with murder in both New Jersey and New York, he was never actually tried, and he saw out his term as vice president, even though many thoroughly disapproved of what he had done.
Burr's freedom from the legal consequences of what was a crime in New Jersey as in Britain would not have surprised anyone in England. It was essentially unheard of, in the century before Wellington



and Winchilsea faced each other on Battersea Fields, for a British gentleman who observed the rules of honor to be prosecuted success-

The Duel Dies



fully for murdering an opponent in a duel.15 The standard pattern, if

The conduct of Wellington's duel reflected conventions origi-

one party was killed, was for the other one to disappear abroad and

nating in the early sixteenth century in Italy and codified in

wait to see if a prosecution was brought. If you were not charged, you

documents such as the Irish Duello or Duel Code "settled at

could return quietly and go about your business. If you were pros-

Clonmel Summer Assizes, 1777, by the gentlemen delegates

ecuted, and you had behaved properly, you would present the facts to

of Tipperary, Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Roscommon, and pre-

a jury of your peers, the judge was quite likely to be sympathetic, and

scribed for general adoption throughout Ireland"—also known

the jury was most likely to acquit you anyway even if he was not. In

as the "twenty-six commandments." 17 Wellington's challenge,

the unlikely event you were convicted and sentenced to death, con-

delivered by his second, Sir Henry Hardinge, a veteran of the

nections at court made it likely you would eventually be pardoned.

military campaigns in Portugal and Spain that had made Wel-

Dueling was one way of literally getting away with murder.

lington a national hero, required only the mention of a gen-

This was not because the authorities were squeamish about

tleman's demand for satisfaction in order to be understood.

executions. In a typical year in the eighteenth century, there were

Hardinge had provided a coach to bring Wellington's doctor,

some one hundred executions in England and Wales; in the mid-

Dr. John Robert Hume, but had not told him on whose behalf

century, there were more than thirty a year at Tyburn, London's

he was being summoned. (This was conventional; because the

place of public execution, alone. And execution for gentlemen,

duel was illegal, telling him could have opened him up to pros-

even members of the House of Lords, was not just a legal possibil-

ecution as an accessory if things had gone badly.) As a result,

ity: in 1760, a member of the House of Lords, Earl Ferrers, was

when the good doctor arrived, he was astonished, as he told

hanged for murder at Tyburn. No, the reason duelists were not

the Duchess of Wellington later, to find his patient preparing

condemned was that the official legal norm conflicted with the

to shoot and be shot at. Wellington, laughing, said to Hume:

social consensus among the British elite.

"Well, I dare say you little expected it was I who wanted you

Indeed, since Wellington's youth, there had almost certainly been an increase in the frequency of dueling, in part because the

to be here." And the doctor replied, "Indeed, my Lord, you are certainly the last person I should have expected here."18

turn of the nineteenth century was an extended period of warfare.

There is some dispute as to the proper interpretation of what

Some half a million Britons had served in the Anglo-French war-

happened after Hardinge shouted: "Gentlemen, are you ready?

fare between the execution of Louis XVI in 1793 and the battle of

Fire." Wellington fired first, as we saw, and, according to some

Waterloo.16 Their officers came back from Europe imbued with

accounts, fired wide deliberately. But it would have been hard to

the military's culture of honor.

tell if he was making a good faith effort to shoot the earl, since



T h e Duel D i e s


dueling pistols were not very reliable and, in any case, though he


was a great general, he was apparently not much of a shot.

tested too much. It was clear enough what the point of deloping

prohibited."21 But the gentlemen of Ireland here pro-

The correspondence of English ladies of the era abounds in

was. A gentleman's presence at a duel indicated willingness to die

surprisingly sympathetic stories of His Grace's accidents in the

defending his honor and this established that he met one of the

chase. Lady Palmerston wrote from Middleton, home of the Earl

criteria for being honorable. Though risking your life might show

and Countess of Jersey, on January 16, 1823: "The Duke has been

you cared about honor, actually killing in defense of your honor

unlucky at Wherstead; he peppered Lord Granville's face with

showed only that you were a good, or, at the least, a lucky, shot.

nine shots, fortunately he miss'd his eyes, but it has given him a

A man who put himself at risk while making no effort to defend

great deal of pain. . .


(You might have thought that it was Lord

himself established his courage all the more clearly.

Granville who had been unlucky.) And Frances, Lady Shelley,

Winchilsea had actually written to his second, Lord Falmouth,

recounts a day when, after wounding a dog and hitting a game-

on the night before the duel, saying that he would delope. Indeed,

keeper's gaiters, Wellington ended a chapter of accidents by shoot-

it was only with this understanding that Lord Falmouth was will-

ing an old woman who was unwise enough to do her washing by

ing to participate, since he (like almost everyone else) thought that

an open window. "I'm wounded, Milady," the woman screamed.

Winchilsea owed the duke an apology. "After the first fire," Win-

"My good woman," Lady Shelley replied, "this ought to be the

chilsea wrote, "I shall offer the expression of regret that I shall then

proudest moment of your life. You have had the distinction of

be ready to make." And, though he admitted in the same note

being shot by the great Duke of


that he should not have published the letter, he insisted, neverthe-

There is no dispute, though, as to what happened after Welling-

less, that he could not have apologized for doing so in the manner

ton fired. As we saw, Winchilsea pointed his pistol in the air over his

proposed by Sir Henry Hardinge, because to do so "might have

head and fired a bullet that no one could have thought was aimed

subjected me to imputations which would have made life to me

at the prime minister. This practice was known as "deloping." It

utterly worthless."22

was an indication that he did not want the duel to continue.

What were those "imputations"? The reference to Hardinge

This business of deloping was controversial. Rule XIII of the

provides the clue. For once Hardinge had written to Winchilsea on

Irish Code was quite clear: "No dumb shooting, or firing in the

Wellington's behalf, it was clear that he had been summoned as a

air, admissible in any case." And it went on to say with equal clar-

potential second. Once that had happened, Winchilsea

ity why. "The challenger ought not to have challenged without

been thought to be apologizing merely to avoid the duel. After the

receiving offence; and the challenged ought, if he gave offence, to

duel, Lord Falmouth offered Dr. Hume a different explanation.

have made an apology before he came on the ground: therefore

Winchilsea, he said, "could not have made any apology sufficiently

children's play must be dishonorable on one side or the other, and is

adequate to the offence consistently with his character as a man of




The Duel Dies 16

honor without first receiving the Duke's fire."23 On this account,
Winchilsea felt that apologizing even though he was in the wrong was dishonorable, though forcing the duke into a duel, being shot at, deloping, and then apologizing, was not. Simply put: having wrongfully accused Wellington, he thought he owed the prime minister a chance to have a shot at him.

gentlemen of the rank of squire and above, could settle legal disputes by passage of arms, provided they were "granted the field" by a sufficiently important feudal lord—the Duke of Burgundy, say, or a monarch.
The popes declared their opposition to judicial combat early on: in the middle of the ninth century, Pope Nicholas I wrote

If this was indeed what he was thinking, some of his contemporaries thought he had failed to do things entirely comme


a letter to the emperor Charles the Bald condemning it;25 and


the Roman Catholic Council of Trent took the trouble, in 1563,

John Cam Hobhouse, Lord Byron's friend and a radical MP, wrote

at the end of the Reformation, to fulminate, in its final session,

in his memoirs: "I believe that it was not reckoned fair for the per-

against "the detestable custom of dueling, introduced by the con-

son accused to terminate the duel before he had exposed himself

trivance of the devil, that by the bloody death of the body, he may

to two shots; and on the Monday following this business, as the

accomplish the ruin of the soul. . . ."26 The presupposition of this

Speaker and myself were talking it over in his library, he remarked

practice was that God would accord victory to the knight whose

that Lord Winchilsea had no right to fire in the air, but ought

cause was just.

to have received the Duke's second fire. . . . The fact was, neither party gained much credit by the transaction."24 It's part of the fascination of this duel that even Winchilsea and Falmouth didn't have a single consistent story as to what they were doing; and that others in their circle did not share their view as to what was and was not appropriate. The code was no longer working as it was supposed to.

It was this form of combat that the Church first opposed. One objection was a matter of biblical morality. In Luke 4, verses 9 to
12, Satan placed Christ on "a pinnacle of the temple" in Jerusalem, "and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence":
For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee:. . .

Given the pronounced ambivalence of British society about dueling, it's worth reflecting on the considerations that led both the law and conventional Christian morality to oppose the practice.
One source of the modern European duel was what was called
"judicial combat," in which members of the military ruling class,

And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
Christ is quoting a passage from Deuteronomy 6:16, which refers to an episode where the ancient Israelites forced God's hand by threatening to stone Moses if he didn't get Him to produce water for them in the desert. Tempting God here means some-



thing like trying to force God's hand. In judicial combat, the lord and those he granted the field were all, in a similar manner, tempting God.
The more obvious objection, however, was the violation of the

The Duel Dies


law, and being murdered, an offense against rational self-interest: both risks were by-products of the process. And the question was whether the ostensible aim of the duel, the protection of honor, was worth that price.

sixth (or, if you are Catholic or Lutheran, the fifth) command-

From early on there were doubters. Francis Bacon, writing in

ment: Thou shalt do no murder. In a duel over a point of honor,

his Charge Touching Duels (1614), more than two centuries before

you set out deliberately to kill a man who has offended you or a

Wellington challenged Winchilsea, complained, "it is a miser-

man who has taken offense. Neither is, from a Christian point of view, sufficient reason to take someone's life.
These objections to judicial combat extended to the modern duel.
The rational problem was at bottom that a duel was about an offense by A against B's honor, but—granted God's non-interference—its outcome depended in no way on whether A or B was in the wrong.
This problem was especially evident when the offense in question was an accusation of lying. When Touchstone—the clown in Shakespeare's As You Like It (written around 1600)—mocks the intricacy of the duello, he does so by elaborating the processes of a quarrel between himself and "a certain courtier," which begins with the clown disparaging the courtier's beard, but only reaches an actual duel seven stages later when the courtier finally accuses the clown of lying (Act V, Sc. iv). Yet a duel does nothing to establish the truth: and being willing to respond to the "lie direct" by issuing a challenge shows only that you are willing to back up your word with your sword, whether or not what you have said is true.
A duel could establish that you were brave or foolhardy enough to fight, and so refute one particular kind of insult to a gentleman, namely, that he was a coward. But neither killing your opponent nor being killed established that you were any braver than him.
Murdering another human being, an offense against the moral

able effect, when young men, full of towardness and hope, such as they call aurora filii, sons of the morning . . . shall be cast away and destroyed in such a vain manner; but much more it is to be deplored when so much noble and gentle blood shall be spilt upon such follies. . . ."27
Once the duel had passed from judicial combat, which could take place only with the king's permission, to a private and illegal act, claimed as a right of the nobility, it posed a further problem: it was now lèse majesté. Among the great enemies of the duel, accordingly, were men like Francis Bacon and his younger French contemporary Cardinal Richelieu, who were engaged in extending the power of the state, in part by subordinating the nobility, with its independent claim to honor, to the increasingly all-embracing reach of the monarchy.
The cardinal, who was Louis XIII's chief minister, famously had the Comte de Bouteville executed in 1627, when he ignored new royal edicts underlining existing laws against dueling. (Since he had fought more than twenty duels previously, the comte was entitled to be surprised at this new insistence on the letter of an old law.)
Louis, who was an enthusiast for chivalric ideals, had only reluctantly agreed to attempts at enforcing the long-standing legal ban on dueling, when Richelieu persuaded him that the cost in noble


The Duel Dies 18



blood was too high. (In his father's reign more than eight thousand

point, there were two charges: "the one against William Priest,

people had been killed in duels.) Lord Herbert of Cherbury, the

gentleman, for writing and sending a letter of challenge, together

British ambassador to Louis' court, wrote in his Autobiography that

with a stick which should be the length of the weapon; and the

among "the French at that time" there was "scarce any man thought

other against Richard Wright esquire, for carrying and delivering

worth the looking on, that had not killed some other in a duel."28

the said letter and stick unto the party challenged." These two

And the French historian and memoirist Amelot de Houssaye said

people met the minimum conditions for a duel: they were gentle-

that "the ordinary conversation of persons when they met in the

men. Bacon admitted to the judges that he "could have wished

morning was, 'Do you know who fought yesterday?' and after din-

that I had met with some greater persons, as a subject for your

ner, 'Do you know who fought this morning?' "29

censure."32 Still, the matter was urgent and this case had come up.

From the point of view of the modern state, which was devel-

Besides, "it passeth not amiss some-times in government, that the

oping in tandem with the rise of the duel, the duel was, as Francis

greater sort be admonished by an example made in the meaner,

Bacon nicely put it, an "offence of presumption." It

and the dog to be beaten before the lion." Already, in the early seventeenth century, the duel is an equalizing institution, and it

expressly gives the law an affront, as if there were two laws, one

is Bacon, speaking against it, who is insisting upon distinctions of

a kind of gown-law, and the other a law of reputation, as they

rank among gentlemen.

term it, so that Paul's & Westminster, the pulpit and the courts of justice must give place to the law . . . of ordinary tables, and such reverend assemblies; the year books and statute books must give place to some French and Italian pamphlets. . . . 3 0

For us today, the most obvious argument for permitting dueling is probably that it is the free act of willing participants. The first

At the time Bacon was writing, "private quarrels among great

person I know of who makes essentially this suggestion is Wil-

men"31 had become distressingly common around the court of

liam Hazlitt, the great English essayist and critic; writing, prob-

James I, and this led the king to issue an ordinance punishing

ably, a year or two before Wellington's duel, he opined that dueling

not just "singular combat" at home or abroad, but also making or

should be legal because it involved, to use a modern formulation,

transmitting challenges, acting as a second, or granting the field.

consenting adults.33 But it was too radical an idea at the turn of

Bacon had been Attorney General for about a year when his Charge

the nineteenth century to withdraw legislation against bad behav-

Touching Duels appeared, and it included part of his argument in a

ior just because it only harmed volunteers.

case he had brought before the Court of the Star Chamber.
In the particular case that Bacon chose to make the king's

The best defense of the duel available within the intellectual frameworks of the time runs parallel to the Utilitarian theory of


The Duel Dies 19



punishment. "All punishment," as Jeremy Bentham, the great

practice was immoral or irrational or both. In his History of the

Utilitarian philosopher-reformer, wrote in 1823, "in itself is

Reign of the Emperor Charles V, the Scottish historian and divine

evil."34 So it might at first seem that when we punish people, we

Dr. William Robertson, principal of Edinburgh University, wrote

are only adding a new evil to the evil they have already done. But,

that the practice was "not justified by any principle of reason,"

as Bentham went on to argue, a world with the institution of pun-

but, he went on,

ishment, properly advertised and administered, is a world free of other evils that we could not escape without it. Provided the evil of

it must be admitted that to this absurd custom, we must ascribe

punishment is outweighed by the evils it deters, we may rationally

in some degree the extraordinary gentleness and complaisance

support it for that reason.

of modern manners, and that respectful attention of one man

Consider now the duel. A society of people who treat each other

to another, which at present render the social intercourses of life

with respect, where reputations are not sullied by lies—where, in

far more agreeable and decent, than among the most civilized

a formula, gentlemen mind their manners—is preferable to one

nations of antiquity.35

where they do not. The institution of the duel provides a rather compelling incentive for gentlemen to mind their manners. But

This Enlightenment commonplace—that the duel is un-Christian

the duel is unlike punishment in one important respect. You can

and unreasonable yet does, at least, improve manners—had clearly

defend punishment as a deterrent because it is a practice enforced

irritated the leading philosopher of the Scottish Enlightenment,

by public institutions for the general good. By contrast, for duel-

David Hume. For in 1742, he added a discussion of dueling to his

ing, which is a private practice, to do its work, duelists have to

essay "Of the Rise and Progress of the Arts and Sciences," aimed at

believe that it serves some end of their own, since encouraging third

refuting the claim that the institution was useful "for the refining

parties to be honorable is not something for which most people

of manners."

would ordinarily be willing to risk their lives. Why should I enter

Hume is scathing in his rebuttal: "conversation, among the

into mortal combat with you in order to keep other people polite?

greatest rustics, is not commonly invested with such rudeness as

The sense of honor gives men just such private reasons for dueling.

can give occasion to duels," he says. And he objects that, in dis-

From within the institution, the reason for making and responding

tinguishing the man of honor from the man of virtue—in recog-

to challenges is obvious: if you don't, you will lose your right to the

nizing a normative system of honor distinct from morality—the

respect of your fellows. Still, to justify dueling because it deters dis-

honor code allows "debauchees" and "spendthrifts" to keep their

courtesy is to take a perspective from outside the world of honor.

place in a society that should repudiate them.36

Something like this argument was often made in the eigh-

In the same year, Francis Hutcheson—the father, it is conven-

teenth century, though, frequently by men who agreed that the

tional to say, of the Scottish Enlightenment—condemns duel-



ing in his textbook Philosophiae


T h e Duel D i e s 20

Moralis Institutio


gentlemen seek satisfaction. If the "civil governors" have not done


this, Hutcheson says, the "larger share of the guilt" of the duel

For lies and libels, the duel is too cruel a response: "death is too

lies with them. Smith, like Hume, does not put much effort into

grievous a punishment for opprobrious words." And, in any case,

arguing that the duel is bad in itself. That is left, as I say, to an

"the fortune of the combat is as blind and capricious as any."37

introductory philosophy textbook.

(translated in 1745 as A Short Introduction

to Moral

Indeed, given the unreliability of the eighteenth-century duel-

William Godwin, the eighteenth-century philosophical ana-

ing pistol, firing at each other at the normal distance of twelve to

lyst, in an appendix to his Enquiry Concerning

fifteen yards amounted in most cases to leaving the outcome to

(1793) on dueling, focuses not on questioning whether it is irra-

chance. Joseph Hamilton in his well-known Duelling


tional and wrong—this he, too, takes for granted—but rather on

which appeared soon after Wellington's duel, quotes "a celebrated

showing that it takes more courage to resist a challenge than to

writer" who made this point sharply with a persuasive analogy:

accept it. "Which of these two actions is the truest test of courage,"



he asks, "the engaging in a practice which our judgment disapIf having seized a man w h o has murdered m y wife, I should

proves, because we cannot submit to the consequences of follow-

carry h i m before a tribunal, and d e m a n d justice, what should

ing that judgment; or the doing what we believe to be right, and

we think of that judge, if he should order that the criminal and I

cheerfully encountering all the consequences that may be annexed

should cast lots which of us should be hanged. 3 8

to the practice of virtue?"40 So here, in effect, he couched an argument against dueling in the language of honor. Even Dr. Johnson,

Adam Smith, in his lectures

on Jurisprudence

(1762), argues

who could hardly be said to be an enthusiast for the Enlighten-

that duels persist because the law does not protect men sufficiently

ment, conceded to James Boswell, in one of the discussions of

from the affronts to honor that lead to challenges: he suggests

dueling they had in the Hebrides, that "he fairly owned that he

that this is a deficiency of the law. "As the injury done was with

could not explain" the "rationality" of the duel.41 When Voltaire

a design to expose the person and make him ridiculous, so the

remarked—in an aside in the Philosophical Dictionary—that

proper punishment would be to make the person who injured the

ing is "forbidden by reason, by religion, and by all the laws," he

other as ridiculous as he had made him, by exposing to shame in

was reporting an intellectual consensus.42

the pillory, and by imprisonment or fine, arbitrarily adapted to the circumstances of the



But we misunderstand this consensus if we fail to see how

Smith is here insisting on a point

much these gentlemen also felt the lure of honor. In his History of

that Hutcheson had made: it is up to the government to make sure

England, Hume says that dueling has "shed much of the best blood

that the law provides a sufficient remedy for the harms for which

in Christendom during more than two centuries," but he finds



himself conceding that the "absurd" maxims underlying the duel are nevertheless "generous" (i.e., noble); and he points out that,
"notwithstanding the severity of law and authority of reason, such is the prevailing force of custom, they are far from being entirely

T h e Duel D i e s


If cogent rational and moral argument failed in their efforts to weaken the institution, what succeeded? The aftermath of the

Wellington-Winchilsea affair is suggestive.

exploded."43 Smith believes that the duel is a response to a genuine affront. Hutcheson is not denying that there are important stakes in the duel; he is only insisting that the duel is not a reasonable way of pursuing them.
There is little evidence that their arguments made much headway among gentlemen. James Boswell—not only Johnson's biographer but also a Scottish gentleman of rank (he was ninth laird of Auchinleck)—contemplated accepting a number of challenges, even though he had forced Johnson to admit they were irrational; and his son, Sir Alexander Boswell, was one of the last victims of the duel in Scotland, dying in March 1822 after a duel at Auchtertool in Fife.
But Boswell père captured the conflict between Christian duty and the laws of honor as clearly as anyone in one of the many fascinating footnotes to his Life of Johnson:
It must be confessed, that, from the prevalent notions of honor, a gentleman who receives a challenge is reduced to a dreadful alternative. A remarkable instance of this is furnished by a clause in the will of the late Colonel Thomas, of the Guards, written the night before he fell in a duel, September 3, 1783: "In the first place, I commit my soul to Almighty God, in hopes 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."44

Once Winchilsea fired his gun into the air and so satisfied his somewhat eccentric sense of the proprieties, his written expression of contrition, which had been drafted before the duel began, was presented to Wellington through the seconds. Wellington's response was: "This won't do. This is no apology." Hardinge insisted that they would have to continue firing unless the document was amended to make it clear that Winchilsea was apologizing. It was at this point that Dr. Hume made the splendidly useful suggestion that the actual word "apology" be inserted. Winchilsea and Falmouth complied. Dr. Hume witnessed the revised document. It included a promise, on Winchilsea's part, to print the text of the apology in the Standard, in the very pages where he had published the accusation that had led to Wellington's challenge.
Not surprisingly, these events were soon the talk of London.
Many people professed themselves shocked that the prime minister had taken part in a duel. The Times declared that the duel had been quite unnecessary. The Morning Herald observed sententiously: "No wonder the multitude break laws when the law makers themselves, the great, the powerful and the famous, set them at open defiance."45 But others wondered at the great man's participation not so much because it was illegal as because it made him look, well, ridiculous. An anonymous cartoonist published an image of the five men, with Winchilsea dancing on an anti-



Catholic petition as the duke shoots off the tail of his coat. Under
Wellington runs the verse:
The D-ke when marshaled in the


To no aspiring enemy would deign to yield;
Shall he when dignified by royal favor
Submit to insult by each—?—no never!
Below Winchilsea we read: "The fundamental doctrines of Christianity subverted."46 In the background, Falmouth proffers a paper to Hardinge, on which is written the single word: "Apology." The overall effect is, indeed, comical.
Newspaper comments and cartoons like these were of crucial significance in the changing response to the duel. The rise of a popular press and of working-class literacy made it increasingly clear—and, as democratic sentiment grew, increasingly unacceptable—that gentlemen were living outside the law. When

"King's Colledge [sic] to w i t — a practical essay." Anon, (perhaps T h o m a s Howell Jones).
Published by S. W. Fores, 4 1 Piccadilly, 1829. British C a r t o o n Archive, University of
Kent, ( T h e attribution to Jones comes from the W e b site of King's
College London:

dueling was an aristocratic practice known mostly only within the class of those who practiced it, there was no place for the atti-

sity of an exchange of fire. Lord Falmouth's frantic attempts to

tudes of ordinary people to shape its honor world. The modern

get Hardinge and Wellington and even Dr. Hume to acknowledge

press brought all the citizens of Britain into a single community of

his reasons for agreeing to act as Winchilsea's second reflected his

knowledge and


awareness that they thought his participation unworthy.

Despite this gentle mockery, Wellington clearly got the better

Hardinge's speech before the duel is a splendid exercise in con-

of the affair. Hardinge had expressed grim indignation on Bat-

descension. After insisting to Winchilsea and Falmouth that they

tersea Fields at Winchilsea's refusal to apologize when he was so

alone were responsible for the fact that the dispute had reached

clearly in the wrong. That was the essence of a protest he read once

this extreme outcome, he told them that they alone would have

the principals were in their positions. In exchanges with Falmouth

to bear responsibility for the consequences. And he ended by say-

both before and after the duel, Hardinge stressed each time the

ing, "if I do not now express my opinion to your lordships in the

impropriety, in his view, of having imposed on the duke the neces-

same terms of disgust I have done in the progress of the affair, it


The Duel Dies

is because I wish to imitate the moderation of the Duke of Wel-

evaluation—written, I should point out, for publication only after his death—of Wellington's decision to issue his challenge to


lington." (Of course, saying you are refraining from calling someone's behavior disgusting is just a roundabout way of expressing


your disgust. Dr. Hume recorded that he heard Winchilsea mutter something in response about "rather strong language.") When Fal-

I think the Duke ought not to have challenged him; it was very

mouth tried, once more, to justify Winchilsea's persistence in the

juvenile, and he stands in too high a position, and his life is so

duel, Hardinge cut him off even more contemptuously: "Indeed,

much publica cura that he should have treated him and his letter

my Lord Falmouth," he said, "I do not envy you your feelings."

with the contempt they merited; it was a great error in judgment,

You can almost hear him restraining a sneer.

but certainly a venial one, for it is impossible not to admire the

In Dr. Hume's narration, Falmouth's increasing agitation con-

high spirit which disdained to shelter itself behind the immuni-

trasts with Hardinge's solid correctness. By the end, Falmouth—

ties of his great character and station, and the simplicity, and

the doctor is not quite sure—may have tears in his eyes. Hardinge's

almost humility, which made him at once descend to the level

position is straightforward: as a man of honor, the duke believed

of Lord Winchilsea, when he might, without subjecting himself

he had no choice but to issue his challenge, but it was a contempt-

to any imputation derogatory to his honor, have assumed a tone

ible thing to have forced this upon him.

of lofty superiority and treated him as unworthy of notice. Still,

The latter sentiment—indignation at Winchilea's refusal to obviate the duel with an apology—was widely shared. Charles

it was beneath his dignity; it lowered him, and was more or less ridiculous.49 Greville's summary of the response (at least in his elevated circles) is straightforward: "Nothing could equal the astonishment caused

Is Greville committed to the ideology of the duel? The duke was

by this event. Everybody, of course, sees the event in a differ-

ignoring the obvious risk to the public interest in hazarding his

ent light; all blame Lord Winchilsea, but they are divided as to

own life. The challenge, Greville says, was "juvenile," "ridiculous,"

whether the Duke ought to have fought or not." Perhaps Greville's

yet the error in making it, he insists, was "venial." In the world of

most striking contribution was his description of Winchilsea as a
' "48

honor, though, making yourself ridiculous, acting beneath your

Yet something had changed. A generation earlier, there could have been no doubt that Wellington was doing what he had to.
Few passages of the prose written at the time can have more clearly displayed the tension between the culture of honor and the new world that was emerging than Charles Greville's frank personal

culture of the duel shows most is in his ignoring the principle

dignity, is a mortal sin. Where Greville's defection from the old that, on the field, all gentlemen are equal. Rule XXXVIII of the
Royal Code, which William Hamilton proposed in the Duelling
Handbook mentioned earlier, is clear: "The parties . . . have, by the very act of meeting, made an acknowledgment of equality. . . . "



And, though this Code was a novelty, another early nineteenthcentury attempt to temper the extremes of the duel, this element of it was thoroughly traditional. If there were social ranks even among gentlemen—every member of the House of Lords had a place in an order of precedence—there was also, as I have insisted, an important sense in which they belonged to a single stratum: that is presumably why peers are called peers. In the world of honor, the equality of gentlemen, displayed in the duel, declared their shared superiority to the common people. Deny this and the whole scheme begins to fall apart.
Greville's doubts about whether Wellington should have asked
Winchilsea for satisfaction reflected a certain tension in the codes of gentlemanly behavior. On the one hand, there was a distinctly hierarchical insistence on the inferiority of the "lower orders"; on the other hand, there was an egalitarianism within the ranks of gentlemen. When Greville said that the earl wasn't on the duke's level—so that the duke was "lowering himself" by treating him as an equal—whatever he meant by "level," he was appealing to an inappropriate standard. And, indeed, in rejecting the ideal of a form of equality that connected the grandest duke to the merest country squire, he was rejecting this one progressive feature of the dying code. In the culture of the duel, any gentleman— and nobody could deny that Winchilsea was that—was worthy of notice. Greville judged Wellington's encounter juvenile by a standard other than the gentlemanly honor that had long sustained the practice.
King George, it should be said, showed no such ambivalence.
He continued in a long European tradition of royal toleration of the nobility's propensity for flouting laws that were supposed to

The Duel Dies


reflect the sovereign's will. Wellington was at Windsor by midday to report at court on what had happened. Greville tells us that the king was "highly pleased with the Winchilsea affair."50 According to the editor of the Literary Gazette, His Majesty supposed that, given Wellington's sensitivity, "being a soldier . . . the course pursued had been unavoidable."51 Military gentlemen, the king knew, occupied a defining place in the world of honor. And, perhaps for this reason, the opinion of many ordinary men and women seems to have swung behind Wellington, too; as the Duchess of Wellington told her son, whereas before "the Mob were . . . abusing your father, now they are cheering him again."52
This was almost certainly just what her husband had planned.
In the heady atmosphere of constitutional debate, as popular discontent seethed in England as well as in Ireland, Wellington's conversion to Catholic emancipation had worried many of his conservative fellow citizens. Many aspersions had been cast against him. In picking the eccentric earl and his preposterous allegation to stand for his detractors, Wellington had made a shrewd choice.
Writing to the Duke of Buckingham a month after the duel,
Wellington claimed—it is halfway between an admission and a boast—that when Winchilsea's "furious letter" was published, "I immediately perceived the advantage it gave me."
The duel, for Wellington, as for Winchilsea, was an attempt to shape public opinion, though the stakes for the duke were predictably grander. He was seeking, he said, to shift public sympathy toward himself in the face of innuendo and rumor from those who opposed his political decision. And, on his account, he had been entirely successful. Winchilsea had played into his hands. He had made a preposterous allegation, offensively declined to with-


The Duel Dies 25



draw it, and then forced the duke to stake his life. Through it all

disparaged as "trade." New state bureaucracies were developing,

the prime minister sought to make it appear that he was doing,

with new tools, such as statistics, run by a growing and increas-

as usual, only what duty required. "The atmosphere of calumny

ingly professionalized class of officials.

in which I had been for some time living cleared away. . . . I am

Businessmen believe in being businesslike; and bureaucrats

satisfied," he concluded, "that the public interests at the moment

famously prefer things orderly, too. Many in these new classes

required that I should do what I did."53

favored parliamentary reform: they wanted to deny the landed gen-

Perhaps Wellington's own account, if we take it at face value,

try their traditional rights to allocate seats in the Commons, to stop

represents the most scandalous defection of all. What had seemed a

vote buying, and to extend the franchise. The Catholic Relief Act

reluctant defense of personal honor is recast, in this letter, in cold-

was one of the many tactical sallies and retreats in that battle. While

blooded, instrumental terms—as a matter of political calculation,

allowing Catholics into Parliament, the bill increased the property

even manipulation. The purest embodiment of the honor code

requirements for voting for county seats in Ireland fivefold, from

has, it would seem, been recruited for ordinary political ends.

forty shillings (which is what it had been in England for nearly four hundred years) to ten pounds, thus contributing to the pressures

So how was it that the duel itself eventually fell into contempt?

for electoral reform that were to culminate in the disturbances that led to the passage of the Great Reform Bill a mere three years later, in 1832.

How did a set of norms weaken sufficiently that an aristocrat like

The tension between honor and legality must have been espe-

Charles Cavendish Fulke Greville could see the duke's act as "juve-

cially strong for Wellington because he was not only a professional

nile"? We've seen some of the elements. The rise of the administra-

soldier but also a public administrator of long service, in a family

tive state, with its concern for orderly legality. A popular press that

of public administrators. His elder brother, the Marquess Welles-

turned an in-group institution into a spectacle for mirthful out-

ley, was one of the leading public servants of the age. He had been

siders. The weakening grip of the gentlemanly creed of equality-

Governor-General of India, Ambassador to Spain during the

within-superiority. But might these be symptoms of a larger shift?

Peninsula Wars, and foreign secretary. William, the second son of

One powerful suggestion—made in the work of V. G. Kiernan,

their father, the Earl of Mornington, had also been Secretary for

the preeminent historian of the European duel—is that the class

Ireland, and he was later Master of the Mint under Lord Liver-

whose norm it was gradually lost its central place in British public

pool, joining his brothers as Lord Maryborough in the Lords in

life. The ruling aristocracy was being superseded in the early nine-

1821, where their youngest brother Henry, who had been Ambas-

teenth century, as Marx famously argued, by a new class; men like

sador to France, also arrived in 1828, as Lord Cowley.

Peel whose family fortunes had been made in what the aristocrats

The duke himself—aside from his extraordinary military



The Duel Dies 26


career—had been Ambassador to France, first Plenipotentiary at

dale in 1859, recalling when dueling was a regular "mode of meet-

the Congress of Vienna, and a member of the Privy Council since

ing a certain description of insult." Cobden tells the electors of

1807, as well, of course, as Chief Secretary for Ireland; and he had


entered the Irish Parliament as an MP at the age of twenty-one. As aristocrats with military connections, the Wellesleys might have

Well, I remember that some linendrapers' assistants took it into

been favorable to the duel; as public servants, they had the same

their heads to go down one Sunday morning . . . and they began

reasons that Bacon and Richelieu had to oppose it.

fighting duels; and that as soon as the linendrapers' assistants

Francis Bacon anticipated the mechanism of the duel's demise,

took to dueling, it became very infamous in the eyes of the upper

when the modern duel was just beginning, in his address to the

classes. . . . Now nothing would be so ridiculous as any noble-

court in Charge Touching Duels:

man or gentleman thinking of resenting an insult by going out and fighting a duel about it.15

I should think (my Lords) that men of birth and quality will leave the practice, when it begins to . . . come so low as to barbersurgeons and butchers, and such base mechanical


Cobden's view was that Bacon's prediction had been confirmed, however belatedly: the adoption of dueling by "base men" had led to its relinquishment by the aristocracy. And his mocking tone

A duel was an affair of honor. It depended on the existence

reminds us that in an increasingly democratic age, the duel was

of a powerful class whose members could establish their status by

an unloved symbol of aristocratic privilege. Oscar Wilde said

getting away with a practice contrary to law that others could not.

famously that so long as war was regarded as wicked, it would

It was a further sign of the diminishing status of that class when,

always have its fascination. "When it is looked upon as vulgar,"

in the first decades of the nineteenth century, duels began to take

he went on, "it will cease to be popular." Much the same might

place more frequently between people who, if they were gentle-

be said of the duel; and we might add that it was the increasing

men at all, were so by virtue of their membership in the profes-

vulgarity of the duel that finally made its wickedness perspicuous.

sions or their success in trade. Once "base mechanical" persons

As long as the institution was merely condemned, as mad or bad,

could contemplate engaging in it, the duel's capacity to bring dis-

it could flourish; only when it was contemned did it falter.

tinction was exhausted.

Three years after his duel, in the "Days of May"—May 7-15,

Bacon's is the view in prospect, as the duel is rising toward

1832—Wellington was unable to form a government for William

its eighteenth-century apogee. For a retrospect, listen to Richard

IV, the new king. The duke's resistance to electoral reform—or

Cobden, the great Liberal parliamentarian, in a speech in Roch-

rather the resistance of many conservatives like him in the Lords—



The Duel Dies 27

had led England to the brink of revolution. As rioting spread



across the realm, the old aristocrat had to witness the concessions of the Great Reform Act, which marked the earliest steps toward

The changes I have been discussing occurred in Great Britain. In

the end of the supremacy of the House of Lords and the beginning

different places—the United States, Russia, Germany, Spain—

of the rise of a House of Commons, now more representative of

dueling came to an end in different ways, as you'd expect, given

a new commercial and professional middle class. As John Stuart

the variety of the social and political contexts in these different

Mill wrote in 1840, "the government of England is progressively

societies. Honor did not disappear with dueling, of course, in the

changing from the government of a few, to the government, not

British Isles or anywhere else. But after centuries of trying, the

indeed of the many, but of many;—from an aristocracy with a

bureaucrats, whose complaints we heard in Bacon's Charge, have

popular infusion, to the régime of the middle class."56

had their way. Perhaps nothing displays the changing meaning of

Many of the new men shared the Evangelical convictions of

the word "gentleman" more sharply than the fact that Cardinal

William Wilberforce, who had worked for decades not just on

Newman did not feel it preposterous to say in 1852: "It is almost

anti-slavery and public morals—including the campaign against

a definition of a gentleman to say he is one who never inflicts

dueling—but also on parliamentary reform. Wellington and

pain."58 If that is what a gentleman is, nothing could be more

many of his peers were persuaded not to oppose the bill by the

ungentlemanly than the duel.

king's threat—under the insistent pressure of Earl Grey and his

By the middle of the nineteenth century, honor could no lon-

cabinet—to create enough new peers to outvote them. And when

ger be protected by the duel in the British Isles. James Kelly, the

the new Parliament met, His Grace is supposed to have observed

author of a history of Irish dueling, identifies a Captain Smith

that he "never saw so many shocking bad hats in his life." These

who was shot and killed in 1833 in Fermoy "following an 'angry

peevishly snobbish words, like the duel with Winchilsea, reflect

discussion' over the relative merits of various regiments"; and Lord

the gap between his sentiments and the spirit of the times. Writ-

Londonderry and the Lord Mayor of Dublin and their opponents

ing in 1865, at the end of a long life, Byron's friend John Cam

each emerged unscathed from the field later in the 1830s.59 After

Hobhouse remarked of Wellington's decision, "It is difficult at this

them, the records fizzle out.

time of day, so many years since the change of opinion, and of

The last gentleman to be prosecuted for dueling in Scot-

usage, in regard to dueling, to give an impartial judgment on this

land took the field in August 1826; he was a reluctant duelist, a

transaction." But, he continued, as if reporting the practices of

Kirkcaldy linen merchant (a tradesman, Wellington might have

an alien culture, "Dueling, like bull-baiting, prize-fighting, cock-

insisted), and the opponent who forced him to his challenge was

fighting, and other barbarous usages, had its rules, which could

his banker, an ex-military officer. The banker died; the business-

not be transgressed without some amount of censure. . . ."57

man was acquitted.60


The Duel Dies 28



And perhaps the last time a gentleman shot another on the field

for the rest of our lives," and, Gregory tells us, they "discussed

of honor in England was in 1852, when George Smythe (Disraeli's

our future residence." One hopes that Sir William's son Robert

friend and the model for Coningsby) and a Colonel Romilly, both

Gregory (whose death in the First World War was the occasion of

of them members of Parliament for Canterbury, met over an elec-

Yeats's "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death") was indeed edified

tion dispute in what is often said to be the last duel in England.61

by this narrative.

It was, Kiernan tells us, "an appropriately burlesque event, with

When Guy Crouchback in Evelyn Waugh's Second World War

the two men and their seconds having to share the station fly at

novel Officers and Gentlemen is asked what he would do if some-

Weybridge." There is, indeed, something comical in the image

one challenged him to a duel, his laconic answer is: "Laugh."64 So

of two gentlemen and their seconds getting off the train to share

it was at the end of the process; but the laughter was already begin-

a taxi to a field where they plan to shoot at each other. As one

ning when the great Duke of Wellington was mocked for challeng-

contemporary observed: "The incident was dealt with in a witty

ing that "maniac," the Earl ofWinchilsea and of Nottingham.

article in the Times, and so ridicule at last did more than morality to kill dueling. Solventur risu tabulae."62 The case is dismissed with laughter. My own favorite among the last duels in England occurred when Sir William Gregory, husband of Lady Gregory, the wellknown Irish literary figure, took to the field at Osterley Park in
1851 against another member of the Turf Club, in a rather complicated dispute over the concealment of the ownership of a horse.
Writing much later, Sir William prefaces his account by saying that he wants his son to understand why he came to do something
"so foolish, so wrong, and so contrary to public opinion." 63 The description of the duel—which was delayed a few days to allow him to collect his winnings from a horse race—is bound to strike a contemporary reader as unintentionally hilarious. At one point,
Gregory's second, Sir Robert Peel, a son of the recently deceased prime minister, wonders out loud whether death is the appropriate penalty for lying about a horse. A moment earlier he observes,
"Of course, . . . if we escape hanging, we shall have to live abroad


1. René Descartes, "Comments on a Certain Broadsheet" (1648), in The

Writings of Descartes. Vol. 1, trans. John Cottingham, Rob-

ert Stoothoff, and Dugald Murdoch (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1987): 307.

1. Christopher Hibbert, Wellington: A Personal History (Reading, MA: Perseus/HarperCollins, 1999): 275.
2. Wellington, Despatches,


and Memoranda,

V: 542.

3. Joseph Hendershot Park, ed., British Prime Ministers of the Nineteenth


tury: Policies and Speeches (Manchester, NH: Ayer Publishing, 1970): 62.
4. Wellington, Despatches, V: 527.
5. Greville, Memoirs,


6. A copy of the note, from the archives of King's College London, is at 7. Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries

on the Laws of England (Oxford:

Clarendon Press, 1765-69), Bk IV, chapter 14, "Of Homicide"; http:// 14.asp.


Notes to Pages 11—26

8. Sir Algernon West, Recollections:
Harper & Bros., 1900): 27.



Notes to Pages 27-34

(New York & London:

25. V. Cathrein, "Duel," in The Catholic Encyclopedia,

Vol. 5 (New York:

Robert Appleton Company, 1909);

9. Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur the original edition ofWilliam ton now reprinted and edited with an introduction



and glossary by H. Oskar

26. Council of Trent, 25th Session, Dec. 3 and 4, 1563, "On Reformation,"

Sommer; with an essay on Malory's prose style by Andrew Lang (Ann Arbor:

chapter 19. Available at

University of Michigan Humanities Text Initiative, 1997): 291; http:// .HTM.
27. Francis Bacon, The Letters and the Life of Francis Bacon, Vol. 4, ed. James

10. Stewart, Honor, 44—•47.

Spedding (London: Longmans, Green, Reader & Dyer, 1868): 400.

11. Hugh Lloyd-Jones, "Honor and Shame in Ancient Greek Culture," in Greek
Comedy, Hellenistic Literature, Greek Religions, and Miscellanea: The Academic
Papers of Sir Hugh Lloyd-Jones (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990): 279.
12. For Asante in the nineteenth century, see John Iliffe, Honor in African
History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004): 83-91.
13. Homer, The Iliad, trans. Robert Fagles (New York: Viking Penguin,
1990): 523.

28. Edward Herbert, The Autobiography

of Edward, Lord Herbert of


ed. Will H. Dircks (London: Walter Scott, 1888): 22.
29. Amelot de Houssaye, cited in Charles Mackay, Memoirs of Extraordinary
Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (Ware, Herts: Wordsworth
Editions, 1995): 668.
30. Bacon, Letters and Life, 400. Those "pamphlets" are the duello codes.
31. This is John Chamberlain's description of the situation in the letter of

14. Kiernan, The Duel in European History, 216.

1613 in which he lists the disputes just mentioned. Spedding (ed.) cites it

15. Ibid., 102.

in Bacon, op. cit., 396.

16. Ibid., 190.

32. Bacon, op. cit., 409, 399.

17. Hamilton, The Duelling


138. (quoted slightly differently

in Robert Baldick, The Duel: A History of Duelling

[London: Hamlyn,

1970]: 33-34). Cited in Douglass H. Yarn, "The Attorney as Duelist's

33. William Hazlitt, The Complete Works ofWilliam

Hazlitt, ed. P. P. Howe

(London & Toronto: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1934), Vol. 19: 368.
34. Jeremy Bentham, An Introduction

to the Principles

of Morals and Legisla-

Friend: Lessons from The Code Duello," 51, Case W. Res. I. Rev., 69

tion (1823) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1907), chapter 13, para. 2; http://

(2000): 75-76, n. 71. 3.html#Chapter%20

18. Wellington, Despatches, V: 539.


19. Tresham Lever, The Letters of Lady Palmerston: Selected and Edited from the
Originals at Broadlands and Elsewhere (London: John Murray, 1957): 118.
20. Frances Shelley, The Diary of Frances Lady Shelley, ed. R. Edgecumbe
(London: John Murray, 1913): 74.
21. Hamilton, The Duelling Handbook,

(New York: Harper & Bros., 1836): 225.
36. David Hume, Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary. Library of Economics and Liberty, at



22. Wellington, Despatches, V: 539.

37. Francis Hutcheson, Philosophiae

23. Ibid.,V: 544.
24. Lord Broughton (John Cam Hobhouse), Recollections

Short Introduction of a Long Life with

Additional Extracts from His Private Diaries, ed. Lady Dorchester. Vol. 3:

35. William Robertson, The History of the Reign of the Emperor Charles V

(New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1910): 312-13.

moralis institutio


with A

to Moral Philosophy, ed. LuigiTurco (Indianapolis: Lib-

erty Fund, 2007). Chapter XV: Of Rights Arising from Damage Done, and the Rights of War,
38. Hamilton, The Duelling Handbook,



39. Adam Smith, Lectures on Jurisprudence,

ed. R. L. Meek, D. D. Raphael,

and P. G. Stein. Vol. 5 of the Glasgow Edition of the Works and spondence 231

Notes to Pages 48-57

Notes to Pages 34-48


Part I, ed. John M. Robson (Toronto: University of Toronto


Press; London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1977). Chapter: De Tocque-

of Adam Smith (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1982). Chapter:

ville on Democracy in America [II], 1840,

Friday, January 21st, 1763;
40. William Godwin, An Enquiry Concerning

Political Justice, and its


on General Virtue and Happiness, Vol. 1 (London: G. G . J . & J. Robinson,
1793). Chapter: Appendix, No. II: Of Duelling; http://oll.libertyfund. org/title/90/40264. Philosophique,

of a

Oeuvres Completes de Voltaire (Paris: De

l'Imprimerie de la Société Litteraire-Typographique, 1784), Vol. 36: 400.
43. David Hume, The History of England from the Invasion

(London: Long-

mans, Green & Co., 1919): 208.

of Julius


in 1688 (1778), 6 vols. (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund,

1983), Vol. 3: 169.



60. James Landale, The last Duel: A True Story of Death and Honour

LL.D. Together with the Journal

Tour to the Hebrides, ed. Napier, V: 195.

to the Revolution

58. John Henry Cardinal Newman, The Idea of a University
59. James Kelly, That Damn'd

41. Boswell, The l i f e of Samuel Johnson,
42. Voltaire, Dictionnaire

57. Lord Broughton, op. cit., 312.




Called Honour:


(Cork: Cork University Press, 1995): 267.

burgh: Canongate, 2005).
61. Kiernan, The Duel in European


218, says that this "has been

called the last duel in England." He makes his case less plausible by putting the affair three years too early, in 1849.
62. Sir Algernon West, Recollections,

28, quoting Horace, Satires, Bk 2, 1.

44. Boswell, op. cit., 2: 343.

Line 86 is "Solventur risu tabulae, tu missus abibis," (I've corrected Sir

45. From the account offered by Kings College London at http://www.kcl.

Algernon's "solvuntur," though it is often misquoted that way)—"The

charges will be dismissed with laughter; released, you will leave." Horace

46. This cartoon is available, with another better known one of the event by

is pointing out that a libel action—tabulae are the elements laid before

William Heath, on the Web site of King's College London at http://www

a judge—will be dismissed with laughter if the scandalous verses com-

plained of are funny enough.

47. I am very grateful to Philip Pettit for this suggestion.
48. Greville, Memoirs,

63. Sir William Gregory, An Autobiography,


ed. Lady Gregory (London: John

Murray, 1894): 149-51.

49. Ibid., 198.

64. Evelyn Waugh, The Sword of Honour

50. Ibid., 199.

Trilogy (New York: Knopf, 1994):


51. Hibbert, Wellington: A Personal History, 275. The literary

Gazette is cited

by Hamilton {op. cit., xiv).


53. Duke ofWellington, Despatches,

V: 585.

1. Quoted in Howard S. Levy, Chinese Footbinding:

54. Bacon, op. cit., 400.
55. Richard Cobden, Speeches on Questions of Public Policy by Richard

The History of a Curious

Erotic Custom (New York: Walton Rawls, 1966): 72.

2. Robert Hart, The I.G. in Peking: Letters of Robert Hart, Chinese


M.P., ed. John Bright and James E. Thorold Rogers (London: Macmillan

Customs (1868-1907),

& Co., 1878): 565.

and Elizabeth MacLeod Matheson (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University

56. Mill, Collected

Works of John Stuart Mill. Vol. 18: Essays on Politics


ed. John King Fairbank, Katherine Frost Brunner,

Press, 1976) Vol. 2: 1311.

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