Friday, June 6, 2008

Dueling the Vogue


All Classes In Continental Europe Taking to the Field of Honor.

It is a curious feature of the age that the practice of dueling, which has completely died out in this country, should not only be still in vogue on the continent, but spreading with alarming rapidity from the army and nobility to all classes of the population. A peaceful citizen who minds his own business in Austria is now liable at any hour of the day or the night to receive a formal challenge from his bootmaker or his banker, who a day or two later may assume for this occasion only the character of his butcher. In France, it is true, the affair of "honor" is seldom quite so dangerous as the weekly trials of skill among German university students, known as "mensur," which often lead to the loss of a bit of an ear or nose, always end in blood and once in awhile, culminate in death.

In Italy, Austria, Hungary and other lands an encounter of this kind is a much more formidable matter. Thousands of well meaning men and promising youths are yearly disabled, crippled or killed on the altar of "knightly honor." Every man in those countries carries his life in his hands, so to say, and journalism, politics, the bar, the army and navy — in a word, every walk of life except the church — are closed to him who conscientiously refuses to give or accept a challenge to mortal combat on the slightest provocation, real or imaginary. Our foreign correspondents have more than once described sanguinary duels in the army the principals of which — mere lads still in the military school — were bosom friends ignorant of what they were fighting for. In one case two youths were playing in the schoolyard when an officer drew near and asserted that one had touched the other on the cheek and thus insulted him.

The boys, who were in a better position to know than a spectator looking down from a two pair back window, denied the statement emphatically, but the officer gave one of them his choice between calling out his friend and being expelled from the establishment. The "meeting" took place a few days later, and when it was over one of the two friends and comrades had to be carried off to the hospital dangerously wounded and disabled for life. — London Telegraph.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this.
Can you tell us the date this was published?

Clippique said...

I got that from a newspaper that was published March 8, 1895, page 3, the Long Island Farmer of Jamaica, New York.

But it was an article that was distributed to newspapers probably on a subscription basis. So its original publication date I wouldn't know. And since a lot of newspapers would print it, the date of their printing it would vary from place to place.

Anonymous said...

Thank you!