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he had brought his aim with a pistol to so much certainty, and made such improvements on the weapon, that he could lay a hundred guineas to ten on hitting, at a considerable distance, any part of his adversary's body. These arts, however, I by no means approve: they resemble, methinks, a loaded die, or a packed deal ; and I am inclined to be of opinion, that a gentleman is no more obliged to fight againt the first, than to play against the latter. They may, in the mildest construction, be compared to the sure play of a man who can take every ball at billiards; and therefore, if it shall be judged that an ordinary marksman must fight with the person possessed of them, he is, at least, entitled to odds, and must be allowed three shots to one of his antagonist.
I have thus, with some labour, and I hope strict honour, settled certain articles in the matter of duelling, for such of my readers as may have occasion for them.
It is but candid, however, to own, that there have been, now and then, brilliant things done quite without the line of my directions, to wit, by not fighting at all. The Abbé
with whom I was disputing at Paris on this subject, concluded his arguments against duelling with a story, which, though I did not think it much to the purpose, was a tolerable story notwithstanding. I shall give it in the very words of the Abbé. “ A countryman of yours, a Captain
, Douglas, was playing at Trictrac with a very intimate friend, here in this very coffee-house, amidst a circle of French officers, who were looking on. Some dispute arising about a cast of the dice, Douglas said in a gay thoughtless manner, • Oh! what a story !' A murmur arose among the bystanders; and his antagonist feeling the affront, as if the lie had been given him, in the violence of his passion, snatched up the tables, and
spect I am unfo
hit Douglas a blow on the head. The instant he had done it, the idea of his imprudence, and its probable consequences to himself and his friend, rushed upon his mind : he sat, stupified with shame and remorse, his eyes rivetted on the ground, regardless of what the other's resentment might prompt him to act. Douglas, after a short pause, turned round to the spectators: 'You think,' said he, that
" I am now ready to cut the throat of that unfortunate young man;
young man; but I know that, at this moment, he feels anguish a thousand times more keen than any my sword could inflict. I will embrace him--thus —and try to reconcile him to himself ;but I will cut the throat of that man among you, who shall dare to breathe a syllable against my honour.'_ Bravo! Bravo!'
cried an old Chevalier de St Louis, who stood immediately behind him.-The sentiment of France overcame its habit, and Bravo! Bravo! echoed from every corner Who would not have cried Bravo! Would not you, Sir ? • Doubtless.'-- On other occasions, then, be governed by the same principle.-—- Why, to be sure, it were often better not to fight—if one had but the courage not to fight."
No. 12. SATURDAY, March 6, 1779.
TO THE AUTHOR OF THE MIRROR.
IA I Am a plain country-gentleman, with a small fortune and a large family. My boys, all except the youngest, I have contrived to set out into the world in tolerably promising situations. My two eldest girls are married ; one to a clergyman, with a very comfortable living, and a respectable character; the other to a neighbour of my own, who farms most of his own estate, and is supposed to know country business as well as any man in this part of the kingdom. I have four other girls at home, whom I wish to make fit wives for men of equal rank with their brothers-in-law.