Duels to the death over dogs, goblets and a pinch of snuff

June 21, 1834.

June 21, 1834.

A petition to the House of Commons against duelling:

Your petitioner can produce four modern newspapers, in which 12 fatal meetings were announced; that before Captain Sandys shot Mr Kernan in the side, he had already killed or wounded 13 adversaries in as many combats; that Major Spread challenged eight officers and wounded four of them, upon a single day; and that George Robert Fitzgerald was introduced to the King of France as an Irishman who had previously fought 26 fatal duels.

That an officer who collected the reports of 172 cases found 63 individuals were killed, and 96 were wounded - and that your petitioner has collected several thousand cases, in which the disastrous terminations bear an adequate proportion.

That, constituted as society at present is, the noblemen and gentlemen of the United Kingdom have no adequate security against a challenge or an offence; that Col Montgomery was shot in a duel about a dog; Capt Ramsay in one about a servant; Mr Fetherson in one about a recruit; Sterne’s father in one about a goose; and another gentleman in one about an “acre of anchovies”.

That your petitioner knows one officer who was challenged for merely asking his opponent to enjoy a second goblet, and another who was compelled to fight about a pinch of snuff; that Gen Barry was challenged by Capt Smith for declining a glass of wine with him at dinner, in a steam-boat, although the general had pleaded in excuse that wine invariably made his stomach sick at sea.

Unfortunately there is a considerable portion of society which will insist on reparation, even at the risk of life; the abolition of duelling must be accompanied by reparation.