It was not a moment too soon. The man who had reluctantly surrendered his sword now fell swooning to the floor and, in the light of candles brought by servants, a large bloodstain could be seen seeping across his waistcoat. A cursory examination by Hull convinced him that the man was gravely injured.
The second duellist, although less seriously wounded, was bleeding from a gash to his thigh. With no time to be lost, servants were despatched to summon medical aid. Dishevelled and deathly pale, his shirt and waistcoat opened to bare his chest, the patient sprawled in a chair as the medical men tried to revive him with smelling salts, water and wine, and to staunch the bleeding by applying a poultice.
Unsurprisingly, given the weakening effect of this further loss of blood, no sooner had the swordsman revived than he fainted twice more. The discovery of two discarded pistols, still warm from having been fired, suggested that the outcome could easily have been even more decisive. With his life declared to be hanging by a thread, the fading duellist now urged his erstwhile adversary to flee the tavern - taking pains to insist that he had acquitted himself honourably - and even offered his own carriage for the getaway. This was sound advice, for duels of honour had been repeatedly condemned or banned since the custom had first been imported from continental Europe to Britain in the early seventeenth century.
Anyone participating in such a trial of combat risked being charged with murder, and subsequently hanged, should their opponent die, while those who took the role of seconds, whose job was to ensure fair play, could be charged as accomplices to murder. Yet such legal deterrents had done little to discourage reckless gallants bent on settling a dispute of honour. Far from declining under threat of prosecution, duelling had not only endured but flourished spectacularly in the eighteenth century. During the reign of George III, from to , no fewer than duels would be fought in which 69 men died and 96 were wounded.
When Lord Byron, great-uncle of the poet, killed his cousin William Chaworth in a petty argument about poaching in , the baron was charged with manslaughter and only escaped the death sentence by virtue of his status as a peer. The gradual replacement of swords by pistols in the later eighteenth century inevitably put the participants at greater risk of fatal injury, assuming that these frequently inaccurate firearms hit their mark.
Yet for all the legal prohibition, the deadly game had not only grown in popularity but was also widely tolerated. This lax approach by authority was scarcely surprising, given that during the same period duels were fought by two prime ministers - William Petty Shelburne and William Pitt the Younger - and a leader of the opposition, Charles James Fox.
Public opinion largely condoned the practice too. The pre-eminent literary figure Samuel Johnson argued that a gentleman who was challenged to a duel could legitimately fight in self-defence.
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Yet despite the very real risk that he might swing on the gallows at Tyburn on account of the condition of his opponent, the second duellist in the Adelphi Tavern declined the offer of escape. Certainly, the wound to his thigh meant that he was in little shape to run. Moreover, he was too well known to hide for long.
An Affair of Honour () - IMDb
As the parlour filled with friends and onlookers, including the two seconds belatedly arriving on the scene, many recognised the fashionably attired figure of the apparent victor of the contest as the Reverend Henry Bate. Educated at Oxford, although he left without taking a degree, Bate had initially joined the army where he acquired valuable skills in combat. But he promptly swapped his military uniform for a clerical gown when his father died and the young Bate succeeded to his living as rector of North Fambridge in Essex.
Before long he had added the curacy of Hendon, a sleepy hamlet north of London, to his ecclesiastical duties. Indeed, it was for his literary, rather than his religious, works that Bate was famed. Friendly with David Garrick, the playwright and theatre manager, Bate had written several farces and comic operas which had met with moderate acclaim. Although strategically placed dashes obscured the names of the miscreants, the identities of well-known celebrities of their day, such as Lord D—re and Lady J—sey, were easily guessed by their friends and enemies over the breakfast table.
At a time when the importance of the press in defending a constitutional democracy was rapidly becoming recognised, as well as its potential for abusing that freedom, Bate stood out as the most notorious editor of all. Horace Walpole, the remorseless gossip, was appalled at the scene which he watched from his window and described in full to a friend. Acclaimed then, if not universally admired, as a vigorous defender of press freedom, Bate had also established a reputation for his physical combative skills.
A well-publicised disagreement some four years previously at Vauxhall, the popular pleasure gardens on the south of the Thames, had left nobody in doubt of his courage. Leaping to the defence of an actress friend who was being taunted by four uncouth revellers, Bate had accepted a challenge by one of the party to a duel the following day. When the challenger slyly substituted a professional boxer of Herculean proportions, Bate gamely stripped to the waist and squared up.
They packed off other women members of the family to a relative's house on Thursday.
An Affair of Honor
The same night, they killed the woman, sources said. Several women have been killed for the sake of family honour after they insisted on marrying their lovers. The powerful 'khaps' caste panchayats have made it clear that they will not allow love marriages and also marriages within the same clan. Home Honour killing: Woman killed by family over love affair. The Perfect Wife.
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An Affair of Honour
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