Saturday, February 13, 2016

Etiquette and Dueling Gents

"I cannot speak of the matter, for it would be contrary to French etiquette and custom." — Guy de St. Brisson — Dueling tradition was at one point, deeply rooted in European culture. The gentlemen of the day, saw dueling as the aristocracy's perogative. French King, Louis XIII tried outlawing the deadly custom in 1626, with a law which remained in force forever afterwards, however the law seemed to have little affect. His successor to the throne tried as well. Louis XIV intensified efforts to end the practice. But dueling continued unabated. It's estimated that between 1685 and 1716, French officers alone, fought in as many as 10,000 duels, which led to over 400 deaths.

Promises Not to Violate the Laws of California
Changes Scene of Duel to His Beloved Paris

MATTERS in the controversy between Guy de St. Brisson and Ensign Rey, told of in The Call yesterday, have reached a new phase and no less than three nations are brought into the heated arguments that are in progress— the United States, France and Turkey. 

First of all it may be stated that M. Brisson has listened to, and heeded calm counsel and will allow his wrath against Ensign Rey to smolder until both parties shall have reached Paris, when Brisson will assuredly demand satisfaction from the naval officer.

When seen at the Lick House the very excellent Administrator of the Marquesas Islands had this to say:

"I cannot speak of the matter, for it would be contrary to French etiquette and custom. I appreciate that we, that is M. Rey and myself, are in a foreign land and it is my intention to do nothing here that would violate the law. However, when M. Rey is on French ground the matter, I assure you, will be different. I wait for that time."
"M. Rey feels, on his side, aggrieved because of your calling him a 'hog,'" was remarked to M. Brisson. "M. Rey! poof! poof! poof! I call him a hog! Ah! It is rediculous (sic). But when we meet in France, aha! When we meet in France, then — well, I have told you we shall see! I can say no more; It would be a breach of the etiquette of my country. Oh! that we should be on foreign soil!"
The Administrator of the Marquesas Islands, having excitedly given vent to his regrets, hastened to his rooms with fire in his eyes and anger in his heart. Ensign Rey on the other hand, was decidedly cool and collected throughout the day. He received many visitors and also went out visiting many places of interest.                        
"Dueling gentlemen" is an oxymoron — “A duel was indeed considered a necessary part of a young man’s education…When men had a glowing ambition to excel in all manner of feats and exercises they naturally conceived that manslaughter, in an honest way (that is, not knowing which would be slaughtered), was the most chivalrous and gentlemanly of all their accomplishments. No young fellow could finish his education till he had exchanged shots with some of his acquaintances. The first two qualifications always asked as to a young man’s respectability and qualifications, particularly when he proposed for a lady wife, were ‘What family is he of? And ‘Did he ever blaze?” -19th C. Irish Duelist

The gallant Ensign declares that he has no desire to fight and still cannot understand the cause he has given M. Brisson for so great an exhibition of anger. He will be in Paris about the same time the Administrator of the Marquesas Islands arrives there, but he has also determined to do nothing that might bring him within the pale of the laws of California.

But the affair has taken deeper root than was ever contemplated by those concerned in the proceedings, for the French Consul made no secret of his vexation over the matter. He has made his feelings known to the principals in the affair and suffers from the fear that the dispute in the United States, between an officer of the French navy and an official representing the French Government may bring ridicule upon that Government. 

Representative Frenchmen of the city, on the other hand, take issue with the French Consul and declare that he is wrong in supposing that the quarrel can possibly bring ridicule on his Government. There are Frenchmen, and M. Brisson is among the number, who declare that Captain Lawless of the Australia is to blame for not allowing the duel to take place aboard his ship, the point raised in support of their contention being the fact that the Australia, though an American vessel, was carrying French mail and flying a French flag, and, therefore, the parties to a duel would not, as they contend, under those circumstances, be amenable to the laws of the United States. 

Now comes the Imperial Consul General of Turkey in the controversy. One of the parties to the dispute waited upon that gentleman and begged that he accept the position of a second at the duel, which was expected to take place in the vicinity of Golden Gate Park yesterday morning. George Eli Hall, the Consul General, listened to all the arguments put forward to induce him to accept the position, but declined the honor with many thanks. 

The Consul General therefore may have to explain to his Majesty, the Sultan, even the innocent and unlooked for part he has played in the drama. The French Consul will, in the course of his duty, report the whole matter to his Government, the official position of the chief parties to the quarrel making such a proceeding necessary. — The San Francisco Call, 1902

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

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