Saturday, August 24, 2013

Nine Reasons Why Dueling Is More Honorable Than Warfare

(The following short essay, “Mean Warfare,” was reprinted in Literary Digest, April 1, 1916,  p. 937-938.)

Colonel Homer B. Sprague of Boston wrote, in the Spokane Spokesman Review:

Dueling has been prohibited in most civilized countries, and war flourishes. Yet the duel was always a highly civilized proceeding, and war is not. War undeniably is mean and sneaking, a good share of the time. The duel strove to be fair, and to take no advantage save that of strength, endurance, and skill....let us regard the customs of the duel, and compare them with those of war.

In dueling there is first of all a distinct challenge to fight, and this challenge is accepted in due form.

Next, seconds are chosen to make sure that all is done according to the “code of honor.”

Thirdly, the  challenged party is always allowed to choose the weapons, and these must be the same for both.

Fourthly, the combatants shall be placed in the field on a plane of perfect equality.

Fifthly, there shall be no trick, no deception, no concealment.

Sixthly, the seconds must be alert to seize the opportunity, when either antagonist bleeds, to ask if enough has not been done to satisfy the demands of honor and a peaceful settlement of the quarrel.

Seventhly, there is never an intention to slay more than one.

Eighthly, there is never any attempt to get possession of antagonist’s property.

Ninthly, there is no design or desire to injure an opponent’s friends, relatives, or countrymen.

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