The Case for Dueling


With so much handwringing over the gridlock in Washington, it is surprising that no one has thought to bring back dueling. One would think it a perfect way to move the debate along, as it were, or perhaps, to bring those cable talk shoutfests to a satisfying denouement.
Roman Catholic “emancipation” came to Britain in precisely that way as a result, in part, to a duel between British royal types, the Duke of Wellington (This is one of the more famous Dukes of Wellington. The Brits have an apparent aversion to actually identifying who’s who in this regard), and the 9th Earl of Winchilsea.
In his pursuit of decriminalizing the notion of Roman Catholicism, the good Duke went about it with a bit too much gusto for the Earl’s taste, who promptly accused him of “…insidious designs for the infringement of our liberties, and the introduction of popery into every department of the state.”
The Duke, who was very much an opponent of dueling, promptly challenged the Earl to a duel. It was all supposed to be very hush-hush, with the attending physician, one John Hume, not being told beforehand who the combatants were. Wellington’s second was Sir Henry Hardinge, a fellow veteran who had lost his hand at the battle of Quatre Bras, which you would have heard of had it not been immediately overshadowed by Waterloo, which occurred two days later. (Do you see how these British spats just seem to send us down one rabbit trail after another?)
The second for the Earl was the first Earl of Falmouth who, well, you get the idea.
They both seem to have missed on purpose since actually shooting your opponent was considered in poor taste even if the scoundrel wanted to steal your liberty and force popery on the land. The contretemps having become tête-à-tête, appropriate apologies would be forthcoming and presumably the people’s liberties infringed, etc. For helping to bury the important in the tedious, we thank the British Archives and the March 27, 1829 edition of The Sussex Advertiser.