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Dueling, Conflicting Masculinities, and the Victorian Gentleman

  • Margery Masterson

Abstract

This article takes an unexplored popular debate from the 1860s over the role of dueling in regulating gentlemanly conduct as the starting point to examine the relationship between elite Victorian masculinities and interpersonal violence. In the absence of a meaningful replacement for dueling and other ritualized acts meant to defend personal honor, multiple modes of often conflicting masculinities became available to genteel men in the middle of the nineteenth century. Considering the security fears of the period––European and imperial, real and imagined––the article illustrates how pacific and martial masculine identities coexisted in a shifting and uneasy balance. The professional character of the enlarging gentlemanly classes and the increased importance of men's domestic identities––trends often aligned with hegemonic masculinity––played an ambivalent role in popular attitudes to interpersonal violence. The cultural history of dueling can thus inform a multifaceted approach toward gender, class, and violence in modern Britain.

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References

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1 Sheffield and Rotherham Independent, 11 October 1861.

2 Andrew, Donna T., “The Code of Honour and Its Critics: The Opposition to Duelling in England, 1700–1850,” Social History 5, no. 3 (Autumn 1980): 409–34, at 431.

3 Morning Chronicle, 18 November 1861.

4 Daily Telegraph, 5 March 1862 (emphasis added).

5 “Discouragement for Duellists,” Punch, 8 March 1862, 91.

6 Glasgow Herald, 4 March 1844; Daily News, 25 July 1851; Duelling: A Thing of the Past,” in Chambers, William and Chambers, Robert, Chambers's Pocket Miscellany, vol. 3 (Edinburgh, 1853), 81–101, at 81.

7 “If Not a Donkey, Certainly a Duellist,” Punch, 2 March 1861, 89.

8 Morning Chronicle, 25 February 1862.

9 “Courts-Martial,” Cornhill Magazine, June 1862, 682–94, at 688.

10 Andrew, “Code of Honour,” 431; Baldick, Robert, The Duel: A History of Duelling (London, 1965), 113 .

11 Peltonen, Markku, The Duel in Early Modern England: Civility, Politeness and Honour (Cambridge, 2003).

12 Nye, Robert A., Masculinity and Male Codes of Honor in Modern France (Berkeley, 1998), 27 ; Horder, Jeremy, “The Duel and the English Law of Homicide,” Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 12, no. 3 (Autumn 1992): 419–30, at 420; Gilbert, Arthur N., “Law and Honour among Eighteenth-Century British Army Officers,” Historical Journal 19, no. 1 (Spring 1976): 75–87, at 75.

13 Baldick, Duel, 113; Kiernan, V. G., The Duel in European History: Honour and the Reign of Aristocracy (Oxford, 1988), 220 ; Andrew, Donna, Aristocratic Vice: The Attack on Duelling, Suicide, Adultery, and Gambling in Eighteenth-Century England (New Haven, 2013), 239–41.

14 Tosh, John, “Masculinities in an Industrializing Society: Britain, 1800–1914,” Journal of British Studies 44, no. 2 (Spring 2005): 330–42, at 334.

15 LaVaque-Manty, Mika, “Dueling for Equality: Masculine Honor and the Modern Politics of Dignity,” Political Theory 34, no. 6 (Winter 2006): 715–40, at 725; Simpson, Anthony E., “Dandelions on the Field of Honor: Dueling, the Middle Classes, and the Law in Nineteenth-Century England,” Criminal Justice History 9 (1988): 99155, at 105; Wiener, Martin J., Men of Blood: Violence, Manliness, and Criminal Justice in Victorian England (Cambridge, 2006), 4445 ; Examiner, 31 December 1853; Graphic, 9 April 1870. Stephen Banks repudiates this argument. See Banks, Stephen, A Polite Exchange of Bullets: The Duel and the English Gentleman, 1750–1850 (Woodbridge, 2010), 183–90.

16 Shoemaker, Robert B., “The Taming of the Duel: Masculinity, Honour and Ritual Violence in London, 1660–1800,” Historical Journal 45, no. 3 (Autumn 2002): 525–45, at 526; Wood, J. Carter, “Locating Violence: The Spatial Production and Construction of Physical Aggression,” in Assaulting the Past: Violence and Civilization in Historical Context, ed. Watson, Katherine D. (Cambridge, 2007), 20–37, at 33.

17 Whitlock, Tammy, “Masculinities and Crime in Historical Perspective,” in The Oxford Handbook of Gender, Sex, and Crime, ed. Gartner, Rosemary and McCarthy, Bill (Oxford, 2014), 191–206, at 202.

18 Shoemaker, Robert B., The London Mob: Violence and Disorder in Eighteenth-Century England (London, 2014), 193, 213.

19 Rosalind Carr makes this precise observation in the context of Edinburgh. See Carr, Rosalind, Gender and Enlightenment Culture in Eighteenth-Century Scotland (Edinburgh, 2014), 168 .

20 Griffin, Ben, The Politics of Gender in Victorian Britain: Masculinity, Political Culture and the Struggle for Women's Rights (Cambridge, 2012), 168 ; Delap, Lucy, “‘Thus Does Man Prove His Fitness to Be the Master of Things’: Shipwrecks, Chivalry and Masculinities in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Britain,” Cultural and Social History 3, no. 1 (Spring 2006): 45–74, at 74; Connell, R. W., Masculinities (Cambridge, 2005), 192 .

21 Corfield, Penelope, “The Rivals: Landed and Other Gentlemen,” in Land and Society in Britain, 1700–1914: Essays in Honour of F. M. L. Thompson, ed. Harte, Negley and Quinault, Roland (Manchester, 1996), 1–23, at 13; Crossick, Geoffrey, “From Gentlemen to the Residuum: Language of Social Description in Victorian Britain,” in Language, History and Class, ed. Corfield, Penelope J. (Oxford, 1991), 150–78, at 163. Andrew, Aristocratic Vice, 237–41.

22 Millingen, John Gideon, The History of Duelling: Including, Narratives of the Most Remarkable Personal Encounters That Have Taken Place from the Earliest Period to the Present Time, 2 vols. (London, 1841), 2:428.

23 Stanley, Peter, White Mutiny: British Military Culture in India, 1825–1875 (London, 1998), 58 ; McKenzie, Kirsten, Scandal in the Colonies (Melbourne, 2004), 64 ; Russell, Penny, Savage or Civilized? Manners in Colonial Australia (Sydney, 2010), 170–71; Halliday, Hugh A., Murder among Gentlemen: A History of Duelling in Canada (Toronto, 1999); Morgan, Cecilia, “In Search of the Phantom Misnamed Honor: Duelling in Upper Canada,” Canadian Historical Review 76, no. 4 (Winter 1995): 529–62; Kelly, James, “That Damn'd Thing Called Honour”: Duelling in Ireland, 1570–1860 (Cork, 1995), 253, 270–71; Patterson, Steven, “The Imperial Ideal: Ideas of Honour in British India,” Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 8, no. 1 (Spring 2007): 1–44, at 5; Misra, Maria, “Colonial Officers and Gentlemen: The British Empire and the Globalization of ‘Tradition,’Journal of Global History 3, no. 2 (Summer 2008): 135–61, at 152.

24 Kelly, “That Damn'd Thing, 47.

25 Kiernan, Duel in European History, 7. See also Baldick, Duel, 96.

26 Robert Peel, Speech to the House of Commons, 21 February 1862, Parliamentary Debates, Commons, 3rd ser., vol. 165 (1862), cols. 548–92.

27 “Men of Mark—No. XXX,” London Review, 1 March 1862, 210.

28 John Evelyn Denison Ossington, Notes from My Journal when Speaker of the House of Commons (London, 1900), 108–10.

29 Brown, David, “Palmerston and Anglo-French Relations, 1846–1865,” Diplomacy and Statecraft 17, no. 4 (Winter 2006): 675–92.

30 Gregory, William, An Autobiography (London, 1894), 150–54. Those few papers that did document the case reprinted it from the United Services Gazette. See, for example, Freeman's Journal, 2 June 1851.

31 Ossington, Notes from My Journal, 72.

32 McCord, James N. Jr., “Politics and Honor in Early-Nineteenth-Century England: The Dukes’ Duel,” Huntington Library Quarterly 62, no. 1–2 (1999), 88–114, at 89–90.

33 Anderson, David, Mansex Fine: Religion, Manliness and Imperialism in Nineteenth–Century British Culture (Manchester, 1998), 98 .

34 Times, 25 February 1862.

35 Punch, 8 March 1862, 92.

36 “The duel that was to have been fought,” Illustrated Times, 1 March 1862, 134.

37 “Men of Mark—No. XXX,” 210.

38 Spectator, 1 March 1862, 225.

39 Deane, Bradley, “Imperial Barbarians: Primitive Masculinity in Lost World Fiction,” Victorian Literature and Culture 36, no. 1 (Spring 2008): 205–25, at 220.

40 Leigh, John, Touché: The Duel in Literature (Cambridge, MA, 2015), 25 .

41 Girouard, Mark, The Return to Camelot: Chivalry and the English Gentleman (New Haven, 1981), 220 .

42 Hendrickson, Kenneth E., Making Saints: Religion and the Public Image of the British Army, 1809–1885 (Cranbury, 1998), 76 ; Dawson, Graham, Soldier Heroes: British Adventure, Empire and the Imagining of Masculinities (New York, 1994), 175–76.

43 Streets, Heather, Martial Races: The Military, Race and Masculinity in British Imperial Culture, 1857–1914 (Manchester, 2004), 61 .

44 Deane, “Imperial Barbarians,” 205–6.

45 “Soldiers and Volunteers,” Temple Bar, March 1861, 103–13, at 104.

46 Daily News, 26 March 1869.

47 Mosse, George L., The Image of Man: The Creation of Modern Masculinity (Oxford, 1996), 22 .

48 Nye, Robert A., “Fencing, the Duel and Republican Manhood in the Third Republic,” Journal of Contemporary History 25, no. 2 (Summer 1990): 365–77, at 369; Hughes, Steven, “Men of Steel: Dueling, Honor, and Politics in Liberal Italy,” in Men and Violence: Gender, Honor, and Rituals in Modern Europe and America, ed. Spierenburg, Pieter (Columbus, 1998), 64–81, at 65.

49 Bell, Richard, “The Double Guilt of Dueling: The Stain of Suicide in Anti-Dueling Rhetoric in the Early Republic,” Journal of the Early Republic 29, no. 3 (Autumn 2009): 383–410, at 387; Parker, David S., “Law, Honor, and Impunity in Spanish America: The Debate over Dueling, 1870–1920,” Law and History Review 19, no. 2 (Summer 2001): 311–41, at 313.

50 France: Standard, 25 April 1863; Prussia: Bradford Observer, 17 October 1861; Italy: Daily News, 29 June 1863; US: Birmingham Daily Post, 10 March 1858.

51 Frevert, Ute, “Honour and Middle-Class Cultures: The History of the Duel in England and Germany,” in Bourgeois Society in Nineteenth-Century Europe, ed. Kocka, Jürgen and Allen, Mitchell (Oxford, 1993), 207–40, at 222; Behrooz Hassani Mahmooei and Mehrdad Vahabi, “Dueling for Honor and Identity Economics,” Munich Personal RePEc Archive, https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/44370/, 1–48, at 29.

52 Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, 6 June 1852.

53 Manchester Times, 31 August 1850; Morning Chronicle, 23 January 1853.

54 Daily News, 25 July 1851.

55 Nicholls, David, “Richard Cobden and the International Peace Congress Movement, 1848–1853,” Journal of British Studies 30, no. 4 (Winter 1991): 351–76, at 370.

56 Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, 14 May 1865, quoting from Army and Navy Review.

57 Kiddle, Amelia M., “In Mexico's Defence: Dueling, Diplomacy, Gender and Honor, 1876–1970,” Mexican Studies / Estudios Mexicanos 31, no. 1 (Spring 2015): 22–47, at 29.

58 Morning Chronicle, 29 December 1853; Morning Post, 29 December 1853; Examiner, 31 December 1853; Reynolds's Newspaper, 1 January 1854.

59 The Art of Duelling by a Traveller (London, 1836), xii .

60 Standard, 6 August 1869.

61 Glasgow Herald, 15 April 1865.

62 Beckett, Ian F. W., Britain's Part-Time Soldiers: The Amateur Military Tradition, 1558–1945 (Barnsley, 2011), 165 .

63 Taylor, Anthony, Lords of Misrule: Hostility to Aristocracy in Late Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Britain (Basingstoke, 2004), 80 .

64 Mangan, J. A., “Manufactured” Masculinity: Making Imperial Manliness, Morality and Militarism (London, 2013), 153–54.

65 Blanch, William Harnett, The Volunteer's Book of Facts: An Annual Record (London, 1862), 125 .

66 Times, 23 September 1809; 17 September 1840; 6 March 1840.

67 Glasgow Herald, 15 April 1865.

68 Standard, 30 December 1864; Wood, John Richard, “ The Standard (1827–1916),” in Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism, ed. Brake, Laurel and Demoor, Marysa (London, 2009), 596–97.

69 Standard, 16 August 1865 (emphasis added).

70 Morning Post, 25 January 1869.

71 Graphic, 9 April 1870.

72 Times, 9 November 1869. George Henry Moore made an appropriate apology to O'Donaghue at Burlington Hotel, London, but not before their seconds had purchased tickets to Boulogne for the contest.

73 Spiers, Edward M., The Army and Society, 1815–1914 (London, 1980), 26 ; Andrew, “Code of Honour,” 429; Patterson, “Imperial Ideal,” 8.

74 Carr, Gender and Enlightenment Culture, 174.

75 Robertson, Arthur Masterson, Authentic Report of the Trial (by Court Martial) of Captain A. M. Robertson, Fourth (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards (Dublin, 1862), 4 .

76 Carr, Gender and Enlightenment Culture, 161; McKenzie, Kirsten, A Swindler's Progress: Nobles and Convicts in the Age of Liberty (Cambridge, MA, 2010), 283 .

77 Kiernan, Duel in European History, 205.

78 Robertson, Authentic Report, 68 (emphasis added).

79 Ibid., 52.

80 Ibid., 48.

81 Morning Chronicle, 18 November 1861.

82 Morning Post, 18 February 1862.

83 Daily Telegraph, 4 February 1862.

84 Morning Post, 12 November 1861.

85 “The Position of Officers when Insulted,” Naval and Military Gazette, 12 April 1862.

86 Morning Chronicle, 18 November 1861.

87 Robert Peel, Speech to the House of Commons, 14 March 1844, Parliamentary Debates, Commons, 3rd ser., vol. 73 (1844), cols. 1031–32.

88 The National Archives, WO 81/108, “Judge Advocate General's Office: Letter Books,” 1862.

89 Godfrey, Emelyne, Masculinity, Crime and Self-Defence in Victorian Literature (Basingstoke, 2010), 71 . For the use of the courts to advance the cause against dueling, see Andrew, Aristocratic Vice, 70–77.

90 Backus, Margot Gayle, Scandal Work: James Joyce, the New Journalism and the Home Rule Newspaper Wars (Notre Dame, 2013), 40 .

91 “Tried by Court Martial,” Temple Bar, July 1862, 280–86, at 283.

92 “Courts-Martial,” 682.

93 Cole, Sarah Rose, “The Aristocrat in the Mirror: Male Vanity and Bourgeois Desire in William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair ,” Nineteenth-Century Literature 61, no. 2 (Autumn 2005): 137–70, at 145.

94 Thompson, James, British Political Culture and the Idea of “Public Opinion,” 1867–1914 (Cambridge, 2013), 93 .

95 Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, 6 June 1852.

96 Morning Chronicle, 18 November 1861.

97 The History of Duelling, in All Countries. Translated from de Massi, M. Coustard, Histoire du duel en France. Introduction and concluding chapters by Sir Lucius O'Trigger [pseudonym] (London, 1880).

98 “Discouragement for Duellists,” Punch, 8 March 1862, 91.

99 Russell, Savage or Civilized?, 174; McKenzie, Scandal in the Colonies, 64; Kiddle, “In Mexico's Defence,” 38–39.

100 Peltonen, Duel, 136–45.

101 Titus, A Plan to Abolish Duelling (London, 1844), 2223 ; Thoughts on Duelling and its Abolition (London, 1844), 3637 .

102 “British and Foreign Arms, No. VIII.” Colburn's United Services Magazine, 1843, 414–21, at 420–21.

103 Report of the Association (1846), 19.

104 Times, 24 May 1852. Colonel Romilly, MP, and the Hon. G. Smythe were contesting Canterbury.

105 Standard, 16 August 1865. Colonel Dawkins was challenging the MP Alfred Seymour.

106 “The duel that was to have been fought,” Illustrated Times, 1 March 1862, 134.

107 Aberdeen Journal, 14 July 1869.

108 Naval and Military Gazette, 8 March 1862.

109 Standard, 16 August 1865.

110 “The Position of Officers when Insulted,” Naval and Military Gazette, 12 April 1862.

111 Tosh, John, A Man's Place: Masculinity and the Middle-Class Home in Victorian England (New Haven, 2007), 5 .

112 Francis, Martin, “The Domestication of the Male? Recent Research on Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century British Masculinity,” Historical Journal 45, no. 3 (Winter 2002): 637–52, at 643.

113 Griffin, Politics of Gender, 67.

114 Delap, “‘Thus Does Man,’” 47.

115 Banks, Polite Exchange, 202.

116 Henry Hardinge, Speech to the House of Commons, 11 March 1844, Parliamentary Debates, Commons, 3rd ser., vol. 73 (1844), col. 811.

117 Robertson, Authentic Report, 126, 118.

118 Ibid., 116.

119 On the important role of female narrators in anti-dueling literature, see Leigh, Duel in Literature, 75–99; and Sieveking, A. Forbes, “Duelling and Militarism,” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 11 (1917): 165–84, at 183.

120 Report of the Association for the Discouragement of Duelling with the Regulations and List of Members &c. (London, 1844), vi .

121 Spectator, 5 August 1843, 11.

122 Nicholls, David, “Richard Cobden and the International Peace Congress Movement, 1848–1853,” Journal of British Studies 30, no. 4 (Winter 1991): 351–76, at 373–74; Dunlop, John, Anti-Duel; Or, a Plan for the Abrogation of Duelling Which Has Been Tried and Found Successful (London, 1843), 44 .

123 Report of the Association (London, 1844); Report of the Association (London, 1845); Report of the Association for the Discouragement of Duelling with the Regulations and List of Members &c. (London, 1846); Report of the Association for the Discouragement of Duelling with the Regulations and List of Members &c. (London, 1850).

124 Godfrey, Masculinity, 73, 75; Urda, Kathleen E., “‘How Full of Interest Are the Present Times!’: Anthony Trollope's Letters to John Lewis Merivale, 1849–1862,” Princeton University Library Chronicle 72, no. 2 (Winter 2011): 477–85, at 492.

125 Anthony Trollope, “Chapter 31: The Wounded Fawn,” Cornhill Magazine, July 1863, 59–66, at 62; Anthony Trollope, “Chapter 34: The Combat,” Cornhill Magazine, August 1863, 208–14, at 208.

126 Trollope, “The Combat,” 211–12.

127 Griffin, Politics of Gender, 68.

128 Voskuil, Lynn M., “Feeling Public: Sensation Theater, Commodity Culture, and the Victorian Public Sphere,” Victorian Studies 44, no. 2 (Winter 2002): 245–74, at 251.

129 Crone, Rosalind, Violent Victorians: Popular Entertainment in Nineteenth-Century London (Manchester, 2012), 9 .

130 Mary Elizabeth Braddon, “Chapter 12: Steeve Hargraves, The ‘Softy,’” Temple Bar, July 1862, 80–91, at 91.

131 Tromp, Marlene, “The Dangerous Woman: M. E. Braddon's Sensational (En)gendering of Domestic Law,” in Beyond Sensation: Mary Elizabeth Braddon in Context, ed. Tromp, Marlene, Gilbert, Pamela K., and Haynie, Aeron (New York, 2000), 93–110, at 98–99.

132 Davis, Jennifer, “The London Garotting Panic of 1862: A Moral Panic and the Creation of a Criminal Class in mid-Victorian England,” in Crime and the Law: The Social History of Crime in Western Europe since 1500, ed. Gatrell, V. A. C., Lenman, Bruce, and Parker, Geoffrey (London, 1980), 190–213, at 190; Sindall, Robert, “The London Garotting Panics of 1856 and 1862,” Social History 12, no. 3 (Autumn 1987): 351–59, at 351.

133 “The Science of Garrotting and Housebreaking,” Cornhill Magazine, January 1863, 77–94, at 80.

134 For the Governor Eyre case, see Hall, Catherine, White, Male and Middle Class: Explorations in Feminism and History (Cambridge, 1992), 255–95. For the Colonel Crawley case, see Peers, Douglas, “‘The more this foul case is stirred, the more offensive it becomes’: Imperial Authority, Victorian Sentimentality and the Court Martial of Colonel Crawley, 1862–1864,” in Fringes of Empire: Peoples, Places, and Spaces at the Margins of British Colonial India, ed. Agha, Sameetah and Kolsky, Elizabeth (New Delhi, 2009), 207–35.

135 Godfrey, Masculinity, 102.

136 Glasgow Herald, 15 April 1865.

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Dueling, Conflicting Masculinities, and the Victorian Gentleman

  • Margery Masterson

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