Back to Reference Shelf
The Irish Code Duello of 1777
1. The first offence requires the first apology, though the retort may have been more offensive than the insult. Example: A tells B he is impertinent etc. B retorts that he lies; yet A must take the first apology and then after one fire, B may explain away the retort by subsequent apology.
2. But if the parties would rather fight on, then after two shots each, but in no case before, B may explain first and A apologise afterwards.
3. If a doubt exists who gave the first offence, the decision rests with the seconds; if they can't agree, the matter must proceed to two shots or to a hit if the challenger requires it.
4. When the lie direct is the first offence, the aggressor must either beg pardon or fire until a severe hit be received by one party or the other.
5. As a blow is strictly prohibited under any circumstances amongst gentlemen, no verbal apology can be received for such an insult; the alternatives therefore are, the offender handing a cane to the injured party, to be used on his own back, at the same time begging pardon, firing on until one or both is disabled or exchanging three shots and then asking pardon without the proffer of the cane. If swords are used the parties engage 'til one is well bloodied, disabled or disarmed; or until, after receiving a wound and blood being drawn, the aggressor begs pardon. N.B. A disarm is considered the same as a disable; the disarmer may strictly break his adversary's sword; but if it be the challenger who is disarmed, it is considered as ungenerous to do so. In case the challenged be disarmed and refuses to ask pardon or atone, he may not be killed as formality; but the challenger may lay his own sword on the aggressor's shoulder, the break the aggressor's sword and say, "I spare your life!." The challenged can never revive the quarrel -- the challenger may.
6. If A gives B the lie and B retorts by a blow, being the two greatest offenses, no reconciliation can take place 'til after two discharges each, or a severe hit; after which B may beg A's pardon humbly for the blow and A may explain simply for the lie; because a blow is never allowable and the offence of the lie, therefore, merges into it. (See rule No. 5.) N.B. Challenges for undivulged causes may be reconciled on the ground, after one shot. An explanation or the slightest hit should be sufficient in such cases, because no personal offence transpired.
7. No apology can be received in any case after the parties have taken the ground, without exchanges of fires.
8. In the above case, no challenger is obliged to divulge his cause of challenge, if private, unless required by the challenged so to do before their meeting.
9. All imputations of cheating at play, races, etc. to be considered equivalent to a blow, but may be reconciled after one shot, on admitting their falsehood and begging pardon publicly.
10. Any insult to a lady under a gentleman's care or protection to be considered as, by one degree, a greater offence than if given to the gentleman personally and to be regulated accordingly.
11. Offences originating or accruing from the support of ladies' reputation to be considered as less unjustifiable than others of the same class and as admitting of slighter apologies by the aggressor -- this to be determined by the circumstances of the case, but always favourable to the lady.
12. In simple unpremeditated encounter the rule is -- first draw, first sheathe; unless blood be drawn, then both sheathe and proceed to investigation.
13. No dumb shooting or firing in the air admissible in any case. The challenger ought not to have challenged without receiving offence; and the challenged ought, if he gave offence, to have made an apology before he came on the ground; Therefore children's play must be dishonourable on one side or the other and is accordingly prohibited.
14. Seconds to be of equal rank in society of the principals they attend, in as much as a second may either choose or chance to become a principal and equality is indispensable.
15. Challenges are never to be delivered at night, unless the party to be challenged intends leaving the place of offence before morning; for it is desirable to leave all hot-headed proceedings.
16. The challenged has the right to choose his own weapon. unless the challenger gives his honour that he is no swordsman; after which, however, he cannot decline any second species of weapon proposed by the challenged.
17. The challenged chooses his ground; The challenger chooses his distance; the seconds fix the time and terms of firing.
18. The seconds load in presence of each other, unless they give their mutual honours they have charged smooth and single, which should be held sufficient.
19. Firing may be regulated -- first by signal, secondly by word of command; or thirdly, at pleasure, as may be agreeable to the parties. In the latter case, the parties may fire at their reasonable leisure, but second presents and rests are strictly prohibited.
20. In all cases a mis-fire is equivalent to a shot and a snap or a non-cock is to be considered a mis-fire.
21. Seconds are bound to attempt a reconciliation before the meeting take place, or after sufficient firing or hits, as specified.
22. Any wound sufficient to agitate the nerves and necessarily make the hand shake, must end the business for that day.
23. If the cause of meeting be of such a nature that no apology or explanation can or will be received, the challenged takes his ground and calls on the challenger to proceed as he chooses; in such cases, firing at pleasure is the usual practice, but may be varied by agreement.
24. In slight cases, the second hands his principal but one pistol, but in gross cases, two, holding another case ready-charged in reserve.
25. Where seconds disagree and resolve to exchange shots themselves, it must be at the same time and at right angles with the principals, thus:- If with swords, side by side with five paces interval.
26. All matters and doubts not herein mentioned will be explained and cleared up by an application to the committee who meet alternately at Clonmel and Galway at the Assizes, for that purpose.
The rules were signed by Crow Ryan (President), James Keogh and Amby Bodkin (Secretaries).
1. No party can be allowed to bend his knee or cover his side with his left hand, but may present at any level from his hip to his eye.
2. None can either advance or retreat if the ground be measured. If no ground be measured, either party may advance at his pleasure, even to touch muzzle; but neither can advance on his adversary after the fire, unless the adversary steps forward on him.
|For more information email the Ring of Steel at firstname.lastname@example.org||
Web space provided by Deathstar.org