« PreviousContinue »
night, and who asked for his seat with perfect politeness. Signol, however, not only refused to give up the seat, but struck the officer, which done, he went away, leaving his card. The officer sent his report at night. "Nothing new, but the officer on duty received a slap in the face." The colonel wrote on the margin of the report, "I give the officer on duty congé for to-morrow." Next day a carriage appeared at M. Signol's door to convey him to Vincennes. M. Signol was a practised swordsman; it was the first time that the young man who had been insulted had been engaged in single combat. Yet the struggle was not of long duration. In a few minutes Signol received his antagonist's sword right in the heart.
The revolution of 1830 was, at the time, generally discussed with a pistol or a sword in the hand. Eugène Briffault, of the Corsaire, opened the ball, on the occasion of the arrest of the Duchess of Berri, with a Royalist, but got a wound for his pains. This was followed by a general rising of the Legitimist party against the Republicans. Godefroi Cavaignac, Marrast, and Garderin took the lead in challenging the opposite party. Armand Carrel and Roux-Laborie were, however, the first to meet. Roux-Laborie received two sword wounds in the arm, but Armand Carrel was struck in the abdomen when stretching out. The whole of the Liberal party expressed their sympathy, nor was the effervescence cooled down till their hero got better.
General Bugeaud and Dulong also fought on the question of the Duchess of Berri, when the latter received a ball just above the left eye, after which he never spoke a word. The Marquis of Dalmatia and M. de Briqueville, wearied with an ineffectual struggle with swords, were separated by their seconds when about to seize one another by the throat. M. Louis Veuillot, when taking his first flights in the art of apostrophising people, had to fight two duels: one with an actor, the other with the editor of a republican paper, the Journal de Rouen.
Mery practised a piece of consummate mysticism upon the Marseillais. A sarcophagus having been discovered near the city of the Phoceans, a letter appeared upon the subject in the Messager, signed Marcredati. It was replied to in the Mistral by another archaeologist, by name Biffi. The correspondence grew so animated that the police were put on the look-out; but notwithstanding their precautions, a funereal oration on Marcredati appeared in the Messager, signed Neroni. The affair created a great sensation, and a monument was erected to the memory of the fallen archæologist. Mery laughed in his sleeve, for he was Marcredati, Biffi, and Neroni, all in one.
Imagine what were the delights of editorial responsibility when such a person was so certain of receiving a challenge for every manuscript returned, that at length he had to stereotype his answer:
"Sir, I have read your manuscript with the greatest attention, and I beg to decline it. I leave the choice of arms with you."
Marshal Soult being insulted by General Hulot, who had been placed on half-pay, the former said to him:
"General, you forget yourself. You forget, also, that I only fight with cannon-balls."
M. Véron has had the misfortune all his life of being the target of one publication or another. He fought the responsible editor of one journal
in the presence of eight witnesses, four on each side; and then the editor of the Dandy, with only one witness each. M. Raspail, who openly expressed the most supreme contempt for duellists, allowed himself to be exasperated into accepting a challenge. M. Gisquet, prefect of the police, challenged the editor of the Courier for having designated one of his official acts as imbecile. A public man would have enough to do in this country if he had to fight every man with a pen in his hands who designated his acts or sayings as stupid. Armand Carrel was one of the seconds, and the matter was quietly arranged. After the "Tour de Nesle" had been played for two years, M. Gaillardet claimed a demipaternity. M. Alexandre Dumas declared that he was the only father. A meeting was the result, which ended, we believe, in a déjeûner. The court, however, decided that the bantling had two parents.
M. Mary-Lafon was bathing in the Marne one day, a Mr. M. G. near him. The latter suddenly disappeared. M. Lafon dived after him and brought him up again. Restored to his senses, the delivered overwhelmed his deliverer with expressions of gratitude. Mr. Lafon, to get rid of such excessive demonstrations, proposed an adjournment to a house of refreshment. But this only made matters worse. M. G. called him his father and his saviour, and persisted in publicly embracing him. Lafon, annoyed beyond bearing, threw a plate of strawberries at M. G., who retorted with a water decanter. A meeting was the consequence. After a first harmless discharge of pistols, M. Lafon inquired if the other would persist in his filial demonstrativeness.
"O mon père !" was the only reply.
"Load the pistols again, then," said Lafon. Another fire was exchanged with the same happy results.
"O mon père!" exclaimed the incurable M. G., as he rushed over the interval that separated the combatants, and threw himself into the arms of M. Lafon. There was no resisting such an energy of gratitude. The combat was obliged to be postponed sine die.
That was in
M. Louis Veuillot fought his third duel the same year. 1834. Two shots were exchanged, but without any untoward results. Villemot, in his "Vie à Paris," relates an anecdote of a certain Legitimist bully, Choquart by name, who is said to have been subsidised by the Count de Chambord. He had gone to provoke a certain contractor to fight a duel at a time when the person in question was engaged in pumping water. He took the bully under his arm and pumped upon him.
"Can you imagine such a rascal?" Choquart would say. "I went as a gentleman to propose an affair of honour, and he pumped upon me!" "But the wretch!" some one would venture to observe, "did he pump a long time ?"
"For a quarter of an hour, sir, and I could not move. The rascal was as strong as an Auvergnat."
This man-it is to be hoped the last of his order-was always getting into ridiculous positions. "After you, sir, with the Quotidienne," he would say, going into a café. "I beg your pardon," the other would reply, "it is the Constitutionnel that I am reading." I suppose you mean to say I have told a lie?" the bully would retort, seeking a quarrel. Or he would say, "Sir, you are looking at me in an impertinent manner." sir? I did not even notice you.' "Then you mean to say I lie?" Being at a masked ball one carnival, Choquart got into a quarrel with
a Turk. Cards were exchanged. Next morning our bretteur called, and found that his opponent was a linendraper.
"Monsieur Ballu!" shouted out the duellist, walking into the shop. A young and pretty wife presented herself: "At your service, sir!" My name is Choquart. I come to settle an affair."
"My husband is ill, sir. He has been attacked with spitting of blood. The doctors say he cannot live six months."
Well, madame," said Choquart, "I am a good fellow. I will call again in six months, and if he has deceived me, beware!"
The six months elapsed, Choquart presented himself, accompanied by Villemot, the narrator of the scene. M. Ballu was busy in his shop, in excellent health.
"Just so," said M. Choquart; "I expected as much. You have been laughing at me."
"Monsieur Choquart," exclaimed the draper, a little embarrassed, “I assure you I have been very ill. But I will never play the Turk again. You must really forget the past. It was carnival time."
"Not quite so quick, if you please," said Choquart. "You propose an apology. It must be in form."
"I really know nothing about forms, but I have a leg of mutton with haricots, and if you and your friend will do me the honour to dine with me, I shall be delighted, and so will my wife. Aglaé dear!" Aglaé not coming at the moment, the draper continued: "And I have some Madeira, M. Choquart; I should like to have your opinion about it."
"You have Madeira!" exclaimed Choquart, losing all command of himself. "You have no such thing. I only drank one glass of Madeira in my life, and that was at the Tuileries."
"Dame," said the merchant, terrified, "if I have no Madeira, I have a leg of mutton with haricots. Will you come and see it ?"
Choquart allowed himself to be softened: "A leg of mutton, perhaps, but no jack!" he muttered.
"Yes, and an authentic jack," continued the draper. "Walk this way."
Choquart enjoyed his mutton, did not even pull faces at his sham Madeira, and made himself so far agreeable as to make the blood of his host and hostess run cold at the narrative of his duelling exploits.
At a supper of well-known characters, among whom were Bouffé, Eugène Briffaut, Armand Marrast, Villemot, and others, one Mouton had the misfortune to speak of Charles X. as a "vieux cornichon." Choquart insisted upon immediate chastisement, but at this moment he remembered that he owed Mouton five francs. "What a pity," he exclaimed, "I cannot thrash the man till I have paid him his five francs! Who will lend me five francs?" Naturally, every one declined for such a purpose. Bouffé, to keep the joke up, persuaded Mouton that he would never be safe until he had lent Choquart a hundred francs, which the latter never would be able to pay. Choquart took the money, saying, "It is the same thing; when I get my allowance I will pay you, and you shall have your beating. But Choquart never came up to this fabulous disbursement. Latterly his greatest passions could be assuaged by the offer of a "petit verre !"
Of all the duels of recent times in Paris, none created so great a sensation as that of Emile de Girardin and Armand Carrel. The affair had
its origin simply in the fact that the former had started a paper at forty francs a year. The combatants were placed at forty paces, with liberty to approach within twenty. Armand Carrel fired after advancing ten. M. de Girardin had only advanced three or four, when he fired, and both pistols went off at the same time.
"I am hit in the thigh," exclaimed M. de Girardin.
"And I in the groin," said Carrel.
He had strength, however, to take a seat. As he was carried by his friends past the editor of the Presse, "Do you suffer much, Monsieur de Girardin ?" he inquired.
"I only hope you do not suffer more than I do," was the reply.
The death of Armand Carrel produced an intense sensation, and has done much to diminish the passion for duelling on the Continent. M. Emile de Girardin was besieged with applications from persons anxious to revenge the publicist, but he placed the matter in the hands of his friends, who wisely declared that after so sad a catastrophe he, M. de Girardin, was not bound to accept of further challenges on the
In 1841, M. Granier de Cassagnac was fined a hundred francs and expenses for inflicting a pistol-wound, in a duel, upon M. Lacrosse, now a senator. The Marquis de Calvière and the Duke d'Uzès received each a sword-wound in a duel brought about by the one calling the other a Pritchardist, when that sad affair was at its height.
In the affair Dujarier and Beauvallon, in reality that of the Globe against the Presse, and in which the former lost his life, Beauvallon was tried and acquitted; but it having been proved that Beauvallon and M. d'Ecquevilly had declared that the pistols had not been tried, whereas M. Arthur Bertrand showed that Dujarier's pistol had been recently discharged before the duel took place, the one was condemned to ten, and the other to eight years' imprisonment. Strange inconsistency of the law upon duelling! It was upon the occasion of this trial, which took place at Rouen, that Alexandre Dumas was cross-examined: "Who are you?"
"Alexandre Dumas Davy, Marquis de la Pailleterie."
"I would say dramatic author, if I was not in the country of Corneille."
Upon which the president cynically observed:
"There are degrees, according to the age we live in."
We might continue our illustrations almost ad infinitum. Germany, Austria, Prussia, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and America, are all made to contribute their quota of incidents. But still, France surpasses all other nations in the propensity for duelling. The point of honour extends even to the Church.
M. Olivier, Bishop of Evreux, was conversing one day with Monseigneur Affre, Archbishop of Paris, upon the inconsistency and imperfection of the law in the matter of duelling:
"But," said the bishop to Monseigneur Affre, "if any one was to slap your face, what would you do?"
"Monsieur," replied the archbishop, "I know what I ought to do, but I do not know what I should do."
NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE.
THE SHADOW OF ASHLYDYAT.
BY THE AUTHOR OF "EAST LYNNE."
PART THE FIRST.
THE MEET OF THE HOUNDS.
It was a bright day in autumn: the scene one of those fair ones rarely to be witnessed but in England. The sun, warm and glowing, almost befitting a summer's day, shone on the stubble of the corn-fields, whence the golden grain had recently been gathered, gilded the tops of the trees— so soon to pass into the "sear and yellow leaf"-illumined the blue hills in the distance, and brought out the nearer features of the landscape in all their light and shade. A fine landscape, as you gazed at it from this high ground, where you may suppose yourself to be standing: comprising hill and dale, water and green pastures, woods and open plains. Amidst them rose the marks of busy life; mansions, cottages, hamlets, railways; and churches, whose steepies ascended high-pointing the way to a better Land.
The town of Prior's Ash, lying in a valley, was alive that gay morning with excitement. It was the day appointed for the first meet of the hounds-the P. A. hounds, of some importance in the county-and people from far and near were flocking to see them throw off. Old and young, gentle and simple, lords of the soil and tradesmen, all were wending their way to the place of meeting. The master, Colonel Max, was wont on this, the inaugurating morning of the season, to assemble at his house for breakfast as many as his large dining-room could by any species of crowding contain; and a fine sight it was, and drew forth its numerous spectators, to watch them come afterwards, in procession, to the meet. As many carriages-and-four, with their fair occupants, would come to that first meet, as you could have seen in the old days on a county racecourse. It was an old-fashioned local custom, this show; Colonel Max was pleased to keep it up; and he lacked not supporters. The opening, this year, was unusually early.
The gay crowd was arriving, thick and threefold; some from the breakfast, some from their homes. The rendezvous was a wide, open common; no space lacking. The restrained hounds snarled away at a short distance, and their attendants, attired for the hunt, clashed their whips among them.
Oct.-VOL. CXXIII. NO. ccccxc.