The most important and comprehensive of rules for dueling for the English-speaking world was undoubtedly the Irish code duello "adopted at the Clonmel Summer Assizes, 1777, for the government of duellists, by the gentlemen of Tipperary, Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Roscommon, and prescribed for general adoption throughout Ireland."
THE TWENTY-SIX COMMANDMENTS
I. 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 make the first
apology, because he gave the first offence, and (after one fire) B may
explain away the retort by subsequent apology.
II. But if the parties would rather fight on, then, after two
shots each (but in no case before), B may explain first and A apologize
N.B. The above rules apply to all cases of offences in retort not
of a stronger class than the example.
III. If a doubt exists who gave the first offence, the decision
rests with the seconds. If they will not decide or cannot agree, the
matter must proceed to two shots, or to a hit if the challenger requires it.
IV. When the lie direct is the first offence, the agressor must
either beg pardon in express terms, exchange two shots previous to
apology, or three shots followied by explanation, or fire on till a
severe hit be received by one party or the other.
V. As a blow is strictly prohibited under any circumstances among
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 back, at the same time begging pardon, firing
until one or both are disabled; or exchanging three shots and then
begging pardon without the proffer of the cane.
N.B. If swords are used, the parties engage until one is well
blooded, disabled, or disarmed, or until, after receiving a wound and
blood being drawn, the aggressor begs pardon.
VI. If A gives B the lie and B retorts by a blow (being the two
greatest offences), no reconciliation can take place till after two
discharges each or a severe hit, after which B may beg A's pardon for the
blow, and then A may explain simply for the lie, because a blow is never
allowable, and the offence of the lie, therefore, merges in it. (See
N.B. Challenges for undivulged causes may be conciliated on the
ground after one shot. An explanation or the slightest hit should be
sufficient in such cases, because no personal offence transpired.
VII. But no apology can be received in any case after the parties
have actually taken their ground without exchange of shots.
VIII. 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.
IX. 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.
X. 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 regarded accordingly.
XI. Offences originating or accruing from the support of ladies'
reputations to be considered as less unjustifiable than any others of the
same class, and as admitting of slighter apologies by the aggressor. This
is to be determined by the circumstances of the case, but always
favourably to the lady.
XII. No dumb firing or firing in the air is admissable 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.
XIII. Seconds to be of equal rank in society with the principals
they attend, inasmuch as a second may either choose or chance to become a
principal and equality is indispensable.
XIV. 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 avoid all hot-headed proceedings.
XV. The challenged has the right to choose his own weapons unless
the challenger gives his honour he is no swordsman, after which, however,
he cannot decline any second species of weapon proposed by the challenged.
XVI. The challenged chooses his ground, the challnger chooses his
distance, the seconds fix the time and terms of firing.
XVII. The seconds load in presence of each other, unless they
give their mutual honours that they have charged smooth and single, which
shall be held sufficient.
XVIII. 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.
XIX. In all cases a misfire is equivalent to a shot, and a snap
or a non-cock is to be considered a misfire.
XX. Seconds are bound to attempt a reconciliation before the
meeting takes place or after sufficieint firing or hits as specified.
XXI. Any wound sufficient to agitate the nerves and necessarily
make the hand shake must end the business for that day.
XXII. 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.
XXIII. In slight cases the second hands his principal but one
pistol, but in gross cases two, holding another case ready charged in
XXIV. When the second disagree and resolve to exchange shots
themselves, it must be at the same time and at right angles with their
principals. If with swords, side by side, with five paces' interval.
XXV. No party can be allowed to bend his knee or cover his side
with his left hand, but may present at any level from the hip to the eye.
XXVI. None can either advance or retreat if the ground is
measured. If no ground be measured, either party may advance at his
pleasure, even to the touch of muzzles, but neither can advance on his
adversary after the fire, unless the adversary steps forward on him.
N.B. The seconds on both sides stand responsible for this last
rule being strictly observed, bad cases having occurred from neglecting it.
N.B. All matters and doubts not herein mentioned will be explained
and cleared up by application to the Committee, who meet alternately at
Clonmel and Galway at the quarter sessions for that purpose.
CROW RYAN, President.
JAMES KEOGH. AMBY BODKIN, Secretaries.
--from The Duel: A History of Duelling, Robert Baldick,
Chapman and Hall Ltd., London, 1965; Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd.,
London, 1970. ISBN 0 600 32837 6