Friday, June 25, 2010

Dueling Rakes

The year was 1772 and Richard Brinsley Sheridan had just read an advertisement by Captain Thomas Mathews in the Bath Chronicle. The advertisement stated that "S" was a "L and treacherous s."

How dare you, sir!

Well S or Sheridan knew exactly what those strong letters meant and he wasn't going to let Mathews get away with calling him an l and an s! (Liar, scoundrel, by the way)

What brought Mathews to this alarming language? Mathews has recently discovered Sheridan's marriage to his crush, Elizabeth Linley, whom he had pursued to no avail. Miss Eliza was not interested in being a teenage mistress to a married man and had rejected his advances

Sheridan demanded satisfaction for Mathews insulting his lady-love (wait, I didn't see any strong letters defaming her?), and a duel with swords was settled upon. First they were to meet in Hyde Park but it was too crowded. They settled for a tavern in Covent Garden and slapped each other around in what sounded like a true macaroni fight; no blood despite the use of swords.

Apparently the enraged Irishman had disarmed the military man and made him promise to retract his statements via an additional newspaper advertisement. Mathews agreed but was none too pleased when the new talk of the town was his impotence in the dueling field.

Mathews counter-challenged Sheridan, and this time he meant business. The second duel was more gruesome and left both significantly bloody and bruised. Sheridan was left hanging on for survival but recovered a little over a week later. Mathews apparently escaped in shame in his carriage. Lucky for us too! Who else would we have to write scandalous plays, womanize intelligent ladies, and mingle in politics?

4 comments:

Miss Honnête said...

Forgive my impertinence but at first I thought "l" meant looser and s "slut" sorry.........:S haha

Heather Carroll said...

Hahaha! Perhaps you are right and it was Mr. Sheridan who was wrong!

Anonymous said...

Ooh! I love a good duel! Any more stories? Did women ever duel? I imagine not, but you never know...

Heather Carroll said...

That's a good question! I believe Mary Reid, the lady-pirate had a duel and possibly even Anne Bonny.