|Mr. Ramsey and his second at a recent engagement.|
To be an honorable man is of the highest importance. A Gentleman's reputation is what defines him and allows him to navigate through Society; from conducting business or leisure with other Gentlemen to catching a lady's eye and developing marriage prospects. On occasion though one's reputation may become impugned. From disagreeing political views, to accusations at the gaming tables, horse races, or boxing ring, or matters of propriety concerning the fairer sex, a slight against a Gentleman's reputation could be rooted in a great many things. Many times a matter of honor could be handled with an act of contrition. How public that act was would be dictated by the severity of the slight.
Being accused of cheating or lying, being called a blackguard or rascal, being accused of cowardice, or a physical act such as being punched, slapped with a glove or having your nose pulled (in some cases it could be as little as stepping on another's foot). There were four acts of aggression that were unforgivable and would demand the satisfaction of one's honor through a duel. During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries a duel most often took two forms, the use of pistols or swords (small sword or saber). Either option could be extremely lethal.
Along with upholding honor the duel was used to test a Gentleman's bravery. A Gentleman would be forced to accept his earliest challenges to prove to Society that he was not a coward. His reputation as a duelist could be well established within three duels, after which he would have the opportunity to be more selective in his manner of settling disputes. Those rare Gentlemen who developed a thirst for dueling and would do so at every opportunity developed infamous reputations and were called Fire-Eaters.
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