C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.


Since bodily strength is but a servant to the mind, it were very barbarous and preposterous that force should be made judge over reason.

Sir P. Sidney.

If all seconds were as averse to duels as their principals, very little blood would be shed in that way.


  • It has a strange, quick jar upon the ear,
  • That cocking of a pistol, when you know
  • A moment more will bring the sight to bear
  • Upon your person, twelve yards off or so.
  • Byron.

  • Some fiery fop, with new commission vain,
  • Who sleeps on brambles till he kills his man;
  • Some frolic drunkard, reeling from a feast,
  • Provokes a broil, and stabs you for a jest.
  • Dr. Johnson.

  • Ah me! what perils do environ
  • The man that meddles with cold iron!
  • What plaguy mischiefs and mishaps
  • Do dog him still with after-claps.
  • Butler.

    Duelling, though barbarous in civilized, is a highly civilized institution among barbarous people; and when compared to assassination, is a prodigious victory gained over human passions.

    Sydney Smith.

    Do not cherish that daring vice for which the whole age suffers—these private duels—which had their first original from the French and for which to this day we’re justly censured, are banished from all civil government.

    Beaumont and Fletcher.

  • Men engage in it compell’d by force,
  • And fear, not courage, is its proper source,
  • The fear of tyrant custom, and the fear
  • Lest fops should censure us, and fools should sneer.
  • *****
  • Am I to set my life upon a throw
  • Because a bear is rude and surly?—No—
  • A moral, sensible, and well-bred man
  • Will not affront me, and no other can.
  • Cowper.

    With respect to duels, indeed, I have my own ideas. Few things in this so surprising world strike me with more surprise. Two little visual spectra of men, hovering with insecure enough cohesion in the midst of the unfathomable, and to dissolve therein, at any rate, very soon, make pause at the distance of twelve paces asunder, whirl around, and simultaneously, by the cunningest mechanism, explode one another into dissolution; and, off-hand, become air, and non-extant—the little spitfires!