Charles Claude Théveneau, better known as the Chevalier de Morande, was a Frenchman who wound up in London working as a pamphleteer and journalist. In that capacity, he found himself in trouble for comments he said in the press and once even found himself challenged to a duel. It occurred in 1778 after Morande made some unkind remarks about a man and his wife in the press. The man, Henry Bate (who in 1784 became Henry Bate-Dudley), was a reverend and an editor for the Morning Post. Bate was also nicknamed “The Fighting Parson” or “The Reverend Bruiser” for having fought some young men in Vauxhall Gardens.
The duel between Morande and Bate was scheduled for a Friday morning, 28 August 1778, at 5 o’clock at the Ring in Hyde Park. Bate’s was accompanied by Captain Bailie and a surgeon and Morande’s second was a Mr. Austin. After the pistols were loaded, Bate got out of his post-chaise and took his ground. Morande followed immediately.
Bailie then told Bate, “that he might advance as near as he pleased.” Bate did. The men were separated by just twelve paces, and they fired at each other with no effect. Morande then advance two or three more paces and fired his pistol. At this point the seconds tried to intervene, and they “made use of every argument they could think of to prevail upon them to desist.” However, both deers “expressed a desire to proceed.”
By now a crowd had gathered. Fearful that the duel might be stopped, Bate and Morande decided to move the duel to new location. The new location was about a mile away, along the Edgeware Road and in a convenient spot between Paddington and Kilburn Wells.
Reaching the new spot, Bate got out of his post-chaise. He was followed closely by his second, and behind him were Morande and his second. The men went into a field, and a newspaper provided the particulars stating:
[Morande] received the same intimation … to advance as near as he thought proper; he snapped his pistol, which missed fire; on this Mr. Bate fired, and slightly wounded … Morande on the upper part of his head [as a ball struck against the hook and eye in Morande’s hat, went through the same, and he received a slight head contusion.] Mr. Bate immediately said, “You are wounded, Sir!” to which … Morande rejoined, “not materially,” and fired his second pistol, which was returned by Mr. Bate’s other fire, without either taking effect.
The seconds again stepped in and insisted that the duel end. The seconds pointed out that each man had aptly demonstrated his courage. However, Bate replied that “it was not to ascertain the courage of either that he came out, it was to have the fullest recantation of what … Morande had advanced in the public prints against him, particularly in certain Queries, which he expected would be apologized for in the fullest manner, or he must insist on proceeding till one of them dropt.”
Morande refused to comply and so the pistols were reloaded. The men proceeded into the field a little farther and it seemed as if the duel would continue. But, then, just as the men were ready to renew their fire, the seconds again intervened. They “threatened immediately to retire, observing to … Morande, that, as he had given the strongest proof of his personal courage, it could be no impeachment of him to do Mr. Bate that justice he seemed otherwise inclined to.” Morande thought for a moment, and then he assured Bate he was sorry for the public attack upon his character and promised to “make all the reparation in his power, through the same public channel.”
Bate replied that if Morande intended to set things right and if that was “effectually done, he should be satisfied.” Bate also said that he had no objection to returning to town to settle the matter. However, he did warn Morande that “if the apology was not as full as he and his friends should deem necessary, that … Morande would hold himself bound in honour to meet Mr. Bate again to give him the further personal satisfaction he should certainly demand.”
Morande complied and the men returned to town. They met at the Turk’s Head Coffee-house in the Strand and satisfaction was achieved by both parties. Thus, in good faith to his promise, Morande published the following dated 28 August 1778:
Mr. Bate’s Conduct, at a Meeting I had with him this Morning, having convinced me that he is a Man of Courage and Honour, I am inclined to do him Justice, by publickly declaring that he has fully proved himself a Gentleman, and that whatever Expressions I have hitherto dropped to the contrary, were either directed by the Warmth with which I resented Publications reflecting on my Character, or by a Misconstruction of his own; which I am now personally satisfied did not deserve the Imputation with which I charged him in the Heat of Passion. I regard to the Queries which I have put to Mr. Bate, after a minute Examination of them, there appears to be no manner of Authority to give them the smallest Credit. I am persuaded, in my own Mind, that they are undeserved, and that the Lady in you, so cruelly attacked, is worthy of Respect; and this Declaration I subscribe from my own Feelings, and a Consciousness that it is a Duty I owe to that injured Lady. [Signed] de Morande.
Henry Bate’s reply followed:
Sir, From Monsieur De Morande’s spirited and gentleman-like Conduct this Morning at our Interview in Hyde-Park, &c. I cannot entertain the smallest Doubt of his personal Courage, and therefore do not hesitate to declare, that I think this Gentleman’s Character has been misrepresented to me, (particularly concerning his late Affair with an English Officer, and another in his own Country) and therefore I am happy in the Opportunity of doing it the Justice it merits. Sir, your’s, &c. H. Bate.
- –, in Kentish Gazette, 2 September 1778
- Darnton, Robert, The Devil in the Holy Water, 2007
- Lanwood, Jacob, The Story of the London Parks, 1881
- “London, 29,” in Stamford Mercury, 3 September 1778
- “To The Editor,” in Derby Mercury, 28 August 1778