Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Monday Papers: Part Ten

This is as is traditional, being posted a day late and I couldn't find an appropriate picture of an amusing animal, so you will have to forgive me.  We all have our off days. I rarely watch television this days, it's mainly a bonding experience with Mrs. Kinch. This isn't strictly true, I rarely watch television *as it is broadcast* on an actual television. I browse YouTube and I often come across things of interest there.

One of my recent discoveries is Forgotten Weapons, an occasional Youtube channel devoted to odd and unusual firearms, voiced by a curiously Canadian sounding chap.  I sort of assumed he was American, but they more I think about it, the more he sounds like he is from the Great White North.

The above video is one of the rare ones that doesn't feature that particular presenter, but it does feature a rather magnificent Girandoni Air Rifle.  This weapon produced in 1780 for the ReichesArmee in the Austro Hungarian Empire. It was an extraordinary weapon in .46 calibre, equipped with a 20 round tubular magazine and was capable of firing thirty rounds from one compressed air reservoir.   Too delicate and complicated for military service, it was used by the Lewis & Clarke expedition during their trek across North America.

A bit of a set to in the Sikh Golden Temple

You can read more the context of this particular scrap here, but bear in mind twelve people were injured.  It seems an extraordinarily low number considering the amount of chaps running around with swords, but given rapid access to modern medical care perhaps it isn't so extraordinary.   I can only hope that if the Mothers Union ever kick off in Saint Patrick's that we will be able to keep the casualty roll so low. 

I've only witnessed one sword fight that was actually in earnest and curiously enough this has a lot in common with it. 

- There was lots of running about before either side actually came to blows. 
- Strikes when they were made were extremely fast.
- Little attempt was made to maintain a guard of any sort. 

Another thing that struck me about the swordsmen in this video is that most of them carried their weapon on their shoulder, loaded to deliver a strike like a club rather than maintaining a guard. I have seen that posture in Sikh swordplay before, but that mainly where the fighter was carrying a shield in his off hand. 

A somewhat more staid affair was the last duel in France, which occurred in 1967.  The combatants were two French politicians, one of whom had insulted their other. The duel was fought to second blood only, as one of the combatants was getting married the following day. It seems a rather more studied matter than the melee above.

I must admit I have always been fascinated by duelling and would have rather liked to have partaken, should circumstances allow.  Thus far unfortunately, my reconcontres have been rather more extemporised affairs and have little of the Code Duello in them. The code proposed by the Clonmel Assizes of 1777 is I think one of Ireland's greatest contributions to world culture - with the possible exception of triple distilling in whiskey.

A relatively recent calling out in Drogheda came to nothing sadly, which would seem to suggest that its time has passed, but one can still hope.


  1. Here's to the triple distilling of whisky, then!



  2. A most interesting read. I had seen the Sikh brawl previously and it looked decidedly chaotic and amateurish, and perhaps all the more deadly for it.
    The video on the Austrian air rifle was quite fascinating. I can imagine what a chore it would be pumping 1500 times and counting in German to fill the reservoir. Presumably part of one's pre-battle prep. According to my google research, the chap in the video, Luke Haag, lives in Arizona, but could be Canadian from his voice. Lord knows enough Canucks live down there.

  3. I share your interest in Dueling- I can definitely recommend 'Pistols at Dawn' if you have not already read it.



  4. It might help restore a degree of instinctual civility to society, at any rate.