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Duel between Sir A. Boswell and Mr. Stuart.
The Examiner  No. 744  (7 April 1822)  217-18.
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No. 744. SUNDAY, April 7, 1822.


It was not the Beacon, but the Glasgow Sentinel, a paper established on the same principles and spirit, that led to the death of Sir A. Boswell (for he soon died of the wound.) Mr. Stuart is a Gentleman of considerable property, and a leader of opposition in the Counties of Fife, Edinburgh, and Renfrew. What tempted Sir Alexander Boswell to make him an object of calumnies, such as those which led to the duel, is not exactly known, for these Gentlemen had never been particularly opposed to each other in their political contests, and were personally acquainted. After the extinction of the Beacon, the Glasgow Sentinel was looked upon as its successor, and to this paper Sir A. Boswell had been a very industrious contributor. In many of his articles, Mr. Stuart’s name was coupled with most opprobrious epithets: “Coward” was broadly applied; and the expression “he could draw any thing but a trigger,” was one of those used.

“It appears (says a letter from Edinburgh) that of thirty-two letters written by Alexander Boswell of Auchinleck, lately, for his loyal and patriotic services, created a baronet. Of this gentleman, the son of the famous James Boswell, you, I dare say, know enough. He is one of our Tory chieftains; and one of his last memorable exploits was singing indecent songs at the Pitt dinner last year. On making this discovery, Stuart, of course, applied to Boswell, who could not deny being the author.”

The meeting took place on Tuesday week, at Auchtertoul, near Balmuto, in Fifeshire. The ball entered a little below the shoulder, and taking a slanting direction upwards, lodged in the body. The seconds were John Douglas, Esq. to Sir Alexander Boswell, and the Earl of Rosslyn to Mr. Stuart. Sir Alexander was conveyed to the house of Lord Balmuto, and received prompt assistance from Professor John Thomson. Lady Boswell, the anguish of whose feelings may well be conceived, was in constant attendance upon her husband.

An erroneous account having appeared of the manner in which Mr. Stuart got possessed of some papers, proving that Sir Alexander Boswell was the author of the numerous attacks in the Glasgow Sentinel against Mr. Stuart, we are desired to state, that Mr. Stuart some time ago raised an action of damages against Messrs.  Borthwick and Alexander, the proprietors of the Sentinel. On one of the last days of the Session, a gentleman from Hamilton (the county agent of Mr. Borthwick) came to Mr. Stuart, and stated, that Mr. Borthwick was extremely anxious of having the action settled, and asked Mr. Stuart if he
was inclined to do so. Mr. Stuart answered, that that would depend on the communications made to him. The gentleman said, that Mr. Borthwick was in gaol in Glasgow for a debt, which he (the agent) was going to discharge, and that Mr. Borthwick would produce all the papers in his possession. Mr. Stuart did not agree to any settlement of the action, but having been long extremely anxious to discover the authors of the attacks upon him, he went to Glasgow; and Mr. Borthwick, after being liberated from prison, brought a number of papers, and put them into the hands of this Edinburgh agent, who was then at a hotel along with Mr. Stuart. Among these, the gentleman and Mr. Stuart to their utter astonishment, found, in the handwriting of Sir Alexander Boswell, (who had never been suspected,) the papers which led to the fatal rencontre.—Mr. Stuart neither paid, nor agreed to pay, any part of the debt for which Mr. Borthwick was imprisoned; he neither paid nor agreed to pay Mr. Borthwick any money; and he never was in the office of the Sentinel, from which he understood the papers were brought. We understand that Mr. Stuart has given notice, that he is ready to appear to stand his trial.—

The following is said to be a correct copy of the song, which occasioned the duel, omitting only the name of a Gentleman who has had no share in this transaction:—

Tune—“Sherrif Muir.”
There’s some say that they’re Whigs,
And some say there’s nae Whigs ava, man;
But ae thing I’m sure,
A pawky Whig do-er
Is the Whig that outwhigifies a’ man!
And they crack and we ta’k,
And they ta’k and we crack,
And we ta’k and they crack awa, man!
For conscience, the auld Whigs
Were sterling and bauld Whigs,
And gied their oppressors a claw, man;
But now Whigs for siller
(Their calf on the pillar),
Ken nought about conscience ava, man!
And they crack and we ta’k, &c.
The De’il took the lawyer,
And left the poor sawyer,
He wasna a mouse to his paw, man;
Owr straught was his mark, man,
But a Whig Signet Clerk, man,
Can ony thing, ony way, thraw, man!
And they crack, and we ta’k, &c.
They rant about Freedom,
But when ye ha’e fee’d e’m,
Cry hot, or cry cauld, and they’ll blaw, man;
Tak him maist rampagant,
And mak him King’s Agent,
And, hech! how his fury will fa’, man!
And they crack, and we ta’k, &c.
There’s stot-feeder Stuart,
Kent for that fat cow—art,
How glegly he kicks ony ba’, man;
And ————, lang chiel, man,
Whose height might serve weel, man,
To read his ain name on a wa’, man!
And they crack, and we ta’k, &c.
Your knights of the pen, man,
Are a’ gentlemen, man,
Ilk body’s a limb o’ the law, man;
Tacks, bonds, precognitions,
Bills, wills, and petitions,
And ought but a trigger some draw, man!
And they crack, and we ta’k, &c.
Sae foul fa’ backbiters,
Wa rin down sic writers,
Wha fatten sae brave and sae braw, man;
Ilk Whiggish believer,
Ilk proprietor’s riever,
Come join in a hearty hurra, man!
For they crack, and we ta’k,
And they ta’k, and we crack,
And we ta’k and they crack awa, man!

The fatal consequences which have arisen, and which must be expected to arise, out of that system of attack on private character which has lately become so conspicuous a feature in the Government Press of this country, are such as cannot but arrest the attention and alarm the interests of all classes among us. It has actually become a part of the organized scheme of politics, to seek to ruin all whom it cannot influence, and to defame the reputation of every man whose integrity it cannot corrupt. In the case of the unfortunate Mr. Scott, who, in the prime of his life, fell in a duel, which originated in the attack made upon private character in Blackwood’s Magazine, a guiltless party unfortunately died. In the case of Sir Alexander Boswell, the aggressor has lost his life, and deeply as such an event is to be lamented, our sympathy is at times arrested when we reflect on the origin of the affair. The “organized system of blackguardism,” as the Scotsman has well termed it, is among the most alarming features of the times—it is a confederacy of paper against principle—it is a conspiracy of the pensioned prostitutes of corruption against every man that exposes the abuse of Administration, or advocates the freedom of the people. The agents of this abominable system of political warfare have the means of shielding themselves and their adherents, while they prosecute with exterminating vengeance any one who employs against them the same mode of attack. The John Bull Newspaper was established for the express purpose of writing down and defaming, by every species of abuse, all who visited the late Queen. The Beacon was established in Scotland on the same principle, to “show up,” to use their own phrase, every public man who was not a supporter of Ministers—to make, as it were, a public example of every individual who discharged his public duty, that each might, in his turn, be deterred from so doing by a dread of the atrocious accusations that would be thrown out against him, or the base aspersions to which he should expose the innocence of his daughter or the honour of his wife. And yet—to the eternal degradation of the British name and character, and to the utter disgrace of that Government by which its character and name should be dignified and upheld—we find this infamous system of anonymous slander patronized in the highest circle, and adopted as an engine of political warfare. It was in Edinburgh that the infamous system first exploded; it was in Edinburgh that its connexion with a Government party was first fully disclosed. And of what casts were the delinquents? It is natural to presume that none would associate themselves with such a system, but persons whose wants furnished an apology for their meanness, or whose want of principle was excused by their want of bread. It was not so, however. It was most shamefully the reverse. The bondsmen, the sponsors, the guarantees, of the Beacon, the persons under whose patronage it had been established, through whose influence it was circulated, and by whose purses it was supported, turned out to be persons trusted with Magistrates of great weight and authority, with the King’s Attorney-General (or, as he is there termed, the Lord Advocate) at their head. What an exposure! The manner in which the libels of the Sentinel were traced to poor Sir A. Boswell, should be read with attention by those, as yet undiscovered, miscreants who are engaged in a ten times worse system of libelling in England. Sooner or later they may expect to be exposed by their guilty and needy associates.—Traveller.