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Gentlemen Behaving Badly

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Abstract

Percy Douglas was the long-suffering son of the marquis of Queensberry (an unclubbable man by any definition). Despite his father’s legendarily explosive temper, Douglas still had to explain his involvement in a public brawl to the committee of the Army and Navy Club. Getting into a public brawl with your father was ungentlemanly conduct, no doubt. Percy Douglas had to justify why allowing his wife to be insulted without recourse was even less gentlemanly than getting into a fistfight with his father. Surviving the blackball granted membership, but that membership was dependent on appropriate behavior—membership did not mean immunity. Blackballing was at best an imperfect tool, and some men managed to gain acceptance, but were later excluded.2 Percy Douglas wanted to make sure he did not fall into that category, and suffer expulsion for his loss of temper.

Keywords

  • General Meeting
  • High Spirit
  • Fashionable Society
  • Gambling Debt
  • Minute Book

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On the occasion in question, I met [my father] quite accidentally in Piccadilly, and, perhaps unwisely, thought to make one more appeal to him to cease his annoyance of [my wife]… with the result that he struck me. I own that forgetful for the moment that he was my father and thinking only of the great provocation which my mother and I had received for many years at his hands, I retaliated. That I did so will always be to me a matter of sincere regret, but I will ask the Committee to do me the justice of seeing the family solicitor on the subject, who will fully corroborate the fact of the great provocation to which we have had to submit for a long period I feel quite sure that the Committee, when they have heard this, my explanation, as well as what the family solicitor can tell them will recognize that, altho’ I acted hastily, I did so under grave provocation and that I have done nothing whatever to make me an unworthy associate of the members of the Army and Navy Club.1

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Notes

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© 2011 Amy Milne-Smith

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Milne-Smith, A. (2011). Gentlemen Behaving Badly. In: London Clubland. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137002082_4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137002082_4

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, New York

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-349-29886-0

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-137-00208-2

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