In the article, “Pistols at Six O’clock” by Stephen R Brown, the reader is introduced to a duel fought by two law students in 1833. The reader is informed of the reason for the duel, the trial and the aftermath.[i] However a lack of works cited makes it difficult for the reader to check facts or continue more research on the topic.
The article reads more of a story than a historical document. While it is quoted with facts, a poem and picture, there is no works cited making is difficult to research the truth behind what is being written. Based on the facts written in the article, “In search of the Phantom Misnamed Honour: Duelling in Upper Canada” by Cecilia Morgan, which is full of primary and secondary sources, one can conclude that Brown’s article is truthful in the sense that this duel did occur, Robert Lyon did die and John Wilson was put on trial for the murder.[ii]
The reader is taken on a journey through the time leading up to the duel. Setting the scene of a jealousy over a woman’s affection, a gossipy friend who deliberately started the drama and an apology that would not be accepted. While all this background is great for bringing the reader in and educating them, one cannot help but again question where this information came from. Without proper citation there is doubt on the source. How does Brown know the feelings of Wilson and Lyon? Where did the poem come from and what else did it say? Where did the letters come from and are we able to read them?
Upon researching the magazine the article is written for, “Beaver Magazine”, the article seems to be more of an editorial piece and explains the way in which it is written. Unlike Morgan’s article, which is more of a scholarly write, Browns is written for a different audience and for that purpose it has been written well. In my opinion this article gives the reader a taste of history holds the readers interest through staging the scene, “In the fading light of late afternoon on a drizzly mid-June day, a group of four darkly clad youths stalked through the mist towards a farm on the outskirts of town.”[iii] In comparison to the reading we have done thus far this is not a common style of sentence in historical writings.
In the end, while the story about the two lawyers duel, the history of the events leading up to the duel and the aftermath of the duel was told, there is room for doubt on the facts of the story as there are no sources. That being said, this article has been written for a more general audience and conveys the story quite well.
[i] Stephen R Brown, “Pistols at Six O’clock”, Beaver, Vol 79 issue 4 (Aug/Sep 99)