division of classes, our inequality; there is great equality.
Let me mention two points in the system of social life and manners over there in which this equality seems to me to have done good.
The first is a mere point of form, but it has its significance.
Every one knows it is the established habit with us in England
, if we write to people supposed to belong to the class of gentlemen, of addressing them by the title of Esquire
, while we keep Mr. for people not supposed to belong to that clsss.
If we think of it, could one easily find a habit more ridiculous, more offensive?
The title of Esquire
, like most of our titles, comes out of the great frippery shop of the Middle Age
; it is alien to the sound taste and manner of antiquity, when men said Pericles
. But unlike other titles, it is applied or withheld quite arbitrarily.
Surely, where a man has no specific title proper to him, the one plain title of Master or Mr.
is enough, and we need not be encumbered with a second title of Esquire
, now quite unmeaning, to draw an invidious and impossible line of distinction between those who are gentlemen and those who are not; as if we actually wished to provide a source of embarrassment for the sender of a letter, and of mortification for the receiver of it.