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[125] what is expected of them. Assume that a whole class will be clowns, and they are more likely to be so; assume that they are to be gentlemen, you remove half the obstacle to their success. Hence much of the flexibility of American character, its ready adaptation. Since it made no difference to anybody else that Whittier had been in youth a farmer's boy in summer and a shoemaker in winter, it made no difference to him; and nobody stopped to ask whether he had sustained, in childhood, the same refining influences with Longfellow and Lowell. In New York, in Washington, one often encounters eminent men who have worked with their hands. In England these men would have carried for life the stamp of that experience — some misplaced h, some Yorkshire burr would have stamped them forever. In America the corresponding drawbacks have been easily effaced and swept away. No doubt climate and temperament have something to do with this difference, but the recognized social theory has more. It grows largely out of the changed definition of the word “gentleman.” In America this altered classification has let down the bars. The word “gentleman” denotes a class that is henceforward accessible to merit.

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