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[127] them; and the very grace and naturalness with which it is done shows how ingrain it is. To the chief of his clan, especially, Scott poses as the humble minstrel for whom it is honor enough to sit in the doorway of his liege and amuse that august leisure. That this attitude was not inevitable we know by the very different tone of Burns; but the facility with which Scott fell into it shows the strength of the feudal tradition; while the attitude of Trollope and Besant shows that it still survives.

But Scott's letters are of especial value for this: that they absolutely defeat the theory held by many Englishmen and some Americans as to the close resemblance between an aristocracy of birth and one of wealth. No one can read these letters of Scott's and imagine for an instant an American man of genius as writing in the same tone to any merely rich man. He might write more beseechingly when he had favors to ask, he might use more direct flattery; but the feudal flavor would not be there, nor would it be possible to put it on. It would not, like Scott's tone, be spontaneous, unaffected, and in that point of view almost dignified. Cringing and mean it might be, but not ingrain and unconscious.

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