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ferential attitude is a thing alarming-and instructive. If he had done it for a particular purpose it would have represented far less. It only shows that the feudal survival is really the thing nearest the heart of those who dwell under its influence, and that the satiric pictures of Thackeray are not obsolete, but really belong to to-day. A nation is tested not by watching the class which looks down, but by the class which looks up. In England the upper classes naturally and innocently look down, and the middle and lower classes look up. In the United States the so-called upper class may or may not look down, but the rest do not look up, and this makes an ineradicable difference. The less favored may point with pride or gaze with curiosity, but they certainly do not manifest reverence for the mere social position. Something akin to that feeling may be called out by the political hero, the favorite author, even by the local boss, but by mere wealth never. It is better so. 1896
ses 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 almos
Walter Besant (search for this): chapter 17
present time. In the autobiography of Anthony Trollope there is an especial chapter on the question, How a literary man should treat his social superiors --a chapter which is, to an American literary man, first ludicrous and then pathetic. Walter Besant in his Fifty Years Ago enumerated the list of eminent authors and scientists of the Victorian period, and pointed with what seemed like pride to the fact that they had had nothing to do with the court of Victoria. Now that he has been knightliege 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.
Chapter 17: English and American gentlemen A report is going the rounds of the newspapers-and may, nevertheless, be true-that some Cornell University students were ruled out from rowing in the Henley regatta because they had crossed the ocean in a cattle-steamer; and had therefore earned money by the work of their hands. The college oarsmen, it was stated, must be gentlemen, and no gentleman could have worked with his hands. The rumor looks a little improbable, because in Tom Brown at Rugby, written nearly half a century ago, a college crew is described as being saved by the rowing of a plebeian student, who had, it is to be presumed, done some manual labor. If, however, the tale be true, it points to a difference, still insurmountable, between the English and American students. Even in circles of inherited wealth in this country it is not at all uncommon for a young man who is to enter upon manufacturing or mining or railroad business to begin himself at the foundation, wo
n himself, now utterly forgotten by the world at large, were treated by this leading Scotch intellect of his day as if they conferred honor by letting him write to 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 sam
Longfellow (search for this): chapter 17
sume 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 chan
hole 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 definitio
Walter Scott (search for this): chapter 17
o the author is to be found in the lately published letters of Sir Walter Scott. They are delightful in all respects but one--the absolute sedone 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 ow 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 ttitude of Trollope and Besant shows that it still survives. But Scott's letters are of especial value for this: that they absolutely defecracy 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 ibe 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 almosent the very organization and structure of society. It was because Scott was personally a man of high tone that this deferential attitude is
America (Netherlands) (search for this): chapter 17
w 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. The other defect of the English standard is that it perpetuates, even inside those who rank as gentlemen, a permanent feudalism, a wholly artificial standard of social subordination. This lasts even to the present time. In the autobiography of Anthony Trollope there is an especial chapter on the question, How a literary man should treat
Yorkshire (United Kingdom) (search for this): chapter 17
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. The other defect of the English standard
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