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of common consent, refraining from saying anything likely to bring out our Englishman, whose real character we had read at the beginning, lest Miss T- should commence upon him too soon and too severely. Notwithstanding our care and forbearance, however, in sundry little acts and trifling remarks, both he and his wife manifested their contempt for us and every thing else appertaining to our country. At last, this bold assertion plumped itself out, as we were eating our dessert one day at dinner.
“ I have seen but few polished gentlemen since my arrival in this country; and they were Englishmen.”
I felt my blood warm, but said nothing; for I knew that speech wouldn't go unanswered.
“ You have been fortunate," said Miss T-with a smile so bland that it covered the bitterness lurking beneath. “I have lived in this country all my life, and have never yet seen an English ‘gentleman. I believe they rarely if ever come to the United States."
R-- looked bewildered. He did not exactly comprehend the remark of Miss T
“Oh, yes;" he replied,“ many of them come over. I have met numbers since my arrival here."
“ I have heard a great deal about a real English gentleman," retorted Miss T-, “and would give much to see one. But, as I said before, I am aware that they rarely if ever leave home, and then only for a short time, as travellers. Your ordinary Englishmen, I find to be much inferior to Americans of the same grade in society in all that goes to make up the true gentle. man."
There was no insult, no rebuke in the tone of voice with which this was uttered; but it was said with the coldness and gravity of the most matter-of-fact proposition.
R- did not know what to make of it. He could not get offended. And he was at a loss how to reply.
“A common mistake,” resumed Miss T 66 which I observe that most of your countrymen commit, is the assumption that there are no ladies and gentlemen natives of the United States. Your remark, just now, shows this to be your opinion. No doubt you are honest in this. But you are in error; as I trust you will one day discover. The mere man of formsthe gentleman, made so by birth in a certain family of rankextrinsic in every thing—is peculiar to England, I know. But in this country, no man is considered a true gentleman, who is not one at heart. Not being aware of this fact, has doubtless led you into the error so common to English residents here. But, the sooner you correct it, the better."
R— looked slightly confused, bowed, and remained silent.
Miss T—- proceeded. She had got on a favorite subject, and meant to have her say out.
“I believe,” she went on, " that in England, birth only entitles a man to be called a gentleman.”
demurred a little, but did not deny the assertion point blank.
“ Therefore," resumed Miss T, “only men of rank and family-the titled few—are gentlemen. All below them may assume the airs of the privileged classes: may call themselves gentlemen and ladies, if they will; but none, not even those in their own grade, will acknowledge the claim. It is different in this country. Whoever is born a gentleman, be it in the richest mansion or the lowliest cot, is a gentleman through life; and all who come into close enough contact with him to perceive his quality, acknowledge his title. He is not a gentleman because he is a great monster of selfishness, requiring all to bow down and worship him, but because he thinks less of self than of others, and is ever ready to defer to others from a genuine regard for their good. Here, Mr. R-, is the difference between your gentlemen and ours. Our gentlemen may not have so high à polish as yours, but the gold of his character is finer, and he holds his title from Heaven. In this country, we clearly understand this difference; and it would be well for all of your countrymen if they understood it before coming over. It would save them from the well-deserved contempt they so often compel us to feel, when we would a thousand times rather regard them with respect for the good qualities they possess. It does not do for the middling classes from England to assume airs in the same grade of society here; we know, too well, what they are worth, and where they must ever remain at home. Here, every man, no matter how lowly born, if the germ of nobility be in him, may become a gentleman; there, people occupying your level must sigh for the distinction in vain."
R— was mute. Miss T- arose and left the table, as she closed the last sentence of her caustic speech, and we all followed her example. Neither at tea nor breakfast did - and his wife appear. When I came home at dinner time on the next day, I learned that they had obtained a new boarding house ; and I also, then learned, that, while in the house, they had, on several occasions, treated Mrs. D—g and her daughter with a superciliousness and contempt, that showed their small claim to good breeding. No doubt they behaved themselves a little better in their next boarding house.
I have selected this incident from dozens that have met my observation, because it not only shows one phase of the evil complained of, but because the strong reproof of Miss T
contains a wholesome lesson which Englishmen in this country would do well to learn.
I disclaim all feelings of illiberality, in what I have written. Good and true men-nature's noblemen—I honor, no matter what soil has given them birth. Englishmen, as Englishmen, I have no wish to insult, no desire to wound; but, if they will, as a class, in coming among us, so far forget themselves as to do violence to our love of country, by falsely disparaging us; and in season and out of season drawing unfavorable contrasts between society in England, and society in this country, they must not complain if we tell them the truth, in language so plain as not to be misunderstood ; and show them that gentlemen born in this country, possess higher claims to the distinction than gentlemen born in England,—the customs and laws of the two countries determining the endowments necessary for a claim to the title on either side of the Atlantic.
Let Englishmen come among us as men, willing that native worth shall have its full claim to distinction, and then we will honor them for the good they possess. But, if they still wish to keep up their home standard, and presume to estimate us thereby, they must not be angry if we weigh them in their own balances and pronounce them wanting.
As I was on a journey late, a mental one I mean,
it mean, quoth I to one, this great grotesque array,
Then lifted he to whom I speak, a fixed and frowning eye,
A venerable Patriarch arose as auctioneer,
Upon the shattered parapet of some old tower he sprang,
A tarnished bauble in his hand then lifted he on high,