صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني



do so, to be as clear as the difference between a known half-bred horse and the thorough-bred one - I say known, because we pretty well know that we do not know how half the half-bred ones are bred.

I have said it required many rare ingredients to make a gentleman — that is, what in every sense of the word must be held as a perfect gentleman. These ingredients I conceive to be, good family, good education, good society, good manners, and good conduct. These I consider constitute a gentleman. If we add to these, polished and winning address, and carriage, I think we see something like a perfect gentleman. That a man may be a gentleman without possessing all these advantages, or by possessing them in a very moderate degree, we all know, and courtesy allows the title to many such. Personal merit and superior talent very properly in many cases break down the barrier between the man of family and the plebeian, and every liberal mind must rejoice in seeing the latter burst those bonds that held his forefathers as serfs to his more aristocratic brethren. If, however, fortune · only has elevated him (which in a commercial country it may do) to a rank in society to which his most sanguine hopes never aspired, let him remember he owes it to no merit of his own. If superior talents have done this for him, the high attributes of such a mind should teach him that there are numbers of his fellow-men in whose bosom lies the germ of all his qualities, but, from its having fallen on a more sterile soil, wants the means to burst forth : and, above all, let him remember that no men despise the advantages of birth but those who do not possess them; and that in those who profess to do so, it is at best but a vulgar bravado, a feeble and futile attempt to depreciate advantages they cannot enjoy.



I trust that those who may have so far flattered me as to have read my fugitive thoughts and opinions on various subjects, will give me credit for not intending to venture. a treatise on the relative position of the gentleman and the plebeian, but will feel convinced I never attempt anything like a treatise on any subject: but as in gentlemen-riders and gentlemen-jocks, the term Gentleman will be brought in question, it becomes necessary to myself that my ideas of what a gentleman is should be known, otherwise I should make at best but a matière embrouillée of the whole. Fortunate will it be for me, if, in treating on so delicate a subject, I escape with no stronger manifestation of displeasure. I have said, many or some might think six words would define a plum-pudding ; I really do think I have shown they would not. Many think a gentleman as easily defined; but they would equally find themselves in error; for the opinions of the attributes of a gentleman vary in accordance with the souce from which they emanate. Pindar tells us the beau ideal of one of his heroes of a gentleman was the eating “fat pork and riding on a gate.” I once heard a gentleman described as “he who had money, and the will to spend it.” The honest bluff countryman says, “ he's a gentleman that keeps his horse, and pays everybody their own." The low tradesman thinks the nice young man quite a gentleman who wears showy waistcoats, clothes in the extreme (consequently out) of fashion, and pay3 him. The worthy keeper of an inferior lodging-house holds up her lodger as a gentleman if he allows her to cater for him, and consequently keep her family out of the cribbings at his expense. Multifarious and equally erroneous are the opinions formed of gentlemen by inferior people. Erroneous

[blocks in formation]

they must be, because the generality of such persons are rarely brought in contact with gentlemen, consequently have no criterion to appreciate them by. The three best judges of a gentleman I should say must be first, gentlemen, who of course judge of others by themselves; next, first-rate tradespeople, because in trade they are in the habit of seeing their manners and habits; thirdly, superior servants, who see gentlemen and gentlewomen (ladies, as inferior persons always call them) throughout the day. A cheesemonger would consider himself highly offended on being put on a par with a servant. Doubtless he is held in the world's estimation as the most respectable and responsible person — Mem. quære in both cases, but particularly in the latter ? — but supposing him to be both, he is not as competent a judge of a gentleman. How should he be ? he probably never saw one at table or in a drawing-room in his life (unless he crept up the lamp-post to get a peep). The servant has seen the thing daily for years, and could give a tolerable highlife-below-stairs imitation of the manners, and certainly of the habits of his master. Our worthy cheesemonger would have about as clear a conception of a gentleman mounting the well-lit well-aired staircase lined with exotics of a woman of fashion, as he would have of a crocodile forcing his way through the reedy banks of the Nile. The Egyptian or English animal, placed in the situation of a gentleman, would, I conceive, be about equally out of their element, and on their names being announced would create about an equal sensation ; doubtless they would be the lions of the night. · Supposing the sketch I have so slightly drawn of the gentleman to be tolerably true to nature, or rather



to the received opinion of society (I mean society composed of gentlemen), I conceive that any man, unless he possesses the most overweening vanity or obtuseness of intellect, can decide for himself how far he does or does not possess the requisites of a gentleman, and by so doing save himself the mortification of repulse when he attempts to step within that magic circle that encompasses aristocracy. Superior talent and superior worth may cause his being tolerated, nay, invited within its prescribed limits, but neither gives the right to enter there. These limits are not like those of the rainbow, so softened down that they can hardly be ascertained; but are clear and definite, however much personal vanity may mislead people. Were it otherwise, distinction in society would be lost. This would certainly be one mode of doing away with any disputes as to gentlemen, gentlemen-jocks, and regular jocks; but as we have not come to that state yet, we will see whether there is not a better way of settling this oft-disputed matter.

Whether I understand the character of gentleman or not, the definition I have given must decide; but that of a jock I certainly can estimate, as he is neither more nor less than a servant regularly engaged to one or more persons to serve him or them, or one ready to be engaged by any one requiring his services. The first character I will not presume so far as to say I have defined so as to be beyond contradiction ; the latter I certainly have : at all events I think it will be conceded to me that a gentleman is not a professional jock, and equally that the professional jock is not a gentleman. We now come to that anomaly styled gentleman-jock. We might as well say gentleman-dustman. If some gentleman who could ride a



race as well as a professional jockey was so reduced in fortune as to be obliged to have recourse to riding for the public as a mean of support, we might very appropriately style him a gentleman-jock, because he would be both a gentleman and a jockey, and perhaps such a character exists; but in a general sense the term is inappropriate and absurd. If a kind of intermediate character was intended to be specified, I can only say I should consider him a most useless one; for he would not, by habits, standing in society, or probably manners, be à fit associate for the gentleman, nor would he, in point of ability, be able to compete with the jockey. To render races to be ridden by gentlemen select, latterly, they are in some cases specified to be ridden by Members of such a Hunt or Hunts, Members of such Clubs, or Officers : this I consider as hardly fair; for a man may be a perfect gentleman, and not come under either of these denominations: he would therefore be without any good reason excluded. I think we might put the thing in a more tangible and definite position, if races were appointed to be ridden by gentlemen, yeomen, or jockeys. This would make three clearly different characters of riders, neither of which could interfere with the other. I conclude the first intention of races to be ridden by gentlemen was of course as a means of gentlemen running and riding their own horses among themselves, to the very proper exclusion of the professional rider, with whom, of course, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, gentlemen would have no chance. Those appointed to be ridden by gentlemenjockeys were, I suppose, intended to let in a middle class of persons, neither quite gentlemen nor quite jockeys. The instituting amusement for all classes is

« السابقةمتابعة »