Eugene V. (Eugene Valentine) Brewster.

What's what in America online

. (page 10 of 12)
Online LibraryEugene V. (Eugene Valentine) BrewsterWhat's what in America → online text (page 10 of 12)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Leslie V. Lorillard, et al. — no N. Y. 533.

The Martyrdom of Genius

IT seems that those who have done the most
good in this world have usually been the
most unfortunate. The history-makers are
our martyr heroes, abhored for their virtues,
tortured for their courage, and persecuted for
their good deeds. Verily, all the world's a stage,
and the great actors appear upon it, say their
lines, perform their parts, and then disappear
behind the curtain amid a storm of hisses.
Genius is seldom appreciated at short range. We
praise dead saints, and persecute living ones: we
roast our great men in one age, and boast of them
in the next. Let us see if history does not bear
out these assertions. — Alexander the Great died
in his youth; Socrates was made to drink the
fatal hemlock; Leonidas, the immortal Greek
patriot, was hanged; Xerxes was assassinated in
his sleep; Scipio was strangled in his bed;
Seneca, the Roman moralist, was banished to
Corsica; Hannibal took poison to prevent falling
into the enemy's hands; Caesar was assassinated



by his friends; Philip of Macedon was assas-
sinated by his body guard; Archimedes was
stabbed for not going to Marcellus till he had
finished his problem; Belisarius was sentenced
to death and blinded; Mohammed was despised
and persecuted; Bruno was burned alive and
his ashes thrown to the four winds of heaven;
Dante was banished from Florence; Sir Walter
Raleigh was beheaded; Admiral Coligny was
murdered at the Massacre of St. Bartholomew;
Joan of Arc was burned at the stake; Savon-
arola was burned on a heap of faggots for his
religious preaching; Madam Roland was be-
headed; Cardinal Wolsey died on his way to
the scaffold; Milton was stricken blind; Martin
Luther was excommunicated and persecuted;
Anne Boleyn, the good and true wife of Henry
VIII, was beheaded; Palissy the Potter had to
burn his house to feed his furnace, and was im-
prisoned in the Bastile for his religious faith;
Mary, Queen of Scots, was beheaded after a
long imprisonment; Cervantes, creator of Don
Quixote, was imprisoned for debt and suffered
want; Edmund Spenser, author of "Faerie
Queen," also died of want; Henry of Navarre
was assassinated; Galileo was made to recant
under penalty of death; Napoleon was sent to
St. Helena; Oliver Cromwell was an exile, a


price upon his head; Charles I. was beheaded,
Marshal Ney, "Bravest of the Brave," was
cruelly shot to death for alleged treason ; Madame
Racamier, the most beautiful and charming
woman in history, died poor, blind and an exile;
Voltaire was arrested, imprisoned and exiled;
Beethoven, "The Shakespeare of Music," was
stricken deaf; Mozart was buried in Potter's
Field; the gallant Decatur and the illustrious
Hamilton were cruelly shot by duelists; John
Brown was shot for trying to free the slaves;
Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley were assas-
sinated; Madame De Stael was banished from
Paris because Napoleon did not like her;
Florence Nightingale became a chronic invalid;
Marie Antoinette was beheaded; Garibaldi was
condemned to death and compelled to flee
his native land; Gen. Custer fought the Indians
till none of his soldiers lived and then died upon
the battle-field; Victor Hugo was made to flee
Brussels; Lafayette in France was imprisoned
and nearly starved to death; David Livingstone,
explorer, died in the wilds of Africa; Tasso was
exiled and imprisoned and died in poverty;
Lovejoy was murdered; Wm. Lloyd Garrison
and Wendell Phillips were mobbed on the streets
of Boston; Sir Henry Vane was beheaded
because he asserted liberty; William Penn was


persecuted and imprisoned; Aristides was
exiled; Aristotle had to flee for his life and
swallowed poison; Pythagoras was persecuted
and probably burned to death; Paul was be-
headed; Spinoza was tracked, hunted, cursed
and forbidden aid or food; Huss, Wyclif, Lati-
mer and Lyndale were burned at the stake; Schil-
ler was buried in a three-thaler coffin at midnight
without funeral rites; Pompey was assassinated
in Egypt by one of his own officers; Shelley, the
poet, was drowned; William, Prince of Orange,
was assassinated; Anaxagoras was dragged to
prison for asserting his idea of God; Gerbert,
Roger Bacon and Cornelius Agrippa, the great
chemists and geometricians, were abhored as
magicians; Petrarch lived in deadly fear of the
wrath of the priests; Descartes was horribly
persecuted in Holland when he first published
his opinions; Racine and Corneille nearly died
of starvation; Lee Sage, in his old age was saved
from starvation by his son who was an actor;
Boethius, Selden, Grotius and Sir John Pettus
wrote many of their best works in jail; John
Bunyan wrote Pilgrim's Progress while in
prison; De Foe, author of the immortal Cruso,
was imprisoned for writing a pamphlet, and so
was Leigh Hunt for a similar offense; Homer
was a beggar; Plautus turned a mill; Terence


was a slave; Paul Borghese had fourteen trades,
yet starved with them all; Bentivoglio was
refused admission into the hospital he had him-
self erected; Camoens, author of the Lusiad,
died in an alms house; Dryden lived in poverty
and distress; Otway died prematurely through
hunger; Steele was constantly pursued by balififs;
Fielding was buried in a factory graveyard with-
out a stone ; Savage died in jail at Lisbon ; Butler
lived in penury and died in distress; Chatterton,
pursued by misfortune, killed himself in his
youth; Samuel Abbott, inventor of the process
of turning potatoes into starch, was burned to
death in his own factory; Chaucer exchanged a
palace for a prison; Bacon died in disgrace;
Ben Johnson lived and died in poverty; Bishop
Taylor was imprisoned; Clarendon died in
exile; Swift and Addison lived and died un-
happy and unfortunate; Dr. Johnson died of
scrofula, in poverty and pain; Goldsmith was
always poor and died in squalor and misery;
Smollett, several times fined and imprisoned,
died at 33 ; Cowper was poor and tinged with
madness. Of the American discoverers, Colum-
bus was put in chains and died of poverty and
neglect; Roldin and Bobadilla were drowned;
Ovando was harshly superceded; Las Casas
sought refuge in a cowl ; Ojeda died in extreme


poverty; Encisco was deposed by his own men;
Nicuessa perished miserably by the cruelty of
his party; Basco Nunez de Balboa was disgrace-
fully beheaded; Narvaez was imprisoned in a
tropical dungeon and afterwards died of hard-
ship; Cortez was dishonored; Alvarado was
destroyed in ambush; Almagro was garroted;
Pizarro was murdered and his four brothers
were cut ofif.

Doubtless, many other martyrs could be
mentioned, but perhaps the foregoing will suf-
fice to prove our case. As Napoleon once said,
it is the cause and not the death that makes the
martyr, and many of the foregoing martyrs per-
haps deserved to die as they did. But, who may
say? An additional list will be found in "Fox's
Martyrs," but they are mostly religious martyrs,
whereas the foregoing is general and fairly rep-
resentative of every age and of every calling.

Gentlemen^ Be Seated

WHEN the interlocutor says these words,
all the men sit down. They all as-
sume that they are gentlemen ; any-
way, they know that they have been called such,
and they accept the appelation. Any man will
be offended if you say he is no gentleman.
Every man wants to be known as a gentleman.
The sign that reads "Gentlemen will not ex-
pectorate upon the floor — others must not," is
very effective, because every man who reads it
will obey, fearing that if he does not he will not
be rated as a gentleman. You cannot appeal to
him on any stronger ground; the dangers of
tuberculosis, cleanliness, the ladies' skirts, and
such, do not weigh so heavy as the argument that
real gentlemen do not expectorate. Take the
lowliest laborer, and you cannot pay him a
higher compliment than to make him under-
stand that you rate him as a gentleman. Even
pickpockets, burglars and thugs pride them-
selves on being gentlemen, when off duty, and



it is their highest ambition to get dressed up
and to frequent the same hotels, restaurants
and resorts that gentlemen frequent. And
yet, if you ask any of these what a gentleman
is, he cannot tell you. For that matter, who
can? What is a gentleman? What are the
qualifications and requirements? Can a person
be a gentleman part of the time and not all the
time, or is he born one way or the other? Can
a person who was not born a gentleman acquire
the title? Is it a matter of birth, a matter of
character, a matter of conscience, a matter of
dress, a matter of conduct, or a matter of educa-
tion? Can a man who has been brought up in
ignorance, crime, filth, squalor, and degradation
be educated to be a gentleman, or will his real
self pop out sometime and show that he is not?
The dictionary definition of a gentleman is:
"A man of good birth ; every man above the rank
of yeoman, comprehending noblemen; a man
who, without a title, bears a coat of arms, or
whose ancestors were freemen ; a man of good
breeding and politeness, as distinguished from
the vulgar and clownish; a man in a position of
life above a tradesman or mechanic; a term of
complaisance." But none of these definitions
covers the modern "gentleman"; not one is ade-
quate. Chaucer's idea was that "He is gentle


who doth gentle deeds." Calvert's was that a
gentleman is a Christian product. Goldsmith's,
that the barber made the gentleman. Locke's,
that education begins the gentleman and that
good company and reflection finishes him.
Hugo's, that he is the best gentleman who is the
son of his own deserts. Emerson's, that cheer-
fulness and repose are the badge of a gentleman.
Steele's, that to be a fine gentleman is to be gen-
erous and brave. Spenser's, that it is a matter of
deeds and manners. Shaftesbury's, that it is the
taste of beauty and the relish of what is decent,
just and amiable that perfects the gentleman.
Byron's, that the grace of being, without alloy
of fop or beau, a finished gentleman, is some-
thing that Nature writes on the brow of certain
men. Beaconsfield's, that propriety of manners
and consideration for others are the two main
characteristics of a gentleman. Hazlitt's, that
a gentleman is one who understands and shows
every mark of deference to the claims of self-
love in others, and exacts it in turn from them,
and that propriety is as near a word as any to
denote the manners of the gentlemen — plus
elegance, for fine gentlemen, dignity for noble-
men and majesty for kings.

Chesterfield's opinion ought to be worth con-
sidering — "A gentleman has ease without fa-


miliarity, is respectful without meanness, gen-
teel without affectation, insinuating without
seeming art." Likewise Ruskins — "A gentle-
man's first characteristic is that fineness of struc-
ture in the body which renders it capable of the
most delicate sensation; and of structure in the
mind which renders it capable of the most deli-
cate sympathies; one may say simply 'fineness of
structure.' " The Psalmist describes a gentle-
man as one "thatvvalketh uprightly, and work-
eth righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his
heart," and Samuel Smiles adds that a gentle-
man's qualities depend, not on fashion or man-
ners, but or moral worth; not on personal pos-
sessions, but on personal qualities. Thackeray
intimates that a gentleman must be honest,
gentle, generous, brave, wise; and, possessing
all these qualities, he must exercise them in the
most graceful outward manner. That he must
be a loyal son, a true husband, and an honest
father. That his life ought to be decent, his
bills paid, his taste high and elegant, and his
aim in life lofty and noble. A more modern
view is that of the great English philosopher,
Herbert Spencer, who says that "Thoughtful-
ness for others, generosity, modesty and self-
respect are the qualities that make the real
gentleman or lady, as distinguished from the


veneered article that commonly goes by that
name." And here's another view:

Gentleman — A man that's clean outside and
in; who neither looks up to the rich nor down
on the poor; who can lose without squealing and
who can win without bragging; who is consid-
erate of women, and children and old people;
who is too brave to lie, too generous to cheat, and
who takes his share of the world and lets other
people have theirs.

Originally gentleman was merely a designa-
tion, not a description, and, it was meant to apply
to men occupying a certain conventional social
position. It had no reference to the qualities of
heart, mind and soul. Later the word gentleman
v/as given an exclusively ethical application.
Both ideas are extremes, and both are wrong,
because the former might apply to thieves, liars,
cads, fops and rufiians, and the latter might
apply to servants and slaves, many of whom are
men of the best and truest type. There is an old
saw that runs —

"What is a gentleman?

He is always polite,

He always does right.
And that is a gentleman."

If it is difficult to ascertain what a gentleman
is, it is not difficult to ascertain what a gentleman
is not. For example, a gentleman is not —


1. One who jumps into the one vacant seat
when there are women standing.

2. One who smokes or swears in a public
elevator in the presence of a lady.

3. One who dashes through swinging doors
and lets them bang into the face of those behind.

4. One who jumps on the platform of a mov-
ing car when others are patiently waiting to
get on.

5. One who eats with his knife, picks his
teeth in public, spits on the floor, wipes his
mouth on the tablecloth, coughs or sneezes in
public without covering his mouth, or cleans his
nails in a public place. ,

6. One who carries his umbrella extended
horizontally under his arm, with the sharp fer-
rule sticking out behind to the inconvenience if
not peril of others.

7. One who rushes into a car before those in
it have time to get off.

8. One who occupies two seats for himself
and his newspaper or parcels in a crowded car.

9. One who fails to apologize when he has
unintentionally insulted another.

10. One who refuses to apologize or make
amend when he has intentionally insulted an-


11. One who always wants to bet or to fight
when he is getting the worst of an argument.

12. One who neglects to respect old age.

13. One who is mean, selfish and inconsider-
ate of the rights and convenience of others.

14. One who deliberately uses uncouth or
vulgar language.

15. One who is intentionally neglectful of
his appearance to the extent of wearing soiled
linen in public and of neglecting his person so
that he is obnoxious to the olfactory organs of
those around him.

16. One who lacks tolerance and who
wrangles with everybody who does not do as he
would like them to do.

17. One who has a hot temper and does not
know enough to put his foot on the soft pedal.

18. One who laughs at a drunken man or
woman or who induces them to become so.

19. One who thinks that the world owes him
a living and who proceeds to collect it from
everybody he comes across, by foul means or

20. One who does not know that women,
children and elderly people are entitled to a
preference and to unusual consideration on all

Gentlemen, be seated, and we will inquire


still further as to what a gentleman is and is not.
Of course, at this command you are all seated.
The commander knew that there would be no
exceptions in your judgment. But, even if you
do not agree with the opinions of those quoted
above, you have your own notions as to what is
a gentleman, and it is a safe bet that not one of
you live up to those qualifications. The most
perfect of gentlemen sometimes fail to live up
to their best. We all fall down once in a while.
Some people define gentlemen as follows:
Gentleman — One who does not wear detach-
able cuflfs; one who changes his shirt every day;
one whose clothes are of the latest pattern; one
who wears a cane, a silk hat and patent leather
shoes; one who has money and spends it freely;
one who tips the waiter generously, and who
would not soil his hands by shaking hands with
a laborer; one who is above work and who
would not associate with a common tradesman;
one who respects to the point of v/orship any-
body who has, money and who detests to the
point of hatred everybody who has not; one who
has his nails manicured twice a v/eek, and who
always wears gloves in public; one who thinks
that the greatest thing in the world is to belong
to the smart set and to be fashionable.

Such people forget that the gentleman is solid


mahogany, while the fashionable man is only
veneer. They forget that the gentleman is not
so much what he is without as what he is within.
You cannot make a gentleman out of fine clothes,
even if you add elegant manners. Nor will edu-
cation complete him. When you educate the
thief you do not necessarily cure his thievery,
and you often make him a more accomplished
thief. And some of the greatest thieves and
cut-throats have the most elegant manners and
wear the finest clothes. The real gentleman
must be a gentleman clean through, from the
center of his heart to the top of his brain. Cul-
ture and refinement in the true sense proceed
from within. While they can be purchased at
any good boarding-school, this is another brand,
and partake of the qualities of varnish. They
are a sort of polish.

Gentlemen, be seated. Ah, you do not seat
yourselves so quickly! You begin to see the light
Perhaps you realize that you are not so much
of a gentleman as you at first thought you were.
You may have the instincts of a gentleman, you
may have good breeding, good manners, educa-
tion, refinement, good intentions, even culture,
yet you know down in your secret souls that you
have some qualities that are not those of the real,
true gentleman. You may have gentleness, gen-


erosity, honesty, polish, and yet you lack some
of the other ingredients that are used in the
manufacture of a gentleman. But never you
mind. None of us are perfect — not even the
writer! And you frown when you are told that
you are not gentlemen. But you are not. There
is no such thing as a gentleman. How can there
be when a gentleman is a perfect man? The
thing to do is to try to be a gentleman. Let's try

Gentlemen, be seated. You all sit, because
you try to be gentlemen, and, for aught I know,
you are as much gentlemen as anybody. Any-
way, if you try, you are, to all intents and pur-
poses; for, if a man does the best he can he is
entitled to the highest honors, and what higher
honors are there than to be known as a real

Gentlemen, be seated, and we shall hear from
a wonderful philosopher, Herr Friedrich
Nietzsche. A million sages and diagnosticians,
in all ages of the world, have sought to define
the gentleman, and their definitions have been
as varied as their minds, as we have already seen.
Nietzsche's definition, according to Mencken's
translation, is based on the fact that the gentle-
man is ever a man of more than average influ-
ence and power, and on the further fact that this


superiority is admitted by all. The vulgarian
may boast of his bluff honesty, but at heart he
looks up to the gentleman, who goes through
life serene and imperturbable. There is in the
gentleman an unmistakable air of fitness and
efficiency, and it is this that makes it possible
for him ito be gentle and to regard those below
him with tolerance. The demeanor of high-
born persons shows plainly that in their minds
the consciousness of power is ever present.
Above all things, they strive to avoid a show of
weakness, whether it takes the form of ineffi-
ciency or of a too-easy yielding to passion or
emotion. They never sink exhausted into a
chair. On the train, when the vulgar try to
make themselves comfortable, these higher folk
avoid reclining. They do not seem to get tired
after hours of standing at court. They do not
furnish their homes in a comfortable, but in a
spacious and dignified manner, as if they were
the abodes of a greater and taller race of beings.
To a provoking speech, they reply with polite-
ness and self-possession — and not as if horrified,
crushed, abashed, enraged or out of breath,
after the manner of plebians. The gentleman
knows how to preserve the appearance of ever-
present physical strength, and he knows, too,
how to convey the impression that his soul and


intellect are a match for all dangers and sur-
prises, by keeping up an unchanging serenity
and civility, even under the most trying circum-

Thus spake Nietzsche, but he was really de-
fining an aristocrat, or one of the so-called
nobility, for which he had a profound respect.
Here is still another definition:

Gentility — Perfect veracity, frank urbanity,
total unwillingness to give ofifense; the gentle-
ness of right-hearted, level-headed good nature;
kindliness tactfully exercised through clear sense
that duly appreciates current circumstances in-
volving the personal rights, privileges and sus-
ceptibilities of others; and, while justly regard-
ing these, acting on what they generally suggest
so considerately and so gracefully that a pleas-
urable, heartfelt recognition of finest decency is
inspired in others.

An old wag once said, "I never refuse to drink
with a gentleman, and a gentleman is a man who
invites me to take a drink." That is the Ken-
tucky idea. But this is not:

Gentleman — One who has courage v/ithout
bravado, pride without vanity, and who is in-
nately — not studiously, but innately — consider-
ate of the feelings of others.

And so the definitions vary inversely as the


square of the desirability of the kind of gentle-
man we try to be. In brief, a gentleman is inde-
finable as it is unmistakable. You can always
tell him when you meet him, but you cannot tell
how or why.

Gentlemen, be seated. This is final. Just
think over what you have heard, and see if there
is not now a clear idea of what a gentleman is
and is not. If you have read between the lines,
you have seen the true lights on the subject.
Wit and mirth and humorous allusions — such as
they are — should not obscure the real issue. Do
we not all know now what a gentleman is?
Quite true that we cannot define it, without a
very large vocabulary and thousands of words,
yet we feel that we know. And, knowing what
a gentleman is, surely we shall all try to be one.
And then what more can the gods require?


A ND so the beard is coming in fashion
A\ again. Consoling thought to you of the
fertile facial soil and with ugly contour
or ungainly blemishes to conceal, but distressing
to those chubby-faced, masculine beauties whose
tender skins will not yield a plentiful crop. But,
you have had your day, oh, ye of the germ-
proof, Napoleonic countenance; so, discard your
Gillettes, and make way for his majesty — The
Beard. The halcyon days of the razor are no
more, if we are to believe fickle Dame Fashion,
and we are now to welcome the day of the
shears. If nature has been stingy, and that
glorious excrescence, the beard, is impossible to
you, mon cher, pray accept our sympathy; but,
please be generous enough to take the inevitable
with good grace, and not worry us with foolish
arguments about bearded barbarians and un-
sanitary savages. We know that you can make
a strong case against the beard, but we imagine
we can make one equally strong in its favor. All



of your progenitors had them, including Adam
• — if we are to believe the ancient monuments,
all of which show those gentlemen with a bushy
beard of no mean dimensions. You say the
ancient Egyptians wore no beards? Yes, but
please observe that on occasions of high festivity,
they wore false beards as assertions of their dig-
nity and verility, and always represented their
male deities with splendid hirsute adornments
tip-tilted at the ends. It is true that they called
the Greeks and Romans ''barbarians" (bearded,
unshaven, savages), and that about 300 B. C,
the latter began to shave and in turn to call other

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 12

Online LibraryEugene V. (Eugene Valentine) BrewsterWhat's what in America → online text (page 10 of 12)