George Henry Calvert.

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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1363, by


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the District of Rhode






Introductory Etymological Prelusive ... 7


Bayard Sidney Moral Freedom Esthetic Element 19


Charles Lamb George IV. Princes .... 32


Leicester Hampden "Washington Napoleon St.
Paul 48


The Ancients Christian Influence Roman Senate
The Duel Banquet of Plato Position of Women
Among the Ancients 59


Cesar Brutus Socrates Grecian Mythology Ho-
meric Heroes Ideals ....... 71


Shakspeare's Historical Plays Prospero Orlando
Antonio The Real Married to the Ideal Sir Roger



de Coverley My Uncle Toby Don Quixote Scott

Coleridge Shelley Byron High-bred Tone in
Writing Burns Keats Shakspeare . . .84


The Moral and the Poetical Their Alliance in Gentle-
manhood The Generic The "Liberal" Professions

Impartiality of Nature Manners Lord Chester-
field 105


Honor Personality Pride and Vanity Fashion
Vulgarity 122


Various Kinds of aentlemen Fragments Ladyhood

Conclusion .139



word gentleman recurs four hundred
and fifty-two times in Shakspeare, an
iteration which proves broad acknowledg-
ment in that day of the thing signified.
For every ten utterances, through type or
speech, of this magnetic word in the six-
teenth century, there are ten thousand in the
nineteenth. During these three centuries, it
has spread over new continents, with the pro-
lific expansive British race, its growth out-
stripping a hundred fold even that of popu-
lation. Whoso should happen to pass through
the Five Points hi New York, or the Seven
Dials in London, at the moment of an ao-
tion, would hear the watchful orator of the


assemblage offer the appellative, " gentlemen,"
to his ragged auditors, not more glibly than by
them it would be accepted.

Let no bedressed, bescented passer curl his
lip at this impudent theft of an epithet claimed
as property of his favored few. On the part
of the auctioneer there is no theft : on the part
of the scornful passer there may be usurpa-
tion. The auctioneer necessarily, unconscious-
ly, speaks under sway of the advanced senti-
ment, which recognizes that within every
Christian heart live the germs of that high
Ideal, the manifestation of which in moving,
incorporate reality receives the choice name
of gentleman. The universal giving and ac-
cepting of this name is a homage to the beau-
ty of what the name represents, an aspira-
tion, however remote and modest, for the pos-
session of the refined substance.

Among the passages in old English authors,
cited by Richardson, to illustrate his definition
of gentleman, is the following from Spenser's
View of the State of Ireland : " If he
can derive himself from any sept, (as most of


them can, they are so expert by their bardes,)
then he holdeth himself a gentleman, and there-
fore scorneth to worke, or use any harde la-
boure, which, he saith, is the life of a peasant
or churle ; but thenceforth becometh either an
horseboy or a stocah (attendant) to some kerne,
inuring himself to his weapon, and to the gen- /
tlemanly trade of stealing, as they count it."
A little scrutiny discovers in this sentence more
than meets the eye, matter apt to our purpose.
In the first place, the need of derivation from
a sept or clan, as the foundation of gentleman-
hood, wafts us up to the far etymological nest
of a brood of well-plumed vocables, namely, to
the Latin word gens, which primitively meant / / /
stem, stock, being more comprehensive than
familia, family. Thus the gens Cornelia em- ])
braced several great families, those of the
Scipios, the Lentuli, and others. To belong
to a gens was a high distinction, an ennoble-
ment. So Horace calls ignobilis, one who
could claim no affinity with these stocks, homo
sine gente, a man without stem. So significant
of rank did the word gens become, that not


only was it used by the Romans to designate
their two classes of Patricians, but likewise
their two classes of gods, the one being Dii
majorum gentium, the other Dii minorum
gentium. From such remote source spring
the melodious modern words, gentile and gen-
tiluomo in Italian, gentil and gentilhombre in
Spanish, gentil and gentilhomme in French,
gentle and gentleman in English.

So much for etymology. Let us return to
the Spenserian passage. " If he can derive
himself from any sept, (which corresponds to
the Latin gens,) then he holdeth himself a gen-
tleman." With the modern Europeans, and
their American off-shoots, as with the ancient

Romans, high public service conferring social

> \rank, a man whose preeminence above his con-
temporaries makes him historically illustrious,
sheds part of his lustre, and transmits his well-
won position to his descendants ; and they hold
this position, often for centuries, through the
right of inherited possession, through the cul-
ture acquired by association from birth with


the more privileged and refined, and at times


through the exhibition of some of the qualities,
which elevated the founder, high mental qual-
ities, as well as low, being transmissible through
the blood.

But now conies into play the law of com
pensation, that law so terrible and so just;
and the inheritors, exposed in addition to
the ordinary fallibilities of human nature,
to the temptations peculiar to all advan-
tages that have not been self-earned, be-
come often the victims of good fortune, and
lapse languidly back into the undistinguished
crowd out of which their original creative pro-
genitor had by native energy lifted himself;,
so that a Duke of Norfolk who, towards the
end of the last century, wished to celebrate
with a great family-gathering the third centen-
nial anniversary of the date of his Dukedom,
finding not only that he had several thousand
poor relations, but that some of them had to
be picked out of ditches, and from even lower
places, gave up his proud purpose, disgusted
at the degeneracy and the numerousness of his


Taking up again the passage from Spenser,
the next link we find to be, " And therefore
scorneth to worke or use any harde laboure,
which he saith is the life of a peasant or
churle." Partly from the freedom implied in
/the non-necessity of work, dispensing, as that
freedom does, leisure for mental husbandry ;
partly from the fact, that daily agricultural
and mechanical labor, as commonly practised,
starves the larger faculties, monopolizing for
the smaller the brain's activity, and thus tends
to keep the mind ignorant and the habits
coarse ; the notion that gentlemanhood and
work are antagonistic is so deeply rooted,
that even at the present day, and in our
own country, you will hear men talk of leav-
ing off work and turning gentlemen. In Con-
tinental Europe, only such work as is required
in the higher offices of State and Church is
deemed consistent with the dignity of a gen-
tleman; and even in industrious, commercial
England, a merchant is not admitted at Court.

In Europe, from the over-worked, stinted,
still semi-servile peasantry, up to the sover-


eign, there is a graduated ascent. The peas-
ant is looked down upon by the journeyman- -
mechanic ; the latter stands similarly lowered _.
in the eyes of a tradesman, who throws an up-
ward regard on the merchant from whom he .
buys. But we need not wander to Europe ;
we have the same gradation, notwithstanding
that through the priceless possession of politi-
cal equality we are all lifted to one high com-
mon level of manhood. Observe that the
principle of this gradation is the compara-
tively higher intellectuality and the wider com-
prehensiveness compassed on each ascended
step. The field-laborer's work is simple and
monotonous and feebly intellectual, and is done
under direction. To buy and sell by the yard
needs less thought and reach of combination
than to buy and sell by the cargo. Some me-
chanic processes are more subtile than others.
What we term the "liberal professions," are sa
termed on account of the amount and kind of
acquirement, the variety of knowledge, and the
intellectual discipline that are pre-requisites to
entrance into them. The scorn, therefore, of


Spenser's Irish loafer, in addition to the lazi-
ness characteristic of a loafer, may be regard-
ed as representing a mingled feeling of dis-
taste to brutalizing servile labor, and of aspi-
ration for the freedom which other conditions
promise. ..

But not only he scorneth to work, "but
thenceforth becometh either an horseboy or a
stocah (attendant) to some kerne, (Irish foot-
soldier,) inuring himself to his weapon, and to
the gentlemanly trade of stealing, as they
count it." In those contentious sword-and-
buckler days, when roads were few and bad,
and constables inadequate, an Irish horseboy
had privileges and perquisites not enjoyed by
his successors ; and that foot-soldiers had at-
tendants seems to imply a light, marauding
life, where opportunities were good for dining
without earning a dinner. You observe that
this gentleman founds his vocation upon his
blood ; for it was only when he, by a fanciful
amplification of finest filaments into tough
cords, could bind himself to an old family,
that he felt entitled to scorn work and be-


take him " to the gentlemanly trade of steal-

Nor should we be too hard upon this ter-
raqueous buccaneer, this ancient Hibernian
Bedouin, who imagined himself a gentleman.
The civilized nineteenth century engenders im-
aginations not less bewrayed. Nor need we
cross the Atlantic to find his present counter-
part in higher strata of the social crust, in
individuals who, within the pale of the statute
and without violent infraction of the usages of
trade, do virtually steal, or suck and grind the
poor, or blow attainting breath on female pu-
rity, or, under the aegis of legal forms, defraud
justice of her dues ; and who, nevertheless,
are met in the circles of fashion, and pass
there for gentlemen. Since Spenser's day,
many forward and upward steps have been
made ; but still palpable in the social as in
other provinces of life is the usurpation of
form over substance, of appearance over re-
ality, of sight over insight, of seem over be.

In our endeavor to thrust aside some of the
veils that obscure our subject, to cleanse it of


the cheap varnish that defaces a solid, brilliant
ground, let us go back for a few moments more
to the learned, invaluable Richardson, who,
with his searching exhaustive industry, under
the head of gent and its derivatives, gives
more than eighty citations out of English au-
thors, from Robert of Glocester and Piers
Plowman to Gray and Gibbon. Roger As-
cham, a generation further from us than Spen-
ser, noted for his acquirements, the valued tu-
tor of Queen Elizabeth, says in his ScJiole
Master, "Some in France, which will needs
be jentlemen, whether men will or no, and
have more jentleshippe in their hat than their
head, be at deadlie feude with both learning
and honestie." Haberdashery and patent-
leather, in and out of France, are formidable
adjuncts to much of modern "jentleshippe;"
and a fair relation of the part played by vel-
vet and satin in the social history of Christen-
dom were a sprightly satire. Clothes have
ever striven to symbolize gentlemanhood ; and
how well they have succeeded and continue to
succeed, we have a gross example in the tri-


umphant hypocrisy of the costly, super-fash-
ionable dressing of the managers and decoys
of luxurious gambling-halls, and of the better
class of pickpockets. The chief tailor of
Antwerp, a man zealous and accomplished
in his craft, once said to me, complaining of
a wealthy customer, and he spoke with ear-
nestness and sympathy, " Mr. does not

do himself justice ; that last froc I made him
is threadbare ; and you know, sir, a gentleman
is known by his clothes." A somewhat hyper-
professional magnification of tailorship. But
the shrewd, lively man perhaps felt, that the
" jentleshippe " of many of his well-born cus-
tomers did not lie so subterrenely deep, but that
it might be largely aided by the virtue there
was in the laying on of his proficient hands ;
and in his pride of calling was ready to de-
clare, with a wider application than Polonius,
" The apparel oft proclaims the man."

One more citation from Richardson, drawn
out of still deeper recesses of the past, from
the very well-head of English poetry, a brief
sentence, fraught with that homely wisdom


which has so much helped to keep the name
of Chaucer fresh for five centuries. It is from
The Persone's (Parson's) Tale: "Also to
have pride of gentrie is right gret folie ; for
ofttime the gentrie of the bodie benimeth (tak-
eth away) the gentrie of the soule ; and also
we ben all of one fader and one moder." I
am tempted to add other four lines of Chau-
cer, from The Clerke's Tale, not quoted by
Richardson :

" For God it wot, that children often ben
Unlike hir worthy eldres hem before :
Bountee cometh al of God, not of the stren
Of which they ben ygendred and ybore."



"DUT now, leaving sententious judgments
and the abstract brevities of definition,
let us, in our endeavor to comprehend gen-
tlemanhood, confront it concretely, and bring
before our minds the two foremost gentle-
men of Christendom, the Chevalier Bay-
ard and Sir Philip Sidney. The lives and
characters of these two, even briefly sketch-
ed as they must be here, by presenting in
fullest actuality the moving, speaking gentle-
man, will help us to deduce what is his in-
terior, essential nature.

And first, as coming first in time, the " Good /
Knight, without fear and without reproach." (
Born in the South of France, towards the end
of the fifteenth century, when Chivalry still
survived in its forms and usages, from which
had died out the Christian spirit, when gross


living and rapaciousness and perfidy were char-
acteristics of knights and nobles and sover-
eigns, the Chevalier Bayard, by the splendor
and the uninfected purity of his nature, shone
amid the corruptions and affectations of de-
cay, an example of loyalty, of self-sacrifice,
of generosity, of unclouded honor, of roman-
tic courage, that in the healthiest days of
Chivalry would have made him, amid the no-
blest and most chivalrous, a model of knight-
hood. So uniquely towering was his fame,
that high-spirited adversaries, who in their ex-
tremity would have died rather than yield
them, were proud to drop the point of their
swords, as from behind the opponent's closed
vizor they heard the name of Bayard.

When the French had taken Brescia, in
Lombardy, and he lay for several weeks
wounded in the house of a wealthy citizen,
who had fled, he refused the large custom-
ary ransom which the wife brought him, as
he was about to depart, and, sending for her
two daughters, divided the sum between them.
On another occasion, after sternly rebuking a


base, impoverished mother, who would have
sold him her child, he gave the daughter a
portion that enabled her to espouse her lover.
Having, by a shrewd, bold movement, cap-
tured from the enemy fifteen thousand gold

ducats, he bestowed one half of them on his

Lieutenant, thereby enriching him, and

divided the other half among his followers.

Nor was this an isolated act of munificence. It


was his habit, not only to share his purse with
his friends, but to give away the many sums
that came to him in presents and prizes. And
while he was as affable as he was brave, he ^
was as just as he was liberal. Gifted in rare
measure with the sterling qualities for com-
mand, he was cheerful in obedience to su-
periors. Never subject to the ignoble gnaw-
ings of envy, he enjoyed as he did his own
the triumphs of companions. Many contem-
porary knights were sans peur ; he alone was
sans reproche. So true and great was the
soul of Bayard, that the noblest and purest
grow nobler and purer in the glow of its per-
petual light.


About eighty years later than Bayard, was
born his English competitor, Sir Philip Sidney,
one of the glories of the resplendent reign of
Queen Elizabeth, a power, although so short*
lived, among the potencies that bear the immor-
tal names of Shakspeare, of Bacon, of Raleigh,
of Spenser, of Howard, of Drake, of Ben Jon-
son. Precocious, like Bayard, who, dying on
the field of battle at forty-eight, was thirty-four
years a soldier, Sidney, born in an epoch of
general and deep intellectual ferment, at the
age when Bayard donned armor, entered, the
classmate of Raleigh and Spenser, the Uni-
versity of Oxford, where his young mind, at
once quick and capacious, fed on every kind \
of knowledge, and sought preeminence in
whatever is attainable by genius and labor.
On quitting Oxford, at eighteen, he set out in
a brilliant company on a tour of travel, going
first to Paris, where his bearing and conversa-
tion fascinated the King, Charles IX., and the
young King of Navarre, afterwards Henry IV.
From France he journeyed through Germany
to Italy, consorting with the most learned and


accomplished of those countries. At Padua
he made acquaintance with the renowned poet, V^
Tasso ; and Scipio Gentilis, a famous scholar
of Italy, inscribed to him a Latin transla-
tion of Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered. Later,
Hakluyt and the learned Lipsius dedicated
works to him in terms of cordial eulogium.
On his return to England, he became the de-
light of the English Court, to which, says
Fuller, " He was so essential, that it seemed
maimed without his company, being a com-
plete master of matter and language." Queen
Elizabeth called him her Philip. The follow-
ing year, although only twenty-two, he went
ambassador to Germany and Poland, acquit-
ting himself so well as to draw high praise
even from the severe, exacting Burleigh.
Among his friends and admirers was the
great Prince of Orange ; and Don John of Aus-
tria, though hating all heretics, was won by his
manners and attainments. For a time he rep-
resented his native county in Parliament ; and,
finally, in 1586, he joined his uncle, the Earl
of Leicester, in a campaign in the Netherlands


as General of Horse ; and here, at the battle
of Zutphen, when only thirty-two, he fell, mor-
tally wounded.

For so brief a career, one externally more
brilliant was never run by a candidate for
fame. When in years not much more than
a boy, he had given evidence of the thought-

, fulness and address of a statesman ; his writ-
ings prove him to have been not only a scholar

V, of rare and varied culture, but a poet of gen-
ius ; and the field of Zutphen showed the bud-
ding of a brilliant military renown. At his
death, lamentation went up over Europe, as for
the loss of one who was among the leaders and
ornaments of the world.

The accomplishments and acquirements of
Sidney, his manners and conversation, his gen-
ius and his personal beauty, are still not suf-
ficient to account for the universal fascination,
as well of the purest as of the most accom-
plished, and for the general so cordial grief at
his death. To justify the love and the hom-
age he inspired, he must have been even richer
in qualities of heart than in intellectual pow-


ers and attainments, richer, in graces than in /
gifts. And that he was so, his last act on the
day he received his death-wound testifies, re-
vealing the deep beauty of his nature, and
throwing round his whole being a saintly halo.
And that renowned act was worthily ushered in
by another, which represents the buoyant pulse
and generous courage of youthful life, as the
final one does the holy loveliness of self-denial
while life was fast ebbing. For, as he came
upon the field, seeing the veteran Lord Mar-
shal, Sir William Pelham, lightly armed, with
a chivalrous shame that he, a young knight,
should be so much better protected, he threw
off his cuishes ; and it was to this, what we \
may term, generous deference to age, and no-
ble self-regardlessness, that he owed his wound ;
for, fighting with a gallantry that drew plaudits
from the foe, he was hit in the thigh by a
musket-ball. As he was borne from the field,
he asked for water, to quench the raging thirst
caused by such a wound ; but, as he lifted the
cup to his lips, observing by the road-side a
dying soldier, who threw up at it a ghastly,


wishful look, he handed the cup back to his at-
tendant to give it to the soldier, saying, " This
man's necessity is even greater than mine."

These two renowned knights illuminate his-
tory, as the representatives of gentlemanhood,
the most approved gentlemen of Christen-
dom ; and that high station they hold, through
strength and purity of soul and gentleness
of bearing. Only from an ever-lively, inward
fount of generous ascendant feeling could have
flowed in both such simple grandeur of con-
duct married to such radiance of demeanor.

The power that raised them to preeminence,
that gave a daily beauty to their lives,
a beauty that made itself felt, was, and
could be nought other than unselfishness.
In both there was an active, despotic self-
forgetfulness. In them so large and manly
was the soul, that it gave to their keen en-
ergies a beneficent drift. Without effort, al-
most without purpose, they were generous,
compassionate, magnanimous, true, and out-
wardly affable. Such high qualities, so richly
mingled, imply obliteration of the me, and im-


port that clear moral freedom whose robust at-
mosphere is the very breath of the highest
type of gentlemanhood, a freedom -which,
imparting spiritual self-possession, imparts a
force greater even than virtuous self-control;
for this constrains and sometimes stiffens, while ^
that, conferring easy, buoyant dominion, holds
the whole being so in poise that all acts have
the grace and dignity of unconscious excel-
lence, a high-born excellence that cannot be
counterfeited, and must issue from a deep, cen-
tral motion, which has an impetus as resistless
as that of the subterranean feeders of a copi-
ous, transparent spring.

Such men justify, while they illustrate, ideal
embodiments. Had they and the like of them
never lived, the narrative that is now a vera-
cious biography would to most men seem an
unnatural fiction. They are mirrors of hu- /.
inanity, which show man, not as he is daily
encountered, but magnified, beautified, trans-
figured. And yet, being flesh-and-blood mor-
tals, they are practical exemplars, breathing
proofs, of what moral and mannerly heights
men can attain to.


It may seem that I am overstating the moral
element, and that the gentleman is rather an
-s. aesthetic than an ethic personage. It is this
moral element which, in my conception of the
gentleman, is pivotal. Dealing now with the
highest type, I conceive, that in that type not
'tmly are morals primary, but that manners re-
v suit from them ; so that, where there is not a
solid substratum of pure, elevated feeling, there
will not, there cannot be a clean, high, unaf-
fected demeanor. Had Bayard, with the fif-
teen thousand captured ducats, bought for him-
self a chateau and estate, reserving the ran-
som offered by the Brescian matron as a where-
with to furnish it, Fame would not have bla-
zoned to the latest time a French soldier with
the unique eulogium, "The Good Knight,
without fear and without reproach." The heart
that was so large and gracious as to command
his acts of sublime disinterestedness, shaped,
with ks profuse, inexhaustible warmth, his out-
ward bearing into kindliness and sympathetic
tenderness, as surely as the healthful play of
sound, internal organs sends to the skin and to


the cheek its glistening glow, its captivating

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Online LibraryGeorge Henry CalvertThe gentleman → online text (page 1 of 9)