Thursday, September 06, 2012


I was reading an article by Andrew Gimson on the death of the English gentleman. He tries to define the term and one of the examples he gives is Matthew Arnold's description in his poem "Rugby Chapel":

Not like the men of the crowd
Who all round me to-day
Bluster or cringe, and make life
Hideous, and arid, and vile;
But souls tempered with fire,
Fervent, heroic, and good,
Helpers and friends of mankind.

What do you think?


Anonymous kinglear said...

Well, having been educated at that particular railway junction, I do agree. Our old headmaster when bidding us farewell made the point that Rugby produced gentlemen who tended NOT to be cads and bounders, and who could reasonably be described as those who helped point the moral compass. So, says he, if you get arrested try not to be wearing the OR tie.
But the real thing about an English Gentleman, apart from manners and knowing what was meet, was his slight eccentricity. That is the thing I regret the most. My father's generation still had quite a few proper eccentrics, whereas nowadays it seems to me that it is a put on thing for effect.
Read Douglas Sutherland's "The English Gentleman" or George Mikes about being English

9:22 am  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Huurah for the ORs and for you!

10:00 am  
Anonymous Portinari said...

My grandmother was reputed to have said that 'a gentleman does not wear his braces while playing tennis but yet can afford to do so'. Sounds rather too good for her a somewhat eccentric Irish soul much given to drunken butlers.

4:19 pm  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Love it Portinari!

6:10 pm  
Anonymous kinglear said...

It always used to be said that a Gentleman was someone who used a butter knife even if he was on his own. But Mr.P, having a drunken butler is a sine qua non I think!
An aunt of mine had one whose main job was to put her bets on over the phone at a time when it was illegal. His soubriquet was "Port Wine" - to which he was much addicted. Her husband had been edducated at School ( ie Eton)and he took his breakfast in solitary splendour as he couldn't bear anyone passing any remarks over the marmalade whilst he was reading the Times.

1:21 pm  
Anonymous kinglear said...

I have to say the sentence about " much given to drunken butlers " could have two interpretations....

1:23 pm  
Blogger Angus said...

Couldn't help but think how prescient. When writing about the men of the crowd he could have been describing any one of a number of ( fondly remembered )former partner colleagues at a well known bulge bracket.

12:37 pm  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

I sympathise, Angus

8:51 am  

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