Unordinary Gentlemen

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Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does a bunch of other stuff.

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5 Responses

  1. Avatar Kimmi
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    says:

    Most of those women don’t want gentlemen either.
    Tall dark and handsome strangers, sure…
    Gentlemen? not really.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Kimmi
      Ignored
      says:

      Oh good Lord. Another starched elegy for Dr. Arnold and the public school system. If memory serves, Bernard Shaw also said the strength of England lies in the fact that everyone’s a snob.Report

  2. Avatar DRS
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    says:

    From Shaw’s Pygmalion, Act V:

    LIZA DOOLITTLE. You see, really and truly, apart from the things anyone can pick up (the dressing and the proper way of speaking, and so on), the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she’s treated. I shall always be a flower girl to Professor Higgins, because he always treats me as a flower girl, and always will; but I know I can be a lady to you [PICKERING], because you always treat me as a lady, and always will.

    Pickering is a gentleman, a true gentleman, because he is at all times considerate and comfortable in his consideration. He follows the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them to do unto you. His kindness shines through his actions.

    Wealth and social standing have nothing to do with it. It’s our 20th century obsession with both that means we can’t have nice things like gentlemen anymore.Report

  3. Avatar Burt Likko
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    says:

    I think that depends on what you mean by a “gentleman.” Mr. Gimson’s article, linked in the OP, offers the following suggestions (which I admit I’ve culled out of the article quite selectively):

    One of the distinguishing marks of a gentleman was that he did things because he knew they were the right thing to do, not because they would bring him personal advantage. …

    It is well to be a gentleman, it is well to have a cultivated intellect, a delicate taste, a candid, equitable dispassionate mind, a noble and courteous bearing in the conduct of life … .

    … [The gentleman rises] above boorish self-seeking; [and aspires to] an ideal which includes modesty, magnanimity and the willingness to sacrifice oneself for the sake of others, especially those who are weaker.

    These are not bad sentiments at all; they are at minimum a good starting point for putting together aspirations for self-improvement. Yes, the painfully formal social demeanor that Mr. Gimson tries to describe may not be particularly attractive in a man (or a woman, for that matter) but I will say that good moral character, intelligence, and courtesy in both men and women ought to be considered norms rather than exceptions.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Burt Likko
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      says:

      Yeah, I don’t really share the dudgeon of the author. I’m somewhat interested in codes of behavior throughout history, though, and I find interesting the idea that those codes have fallen into disuse. I also like your idea that the character traits they embodied are alive and well.Report

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