Monday, January 22, 2007

A gentleman, a gentleman, a gentleman

I came across this today at Blackfive, who had come across it at PJCountry.

The True Gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety, and whose self-control is equal to all emergencies; who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any man of his inferiority or deformity; who is himself humbled if necessity compels him to humble another; who does not flatter wealth, cringe before power, or boast of his own possessions or achievements; who speaks with frankness but always with sincerity and sympathy; whose deed follows his word; who thinks of the rights and feelings of others, rather than his own; and who appears well in any company, a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe.
It reminded me of detention, my detention, years ago. You would sit writing "The Definition of a Gentleman" for an hour, or two hours, maybe after school, maybe on Saturday morning. That last was my lot, two Saturdays in a row. The principal had decided to make it hurt reasoning that I would be dropped from the First Eleven cricket team since I would miss the first two hours of the game. Truly a cunning plan. Except that the coach, a wonderful man called Keith Drury who also got me interested in English, and my father conspired to have me driven from the school straight out to the cricket field 12 miles away. I changed in the car and leapt out of it onto the field. That first detention Saturday, we batted second and I hit a century, the first one ever scored for our school team. Yet, on the following Monday during Assembly, when the principal as always read out the sports results from the weekend together with the outstanding performances, there was one item missing. My mother, by no means a vindictive woman, has never forgotten. Nor, obviously, have I. (It should be said that I did deserve the detention as I had been caught smoking for the nth time.)

Our definition had one difference that I can remember. To all the qualities of a gentleman listed above was added that of "always respecting religion whether believing in it or not". It was a Catholic school shoring up against the bad times ahead.

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