True Gentleman

In the letters column of the New York Times yesterday Ben Miller quoted from the 1877 Ladies' and Gentlemen's Etiquette: A Complete Manual of the Manners and Dress of American Society by Mr. E. B. Duffey. He, or perhaps the editors, slightly garbled the title of the book and truncated the quaint and thoughtful passage that Miller cited from pages 13-14. Here it is in its entirety:

The true gentleman is rare, but, fortunately, there is no crime in counterfeiting his excellences. The best of it is that the counterfeit may, in course of time, develop into the real thing.

A true gentleman is always himself at his best. He is inherently unselfish, thinking always of the needs and desires of others before his own. He is dignified among equals, respectful but not groveling to his superiors, tender and considerate to inferiors, and helpful and protecting to the weak. He does not put on his gentility among gentlemen and gentlewomen only to turn ruffian among ruffians and among those of the other sex who from any cause are not recognized as ladies. Women — all women, of whatever age or condition — claim his respectful care and tender and reverential regard. A gentleman is, in fact, a man with the strength of manhood combined with the delicacy of womanhood.

(cf. Cardinal Newman and Missed Manners (2001-10-04), John Jarndyce (2007-07-15), ...) - ^z - 2008-07-10

(correlates: QuidConducere, DangerousPlaything, MissedManners, ...)