In his journal entry of 14 December 1849, Ralph Waldo Emerson offers another definition of a gentleman to complement the one by John Henry Newman:

Natural Aristocracy. It is a vulgar error to suppose that a gentleman must be ready to fight. The utmost that can be demanded of the gentleman is that he be incapable of a lie. There is a man who has good sense, is well informed, well read, obliging, cultivated, capable, and has an absolute devotion to truth. He always means what he says, and says what he means, however courteously. You may spit upon him; — nothing could induce him to spit upon you, — no praises, and no possessions, no compulsion of public opinion. You may kick him; — he will think it the kick of a brute: but he is not a brute, and will not kick you in return. But neither your knife and pistol, nor your gifts and courting will ever make the smallest impression on his vote or word; for he is the truth's man, and will speak and act the truth until he dies.

(cf. Cardinal Newman (4 Oct 2001), RalphWaldoEmerson (5 Aug 2003), ...)

TopicLiterature - 2007-07-18

(correlates: MissedManners, WomenSpeak, BirdWhile, ...)