Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Chesterton again

While I transcribe my handwritten notes; a little more Chesteron: The Glass Walking Stick.

For "gentleman" below, read "cosmopolitan" or "Davos-ite":

I have said much against aristocracy and shall continue to do so, but I will never deny that aristocracy has certain queer advantages, not very often mentioned. One of them is that which affects European diplomacy: that a gentleman is the same all over Europe, while a peasant or even a merchant, may be very different. A Dutch gentleman and an Irish gentleman stand on a special and level platform; a Dutch peasant and an Irish peasant are divided by all dynastic and divine wars. Of course, this means that a peasant is superior to a gentleman — more genuine, more historic, more national; but that, surely, is obvious. Nevertheless, for cosmopolitan purposes, such as diplomacy, a gentleman may be used — with caution.

He will doubtless annoy a great many people...

For it must always be remembered in this connexion that masculine costume is different at root from feminine costume — different in its whole essence and aim. It is not merely a question of the man dressing in dull colours or the woman in bright; it is a question of the object. A Life Guardsman has very splendid clothes; an artistic lady may have very dingy clothes. But the point is that the Life Guard only puts on his bright clothes so as to be like other Life Guards. But the artistic lady always seeks to have some special, delicate, and exquisite shade of dinginess different from the dinginess of other artistic ladies. Though gleaming with scarlet and steel, the Life Guard is really invisible. Though physically, no doubt, of terrific courage, he is morally cowardly, like nearly all males. Like the insects that are as green as the leaves or the jackals that are as red as the desert, a man generally seeks to be unseen by taking the colour of his surroundings, even if it be a brilliant colour. A female dress is a dress; a male dress is a uniform. Men dress smartly so as not to be noticed; but all women dress to be noticed — gross and vulgar women to be grossly and vulgarly noticed, wise and modest women to be wisely and modestly noticed.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

A moderately good generalisation, but the whole thing admits of so many exceptions as to be unreliable. I have known male peacocks and women who would prefer to blend in. I think the intents change over time as well, especially when courtship is an issue.

james said...

True. But it's hard to pass up something like that.