The Amateur Gentleman (Chapter 2, page 2 of 3)


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Chapter 2

"And I believe," said Barnabas, frowning down at the empty hearth,
"I'm sure, that gentility rests not so much on birth as upon
hereditary instinct."

"Hey?" said his father, glancing at him from the corners of his
eyes--"go easy, Barnabas, my lad--give it time--on what did 'ee say?"

"On instinct, father."

"Instinct!" repeated John Barty, puffing out a vast cloud of smoke--
"instinct does all right for 'osses, Barnabas, dogs likewise; but
what's nat'ral to 'osses an' dogs aren't nowise nat'ral to us! No,
you can't come instinct over human beings,--not nohowsoever, Barnabas,
my lad. And, as I told you afore, a gentleman is nat'rally born a
gentleman an' his feyther afore him an' his grand-feyther afore him,
back an' back--"

"To Adam?" inquired Barnabas; "now, if so, the question is--was Adam
a gentleman?"

"Lord, Barnabas!" exclaimed John Barty, with a reproachful look--
"why drag in Adam? You leave poor old Adam alone, my lad. Adam indeed!
What's Adam got to do wi' it?"

"Everything, we being all his descendants,--at least the Bible says
so.--Lords and Commons, Peers and Peasants--all are children of Adam;
so come now, father, was Adam a gentleman, Yes or No?"

John Barty frowned up at the ceiling, frowned down at the floor, and
finally spoke: "What do you say to that, Natty Bell?"

"Why, I should say, John--hum!"

"Pray haven't you heard of a jolly young coal-heaver,
Who down at Hungerford used for to ply,
His daddles he used with such skill and dexterity
Winning each mill, sir, and blacking each eye."

"Ha!--I should say, John, that Adam being in the habit o' going
about--well, as you might put it--in a free and easy, airy manner,
fig leaves an' suchlike, John,--I should say as he didn't have no
call to be a gentleman, seeing as there weren't any tailors."

"Tailors!" exclaimed John, staring. "Lord! and what have tailors got
to do wi' it, Natty Bell?"

"A great deal more than you 'd think, John; everything, John, seeing
't was tailors as invented gentlemen as a matter o' trade, John. So,
if Barnabas wants to have a try at being one--he must first of all
go dressed in the fashion."

"That is very true," said Barnabas, nodding.

"Though," pursued Natty Bell, "if you were the best dressed, the
handsomest, the strongest, the bravest, the cleverest, the most
honorable man in the world--that wouldn't make you a gentleman. I
tell you, Barnabas, if you went among 'em and tried to be one of
'em,--they'd find you out some day an' turn their gentlemanly backs
on you."

"Ah," nodded John, "and serve you right, lad,--because if you should
try to turn yourself into a gentleman, why, Lord, Barnabas!--you'd
only be a sort of a amitoor arter all, lad."

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