Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Word of a Gentleman: Rule Thirteen

A Gentleman has Sundry Small Accomplishments.
He has a capable familiarity with tasks considered needful though small.

Small accomplishments are the gauge for a observant society to read when it cannot possibly see the whole of a Gentleman's gifts. When he shuffles the cards at poker night, when he opens the champagne, when he ties his tie, and when he helps his wife, mother, or hostess in the kitchen, the watching (who may already be informed of the grace of his general presence) gain a knowledge that they can legitimately suspect is part of a complete man. If civilization is advanced along a path of greater and greater intricacy of order, it will be in the small things, to which a Gentleman sets his hand successfully, that that society measures his place. This is, of course, merely the reputational aspect of this capability. The Gentleman is moved by the need others around him encounter. The women in our company only rarely are accosted by dragons but their lives are continually beset by household and social symtoms of fiendish Futility. "Can you fix it?" they ask if a small part of their world separates from its functional place. Can you be trusted to position a centerpiece without her help and without her needing to adjust it later? How about changing a tire? Consider the rough spots, however small, that rise to our notice. Are you the man to keep it from happening or to deal with it once it does? Most of us menfolk assume that we are ready to stand up and be counted when enemies invade and the shooting starts. While we await that unlikely occasion, our company fails to cast any anxiety toward that and other grand fears. They want someone to chop the wood without hurting themselves. They want a hole drilled and a picture hung. They want a smattering of experience regarding the internal combustion engine. It warms them to see a sheaf of maps in his hand when setting out on a journey. A civilized society has already been offered a broad peace in the relatively capable national/regional authorities. The Gentleman offers an increase of localized peace by capable manipulation of small chaotic interruptions.

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