Page images





« The nobleman-look ? Yes, I know what you mean very well : that look which a nobleman should have, rather than what they have generally now. The Duke of Buckingham (Sheffield*) was a genteel man, and had a great deal the look you speak of. Wycherley was a very genteel man, and had the nobleman-look as much as the Duke of Buckingham.

POPE. He instanced it too in Lord Peterborough, Lord Bolingbroke, Lord Hinchinbroke, the Duke of Bolton, and two or three more."-Spence's Anecdotes of Pope.

I HAVE chosen the above motto to a very delicate subject, which in prudence I might let alone. I, however, like the title ; and will try, at least, to make a sketch of it.

What it is that constitutes the look of a gentleman is more easily felt than described. We

* Quere, Villiers, because in another place it is said, that “when the latter entered the presence-chamber, he attracted all eyes by the handsomeness of his person, and the gracefulness of his demeanour."

[ocr errors]

all know it when we see it; but we do not know how to account for it, or to explain in what it consists. Causa latet, res ipsa notissima. Ease, grace, dignity have been given as the exponents and expressive symbols of this look ; but I would rather say, that an habitual self-possession determines the appearance of a gentleman. He should have the complete command, not only over his countenance, but over his limbs and motions. In other words, he should discover in his air and manner a voluntary power over his whole body, which with every inflection of it, should be under the controul of his will. It must be evident that he looks and does as he likes, without any restraint, confusion, or awkwardness. He is, in fact, master of his person, as the professor of any art or science is of a particular instrument; he directs it to what use he pleases and intends. Wherever this power and facility appear, we recognise the look and deportment of the gentleman,—that is, of a person who by his habits and situation in life, and in his ordinary intercourse with society, has had little else to do than to study those movements, and that carriage of the body, which were accompanied with most satisfaction to himself, and were calculated to excite the approbation of the beholder. Ease, it might be

observed, is not enough; dignity is too much. There must be a certain retenu, a conscious decorum, added to the first,-and a certain "familiarity of regard, quenching the austere countenance of controul," in the other, to answer to our conception of this character. Perhaps propriety is as near a word as any to denote the manners of the gentleman; elegance is necessary to the fine gentleman; dignity is proper to noblemen; and majesty to kings!

Wherever this constant and decent subjection of the body to the mind is visible in the customary actions of walking, sitting, riding, standing, speaking, &c. we draw the same conclusion as to the individual,—whatever may be the impediments or unavoidable defects in the machine, of which he has the management. A man may have a mean or disagreeable exterior, may halt in his gait, or have lost the use of half his limbs; and yet he may shew this habitual attention to what is graceful and becoming in the use he makes of all the power he has left,-in the "nice conduct" of the most unpromising and impracticable figure. A hump-backed or deformed man. does not necessarily look like a clown or a mechanic; on the contrary, from his care in the adjustment of his appearance, and his desire to remedy his defects, he for the

« PreviousContinue »