Friday, April 20, 2007

Ladies and gentlemen

N'est pas un interlude

In David Lodge's novel about Henry James (Author, Author!), the author recounts an anecdote told by James's friend George Du Maurier:
It was a fine but very cold Sunday just before Christmas, and Henry had made the effort to walk up to Hampstead and take Du Maurier for his constitutional on the Heath, according to custom. They were alone, apart from the terrier Don, who nosed about on the frost-hardened ground looking frustrated at the scarcity of interesting smells. It was too cold to sit on their favorite bench—cold enough for people to be skating on the ponds. Watching them, Du Maurier recalled an occasion long ago when a dog fell through the ice on the Whitestone Pond and got into difficulties, and he had plunged into the icy water to rescue the creature. "The grateful owner tried to tip me half-a-crown, upon which I'm afraid I was rather short with him. 'I beg your pardon,' he said, 'I didn't realize you were a gentleman.'" [pp. 143-144]
Men and women—gentlemen and ladies in their God-blessed freedom—should not require the promise of heaven (or the hope of avoiding hell) to do what is right.

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