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pony and went to Dixon's Ferry to offer the service of

descriptionThenastopoliteness,andbreedingtobusiness.Anofficialmanmustbebredtobusiness;ofcoursehemust:andnotfore ...

Then as to politeness, and breeding to business. An official man must be bred to business; of course he must: and not for essence only, but even for the manners of office he requires breeding. Besides his intrinsic faculty, whatever that may be, he must be cautious, vigilant, discreet,--above all things, he must be reticent, patient, polite. Certain of these qualities are by nature imposed upon men of station; and they are trained from birth to some exercise of them: this constitutes their one intrinsic qualification for office;--this is their one advantage in the New Downing Street projected for this New Era; and it will not go for much in that Institution. One advantage, or temporary advantage; against which there are so many counterbalances. It is the indispensable preliminary for office, but by no means the complete outfit,--a miserable outfit where there is nothing farther.

pony and went to Dixon's Ferry to offer the service of

Will your Lordship give me leave to say that, practically, the intrinsic qualities will presuppose these preliminaries too, but by no means _vice versa_. That, on the whole, if you have got the intrinsic qualities, you have got everything, and the preliminaries will prove attainable; but that if you have got only the preliminaries, you have yet got nothing. A man of real dignity will not find it impossible to bear himself in a dignified manner; a man of real understanding and insight will get to know, as the fruit of his very first study, what the laws of his situation are, and will conform to these. Rough old Samuel Johnson, blustering Boreas and rugged Arctic Bear as he often was, defined himself, justly withal, as a polite man: a noble manful attitude of soul is his; a clear, true and loyal sense of what others are, and what he himself is, shines through the rugged coating of him; comes out as grave deep rhythmus when his King honors him, and he will not "bandy compliments with his King;"--is traceable too in his indignant trampling down of the Chesterfield patronages, tailor-made insolences, and contradictions of sinners; which may be called his _revolutionary_ movements, hard and peremptory by the law of them; these could not be soft like his _constitutional_ ones, when men and kings took him for somewhat like the thing he was. Given a noble man, I think your Lordship may expect by and by a polite man. No "politer" man was to be found in Britain than the rustic Robert Burns: high duchesses were captivated with the chivalrous ways of the man; recognized that here was the true chivalry, and divine nobleness of bearing,--as indeed they well might, now when the Peasant God and Norse Thor had come down among them again! Chivalry this, if not as they do chivalry in Drury Lane or West-End drawing-rooms, yet as they do it in Valhalla and the General Assembly of the Gods.

pony and went to Dixon's Ferry to offer the service of

For indeed, who _invented_ chivalry, politeness, or anything that is noble and melodious and beautiful among us, except precisely the like of Johnson and of Burns? The select few who in the generations of this world were wise and valiant, they, in spite of all the tremendous majority of blockheads and slothful belly-worshippers, and noisy ugly persons, have devised whatsoever is noble in the manners of man to man. I expect they will learn to be polite, your Lordship, when you give them a chance!--Nor is it as a school of human culture, for this or for any other grace or gift, that Parliament will be found first-rate or indispensable. As experience in the river is indispensable to the ferryman, so is knowledge of his Parliament to the British Peel or Chatham;--so was knowledge of the OEil-de-Boeuf to the French Choiseul. Where and how said river, whether Parliament with Wilkeses, or OEil-de-Boeuf with Pompadours, can be waded, boated, swum; how the miscellaneous cargoes, "measures" so called, can be got across it, according to their kinds, and landed alive on the hither side as facts:--we have all of us our _ferries_ in this world; and must know the river and its ways, or get drowned some day! In that sense, practice in Parliament is indispensable to the British Statesman; but not in any other sense.

pony and went to Dixon's Ferry to offer the service of

A school, too, of manners and of several other things, the Parliament will doubtless be to the aspirant Statesman; a school better or worse;--as the OEil-de-Boeuf likewise was, and as all scenes where men work or live are sure to be. Especially where many men work together, the very rubbing against one another will grind and polish off their angularities into roundness, into "politeness" after a sort; and the official man, place him how you may, will never want for schooling, of extremely various kinds. A first-rate school one cannot call this Parliament for him;--I fear to say what rate at present! In so far as it teaches him vigilance, patience, courage, toughness of lungs or of soul, and skill in any kind of swimming, it is a good school. In so far as it forces him to speak where Nature orders silence; and even, lest all the world should learn his secret (which often enough would kill his secret, and little profit the world), forces him to speak falsities, vague ambiguities, and the froth-dialect usual in Parliaments in these times, it may be considered one of the worst schools ever devised by man; and, I think, may almost challenge the OEil-de-Boeuf to match it in badness.

Parliament will train your men to the manners required of a statesman; but in a much less degree to the intrinsic functions of one. To these latter, it is capable of mistraining as nothing else can. Parliament will train you to talk; and above all things to hear, with patience, unlimited quantities of foolish talk. To tell a good story for yourself, and to make it _appear_ that you have done your work: this, especially in constitutional countries, is something;--and yet in all countries, constitutional ones too, it is intrinsically nothing, probably even less. For it is not the function of any mortal, in Downing Street or elsewhere here below, to wag the tongue of him, and make it appear that he has done work; but to wag some quite other organs of him, and to do work; there is no danger of his work's appearing by and by. Such an accomplishment, even in constitutional countries, I grieve to say, may become much less than nothing. Have you at all computed how much less? The human creature who has once given way to satisfying himself with "appearances," to seeking his salvation in "appearances," the moral life of such human creature is rapidly bleeding out of him. Depend upon it, Beelzebub, Satan, or however you may name the too authentic Genius of Eternal Death, has got that human creature in his claws. By and by you will have a dead parliamentary bagpipe, and your living man fled away without return!

Such parliamentary bagpipes I myself have heard play tunes, much to the satisfaction of the people. Every tune lies within their compass; and their mind (for they still call it _mind_) is ready as a hurdy-gurdy on turning of the handle: "My Lords, this question now before the House"--Ye Heavens, O ye divine Silences, was there in the womb of Chaos, then, such a product, liable to be evoked by human art, as that same? While the galleries were all applausive of heart, and the Fourth Estate looked with eyes enlightened, as if you had touched its lips with a staff dipped in honey,--I have sat with reflections too ghastly to be uttered. A poor human creature and learned friend, once possessed of many fine gifts, possessed of intellect, veracity, and manful conviction on a variety of objects, has he now lost all that;--converted all that into a glistering phosphorescence which can show itself on the outside; while within, all is dead, chaotic, dark; a painted sepulchre full of dead-men's bones! Discernment, knowledge, intellect, in the human sense of the words, this man has now none. His opinion you do not ask on any matter: on the _matter_ he has no opinion, judgment, or insight; only on what may be said about the matter, how it may be argued of, what tune may be played upon it to enlighten the eyes of the Fourth Estate.

Such a soul, though to the eye he still keeps tumbling about in the Parliamentary element, and makes "motions," and passes bills, for aught I know,--are we to define him as a _living_ one, or as a dead? Partridge the Almanac-Maker, whose "Publications" still regularly appear, is known to be dead! The dog that was drowned last summer, and that floats up and down the Thames with ebb and flood ever since,--is it not dead? Alas, in the hot months, you meet here and there such a floating dog; and at length, if you often use the river steamers, get to know him by sight. "There he is again, still astir there in his quasi-stygian element!" you dejectedly exclaim (perhaps reading your Morning Newspaper at the moment); and reflect, with a painful oppression of nose and imagination, on certain completed professors of parliamentary eloquence in modern times. Dead long since, but _not_ resting; daily doing motions in that Westminster region still,--daily from Vauxhall to Blackfriars, and back again; and cannot get away at all! Daily (from Newspaper or river steamer) you may see him at some point of his fated course, hovering in the eddies, stranded in the ooze, or rapidly progressing with flood or ebb; and daily the odor of him is getting more intolerable: daily the condition of him appeals more tragically to gods and men.

Nature admits no lie; most men profess to be aware of this, but few in any measure lay it to heart. Except in the departments of mere material manipulation, it seems to be taken practically as if this grand truth were merely a polite flourish of rhetoric. What is a lie? The question is worth asking, once and away, by the practical English mind.