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highlanders, Hanoverian George himself appeared in the Stuart tartan, and so also, to the dandy king's discomfiture, did that son of a London alderman who had come with him as his boon comrade of the cups, Sir William Curtis. All Scotland, hypnotized by Sir Walter into a spasm of loyalty, paraded bare knees through the streets of "auld Reekie" to the sound of bag-pipes in honor of a king named George,—and such a king at that! We need not dwell long on the incongruity of this scene. Fortunately we know that it was an idea of aristocracy and not the vicious person who happened to be king that Scott revered; but it may be sad as well as comic when the vicious are revered by the righteous for any reason whatever.
Into such a posture could loyalty to the aristocratic ideal betray one who, like Scott, in his daily life practised those virtues which are the basis of sincere democracy. Among English poets at the same time, however, there was an aristocrat,—an aristocrat by reason of birth, habits, and many of his feelings,who could never have been captivated by such a show. Byron, though he was indeed, as the Tory press reminded him, "one of the hereditary counsellors of the King," saw royalty with eyes undimmed by such imaginings as Scott's. Of this very affair at Edinburgh he wrote:
"My muse 'gan weep, but, ere a tear was spilt,
While thronged the chiefs of every Highland clan
Gird the gross sirloin of a city Celt,
She burst into a laughter so extreme,
In the notorious Lines to a Lady Weeping Byron attacked George directly, and in Windsor Poetics, representing him as standing between the tombs of "headless Charles" and "heartless Henry," called him "Charles to his people" and "Henry to his wife." Not against George alone, but against all kings and privileged classes Byron could rail. He spoke for Catholics and frame-breakers in the House of Lords. He sympathized with
the Luddite rioters so strongly as to cry "Down with all kings but King Ludd." He admired the republicans of America, and whereas his greatest heroes are such men as Washington and Napoleon, the object of his most scathing irreverence is George III. The strongest side of Byron's spirit shows him to be a hot rebel against the restraints and privileges upon which aristocracy was based. Yet aristocrat he himself was with peculiar intensity. He was proud of his extraction from a family noble since the days of the Conqueror. He was educated,-after his unlucky childhood, at a public school with other noblemen for intimates. He lived at Cambridge like other young men of his rank. If he treated inferiors with more than usual kindness, it was the kindness of the patrician. When he wrote poetry, he pretended that he wrote indeed, as Scott said of him, "with the negligent ease of a man of quality," and even when breaking with debt, gave his copyrights away on the ground that it was beneath a gentleman's dignity to take money for writing. He boasted that every member of his family was an only child; that like lions and tigers, there was but one Byron to a litter. Far away in Albania, he could at first be friendly with a stranger, the only other Englishman in the place, and then give the man the cold shoulder when he attempted to introduce himself at a social function, because, forsooth, it was not the commoner's privilege to make the first motion toward formal acquaintanceship with a nobleman. It is needless to illustrate further. Though a born rebel, Byron was also a born aristocrat whose conduct and feelings were in many ways typical of his class.
Such inconsistency between ideals and behavior as we see when Scott reverences George IV and when Byron flouts aristocracy was characteristic of the age when these men lived. The march of progress is not the march of an army. Neither the whole body nor each individual that goes to compose it moves forward as a unit; there is a doubling on the tracks and a facing both ways at once which often leads the most straightforward of marchers upon the horns of a dilemma. This explains much of the vogue of Scott's romances of feudalism in an age of revolution against feudalism. It explains even more clearly Byron's satire and his quarrel with the British people,
A youth avid of sensation, he had run through the regular pursuits of the young aristocrat, and his vices had been condoned. by the self-righteous British conscience. When he could not belie his own nature, however, and reform as he had sinned in accordance with the code of aristocratic conduct, British conscience damned him. He then turned and damned the British conscience for condoning offences such as he had committed, and for punishing him because of one that seemed to him far less vital. The inconsistency of the man met the inconsistency of the people, and both became infuriated. The situation tells much about the social ideals of Europe, but to understand it properly we must first inquire how such inconsistency arose.
The needs of human society out of which grew the feudal system naturally made fighting the most honorable pursuit a man could follow, since upon fighting depended the safety of the system itself. The result was an aristocracy maintained by a patriarchial system of property and inheriting the function of military protection for the rest of society. When the idealistic members of this aristocracy sought to explain their own position, they saw that their social order, as represented by such things as religion and the family, or more concretely, the church and woman, depended upon them for defence, and thus chivalry arose. Vague at first and the subject of thought only of a small class, chivalry gradually worked itself out into set rules of conduct, and with advancing peace and population, became disseminated through the rest of society. Crystalized in this form, men have continued to grip these rules almost as the essential elements of civilization, often after many of them have ceased to further the very ideals they were at first meant to serve. And the men most subject in the eyes of all to such hereditary customs are those to whom inheritance is a matter of the greatest importance, that is, the members of the hereditary aristocracy. Nevertheless these customs have been constantly modified with the increasing amenities of life while still preserving the mark of their origin. Military protection, for instance, being originally of such prime importance, the gentleman could permit no other pursuit to interfere with its performance; he had to hold himself in readiness to fight. The heir of a house,
therefore, generally refrained from entering any trade or profession, and as time went on attendance at court took the place of ancient warlike duties. His younger brothers, meanwhile, in order to maintain themselves honorably in the piping days of peace, entered certain gentlemanly callings,-the church, the law, politics, the specialized military service of army and navy. The protection of woman, furthermore, took the form of a definite etiquette of gallantry toward women of the upper classes. Even in the beginning, be it noted, the chivalric gentleman did not include all women as proper objects for individual protection. The knight of romance fought no dragons for the kitchen wench, and the lady scorned the scullion who would slay her giants for her. Only after democracy had swung its scythe did washerwomen become ladies, and ladies become women. Before that, these social distinctions had become more and more marked, and ladies and gentlemen more and more careful as to whom they associated with.
Such in a general way is the later development of some of the social ideals of feudalism. Let us recall Lancelot and Coeur-deLion, Guinevere and Eleanor of Acquitaine, and then think of the dandies of the regency, of Queen Charlotte and Fanny Burney. The year 1800 saw the lives of the men and women of the upper classes in England running in certain grooves of custom to which the British conscience, blind for the most part to the iniquities which these things not only permitted but even fostered, clung as to the very ark of the covenant. Fanny Burney, for instance, had been asked to befriend Madame de Genlis, a woman whom she believed to have been wronged and slandered, and whom she was inclined to admire and help. In order to do nothing improper, however, in her position at court, she first asked for advice from Queen Charlotte. The Queen agreed that Madame de Genlis had been wronged, but enjoined Miss Burney to have no correspondence with a person who had even been mentioned in connection with evil. Thus did the British people, although intensely preoccupied with what they called morality, think morality to be merely a matter of conduct in accord with certain conventions and not with any ideal truth. The moral duty of one good woman to
uphold another who had been wronged never entered Queen Charlotte's pious head; to preserve the fetich of one's own good name was her sole thought, let the innocent suffer however unjustly they might.
What the gentlemen in this state of society should do with their youth was a perilous question. They were young males endowed with wealth, vigor, and social prestige. Few of them could go forth to seek adventure like Scott's heroes; custom forbade most useful occupations and sanctioned idleness. Of course there were moral consequences to such a situation which had to be provided for, and the provision made by the British conscience was all that tacit theory of condonation implied in the phrase "sowing his wild oats." This meant that any young gentleman, having been trained in the brutality of the public schools, and then released in the university or in London, might without opprobrium, gamble, drink, and intrigue with loose, women. All this would be merely sowing his wild oats; but at the proper time he must marry a young lady carefully reared for the sole purpose of marrying him, settle down, get heirs, and become a pillar of church and state. This was the theory, and it was a credit to British character that it worked as well as it did. But the innate immorality of it was inescapable, and at the beginning of the last century the British conscience had to shut its eyes hard to be blind to all the lapses of its young gentlemen. In the first place there was that "first gentleman of Europe," the Prince of Wales, Regent, and at last King George IV. His father, George III, was a young king with no time for wild oats. He was pious, proper, stubborn, and stupid, and so was his wife. His daughters could be kept within family bounds until it was time to turn them over to their husbands; his sons had to be given their heads at twenty-one. Never was there unluckier lot than that of George IV. Though the son of one George, he was the great-grandson of others not so impeccable, and he had two generations of wild oats to sow. As the heir of a young father he had a long time in which to do nothing but sow them. As heir to a king of autocratic temper there was particularly little that was both interesting and useful for him to do. Above all he had a generous lack of brains and moral