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The Angel and the Author

CHAPTER XIX
[Man and his Tailor.]
What's wrong with the "Made-up Tie"? I gather from the fashionable novelist that no man
can wear a made-up tie and be a gentleman. He may be a worthy man, clever, well-to-do,
eligible from every other point of view; but She, the refined heroine, can never get over
the fact that he wears a made-up tie. It causes a shudder down her high- bred spine
whenever she thinks of it. There is nothing else to be said against him. There is nothing
worse about him than this--he wears a made-up tie. It is all sufficient. No true woman
could ever care for him, no really classy society ever open its doors to him.
I am worried about this thing because, to confess the horrid truth, I wear a made-up tie
myself. On foggy afternoons I steal out of the house disguised. They ask me where I am
going in a hat that comes down over my ears, and why I am wearing blue spectacles and
a false beard, but I will not tell them. I creep along the wall till I find a common hosier's
shop, and then, in an assumed voice, I tell the man what it is I want. They come to
fourpence halfpenny each; by taking the half-dozen I get them for a trifle less. They are
put on in a moment, and, to my vulgar eye, look neat and tasteful.
Of course, I know I am not a gentleman. I have given up hopes of ever being one. Years
ago, when life presented possibilities, I thought that with pains and intelligence I might
become one. I never succeeded. It all depends on being able to tie a bow. Round the bed-
post, or the neck of the water-jug, I could tie the wretched thing to perfection. If only the
bed-post or the water-jug could have taken my place and gone to the party instead of me,
life would have been simpler. The bed-post and the water-jug, in its neat white bow,
looked like a gentleman--the fashionable novelist's idea of a gentleman. Upon myself the
result was otherwise, suggesting always a feeble attempt at suicide by strangulation. I
could never understand how it was done. There were moments when it flashed across me
that the secret lay in being able to turn one's self inside out, coming up with one's arms
and legs the other way round. Standing on one's head might have surmounted the
difficulty; but the higher gymnastics Nature has denied to me. "The Boneless Wonder" or
the "Man Serpent" could, I felt, be a gentleman so easily. To one to whom has been given
only the common ordinary joints gentlemanliness is apparently an impossible ideal.
It is not only the tie. I never read the fashionable novel without misgiving. Some hopeless
bounder is being described:
"If you want to know what he is like," says the Peer of the Realm, throwing himself back
in his deep easy-chair, and puffing lazily at his cigar of delicate aroma, "he is the sort of
man that wears three studs in his shirt."
[The difficulty of being a Gentleman.]
 
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