If I bought a fur-lined coat I know that I should want to buy a motor-car to keep it company. It is possible, of course, to wear a fur coat in a motor-bus, but if you do you will assuredly have a sense that you are a little over-dressed, a trifle conspicuous, that the fellow-passengers are mentally remarking that such a coat ought to have a carriage of its own. It would provoke the comment that I heard the other night as two ladies in evening dress left a bus in a pouring rain. “Well,” said one of the other lady passengers—a little enviously I thought, but still pertinently—“if I could afford to wear such fine clothes I think I would take a Cab.” Yes, decidedly, the fur-lined coat would not be complete without the motor-car.
And then consider how it limits your freedom and raises the tariff against you. The tip that would be gratefully received if you were getting into that modest coat that you have discarded would be unworthy of the fur-lined standard that you have deliberately adopted. The recipient would take it frigidly, with a glance at the luxurious garment into which he had helped you—a glance that would cut you to the quick. Your friends would have to be fur-lined, too, and your dinners would no longer be the modest affairs of old, but would soar to the champagne standard. It would not be possible to slip unnoticed into your favourite little restaurant in Soho to take your simple chop, or to go in quest of that wonderful restaurant of Arne’s of which “Aldebaran” keeps the secret. The modesty of Arne’s would make you blush for your fur-lined coat.
“The genteel thing,” said Tony Lumpkin’s friend, “is the genteel thing at any time, if so be that a gentleman bees in a concatenation according-ly.” That is it. The fur-lined coat is a genteel thing; but you have to be “in a concatenation according-ly.” And there’s the rub. It is not the coat, but its trimmings, so to speak, that give us pause. When you put on the coat you insensibly put off your old way of life. You set up a new standard, and have got to adapt your comings and goings, your habits and your expenditure to it. I once knew a man who had a fur-lined coat presented to him. It was a disaster. He could not live “in a concatenation according-ly.” He lost his old friends without getting new ones. And his end ... Well, his end confirmed me in the conviction of the unwisdom of wearing a fur-lined coat before you are able, or disposed, to mould your life to the fur-lined standard.
I started out the other day from Keswick with a rucksack on my back, a Baddeley in my pocket, and a companion by my side. I like a companion when I go a-walking. “Give me a companion by the way,” said Sterne, “if it be only to remark how the shadows lengthen as the sun declines.” That is about enough. You do not want a talkative person. Walking is an occupation in itself. You may give yourself up to chatter at the beginning, but when you are warmed to the job you are disposed to silence, drop perhaps one behind the other, and reserve your talk for the inn table and the after-supper pipe. An occasional joke, an occasional stave of song, a necessary consultation over the map—that is enough for the way.