There are those who worry about the “gentility” of others. I remember when Charles Wagner, the author of The Simple Life, was in this country. We were dining at the home of a friend and one of these super-sensitive, finical sticklers for gentility was present. Wagner was speaking in his big, these super-sensitive, finical sticklers for gentility simple, primitive way of a man brought up as a peasant, and more concerned about what he was thinking than whether his “table manners” conformed to the latest standard. There was some gravy on his plate. He wanted it. He took a piece of bread and used it as a sop, and then, impaling the gravy-soaked bread on his fork, he conveyed it to his mouth with gusto and relish. My “genteel” friend commented upon it afterwards as “disgusting,” and lost all interest in the man and his work as a consequence.
To my mind, the criticism was that of a fool.
John Muir, the eminent poet-naturalist of the Mountains of California, had a habit at the table of “crumming” his bread—that is, toying with it, until it crumbled to pieces in his hand. He would, at the same time, be sending out a steady stream of the most entertaining, interesting, fascinating, and instructive lore about birds and beasts, trees and flowers, glaciers and rocks, that one ever listened to. In his mental occupancy, he knew not whether he was eating his soup with a fork or an ice-cream spoon—and cares less. Neither did any one else with brains and an awakened mind that soared above mere conventional manners. And yet I once had an Eastern woman of great wealth, (recently acquired), and of great pretensions to social “manners,” at whose table Muir had eaten, inform me that she regarded him as a rude boor, because, forsooth, he was unmindful of these trivial and unimportant conventions when engaged in conversation.
Now, neither Wagner nor Muir would justify any advocacy on my part of neglect of true consideration, courtesy, or good manners. But where is the “lack of breeding” in sopping up gravy with a piece of bread or “crumming,” or eating soup with a spoon of one shape or another? These are purely arbitrary rules, laid down by people who have more time than sense, money than brains, and who, as I have elsewhere remarked, are far more anxious to preserve the barand unimportant conventions when engaged in conive realization of the biblical idea of the “brotherhood of man.”
THE WORRIES OF JEALOUSY
A prolific source of worry is jealousy; not only the jealousy that exists between men and women, but that exists between women and women, and between men and men. There are a thousand forms that this hideous monster of evil assumes, and when they have been catalogued and classified, another thousand will be found awaiting, around the corner, of entirely different categories. But all alike they have one definite origin, one source,