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Dueling

a superior fighting class he scorned to submit to those laws which he considered were meant for common people. He insisted on fighting duels if he conceived that his honor had been insulted, and this is still regarded in some countries of Europe as the only course open for a gentleman. In the early years of this country dueling was not uncommon, but when Alexander Hamilton, who had been one of our most prominent statesmen, was killed in a duel by Aaron Burr, there was a great outburst of condemnation for the practice.

A third trait already mentioned was that the gentleman despised manual labor because this was done by peasants; he also despised trade because shop keeping or bargaining was a lower class occupation. This contempt naturally called out angry feeling in the despised classes. An early rhyme runs:

“ When Adam delved and Eve span,
Who was then the gentleman?

Contempt for labor

Gentleman and pioneer

But it was the life of the emigrants and pioneers in America that did most to break down the idea in this country that the gentleman must do no work with his hands. Few indeed of the colonists were of the gentry, though there were more in Virginia and South Carolina than in the other colonies. But life in the new country-clearing forests, building houses, plowing and harvesting—was not fitted to keep up a separate class. All worked with axe and hoe and scythe, and then all met in town meeting—at least in some of the colonies—to govern.

The real business of living had then little place for the man who despised work. The gentleman had to prove his title in other ways.

This description of the ideals and traits of the warriors, knight and gentleman, has been drawn chiefly

owe

from Western Europe, for that is where most of our ancestors lived, and it was from England that our early settlers in America brought not only their language but their laws and ideals. Yet it is of interest to note that Greece and Japan have had very similar classes with similar ideals. The Japanese in fact have a word, Bushido, which, like chivalry, means the code or standard of those who ride on horses. It emphasized loyalty above everything else. Indeed, a Japanese knight regarded it as a fine example of devotion to put himself to death when his lord died.

Courage, loyalty, protection for the weak, chivalry toward women, courtesy, a sense of honor, consideration for others—these are the ideals which we largely to the Middle Ages, ideals which we ought not to forget, any more than we should forget its wonderful cathedrals, or its beginnings of law and justice. On the other hand, class pride, exclusiveness, contempt for labor, and for those not in our set, have no place in a democracy.

A final word on the influence of class is suggested by some of our words of reproach. One of the worst things to say of a man is to call him a “ villain,” which originally meant the unfree tenant on the manor. We now spell the word in one meaning " villain,” and in the other“ villein," but there used to be no difference. A “knave ” meant just a servant, a “blackguard” meant one who guarded kettles, a “rascal ” one of the common herd, and “ vulgar” what was characteristic of common people. No doubt the common people were in many respects inferior to the gentry. In some cases they may have been naturally slower and less alert. Their hard work and meager opportunities would keep them down. But to lump them all as a

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wretch just because the gentleman or his ancestor had conquered him and shoved him down shows the bad effects of class pride.

It is class which more than anything else makes the difference in our standards about work and wealth. No one feels it a disgrace to work if all work. No one feels it a disgrace to be poor if all are poor. This has been the case over and over in American life in frontier communities. But when one class feels that the only worthy business is to fight, govern, and hunt, then labor becomes a mark of an inferior class. When one is rich and on that account has the right to the service of the other, then the upper class feels proud and the lower feels oppressed. At first the difference may be accepted as the outcome of a war in which the weaker has been beaten. But after several generations, it seems to be purely the accident of birth, and then, if possible, it becomes worse than at first. At least it seems more difficult to justify, for the warrior at least had to have some energy and take some risks. The man who belongs to a class merely because he inherits money or a title does not necessarily have either brains or courage. The spirit of democracy is opposed to this kind of class distinction.

CHAPTER VIII

THE NEW COÖPERATION: TOWN LIFE, TRADE,

CRAFTS

A

FTER agriculture, the next great step in the
way of getting a living was by trade and handi-

crafts. Trade and handicrafts flourish best in towns and cities. Here then are three new things which go together: trade, handicraft, town life.

These three things made two great social changes. Before the rise of towns, and of trade, and of handicraft, there were chiefly two great classes: warriors and farm laborers, or gentry and peasants. The merchants and craftsmen-tailors, weavers, smiths, carpenters—belonged to neither of the two old classes. They made a new middle class. This was a step toward democracy. And another social change was that living together in towns meant a new kind of union or society.

One way of looking at these changes is to think of The new them as coming from a new kind of coöperation-co- coöpera

tion operation by exchanging goods. The clan would not have a variety of products to exchange, as would merchants coming from different places. Exchange of goods means that some merchants and craftsmen travel or send their products from town to town, or country to country; at the same time it means that some set up their shops and live together in towns. Coöperation by exchange of goods, and the living together in towns and cities which goes with the coöperation, bring about exchange of ideas as well as of goods. They

waken new wants and kindle ambitions, for people like to have what they see others have; they call out skill in various arts to supply the new desires; they create a new power of wealth and a new social class; they give rise to demands for liberty, and afford the means for backing up the demands. Finally coöperation by exchange leads men to think of what is honest and fair, for in exchange men do not, as in war, simply seize and rob; they expect to give in return.

The early clan gave a kind of coöperation, but we saw that it tied men together too tightly, in some respects, and made too small a group. The king and his warriors had shown the power of coöperation for fighting. The great bands of English and Danes had been too strong for the Britons scattered about as they were. William the Conqueror had been too strong for the English because he had his Normans better organized, and after he had won the first battle the English could not get together a large enough force to oppose him. How could one lord keep a great number of peasants and serfs in subjection? Simply because he had a few trained warriors and could at short notice get the help of other lords or the king, whereas the peasants in one little village had no way of planning with peasants in another village so as to get together a large force. The towns showed what those who were not mainly soldiers could do by planning and acting together. Of course the towns-people sometimes had fighting to do, but this was not their main business. In the long run their wealth proved a better defense than their walls.

The king and his warriors had helped to prepare the way for these benefits. For the king and his warriors made a state. The state with its officers and

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