gen-tle-man – noun a : a man of noble or gentle birth b : a man belonging to the landed gentry c(1) : a man who combines gentle birth or rank with chivalrous qualities (2) : a man whose conduct conforms to a high standard of propriety or correct behavior …
Source: Words Have Meaning | The Southern Agrarian
There is much that could be said about this piece, and all of it good. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest!
One thing for which I especially wish to thank the author, Stephen Clay McGeehee, is his mention of the absurd and dismaying irony in today’s so-called “gentlemen’s clubs.” I have long been struck by the complete divorce from reality represented by that designation. True gentlemen’s clubs, in the classic and authentic sense, are few and far between, nowadays, alas. But they once existed! And a few still do.
One superb example, which is still extant (though nowadays it has become “coed,” like so many other distinguished institutions for men) is The Cosmos Club, in Washington, DC. It was there that the National Geographic Society was founded, in 1888 – only ten years after the Club opened.
Its website, which I commend to the attention of my readers, mentions that
“Cosmos Club members have included three U.S. Presidents, two U.S. Vice Presidents, a dozen Supreme Court justices, 36 Nobel Prize winners, 61 Pulitzer Prize winners, and 55 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”
The “About the Cosmos Club” page includes a very interesting video on the Club’s history, to which I link here:
Even the dress code is admirable:
“Gentlemen are expected to wear jackets, dress slacks, a collared long-sleeved shirt (tucked-in) or turtleneck at all times. Ties are required only in the Garden Dining Room at Sunday brunch, and at lunch and dinner. Ties are not required anywhere else in the clubhouse.
“Ladies are expected to dress in an equivalent fashion, which means dresses, suits, skirts or dress slacks with jackets or tops of equivalent formality. Leggings or tights, unless worn with skirts, dresses, or long jackets, are not considered to be of equivalent formality.
“Military uniforms and national dress of equivalent formality are also acceptable.” [I am presuming that this includes formal Scots Highland dress!] “At black-tie events, members and guests in attendance are expected to dress appropriately for the occasion.
“Sweat suits or other athletic or sports attire, jeans or other denim garments, sneakers, flip-flops, athletic footwear and shorts are never acceptable in the public rooms.”
Alas, I am unlikely ever to rise to a level of social distinction to be invited to membership in the Cosmos Club! But I can, and do, admire it from afar. And on a more international level, once finds such organizations as the International Order of St. Hubertus. The website of the U.S. branch notes that
“The International Order of St. Hubertus is comprised of an international group of individuals, Ordensbrothers, who are passionate about the sports of hunting and fishing, and who are vitally interested and actively involved in the preservation of wildlife, its habitat, and the tradition of ethical hunting and fishing.”
The motto of the Order is Deum Diligite Animalia Diligentes: “Honoring God by Honoring His Creatures.” This is another one for which I regret that I will almost certainly never qualify! But once again, I respect and admire them, even though I must do so from afar.
Both of these, and the other remaining exemplars of their type, are a far cry from what is referred to as “gentlemen’s clubs,” in the common (in several sense of the word) parlance! But I have now digressed far from the central point – that words do, indeed, have meaning, and that the words we choose matter, and matter deeply – of this excellent essay, to which, once again, I commend your sympathetic attention.
As Stephen Clay McGeehee so aptly concludes,
“Perhaps we cannot stop the process of cultural Marxism as it destroys our society by changing the way people think. Perhaps it has already gone too far. We can, however, control it in our families, among our friends and associates, in our churches, and other places where we have a leadership role. Men think in words, and words have meaning. Insist that words be used correctly.”