Henry James, Jr.


But flourishes for all that, and all genteel people, looking each other's eyes with the desperation of gentility, agree endure it for gentility's sake. Another arbitrary trifle is custom of depriving the unhappy visitor of a napkin luncheon. When it is observed that the English luncheon from dinner only in being several degrees more elaborate copious, and that in the London atmosphere it is common charity, at any moment, to multiply your guest's if not for ablution at least for a *dry ,* it will be perceived that such eccentricities are the wantonness and pedantry of fashion. But, as I say, flourish, and they form part of an immense body prescriptive usages, to which a society possessing in the manner, both by temperament and education, the sense of *inalienable* rights and comforts of the individual, contrives to itself. I do not mean to say that usage England is always uncomfortable and arbitrary. On the contrary, strangers can be unfamiliar with that sensation (a most one) which consists in perceiving in the excesses of custom which has struck us at first as a brutal invention, a reason existing in the historic *good * of the English race. The sensation is frequent, though saying so I do not mean to imply that superficially the presumption is against the usages of English . It is not, for instance, necessarily against the custom which I had it more especially in mind to in writing these lines. The stranger in London is that at Easter all the world goes out of , and that if he has no mind to be as lonely as Marius on the ruins of Carthage, , too, had better make arrangements for a temporary absence.



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