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"Generous deed should not be checked by cold counsel." (Tolkien's Return of the King)

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Location: United States

27 April 2006

Noblesse oblige

"There is a natural aristocracy among men, the grounds of which are talent and virtue." ~ Thomas Jefferson

Noblesse oblige, indeed, is virtue.
It is an interior impulse (bred, not born) of recognizing human dignity, one’s own and that of others. There is something endearing about the true aristocrat, an attractive sense of simplicity, without simple-mindedness. I give in to the delight of describing the virtues of LPW. His is a rare blend of graciousness and cheerfulness with ‘man of the world’ sensibility. He is no fool. And yet he can play that part when good taste or the pursuit of the truth requires it. He is comfortable in any class, any milieu, any setting. With all, he offers his charm and makes the effort to make anyone comfortable in his presence.

The sharpness and depth of his mind doesn’t dull his heart, as happens with some. His head and heart are prone to over-sensitivity, which he reigns in with a discipline and self-control learned by choice, perfected by habit.

Simply put, Wimsey is a gentleman: a man’s man. The trio of birth, breeding and brains is not enough. Those three are found in many a proud spirit and cold heart. Here, however, a naturally cheerful and sensitive disposition crowns the three and lends an appealing grace to his whole persona.

Kindness is key. Not merely a Bertie Wooster with brains (an apt but by no means complete description), he is a man who has suffered, grown through that suffering and has allowed virtue to root itself in that heartache, that war-torn imagination and memory, and that pain endured for the sake of justice and society’s good. As he himself confesses to Harriet, "Justice is a terrible thing, but injustice is worse."

His is an uncommon elegance.

Photos © M. Datiles 2005-2010.