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

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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.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I need more info about that "war-torn imagination" bit. Where can I read about that?

1:14 PM GMT-5  
Blogger MD said...

I'm not exactly sure where all the sources are but you can look him up on wikipedia.com. Then take a look at any mention of WWI (where LPW, unfortunately, almost died under gun-fire but was saved by Bunter and some others--literally digging the poor fellow out of a bomb-shelter or something.).

1:48 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Alec said...

A few places I can remember. In GAUDY NIGHT when Harriet's speaking with Padgett, he mentions something about Wimsey being called "Old Winderpane" (LOL! bc of the monocle) in the regiment. Also in Whose Body?, there's some military references again. If I think of any other places, I'll let you know. I do know I've seen a short 'bio' about Peter by his Uncle Delagardie (Peter's mother's brother) that's absolutely a good read. right, signing off now.

2:10 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous allison said...

"uncommon elegance" --i like that. nice and simple, lord peter all the way.

2:52 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous wimsey on tv said...

Hi, what do people think about the TV series? I haven't seen them yet, but I don't know that I want to.... anybody?

2:54 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous petherbridge fan! said...

LOL!!!!! you should really see them--the ones with Edward Petherbridge (NOT CARMICHAEL--AAHHH!!). btw, i saw some photoclips from them somewhere on theblog. Of course, if anybody out there PREFERS the carmicahel one, that's ok... but Petherbridge seems to be the more accurate one. Casting director did a good job there methinks. ;)

3:14 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous million little pieces said...

Kindness is key, you're so right about that...it makes all the difference in the world!

11:17 AM GMT-5  
Blogger MD said...

One thing that strikes the reader is definitely the naturalness of his courtesy (farthest thing from artificiality you can get, I imagine). Reminds us birth and breeding may come together but you can have 'breeding' alone with the same result. Sometimes the simplest people of modest means have a greater helping of courtesy than others.

9:33 PM GMT-5  

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