The English Gentleman - The Rise and Fall of an Ideal

Peter Quennell | Published in 30 Nov 1982
  • The English Gentleman: the Rise and Fall of an Ideal
    Philip Mason. 240 pp. (Andre Deutsch, 1982)
This entertaining and well-documented book consists of nineteen lengthy sections; and at the end of the eighteenth Philip Mason produces a particularly revealing anecdote. Its subject is Anthony Wedgwood Benn, whom a friend of the author once escorted to a literary appointment. They hailed a taxi; and, when they had taken their seats, the driver, having recognised his famous fare, exclaimed 'If I'd known who it was, I'd as soon as run you over as let you into my cab'; at which 'Mr. Benn pulled down the little seat in front, opened the communicating window and earnestly preached socialism to him all the way to their destination'. On their arrival, the taximan's attitude had slightly softened. 'I hate your principles', he said, 'but I will say this for you: you are a gent!'

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