Manners of the Smoking Man – March 1920

One day in a narrow lane we met a man smoking as he walked — a pipe or cigar I didn’t particularly notice which. But I did note that, as he passed us, he removed the weed from his lips and held it by his side.

Although not an acquaintance of ours, we knew he was professional man of the class that is usually styled a gentleman. Afterwards, one of our party remarked, “Now that sort of thing isn’t so common this side of the English Channel but no peasant in Ireland would keep his pipe in his mouth when he was meeting or passing a lady and if you asked a question of one who was smoking he would hold the burning bowl carefully in the hollow of his hand until you left him. The men all, as a matter of course, step off the side walk on to the street or road when they meet women.”

The speaker attributed this national trait of courtesy to the superior idealism of the Celt and perhaps to an infusion of Spanish blood in the past. I am more inclined to the belief that it is partly the memory of a conquered race who hundreds of years ago had to learn the hard lesson of propitiating the conquerors and so acquired a softness of speech and manner that is in stark contrast to the implacable race hatred in their hearts.

The blunt aggressiveness of the typical Scot — I am not a believer in national types — is undeniably one characteristic of Scottish manners and is surely related to the historical fact that the Scots could not be conquered by the Edwards or the Stewarts. The long struggle, left us dour.

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1 Response to Manners of the Smoking Man – March 1920

  1. I wish folk would do this still. 🙂

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