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Worldly Ways and Byways   By: (1854-1915)

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Worldly Ways & Byways

BY Eliot Gregory (" An Idler ")

NEW YORK Charles Scribner's Sons MDCCCXCIX

Copyright , 1898, by Charles Scribner's Sons

To E. L. Godkin, Esqre .


I wish your name to appear on the first page of a volume, the composition of which was suggested by you.

Gratitude is said to be "the hope of favors to come;" these lines are written to prove that it may be the appreciation of kindnesses received.

Heartily yours Eliot Gregory

A Table of Contents

To the R E A D E R

1. Charm

2. The Moth and the Star

3. Contrasted Travelling

4. The Outer and the Inner Woman

5. On Some Gilded Misalliances

6. The Complacency of Mediocrity

7. The Discontent of Talent

8. Slouch

9. Social Suggestion

10. Bohemia

11. Social Exiles

12. "Seven Ages" of Furniture

13. Our Elite and Public Life

14. The Small Summer Hotel

15. A False Start

16. A Holy Land

17. Royalty at Play

18. A Rock Ahead

19. The Grand Prix

20. "The Treadmill"

21. "Like Master Like Man"

22. An English Invasion of the Riviera

23. A Common Weakness

24. Changing Paris

25. Contentment

26. The Climber

27. The Last of the Dandies

28. A Nation on the Wing

29. Husks

30. The Faubourg St. Germain

31. Men's Manners

32. An Ideal Hostess

33. The Introducer

34. A Question and an Answer

35. Living on Your Friends

36. American Society in Italy

37. The Newport of the Past

38. A Conquest of Europe

39. A Race of Slaves

40. Introspection

To the Reader

There existed formerly, in diplomatic circles, a curious custom, since fallen into disuse, entitled the Pele Mele, contrived doubtless by some distracted Master of Ceremonies to quell the endless jealousies and quarrels for precedence between courtiers and diplomatists of contending pretensions. Under this rule no rank was recognized, each person being allowed at banquet, fete, or other public ceremony only such place as he had been ingenious or fortunate enough to obtain.

Any one wishing to form an idea of the confusion that ensued, of the intrigues and expedients resorted to, not only in procuring prominent places, but also in ensuring the integrity of the Pele Mele, should glance over the amusing memoirs of M. de Segur.

The aspiring nobles and ambassadors, harassed by this constant preoccupation, had little time or inclination left for any serious pursuit, since, to take a moment's repose or an hour's breathing space was to risk falling behind in the endless and aimless race. Strange as it may appear, the knowledge that they owed place and preferment more to chance or intrigue than to any personal merit or inherited right, instead of lessening the value of the prizes for which all were striving, seemed only to enhance them in the eyes of the competitors.

Success was the unique standard by which they gauged their fellows. Those who succeeded revelled in the adulation of their friends, but when any one failed, the fickle crowd passed him by to bow at more fortunate feet.

No better picture could be found of the "world" of to day, a perpetual Pele Mele, where such advantages only are conceded as we have been sufficiently enterprising to obtain, and are strong or clever enough to keep a constant competition, a daily steeplechase, favorable to daring spirits and personal initiative but with the defect of keeping frail humanity ever on the qui vive.

Philosophers tell us, that we should seek happiness only in the calm of our own minds, not allowing external conditions or the opinions of others to influence our ways. This lofty detachment from environment is achieved by very few. Indeed, the philosophers themselves (who may be said to have invented the art of "posing") were generally as vain as peacocks, profoundly pre occupied with the verdict of their contemporaries and their position as regards posterity... Continue reading book >>

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