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    The Aristocratic `Arry

    by Gilbert Keith Chesterton
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    The Cheap Tripper, pursued by the curses of the aesthetes and the
    antiquaries, really is, I suppose, a symptom of the strange and almost
    unearthly ugliness of our diseased society. The costumes and customs of a
    hundred peasantries are there to prove that such ugliness does not
    necessarily follow from mere poverty, or mere democracy, or mere
    unlettered simplicity of mind.

    But though the tripper, artistically considered, is a sign of our
    decadence, he is not one of its worst signs, but relatively one of its
    best; one of its most innocent and most sincere. Compared with many of
    the philosophers and artists who denounce him; he looks like a God fearing
    fisher or a noble mountaineer. His antics with donkeys and concertinas,
    crowded charabancs, and exchanged hats, though clumsy, are not so vicious
    or even so fundamentally vulgar as many of the amusements of the
    overeducated. People are not more crowded on a char-a-banc than they are
    at a political "At Home," or even an artistic soiree; and if the female
    trippers are overdressed, at least they are not overdressed and
    underdressed at the same time. It is better to ride a donkey than to be a
    donkey. It is better to deal with the Cockney festival which asks men and
    women to change hats, rather than with the modern Utopia that wants them
    to change heads.

    But the truth is that such small, but real, element of vulgarity as there
    is indeed in the tripper, is part of a certain folly and falsity which is
    characteristic of much modernity, and especially of the very people who
    persecute the poor tripper most. There is something in the whole society,
    and even especially in the cultured part of it, that does things in a
    clumsy and unbeautiful way.

    A case occurs to me in the matter of Stonehenge, which I happened to visit
    yesterday. Now to a person really capable of feeling the poetry of
    Stonehenge it is almost a secondary matter whether he sees Stonehenge at
    all. The vast void roll of the empty land towards Salisbury, the gray
    tablelands like primeval altars, the trailing rain-clouds, the vapour of
    primeval sacrifices, would all tell him of a very ancient and very lonely
    Britain. It would not spoil his Druidic mood if he missed Stonehenge.
    But it does spoil his mood to find Stonehenge--surrounded by a brand-new
    fence of barbed wire, with a policeman and a little shop selling picture
    post-cards.

    Now if you protest against this, educated people will instantly answer you,
    "Oh, it was done to prevent the vulgar trippers who chip stones and carve
    names and spoil the look of Stonehenge." It does not seem to occur to
    them that barbed wire and a policeman rather spoil the look of Stonehenge.
    The scratching of a name, particularly when performed with blunt penknife
    or pencil by a person of imperfect School Board education, can be trusted
    in a little while to be indistinguishable from the grayest hieroglyphic by
    the grandest Druid of old. But nobody could get a modern policeman into
    the same picture with a Druid. This really vital piece of vandalism was
    done by the educated, not the uneducated; it was done by the influence of
    the artists or antiquaries who wanted to preserve the antique beauty of
    Stonehenge. It seems to me curious to preserve your lady's beauty from
    freckles by blacking her face all over; or to protect the pure whiteness
    of your wedding garment by dyeing it green.

    And if you ask, "But what else could any one have done, what could the
    most artistic age have done to save the monument?" I reply, "There are
    hundreds of things that Greeks or Mediaevals might have done; and I have
    no notion what they would have chosen; but I say that by an instinct in
    their whole society they would have done something that was decent and
    serious and suitable to the place. Perhaps some family of knights or
    warriors would have the hereditary duty of guarding such a place. If so
    their armour would be appropriate; their tents would be appropriate; not
    deliberately--they would grow like that. Perhaps some religious order
    such as normally employ nocturnal watches and the relieving of guard would
    protect such a place. Perhaps it would be protected by all sorts of
    rituals, consecrations, or curses, which would seem to you mere raving
    superstition and silliness. But they do not seem to me one twentieth part
    so silly, from a purely rationalist point of view, as calmly making a spot
    hideous in order to keep it beautiful."

    The thing that is really vulgar, the thing that is really vile, is to live
    in a good place Without living by its life. Any one who settles down in a
    place without becoming part of it is (barring peculiar personal cases, of
    course) a tripper or wandering cad. For instance, the Jew is a genuine
    peculiar case. The Wandering Jew is not a wandering cad. He is a highly
    civilised man in a highly difficult position; the world being divided, and
    his own nation being divided, about whether he can do anything else except
    wander.

    The best example of the cultured, but common, tripper is the educated
    Englishman on the Continent. We can no longer explain the quarrel by
    calling Englishmen rude and foreigners polite. Hundreds of Englishmen are
    extremely polite, and thousands of foreigners are extremely rude. The
    truth of the matter is that foreigners do not resent the rude Englishman.
    What they do resent, what they do most justly resent, is the polite
    Englishman. He visits Italy for Botticellis or Flanders for Rembrandts,
    and he treats the great nations that made these things courteously--as he
    would treat the custodians of any museum. It does not seem to strike him
    that the Italian is not the custodian of the pictures, but the creator of
    them. He can afford to look down on such nations--when he can paint such
    pictures.

    That is, in matters of art and travel, the psychology of the cad. If,
    living in Italy, you admire Italian art while distrusting Italian
    character, you are a tourist, or cad. If, living in Italy, you admire
    Italian art while despising Italian religion, you are a tourist, or cad.
    It does not matter how many years you have lived there. Tourists will
    often live a long time in hotels without discovering the nationality of
    the waiters. Englishmen will often live a long time in Italy without
    discovering the nationality of the Italians. But the test is simple. If
    you admire what Italians did without admiring Italians--you are a cheap
    tripper.

    The same, of course, applies much nearer home. I have remarked elsewhere
    that country shopkeepers are justly offended by London people, who, coming
    among them, continue to order all their goods from London. It is caddish
    to wink and squint at the colour of a man's wine, like a wine taster; and
    then refuse to drink it. It is equally caddish to wink and squint at the
    colour of a man's orchard, like a landscape painter; and then refuse to
    buy the apples. It is always an insult to admire a thing and not use it.
    But the main point is that one has no right to see Stonehenge without
    Salisbury Plain and Salisbury: One has no right to respect the dead
    Italians without respecting the live ones. One has no right to visit a
    Christian society like a diver visiting the deep-sea fishes--fed along a
    lengthy tube by another atmosphere, and seeing the sights without
    breathing the air. It is very real bad manners.
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