Page:Triangles of life, and other stories.djvu/153

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141
LETTERS TO JACK CORNSTALK

thing about the aristocrats of this village; they are driven up to the station at the last moment in dog-carts or carriages, and ushered into a first-class carriage with as much celerity and sympathetic respect as if they were royal families, and that's about all you see of them.

About a hundred of the City men, who have their families down here, go up to London every morning and come home at night. They travel third-class, and there is much of a muchness between them. They don't talk —perhaps they can't. Ten men can travel for two hours in a train without one saying a word to another. If you try to talk to them, they read a paper. This is English reserve, or English boorishness, or English suspicion, or English ignorance—whatever you like to call it. If you try to talk to them, they treat you as if you were a swindler trying to get them to take shares in a rotten concern.

I can't say whether middle and upper class Englishmen are reserved because they are shy, or because, as Dooley says, they have nothing to say. Come to think of it, I think that Dooley is right. Englishmen know nothing beyond their own little selfish and paltry little commercial world, and they have the intelligence to know that they know nothing, therefore they keep their mouths shut. Maybe it is unconscious instinct which makes them do this. And perhaps it's an instinctive knowledge of their own world-ignorance which goads them to hector people who are in a lower station of life, and whom they suppose to be more ignorant than they are themselves, and so keep up some appear-