Essay / Culture

The Days of Trollope

In the days of Trollope, men who sold their friends down the river for money would have received a good caning by the gentlemen in the community. (Says Trollope in one of his books, “But she felt that if Bernard would thrash the coward for his cowardice she would love her nephew better than ever she had loved him.” ) Of course, that was wrong and justice cannot be a private affair, but what is to be done with such men now?In the days of Trollope, men who deceived their friends and betrayed private confidences would have been cut from their clubs for life. Of course we are all equal now, men do not go to clubs, but what is to be done with such men now?In the days of Trollope, men who leaked personally damaging information on the King in war time for gain would have never been spoken to again by any decent Englishman. Of course, we have no King and men have a right to say what they will, but what is to be done with such men now?In the days of Trollope, gentlemen did not behave thus. Of course we are better than that now. We sell our friends for money and then whimper that we could have sold them for more. (“‘This book could have been released before the election, driven by partisan sales,” Wead said. “The publisher wanted it. I wouldn’t let it, and my publicist told me at the time, “That cost you a million dollars.'”) Thank God, Anthony Trollope did not live to see such times. He is safely dead, leaving only our modern trollops behind.A simple gentleman would not have acted like this fellow. A mere gentleman would have known better. But what of a Christian? Shall we have a lower standard than some Victorian gentlemen?A Christian believes that friendship is a high thing. If a gentleman knows it because of Cicero, then a Christian knows it because His Lord laid down His life for His friends.A Christian believes that confidentiality is a sacred thing not lightly breached. If a gentleman knows it because of club rules, a Christian knows it because His God rewarded a woman who risked her life to save a stranger, a guest, who trusted her. A Christian does not deceive his friend. If a gentleman knows it because of personal honor, a Christian knows it because of God’s law.This man claimed to represent us. Is it any wonder that even our friends think us doltish, if our self-professed leaders cannot behave less boorishly than a man playing cards with his buddies?There is one thing a modern Christian and gentleman can do. He can demand an apology for the wronged President who cannot defend himself against such betrayal. He can refuse to buy this book. He can cut off any conversation about it. He can shun the cad until he is sorry. Why should Christian radio interview him? Why give him the time of day?There is always, thank God, room in the Church for healing, hope, and restoration. All of us have needed it. But this man should send President Bush his tapes, apologize in private and public to his friend, and pull any material gained through breach of confidence from his book. Why? I hope because he is a gentleman and a Christian. We trust it is so and stand ready to forgive.

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