Letter: Gentlemen don't

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Sir: History ever repeats itself. Henry Cockburn, the Whig judge, in his great Memorials of His Time, has a section on 'the singular race of Scotch old ladies', one of whom, on being told that the blabbering of the Prince of Wales (the Prince Regent) had damaged the reputation of a lady: 'Up she of fourscore sat, and said with an indignant shake of her shrivelled fist and a keen voice - 'the dawmed villain] does he kiss and tell]'.'

What we are seeing generally is the demise of the former English cult of the gentleman. It was only gentlemanly behaviour that enabled the old constitutionless constitution to retain minimal trust, respect and authority.

Yours sincerely, BERNARD CRICK Edinburgh