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Unformatted text preview: cialsin Europe"(238). It is likely, then,
that what Delano recognizes in Cereno is not the
features of the southerngentleman but the aristocratic gentility that institutionslike Harvard rided
themselves in instilling in the sons of the northern
elite through an "overall regimen of refinement"
(Story 115). Apartfrom the grandtour undertaken
to breed greater sophistication-or, as Melville
observes in Pierre, to create"anempty mask of ostentation"(223)-Harvard was perhapsthe institution most responsible for, in Ronald Story's terms,
"theforging of an aristocracy"n the North.And in
antebellumAmerica Harvard articipatednot only
in the creationof quasi or actualdandiesbut also in
the promulgation f the idea thatthe study of impeo
rial Spain was a badge of ultimatecivilization.
From about the 1820s onward, a series of Harvardpresidentsinstitutedan aggressivelyprogrammatic quest for refinement. The "typical Harvard Nicola Nixon man"took rhetoricand elocution to eliminate "rustic idioms," learned the conscientious removal of
facial hair, mastered polished manners, perfected
his dining on imported china, and spent well over
$150 a year on "elevated" ttire,sporting"a top hat
and cane [...] elegant boots, coat, and gloves"
(Story 111-12). Successive presidents, fearing an
extremity of refinement that might re-create the
admiredexclusivism of the Regency aristocrats, ni
stitutedgentlemanly sports as "antidote[s]to lassitude and indulgence"-as prophylacticsagainstthe
students' becoming "gloved and lisping dandies,"
possessed of "perfumed curls," "slender waists,"
and the "tiny legs" of Benjamin Disraeli and the
Young Englanders,or becoming "whey-faced and
feeble, effeminate and fearful" (Story 114-15). It
is scarcely surprising that Emerson, the great advocate of physical work as manly self-actuation,
would obliquely charge the 1837 Phi Beta Kappa
class with being, essentially, dandies. He accused
them of being womanishly "indolent [and] complaisant," of speaking a "mincing and diluted
speech" ("AmericanScholar"69), and of cultivating a "cowardly"inaction (59). While the retiring
HarvardpresidentJosiah Quincy praised the class
of 1845 as "'the best dressed' he had ever seen"
(Story 112), such a distinction had connotations
that Emerson deplored and that, to judge from
Pierre, Melville too found questionable. When
Pierrearrivesat Glen Stanly'sNew Yorkhouse, for
example, he observes that Stanly is "remarkably
splendid-looking," carelesslylounging"and mon"
ocled, a figure who is "dressed with surprising
plainness, almost demureness," in "fine, and admirably fitted," fabrics but whose languor and
sartorialsplendorcast doubts on his "genuinemettle" (238).
Although Glen Stanly is, rather like the ideal
Harvardman, both refined and robust, his affected
cultivation comes from his imbibing of European
culture on the grand tour. Presumably to provide
such culturewithout the dangerousenticements to
decadence of European travel, Harvard counted
on the Abiel Smith professorship in French and
Spanish languages, held by George Ticknor from
1817 to 1835-a professorship characterizedprimarily by scholarship on Spain (Williams 54).
Capitalizing perhaps on the appeal of Washing- 367 ton Irving's History and Life of Christopher Columbus(1828), Chronicle of the Conquestof Granada (1829), and Legendsof the Conquestof Spain
(1835), Ticknorwrote his classic History of Spanish Literature (1849). Another Harvard-educated
historian, William Hickling Prescott, published
The Historyof the Reign of Ferdinandand Isabella
the Catholic in 1837 and The History of the Conquest of Peru in 1847, the formerof which became,
as StanleyWilliamsobserves,the "universal hristC
mas present of the year, for the cultivated!" (51).
Not only were Harvardscholars perceived as paying a necessary homage to Spain for the discovery
of their country,but their works were treatedas the
fruits of a cultivationderivedentirelyfrom Europe.
An anonymousEnglish reviewerof Ticknor'sHisc
tory of SpanishLiterature ommentsapprovingly:
Onbeingappointed rofessor f Modem iteraturet
Harvard ollege,he [Ticknor] rossedthe Atlantic
[...]; for to everyAmericanof bettercaste and aspira- tions a pilgrimage o England usteverbe, whata
visitto Greece asforthevirbonusof ancient ome,
the crowningmercyand seal to the educationof a
gentleman [...]. On his return to America, having come into the possessionof amplefortune,he rebut
signedthelong-held rofessorship, notthepursuit
of literature; is affluence as employed n forming
the best Spanishlibraryin the New World,andhis
leisure-precious oon-in mastering contents. o
everyauthor f his highaims,thebestresourceies in
Ticknorembodies the gentlemanscholar"of better
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