Set a Beggar on Horseback, &c. Chesh.
It is observed concerning the Generation of Molattoes, that they are seldom well belov’d either by the Whites or the Blacks. Their Approach towards Whiteness, makes them look back with some kind of Scorn the Colour they seem to have left, while the Negroes, who do not think them better than themselves, return their Contempt with Interest: And the Whites, who respect them no Whit the more for the nearer Affinity in Colour, are apt to regard their Behaviour as too bold and assuming, and bordering upon Impudence. As they are next to Negroes, and but just above ’em, they are terribly afraid of being thought Negroes, and therefore avoid as much as possible their Company or Commerce: and Whitefolks are as little fond of the Company of Molattoes.
When People by their Industry or good Fortune, from mean Beginnings find themselves in Circumstances a little more easy, there is an Ambition seizes many of them immediately to become Gentlefolks: But ’tis no easy Thing for a Clown or a Labourer, on a sudden to hit in all respects, the natural and easy Manner of those who have been genteely educated: And ’tis the Curse of Imitation, that it almost always either under-does or over-does.
The true Gentleman, who is well known to be such, can take a Walk, or drink a Glass, and converse freely, if there be occasion, with honest Men of any Degree below him, without degrading or fearing to degrade himself in the least. For my Part, I am an ordinary Mechanick, and I pray I may always have the Grace to know my self and my Station. As little as I have learnt of the World, whenever I find a Man well dress’d whom I do not know, and observe him mighty cautious how he mixes in Company, or converses, or engages in any kind of equal Affair with such as appear to be his Inferiors; I always judge him, and I generally find him, to be some new Gentleman, or rather half Gentleman, or Mungrel, an unnatural Compound of Earth and Brass like the Feet of Nebuchadnezzar’s Image. And if in the Way of my Business, I find some young Woman Mistress of a newly fine furnished House, treating me with a kind of Superiority, a distant sort of Freedom, and a high Manner of Condescension that might become a Governor’s Lady, I cannot help imagining her to be some poor Girl that is but lately well married: Or if I see something in her very haughty and imperious, I conclude that ’tis not long since she was somebody’s Servant Maid.
With Regard to the Respect shown them by the true Gentry and the no Gentry, our half Gentry are exactly in the Case of the Mulattoes abovementioned. They are the Ridicule and Contempt of both sides.
There is my former Acquaintance (but now he cannot speak to me) the lumpish stupid Jack Chopstick, while he kept in his natural Sphere, which (as that of all heavy Bodies) is the lowest, the Figure he made among Acquaintance of his own Rank was well enough; none of us envy’d him, ’tis true, nor none of us despis’d him: But now he has got a little Money, the Case is exceedingly alter’d. Without Experience of Men or Knowledge of Books, or even common Wit, the vain Fool thrusts himself into Conversation with People of the best Sense and the most polite. All his Absurdities, which were scarcely taken Notice of among us, stand evident among them, and afford them continual Matter of Diversion. At the same time, we below cannot help considering him as a Monkey that climbs a Tree, the higher he goes, the more he shows his Arse.
To conclude with the Thought I began; there are perhaps Molattoes in Religion, in Politicks, in Love, and in several other Things; but of all sorts of Molattoes, none appear to me so monstrously ridiculous as the Molatto Gentleman.
I am Yours, &c.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, August 30, 1733