Posted by Gary on June 09, 2004
In Reply to: What exactly is a "gentleman farmer" posted by giraffe on June 09, 2004
: in the context of 18th-century France? Is "landowner" anything like a synonym?
Yes, although in the UK the term gentleman meant a little more. To be called a gentleman you would need to be:
- male, obviously
- landowning, or at least to have sufficient private income or funds not to have to work.
- respectable. This would involve observing the rules of polite behaviour, not abusing your position of power, etc.
For an example from Pride and Prejudice, the hero Darcy, having land, and caring for his unfortunate relatives, is a gentleman. Mr Bennet, having no land but a small private income and is quietly studious, also qualifies. Wickham, the villian, is from a wealthy family but, by seducing a vulnerable wench, doesn't live up to the moral code of decency and is therefore 'no gentleman'.