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Excerpt from "Feathertop"

Excerpt from "Feathertop"

In this amusing passage, the townsfolk speculate on the European, and therefore elevated, origins of Feathertop as he, a stranger, strolls through town. Hawthorne's satire is broad, but effective, and the passage puts one in mind of "The Emperor's New Clothes." It is apparent, however, that humor at the expense of the local simple people is, in itself, indicative of the distance of the artist from regular people.
"He needs no equipage to set off his rank," remarked a third. "If he came among us in rags, nobility would shine through a hole in his elbow. I never saw such dignity of aspect. He has the old Norman blood in his veins, I warrant him." "I rather take him to be a Dutchman, or one of your High Germans," said another citizen. "The men of those countries have always the pipe at their mouths."

"And so has a Turk," answered his companion. "But, in my judgment, this stranger hath been bred at the French court, and hath there learned politeness and grace of manner, which none understand so well as the nobility of France. That gait, now! A vulgar spectator might deem it stiff--he might call it a hitch and jerk--but, to my eye, it hath an unspeakable majesty, and must have been acquired by constant observation of the deportment of the Grand Monarque. The stranger's character and office are evident enough. He is a French ambassador, come to treat with our rulers about the cession of Canada."

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