“The commonest phrase overheard at an English club or dinner-table was that So-and-So ‘is quite mad.’ It was no offence to So-and-So; it hardly distinguished him from his fellows; and when applied to a public man, like Gladstone, it was qualified by epithets much more forcible. Eccentricity was so general as to become hereditary distinction. It made the chief charm of English society as well as its chief terror.”

(Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams, chapter XIII, “Eccentricity”.)

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