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It is designed that the instruction to be derived from this book on the all
1. Man in society requires laws for the control of his actions. But there are many things upon which our happiness depends which are of so delicate a nature that the mere laws of the land cannot reach them. To supply this deficiency, well ascertained rules and principles of social intercourse become necessary; and these rules and principles, which must be determined by good sense and experience, are to govern us in that course of conduct which is variously termed urbanity, civility, politeness, good manners, good breeding, good behavior, etc.
2. By these principles we are required to govern our natural impulses; restraining those which might prove offensive, and directing others so as to render them the most agreeable. Whatever natural peculiarities of character a person may possess, and however charming some of them may appear in all their untrained exuberance, yet, it must be remembered that, they would lose nothing of their value, but, on the contrary, would be heightened in effect by being exhibited in accordance with the rules
places him above the observance of these rules ; for it is remarked that true genius is generally accompanied by benevolence of disposition; and politeness, as we have elsewhere stated, is benevolence in little things. But of little things life is made up; and, as their sum total may be productive of either much pain or pleasure, as pleasure is the end that we all in common seek, and as rational pleasure is a just pursuit, we cannot be too attentive to the little elements on which it depends.
3. Let us reflect for a moment what our feelings are on witnessing an enemy lying in death. All our animosities are at once forgotten; nay, we reproach ourselves, perhaps, for the many annoyances which had embittered his life, and which we might have easily spared him. We look upon his past career as that of a frail human being like ourselves, blind and erring amidst the obstacles and difficulties which an inscrutable Providence, alike stern and good to us all, had thrown in his way: we look only upon the hardships and adverse fortune which he had to encounter, and regard him as one who had ever been more deserving of our sympathy and support than of our opposition and dislike. This solemn lesson from the grave should throw its influence around us wherever we go, whether into the peaceful shades of retirement, or amidst the conflict and jostle of the busy scenes of life. It would soften the asperities that serve to irritate and vex, it would strew flowers in the place of thorns, hallow our lives, dignify our character, and lend new charnis and amenities even to the beauteous face of Nature herself. Human felicity depends not so much upon the laws enact
paid to each other, day by day, by individual citizens.
4. The sea too, as well as the grave, is not without those solemn lessons that may calm our spirits and chasten our manners. While out upon its stormy waters, how foolish then appear the passions that rage, perhaps, in some small village upon the land !
5. Or even when languishing upon the bed of sickness -how frivolous seem the thousand conflicts that embitter life! And how beautiful then does health, freed from its turbulent passions, divested of needless strifes, seem to lie like a promised land in the distance, in all the inviting loveliness of harmony and peace! And how ardently do we promise ourselves, if it be restored to us, to correct our errors, pluck out useless thorns, and in their place seek to cherish the friendly offices of kindness and regard !
6. Such lessons as these, from Nature in her most serious aspects, should be heeded while we are yet in the robust state of health and youth. They are voices that, like the creative spirit, move over the wild chaos of impulse in the youthful breast, and may attune the manners not only to the proprieties of the social world, but to the harmonies of the universe.
7. And first, it may be laid down as a maxim, that the only basis of good manners is a pure morality. It is true that the manners of a bad man may be polished and easy, but they can never be truly refined. One should live with men as if seen by God, and commune with God as if heard by men.
He who lives otherwise will ultimately disclose an irregular character.
8. There is nothing which costs less, and at the same time is so valuable as good manners. They serve to guard
However rude others may be, we ourselves must always be civil and polite. The rules of good breeding are often the defence of those who infringe them the most.
10. In our intercourse with the world we should endeavor to 'be always cheerful, and at times may be gay, but never moody, churlish, nor ill-natured. What can not be said in good nature had better not be said at all. Though nicknames expressive of kindness and endearment may at times be permitted, as for instance in families and among very intimate friends, yet in general they are too vulgar to be used by genteel persons. Give every one his due name and title.
11. Some young men have the idea that a practical familiarity with evil is necessary in order to complete their knowledge of the world; but if man fell by a knowledge of evil, it is evident that the more familiar with it he is, the more he will fall.
66 Evil communications corrupt good
Be discriminate in favor of good acts. It was well to sacrifice doves in the temple, but it was wrong to sell and traffic in sacrifices there.
12. It was the opinion of Isaac Walton that a true gentleman should be learned and humble, valiant and inoffensive, and virtuous and communicable.
13. To laugh in a loud tone is exceedingly offensive to cultivated persons, as is also stamping with the feet, or making a loud noise while walking over floors. And, indeed, anything in one's hearing which is bustling, ordesigned to attract attention, is generally inconsistent with politeness. As far as possible all occasion for the remark or observation of others must be carefully avoided.