Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]


iuc Joung wuuuu NOVCI wc lvuury CiTuvai. person of either sex cannot help appearing ridiculous when satirizing books, people, or things; opinion, to be worth the consideration of others, should have the advantage of genius or maturity. Criticisms of sermons heard from the pulpit are seldom in good taste. Indulgence in satire and irony is often but the evidence of our own deficiencies. Flat contradiction is far from being genteel.

10. Address all persons by their right names and titles. To give nicknames is generally vulgar. In speaking to or of young ladies, always give them their title of Miss, unless in the family circle or among familiar female friends.

The great secret of politeness in conversation is to adapt yourself as skilfully as may be to your company. It should be remembered that people take more interest in their own affairs than in anything else which you can name. In tête-à-tête conversations, therefore, lead a mother to talk of her children, a young lady of her last party or study, an author on the subject of his forthcoming book, or an artist of his exhibition picture. Having furnished the topic, you must only listen, and you will be thought not only agreeable, but thoroughly sensible, amiable, and well informed.

12. Be careful not to indulge in the selfishness of outshining persons, if you wish to avoid unpopularity.

If a foreigner be one of the guests at a small party, and does not understand English sufficiently well to follow what is said, good breeding demands that the conversation should be carried on in his own language, or that he should be introduced to some person conversant with it.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]


[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

capitulate to him what has been said before he arrived.

15. Always look, but never stare, at those with whom you converse. Let not your thoughts nor your eyes wander from them.

16. Conversation is a reflex of character. The pretentious, the illiterate, the impatient, the envious, will as inevitably betray their idiosyncrasies as the modest, the even-tempered and the generous. Strive as we may we cannot always be ačting. Let us, therefore, cultivate a tone of mind and a habit of life the betrayal of which need not put us to shame in the company of the pure and the wise; and the rest will be easy. If we make ourselves worthy of refined and intelligent society, we shall not be excluded from it; and in such society we shall acquire by example all that we have failed to learn from precept.

17. Until a person can avoid giving unpleasant feelings to any one, his manners are far from perfect. To remind one willingly of his faults or misfortunes is an unpardonable offence in good society. The true gentleman will seek to avoid the very appearance of evil, or of giving offence.

18. There are certain natural parallels, symbols, indirections, double and reflex meanings in almost all conversation; something more is conveyed than expressed ; but it is generally wrong to convey ideas except by the use of sincere, plain, and direct language. All intentional equivocation, girding, coarse joking, twitting, all whispering, and talking for other ears than those of the person addressed, are exceedingly vulgar and improper.

19. Some persons have the habit of making fictitious and false statements for the purpose of conveying an idea.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

ing in the first element of good breeding, which is truth. Let no one imagine that he has an idea so valuable or so delicate that it may excuse falsehood as a means of its conveyance. Nor, on the other hand, can truth and candor be acceptable as an excuse for rudeness and incivility. Honesty is no excuse for coarseness.

20. It is well to avoid all controverted questions in social circles, or at least so to conduct them as to shun heat and excitement.

21. “When you are in Roine do as the Romans do.” This precept in good manners relates entirely to acts that. are good and proper in themselves, and not to those which are vicious.

It is not intended as an excuse for crime, nor for improper compliance with the ways of the wicked and frivolous ; nor that we should exchange our Christian manners for those that are inculcated under the reign of Mohammedism or Buddhism. A sound conscience is like a stubborn fact; but though it cannot bend for the sake of pleasing anybody, yet we must remember that its chief use is for our own government, and not for that of others. We may use it in self-defence, and should never fear to displease others, if need be, by quietly and civilly declining to do wrong.

We need not make others unhappy because we are good. It is the well who must care for the sick and ailing; and the more unwell a man is, or in other words, the worse his character is, the more kindly considerate should our manner towards him become.

22. The noble minded man is generous; he will never permit himself to exult over the faults or misfortunes of others, even in his inmost feelings, and the only use that

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

iu uut worus VI England's greatest poet, the evil speaker is

“A slave, whose gall coins slander like a mint." 23. The gentleman of real refinement will never talk disrespectfully of religion, nor of the ladies, nor indulge in pleasantry or sportive talk on subjects of the Bible; and especially will he abstain from speaking slightingly, or with levity of elderly women or of maiden ladies.

24. If you would avoid the odious office of scandals' pawn-broker, never accept the charge of a secret from a man who shows by his desire to deposit it with you that he cannot keep it himself. Every secret that you

burden yourself with is a hindrance to your liberty. Gold itself is of no value if it may not be freely circulated.

25. All proper written communications should receive written answers, and as soon as convenient. Good breeding is shown as much by the form, style, spelling, neatness and fair handwriting of a letter as in any other way. The temptation to indulge in anonymous communications will never be entertained by those who value purity and frankness of character.

27. The excellencies necessary to good conversation will naturally be carried into our correspondence; and it should be remembered that a letter which causes one much trouble to decipher, is seldom worth the reading or writing. An illegible autograph does not give one a favorable idea of the writer.

27. As one naturally desires to appear in the most becoming dress, so he should endeavor always to clothe his thoughts in the best possible language, generally seeking

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

engenders ill feeling and provokes resentment, can seldom
serve any
useful purpose.


render himself as offensive by curtness and reticence as by over familiarity and coarseness. Genteel persons are recognized by the kindly sympathetic tone and manner of their speech. The strong and generous man never belittles others in their own estimation; his presence elevates instead of depressing them.

28. Impure and inordinate thoughts, and also envy and hate, may at times enter the best regulated minds, as reptiles often intrude among choice and cultivated flowers, but refined people will never harbor improper ideas for a single moment.

29. A distinguished French writer says of the French language, that of all languages it is the one best adapted to express with ease, propriety and delicacy the various shades of thought in conversation, and that, for this reason, it contributes throughout Europe to one of the greatest enjoyments of life.

What this writer says of the French language, every one should strive to make his own language; viz: a means of easy, neat and refined enjoyment. The youth who accustoms his tongue to coarse expressions, can give no enjoyment to refined society. Frederic the Great of Prussia said that satire is not fit for the mouth of a prince. Ladies do no generally indulge in it, and gentlemen would do well to follow their example.

30. It both strengthens and refines the mind to learn how to express our opinions without directly contradicting those with whom we converse.

« AnteriorContinuar »