Hubert Howe Bancroft.

Good behavior .. online

. (page 1 of 5)
Online LibraryHubert Howe BancroftGood behavior .. → online text (page 1 of 5)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook



SB Eb3 751

\\ V-M UVI


University of California.







For seldom yet did living creature see
That Curtesie and manhood ever disagree.

Spencer's Faerie Queene.

Manners are what vex, or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or re-
fine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible operation like that of the air we
breathe in.


Extreme youth gives hope to a country; coupled with ceremonious manners, hope
soon assumes the form of confidence.


And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others.

St. Matthew.

\_Sixih Edition.']



Agent for the Pacific Coast.




The following treatise on Good Behavior has been
compiled from the best sources, and is drawn up under
a provision of the early educational laws of several New
England States. It is designed simply as a READER for
the reading classes of Public Schools, and for no other
purpose ; though at times the TEACETER may find it neces-
sary to call the attention of the pupil to some particular
passage, or precept, and require him to read it aloud for
his especial observance. The rules of Good Behavior are
social laws ; and whoever would be just and true must
first prescribe laws for himself before he undertakes to
impose them upon others. We read that Lycurgus the
lawgiver forbade his subjects to have any written laws,
because he thought it more conducive to the virtue and
happiness of a state that governing principles should be-
come interwoven with the manners and breeding of the
people. The habits which education created in the youth
of the country, he thought, would have the controlling
effect of law. The principles that are instilled in the
process of acquiring the art of reading, are the most likely
to produce an abiding influence upon the character of men.

It was said by Franklin, that with all branches of prima-
ry education there should be constantly cultivated that be-
nignity of mind which shows itself in searching for and
seizing every opportunity to serve and to oblige. It is the
foundation of good breeding ; highly useful to the posses-
sor, and most agreeable to all.











Hints for the building of School Houses.


It is designed that the instruction to be derived from this book on the all
important subject of good behavior, or self-discipline, shall be conreyed
through its use as a READER, the practical application of the rules and pre-
cepts being left chiefly to the reflection of the pupil; and for this purpose it
is to be read through at least once, during each term of the public school
course of education.




1 . Man in society requires laws for the control of his
actions. But there are many things upon which our hap-
piness 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 of-
fensive, and directing others so as to render them the
most agreeable. Whatever natural peculiarities of char-
acter a person may possess, and however charming some
of them raay 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 bv being exhibited in accordance with the rules


of good breeding. And no one should indulge the fancy
that he is possessed of an originality of genius which
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 atten-
tive to the little elements on which it depends.

3. Let us reflect for a moment what our feelings are
on witnessing an enemy tying in death. All our animos-
ities are at once forgotten ; na} 7 , 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 be-
ing 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 charms and
amenities even to the beauteous face of Nature herself.
Human felicity depends not so much upon the laws enact-


ed by legislatures as upon the little attentions that may be
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 fool-
ish 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 se-
rious 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 im-
pulse in the 3 T outhful 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 truty refined. One should live
with men as if seen by God, and commune with God as if
heard b}~ men. He who lives otherwise will ultimately dis-
close 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


us against surprises in the multifarious intercourse of life,
which might impair the integrity of our moral character.

9. 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 en-
deavor 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, } r et in general they are
too vulgar to be used b}^ 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. " Evil communications corrupt good
manners. " 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 in-
offensive, 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 bearing which is bustling, or
designed 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.


The polite person is quiet, simple in bis manners, and un-
obtrusive, and ma}' always be recognized by these traits.,,.

14. By shunning affectation we shall spare ourselves
and others a great deal of unpleasantness. It is a viola-
tion done to Nature, which offends every one, and is a
species of untruth.

15. Stud} 7 to frame your expressions in terms of kind-
ness and respect ; for a careless word may inflict cruel
and unmerited pain. Avoid as far as practicable ex-
pressing } r our opinions upon wrong actions, for while you
are hardly capable of judging of the whole ground, you
know not whom you may thus offend. To speak in sharp
tones of censure in ordinary conversation becomes no
one ; and it is better to leave our sentiments to be in-
ferred and justified by our usual mode of life. We may
know the tree by its fruits ; and need not eat of such as we
do not like. Leave judgment to Him who knows all

16 Passing between persons . who are engaged in con-
versation with each other, or between persons and the
fire, or unpleasantly near to them, should be avoided. If
it were to become necessary, one should sa}~ " With
your permission, Sir, or Madame," " Excuse me, Sir,"
at the same time making the person addressed a respect-
ful obeisance.

17. As raiment is necessary to decency, so charity
should cover many of the frailties of humanity. Delicacy
of sentiment, as well as respect for humanity, requires us
to abstain from unnecessarily exposing the faults of our
neighbors. Of all persons there is no one so truly ridicu-
lous and pitiable as he who ridicules others. It brought a
curse upon Ham. It is often the evidence of great self-


conceit and over-weening vanity, or of some more latent
and worse defect of character still. They who sought to
compass the death of Socrates, began by ridiculing his
natural defects of person on the stage ; and they who
derisively wagged their heads at a crucified Saviour, were
triumphing in their own disgrace.

18. It is easier for wit to be malicious than magnani-
mous. Which would .you prefer to be considered, gener-
ous or witty, just or brilliant ?

19. To rally or joke one upon any subject must be very
delicately done to be permissible : and least of all should
one make rude allusions to a person's courtship or marriage.

20. Pretentions that go beyond the bounds of modesty,
and great ambition in [little matters, such as a display in
dress, manners, and etiquette, though they may excite the
admiration of the ignorant, are, with the well bred, only
subjects for pity.

21. In doing your friend a favor, or making him a
present, strive to render it agreeable and acceptable to
him, and be particularly careful not to lay him under any
obligation, and never allude to it afterwards. No one
will thank you for imposing upon him a restraint. Stud} 7
liberality in your gifts ; they benefit the giver rather than
the receiver. To render the practice of liberality easy
and graceful, children should be taught to share their
things with others from their earliest da} T s.

22. Never complain of the wrongs or injuries that you
may have received ; for the world is prone to impute one's
complaints to some defect in himself rather than to the
injustice of others. Eeligion teaches to forget injuries.
Acts of ingratitude are much oftener suspected than


23. The well bred man is always careful never to make
direct inquiries of any person concerning his absent friends,
lest he might intrude upon some unknown grief. While
receivng visits he never exhibits any signs of uneasiness or
inconvenience from the presence of his visitors, however
much he might wish them absent, and he never shuts the
door after them violently, on their taking leave.

24. One will seldom err by maintaining a firm faith in
the dignity of human nature, and in lending a slow
credence to whatever is monstrously disgraceful to it.
Charity thinketh no evil. A proper avoidance of evil
suspicions will save the spirit from much unhealthfulness,
as well as the features from certain lines that tend to mar
their beauty.

25. It is a mark of true gentility to treat the lowly
with kindness and affability. A sneer as little becomes
the countenance as irony does the speech ; the less they
are indulged in the better. A coarse, ill bred person will
often be rude and insolent to inferiors.

26. Never treat any one with contempt.

27. Malice and envy will always be felt by the weak ;
but good manners are a training that will aid us to sup-
press their exhibition, and even by degrees to overcome
their prevalence in society.

28. Coughing, sneezing, clearing the throat, etc., if
done at all, must be done quietly. Sniffing, snuffling, ex-
pectorating, must never be performed in society under any

29. In all our relations with our fellow men, whether
public or private, anything approaching to coarseness,
undue familiarity, or levity of conduct, is prolific of evil.
As the vestal virgins of Rome were entrusted with the


care of that sacred fire which was never to burn low, and
never to be allowed to go out, so are our wives, mothers,
and daughters, charged with the no less sacred worship of
decorum. No amount of wealth, no amount of gener-
osity, no amount of good management, can make a house-
hold respected where decorum and good breeding are
wanting. The tone of vulgarity infects alike the nur-
sery, the kitchen and the drawing room, and is carried
with us like a contagion wherever we go. A woman ex-
ercises so much influence in her home, that the power of
banishing an evil element rests chiefly with the wife,
the mother, or the daughter of the family. If they are
uniform!} 7 refined and modest in word and act ; if they re-
prove every approach to lightness of conduct or indelicacy
of speech ; if the}' deprecate all possible inroads upon the
mutual respect which it is so essential to maintain between
the members of a famity, they will assuredly have their
reward in the peace, order, and happiness of their home.

30. If a person of greater age or higher position than
your own desires you to step first into a carnage, or
through a doorwa} T , it is more polite to bow and obey than
to decline. Compliance with, and deference to, the wishes
of others, if not carried to the extent of impairing moral
integrity, is the finest breeding.

31. On entering a morning exhibition, or public room,
especially where ladies are present, it is good breeding to
lift the hat and give the assembl} 7 a bow, by way of a
general salute to the compan} 7 . The Frenchman often
does this on entering the railway car. It is not pleasant
to be gazed at when entering an assembly.

32. Be careful never to make long calls or visits ; and
avoid examining or handling the things, either upon the


table or elsewhere, in your friend's house, unless invited
so to do. Never touch objects of art with the fingers,
cane, nor umbrella, nor even point at them.

33. A wide latitude must be allowed in Republics for
difference of opinion, but every one is responsible that his
own opinion shall conform to the truth, as nearly as possi-
ble. As two persons often mutually step aside in order to
avoid an accidental collision, so it is better to divert dis-
cussion from that direct opposition of opinion which leads
to heated and useless controversy.

34. Persons of genteel breeding will never indulge in
what the ill-bred call jokes, which are often coarse mis-
representations of fact, or perhaps positive falsehoods,
delightful only to malicious tempers and perverted tastes.
This vulgar trait has been noticed from very early times.
The Bible speaks of men who scatter fire brands and
death in the community, and claim exemption from the ill
opinion which their wickedness merits, by saying that they
are only in sport, as if their amusement could mitigate the
wrong and suffering which they inflict upon others. A
passion for equality may lead people to tear each other
down ; but a passion for liberty and fraternity should in-
cline us to build each other up.

35. The occasional pleasantry in which the well-bred
indulge never conceals nor misrepresents the truth, but
merely throws, as it were, a thin gauze over it, heighten-
ing the pleasant effect as the veil sometimes does that of
beauty, which it shields from too close a gaze. Plain sin-
cerity and truth are always the best breeding.

36. The essence of politeness consists in so conduct-
ing ourselves, in word and manner, that others may be
pleased both with us and with themselves.


37. True politeness has been defined to be benevolence
in little things. We are not to be polite merely because
we wish to please, but because we wish to consider the
feelings and spare the time of others ; because we enter-
tain that charity "that thinketh no evil" ; because we are
careful of our neighbor's reputation, property, and person-
al comfort, as we would be of our own ; because, in a word,
we desire to carry into every act of our daily life the spirit
and practice of that religion which commands us to "Do
unto others as we would they should do unto us".

38. Good behavior may well be regarded as a minor
sort of morality ; it is an outwork for the defence of the
laws, good morals, civilization and private rights.

39. The very best behavior consists chiefly in the ut-
most unobtrusiveness. To be well bred and well behaved
is to keep self in the background on every occasion ;
to control every expression of strong feeling ; to be of
noiseless bearing and gentle speech ; to abstain from all
that may hurt the feelings or wound the prejudices of oth-
ers ; to make small sacrifices without seeming to make
them ; in a word, to remember that in society one lives for
ethers and not for one's self. Boisterous demonstrations, or
things done "just for fun", are seldom, and perhaps never,
in good taste.

40. Nowhere does good behavior exhibit more grati-
fying results than in the home circle. Tempered with love
and fostered by all the kindly impulses, it improves the
character and is productive of the happiest results. A true
gentlewoman will show as much courtesy, and observe all
the little duties of politeness as unfailingly, toward her
parents, husband and famity as toward the greatest stran-
gers. A true gentleman will never forget that if he is


bound to exercise courtesy and kindness in his intercourse
with the world, he is doubly bound to do so with the in-
mates of his own household, and especially toward all those
who depend upon him for advice, protection and example.
He should be as careful of his manners as he is of his dress.

41. In order to be truly polite and well behaved we
must be good, just and generous, and especially to our own
household. Good manners begin there.

42. Etiquette is not politeness, but only the mere out-
ward form of it ; too often the mere counterfeit. Polite-
ness springs from those inward, spiritual graces, called
modesty, unselfishness, generosity. The manners of a
gentleman are the index of his soul. His speech is chaste
and innocent because his life is pure ; his thoughts are sin-
gle and direct because his actions are upright ; and his
bearing is gentle because his impulses and his training are
gentle also. A true gentleman is entirely free from every
kind of pretence. He avoids homage instead of exacting
it. Mere ceremonies have no attraction for him. He
seeks not so much to say civil things as to do them. His
hospitality, though hearty- and sincere, will be strictly reg-
ulated by his means. His friends will be chosen for their
good qualities and good manners ; his servants for their
truthfulness and honesty ; his occupations for their useful-
less, or their gracefulness, or their elevating tendencies,
whether moral, or mental, or political.

43. But if truthfulness, gracefulness, considerateness,
unselfishness are essential to the breeding of a true gen-
tleman, how much more so must they be to the breeding of
a true lady ! Her tact should be readier, her instincts fin-
er, and her sympathies tenderer than those of the man.
She must be even more upon her guard than a man in all


those niceties of speech, look and manner, which are the
special and indispensable qualities of good breeding. Ev-
eiy little drawing-room ceremonial, forethought and atten-
tion in anticipating the wants of her guests, and the whole
etiquette of hospitality must be familiar to her. And even
in these points, artificial though they be, her best guide,
after all, is that practised kindness of heart which gives
honor where honor is due, and which is ever anxious to
study the convenience and pleasure of others.

44. Every mistress of a home must take especial care
that her servants are capable, well trained, and reliable,
and that her domestic arrangements are carried on as
noiselessly and easily as if by machinery. In a well or-
dered household the machinery is alwa} 7 s in order, and al-
ways works out of sight. No well-bred woman will ever
make her servants, her dinner arrangements, her nursery,
or her domestic affairs a subject of conversation. The
amusements and comforts of her guests are provided for
without discussion or comment ; and whatever goes wrong
is studiously withheld from the conversation of the draw-
ing-room. Let no lady, however }^oung, beautiful, wealthy
or gifted, for one moment imagine that the management
of her house can be neglected with safety to her respecta-
bility. Though she may be rich enough to have an effi-
cient housekeeper, yet still, the final responsibility must
rest upon her, and upon her alone. No tastes, no pleas-
ures, must stand in the way of this important duty, and
even if this duty should at first seem irksome, the fulfil-
ment of it is sure to bring its own reward.

45. Cleanliness, plenty of fresh air, neatness, and
quiet, are indispensable in a well ordered home. A fre-
quent inspection from the cellar to the garret, with thor-


ough ventilation, especially of sleeping apartments, a
careful removal of all decaying substances, with a plentiful
use of quick lime or ashes, to suppress the first evidence
of foul odors, the source of which cannot be immediately
purged, are as essential to health as they are to comfort
and decency. It, is believed that not a few cases of
typhoid fever, diphtheria and rheumatism, may be traced
to the malaria arising from neglected barrels, boxes and
corners in cellars and elsewhere. A very little deca}'ing
matter, which some persons might overlook, even a neg-
lected pantry, may poison the whole atmosphere of a
house. Fresh air and sunshine should be admitted to the
cellar as well as to the rooms, as often as possible, and no
source of bad air should be neglected even for a part of a

1 3 4 5

Online LibraryHubert Howe BancroftGood behavior .. → online text (page 1 of 5)