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Transcriber's Note: Printer's errors from the original book, such as
inconsistent hyphenation and missing punctuation,
have been retained in this version of the text.
A list of these errors is located at the end of
the text.


Or, Polite Manual for Young Ladies.

Original and Selected



Eighth Edition.

H. S. Parsons and Co.

Stereotyped by
Richard H. Hobbs.
Hartford, Conn.



So many volumes have already appeared before the public, similar in
character to this little work, that it is with feelings of diffidence we
bring our humble offering, especially when we consider the rich merit
possessed by many of its predecessors. But our apology must be found in
the fact that these publications are, from their size, and consequent
expense, inaccessible to many of the class whose improvement they are so
well adapted to promote. Considering the formation of female character
and manners a matter of inestimable importance, especially at the
present age, swayed as it is by moral rather than by physical force, we
have carefully availed ourselves of the best advice of some of our most
judicious writers on female education; and, by presenting our work in a
cheaper form than any of this class which is now before the public, hope
to render it attainable to all those for whom it is especially designed.

_April 16, 1847._


HOME, 49
TIME, 76



Politeness, like every thing else in one's character and conduct, should
be based on Christian principle. "Honor all men," says the apostle. This
is the spring of good manners; it strikes at the very root of
selfishness: it is the principle by which we render to all ranks and
ages their due. A respect for your fellow-beings - a reverence for them
as God's creatures and our brethren - will inspire that delicate regard
for their rights and feelings, of which good manners is the sign.

If you have truth - not the truth of policy, but religious truth - your
manners will be sincere. They will have earnestness, simplicity, and
frankness - the best qualities of manners. They will be free from
assumption, pretense, affectation, flattery, and obsequiousness, which
are all incompatible with sincerity. If you have sincerity, you will
choose to appear no other, nor better, than you are - to dwell in a true

We have often insisted, that the Bible contains the only rules necessary
in the study of politeness. Or, in other words, that those who are the
real disciples of Christ, cannot fail to be truly polite. Thus, let the
young woman who would possess genuine politeness, take her lessons, not
in the school of a hollow, heartless world, but in the school of Jesus
Christ. I know this counsel may be despised by the gay and fashionable;
but it will be much easier to despise it, than to prove it to be

"Always think of the good of the whole, rather than of your own
individual convenience," says Mrs. Farrar, in her _Young Ladies'
Friend_. A most excellent rule; and one to which we solicit your earnest
attention. She who is thoroughly imbued with the Gospel spirit, will not
fail to do so. It was what our Savior did continually; and I have no
doubt that his was the purest specimen of good manners, or genuine
politeness, the world has ever witnessed; the politeness of Abraham
himself not excepted.


Every thing really valuable is sure to be counterfeited. This applies
not only to money, medicine, religion, and virtue, but even to
politeness. We see in society the truly polite and the falsely polite;
and, although all cannot explain, all can feel the difference. While we
respect the one, we despise the other. Men hate to be cheated. An
attempt to deceive us, is an insult to our understandings and an affront
to our morals. The pretender to politeness is a cheat. He tries to palm
off the base for the genuine; and, although he may deceive the vulgar,
he cannot overreach the cultivated. True politeness springs from right
feelings; it is a good heart, manifesting itself in an agreeable life;
it is a just regard for the rights and happiness of others in small
things; it is the expression of true and generous sentiments in a
graceful form of words; it regards neatness and propriety in dress, as
something due to society, and avoids tawdriness in apparel, as offensive
to good taste; it avoids selfishness in conduct and roughness in
manners: hence, a polite person is called a _gentle_ man. True
politeness is the smoothness of a refined mind and the tact of a kind

Politeness is a word derived from the Greek word _polis_, which means a
city - the inhabitants of which are supposed, by constant intercourse
with each other, to be more refined in manners than the inhabitants of
the country. From _polis_, comes our English word _polish_, which
signifies an effect produced by rubbing down roughnesses until the
surface is smoothed and brightened: hence, we speak of polished minds
and polished manners. Persons in good society rub against each other
until their sharp points are worn down, and their intercourse becomes
easy. The word _urbanity_ comes from the Latin word _urbs_; that, also,
means a city, and it signifies politeness, gentleness, polish, for a
similar reason.

In mingling with our fellow-men, there is a constant necessity for
little offices of mutual good will. An observing and generous-minded
person notices what gives him offense, and what pleases him in the
conduct of others; and he seeks at once to correct or cultivate similar
things in himself. He acts upon the wise, Christian principle of doing
to others as he would have them do to him. Hence, in dress and person,
he is clean and neat; in speech, he is courteous; in behavior,
conciliating; in the pursuit of his own interests, unobtrusive. No truly
polite person appears to notice bodily defects or unavoidable
imperfections in others; and, above all, he never sneers at religion,
either in its doctrines, ordinances, or professors.

False politeness is but a clumsy imitation of all this. It is selfish
in its object, and superficial in its character. It is a slave to
certain forms of speech, certain methods of action, and certain fashions
of dress. It is insincere; praising where it sees no merit, and excusing
sin where it beholds no repentance. It is the offspring of selfishness;
perverting the golden rule by flattering stupidity and winking at vice,
with the hope of being treated in the same way by the community. It is a
bed of flowers, growing over a sepulchre, and drawing its life from the
loathsome putrefaction within.

Yet, insincere and wrong as are the motives to false politeness, it is,
after all, better than vulgarity. It is the cotton batting, that keeps
the glass vases of society from dashing against each other.
"_Familiarity_," says the proverb, "_breeds contempt_;" and this is
found true, whenever coarse minds with rude manners come in contact.
Careless of the little decencies of society; selfish in selecting the
best seat in the room, or the best dish at the table; unwashed in
person, and slovenly in dress: what is this but an open proclamation of
utter disregard for others? How soon contempt must follow!

Let the young polish their manners, not by attending to mere artificial
rules, but by the cultivation of right feelings. Let them mingle with
refined society as often as they can; and, by refined society, I do not
mean those whom you find in the ball-room - in the theater - in the
crowded party, or those - however wealthy, or richly dressed - you feel to
be only artificially polite; but I mean those who make you feel at ease
in their society, while, at the same time, they elevate your aims and
polish your manners. What a good style is to noble sentiments,
politeness is to virtue.


There is something in the very constitution of human nature which
inclines us to form a judgment of character from manners. It is always
taken for granted, unless there is decisive evidence to the contrary,
that the manners are the genuine expression of the feelings. And even
where such evidence exists - that is, where we have every reason to
believe that the external appearance does injustice to the moral
dispositions; or, on the other hand, where the heart is too favorably
represented by the manners - there is still a delusion practiced upon the
mind, by what passes under the eye, which it is not easy to resist. You
may take two individuals of precisely the same degree of intellectual
and moral worth, and let the manners of the one be bland and attractive,
and those of the other distant or awkward, and you will find that the
former will pass through life with far more ease and comfort than the
latter; for, though good manners will never effectually conceal a bad
heart, and are, in no case, any atonement for it, yet, taken in
connection with amiable and virtuous dispositions, they naturally and
necessarily gain upon the respect and goodwill of mankind.

You will instantly perceive - if the preceding remarks be correct - that
it is not only your interest to cultivate good manners, as you hereby
recommend yourself to the favorable regards of others, but also your
duty, as it increases, in no small degree, your means of usefulness. It
will give you access to many persons, and give you an influence over
those whom you could otherwise never approach; much less, whose feelings
and purposes you could never hope, in any measure, to control.

"If I should point you to the finest model of female manners which it
has ever been my privilege to observe," says a late writer, in a letter
to his daughter, "and one which will compare with the most perfect
models of this or any other age, I should repeat a venerated name - that
of Mrs. Hannah More. It was my privilege, a few years ago, to make a
visit to the residence of this distinguished female; a visit which I
have ever since regarded as among the happiest incidents of my life. At
that time, she numbered more than fourscore years, but the vigor of her
intellect was scarcely impaired; and, from what she was, I could easily
conceive what she had been when her sun was at its meridian. In her
person, she was rather small, but was a specimen of admirable symmetry.
In her manners, she united the dignity and refinement of the court, with
the most exquisite urbanity and gentleness which the female character,
in its loveliest forms, ever exhibited. She impressed me continually
with a sense of the high intellectual and moral qualities by which she
was distinguished, but still left me as unconstrained as if I had been
conversing with a beloved child. There was an air of graceful and
unaffected ease; an instinctive regard to the most delicate proprieties
of social intercourse; a readiness to communicate, and yet a desire to
listen; the dignity of conscious merit, united with the humility of the
devoted Christian: in short, there was such an assemblage of
intellectual and moral excellences beaming forth in every expression,
and look, and attitude, that I could scarcely conceive of a more perfect
exhibition of human character. I rejoice that it is the privilege of all
to know Mrs. More through her works; and I can form no better wish for
you than that you may imbibe her spirit, and walk in her footsteps."


Self-possession is the first requisite to good manners; and, where it is
wanting, there is generally a reason for it, in some wrong feeling or
appreciation of things. Vanity, a love of display, an overweening desire
to be admired, are great obstacles to self-possession; whereas, a
well-disciplined and well-balanced character will generally lead to
composure and self-command. In a very elegant assemblage, in a large
drawing-room in a Southern city, I saw a young lady walk quietly and
easily across the apartment to speak to a friend, who said to her: "I
wanted very much to get to you, but I had not the courage to cross the
room. How could you do it? - all alone, too, and with so many persons
looking at you!" "I did not think of any body's looking at me," was the
reply; and in that lay the secret of her self-possession. Very modest
people believe themselves to be of too little consequence to be
observed; but conceited ones, think every body must be looking at them.
Inexperienced girls, who are not wanting in modesty, are apt to dread
going into a crowded room, from an idea that every eye will be turned
upon them; but after a while they find that nobody cares to look at
them, and that the greater the crowd, the less they are observed.

Your enjoyment of a party depends far less on what you find there, than
on what you carry with you. The vain, the ambitious, the designing, will
be full of anxiety when they go, and of disappointment when they return.
A short triumph will be followed by a deep mortification, and the
selfishness of their aims defeats itself. If you go to see and to hear,
and to make the best of whatever occurs, with a disposition to admire
all that is beautiful, and to sympathize in the pleasures of others, you
can hardly fail to spend the time pleasantly. The less you think of
yourself and your claims to attention, the better. If you are much
attended to, receive it modestly, and consider it as a happy accident;
if you are little noticed, use your leisure in observing others.

The popular belle, who is the envy of her own sex and the admiration of
the other, has her secret griefs and trials, and thinks she pays very
dearly for her popularity; while the girl who is least attended to in
crowded assemblies, is apt to think her's the only hard lot, and that
there is unmixed happiness in being a reigning belle. She, alone, whose
steady aim is to grow better and wiser every day of her life, can look
with an equal eye on both extremes. If your views are elevated, and your
feelings are ennobled and purified by communion with gifted spirits, and
with the Father of spirits, you will look calmly on the gayest scenes
of life; you will attach very little importance to the transient
popularity of a ball-room; your endeavor will be to bring home from
every visit some new idea, some valuable piece of information, or some
useful experience of life.


"Good company," says Duclos, "resembles a dispersed republic: the
members of it are found in all classes. Independent of rank and station,
it exists only among those who think and feel; among those who possess
correct ideas and honorable sentiments." The higher classes, constantly
occupied with the absorbing interests of wealth and ambition, formerly
introduced into their magnificent saloons a grave and almost diplomatic
stiffness of manners, of which the solemnity banished nature and
freedom. The amusements of the lower classes, which rather resembled a
toil than a recreation, present to the spectator a procedure
irreconcilable to good taste.

There are, moreover, too many points of resemblance between the manners
and education of the higher and lower classes, to admit of our finding
the elements of good society in either of them. The lower orders are
ignorant, from want of means of instruction; the higher, from indolence
and perpetually increasing incapacity. It is besides not a little
curious that, even in the bygone days of ceremonious manners, the higher
classes, by whom they were practiced, were uniformly taught by those
illiterate persons of the lower classes who almost alone practice the
art of dancing-masters.

It is therefore to the middle class, almost exclusively, that we must
look for good society; to that class which has not its ideas contracted
by laborious occupations, nor its mental powers annihilated by luxury.
In this class, it is truly observed, society is often full of charm:
every one seems, according to the precept of _La Bruyère_, "anxious,
both by words and manners, to make others pleased with him and with
themselves." There are slight differences of character, opinion, and
interest; but there is no prevailing style, no singular or affected
customs. An unperceived interchange of ideas and kind offices produces a
delightful harmony of thoughts and sentiments; and the wish to please
inspires those affectionate manners, those obliging expressions, and
those unrestrained attentions, which alone render social unions pleasant
and desirable.


This subject was forcibly presented to my mind by a conversation I
recently heard in a party of young ladies, and which I take as a pattern
and semblance of twenty other conversations I have heard in twenty
similar parties. Friendship was (as it very often is) the subject of the
discussion; and, though the words have escaped my memory, I can well
recall the substance of the remarks. One lady boldly asserted that there
was no such thing as friendship in the world, where all was insincerity
and selfishness. I looked, but saw not in her youthful eye and
unfurrowed cheeks any traces of the sorrow and ill-usage that I thought
should alone have wrung from gentle lips so harsh a sentence, and I
wondered where in twenty brief years she could have learned so hard a
lesson. Have known it, she could not! therefore I concluded she had
taken it upon trust from the poets, who are fain to tell all the ill
they can of human nature, because it makes better poetry than good.

The remark was taken up, as might have been expected, by a young
champion, who thought, or said without thinking, that friendship was - I
really cannot undertake to say what, but all the things that young
ladies usually put into their themes at school: something interminable,
illimitable, and immutable. From this the discussion grew; and how it
was, and what it was, went on to be discussed. I cannot pursue the
thread of the discourse; but the amount of it was this: - One thought
friendship was the summer portion only of the blessed; a flower for the
brow of the prosperous, that the child of misfortune must never gather.
Another thought that all interest being destructive to its very essence,
it could not be trusted, unless there was an utter destitution of every
thing that might recommend us to favor, or requite affection. This lady
must have been brought to the depth of wretchedness ere she ever could
be sure she had a friend. Some, I found, thought it was made up of a
great deal of sensibility, vulgarly called jealousy; that was, to take
umbrage at every seeming slight, to the indescribable torment of either
party. Some betrayed, if they did not exactly say it, that they thought
friendship such an absolute unity, that it would be a less crime to
worship two gods than to love two friends! Therefore, to bring it to its
perfection, it was necessary that all beside should be despised and

Others, very young, and of course soon to grow wiser, thought it
consisted in the exact disclosure of your own concerns and those of
every body else with which you might chance to become acquainted;
others, that it required such exact conformity in opinion, thought, and
feeling, as should make it impossible to differ; and others, that it
implied such generous interference, even with the feelings as well as
affairs of its object, that it should spend itself in disinterested
reproaches and unasked advice. But, however differing else, all were
sure that friendship but usurped the name, unless it were purely
disinterested, endlessly durable, and beyond the reach of time and
circumstances to change it; and all were going forth in the full
certainty of finding friends, each one after the pattern of her own
imagination, the first speaker only excepted, who was fully determined
never to find any, or never to trust them, if she did.

I marked, with pained attention, the warm glow of expectation so soon to
be blighted; and, reflected deeply on the many heart-aches with which
they must unlearn their errors. I saw that each one was likely to pass
over and reject the richest blessing of earth, even in the very pursuing
of it, from having merely sketched, in imagination, an unresembling
portrait of the object of pursuit. "When friendship meets them," I said,
"they will not know her. Can no one draw for them a better likeness?"

It is the language of books, and the language of society, that friends
are inconstant, and friendship but little to be depended on; and the
belief, where it is really received, goes far to make a truth of that
which else were false, by creating what it suspects. Few of us but have
lived already long enough to know the bitterness of being disappointed
in our affections, and deceived in our calculations by those with whom,
in the various relationships of life, we are brought in contact. Perhaps
the aggregate of pain from this cause is greater than from any other
cause whatever. And yet, it is much to be doubted whether nearly the
whole of this suffering does not arise from our own unreasonable and
mistaken expectations. There are none so unfortunate but they meet with
some kindness in the world; and none, I believe, so fortunate but that
they meet with much less than they might do, were it not their own

In the first place, we are mistaken in our expectations that friendship
should be disinterested. It neither is, nor can be. It may be so in
action, but never in the sentiment; there is always an equivalent to be
returned. And if we examine the movements of our own hearts, we must be
sure this is the case; and yet, we are so unreasonable as to expect our
friends should be purely disinterested; and, after having secured their
affections, we neglect to pay the price, and expect they should be
continued to us for nothing. We grow careless of pleasing them;
inconsiderate of their feelings, and heedless of the government of our
own temper towards them; and then we complain of inconstancy, if they
like us not so well as when dressed out in our best for the reception of
their favor. Yet it is, in fact, we that are changed, not they.

Another fruitful source of disappointment in our attachments is, that
while we are much more quick in detecting the faults of others than our
own, we absurdly require that every one should be faultless but
ourselves. We do not say that we expect this in our friends; but we do
expect it, and our conduct proves that we expect it. We begin also with
believing it. The obscurities of distance; the vail that the proprieties
of society casts over nature's deformities; the dazzling glitter of
exterior qualities baffle, for a time, our most penetrating glances, and
the imperfect vision seems all that we should have it. Our inexperienced
hearts, and some indeed that should be better taught, fondly believe it
to be all it seems, and begin their attachment in full hope to find it
so. What wonder then that the bitterest disappointment should ensue,

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