Saturday, September 12, 2015

A 19th C. Etiquette Lament

Politeness Has Vanished
A few of the people in this room have no idea of the kindly spirit that seeks to make things pleasant for the humblest stranger, as well as for the guest.


I am not an old woman, and yet I have lived long enough to see the almost utter decadence of old-fashioned virtues. Take politeness, for instance—simple, old-fashioned politeness, that sprung from the heart, like a rose from the root. How little we see of it nowadays. 


We see a great deal of what you call company manners, learned from a book of etiquette, perhaps; but the kindly spirit that seeks to make things pleasant for the humblest stranger, as well as for the guest who comes in the van of a trumpeting herald, is growing rarer each year.


What if it does cost a little trouble to answer a question, or drop your task to direct a stranger; what is the use of being in the world at all if not to lend a helping hand where we can and make folks happy? 

The courtesy that is only shown to people we know, and to people who can respond perhaps in kind, is a spurious courtesy, as different from old-time politeness as a pink made of muslin to a sweet, carnation that grows in the garden and woos the bees. — Philadelphia Times, 1895




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