|What is now known as "phubbing" was addressed in 1899 —No well-bred person would be guilty of the gross rudeness of picking up a book or magazine and “looking through” it while pretending to pay heed to the talk of a friend.|
Practical Etiquette and Conversation
No well-bred person would be guilty of the gross rudeness of picking up a book or magazine and “looking through” it while pretending to pay heed to the talk of a friend. The assurance, “I am only looking at the pictures of this magazine, not reading, and I hear every word you say,” is no palliation of the offence. The speaker would be justified in refusing to continue the conversation until the pictures had been properly studied. If a speech is worth hearing, it is worthy of respectful and earnest attention.
No one should ever monopolize the conversation, unless he wishes to win for himself the name of a bore.
A well-educated and finely cultured person proclaims himself by the simplicity and terseness of his language
In conversation all provincialisms, affectations of foreign accents, mannerisms, exaggerations, and slang are detestable.
Flippancy is as much an evidence of ill-breeding as is the perpetual smile, the wandering eye, the vacant stare, or the half-open mouth of the man who is preparing to break in upon the conversation.
Interruption of the speech of others is a great sin against good breeding.
Anecdotes should be sparsely introduced into a conversation, lest they become stale. Repartee must be indulged in with moderation. Puns are considered vulgar by many.
In addressing persons with titles, one ought always to add the name; as, “What do you think, Doctor Graves?” not, “What do you think, Doctor?”
The great secret of talking well is to adapt one’s conversation skillfully to the hearers.
In a tête-à-tête conversation, it is extremely ill-bred to drop the voice to a whisper, or to converse on private matters.
One should never try to hide the lips in talking by putting up the hand or a fan.
One should avoid long conversations in society with members of his own family.
If an unfinished conversation is continued after the entrance of a visitor, its import should be explained to him.
Though bores find their account in speaking ill or well of themselves, it is the characteristic of a gentleman that he never speaks of himself at all. La Buryere says:
“The great charm of conversation consists less in the display of one’s own wit and intelligence than in the power to draw forth the resources of others; he who leaves one after a long conversation, pleased with himself and the part he has taken in the discourse, will be the other’s warmest admirer.”In society the absent-minded man is uncivil.
There are many persons who commence speaking before they know what they are going to say. The ill-natured world, which never misses an opportunity of being severe, declares them to be foolish and destitute of brains.
He who knows the world, will not be too bashful; he who knows himself, will not be imprudent.
There is no surer sign of vulgarity than the perpetual boasting of fine things at home.
One should be careful how freely he offers advice.
If one keeps silent sometimes upon subjects of which he is known to be a judge, his silence, when from ignorance, will not discover him.
One should not argue a point when it is possible to avoid it, but when he does argue, he should do so in a gentlemanly and dispassionate manner.
One should never notice any mistakes in the language of others. —From Practical Etiquette, 1899
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