Thursday, May 26, 2016

Etiquette and French Children

Politeness, with the French, is a matter of education as well as nature. The French child is taught that lesson from the beginning of its existence, and it is made a part of its life.





In an article on the politeness of French children as compared with boys and girls in America, the writer illustrates what he is saying in this way:—

"I was travelling in a compartment with a little French boy of twelve, the age at which American children, as a rule, deserve killing for their rudeness and general disagreeableness. I sat between him and the open window, and he was eating pears. Now most boys in our country of that age would either have dropped the cores upon the floor or tossed them out of the window, without regard to anybody. But this small gentleman, every time, with a 'Permit me, sir,' said in the most pleasant way, rose and came to the window and dropped them out, and then with a 'Thanks, sir,' quietly took his seat.

French children do not take favors as a matter of course and unacknowledged. And when in his seat, if an elderly person came in, he was the very first to rise and offer his place, if it were in the slightest degree more comfortable than another; and the good-nature with which he insisted on the new-comer's taking it was delightful to see."

The writer goes on to say that this was not an exceptional boy, but a fair type of the average French child, and his conduct was a sample of what might be seen anywhere, even among the ragged boys of the street. The reason for this state of things is given in the opening sentences of the article:—

"Politeness, with the French, is a matter of education as well as nature. The French child is taught that lesson from the beginning of its existence, and it is made a part of its life. It is the one thing that is never forgotten, and the lack of it never forgiven.”  – From Edith E. Wiggin's 1884, “Lessons on Manners / For School and Home Use.”


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