|Eating food from his knife... “It is horrid and vulgar and all that, of course, to put one's knife between one's lips, but put it there and keep it there, say I, to nil eternity, rather than give room to scornful words and bits of scandal.”|
A Victorian Argument for Teaching Morality as Equally as Manners
Did you ever stop to think that if one-half the anxiety expended in teaching a child not to eat with its knife were directed toward teaching it to be charitable and pure, truthful and sweet hearted the world would be a better inn to tarry at? It is horrid and vulgar and all that, of course, to put one's knife between one's lips, but put it there and keep it there, say I, to nil eternity, rather than give room to scornful words and bits of scandal. As for me, I shall grow gray headed perhaps, and decrepit if the Lord spares me; my children's children shall rise up and call me grandmother, the friends of my youth shall wane also as wanes the harvest moon, but even down to and through the palsy of life's decline I shall protect my right to take up a bit of elusive potato with whatever utensil it seemeth easiest to avail myself of.
I do not think the angel who guards the celestial gate will stop to ask no much whether we used our knives in eating as whether we slashed and stabbed at each other with weapons of scandal and indiscriminating hate. There will be worse things charged against us, I am thinking, than the breach of social amenities or the failure in conventional usages. The question propounded will take hold of deeper matters, and our entrance into the great company of the elect shall depend on graver issues. So let us spend less time in polishing the externals; let us look to it that not only the fabric of the character we weave grows glistening and white, but also that the texture is firm and there are no dropped stitches and shoddy warp for the light of eternity to reveal.—Chicago Herald, 1893
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